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chicksdaddy writes Mobile health and wellness is one of the fastest growing categories of mobile apps. Already, apps exist that measure your blood pressure and take your pulse, jobs traditionally done by tried and true instruments like blood pressure cuffs and stethoscopes. If that sounds to you like the kind of thing the FDA should be vetting, don't hold your breath. A senior advisor to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has warned that the current process for approving medical devices couldn't possibly meet the challenge of policing mobile health and wellness apps and that, in most cases, the agency won't even try. Bakul Patel, and advisor to the FDA, said the Agency couldn't scale to police hundreds of new health and wellness apps released each month to online marketplaces like the iTunes AppStore and Google Play.
sabri writes To have a labor shortage or not to have, that's the question. According to the San Jose Mercury News: Last month, three tech advocacy groups launched a labor boycott against Infosys, IBM and the global staffing and consulting company ManpowerGroup, citing a "pattern of excluding U.S. workers from job openings on U.S soil." They say Manpower, for example, last year posted U.S. job openings in India but not in the United States." "It's getting pretty frustrating when you can't compete on salary for a skilled job," said Rich Hajinlian, a veteran computer programmer from the Boston area. "You hear references all the time that these big companies ... can't find skilled workers. I am a skilled worker."
An anonymous reader writes Researchers had previously thought that, being excessively uncommon and migrant, whales didn't have much of an effect on the more extensive marine environment. However, a new study distributed in the journal Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment gives whales a role as "engineers" of the oceans. In the study, scientists from the University of Vermont suggest that the 13 types of extraordinary whale have an essential and positive impact on the capacity of seas, on carbon storage, and on the state of fisheries around the globe. "The decline in great whale numbers, estimated to be at least 66% and perhaps as high as 90%, has likely altered the structure and function of the oceans, but recovery is possible and in many cases is already underway," researchers wrote in an article announcing their investigation.
An anonymous reader writes in with the latest news about NSA spying from documents leaked by Edward Snowden. Ordinary Internet users, American and non-American alike, far outnumber legally targeted foreigners in the communications intercepted by the National Security Agency from U.S. digital networks, according to a four-month investigation by The Washington Post. Nine of 10 account holders found in a large cache of intercepted conversations, which former NSA contractor Edward Snowden provided in full to The Post, were not the intended surveillance targets but were caught in a net the agency had cast for somebody else. Many of them were Americans. Nearly half of the surveillance files, a strikingly high proportion, contained names, e-mail addresses or other details that the NSA marked as belonging to U.S. citizens or residents. NSA analysts masked, or "minimized," more than 65,000 such references to protect Americans' privacy, but The Post found nearly 900 additional e-mail addresses, unmasked in the files, that could be strongly linked to U.S. citizens or U.S. residents."
An anonymous reader writes A research team at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis in Laxenburg, Austria, says it has studied how much it would cost for governments to stick to their worldwide global warming goal. They've concluded that for "a 70 per cent chance of keeping below 2 degrees Celsius, the investment will have to rise to $1.2 trillion a year." Where to get that money? The researchers say that "global investment in energy is already $1 trillion a year and rising" with more than half going to fossil fuel energy. If those subsidies were spent on renewable energy instead, the researchers hypothesize that "global warming would be close to being solved."
kdataman (1687444) writes "There is a breathtaking video on Youtube of someone flying a quadcopter around and through a professional fireworks display. Of course, it was an illegal and dangerous thing to do. It also may inspire someone else to do something even more dangerous. But even so, I have watched it 4 times and get goosebumps every time. An article in Forbes says that unit is a DJI Phantom 2 with a GoPro Hero 3 Silver camera. The fireworks are in West Palm Beach, Florida."
An anonymous reader writes One of the common problems of the smartphone generation has been parents who given their phones to children, who then rack up hundreds of dollars of in-app purchases without the parents' knowledge. The FTC smacked Apple with a fine for this, and Google is facing a lawsuit as well. Now, Amazon is the latest target, having received a complaint from the FTC demanding a similar settlement to Apple's. Amazon, however, is not willing to concede the fine; they plan to fight it. Amazon said, "The Commission's unwillingness to depart from the precedent it set with Apple despite our very different facts leaves us no choice but to defend our approach in court (PDF). The main claim in the draft complaint is that we failed to get customers' informed consent to in-app charges made by children and did not address that problem quickly or effectively enough in response to customer complaints. We have continually improved our experience since launch, but even at launch, when customers told us their kids had made purchases they didn't want, we refunded those purchases."
theodp writes: The AP's announcement that software will write the majority of its earnings reports, argues The Atlantic's Joe Pinsker, doesn't foretell the end of journalism — such reports hardly require humans anyway. Pinsker writes, "While, yes, it's true that algorithms can cram stories about vastly different subjects into the same uncanny monotone — they can cover Little League like Major League Baseball, and World of Warcraft raids like firefights in Iraq — they're really just another handy attempt at sifting through an onslaught of data. Automated Insights' success goes hand-in-hand with the rise of Big Data, and it makes sense that the company's algorithms currently do best when dealing in number-based topics like sports and stocks." So, any chance that Madden-like (video) generated play-by-play technology could one day be applied to live sporting events?
First time accepted submitter SingleEntendre (1273012) writes "Time is running out for the Mayday PAC to reach its latest crowd funding goal of $5M. The total currently stands at $4.5M. Led by Harvard Law Professor Lawrence Lessig, the Mayday PAC seeks to reduce the influence of money in US politics by 2016, primarily by identifying and supporting congressional candidates who share this vision. If phase 2 is successful, with matching funds the total raised will be $12M. A self-imposed deadline arrives at of midnight tonight, July 4th, Hawaii-Aleutian Standard Time (HAST)." (And now the total's at $4,700,066.)
theodp writes:Google recently announced Global Impact Awards for Computer Science, part of the company's $50 million investment to get girls to code. But Google's influence over K-12 CS education doesn't stop there. The Sun-Times reports that Chicago Public School (CPS) teachers are participating in a summer professional development program hosted by Google as part of the district's efforts to "saturate" schools with CS within 3 years: "The launch of CS4All [Computer Science for All], in partnership with Code.org and supported by Google, starts this fall in 60 CPS schools to try to bridge the digital divide and prepare students." And in two weeks, the Computer Science Teachers Association [CSTA] and Google will be presenting the National Computer Science Principles Education Summit. "Attendees at this event have been selected through a rigorous application process that will result in more than 70 educators and administrators working together to strategize about getting this new Advanced Placement course implemented in schools across the country," explains CSTA. The ACM, NSF, Google, CSTA, Microsoft, and NCWIT worked together in the past "to provide a wide range of information and guidance that would inform and shape CS education efforts," according to the University of Chicago, which notes it's now conducting a follow-up NSF-funded study — Barriers and Supports to Implementing Computer Science — that's advised by CPS, CSTA, and Code.org.
New submitter Plumpaquatsch writes: Deutsche Welle reports: "A member of Germany's foreign intelligence agency has been detained for possibly spying for the U.S. The 31-year-old is suspected of giving a U.S. spy agency information about a parliamentary inquiry of NSA activities. During questioning, the suspect reportedly told investigators that he had gathered information on an investigative committee from Germany's lower house of parliament, the Bundestag. The panel is conducting an inquiry into NSA surveillance on German officials and citizens; yesterday an ex-staffer told it the NSA was 'totalitarian' mass collector of data."
An anonymous reader writes The biggest complaint about Tesla Motors' electric vehicles is that they're far too expensive for the average motorist. The Roadster sold for $109,000, and the Model S for $70,000. Chris Porritt, the company's VP of engineering, says their next model will aim for much broader availability. The compact Model E aims to be competitive with the Audi A4 and BMW 3-series, which both start in the low $30,000 range. To reduce cost, the Model E won't be built mostly with aluminum, like the Model S, and it will be roughly 20% smaller as well. The construction of the "Gigafactory" for battery production will also go a long way toward reducing the price. Their goal for launch is sometime around late 2016 or early 2017
An anonymous reader writes London's transportation regulator has ruled private-driver provider Uber is operating within the law. Licensed taxi drivers in London last month staged a protest urging Transport for London to find that Uber's mobile app acts as a taximeter, which is illegal for use by private-hire vehicles. "TfL said in a statement: 'In relation to the way Uber operates in London, TfL is satisfied that based upon our understanding of the relationship between the passenger and Uber London, and between Uber London and Uber UV, registered in Holland, that it is operating under the terms of the 1998 PHV(L) Act.' The decision was welcomed by Uber's general manger in the UK and Ireland Jo Bertram as a 'victory for common sense, technology, innovation — and above all, London.'"
mask.of.sanity writes Forensics and industry experts have cast doubt on an alleged National Security Agency capability to locate whistle blowers appearing in televised interviews based on how the captured background hum of electrical devices affects energy grids. Divining information from electrified wires is a known technique: Network Frequency Analysis (ENF) is used to prove video and audio streams have not been tampered with, but experts weren't sure if the technology could be used to locate individuals.
This is an interview with Duolingo engineer Franklin Ditzler. He's not a smooth marketing guy getting all rah-rah about the company and what it does, just a coder who enjoys his job and seems to like where he works and what he's doing. Note that Duolingo is a free language teaching tool, and they seem determined to keep it free for language students by selling crowdsourced translation services to companies like CNN and BuzzFeed.
Duolingo founder and CEO Luis von Ahn is an associate professor in the Carnegie Mellon University Computer Science Department, and was one of the original developers behind reCAPTCHA. Google acquired ReCAPTCHA in 2009 for "an undisclosed sum," a bit of history that led TechCrunch to speculate back in 2011 that Google would buy Duolingo within six months -- which didn't happen. But don't despair. It's still possible that Google (or another big company) might absorb Duolingo. We'll just have to wait and see -- and possibly improve our foreign language skills while we wait. (Alternate Video Link)
realized (2472730) writes "In nine cases in 2013, state police were unable to break the encryption used by criminal suspects they were investigating, according to an annual report on law enforcement eavesdropping released by the U.S. court system on Wednesday. That's more than twice as many cases as in 2012, when police said that they'd been stymied by crypto in four cases—and that was the first year they'd ever reported encryption preventing them from successfully surveilling a criminal suspect. Before then, the number stood at zero."
New submitter DaveSmith1982 writes with word from PV Tech that A property tax exemption for solar power systems in California has been extended to 2025, following the passing of a bill as part of the annual state budget. Senate Bill 871 (SB871) was approved during the signing of the budget by governor Jerry Brown, which took place last week. The wording of SB871 extends the period during which property taxes will not be applied to "active solar energy systems," which includes PV and solar water heaters.
New submitter marxmarv writes If you search the web for communications security information, or read online tech publications like Linux Journal or BoingBoing, you might be a terrorist. The German publication Das Erste disclosed a crumb of alleged XKeyScore configuration, with the vague suggestion of more source code to come, showing that Tor directory servers and their users, and as usual the interested and their neighbor's dogs due to overcapture, were flagged for closer monitoring. Linux Journal, whose domain is part of a listed selector, has a few choice words on their coveted award. Would it be irresponsible not to speculate further?
Graculus (3653645) writes Budgetmakers in the U.S. Senate have moved to halt U.S. participation in ITER, the huge international fusion experiment now under construction in Cadarache, France, that aims to demonstrate that nuclear fusion could be a viable source of energy. Although the details are not available, Senate sources confirm a report by Physics Today that the Senate's version of the budget for the Department of Energy (DOE) for fiscal year 2015, which begins 1 October, would provide just $75 million for the United States' part of the project. That would be half of what the White House had requested and just enough to wind down U.S. involvement in ITER. According to this story from April, the U.S. share of the ITER budget has jumped to "$3.9 billion — roughly four times as much as originally estimated." (That's a pretty big chunk; compare it, say, to NASA's entire annual budget.)
redletterdave (2493036) writes Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg said the company's experiment designed to purposefully manipulate the emotions of its users was communicated "poorly". Sandberg's public comments, which were the first from any Facebook executive following the discovery of the one-week psychological study, were made while attending a meeting with small businesses in India that advertise on Facebook. "This was part of ongoing research companies do to test different products, and that was what it was," Sandberg said. "It was poorly communicated. And for that communication we apologize. We never meant to upset you." anavictoriasaavedra points out this article that questions how much of this outrage over an old press release is justified and what's lead to the media frenzy. Sometimes editors at media outlets get a little panicked when there's a big story swirling around and they haven't done anything with it. It all started as a largely ignored paper about the number of positive and negative words people use in Facebook posts. Now it's a major scandal. The New York Times connected the Facebook experiment to suicides. The story was headlined, Should Facebook Manipulate Users, and it rests on the questionable assumption that such manipulation has happened. Stories that ran over the weekend raised serious questions about the lack of informed consent used in the experiment, which was done by researchers at Cornell and Facebook and published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. But to say Facebook’s slight alteration of news feeds caused people to suffer depression seems to be unsupported by any kind of data or logic.
mdsolar writes with news about the cleanup of the site that exposed Harold McCluskey to the highest dose of radiation from americium ever recorded. Workers are finally preparing to enter one of the most dangerous rooms in the world — the site of a 1976 blast in the United States that exposed a technician to a massive dose of radiation and led to his nickname: the "Atomic Man." Harold McCluskey, then 64, was working in the room at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation when a chemical reaction caused a glass glove box to explode. He was exposed to the highest dose of radiation from the chemical element americium ever recorded — 500 times the occupational standard. Hanford, located in central Washington state, made plutonium for nuclear weapons for decades. The room was used to recover radioactive americium, a byproduct of plutonium. Covered with blood, McCluskey was dragged from the room and put into an ambulance headed for the decontamination center. Because he was too hot to handle, he was removed by remote control and transported to a steel-and-concrete isolation tank. During the next five months, doctors laboriously extracted tiny bits of glass and razor-sharp pieces of metal embedded in his skin. Nurses scrubbed him down three times a day and shaved every inch of his body every day. The radioactive bathwater and thousands of towels became nuclear waste.
Zothecula writes Rising atmospheric CO2 levels can generally be tackled in three ways: developing alternative energy sources with lower emissions; carbon capture and storage (CCS); and capturing carbon and repurposing it. Researchers at Princeton University are claiming to have developed a technique that ticks two of these three boxes by using solar power to convert CO2 into formic acid. With power from a commercially available solar panel provided by utility company Public Service Electric and Gas (PSE&G), researchers in the laboratory of Princeton professor of chemistry Andrew Bocarsly, working with researchers at New Jersey-based start-up Liquid Light Inc., converted CO2 and water to formic acid (HCOOH) in an electrochemical cell.
wiredmikey writes Researchers with RSA have discovered a Boleto malware (Bolware) ring that compromised as many as 495,753 Boleto transactions during a two-year period. Though it is not clear whether the thieves successfully collected on all of the compromised transactions, the value of those transactions is estimated to be worth as much as $3.75 billion. A Boleto is essentially a document that allows a customer to pay an exact amount to a merchant. Anyone who owns a bank account — whether a company or an individual — can issue a Boleto associated with their bank. The first signs of its existence appeared near the end of 2012 or early 2013, when it began to be reported in the local news media," according to the report (PDF). "The RSA Research Group analyzed version 17 of the malware, gathering data between March 2014 and June 2014. The main goal of Boleto malware is to infiltrate legitimate Boleto payments from individual consumers or companies and redirect those payments from victims to fraudster accounts."
dcblogs writes Microsoft has joined a Linux Foundation effort to create an open platform for the Internet of Things. The AllSeen Alliance is an effort to standardize device communications. The code that it champions, called AllJoyn, was initially developed by Qualcomm but was subsequently made open source. Big vendors have been recruited to support it, and the AllSeen Alliance now includes LG, Panasonic, Sharp and Haier, among others. Its Xbox gaming platform is seen as a potential hub or control center for home devices. Microsoft's leadership in computing "and its significant Xbox business make it a potentially important contributor to the AllSeen ecosystem," said said Andy Castonguay, an analyst at Machina Research, a Reading, England-based research firm focusing on machine-to-machine (M2M) communications and the Internet of Things.
An anonymous reader writes There's an independent agency within the U.S. government called the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board. Their job is to weigh the benefits of government actions — like stopping terrorist threats — against violations of citizens' rights that may result from those actions. As you might expect, the NSA scandal landed squarely in their laps, and they've compiled a report evaluating the surveillance methods. As the cynical among you might also expect, the Oversight Board gave the NSA a pass, saying that while their methods were "close to the line of constitutional reasonableness," they were used for good reason. In the completely non-binding 191-page report (PDF), they said, "With regard to the NSA's acquisition of 'about' communications [metadata], the Board concludes that the practice is largely an inevitable byproduct of the government's efforts to comprehensively acquire communications that are sent to or from its targets. Because of the manner in which the NSA conducts upstream collection, and the limits of its current technology, the NSA cannot completely eliminate 'about' communications from its collection without also eliminating a significant portion of the 'to/from' communications that it seeks."
Albanach writes: In 2007, the BBC's economics editor, Robert Peston, penned an article on the massive losses at Merrill Lynch and the resulting resignation of their CEO Stan O'Neal. Today, the BBC has been notified that the 2007 article will no longer appear in some Google searches made within the European Union, apparently as a result of someone exercising their new-found "right to be forgotten." O'Neal was the only individual named in the 2007 article. While O'Neal has left Merrill Lynch, he has not left the world of business, and now holds a directorship at Alcoa, the world's third largest aluminum producer with $23 billion in revenues in 2013.
After some speculation yesterday about the winner of the auction for the first block of bitcoins seized from the Silk Road, the winner went ahead and made his identity public. Tim Draper has won the U.S. Marshals bitcoin auction and is partnering with Vaurum to provide bitcoin liquidity in emerging markets. ... Tim offered this in a statement: “Bitcoin frees people from trying to operate in a modern market economy with weak currencies. With the help of Vaurum and this newly purchased bitcoin, we expect to be able to create new services that can provide liquidity and confidence to markets that have been hamstrung by weak currencies. Of course, no one is totally secure in holding their own country’s currency. We want to enable people to hold and trade bitcoin to secure themselves against weakening currencies.”
rtoz (2530056) writes Whenever there is a major spill of oil into water, the two tend to mix into a suspension of tiny droplets, called an "emulsion." It is extremely hard to separate them, and they can cause severe damage to ecosystems. Now, MIT researchers have discovered a new, inexpensive way of getting the two fluids apart again. This new approach uses membranes with hierarchical pore structures. The membranes combine a very thin layer of nanopores with a thicker layer of micropores to limit the passage of unwanted material while providing strength sufficient to withstand high pressure and throughput.
mrspoonsi (2955715) writes with this excerpt from the BBC: ISPs from the U.S., UK, Netherlands, and South Korea have joined forces with campaigners Privacy International to take GCHQ to task over alleged attacks on network infrastructure. It is the first time that GCHQ has faced such action. The ISPs claim that alleged network attacks, outlined in a series of articles in Der Spiegel and the Intercept, were illegal and "undermine the goodwill the organizations rely on." The complaint (PDF).
jones_supa writes: Russia's legislature, often accused of metaphorically turning back the clock, has decided to do it literally – abandoning the policy of keeping the country on daylight-saving time all year. The 2011 move to impose permanent "summer time" in 2011 was one of the most memorable and least popular initiatives of Dmitry Medvedev's presidency. It forced tens of millions to travel to their jobs in pitch darkness during the winter. In the depths of December, the sun doesn't clear the horizon in Moscow until 10am. The State Duma, the lower house of parliament, voted 442-1 on Tuesday to return to standard time this autumn and stay there all year. The article also discusses a ban on swearing in books, plays, and films that went into effect today in Russia.
stephendavion writes: While the risk of being attacked by a shark is certainly low, it's one of those terrors that can weigh heavily on the mind of a beach-goer, particularly in higher-risk beaches such as those in Australia and South Africa. A new device is currently being developed to warn swimmers when a shark is detected in the water near a beach, and — no surprise — the Aussies are behind it. The Clever Buoy is being called the "world's first shark detection buoy" by its developers. The project is a collaboration between Australian telecommunications company Optus and marine safety company Shark Attack Mitigation Systems.
sciencehabit writes: "Thanks to a decade of programs geared toward giving people access to the necessary technology, by 2013 some 85% of Americans were surfing the World Wide Web. But how effectively are they using it? A new survey suggests that the digital divide has been replaced by a gap in digital readiness. It found that nearly 30% of Americans either aren't digitally literate or don't trust the Internet. That subgroup tended to be less educated, poorer, and older than the average American."
An anonymous reader writes "Today the FTC filed a complaint (PDF) against T-Mobile USA, alleging the carrier made hundreds of millions of dollars from bogus charges placed on customers' bills for unauthorized SMS services. "The FTC alleges that T-Mobile received anywhere from 35 to 40 percent of the total amount charged to consumers for subscriptions for content such as flirting tips, horoscope information or celebrity gossip that typically cost $9.99 per month. According to the FTC's complaint, T-Mobile in some cases continued to bill its customers for these services offered by scammers years after becoming aware of signs that the charges were fraudulent." FTC chairwoman Edith Ramirez said, "It's wrong for a company like T-Mobile to profit from scams against its customers when there were clear warning signs the charges it was imposing were fraudulent. It's wrong for a company like T-Mobile to profit from scams against its customers when there were clear warning signs the charges it was imposing were fraudulent." According to the complaint, T-Mobile also made it hard for customers to figure out they were being billed for these services, and failed to provide refunds when customers complained." Here's T-Mobile's response.
Mcusanelli writes: The Linux Foundation and its partners have released the first version of Automotive Grade Linux, the open source platform for use inside connected cars. "AGL is building the industry’s only fully open automotive platform, allowing automakers to leverage a growing software stack based on Linux while retaining the ability to create their own branded user experience. Standardizing on a single platform means the industry can rapidly innovate where it counts to create a safe and reliable connected car experience. Open collaboration within the AGL community means support for multi-architectures and features to bolster the in-vehicle infotainment (IVI) experience." Further details and source code are available from the official website.
An anonymous reader writes: If you're involved in the free and open-source software movement — especially in the United States — you may want to read through this, as long as it may seem. It appears that the United States' Internal Revenue Service has strongly shifted its views of free and open-source software, and to the detriment of the movement, in my opinion. From the article: "The IRS reasons that since Yorba’s open source software may be used for any purpose, Yorba is not a charity. Consider all the for-profit and non-charitable ways the Apache server is used; I’d still argue Apache is a charitable organization. (What else could it be?) There’s a charitable organization here in San Francisco that plants trees throughout the city for the benefit of all. If one of their tree’s shade falls on a cafe table and cools the cafe’s patrons as they enjoy their espressos, does that mean the tree-planting organization is no longer a charity?"
sfcrazy (1542989) writes "It's a sad day for free software as one of the most ambitious free software projects, Improv, is officially dead. Along with the board also dies the promising Vivaldi tablet [video intro]. The developers have sent out emails to the backers of the project that they are pulling plugs on these. The end of the Improv project also means a disappointing end to the KDE Tablet project, as Aaron Seigo was funding both projects out of his own pocket (almost exactly $200,000 spent)."
mrspoonsi (2955715) writes A court permitted the NSA to collect information about governments in 193 countries and foreign institutions like the World Bank, according to a secret document the Washington Post published Monday. The certification issued by a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court in 2010 shows the NSA has the authority to "intercept through U.S. companies not just the communications of its overseas targets, but any communications about its targets as well," according to the Post's report. Only four countries in the world — Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand — were exempt from the agreement, due to existing no-spying agreements that the Post highlights in this document about the group of countries, known as "Five Eyes" with the U.S.
An anonymous reader writes In a legislative first, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Monday that for-profit companies can, in essence, hold religious views. Given the Supreme Court's earlier decisions granting corporations the right to express political support through monetary donations, this ruling is not all that surprising. Its scope does not extend beyond family-owned companies where "there's no real difference between the business and its owners." It also only applies to the contraception mandate of the health care law. The justices indicated that contraceptive coverage can still be obtained through exceptions to the mandate that have already been introduced to accommodate religious nonprofits. Those exceptions, which authorize insurance companies to provide the coverage instead of the employers, are currently being challenged in lower courts. The "closely held" test is pretty meaningless, since the majority of U.S. corporations are closely held.
An anonymous reader writes "A month ago, LeVar Burton and his friends at Reading Rainbow created a Kickstarter campaign designed to bring their app for the iPad and Kindle Fire to the Web at large. They asked for a million dollars, and quickly blew the doors off their goal, receiving over three million dollars in three days. There are 48 hours remaining in the fundraiser, which has garnered over 4.5 million dollars, and with over 92,000 contributors, is the most heavily backed Kickstarter campaign of all time. To sweeten the pot, Family Guy's Seth MacFarlane has offered to match any pledges over the $4 million mark, up to an additional million dollars."
sciencehabit writes Millions of tons. That's how much plastic should be floating in the world's oceans, given our ubiquitous use of the stuff. But a new study (abstract) finds that 99% of this plastic is missing. One disturbing possibility: Fish are eating it. If that's the case, "there is potential for this plastic to enter the global ocean food web," says Carlos Duarte, an oceanographer at the University of Western Australia, Crawley. "And we are part of this food web."
An anonymous reader writes The Obama Administration is set to appoint Phil Johnson, a pharmaceutical industry executive, as the next Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office, according to sources. The move is likely to anger patent reform advocates given Johnson's past efforts to block legislation aimed at reining in patent trolls, and in light of his positions that appear to contradict the White House's professed goal of fixing the patent system. The top job at the Patent Office has been vacant for around 18-months since the departure of previous director David Kappos in early 2013. Currently, the office is being managed by former Googler Michelle Lee, who was appointed deputy director in December. Earlier this month, Republican Senators led by Orrin Hatch (R-UT) sent a letter to President Obama that praised Lee but that also described the current USPTO management structure as "unfair, untenable and unacceptable for our country's intellectual property agency."
tsu doh nimh writes In a move that may wind up helping spammers, Microsoft is blaming a new Canadian anti-spam law for the company's recent decision to stop sending regular emails about security updates for its Windows operating system and other Microsoft software. Some anti-spam experts who worked very closely on Canada's Anti-Spam Law (CASL) say they are baffled by Microsoft's response to a law which has been almost a decade in the making. Indeed, an exception in the law says it does not apply to commercial electronic messages that solely provide "warranty information, product recall information or safety or security information about a product, goods or a service that the person to whom the message is sent uses, has used or has purchased." Several people have observed that Microsoft likely is using the law as a convenient excuse for dumping an expensive delivery channel.
An anonymous reader writes University of Cambridge scientists have broken a decade-old superconducting record by packing a 17.6 Tesla magnetic field into a golf ball-sized hunk of crystal — equivalent to about three tons of force. From the Cambridge announcement: "A world record that has stood for more than a decade has been broken by a team led by University of Cambridge engineers, harnessing the equivalent of three tonnes of force inside a golf ball-sized sample of material that is normally as brittle as fine china. The Cambridge researchers managed to 'trap' a magnetic field with a strength of 17.6 Tesla — roughly 100 times stronger than the field generated by a typical fridge magnet — in a high temperature gadolinium barium copper oxide (GdBCO) superconductor, beating the previous record by 0.4 Tesla."
An anonymous reader writes with news about a possible new direction for Julian Assange. Julian Assange is expected to make his London Fashion Week debut this September. The Australian WikiLeaks founder will reportedly model for Vivienne Westwood’s son, Ben Westwood, at a fashion show staged at the Ecuadorean Embassy, where he has been seeking refuge for the past two years. He is avoiding extradition to Sweden, where he is wanted for questioning over claims of sex offences. “Julian’s been in the embassy for two years and it’s important that he doesn’t slip into obscurity,” said Ben Westwood. “I want to highlight Julian Assange’s plight. What happened to him is totally unfair.”
An anonymous reader writes A NASA satellite being prepared for launch early on Tuesday is expected to reveal details about where carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas tied to climate change, is being released into Earth's atmosphere on a global scale. From the article: "The $468 million mission is designed to study the main driver of climate change emitted from smokestacks and tailpipes. Some of the carbon dioxide is sucked up by trees and oceans, and the rest is lofted into the atmosphere, trapping the sun's heat and warming the planet. But atmospheric CO2 levels fluctuate with the seasons and in different regions of the Earth. The natural and human activities that cause the changes are complicated. The Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2, or OCO-2 for short, will be able to take an ultra-detailed look at most of the Earth's surface to identify places responsible for producing or absorbing the greenhouse gas."
jfruh (300774) writes "California governor Jerry Brown has signed a law repealing Section 107 of California's Corporations Code, which prohibited companies or individuals from issuing money other than U.S. dollars. Before the law was repealed, not only bitcoin but everything from Amazon Coin to Starbucks Stars were techinically illegal; the law was generally not enforced."
VentureBeat reports that the unofficial Google ambassador to the world has made another significant visit to a place where Internet access is either forbidden or impractical for most of the citizenry; hopefully it heralds change on that front. Continuing his tour of countries with authoritarian governments and less-than-favorable Internet access, Google Chairman Eric Schmidt made a secret visit to Cuba yesterday. The U.S. government has forbidden its citizens from traveling to Cuba or spending any money within the country since cold war tensions in the 1960s. Even though the cold war is over, the ban remains in effect, which is why Schmidt’s visit is significant. Unofficially (meaning not on behalf of his company), the powerful Googler has also made controversial visits to North Korea and Myanmar to promote Internet freedom, and has previously spoken out against online censorship happening in both China and India. Schmidt, says the article, "was joined by a crew of former Google employees as well as author Jared Cohen."
An anonymous reader writes The U.S. National Archives has revealed to Wikipedia newspaper The Signpost that it will be uploading all of its holdings to the Wikimedia Commons. Dominic McDevitt-Parks told the Signpost that "The records we have uploaded so far contain some of the most high-value holdings ... However, we are not limiting ourselves ... Our approach has always been simply to upload as much as possible ... to make them as widely accessible to the public as possible."
An anonymous reader writes A day after a surprise U.S. Supreme Court decision to outlaw streaming TV service Aereo, U.S. broadcaster Fox has moved to use the ruling to clamp down on another internet TV service. Fox has cited Wednesday's ruling – which found Aereo to be operating illegally – to bolster its claim against a service offered by Dish, America's third largest pay TV service, which streams live TV programming over the internet to its subscribers and allows them to copy programmes onto tablet computers for viewing outside the home.