poofmeisterp writes "Due to old cast iron underground pipelines, natural gas leaks run amok in Boston, MA. '"While our study was not intended to assess explosion risks, we came across six locations in Boston where gas concentrations exceeded the threshold above which explosions can occur," Nathan Phillips, associate professor at BU, said in a statement.' With 'a device to measure methane' in a vehicle equipped with GPS, Duke and Boston University researchers created a nice little map showing the methane levels in parts per million at different points in the city. 'Repairing these leaks will improve air quality, increase consumer health and safety, and save money,' study researcher Robert B. Jackson, of Duke, said in a statement. 'We just have to put the right financial incentives into place.' It looks like money is an issue. Imagine that."
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Nerval's Lobster writes "The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) plans on replacing its existing stock of BlackBerry devices with Apple's iPhone 5. Research In Motion's BlackBerry smartphones, the government entity wrote in a Nov. 13 notice of intent, 'have been failing both at inopportune times and at an unacceptable rate.' The NTSB's use of iPads means it has the operational support for iOS; consequently, the decision was made to go with Apple. 'The iPhone 5 has been determined to be the only device that meets the dual requirement of availability from the existing wireless vendor and is currently supportable by existing staff resources,' the notice added. RIM is fighting to retain the government and enterprise contracts that originally made it such a mobile powerhouse. If agencies and boards such as the NTSB begin to embrace alternative platforms, however, that could critically weaken RIM's business model just as the company attempts a comeback behind the upcoming BlackBerry 10 platform."
An anonymous reader writes "Back in September, a U.S. judge ruled that a school district violated the First Amendment (freedom of speech) and Fourth Amendment (unreasonable search and seizure) rights of a 12-year-old student by forcing her to hand over her Facebook password to school officials who in turn used it to search for messages they deemed inappropriate. This month, another U.S. judge has ordered that women suing their employer for sexual harassment must hand over cell phones, passwords to their email accounts, blogs, as well as to Facebook and other social networks."
judgecorp writes "Amazon.com could lose the .amazon domain, as Brazil and Peru have disputed the retailer's application to ICANN, backed by other South American governments, who want to protect use of that domain for 'purposes of public interest related to the protection, promotion, and awareness raising on issues related to the Amazon biome.'"
Dupple writes "Following on from a world bank report of 4 degree C warmer world comes this story from the BBC. 'The effects of climate change are already evident in Europe and the situation is set to get worse, the European Environment Agency has warned. "Every indicator we have in terms of giving us an early warning of climate change and increasing vulnerability is giving us a very strong signal," observed EEA executive director Jacqueline McGlade.'" Here's the report in question. There also comes news we've hit record levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide.
BeatTheChip writes "Lawyers representing Andrea Hernandez, a science and engineering student at John Jay High School, are fighting an expulsion notice issued a week ago for refusing to wear a Smart ID badge. To represent her, lawyers filed a preliminary court injunction, seeking legal restraints on the school. She maintains stance of refusal to wear any badge containing an RFID tag for reasons of basic privacy and conflicts with her belief system. The controversial decision for her school to adopt the NFC badges is part of the Student Locator Project, tracking attendance. Local schools started issuing the lanyard badges this fall despite parental outcry at NISD school board meetings."
An anonymous reader writes "A petition has recently been started to get the developer of the popular Android 'MIUI' ROM, Chinese based Xiaomi, to comply with the GPL. While Android itself is licensed under the Apache 2.0 License, and therefore does not actually require derivative works to be FOSS, the Linux kernel itself is GPL-licensed and needs to remain open. Unless Xiaomi intends to develop a replacement for the Linux kernel, they need to make their modifications public."
An article at Ars examines three members of the U.S. House of Representatives who are seeking chairmanship of its Committee on Space, Science, and Technology. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) said in an interview, "My analysis is that in the global warming debate, we won. There were a lot of scientists who were just going along with the flow on the idea that mankind was causing a change in the world's climate. I think that after 10 years of debate, we can show that that there are hundreds if not thousands of scientists who have come over to being skeptics, and I don't know anyone [who was a skeptic] who became a believer in global warming." James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) has a similar record of opposing climate change, as does Lamar Smith (R-TX). Relatedly, Phil Plait, a.k.a. The Bad Astronomer, has posted an article highlighting how U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), a member of the Senate's Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, has declined to answer a question about how old the Earth is, calling it "one of the great mysteries."
An anonymous reader writes "As expected, Mozilla on Tuesday officially launched Firefox 17 for Windows, Mac, and Linux. The biggest addition in this release is click-to-play plugins, announced back in October. In short, the addition means Mozilla will now prompt Firefox users on Windows with old versions of Adobe Reader, Adobe Flash, and Microsoft Silverlight (more will be added eventually)." The release notes are available, as is a list of changes for devs. Firefox for Android got a new release as well (notes).
elashish14 writes "David Kappos, head of the USPTO, today provided a strong defense of the patent system, particularly in the mobile industry. In his address, he implored critics, 'Give the [America Invents Act] a chance to work.' He then went on to proclaim the 'absolutely breakneck pace' of innovation in the smartphone industry and that the U.S. patent system is 'the envy of the world,' though he was likely only referring to the envy of the world's lawyers. Perhaps the most laughable quote from his address: 'The explosion of litigation we are seeing is a reflection of how the patent system wires us for innovation.'"
McGruber writes "CNBC is reporting that Meg Whitman claims HP was defrauded in its purchase of Autonomy. 'We believed there is a willful effort on the part of certain members of Autonomy management to mislead shareholders when Autonomy was a publicly traded company, and to mislead potential buyers including HP,' Whitman said. 'We stand by the forensic review that we've seen,' she added. I wish her the same level of success I had when I filed an eBay claim." Also covered at SlashBI, which names the write-down damage: $8.8 billion.
An anonymous reader writes "The Google Samsung Chromebook was already interesting for its competitive $250 price-tag and that it can be loaded with Linux distributions beyond Chrome OS, but it turns out that its performance is particularly good, too. When loaded with Ubuntu Linux, the Samsung Exynos 5 Dual ARM SoC on the Chrome notebook had outperformed a 1.8GHz Intel Atom, a quad-core Calxeda ARM server, and a TI OMAP4 PandaBoard."
Dupple writes with this excerpt: "It has become an increasingly large problem that Visa, MasterCard, and Paypal control the valve to any money flow on the planet. Today, the European Parliament established this as a clear problem, and initiated regulation of the companies, limiting and strictly regulating their right to refuse service. The Pirate Party was the initiator of this regulation, following the damaging cutoff of donations to WikiLeaks, after said organization had performed journalism that was embarrassing to certain governments."
Thinkcloud writes "Even though the operating system hasn't arrived in a version for smartphones and tablets just yet, Firefox OS is available as a prototype module that you can run on Windows, Mac or Linux computers (download page). The initial Firefox OS phones are expected to arrive in 2013, and it's been reported that Alcatel and ZTE are the first manufacturers on board."