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vinces99 writes Car and truck exhaust fumes that foul the air for humans also cause problems for pollinators. In new research on how pollinators find flowers when background odors are strong, University of Washington and University of Arizona researchers found that both natural plant odors and human sources of pollution can conceal the scent of sought-after flowers. When the calories from one feeding of a flower gets you only 15 minutes of flight, as is the case with the tobacco hornworn moth studied, being misled costs a pollinator energy and time. "Local vegetation can mask the scent of flowers because the background scents activate the same moth olfactory channels as floral scents," according to Jeffrey Riffell, UW assistant professor of biology. "Plus the chemicals in these scents are similar to those emitted from exhaust engines and we found that pollutant concentrations equivalent to urban environments can decrease the ability of pollinators to find flowers."
mpicpp writes with good news for every New Yorker who needs 44oz of soft drink to be refreshed. New York's Court of Appeals ruled Thursday that New York City's ban on large sugary drinks, which was previously blocked by lower courts, is illegal. "We hold that the New York City Board of Health, in adopting the 'Sugary Drinks Portion Cap Rule,' exceeded the scope of its regulatory authority," the ruling said. Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg had pushed for the ban on sugary drinks larger than 16 ounces as a way to fight obesity and other health problems.
coondoggie (973519) writes "While Video has become ubiquitous thanks mostly to smartphones it doesn't mean you want to actually watch all of it. Carnegie Mellon University computer scientists say they have invented a video highlighting technique called LiveLight that can automatically pick out action in videos shot by smartphones, GoPro cameras, or Google Glass users."
An anonymous reader writes with news that, not long after UK ISPs agreed to send piracy notices (Voluntary Copyright Alerts Program), thoughts have already turned toward adding criminal penalties. From the article: Prime Minister David Cameron's IP advisor believes that the carrot needs to be backed up by a stick. In a report published yesterday largely detailing the "Follow the Money" approach to dealing with pirate sites, Mike Weatherley MP says now is the time to think about VCAP’s potential failure. "The Voluntary Copyright Alert Programme (VCAP) is welcomed and will be a good step forward once it is hopefully in operation in 2015, although it is primarily an education tool," Weatherley says. ... "Warnings and fines are obvious first steps, with Internet access blocking and custodial sentencing for persistent and damaging infringers not to be ruled out in my opinion." These suggestions aren't new, but this is the second time in a matter of months that the Prime Minister's closest advisor on IP matters has spoken publicly about the possibility of putting persistent file-sharers in jail.
mpicpp writes in with news about a new dating opportunity for Mensa members. It takes a special person to join Mensa. For one, the elite society only takes individuals with IQ scores in the 98th percentile, meaning just 1 in 50 Americans is eligible. This exclusivity — some might say snobbery — is part of Mensa's lore. Early Mensans in Britain walked around with yellow buttons, organizational publications once referred to non-Mensa members as "Densans," and last year, a top Mensa member and tester called anyone with an IQ of 60 a "carrot." In short, you don't always join Mensa because you think you're smart. You join to be set apart from most people, who are, as one member put it: "mundane." But a new partnership between American Mensa and online dating giant Match.com offers a new, enticing reason to join the society of geniuses: true love. Beginning this week, members of the brainiac group can connect through a separate, exclusive dating service called Mensa Match. In addition, Match.com members can add a special Mensa badge to their profiles, signaling a specific interest in connecting with a single person with a confirmed genius-level IQ score.
Jim_Austin writes A recent study by economist Douglas Webber calculates the lifetime earnings premium of college degrees in various broad areas, accounting for selection bias--that is, for the fact that people who already are likely to do well are also more likely to go to college. These premiums are not small. Science Careers got exclusive access to major-specific data, and published an article that tells how much more you can expect to earn because you got that college degree--for engineering, physics, computer science, chemistry, and biology majors.
Nate the greatest writes It looks like the recent rumors about B&N splitting up were true. Along with could-have-been-worse financial news, Barnes & Noble just announced that it's going to spin off its two-year-old ebook subsidiary into a new publicly traded company. The move won't be finalized until 2015, but when it happens the new company is expected to have both existing parts of Nook Media, including the less than successful ebook division and B&N College, which is still managing to turn a profit.
assertation (1255714) writes with this interesting tidbit from Reuters about the state of solar power in Germany: German solar power plants produced a world record 22 gigawatts of electricity per hour — equal to 20 nuclear power stations at full capacity — through the midday hours on Friday and Saturday, the head of a renewable energy think tank said. The German government decided to abandon nuclear power after the Fukushima nuclear disaster last year, closing eight plants immediately and shutting down the remaining nine by 2022.
New submitter Last_Available_Usern (756093) writes that the Aereo saga is likely over. "The U.S. Supreme Court today dealt a potentially fatal blow to Aereo, an Internet service that allows customers to watch broadcast TV programs on mobile devices by renting a small DVR and antennas (in supported cities) to record and then retransmit local programming on-demand over the internet." Ruling (PDF). Aereo was found to be publicly transmitting, according to SCOTUSBlog "The essence of the Aereo ruling is that Aereo is equivalent to a cable company, not merely an equipment provider."
New submitter MdotCpDeltaT writes: Robert Morris University will be the first school in the country to offer athletic scholarships to students who play the video game League of Legends. It's a move that seems to stretch the definition of sports and athletes. Associate athletic director Kurt Melcher said, "It's a team sport. There's strategy involved. You have to know your role in the game. Obviously it's not cardiovascular in any way, but it's mental. There are elements that go into it that are just like any other sport."The article says, "Though the gaming scholarships are primarily designed to attract what the school calls an 'underserved male' population, they are open to all, and Melcher said some women have inquired about the program. Even if the awards end up going mostly to males, he added, it should not upset the school's scholarship gender balance, which already has strong participation in women's sports."
New submitter Andreas Kolbe writes: "Businessman, philanthropist and musician Yank Barry and the Global Village Champions Foundation are suing four Wikipedia editors for defamation, claiming they have maliciously conspired to keep Barry's Wikipedia biography unduly negative. The Daily Dot article includes a copy of the legal brief and quotes Barry as saying, "My page was so ridiculously false and made me sound like a terrible person and people believed it causing deals to fall through. I finally had enough."
New submitter dmitrygr sends this news from Reuters: The U.S. government's no-fly list banning people accused of links to terrorism from commercial flights violates their constitutional rights because it gives them no meaningful way to contest that decision, a federal judge ruled on Tuesday. ... "The court concludes international travel is not a mere convenience or luxury in this modern world. Indeed, for many international travel is a necessary aspect of liberties sacred to members of a free society," [U.S. District Judge Anna Brown] wrote in her 65-page ruling (PDF). "Accordingly, on this record the court concludes plaintiff's inclusion on the no-fly list constitutes a significant deprivation of their liberty interests in international travel," Brown said.
hackingbear writes: Burdened with Alabama's highest unemployment rate, long abandoned by textile mills and furniture plants, Wilcox County, Alabama, desperately needs jobs. And the jobs are coming from China. Henan's Golden Dragon Precise Copper Tube Group opened a plant here last month, employing 300 locals. Chinese companies invested a record $14 billion in the United States last year, according to the Rhodium Group research firm. Collectively, they employ more than 70,000 Americans, up from virtually none a decade ago. Powerful forces — narrowing wage gaps (Chinese wages have been doubling every few years), tumbling U.S. energy prices, the rising Yuan — up 30% over the decade — are pulling Chinese companies across the Pacific. Perhaps very soon, Chinese workers will start protesting their jobs being outsourced to the cheap labor in the U.S."
A couple months ago, we discussed a new phone app being used in San Francisco to auction off parking spaces to the highest bidder. The city has now ordered the app makers to cease and desist, and threatened motorists with a $300 fine for each transaction. City Attorney Dennis Herrera said, Technology has given rise to many laudable innovations in how we live and work -- and Monkey Parking is not one of them. It's illegal, it puts drivers on the hook for $300 fines, and it creates a predatory private market for public parking spaces that San Franciscans will not tolerate. Worst of all, it encourages drivers to use their mobile devices unsafely — to engage in online bidding wars while driving. People are free to rent out their own private driveways and garage spaces should they choose to do so. But we will not abide businesses that hold hostage on-street public parking spots for their own private profit.
mpicpp (3454017) points out this story illustrating the problem of betting on the differential between the price of deliverable bitcoin-mining hardware and the price of bitcoin itself: Yet another Bitcoin miner manufacturer, CoinTerra, now faces legal action for not fulfilling an order when it originally promised to. CoinTerra is the third Bitcoin-related startup to face litigation for breach of contract and/or fraud in recent months. The CoinTerra lawsuit was filed in late April 2014 by an Oakland, California-based man seeking to be the lead plaintiff in a proposed class-action lawsuit. Lautaro Cline, the suit alleges, purchased a TerraMiner IV in October 2013 for delivery by January 2014. The company promised, he claims, that this miner would operate at two terahashes per second and would consume 1,200 watts of power. It did neither. However, Cline's suit also claims that CoinTerra did not deliver the miner until February 2014, and it "operated well below the speed advertised and consumed significantly more power than CoinTerra represented, causing Plaintiff to suffer significant lost profits and opportunities."
An anonymous reader writes The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit last week reversed a tax evasion conviction against an accountant because the government had used data from his computers that were seized under a warrant targeting different suspects. The Fourth Amendment, the court pointed out, "prevents the seizure of one thing under a warrant describing another." Law enforcement originally made copies of his hard drives and during off-site processing, separated his personal files from data related to the original warrant. However, 1.5 years later, the government sifted through his personal files and used what it found to build a case against him. The appeals court held that "[i]f the Government could seize and retain non-responsive electronic records indefinitely, so it could search them whenever it later developed probable cause, every warrant to search for particular electronic data would become, in essence, a general warrant," which the Fourth Amendment protects against. The EFF hopes that the outcome of this appeal will have implications for the NSA's dragnet surveillance practice.
mpicpp (3454017) writes with word that Mozilla released a full development environment integrated into Firefox (available now in nightly builds). From the announcement: Developers tell us that they are not sure how to start app development on the Web, with so many different tools and templates that they need to download from a variety of different sources. We’re solving that problem with WebIDE, built directly into Firefox. Instead of starting from zero we provide you with a functioning blueprint app with the click of a button. You then have all the tools you need to start creating your own app based on a solid foundation. WebIDE helps you create, edit, and test a new Web application right from your browser. It lets you install and test apps on Firefox OS devices and simulators and integrates the Firefox Developer Tools for seamless debugging and inspection across those devices. This is a first step towards debugging across various platforms and devices over WiFi using open remote debugging APIs. The default editor is based on CodeMirror, but the protocol for interacting with the IDE is open and support for other editors (Emacs anyone?) should appear soon.
Zothecula (1870348) writes Thanks to its extensive composting and recycling facilities, the city of Edmonton, Canada is already diverting approximately 60 percent of its municipal waste from the landfill. That figure is expected to rise to 90 percent, however, once the city's new Waste-to-Biofuels and Chemicals Facility starts converting garbage (that can't be composted or recycled) into methanol and ethanol. It's the world's first such plant to operate on an industrial scale, and Gizmag recently got a guided tour of the place.
Freshly Exhumed (105597) writes with news that NOAA's latest global climate analysis is showing things are getting hotter. From the article: Driven by exceptionally warm ocean waters, Earth smashed a record for heat in May and is likely to keep on breaking high temperature marks, experts say. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Monday said May's average temperature on Earth of 15.54 C beat the old record set four years ago. In April, the globe tied the 2010 record for that month. Records go back to 1880. Experts say there's a good chance global heat records will keep falling, especially next year because an El Nino weather event is brewing on top of man-made global warming. An El Nino is a warming of the eastern tropical Pacific Ocean that alters climate worldwide and usually spikes global temperatures.
An anonymous reader writes in with news that the memo presenting a case for killing Anwar al-Awlaki has been released thanks to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit on Monday released a secret 2010 Justice Department memo justifying the killing of Anwar al-Awlaki, a U.S citizen killed in a drone strike in 2011. The court released the document as part of a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed by The New York Times and the American Civil Liberties Union to make the document public. Then-acting Assistant Attorney General David Barron, in the partially redacted 41-page memo, outlines the justification of the drone strike in Yemen to take out al-Awlaki, an alleged operational leader of al Qaeda.
mpicpp writes with news about a new Microsoft trade-in program to encourage sales of the new Surface Pro 3. Microsoft is offering a limited time Surface Pro 3 promotion via which users can get up to $650 in store credit for trading in certain Apple MacBook Air models. The new promotion, running June 20 to July 31, 2014 -- "or while supplies last" -- requires users to bring MacBook Airs into select Microsoft retail stores in the U.S., Puerto Rico and Canada. (The trade-in isn't valid online.)...To get the maximum ($650) value, users have to apply the store credit toward the purchase of a Surface Pro 3, the most recent model of the company's Intel-based Surface tablets.
UnknowingFool writes In Utility Air Regulatory Group v. EPA, the Supreme Court ruled against the EPA on some limits to greenhouse gases but also upheld other limits. In a 5-4 partial decision, the high court ruled that EPA overstepped their authority in requiring permits only for greenhouse gases for new and modified facilities using the Clean Air act. Such regulatory action can only be granted by Congress. But in the same case on a 7-2 decision, the court ruled that the EPA can enforce greenhouse gas limits on facilities that already require permits for other air pollutants. This leaves intact most of the new regulations proposed by the Obama administration earlier this month as many coal plants produce other air pollutants that can be regulated by the EPA.
schwit1 writes One of the great "paradigms" of the New Normal tech bubble that supposedly differentiated it from dot com bubble 1.0 was that this time it was different, at least when it came to advertising revenues. The mantra went that unlike traditional web-based banner advertising which has been in secular decline over the past decade, social media ad spending — which the bulk of new tech company stalwarts swear is the source of virtually unlimited upside growth — was far more engaging, and generated far greater returns and better results for those spending billions in ad bucks on the new "social-networked" generation. Sadly, this time was not different after all, and this "paradigm" has also turned out to be one big pipe dream. According to the WSJ, citing Gallup, "62% of the more than 18,000 U.S. consumers it polled said social media had no influence on their buying decisions. Another 30% said it had some influence. U.S. companies spent $5.1 billion on social-media advertising in 2013, but Gallup says "consumers are highly adept at tuning out brand-related Facebook and Twitter content."
An anonymous reader writes Oracle is buying hospitality and retail technology vendor Micros Systems for $5.3 billion, in a deal that will be its largest since the purchase of Sun Microsystems in 2010. "Oracle said the acquisition will extend its offerings by combining Micros' industry-specific applications with its business applications, technologies and cloud portfolio. Oracle expects the deal to immediately add to its adjusted earnings. Its stock climbed 18 cents to $41 before the market opened. Micros' board unanimously approved the transaction, which is expected to close in the second half of the year."
An anonymous reader writes "A report from the European Space Agency shows the first collection of high-resolution results from the agency's three-satellite Swarm. The report illustrates the latest changes in the Earth's magnetic field and shows the movement of the magnetic North Pole. "Launched in November 2013, ESA's Swarm mission consists of three 9-meter satellites orbiting the planet at altitudes of 300-530 km (186-330 miles). Their goal is to monitor Earth's dynamic magnetic field, observing its changes over a period of four years. The data gathered by the Swarm satellites will help scientists better understand how our magnetic field works, how it's influenced by solar activity, and why large parts of it are found to be weakening.""
sfcrazy writes The Linux Mint team has announced the release of Linux Mint 17 KDE codenamed Qiana. It's based on KDE Software Compilation 4.13.0. There are notable improvements in Mint Display Manager (MDM). The multi-monitor display has improved and it allows a user to “configure which of the monitors should be used as the primary monitory by MDM.” Users can also define a background color or a background picture no matter what greeter they are using.
samzenpus (5) writes "Lawrence Lessig's list of achievements and areas of influence is not small. He's co-founder of the Creative Commons, but it is his Mayday PAC however that has garnered the most attention recently. The crowdfunded "Super PAC to end all Super PACs" was launched in May with the goal of raising money to elect candidates who would pass campaign finance reform. It raised over $1 million in the first 13 days and has the support of some influential people. With the help of matching contributions, Mayday hopes to raise $12 million by the end of June. Lessig has agreed to answer any questions about the PAC that you might have. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one question per post."
An anonymous reader writes "A report that scientists are calling one of the most comprehensive studies of great white sharks finds their numbers are surging in the ocean off the Eastern U.S. and Canada after decades of decline — bad news if you're a seal, but something experts say shouldn't instill fear. The scientists behind the study attribute the resurgence to conservation efforts, such as a federal 1997 act that prevented hunting of great whites, and greater availability of prey. The species is listed as vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature."
An anonymous reader writes about a Chinese building project designed to cement claims to a disputed region of the South China Sea. Sand, cement, wood, and steel are China's weapons of choice as it asserts its claim over the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea. China, the Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam, Taiwan, and Brunei have sparred for decades over ownership of the 100 islands and reefs, which measure less than 1,300 acres in total but stretch across an area about the size of Iraq. In recent months, vessels belonging to the People's Republic have been spotted ferrying construction materials to build new islands in the sea. Pasi Abdulpata, a Filipino fishing contractor who in October was plying the waters near Parola Island in the northern Spratlys, says he came across "this huge Chinese ship sucking sand and rocks from one end of the ocean and blasting it to the other using a tube."
Artificial islands could help China anchor its claim to waters that host some of the world's busiest shipping lanes. The South China Sea may hold as much as 11 billion barrels of oil and 190 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, according to a 2013 report by the U.S. Energy Information Administration. China has considered the Spratlys—which it calls Nansha—part of its territory since the 1940s and on occasion has used its military might to enforce its claim. In 1988 a Chinese naval attack at Johnson South Reef, in the northern portion of the archipelago, killed 64 Vietnamese border guards.
An anonymous reader writes Researchers have discovered that emperor penguins may not be faithful to their previous nesting locations, as previously thought. Scientists have long thought that emperor penguins were philopatric, returning to the same location to nest each year. However, a new research study showed that the penguins may be behaving in ways that allow them to adapt to their changing environment. Lead author Michelle LaRue said,"Our research showing that colonies seem to appear and disappear throughout the years challenges behaviors we thought we understood about emperor penguins. If we assume that these birds come back to the same locations every year, without fail, these new colonies we see on satellite images wouldn't make any sense. These birds didn't just appear out of thin air—they had to have come from somewhere else. This suggests that emperor penguins move among colonies. That means we need to revisit how we interpret population changes and the causes of those changes."
An anonymous reader writes There have been many US military machines of war that seemed to be revolutionary, but never make it out of the prototype stage. As Robert Farley explains: "Sometimes they die because they were a bad idea in the first place. For the same reasons, bad defense systems can often survive the most inept management if they fill a particular niche well enough." A weapon can seem like an amazing invention, but it still has to adapt to all sorts of conditions--budgetary, politics, and people's plain bias. Here's a look at a few of the best weapons of war that couldn't win under these "battlefield" conditions.
schwit1 (797399) writes "The text of a 19-page, international trade agreement being drafted in secret was published by WikiLeaks as the transparency group's editor commemorated his two-year anniversary confined to the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. Fifty countries around the globe have already signed on to the Trade in Service Agreement, or TISA, including the United States, Australia and the European Union. Despite vast international ties, however, details about the deal have been negotiated behind closed-doors and largely ignored by the press. In a statement published by the group alongside the leaked draft this week, WikiLeaks said "proponents of TISA aim to further deregulate global financial services markets," and have participated in "a significant anti-transparency maneuver" by working secretly on a deal that covers more than 68 percent of world trade in services, according to the Swiss National Center for Competence in Research.
hypnosec writes A new movement dubbed the Open Wireless Movement is asking users to open up their private Wi-Fi networks to total strangers – a random act of kindness – with an aim of better securing networks and facilitating better use of finite broadband resources. The movement is supported by non-profit and pro-internet rights organizations like the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), Mozilla, Open Rights Group, and Free Press among others. The EFF is planning to unveil one such innovation – Open Wireless Router – at the Hackers on Planet Earth (HOPE X) conference to be held next month on New York. This firmware will allow individuals to share their private Wi-Fi to total strangers to anyone without a password.
An anonymous reader writes The White House has announced a federal strategy to reverse a decline in the number of honeybees and other pollinators in the United States. Obama has directed federal agencies to use research, land management, education and public/private partnerships to advance honeybee and other pollinator health and habitats. The Environmental Protection Agency and the Agriculture Department will lead a multi-agency task force to develop a pollinator health strategy and action plan within six months. As part of the plan, the USDA announced $8 million in funding for farmers and ranchers in five states who establish new habitats for honeybee populations.
retroworks writes: The Guardian uses a stock photo of obvious electronic junk in its coverage of the sentencing of Joseph Benson of BJ Electronics. But film of the actual containers showed fairly uniform, sorted televisions which typically work for 20 years. In 2013, the Basel Convention Secretariat released findings on a two-year study of the seized sea containers containing the alleged "e-waste," including Benson's in Nigeria, and found 91% of the devices were working or repairable. The study, covered by Slashdot in Feb. 2013, declared the shipments legal, and further reported that they were more likely to work than new product sent to Africa (which may be shelf returns from bad lots, part of the reason Africans prefer used TVs from nations with strong warranty laws).
Director of regulated industry Harvey Bradshaw of the U.K. tells the Guardian: "This sentence is a landmark ruling because it's the first time anyone has been sent to prison for illegal waste exports." But five separate university research projects question what the crime was, and whether prohibition in trade is really the best way to reduce the percentage of bad product (less than 100% waste). Admittedly, I have been following this case from the beginning and interviewed both Benson and the Basel Secretariat Executive Director, and am shocked that the U.K. judge went ahead with the sentencing following the publication of the E-Waste Assessment Study last year. But what do Slashdotters think about the campaign to arrest African geeks who pay 10 times the value of scrap for used products replaced in rich nations?
itwbennett writes: ICANN CEO Fadi Chehadé hopes to make progress on preparations to take over running the world's central DNS servers from the U.S. government's National Telecommunications and Information Agency when the organization meets in London next week. 'I think this is a meeting where the ICANN community has to deal with the fact, the good fact, that its relationship with the U.S. government, which characterized its birth, its existence and growth, has now run its course,' Chehadé said.
An anonymous reader writes When you think of people who teach at a college, you probably imagine moderately affluent professors with nice houses and cars. All that tuition has to go into competitive salaries, right? Unfortunately, it seems being a college instructor is becoming less and less lucrative, even to the point of poverty. From the article: "Most university-level instructors are ... contingent employees, working on a contract basis year to year or semester to semester. Some of these contingent employees are full-time lecturers, and many are adjunct instructors: part-time employees, paid per class, often without health insurance or retirement benefits. This is a relatively new phenomenon: in 1969, 78 percent of professors held tenure-track positions. By 2009 this percentage had shrunk to 33.5." This is detrimental to learning as well. Some adjunct faculty, desperate to keep jobs, rely on easy courses and popularity with students to stay employed. Many others feel obligated to help students beyond the limited office hours they're paid for, essentially working for free in order to get the students the help they need. At a time when tuition prices are rising faster than ever, why are we skimping on the most fundamental aspect of college?
An anonymous reader sends word that BlackBerry, hit hard over the past several years by the emergence of smart phones, has come back to profitability. BlackBerry has been fighting an uphill battle to stay relevant in the world of mobile devices. It has lost market share to Apple, companies like Samsung that offer gadgets running on Google's Android operating system, and Microsoft. But John Chen, who took over as CEO in November, has injected new life to the company. Chen, who says BlackBerry is getting close to breaking even on its hardware business, has steered the company's focus more towards software. He's made several product announcements that Wall Street has cheered. Last month, the company launched its Project Ion, an initiative to develop more connected devices ... a trend dubbed the Internet of Things. On Wednesday, BlackBerry reached a deal with Amazon that will let users of BlackBerry's newest operating system access Android apps in Amazon's appstore later this fall.
rtoz writes: The popular home monitoring camera startup "Dropcam" will be acquired by Nest Labs, the maker of smart thermostats and smoke detectors. The deal is worth $555 million in cash. Nest itself was purchased by Google just four months ago for $3.2 billion. Dropcam is a cloud-based, Wi-Fi video monitoring service, founded in 2009. It lets users place cameras throughout a home for live-viewing and recording. The cameras also include options for night vision and two-way talking with built-in microphones. Dropcam has never disclosed sales, but it is routinely the top-selling security camera on Amazon, and it recently branched into selling in retail stores like Apple and Best Buy. People concerned about the privacy implications of Google's acquisition of Nest may be further unsettled by Nest's purchase of a home surveillance company. Nest's founder Matt Rogers anticipated this issue, and insisted that there's no reason to worry. In his blog post, he says that data won't be shared with anyone, including Google, without a customer's permission. Nest has run into product challenges recently.
SmartAboutThings writes: Mozilla took the world by surprise when it announced that it was developing a Firefox operating system that would be used for mobile phones, particularly in developing markets. Such devices have already arrived, but they aren't the only targets for the new operating. According to a report from GigaOM, Mozilla is currently working on a secretive project to develop a Chromecast-like media streaming stick powered by Firefox-OS. Mozilla's Christian Heilmann shared a picture of a prototype.
schwit1 sends this report on the perils of imperfect drone technology:
"More than 400 large U.S. military drones have crashed in major accidents around the world since 2001, a record of calamity that exposes the potential dangers of throwing open American skies to drone traffic, according to a year-long Washington Post investigation. Since the outbreak of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, military drones have malfunctioned in myriad ways, plummeting from the sky because of mechanical breakdowns, human error, bad weather and other reasons, according to more than 50,000 pages of accident investigation reports and other records obtained by The Post under the Freedom of Information Act.
Commercial drone flights are set to become a widespread reality in the United States, starting next year, under a 2012 law passed by Congress. Drone flights by law enforcement agencies and the military, which already occur on a limited basis, are projected to surge. The documents obtained by The Post detail scores of previously unreported crashes involving remotely controlled aircraft, challenging the federal government’s assurances that drones will be able to fly safely over populated areas and in the same airspace as passenger planes."
An anonymous reader writes "With the Linux 3.16 kernel the Nouveau driver now supports re-clocking for letting the NVIDIA GPU cores and video memory on this reverse-engineered NVIDIA driver run at their designed frequencies. Up to now the Nouveau driver has been handicapped to running at whatever (generally low) clock frequencies the video BIOS programmed the hardware to at boot time, but with Linux 3.16 is experimental support for up-clocking to the hardware-rated speeds. The results show the open-source NVIDIA driver running multiple times faster, but it doesn't work for all NVIDIA hardware, causes lock-ups for some GPUs at some frequencies, and isn't yet dynamically controlled. However, it appears to be the biggest break-through in years for this open-source NVIDIA driver that up to now has been too slow for most Linux games."
Lasrick writes: Mark Cooper with one of the best explanations of some of the most pressing details on the new EPA rule change: 'The claims and counterclaims about EPA's proposed carbon pollution standards have filled the air: It will boost nuclear. It will expand renewables. It promotes energy efficiency. It will kill coal. It changes everything. It accomplishes almost nothing.' Cooper notes that although it's clear that coal is the big loser in the rule change, the rule itself doesn't really pick winners in terms of offering sweet deals for any particular technology; however, it seems that nuclear is also a loser in this formulation, because 'Assuming that states generally adhere to the prime directive of public utility resource acquisition—choosing the lowest-cost approach—the proposed rule will not alter the dismal prospects of nuclear power...' Nuclear power does seem to be struggling with economic burdens and a reluctance from taxpayers to pay continuing subsides in areas such as storage and cleanup. It seems that nuclear is another loser in the new EPA rule change.
An anonymous reader writes We had some good news yesterday when the U.S. Supreme Court invalidated a software patent for failing to turn an idea into an invention. Unfortunately, the justices weren't willing to make any broader statements about the patentability of basic software tools, so the patent fights will continue. Timothy B. Lee at Vox argues that this is because the Supreme Court does not understand software, and says we won't see significant reform until they do.
He says, "If a sequence of conventional mathematical operations isn't patentable, then no software should enjoy patent protection. For example, the 'data compression' patents that Justice Kennedy wants to preserve simply claim formulas for converting information from one digital format to another. If that's not a mathematical algorithm, nothing is. This is the fundamental confusion at the heart of America's software patent jurisprudence: many judges seem to believe that mathematical algorithms shouldn't be patented but that certain kinds of software should be patentable. ... If a patent claims a mathematical formula simple enough for a judge to understand how it works, she is likely to recognize that the patent claims a mathematical formula and invalidate it. But if the formula is too complex for her to understand, then she concludes that it's something more than a mathematical algorithm and uphold it."
Funksaw writes: Steve Wozniak, co-found of Apple Computer, has come out to endorse Lawrence Lessig's MAYDAY PAC in an animated audio recording. Mayday.US, (formerly MayOne.US) is Lessig's crowd-funded (citizen-funded!), kick-started Super PAC to end all Super PACs. In the video, Wozniak points out that we're never going to get anywhere on issues important to the Internet community and technology advocates if we don't fix the root cause of corruption. The video can be found at the Mayday PAC's new landing page, "theInternetHasASuperPAC.com."
theodp writes: On Thursday, Google announced a $50 million initiative to inspire girls to code called Made with Code. As part of the initiative, Google said it will also be "rewarding teachers who support girls who take CS courses on Codecademy or Khan Academy." The rewards are similar to earlier coding and STEM programs run by Code.org and Google that offered lower funding or no funding at all to teachers if participation by female students was deemed unacceptable to the sponsoring organizations. The announcement is all the more intriguing in light of a Google job posting seeking a K-12 Computer Science Education Outreach Program Manager to "work closely with external leaders and company executives to influence activities that drive toward collaborative efforts to achieve major 'moonshots' in education on a global scale." Perhaps towards that end, Google recently hired the Executive Director of the Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA), who was coincidentally also a Code.org Advisory Board member. And Code.org — itself a Made With Code grantee — recently managed to lure away the ACM's Director of Public Policy to be its COO. So, are these kinds of private-public K-12 CS education initiatives (and associated NSF studies) a good idea? Some of the nation's leading CS educators sure seem to think so (video).
Lucas123 writes: Katherine, a 14-foot, 2,300lb. Great White Shark, has become so popular with visitors to a research site tracking her daily movements that the site's servers have crashed and remained down for hours. The shark, one of dozens tagged for research by the non-profit global shark tracking project OCEARCH, typically cruises very close to shore up and down the Eastern Seaboard. That has attracted a lot interest from the swimming public. Currently, however, she's heading from Florida's west coast toward Texas. OCEARCH tags sharks with four different technologies to create a three-dimensional image of a shark's activities. "On average, we're collecting 100 data points every second — 8.5 million data points per day."
An anonymous reader writes: The U.S. House of Representatives voted late Thursday night, 293 to 123, to approve an amendment to the NSA's appropriations bill that cuts all funding for warrantless surveillance and for programs that force companies to create backdoors in their products. The success of this vote in the House is attributed to the fact that the amendment did not have to go through the House Judiciary and Intelligence Committees and also to the increasingly apparent unpopularity of NSA activities among voters. Although privacy advocates laud the vote, there are those who note that the amendment specifically applies to the NSA and CIA while remaining silent on other agencies such as the FBI. The appropriations bill in its entirety will now proceed to the Senate for approval."
sfcrazy writes Mozilla is working on developing a content and commenting platform in collaboration with The New York Times and The Washington Post. The platform aims to be the next-generation commenting and content creation platform which will give more control to readers. Mozilla says in a blog post, “The community platform will allow news organizations to connect with audiences beyond the comments section, deepening opportunities for engagement. Through the platform, readers will be able to submit pictures, links and other media; track discussions, and manage their contributions and online identities. Publishers will then be able to collect and use this content for other forms of storytelling and spark ongoing discussions by providing readers with targeted content and notifications.” The project is being funded by Knights Foundation.