Thursday, December 8, 2011

Big Brother In the Home Office

Posted by timothy  

from the where-the-raspberry-pi-comes-in dept.
hessian writes with this excerpt from the New York Times' "Bits" column:"Tens of thousands of programmers, writers, accountants and other workers labor at home doing contract work for companies like Google, Hewlett-Packard and NBC. The computers they use contain software that takes snapshots of what they are doing six times an hour. The snooping occurs randomly, making it impossible for the computer user to game the system. t is probably more invasive than what happens to those working in offices, where scooting through Facebook entries, shopping on Cyber Monday, and peeping at N.S.F.W. ('Not Safe for Work') Web sites on corporate computers is both normal and rarely observed by managers."

Miyamoto Steps Down As Nintendo Game Design Head

Posted by timothy  

from the truly-an-american-icon dept.
RobinEggs writes"Nintendo's Shigeru Miyamoto, the creator and producer of the Zelda and Mario franchises among other works, is stepping down at Nintendo. After personally managing Nintendo's blockbuster franchises for ~20 years, Miyamoto said today: 'What I really want to do is be in the forefront of game development once again myself. Probably working on a smaller project with even younger developers. Or I might be interested in making something that I can make myself, by myself. Something really small.'"

'MythBusters' Hosts, Adam Savage and Jamie Hynerman, Visit California Home Damaged by Cannonball

Dec 08, 2011 8:19 AM EST

"MythBusters" hosts Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman made a visit Wednesday to a home in Dublin, California, damaged a day earlier by a cannonball fired as part of an experiment for the TV show.
The miscued cannonball was fired at Alameda County bomb range about 1,000 yards (915 meters) away from the property on Tuesday afternoon.
It flew out of the range, crossed several roads and tore through Hitha Shetty's home -- leaving two gaping holes -- before bouncing off a second home and coming to rest in another family's minivan, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
The cannonball exited Shetty's house through an upstairs bedroom where his wife and infant son were sleeping.
Hyneman and Savage were not present at the range when the ill-fated firing occurred, but as the faces of "MythBusters," they visited the Shetty family to offer apologies. Both are locals of California's Bay Area, where Dublin is located.
The pair said the cannonball was accidentally fired into the residential area as their crews were calibrating a homemade cannon. They promised the footage of the incident would never be screened.
"It's a wake-up call," Savage said. "Honestly, the feeling of embarrassment is not something we're indulging in right now. We feel for the families and the people affected by this."
The "myth" their crew was working on either proving or debunking related to the ability of stone cannonballs to break through a castle wall.
"The myth was whether or not a stone cannonball could actually breach a castle's walls," Savage said.
"When you start to look into the data of what cannons can actually do, it's actually quite shocking," he said. "They're very efficient projectile-hurling weapons. It's a lot of power, and the power got away from us."

DoJ Investigates eBook Price Fixing

Posted by samzenpus  

from the pillaging-publisher dept.
dave562 writes"The U.S. Justice Department's antitrust arm said it was looking into potentially unfair pricing practices by electronic booksellers, joining European regulators and state attorneys general in a widening probe of large U.S. and international e-book publishers. A Justice Department spokeswoman confirmed that the probe involved the possibility of 'anti-competitive practices involving e-book sales.' Attorneys general in Connecticut and, reportedly, Texas, have also begun inquiries into the way electronic booksellers price their wares, and whether companies such as Apple and Amazon have set up pricing practices that are ultimately harmful to consumers."

Bill Gates To Help China Build Traveling Wave Nuclear Reactor

Posted by samzenpus  

from the power-to-a-billion-people dept.
First time accepted submitter BabaChazz writes"Microsoft Corp. co-founder Bill Gates says he is in discussions with China to jointly develop a new kind of nuclear reactor. During a talk at China's Ministry of Science & Technology Wednesday, the billionaire said: 'The idea is to be very low cost, very safe and generate very little waste.' Gates backs Washington-based TerraPower, which is developing a nuclear reactor that can run on depleted uranium."

DARPA Seeks App Developers For War App Store

Posted by samzenpus  

from the check-out-the-free-section dept.
MrSeb writes"DARPA has a problem on its hands: Satellites, unmanned drones (UAVs), and myriad other worldwide sensors are now so ubiquitous and omnipotent that the Department of Defense (DOD) doesn't actually know how to make the best use of them. In other words, the hardware is there, but the software isn't. To tackle this particularly tricky issue, DARPA is looking for smartphone app developers to help build 'sophisticated, adaptive applications.' Yes, DARPA wants to give smartphone developers access to the DOD's fleet of Hellfire missile-equipped UAVs. Instead of using a single, remote pilot to fly just one UAV, DARPA imagines 'an app [...] that allows a swarm of small deployed UAVs to be controlled as a single unit (a hive [mind] so to speak).' DARPA also wants app developers to help out with easy-to-use app interfaces, novel uses of smartphone-like sensors (accelerometers, cameras, gyros) — and ultimately, it wants to make a War Market where a soldier can simply log in with his DOD-issued smartphone or tablet and download Angry UAVs, Nuke Ninja, and other battlefield apps."

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

My Blackberry froze...

MythBusters Bust House

Posted by samzenpus  

from the home-busters dept.
ewhac writes"The San Francisco Chronicle is reporting that the MythBusters accidentally sent a cannon ball hurtling through Dublin this afternoon, punching through a home, bouncing across a six-lane road, and ultimately coming to a rest inside a now-demolished Toyota minivan. Amazingly, there were no injuries. The ball was fired from a home-made cannon at the Alameda County Sheriff's Department bomb range, and was intended to strike a water target. Instead the ball missed the water, punched through a cinder-block wall, and skipped off the hill behind. Prior to today, the MythBusters had been shooting episodes at the bomb range for over seven years without major incident. It is not clear whether Savage/Hyneman or Belleci/Imahara/Byron were conducting the experiment."

Netflix CEO Comments On Recent Decisions

Posted by Unknown Lamer  

from the everyone's-a-critic dept.
ExE122 writes"Netflix CEO Reed Hastings makes several comments about mistakes that were made over the past year. Hastings claimed, 'We moved too fast with it', [trying to exit the DVD-by-mail business] and explains that he still thinksInternet video will dominate in the coming years. From the article: 'Hastings also faced tough questions about last month's double-bomb disclosure: Netflix now expects to lose money for all of 2012, and it is looking to raise cash in a secondary offering of its stock.'"

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Graphene Spun Into Meter-Long Fibers

Posted by Soulskill  

from the incremental-progress dept.
ananyo writes"Nano-sized flakes of graphene oxide can be spun into graphene fibers several meters long, researchers in China have shown. The strong, flexible fibers, which can be tied in knots or woven into conductive mats, could be the key to deploying graphene in real-world devices such as flexible batteries."

Russian Scientists Say They'll Clone a Mammoth Within 5 Years

Posted by samzenpus  

from the pleistocene-park dept.

Many scientists (mainly Japanese and Russian) have dreamed of cloning a mammoth over the years. When the mammoth genome was partially reconstructed in 2008, that dream seemed a bit closer. Besides the millions of dollars needed for such a project, the biggest hurdle was the lack of a good sample of mammoth DNA. That hurdle has now been cleared, thanks to the discovery of well-preserved bone marrow in a mammoth thigh bone. Russian scientist Semyon Grigoriev, acting director of the Sakha Republic's mammoth museum, and colleagues from Japan's Kinki University say that within 5 years they'll likely have a clone. From the article: "What's been missing is woolly mammoth nuclei with undamaged genes. Scientists have been on a Holy Grail-type search for such pristine nuclei since the late 1990s. Now it sounds like the missing genes may have been found."

Proteins Build "Cages" Around Bacteria

Posted by Unknown Lamer  

from the take-em-on-down-to-the-appendix dept.
ananyo writes"Research in human cells shows that proteins called septins are able tobuild cages around pathogens to prevent them from infecting other cells. According to the researchers, the newly discovered defense system could lead to new therapies for diseases. The microbes trapped in the cage are later broken down by the cell."

Kepler Confirms Exoplanet Inside Star's Habitable Zone

Posted by Soulskill  

from the book-your-vacation-early dept.
astroengine writes"Plenty of 'candidate' exoplanets exist, but for the first time, Kepler has confirmed the existence of an exoplanet orbiting its Sun-like star right in the middle of its 'habitable zone.' Kepler-22b is 2.4 times the radius of Earth and orbits its star every 290 days. 'This is a major milestone on the road to finding Earth's twin,' said Douglas Hudgins, Kepler program scientist at NASA Headquarters in Washington. 'Kepler's results continue to demonstrate the importance of NASA's science missions, which aim to answer some of the biggest questions about our place in the universe.'"

Orion Continues to Make a Splash

ScienceDaily (Dec. 5, 2011) — Testing continues at NASA Langley Research Center as the 18,000-pound (8,164.6 kg) Orion test article took its seventh splash into the Hydro Impact Basin Dec. 1.

Global Warming 'Not Slowing Down,' Say Researchers

ScienceDaily (Dec. 5, 2011) — Researchers have added further clarity to the global climate trend, proving that global warming is showing no signs of slowing down and that further increases are to be expected in the next few decades.

The Rise and Fall of Kodak

Posted by Unknown Lamer  

from the what's-a-film-reel-grandpa dept.
H_Fisher writes"Michael Hiltzik of the L.A. Times writes with a frank look at the decisions and changes that have led to Kodak's decline from top U.S. photography company to a company whose product is almost irrelevant. He writes: '[Kodak] executives couldn't foresee a future in which film had no role in image capture at all, nor come to grips with the lower profit margins or faster competitive pace of high-tech industries.' He also notes that Kodak's story comes as a cautionary tale to giants like Google and Facebook."

Acupuncture May Ease Severe Nerve Pain Associated With Cancer Treatment, Study Suggests

ScienceDaily (Dec. 5, 2011) — Acupuncture may help ease the severe nerve pain associated with certain cancer drugs, suggests a small preliminary study published in Acupuncture in Medicine.

'Double Tsunami' Doubled Japan Destruction

ScienceDaily (Dec. 5, 2011) — Researchers have discovered that the destructive tsunami generated by the March 2011 Tōhoku-Oki earthquake was a long-hypothesized "merging tsunami" that doubled in intensity over rugged ocean ridges, amplifying its destructive power before reaching shore.

Scammers Work Around Two-Factor Authentication With Social Engineering

Posted by Unknown Lamer  

from the duh-you-need-three-factors dept.
mask.of.sanity writes"Thieves have made off with $45k after they intercepted a victim's two factor online banking codes used to verify large transactions. The scammers got the Australian executive's mobile number from his daughter, and work place details from his willing secretary. Armed with this data, they bluffed Vodafone which ported his phone number, meaning the criminals could verify the bank's two factor verification codes generated during their spending spree and the victim never knew a thing."

Aluminum oxide 'egg-carton' could improve quantum dot efficiency

By   posted Dec 6th 2011 3:22AM

Quantum Dots
Quantum dots have been deemed the future of everything from light bulbs, to displays and solar panels. Yet, one thing has been keeping them down -- a lack of efficiency. Current has a tendency to leak in between the dots, instead of passing straight through all the time. But, researchers at Harvard have found a possible solution. By surrounding the dots with an insulating layer of aluminum oxide, which hugs them like an egg carton, they were able to direct the current, greatly increasing the light-emission yield and reducing wasted electricity. Of course, this only applies to light-producing quantum dots at the moment, but it's possible it could eventually be applied to solar panels and increase the amount of energy harvested from the sun's rays. If you're scientifically inclined, check out the latest issue ofAdvanced Materials for the complete research paper.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Impatient People Have Lower Credit Scores, Study Finds

ScienceDaily (Dec. 2, 2011) — Is there a psychological reason why people default on their mortgages? A new study, which will be published in an upcoming issue of Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, finds that people with bad credit scores are more impatient -- more likely to choose immediate rewards rather than wait for a larger reward later.

US Senator Proposes Bill To Eliminate Overtime For IT Workers

Posted by Soulskill  

from the us-senator-also-can't-seem-to-get-her-email-anymore dept.
New submitter Talisman writes"Kay Hagan (D) from North Carolina has introduced a bill to the Senate that would eliminate overtime pay for IT workers."The bill is targeted at salaried IT employees and those whose hourly rate is $27.63 or more. It seems comprehensive in its description of what types of IT work qualify — everything from analysis and consulting to design and development to training and testing. The bill even uses "work related to computers" as one of the guidelines.