The times haven't been the kindest to B&N: retail sales are down and the Kindle is outselling the Nook. Joining Best Buy and Dell, B&N might be going private. From the article: "Barnes & Noble’s largest shareholder, Leonard Riggio, made an offer Monday to buy out the struggling company and take it private ... Essentially, it would split the company in two: one half would be Riggio’s private brick-and-mortar stores and related assets, the other the publicly-traded Nook and college bookstore management division."
The latest Firefox for Android nightly build now features a number of changes to the UI with the goals of "...keeping a clear distinction between different types of tabs; making better use of the screen real estate on different form-factors and orientations; and being more compliant with Android’s design language. ... the tabs tray is now divided into sections for each type of tab — regular, private, and remote — so that you always keep things separate and organized. Furthermore, once you select a private tab, the main toolbar becomes dark as a clear sign that you're in a different browsing mode. ... We now use a horizontal scrolling tabs tray whenever it improves our use of the screen space. This is achieved with a TwoWayView ... We've recently landed a new skin for Firefox for Android that is more aligned with Android's Holo design language. Almost all textures and gradients were replaced by flat colors giving a much lighter feel to the browser."
First time accepted submitter AchilleTalon writes "Research by Harvard professor David Keith suggests that the global capacity for energy generation from wind power has been overestimated, and that geophysical / climate effects of turbines will reduce the benefits of large-scale power installations. 'People have often thought there's no upper bound for wind power—that it's one of the most scalable power sources," he says. After all, gusts and breezes don't seem likely to 'run out' on a global scale in the way oil wells might run dry. Yet the latest research suggests that the generating capacity has been overestimated."
OverTheGeicoE writes "TSA recently announced that it would remove all of Rapiscan's X-ray body scanners from airports by June. As part of this effort, it is trying to move a millimeter-wave body scanner from the Helena, Montana airport to replace an X-ray unit at a busier airport. Strangely enough, they have encountered resistance from the Helena's Airport Manager, Ron Mercer. Last Thursday, workers came to remove the machine, but were prevented from doing so by airport officials. Why? Perhaps Mercer agrees with Cindi Martin, airport director at Montana's Glacier Park International Airport airport, who called the scheduled removal of her airport's scanner 'a great disservice to the flying public' in part because it 'removed the need for the enhanced pat-down.'"
A couple of weeks ago you had the chance to ask Khan Academy lead developer Ben Kamens about the future of online education and the academy itself. Below you'll find his answers to the questions we sent and a few extra that he found interesting.
ananyo writes "The drowned remnants of an ancient micro-continent may lie scattered beneath the waters between Madagascar and India, a new study suggests. Evidence for the long-lost land comes from Mauritius, a volcanic island about 900 kilometers east of Madagascar (abstract) The oldest volcanic rocks on the island date to about 8.9 million years ago. Yet grain-by-grain analyses of beach sand collected at two sites on the Mauritian coast revealed around 20 zircons — tiny crystals of zirconium silicate that are exceedingly resistant to erosion or chemical change — that were far older. One of these zircons was at least 1.97 billion years old. The researchers that made the discovery think that geologically recent volcanic eruptions brought shards of the buried continent to the Earth's surface, where the zircons eroded from their parent rocks to pepper the island's sands. Analyses of Earth's gravitational field reveal several broad areas where sea-floor crust at the bottom of the Indian ocean is much thicker than normal — at least 25 to 30 kilometers thick, rather than the normal 5 to 10 kilometers. Those crustal anomalies may be the remains of a landmass that researchers have now dubbed Mauritia, which they suggest split from Madagascar when tectonic rifting and sea-floor spreading sent the Indian subcontinent surging northeast millions of years ago."
Lasrick writes "A Reuters blog post by Yousaf Butt explains the science, or lack thereof, behind recent claims that Iran is closer to building the bomb. Butt has been writing in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, most recently blasting the unsourced AP 'Iranian graph' that claimed to show nuclear testing activity as well as the Washington Post story about Iran's alleged order of 100,000 magnets for their centrifuges."
An anonymous reader writes "Days after the killing of leftist blogger Thaba Baba, mosques throughout Bangladesh called for a popular uprising to demand the killing of other bloggers who had held a rally calling for the death of Jama'at-e-Islami leaders convicted of war crimes. This happens in an atmosphere of ongoing tension between Left and Right, with the leftist government threatening to outlaw rightist parties while the right uses violence to quiet selected enemies."
SchrodingerZ writes "Raymond Cusick, a production designer for the BBC show Doctor Who from 1963 to 1966, has died from illness. 'Terry Nation, who died in 1997, wrote the 1963 story The Daleks, in which the "satanic pepperpots" first appeared, but it was Cusick who came up with the machines' distinctive look, including the bobble-like sensors, eyestalk, sucker and exterminator weapons.' His horrid creation has remained a prime enemy in Doctor Who for over 50 years, and have remained relatively unchanged. His tireless work however was never fully awarded, as his only pay for the project was about £100. Cusick also worked on such shows as Z Cars, Dr Finlay's Casebook and The Forsyte Saga to The Duchess of Duke Street, When the Boat Comes In and Rentaghost. He officially retired in 1987. Claire Heawood, Cusick's daughter, has said that her father was 'suffering from an illness and died peacefully in his sleep on Thursday.'"
bill_mcgonigle writes "I just bought bitcoins from the World's first Bitcoin ATM at Liberty Forum. I created an account using an Android Bitcoin client and held up its QR code to the Raspberry Pi-based device's optical scanner. After I fed in a $20 Federal Reserve Note, I got back a confirmation QR code on its display, which I then scanned and checked the third-party confirmation URL. The machine can function on any wireless network and will soon be available for purchase by merchants, who can make a commission on customers' Bitcoin purchases."
Several readers sent word of a Mozilla announcement that 18 carriers have committed to launching phones running Firefox OS. The carriers are primarily from markets in South America and Europe. They include Deutsche Telekom, Telefonica, and Sprint. The devices running Firefox OS will be made by LG, ZTE, Huawei, and Alcatel, and all will be powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon chipset. The new mobile operating system is built to allow HTML5 apps to run directly on the device, a solution Mozilla thinks will give it an edge when playing catch-up to all the software available for Android and iOS devices. "Developers are busy and don't have time to learn a new programming language. We believe that the only remaining eco-system is the web and there are more developers for the web than for any other platform in the world," said Jay Sullivan. According to Reuters, "Mozilla will initially look to compete in so-called 'emerging economies' in Latin America, Eastern Europe and Asia, where many people still use older phone models and have yet to upgrade to more expensive smartphones that feature touchscreens and high-speed Internet connections."
Freshly Exhumed writes "An endorsement from Oprah Winfrey; a film deal from Steven Spielberg; a debut at the top of The New York Times bestsellers list. These are the things every author craves most. While the first two require the favor of a benevolent deity, the third can be had by anyone with the ability to write a check — a pretty big one, to ResultSource, a San Diego-based marketing consultancy — in what Forbes says is essentially a laundering operation aimed at deceiving the book-buying public into believing a title is more in-demand than it is. Soren Kaplan, a business consultant and speaker, hired ResultSource to promote his book Leapfrogging. Responding to the WSJ article on his website, Kaplan breaks out the economics of making the list. 'It's no wonder few people in the industry want to talk about bestseller campaigns,' he writes. 'Put bluntly, they allow people with enough money, contacts, and know-how to buy their way onto bestseller lists.'"
An anonymous reader writes "Dozens of fans attending a NASCAR race at Daytona Speedway were injured when a crash during the last lap triggered a chain reaction, culminating in the front section of Kyle Larson's car ricocheting into the fence in front of the stands (Larson escaped injury). While the footage accompanying the article is dramatic enough, an even more riveting clip showing the chaotic scene in the stands from up close was posted on YouTube, but was taken down after NASCAR claimed it violated their copyright . YouTube has since restored the fan's video. A NASCAR spokesman has issued a clarification, saying that the takedown request was done out of respect for those injured. The race was an opening act for the main event, the Daytona 500, which officials say will proceed as scheduled. 'With the fence being prepared tonight to our safety protocols, we expect to go racing tomorrow with no changes,' Speedway President Joie Chitwood told CNN."
SchrodingerZ writes "A recent review of the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Washington state (where the bulk of Cold War nuclear material was created) has found that six of its underground storage tanks are leaking badly. Estimations say each tank is leaking 'anywhere from a few gallons to a few hundred gallons of radioactive material a year.' Washington's governor, Jay Inslee, said in a statement on Friday, 'Energy officials recently figured out they had been inaccurately measuring the 56 million gallons of waste in Hanford's tanks.' The Hanford cleanup project has been one of the most expensive American projects for nuclear cleanup. Plans are in place to create a treatment plant to turn the hazardous material into less hazardous glass (proposed to cost $13.4 billion), but for now officials are trying just to stop the leaking from the corroded tanks. Today the leaks do not have an immediate threat on the environment, but 'there is [only] 150 to 200 feet of dry soil between the tanks and the groundwater,' and they are just five miles from the Colombia River."
Hugh Pickens writes "The rules for papal elections are steeped in tradition. John Paul II last codified them in 1996, and Benedict XVI left the rules largely untouched. The 'Universi Dominici Gregis on the Vacancy of the Apostolic See and the Election of the Roman Pontiff' is surprisingly detailed. Now as the College of Cardinals prepares to elect a new pope, security people like Bruce Schneier wonder about the process. How does it work, and just how hard would it be to hack the vote? First, the system is entirely manual, making it immune to the sorts of technological attacks that make modern voting systems so risky. Second, the small group of voters — all of whom know each other — makes it impossible for an outsider to affect the voting in any way. The chapel is cleared and locked before voting. No one is going to dress up as a cardinal and sneak into the Sistine Chapel. In short, the voter verification process is about as good as you're ever going to find. A cardinal can't stuff ballots when he votes. Then the complicated paten-and-chalice ritual ensures that each cardinal votes once — his ballot is visible — and also keeps his hand out of the chalice holding the other votes. Ballots from previous votes are burned, which makes it harder to use one to stuff the ballot box. What are the lessons here? First, open systems conducted within a known group make voting fraud much harder. Every step of the election process is observed by everyone, and everyone knows everyone, which makes it harder for someone to get away with anything. Second, small and simple elections are easier to secure. This kind of process works to elect a pope or a club president, but quickly becomes unwieldy for a large-scale election. And third: When an election process is left to develop over the course of a couple of thousand years, you end up with something surprisingly good."
cervesaebraciator writes "U.S. Representative Judy Chu (D-CA) will be starting a new caucus with the ostensible purpose of protecting the intellectual property rights of filmmakers, musicians and other artists. The new caucus, styled the Congressional Creative Rights Caucus, will be formed along with Rep. Howard Coble (R-NC). Chu's office released a statement, including the following: 'American innovation hinges on creativity – it is what allows our kids to dream big and our artists to create works that inspire us all. The jobs that result are thanks entirely to our willingness to foster creative talent, and an environment where it can thrive and prosper. [...] The Congressional Creative Rights Caucus will serve to educate Members of Congress and the general public about the importance of preserving and protecting the rights of the creative community in the U.S. American creators of motion pictures, music, software and other creative works rely on Congress to protect their copyrights, human rights, First Amendment rights and property rights.'"
Kagetsuki writes "There's a project on KickStarter for a Free and Open set of emoji [the graphical emoticon glyph set which has a block reserved in Unicode]. Currently there are no full sets of Emoji that are completely free (as in beer and and freedom), so if this project gets funded it will be the first and only set of emoji that can, say, be distributed with FLOSS Linux/BSD/GNU systems. Not to mention anyone will be able to incorporate them into any project without any restrictive conditions." And lest you think emoji devoid of literary value, reader coondoggie points out that the Library of Congress has just welcomed (or at least allowed) onto its vaunted shelves an all-emoji version of Melville's Moby Dick, created with the help of translators working through Amazon's Mechanical Turk.
An anonymous reader writes "Stanford researcher Jonathan Mayer has contributed a Firefox patch that will block third-party cookies by default. It's now on track to land in version 22. Kudos to Mozilla for protecting their users and being so open to community submissions. The initial response from the online advertising industry is unsurprisingly hostile and blustering, calling the move 'a nuclear first strike.'"
kthreadd writes "Minix, originally designed as an example for teaching operating system theory which was both inspiration and cause for the creation of Linux has just been released as version 3.2.1. Major new features include full support for shared libraries and improved support for USB devices such as keyboards, mice and mass storage devices. The system has received many performance improvements and several userland tools have been imported from NetBSD."
Z80xxc! writes "The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy announced a "policy memorandum" today requiring any federal agency with over $100 million in R&D expenditures each year to develop plans for making all research funded by that agency freely available to the public within one year of publication in any peer-reviewed scholarly journal. The full memorandum is available on the White House website. It appears that this policy would not only apply to federal agencies conducting research, but also to any university, private corporation, or other entity conducting research that arises from federal funding. For those in academia and the public at large, this is a huge step towards free open access to publicly funded research." Edward Tufte calls the move timid and unimaginative, linking to a Verge article that explains that it's not quite as sweeping as the summary above sounds.
Hugh Pickens writes "William D. Hartung, director of the Arms and Security Project at the Center for International Policy, writes that although we have been bombarded with tales of woe about the potentially devastating impacts of cutting the Pentagon budget 8% under the sequester, examples of egregious waste and misplaced spending priorities at the Pentagon abound. One need look no further than the department's largest weapons program, the F-35 combat aircraft, which has just been grounded again after a routine inspection revealed a crack on a turbine blade in the jet engine of an F-35 test aircraft in California. Even before it has moved into full-scale production, the plane has already increased in price by 75%, and it has so far failed to meet basic performance standards. By the Pentagon's own admission, building and operating three versions of the F-35 — one for the Air Force, one for the Navy and one for the Marines — will cost more than $1.4 trillion over its lifetime, making it the most expensive weapons program ever undertaken. And in an era in which aerial combat is of diminishing importance and upgraded versions of current generation U.S. aircraft can more than do the job, it is not at all clear that we need to purchase more than 2,400 of these planes. Cutting the two most expensive versions of the F-35 will save over $60 billion in the next decade."
hypnosec writes "Bitcoin is gaining popularity among mainstream sites lately and the latest to adopt the digital currency as a medium of donations and payments is the Internet Archive. Ready to accept donation in the form of Bitcoin, the Internet Archive announced that it wants to do so to pay some part of employees' salaries, if they choose to, in Bitcoin. The Archive, known for its storage of digital documents (especially the previous version of webpages), is looking to start part salary payments in Bitcoin by April 2013 if everything goes well."
An anonymous reader writes "Google on Thursday released Chrome version 25 for Windows, Mac, and Linux. While Chrome 24 was largely a stability release, Chrome 25 is all about features, including voice recognition support via the newly added Web Speech API and the blocking of silent extension installation. You can update to the latest release now using the browser's built-in silent updater, or download it directly from google.com/chrome." But if you're more interested in the growing raft of Google-branded hardware than running Google OSes, some good news (via Liliputing) about the newly released Pixel: Bill Richardson of Google posted on Thursday that the Pixel can boot Linux Mint, and explained how users can follow his example, by taking advantage of new support for a user-provided bootloader.
s122604 writes "Automakers aren't too happy about a recent U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) proposal, which uses part of the wireless spectrum assigned to vehicle-to-vehicle technology for Wi-Fi instead. The FCC announced that it plans to free up 195 MHz of spectrum in the 5 GHz band for unlicensed use in an effort to address the U.S.' spectrum crisis. This could potentially lead to Wi-Fi speeds faster than 1 gigabit per second."
eldavojohn writes "A new report from China's environment ministry has resulted in long-overdue self-realizations as well as possible explanations for 'cancer villages.' The term refers to villages (anywhere from 247 to 400 known of them) that have increased cancer rates due to pollution from nearby factories and industry. The report revealed that many harmful chemicals that are prohibited and banned in developed nations are still found in China's water and air. Prior research has shown a direct correlation between industrialization/mining and levels of poisonous heavy metals in water. As a result, an air pollution app has grown in popularity and you can see the pollution from space. China has also released a twelve-year plan for environmental protection."
Hugh Pickens writes "The NY Times reports that a college degree is becoming the new high school diploma: the new minimum requirement for getting even the lowest-level job. Many jobs that didn't require a diploma years ago — positions like dental hygienists, cargo agents, clerks and claims adjusters — increasingly requiring a college degree. From the point of view of business, with so many people going to college now, those who do not graduate are often assumed to be unambitious or less capable. 'When you get 800 résumés for every job ad, you need to weed them out somehow,' says Suzanne Manzagol. A study by Georgetown University's Center on Education and the Workforce found that more than 2.2 million jobs that require a minimum of a bachelor's degree have been created (PDF) since the 2007 start of the recession. At the same time, jobs that require only a high school diploma have decreased by 5.8 million in that same time. 'It is a tough job market for college graduates but far worse for those without a college education,' says Anthony P. Carnevale, co-author of the report. 'At a time when more and more people are debating the value of post-secondary education, this data shows that your chances of being unemployed increase dramatically without a college degree.' Even if they are not exactly applying the knowledge they gained in their political science, finance and fashion marketing classes, young graduates say they are grateful for even the rotest of rote office work they have been given. 'It sure beats washing cars,' says Georgia State University graduate Landon Crider, 24, an in-house courier who, for $10 an hour, ferries documents back and forth between the courthouse and his company's office."
An anonymous reader writes "Michael Arrington, founder of TechCrunch, lives near Seattle and bought a boat there. He ordered it from a company based near him, but across the border in Canada. Yesterday, the company tried to deliver it to him, and it had to clear customs. An agent for the Department of Homeland Security asked him to sign a form. The form contained information about the boat, including its cost. The price was correct, but it was in U.S. dollars rather than Canadian dollars. Since the form contained legal warnings about making sure everything on it is true and accurate, Arrington suggested to the agent that they correct the error. She responded by seizing the boat. 'As in, demanded that we get off the boat, demanded the keys and took physical control of it. What struck me the most about the situation is how excited she got about seizing the boat. Like she was just itching for something like this to happen. This was a very happy day for her. ... A person with a gun and a government badge asked me to swear in writing that a lie was true today. And when I didn't do what she wanted she simply took my boat and asked me to leave.'"
Dr Max writes "Ever wonder how al-Qaeda operates under the watchful eye of the U.S. Army? Well, the Associated Press found a list of 22 of their tips and tricks on avoiding drone strikes. Most of it consists of the obvious: stay in the shadows or under thick trees, don't use wireless communications. However, there are also some less obvious solutions, like the $2,595 Russian 'sky grabber, which can track the drones. Their document (PDF) also suggests covering your roof and car with broken glass. They also claim good snipers can take out the reconnaissance drones, which fly at a lower level. Now the question is: will all of this still be relevant during the robo-apocalypse?"
cylonlover writes "In the wake of the meteor blast over Russia and the close-quarter flyby of asteroid 2012 DA14 last week, many people's thoughts have turned to potential dangers from above. It is timely then that the Canadian Space Agency will next week launch NEOSSat (Near-Earth Object Surveillance Satellite), the world's first space telescope for detecting and tracking asteroids, satellites and space debris." The meteor incident in Russia has spurred interested in asteroid defense across the globe; donations are pouring in for asteroid-related projects, government officials are making a show of seeming interested, and researchers are stepping up their efforts. Unfortunately, as a related article at Wired notes, we're still a long, long way from having anything more than early warning systems. Quoting: "A new endeavor coming online in 2015 named the Asteroid Terrestrial-impact Last Alert System Project (ATLAS) will provide an early warning system that could provide one week’s notice for city-destroying 45-meter asteroids and three week’s notice for potentially devastating 140-meter objects. ... A more targeted effort comes from the B612 Foundation, which plans to launch the Sentinel telescope in late 2016. This spacecraft would sit inside the orbit of Venus and constantly be on the lookout for killer asteroids, whichever direction they come from. Sentinel will spot nearly all asteroids 150 meters or larger and identify a significant portion of those down to 30 meters in diameter."
rtoz writes "Ohio State students have come up with a scaled-down version of a power plant combustion system with a unique experimental design--one that chemically converts coal to heat while capturing 99 percent of the carbon dioxide produced in the reaction. Typical coal-fired power plants burn coal to heat water to make steam, which turns the turbines that produce electricity. In chemical looping, the coal isn't burned with fire, but instead chemically combusted in a sealed chamber so that it doesn't pollute the air. This new technology, called coal-direct chemical looping, was pioneered by Liang-Shih Fan, professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering and director of Ohio State's Clean Coal Research Laboratory."
concealment writes "Three independent bookstores are taking Amazon and the so-called Big Six publishers (Random House, Penguin, Hachette, HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster and Macmillan) to court in an attempt to level the playing field for book retailers. If successful, the lawsuit could completely change how ebooks are sold. The class-action complaint, filed in New York on Feb 15., claims that by entering into confidential agreements with the Big Six publishers, who control approximately 60 percent of print book revenue in the U.S., Amazon has created a monopoly in the marketplace that is designed to control prices and destroy independent booksellers."
New submitter OhSoLaMeow writes with a story at The Daily Caller with unpleasant news from the Illinois state Senate, where a state senator has introduced a bill that "would require anonymous website comment posters to reveal their identities if they want to keep their comments online." From the article (warning — obnoxious ads with sound): "The bill, called the Internet Posting Removal Act, is sponsored by Illinois state Sen. Ira Silverstein. It states that a 'web site administrator upon request shall remove any comments posted on his or her web site by an anonymous poster unless the anonymous poster agrees to attach his or her name to the post and confirms that his or her IP address, legal name, and home address are accurate.'"
SpaceGhost writes "The Washington Post reports that the United States Postal Service has contracted with Wahconah Group, Inc. to produce a line of USPS-branded smart clothing. Per USPS Licensing manager Steven Mills 'This agreement will put the Postal Service on the cutting edge of functional fashion... The main focus will be to produce Rain Heat & Snow apparel and accessories using technology to create 'smart apparel' — also known as wearable electronics.' USPS Spokesman Roy Betts reports that the line will be found in premium department stores and specialty stores starting in 2014. The Washington Post points out that the USPS had done a similar retail line in the 1980s sold exclusively at Post Offices, but the line was discontinued after lobbyists complained of competition with the private sector." I hope it has hidden pockets for lost letters, and a loop for the package smashing mallet.
New submitter sc30317 writes "My house got robbed on Friday, and all of our electronics got stolen. Everything. Now, I have to go out and buy all new electronics with the insurance money. We had five TVs (don't ask), three laptops, a Bose Sound dock with iPod, a digital camera, and a desktop stolen. It's looking like I am going to get around $10K from the insurance company to replace everything. What would you do if you had to replace ALL of your technology in your house at once? I'm thinking: replace TVs; nice Desktop; new speakers; and new, cool stuff I don't know about (suggestions welcome). I already added a DVR security system, so hopefully the new things won't get burgled! Looking for suggestions to utilize my money in order to get the best stuff. Also, no Windows computers allowed in my house."
An anonymous reader writes "A White House petition to make unlocking cell phones legal again has passed the 100,000 signature mark. Passing the milestone means the U.S. government has to issue an official response. On January 26th, unlocking a cell phone that is under contract became illegal in the U.S. Just before that went into effect, a petition was started at whitehouse.gov to have the Librarian of Congress revisit that decision. 'It reduces consumer choice, and decreases the resale value of devices that consumers have paid for in full. The Librarian noted that carriers are offering more unlocked phones at present, but the great majority of phones sold are still locked.'"
First time accepted submitter Dngrsone writes "Some two million people have bought cell-phone wireless signal boosters and have been using them to get better communication between their phones and distant cell towers. But now, the FCC says they all have to turn their boosters off and ask permission from their providers, and register their devices with those providers, before they can turn them back on."
codegen writes "The Ontario Court of Appeal has just ruled that the police can search your cellphone if you are arrested without a warrant if it is not password protected. But the ruling also stated that if it is password protected, then the police need a warrant. Previous to this case there was no decision on if the police could search your phone without a warrant in Canada."
New submitter Nyder writes "In a move that is sure to bring tears to the eyes of kids everywhere, Connecticut State Senator Toni Harp proposed a bill in January that would ban anyone younger than 18 from playing 'violent point-and-shoot' video games in arcades or other public establishments. 'The bill also called for research into the effects of violent video games on young minds, through a committee called the Violent Video Game Task Force within the Department of Children and Families. The task force would advise the Governor and General assembly on state programs that "may reduce the effects of violent video games on youth behavior," suggesting before the research was done that violent video games have an effect on children's actions.' Hopefully this won't pass; I guess the video game lobby hasn't paid this Senator enough 'funds' for her campaign."
Lasrick writes "David Axe at Wired's Danger Room explains: 'For the first time, America's top-of-the-line F-22 fighters and Britain's own cutting-edge Typhoon jets have come together for intensive, long-term training in high-tech warfare. If only the planes could talk to each other on equal terms. The F-22 and the twin-engine, delta-wing Typhoon — Europe’s latest warplane — are stuck with partially incompatible secure communications systems. For all their sophisticated engines, radars and weapons, the American and British pilots are reduced to one-way communication, from the Brits to the Yanks. That is, unless they want to talk via old-fashioned radio, which can be intercepted and triangulated and could betray the planes’ locations. That would undermine the whole purpose of the F-22s radar-evading stealth design, and could pose a major problem if the Raptor and the Typhoon ever have to go to war together.'"
redletterdave writes "Mark Zuckerberg, Sergey Brin and Yuri Milner have teamed up to create The Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences Foundation, which now offers the most lucrative annual prize in the history of science: A $33 million pot to be split among 11 people, with individual rewards worth $3 million apiece. Comparatively, the monetary value of the Nobel prize is just $1.1 million. 'Our society needs more heroes who are scientists, researchers and engineers,' Zuckerberg said. 'We need to celebrate and reward the people who cure diseases, expand our understanding of humanity and work to improve people's lives.'"
Lasrick writes "The Bulletin has an interesting article about the likelihood of terrorists obtaining nuclear material. 'Since 1993, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has logged roughly 2,000 cases of illicit or unauthorized trafficking of nuclear and radioactive material. Thirty illicit radioactive trafficking incidents were reported in the former Soviet region alone from 2009 to 2011. As Obama said in December, "Make no mistake, if [terrorists] get [nuclear material], they will use it."'"
Hugh Pickens writes "The NY Times reports that while online college classes are already common, on the whole, the record is not encouraging because there are two big problems with online teaching. First, student attrition rates — around 90 percent for some huge online courses — appear to be a problem even in small-scale online courses when compared with traditional face-to-face classes. Second, courses delivered solely online may be fine for highly skilled, highly motivated people, but they are inappropriate for struggling students who make up a significant portion of college enrollment and who need close contact with instructors to succeed. Research has shown that community college students who enroll in online courses are significantly more likely to fail or withdraw than those in traditional classes, which means that they spend hard-earned tuition dollars and get nothing in return. Worse still, low-performing students who may be just barely hanging on in traditional classes tend to fall even further behind in online courses. 'Colleges need to improve online courses before they deploy them widely,' says the Times. 'Moreover, schools with high numbers of students needing remedial education should consider requiring at least some students to demonstrate success in traditional classes before allowing them to take online courses.' Interestingly, research found that students in hybrid classes — those that blended online instruction with a face-to-face component — performed as well academically as those in traditional classes. But hybrid courses are rare, and teaching professors how to manage them is costly and time-consuming. 'The online revolution offers intriguing opportunities for broadening access to education. But, so far, the evidence shows that poorly designed courses can seriously shortchange the most vulnerable students.'"
KermMartian writes "The TI-84 Plus C Silver Edition isn't the first color-screen graphing calculator, or even TI's first color calculator, but it's a refresh of a 17-year-old line that many have mocked as antiquated and overpriced. From an advanced review model, the math features look familiar, solid, and augmented with some new goodies, while programming looks about on par with its siblings. The requisite teardown uncovers the new battery, Flash, ASIC/CPU, and LCD used in the device. Although there are some qualms about its speed and very gentle hardware upgrades beyond the screen, it looks to be an indication that TI will continue this inveterate line for years to come." Lots of screenshots and pictures of the innards too.
Bennett Haselton writes "Evgeny Morozov's forthcoming book To Save Everything, Click Here describes how an overly helpful 'kitchen of the future' might stifle the learning process and threaten culinary innovation. True, but we could certainly do better than the current state of how-to directions (in cooking and most other subjects) that you can find today on Google. I suggest that the answer lies not in intelligent kitchen technology, but in designing an algorithm that would produce the best possible how-to directions -- where the 'best' directions are judged according to the results that are achieved by genuine beginners who attempt to follow the directions without help." Read below for the rest of Bennett's review.
Editor's Note: This article was not intended as a full review, but rather a commentary on one point in the book. The author's actual review of the book will appear in March.
Editor's Note: This article was not intended as a full review, but rather a commentary on one point in the book. The author's actual review of the book will appear in March.
Two years ago Guile Scheme, the official extension language of the GNU project, released version 2.0, a major upgrade to the implementation. As part of the two year anniversary, the maintainers organized a challenge to hack a small project using Guile in 30 days as part of a birthday software potluck. The two coolest dishes appear to be OpenGL support using the FFI, and XCB bindings built using the XML specification for XCB: "guile-xcb is a language implemented in the Guile VM that parses the XML files used by the xcb project to specify the X protocol and compiles them into Guile modules containing all the methods and data needed to send requests to the X server and receive replies/events back. If new X extensions are added to the xcb library, guile-xcb can compile and add them with no additional work. " See the release announcement for details on the other dishes.
Following up on yesterday's news that Ubuntu for Tablets has been announced, Mark Shuttleworth answered questions about the purpose of the new version of Canonical's OS and what its intended strengths will be. He made special note of how Canonical wants the transition between desktop-Ubuntu and mobile-Ubuntu to be smooth. "When you transition from the tablet to the desktop, things don't move around. Your indicators, things like network status and time, they don't jump around on screen, they stay in the same place. That's what's really different certainly between our approach to convergence and for example Windows 8, where when you're in the desktop mode, which looks like Windows 7, and suddenly you get the new tile-based interface, it's a stark transition that can be jarring for users. In our case, you can almost think of those as gentle phase changes. When you go from phone to tablet you're stretching the device in very obvious ways. People who've used iOS on both phones and tablets would expect that. What's nice about Ubuntu is the phase change to the PC experience up from the tablet really just introduces window management, and it also introduces things like menus and dialog boxes. You aren't moving things around in dramatic ways." He added that they expect the user experiences to converge in Ubuntu 14.04. Shuttleworth also addressed the fragmentation problem faced by Android. He says manufacturers and carriers don't want to fall into that trap again, and that they've been receptive to the idea of leaving the core of Ubuntu alone while tweaking their individual services instead.
pigrabbitbear writes "It's the most modern lament in retail: Brick-and-mortar shopping has gone the way of the dodo as everyone buys their junk online. But for the once-booming online gambling market, salvation may require a reversal of that trend. For one online gaming giant, buying a casino in Atlantic City is the first step to bring Internet poker back to the U.S. In 2006, playing online poker for real cash was deemed illegal. While that didn't stop more serious players from playing, especially once the big hosts started funneling cash offshore, the FBI and DoJ's crackdown on April 15, 2011 did. The big trio of online poker – PokerStars, Full Tilt, and Absolute Poker – were all shut down, domains seized, and executives arrested on charges related to fraud, money laundering, and illegal gambling. While PokerStars and others continued operations in foreign, legal markets, the U.S. poker craze pretty much collapsed. That doesn't mean the lucrative market has gone away. Now, the Rational Group, which owns both PokerStars and Full Tilt, may be hinting at a workaround: the company is looking to buy a struggling casino in Atlantic City. Rational faces a rather large mess of regulatory hurdles, but if it does end up acquiring the Atlantic Club Casino Hotel, it would have a huge foothold in New Jersey's young market for internet gambling."
WebMink writes "Is it possible that the CEO of the company that's trying to file a trademark on 'Python' was unaware of Python's importance as a programming technology? That's what he claims — despite running a hosting company that's trying to break into cloud computing, where Python is used extensively. Still, he also regards the Python Software Foundation as a hostile American company and thinks that getting attention from half the world's geeks is a DDoS. From the article: '[The CEO, Tim Poultney,] confirmed that he'd not involved any technical staff in the decisions he'd made about the Python product brand, and told me he regretted that as it would probably have helped him understand the likely reaction to his trademark challenge. ... He said he now understood how offended the global developer community are and told me there was obviously only one outcome that was now possible.'"
FreeMichael61 writes "In the latest episode of Spy vs. Spy, China rejects accusations it's hacking U.S. companies to steal IP or bring down the grid. But there's no doubt the grid can be hacked, CIO Journal's Steve Rosenbush and Rachael King report. Industrial control networks are supposed to be protected from the Internet by an air gap that, it turns out, is largely theoretical. Internal security is often lax, laptops and other devices are frequently moved between corporate networks and control networks, and some SCADA systems are still directly connected to the internet. What security standards actually exist are out of date and don't cover enough, and corporations often use questionable supply chains because they are cheaper."