Friday, February 17, 2012

DC man’s ‘NO TAGS’ vanity plate earns him $20,000 in tickets

Washington, D.C. driver Danny White thought he had a really good idea for a joke. But the joke's on him--to the tune of $20,000, reports local affiliate NBC4.
White's prank started 25 years ago when he got a vanity license plate reading, "NO TAGS." He told NBC4 that he was "Just having fun!" and that "D.C. don't get the joke. They don't get it."
The issue? Each time a car without proper identification is cited for a violation, a DMV employee enters "NO TAGS" into their paperwork. Because White's vanity plate is registered with the District of Columbia's DMV, his name and vehicle appear in the computer's system whenever a "NO TAGS" violation is entered. Notices for the fines are then mailed to White's residence.
Vanity tags have a long history of causing trouble for the DMV and other motorists; White is hardly alone in becoming a target for bad ticket karma. In 2006, the Los Angeles Times reported on California driver Nick Vautier, who got into trouble over his personalized license plate, which simply contained his initials, "NV." Unfortunately for Vautier, "NV" is also the California DMV's code for when a vehicle's plates are "Not Visible."
"I started to get random parking tickets from Los Angeles, where my car has never been," Vautier told the LAT. "For every type of car. Except a Mazda. Which is what I drive."
Vautier eventually gave up his vanity plate, which White refuses to do.
White himself drives a Chevrolet Avalanche truck. So, when a ticket arrives at his home citing a non-Chevy vehicle, he doesn't have much trouble getting those dismissed. But White isn't always so lucky when he does get a copy of a ticket meant for someone else's Chevy.
"I've got enough tickets here to plaster my whole car," he told NBC4. "It had to be $20,000 in tickets. Over $20,000."
White says he has to take time off from work every few months to have the tickets dismissed. And yet he still refuses to give up the vanity plate, even though the backlog of other people's tickets prevent him from renewing his license or registration.

(NBC4/ hearing about White's story, NBC4 launched an investigation with the Washington, D.C. DMV. And while the DMV has yet to "fix" the problem, DMV Director Lucinda Babers told the station that she's considering simply revoking White's vanity tags, along with other "confusing" plates, to avoid any future mishaps.
In the meantime, Babers said ticket writers must collect the last six digits of a vehicle's VIN instead of "NO TAGS."
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Thursday, February 16, 2012

How fast you walk and your grip in middle age may predict dementia, stroke risk

How fast you walk and your grip in middle age may predict dementia, stroke risk: Simple tests such as walking speed and hand grip strength may help doctors determine how likely it is a middle-aged person will develop dementia or stroke.

Microsoft's Killer Tablet Opportunity

Microsoft's Killer Tablet Opportunity:

snydeq writes "Advice Line's Bob Lewis sees ripe opportunity for Microsoft in the tablet market: Forget about outdoing Apple's iPad and give us the features that finally improve the way we work. 'The game isn't beating Apple at its own game. The magic buzzword is to "differentiate" and show what your technology will do that Apple won't even care about, let alone beat you at. One possible answer: Help individual employees be more effective at their jobs,' Lewis writes, outlining four business features to target, not the least of which would be to provide UI variance, enabling serious tablet users to expose the OS complexity necessary to do real work."

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YouTube's Nerdy Fiddlers Strike a Chord With Geeks

YouTube's Nerdy Fiddlers Strike a Chord With Geeks:

Why People Don't Live Past 114

Why People Don't Live Past 114:

kkleiner writes "Average life expectancy has nearly doubled in developed countries over the 20th century. But a puzzling part to the equation has emerged. While humans are in fact living longer lives on average, the oldest age that the oldest people reach seems to be stubbornly and oddly precisely cemented right at 114. What will it take for humans to live beyond this limit?"

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New theory of moral behavior may explain recent ethical lapses in banking industry

New theory of moral behavior may explain recent ethical lapses in banking industry: Why do some people behave morally while others do not? Sociologists have developed a theory of the moral self that may help explain the ethical lapses in the banking, investment and mortgage-lending industries that nearly ruined the U.S. economy.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Did Anonymous Take Down

Did Anonymous Take Down

jfruh writes "The CIA's website has been down intermittently since Friday, apparently the victim of a DDOS attack. One of the more interesting questions of the story is whether elements of Anonymous are behind this — a question that even prominent members of the Anonymous movement can't seem to answer with any certainty. Perhaps this is obvious, but it seems that an anarchic, leaderless grouping can be hard to keep tabs on."

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Fragmented sleep, fragmented mind: A new theory of sleep disruption and dissociation

Fragmented sleep, fragmented mind: A new theory of sleep disruption and dissociation: Scientific research has shed new light on dissociative symptoms and dissociative identity disorder, formerly known as multiple personality disorder. This condition seems to arise most often when a vulnerable person meets a therapist with a suggestive line of questioning or encounters sensationalized media portrayals of dissociation. Research shows that people with rich fantasy lives may be especially susceptible to such influences.

Chinese Hackers Had Unfettered Access To Nortel Networks For a Decade

Chinese Hackers Had Unfettered Access To Nortel Networks For a Decade:

An anonymous reader sends this quote from CBC News:
"Hackers based in China enjoyed widespread access to Nortel's computer network for nearly a decade, according to ... Brian Shields, a former Nortel employee who launched an internal investigation of the attacks, the Wall Street Journal reports [from behind a paywall]. ... Over the years, the hackers downloaded business plans, research and development reports, employee emails and other documents. According to the internal report, Nortel 'did nothing from a security standpoint' about the attacks."

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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Dilbert being Awesome

Todays Comic

Best Practice: Travel Light To China

Best Practice: Travel Light To China:

Hugh Pickens writes "What may once have sounded like the behavior of a raving paranoid is now considered standard operating procedure for officials at American government agencies, research groups and companies as the NY Times reports how businesses sending representatives to China give them a loaner laptop and cellphone that they wipe clean before they leave and wipe again when they return. 'If a company has significant intellectual property that the Chinese and Russians are interested in, and you go over there with mobile devices, your devices will get penetrated,' says Joel F. Brenner, formerly the top counterintelligence official in the office of the director of national intelligence. The scope of the problem is illustrated by an incident at the United States Chamber of Commerce in 2010 when the chamber learned that servers in China were stealing information from four of its Asia policy experts who frequently visited China. After their trips, even the office printer and a thermostat in one of the chamber's corporate offices were communicating with an internet address in China. The chamber did not disclose how hackers had infiltrated its systems, but its first step after the attack was to bar employees from taking devices with them 'to certain countries,' notably China. 'Everybody knows that if you are doing business in China, in the 21st century, you don't bring anything with you,' says Jacob Olcott, a cybersecurity expert at Good Harbor Consulting. 'That's "Business 101" — at least it should be.'"

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Seniors show greater life satisfaction than young people, study suggests

Seniors show greater life satisfaction than young people, study suggests: Healthy older adults reported less negative thinking compared to other age groups, leading to greater life satisfaction in seniors. The study examined the complex relationship between aging and factors leading to depression. Research suggests differences in the way age groups think can influence the onset of depression. Sufferers of negative thinking, or brooding, tend to fixate on their problems and feelings without taking action, which can intensify depressive moods and lead to the onset of depression.


Todays Comic

Overeating may double risk of memory loss

Overeating may double risk of memory loss: New research suggests that consuming between 2,100 and 6,000 calories per day may double the risk of memory loss, or mild cognitive impairment (MCI), among people age 70 and older. MCI is the stage between normal memory loss that comes with aging and early Alzheimer’s disease.

Battle Machines hands-on (video)

Battle Machines hands-on (video):
Battle Machines
When Jada invited us up to its private show room at Toy Fair to do "battle" we were a little concerned -- last we checked we'd done nothing to offend the company. Thankfully, it just wanted to challenge us to a duel with its Battle Machines line of RC toys. A couple of years back the company debuted the line with a pair of cars that drive around playing laser tag with each other. Then, last year, things got really interesting Air vs. Land -- an RC chopper and turret that duked it for IR-equipped superiority. This year the company is expanding the line with Battle Quads (laser-wielding ATVs complete with rider) and Battle Heli (essentially one half of the Air vs. Land package, but programmed to perform rotor-powered dog fights). Neither of the new products were quite ready for a test run yet, but we did give the turret and copter combo a try... just for the heck of it. The toys are complete with blaster noises and, when shot down, an internal IC takes over the helicopter and does a little aerial death dance. After about 15 minutes we finally started to get the hang of piloting the aircraft but, by then, the Jada rep had us plummeting from the sky. Both the Battle Heli and the Battle Quads should be hitting shelves in August for $30 and $60, respectively. Check out the video and PR after the break.

Edgar Alvarez contributed to this report.

Continue reading Battle Machines hands-on (video)

Battle Machines hands-on (video) originally appeared on Engadget on Mon, 13 Feb 2012 11:22:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Good aerobic capacity promotes learning

Good aerobic capacity promotes learning: Aerobic fitness has a favorable effect on cognitive functions. For example, physically active elderly people are less prone to aging-related cognitive decline than those who lead a sedentary lifestyle. An increase in physical activity raises both aerobic capacity and learning ability in both humans and animals. However, it is not known whether it is the aerobic capacity or the pleasure and enrichment of physical activity that promotes cognitive functions.

Six to nine-month-olds understand the meaning of many spoken words

Six to nine-month-olds understand the meaning of many spoken words: At an age when "ba-ba" and "da-da" may be their only utterances, infants nevertheless comprehend words for many common objects, according to a new study.

Love, chocolate good for the heart, says cardiologist

Love, chocolate good for the heart, says cardiologist: Being involved in a healthy, loving relationship is good for the heart, says a cardiologist. People who are married or who are in close, healthy relationships tend to be less likely to smoke, are more physically active and are more likely to have a well-developed social structure, she said. They are also more likely to have lower levels of stress and anxiety in their day-to-day lives.

Regulators Bless Google/Motorola Marriage

Regulators Bless Google/Motorola Marriage: Google on Monday won approval for its $12.5 billion purchase of Motorola Mobility Inc. in both Europe and the United States, a decision that could have wide-ranging implications on the Silicon Valley giant?s ability to take on rivals like Apple, RIM and Microsoft.

Air pollution linked to cognitive decline in women

Air pollution linked to cognitive decline in women: A large, prospective study indicates that chronic exposure to particulate air pollution may accelerate cognitive decline in older adults.

Darpa Dodges Obama Budget Death Ray, Keeps Its $2.8 Billion

Darpa Dodges Obama Budget Death Ray, Keeps Its $2.8 Billion: For most of the U.S. military's far-flung community of scientists and engineers, Monday was a day to pop a Xanax, with budgets sliced almost everywhere. Yet Darpa - the Pentagon's premiere research arm - somehow emerged unscathed. How? Well, embracing the White House's top priorities sure didn't hurt.