Wednesday, December 15, 2010

IRS employee uses Outlook rules to intercept boss's e-mails, convicted of wiretapping

By Tim Stevens  posted Dec 15th 2010 12:52PM

IRS employee uses Outlook rules to intercept boss's e-mails, convicted of wiretapping
Here's an interesting question for you: if you set up a rule in Microsoft Outlook to forward messages from one account to another, and you do it without the knowledge of the owner of the account you're forwarding from, are you intercepting or merely copying mail? It may seem like a moot point, but for David Szymuszkiewicz, a former IRS worker, it's an important distinction. David was afraid of being fired after his license was suspended for drunk driving (he needed to drive to the homes of delinquent taxpayers), so he secretly set up this rule on his boss's machine to see what the world was saying about him. The rule was discovered and, wouldn't you know it, he was in trouble. The only question now: whether to charge him under the Wiretap Act for intercepting messages or the Stored Communications Act for merely copying of them.

Atomic Weight Not So Constant

Posted by kdawson on Wednesday December 15, @05:22AM
from the thulium-and-thalium dept.
DangerousBeauty writes"Yahoo has a Canadian Press story up about new changes to the periodic table of elementsconcerning the weights of specific elements — it seems that the weights fluctuate based on where they are found in nature. Quoting: '"People are probably comfortable with having a single value for the atomic weight, but that is not the reality for our natural world," says University of Calgary associate professor Michael Wieser.' He is is secretary of the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry's Commission on Isotopic Abundances and Weights."

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

'Jeopardy!' To Pit Humans Against IBM Machine

Posted by CmdrTaco on Tuesday December 14, @09:38AM
from the there-can-be-only-one dept.
digitaldc writes"The game show Jeopardy! will pit man versus machine this winter in a competition that will show how successful scientists are in creating a computer that can mimic human intelligence. Two of the venerable game show's most successful champions — Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter — will play two games against 'Watson,' a computer program developed by IBM's artificial intelligence team. The matches will be spread over three days that will air Feb. 14-16, the game show said on Tuesday. The competition is reminiscent of when IBM developed a chess-playing computer to compete against chess champion Garry Kasparov in 1997."

Nook Color getting Android 2.2 and Market in January, current hacks could make it blow up

By Tim Stevens  posted Dec 14th 2010 10:20AM

Nook Color getting Android 2.2 in January, current FroYo and Market hacks could make it blow up
You had to know the hacking community was going to have a field day with the Nook Color -- a $249 Android Tablet hiding behind with a thin e-reader coating. Indeed it didn't take long to get rooted nor for Android 2.2 to get installed on there, but that particular hack comes with an interesting potential side-effect: small-scale thermonuclear explosions. Enabling FroYo requires disabling the device's battery monitoring process, the very one that would be responsible for shutting down the device before the cells start overheating and, ultimately, going critical. Yeah it's unlikely, but it could happen. Meanwhile, another hack has enabled the Android Market, but those instructions begin with a very daunting warning: "Very smart people have failed at this. If the following instructions confuse you, you might want to wait until an easier method has been developed."

And, thankfully, there is a much easier way coming, with Barnes & Noble confirming that Android 2.2 will be officially coming to the Nook Color in January. Yes, Android 2.3 is what's happening, but this is still an exciting upgrade as it will finally also allow access to a traditional Android home screen and even enable the Android Market. In other words, it should work just like an Android tablet, Kindle app and all.

Too Funny not to share the Dept of Navy STD vid from the 70's

All I can say is WOW!

Over Long Haul, Money Doesn’t Buy Happiness

ScienceDaily (Dec. 13, 2010) — A new collaborative paper by economist Richard Easterlin -- namesake of the "Easterlin Paradox" and founder of the field of happiness studies -- offers the broadest range of evidence to date demonstrating that a higher rate of economic growth does not result in a greater increase of happiness.

New Evidence That Magnetism Is Driving Force Behind Superconductivity

ScienceDaily (Dec. 13, 2010) — European and U.S. physicists this week are offering up the strongest evidence yet that magnetism is the driving force behind unconventional superconductivity. The findings by researchers from Rice University, the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Physics of Solids (MPI-CPfS) in Dresden, Germany, and other institutions were published online December 13 inNature Physics.

Protein Restores Learning, Memory in Alzheimer's Mouse Model

ScienceDaily (Dec. 13, 2010) — Scientists at the UT Health Science Center San Antonio restored learning and memory in an Alzheimer's disease mouse model by increasing a protein called CBP. Salvatore Oddo, Ph.D., of the university's Department of Physiology and Barshop Institute for Longevity and Aging Studies, said this is the first proof that boosting CBP, which triggers the production of other proteins essential to creating memories, can reverse Alzheimer's effects.

Why Video Game Movie Adaptations Need New Respect

Posted by Soulskill on Tuesday December 14, @03:25AM
from the no-more-fighting-game-movies-please dept.
An anonymous reader writes"Hollywood has yet to find any video game property it is willing to treat with the same respect as J.R.R. Tolkien or J.K.Rowling, arguably still following the principles that led to the appalling Super Mario Bros. movie in 1992: 'A game lacks the complexity that a movie requires.' Yet a modern gaming masterpiece such as Mass Effect has the depth and breadth to deserve better treatment in the proposed trilogy. Is Hollywood again going to disrespect fans who, in this case, have as much right to see a good plot respected as the readers of Lord Of The Rings? This article discusses why and how Hollywood should grow up regarding these adaptations."

Monday, December 13, 2010

A Bionic Leg That Rewires Stroke Victims' Brains

Posted by Soulskill on Monday December 13, @02:42PM
from the skynet's-trojan-horse dept.
waderoush writes"A startup called Tibion in Sunnyvale, CA, has begun selling battery-powered robotic exoskeletons that help stroke victims with one-sided weakness relearn how to stand, sit, walk, and negotiate stairs. The leg isn't a permanent attachment; the company says patients who use the device for 45 minutes a week for four weeks experience significant gains in walking speed that persist and even improve months after the treatment. They believe that the $40,000 device — which includes sensors that respond to subtle signs of user intentions, such a shift in weight — provides feedback that triggers neuroplasticity, the brain's ability to rewire itself to repair damage."

Contorting Batteries: Charging Makes Nano-Sized Electrodes Swell, Elongate and Spiral

ScienceDaily (Dec. 9, 2010) — New high resolution images of electrode wires made from materials used in rechargeable lithium ion batteries shows them contorting as they become charged with electricity. The thin, nano-sized wires writhe and fatten as lithium ions flow in during charging, according to a paper in this week's issue of the journal Science. The work suggests how rechargeable batteries eventually give out and might offer insights for building better batteries.

Physicists Make Atoms and Dark Matter Add Up

ScienceDaily (Nov. 24, 2010) — UBC and TRIUMF physicists have proposed a unified explanation for dark matter and the so-called baryon asymmetry--the apparent imbalance of matter with positive baryon charge and antimatter with negative baryon charge in the Universe.

Scientists Create Programmable Bacteria

Posted by samzenpus on Monday December 13, @04:54AM
from the anti-coding-soap dept.
wilmavanwyk writes"In research that further bridges the biological and digital world, scientists at the University of California, San Francisco have created bacteria that can be programmed like a computer. Researchers built 'logic gates' – the building blocks of a circuit – out of genes and put them into E. coli bacteria strains. The logic gates mimic digital processing and form the basis of computational communication between cells, according to synthetic biologist Christopher A. Voigt."

Next Generation of Algorithms Inspired by Ants

Posted by samzenpus on Sunday December 12, @01:49PM
from the bugs-for-bugs dept.
letsurock writes"Ants' capability to find the shortest route through a maze in an hour, and to find the second shortest route when the first path was obstructed, has inspired researchers creating algorithms for the future. From the article: 'Finding the most efficient path through a busy network is a common challenge faced by delivery drivers, telephone routers and engineers. To solve these optimization problems using software, computer scientists have often sought inspiration from ant colonies in nature — creating algorithms that simulate the behavior of ants who find the most efficient routes from their nests to food sources by following each other's volatile pheromone trails. The most widely used of these ant-inspired algorithms is known as Ant Colony Optimization (ACO).'"

High-Tech War Games Help Save Lives

Posted by samzenpus on Sunday December 12, @09:34PM
from the more-real-than-real dept.
An anonymous reader writes"CNN is reporting on the new training mannequins being used by The United States military. Advances in technology have allowed the training dummies to become ultra-realistic. From the article: 'New battery-operated, remote-controlled mannequins can simulate bleeding and breathing, and they have blinking eyes that dilate. Medics can test their skills on these life-like mannequins. The new units, which are packed with technology, are used at 23 US Army Medical Simulation Training Centers as part of a program to teach lifesaving techniques to medics and nonmedical personnel. A Pentagon study says the training program has saved 1,000 soldiers' lives in combat, said Lt. Col. Wilson Ariza, manager of the US Army Medical Simulation Project. '"

Friday, December 10, 2010

Living in Certain Neighborhoods Increases the Chances Older Men and Women Will Develop Cancer, Study Finds

ScienceDaily (Dec. 9, 2010) — Older people who live in racially segregated neighborhoods with high crime rates have a much higher chance of developing cancer than do older people with similar health histories and income levels who live in safer, less segregated neighborhoods.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Bus Law Meant to Protect Kids Has Major Loophole

State code can sometimes be written in such a convoluted manner, it's hard to know what exactly a law means.

But one thing is for sure about Virginia's 40-year-old bus safety statute that makes it illegal to pass a school bus while it's picking up or dropping off children: it's missing a word. 

A very costly word.

A man in Northern Virginia was recently acquitted of a reckless driving charge because his attorney argued there's no evidence the man "failed to stop any school bus."

The wording in the Virginia state law should read, "a person is guilty of reckless driving who fails to stop....AT any school bus which is stopped on any highway, private road or school driveway."

But the state law omits the word "at," making it illegal to 'fail to stop a school bus."

State Delegate Joe Morrissey, D-74th, reviewed the Virginia code and sided with the judge for finding the man 'not guilty' of reckless driving.

"Quite frankly, the legislature in 1970 screwed up," said Morrissey. "They should have caught it, and my feeling is that people, citizens should be the beneficiaries if we screw up in a particular word."

Morrissey said another version of the law has already been drafted, and the corrected bill will gain passage in the 2011 General Assembly session in a couple of months.

The former prosecutor said it's hard to cast blame in a situation like this, which involves a complicated political process.

"Everybody's at fault," said Morrissey, "everybody voted on it, and it's not unusual when we're voting on a bill."

He added that the legislation goes through many different changes/evolutions between committees and both chambers, and sometimes typing mistakes just slip through the cracks.

Richmond parents concerned about the safety of their children did not agree with the judge's decision in this case, nor did they find the shrewd lawyer's discovery of the missing "at" very amusing.

"No, no," said Diana Nebille, shaking her head. "A simple typo. When you're talking the safety of our children, no. That's the wrong decision."

Another mom, Rebecca Wolf, worried about what the verdict would mean for future drivers who break the law.

"[The judge] should have been a little less shallow and realized what he was really doing by letting this person go," said Wolf. "It's setting a precedent for anyone else to get off that way too."


Super Interesting site on drinking Ages

$200B Lost To Counterfeiting? Back It Up

Posted by kdawson on Monday August 02, @09:35PM
from the pulled-from-some-orifice dept.
An anonymous reader writes"Over the weekend, the NY Times ran a story about how the recession has impacted product counterfeiters. In it, the reporter regurgitates the oft-repeated claim that counterfeiting 'costs American businesses an estimated $200 billion a year.' Techdirt's Mike Masnick asks the Times reporter to back up that assertion, noting two recent reports (by the GAO and the OECD) that suggest the actual number is much lower, and quoting two reporters who have actually looked at the numbers and found (a) the real number is probably less than $5 billion, and (b) the $200 billion number can be traced back to a totally unsourced (read: made-up) magazine claim from two decades ago."

Pets sing Deck the Halls

Tentacle-Like Prosthetic Arm Will Haunt Your Dreams

  • 7:13 am  |  

  • Categories: R&D and Inventions

    << Previous | Next >>

    << Previous | Next >>
    Kaylene Kau’s prosthetic arm is either a sweet modern update of the old-fashioned pirate’s hook, or a terrifying device that will turn its wearer into a Cthuloid-human mongrel. I favor the former, if only because I want to sleep at night.
    The prosthesis is designed not to be a prehensile limb, but instead as an assistive appendage for the good arm. A simple motor drives two cables inside the tentacle, and the wearer controls it via a pair of switches on the upper section. Just put the “arm” in place, hit the switch and it curls around whatever you might want to carry. The other switch unfurls the arm.
    It’s not Dean Kamen’s astonishing robot arm, but then it would also be a lot cheaper, and therefore available to many more people. And if a pirate were to swap this in for his current, eye-gouging hook setup, he’d certainly be keeping to an oceanic theme.

    Proverbial Wallets make your metaphysical money a little more tangible

    By Tim Stevens  posted Dec 9th 2010 8:59AM

    Counting dollars and cents on the checkout counter really makes you feel the weight of every expenditure. Swiping a credit card or waving an NFC device over a sensor? Not so much. Enter the Proverbial Wallets from the Information Ecology group at the MIT Media Lab, three separate devices that use three haptic techniques to curtail your spending. First is the Bumblebee, which buzzes and vibrates whenever money comes into or goes out from your account. Next is Mother Bear, which becomes harder to open as you get closer to your spending goal. Finally is Peacock, which swells proudly as your bank balance does the same. Sadly none of these are actually available yet, but we have a feeling if they were they might put a bit of a hurting on our very real and very strict budgets.

    Goodbye, VGA

    Posted by CmdrTaco on Thursday December 09, @08:42AM
    from the we-definitely-knew-thee dept.
    jones_supa writes"Leading PC companies have expressed their will to finally start kicking out legacy display interfaces. Intel plans to end support of LVDS in 2013 and VGA in 2015 in its PC client processors and chipsets. While the large installed base of existing VGA monitors and projectors will likely keep VGA on PC back panels beyond 2015, PC and display panel makers are in strong support of this transition. The DisplayPort connector interface provides backwards and forwards compatibility by supporting VGA and DVI output via certified adapters, while also providing new capabilities such as single connector multi-monitor support."

    Kinect finally fulfills its Minority Report destiny (video)

    By Vlad Savov  posted Dec 9th 2010 8:35AM

    Not to denigrate the numerous fine hacks that Kinect's undergone since its launch, but it's always nice to see the professionals come in and shake things up a little. A crew from MIT's brain labs has put together a hand detection system on Microsoft's ultra-versatile cam, which is sophisticated enough to recognize the position of both your palms and fingers. Just as a demonstration, they've tied that good stuff up to a little picture-scrolling UI, and you won't be surprised to hear that it's the closest thing toMinority Report's interactive gesture-based interface that we've seen yet. And it's all achieved with a freaking console peripheral. Video after the break.

    Influenza Virus Strains Show Increasing Drug Resistance and Ability to Spread

    ScienceDaily (Dec. 7, 2010) — Two new studies raise public health concerns about increasing antiviral resistance among certain influenza viruses, their ability to spread, and a lack of alternative antiviral treatment options. The findings are published in the January 1 issue of The Journal of Infectious Diseases.

    'Secret Ingredient' in Religion Makes People Happier

    ScienceDaily (Dec. 7, 2010) — While the positive correlation between religiosity and life satisfaction has long been known, a new study in the December issue of the American Sociological Review reveals religion's "secret ingredient" that makes people happier.

    Scientists Create Mice From 2 Fathers

    Posted by samzenpus on Thursday December 09, @04:33AM
    from the heather-has-two-mommies dept.
    An anonymous reader writes"Using stem cell technology, reproductive scientists in Texas, led by Dr. Richard R. Berhringer at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, have produced male and female mice from two fathers. The study was posted today (Wednesday, December 8) at the online site of the journal Biology of Reproduction. The achievement of two-father offspring in a species of mammal could be a step toward preserving endangered species, improving livestock breeds, and advancing human assisted reproductive technology (ART). It also opens the provocative possibility of same-sex couples having their own genetic children, the researchers note."