Friday, April 10, 2009

Novel Needle Could Cut Medical Complications

ScienceDaily (Apr. 10, 2009) — Each year, hundreds of thousands of people suffer medical complications from hypodermic needles that penetrate too far under their skin. A new device developed by MIT engineers and colleagues aims to prevent this from happening by keeping needles on target.

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Thursday, April 9, 2009

Vandals take down Internet, emergency, and voice services in California

by Thomas Ricker, posted Apr 10th 2009 at 3:10AM

Feeling vulnerable? Maybe you should. Apparently, taking down the Internet, ATMs, and landline and wireless phone services is as easy as crawling down a few strategically located manholes and hacking through some fiber optic cables. Police in California suspect exactly that after "vandals" cut a total of 10 fiber optic cables (each containing between 48 and 360 fibers) at 4 locations on Thursday morning. The AT&T and Sprint cables knocked "tens of thousands" of San Francisco, Bay Area residents off the grid including an additional 52,000 Verizon landline and wireless customers. San Jose spokesman, Sgt. Ronnie Lopez, says that Vandals somehow managed to thwart the safeguards securing this important element of the US infrastructure. "The manhole covers are heavy," he said, "and would take quite an effort to lift, perhaps even requiring a tool." Amazing. There's been plenty of speculation that disgruntled members of the Communication Workers of America union are to blame after its contract with AT&T expired amid "strike-threatened contract negotiations" over the weekend -- something CWA officials adamantly deny. And they should... everyone knows that kidnapping corporate bosses is the hot new trend for curing the gruntles. AT&T is offering a $100,000 reward for information leading to the vandals.

Casmobot lawnmower is a slave to the flick of a Wiimote

by Ross Miller, posted Apr 9th 2009 at 6:24AM

Most of the time we see a Wii mote controlling something tangible, it's more for entertainment value like an airsoft gun or Rovio. The Casmobot lawnmower, developed by scientists from the University of Southern Denmark, is actually quite useful if you loathe outdoor chores. It can be steered into grass-cutting action via the tilt of the controller synced with Bluetooth. Alternatively, you can drive it for a lap around the border of the yard and then put it on autopilot to mow inside the designated zone. We wouldn't run in front of it while its in motion, though, it's probably not as forgiving of interruption as a roomba. Researcher Kjeld Jensen also suggested applying the same technology to your grandmother's wheelchair, but we really don't think she'd appreciate that. See it for yourself in the video after the break.

Microsoft Ordered To Pay $388 Million In Patent Case

Posted by samzenpus on Thursday April 09, @04:13AM

from the pay-up dept.
jeffmeden writes"BusinessWeek reports today that Microsoft suffered a loss in federal court Monday. The judge rendering the verdict ordered Microsoft to pay $388 Million in damages for violating a patent held by Uniloc, a California maker of software that prevents people from illegally installing software on multiple computers. Uniloc claims Microsoft's Windows XP and some Office programs infringe on a related patent they hold. It's hard to take sides on this one, but one thing is certain: should the verdict hold up, it will be heavily ironic if the extra copies of XP and Office sold due to crafty copy protection end up not being worth $388 million."

Chimpanzees Exchange Meat For Sex

Posted by samzenpus on Wednesday April 08, @08:48PM

from the what-do-I-get-for-a-cheeseburger dept.
the_therapist writes"A team from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Germany, studied chimps in the Tai Forest reserve in Ivory Coast and discovered that chimpanzees enter into 'deals' whereby they exchange meat for sex. Among the findings are that 'male chimps that are willing to share the proceeds of their hunting expeditions mate twice as often as their more selfish counterparts.' They also found this to be 'a long-term exchange, so males continue to share their catch with females when they are not fertile, copulating with them when they are.'"

Intelligent cat door utilizes Twitter, RFID masterfully

by Darren Murph, posted Apr 9th 2009 at 12:21AM

What goes well with a communication-enabled water dish? Why, a Twitter / RFID-enabled kitty door, of course! The so-called Tweeting Cat Door is undoubtedly the most hilarious, insightful and useful DIY contraption we've ever seen to wed RFID, social networking and computer programming. Essentially, this homegrown cat door was crafted to only open when Gus or Penny walks up with their super special RFID tags; once they approach, a mounted camera snaps a picture and uploads it (along with a quip) to Twitter. Don't deny it -- your feline is steaming with envy from the corner of your desk right now.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Powerful Sonar Causes Deafness In Dolphins

Posted by Soulskill on Wednesday April 08, @12:30PM

from the sorry-flipper dept.
EarthThe MilitaryScience
Hugh Pickens writes"Mass strandings of dolphins and whales could be caused because the animals are rendered temporarily deaf by military sonar, experiments have shown. Tests on a captive dolphin have demonstrated that hearing can be lost for up to 40 minutes on exposure to sonar and may explain several strandings of dolphins and whales in the past decade. Most strandings are still thought to be natural events, but the tests strengthen fears that exercises by naval vessels equipped with sonar are responsible for at least some of them. For example, in the Bahamas in March, 2000, 16 Cuvier's beaked whales and Blainville's beaked whales and a spotted dolphin beached during a US navy exercise in which sonar was used intensively for 16 hours (PDF). 'The big question is what causes them to strand,' says Dr. Aran Mooney, of the University of Hawaii. 'What we are looking at are animals whose primary sense is hearing, like ours is seeing. Their ears are the most sensitive organ they have.' In the experiment, scientists fitted a harmless suction cup to the dolphin's head, with a sensor attached that monitored the animal's brainwaves, and when the pings reached 203 decibels and were repeated, the neurological data showed the mammal had become deaf, for its brain no longer responded to sound. 'We definitely showed that there are physiological and some behavioral effects [from repeated, loud sonar], but to extrapolate that into the wild, we don't really know,' said Mooney."

Star Trek Premiere Gets Standing Ovation, Surprise Showing In Austin

Posted by Soulskill on Wednesday April 08, @11:05AM

from the set-phasers-to-awesome dept.
MrKaos writes"Proving that science fiction can still be great entertainment, J.J. Abrams appears to have impressed Star Trek fans at the official world premiere of Star Trek, who gave the film a five-minute standing ovation at the Sydney Opera House in Australia today. Meanwhile, mere hours beforehand, flummoxed fans at the Alamo Drafthouse theater in Austin, TX, deceived into thinking they were seeing a special, extended version of Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan, were pleasantly surprised when a disguised Leonard Nimoy greeted them and announced they would be seeing the new film in its entirety. ILM's influence on the film is reported as visually stunning, and lucky Australian fans are scheduled to see the movie first, as it opens a day before the American release."

Google CEO Warns Newspapers Not To Anger Readers

Posted by Soulskill on Wednesday April 08, @08:54AM

from the hand-that-feeds dept.
GoogleThe MediaNews
Barence writes"Google CEO Eric Schmidt has hit back at newspaper bosses, warning them that they risk alienating readers in their war against news aggregators such as Google News. 'I would encourage everybody to think in terms of what your reader wants,' Schmidt said at a conference for the Newspaper Association of America. 'These are ultimately consumer businesses and if you piss off enough of them, you will not have any more.' Schmidt's rebuke follows a sustained attack on Google by newspaper bosses such as Rupert Murdoch, who have accused the search giant of 'stealing' their content without payment."Schmidt also suggested that newspapers need to expand their distribution methods to make better use of mobile technology, and a NY Times piece argues that the Associated Press' struggle against aggregators is futile since they're largely trying to give news stories to consumers for free anyway.

New Discovery May End Transplant Rejection

Posted by Soulskill on Wednesday April 08, @09:38AM

from the time-to-get-that-extra-liver-you've-always-wanted dept.
mmmscience writes with this excerpt from the Examiner:"Big news in the medical world: scientists in Australia have found a way to stop the body from attacking organ transplants, greatly decreasing the possibility of organ rejection. ... When a new tissue is introduced, one's immune system kicks into overdrive, sending out cells known as killer T cells to attack and destroy the unknown tissue. ... Professor Jonathan Sprent and Dr. Kylie Webster from Sydney's Garvan Institute of Medical Research focused on a different type of T cells — known as regulatory T cells (Treg) — in this study. Tregs are capable of quieting the immune system, stopping the killer T cells from seeking out and attacking foreign objects."

Balancing Hormones May Help Prevent Preterm Births

ScienceDaily (Apr. 8, 2009) — The relationship between two different types of estrogen and a hormone produced in the placenta may serve as the mechanism for signaling labor, according to a new study. This finding may help doctors intervene and prevent preterm birth much more effectively.

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US Electricity Grid Reportedly Penetrated By Spies

Posted by kdawson on Wednesday April 08, @05:05AM

from the im-in-ur-wirez-eatin-ur-lectrons dept.
SecurityPowerUnited States
phantomfive worries about a report in the Wall Street Journal ("Makes me want to move to the country and dig a well") that in recent years a number of cyber attacks against US infrastructure have been launched over the Internet:"Cyberspies have penetrated the US electrical grid and left behind software programs that could be used to disrupt the system, according to current and former national-security officials. The spies came from China, Russia, and other countries, these officials said, and were believed to be on a mission to navigate the US electrical system and its controls. The intruders haven't sought to damage the power grid or other key infrastructure, but officials warned they could try during a crisis or war."

DIY Multi-Touch Tabletop "Surface PC"

Posted by kdawson on Wednesday April 08, @01:56AM

from the beneath-the-surface dept.
Hardware HackingDisplaysInput Devices
notthatwillsmith writes"We've all seen the nifty demos of Microsoft's Surface PC. Now Maximum PC details how you can put together your own multi-touch tabletop PC. The article shows how you can build the cabinet and combine that with a standard PC, a decent projector, about $350 worth of assorted hardware (cameras, lenses, mirrors, and screens), and a handful of free apps to build your own Surface-like PC — without giving Microsoft $10,000."

Tuesday, April 7, 2009


by Darren Murph, posted Apr 7th 2009 at 11:04AM

As depressing as it is to see an American icon come this close to collapse, is it really any surprise? While the world kept turning, Netflix kept reinventing itself and movies found their way onto the internets (legally), Blockbuster sat still... and that's putting things nicely. Sure, it tried the whole movie set-top-box thing, but no on will argue that it went about things the wrong way. In a recent SEC filing, the company made perfectly clear that there was serious risk that it wouldn't be able to refinance its crushing debt load in order to stay afloat for a wee bit longer; in fact, it noted that said quandary raised "substantial doubt" about its "ability to continue." 'Course, hampering its Total Access rental plan and promising less stock in-store doesn't exactly sound like a brilliant plan to be successful, but maybe yesterday would be the best time to completely revolutionize its business and go online only. Just an idea, is all.

Video: WiiSpray lets virtual taggers spray without fear of the man

by Tim Stevens, posted Apr 7th 2009 at 7:47AM

When we first caught a whiff of the virtual aerosol action promised by Martin Lihs' thesis at Bauhaus University, dubbed WiiSpray, we were intrigued, but we never figured the end product would be this impressive. Lihs has since posted up a short teaser trailer showing the wall in action, controlled by a modified Wiimote controller, with results that should make even the most law-abiding artist smile. The video below shows an extensive color picker tool, interactive stencils, and what looks to be a perfectly accurate spray pattern -- and it should be, as the whole is getup is sponsored by Montana Cans. We're not sure what's next for this technology, but hopefully Lihs and his creation will be bombing a more public location soon.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Sunseeker II solar-powered plane begins its European tour

Google's Plan For Out-of-Print Books Is Challenged

Posted by ScuttleMonkey on Monday April 06, @01:12PM

from the time-for-yet-another-open-source-license dept.
GoogleThe Courts
Death Metal writes to tell us that a growing tide of complaints are being piled at Google's feet in response to a far-reaching settlement that some feel will grant the giant too much power over the "orphan books" they have been scanning into digital format. The settlement could give Google near-exclusivity with respect to the copyright of orphan works — books that the author and publisher have essentially abandoned. They are out of print, and while they remain under copyright, the rights holders are unknown or cannot be found."Critics say that without the orphan books, no competitor will ever be able to compile the comprehensive online library Google aims to create, giving the company more control than ever over the realm of digital information. And without competition, they say, Google will be able to charge universities and others high prices for access to its database. The settlement, 'takes the vast bulk of books that are in research libraries and makes them into a single database that is the property of Google,' said Robert Darnton, head of the Harvard University library system. 'Google will be a monopoly.'"

Could the Internet Be Taken Down In 30 Minutes?

Posted by ScuttleMonkey on Monday April 06, @02:00PM

from the millions-of-voices-suddenly-cried-out-in-terror dept.
SecurityThe Internet
GhostX9 writes"Tom's Hardware recently interviewed Dino A. Dai Zovi, a former member of Sandia National Labs' IDART (the guys who test the security of national agencies). Although most of the interview is focused on personal computer security, they asked him about L0pht's claim in 1998 if the Internet could still be taken down in 30 minutes given the advances on both the security and threat sides. He said that the risk was still true."

April Fools Sees Fake Extra Millions For Users of Brokerage Site

Posted by ScuttleMonkey on Monday April 06, @02:43PM

from the where-not-to-do-business dept.
It's funny.  Laugh.Technology
Upstart online brokerage site Zecco had an unfortunate April Fool's day snafu that they are claiming was an honest mistake. Users logged on to find larger balances than they should have, sometimes millions of dollars extra, and many of those users started trading with the nonexistent money. Happy April Fool's Day."... when Zecco realized it, the company apparently started to force sell, even at a loss, charging the losses to the customers along with a '$19.99 broker-assisted trading fee.' Oops."