sciencehabit writes with this excerpt from Science magazine's colorful synopsis of a paywalled article at Current Biology "A day in the life of a male dung beetle goes something like this: Fly to a heap of dung, sculpt a clump of it into a large ball, then roll the ball away from the pile as fast as possible. However, it turns out that the beetles, who work at night, need some sort of compass to prevent them from rolling around in circles. New research suggests that the insects use starlight to guide their way. Birds, seals, and humans also use starlight to navigate, but this is the first time it's been shown in an insect." Also on the topic of How Animals Get Around Without GPS, new research has considerably heightened scientists understanding of birds' sensitivity to magnetic fields. For homing pigeons at least, this ability seems to be tied to a cluster of just 53 neurons (original paper, also behind a paywall).
CowboyRobot writes "Once the 'Second City' of the British Empire, scrappy Glasgow — whose now-demolished Gorbals was once known for urban grimness on a par with Chicago's South Side or New York's Hell's Kitchen — has the chance for a whole new lease on life as the UK's first 'smart city.' The UK's government has just announced a $38 million (£24 million) grant to fund pilot projects in the city that show how mass deployment of sensors and real-time information can help local government run more efficiently while also boosting the quality of life for its 600,000 citizens. Glasgow won the prize in a competition among 30 British towns and cities for state help in looking at the possible contribution of smart technology."
theodp writes "Late Friday, Violet Blue reports, the U.S. Sentencing Commission website was hacked and government files distributed by Anonymous in 'Operation Last Resort.' The U.S. Sentencing Commission sets guidelines for sentencing in United States Federal courts, and on the defaced ussc.gov website Anonymous cited the recent suicide of Aaron Swartz as 'a line that has been crossed.' Calling the launch of its new campaign a "warhead," Anonymous vowed, 'This time there will be change, or there will be chaos.'" Adds reader emil: "Anonymous has not specified exactly what files they have obtained. The various files were named after Supreme Court judges. At a regular interval commencing today, Anonymous will choose one media outlet and supply them with heavily redacted partial contents."
hackingbear writes "While people and politicians are pitching for more education and reviving manufacturing in this country, jobs go begging in factories while many college educated young workers, which now number 11 times more than in 1989, are unemployed or underemployed in China. A national survey of urban residents, released this winter by a Chinese university, showed that among people in their early 20s, those with a college degree were four times as likely to be unemployed as those with only an elementary school education. Yet, it is not about the pay. Many factories are desperate for workers, despite offering double-digit annual pay increases and improved benefits, while an office job would initially pay as little as a third of factory wages. The glut of college graduates is eroding wages even for those with more marketable majors, like computer science. Vocational schools and training programs are unpopular because they suffer from a low status [or are seen as] for people from unsuccessful, poor, or peasant backgrounds. 'The more educated people are, the less they want to work in a factory,' said an unemployed graduate. If we do succeed bringing back factory jobs, are there enough people who want them?"
An anonymous reader writes "A speedbump on the road to a cash-free economy will go into effect Sunday in the U.S., as retailers in 40 states will have the option of passing along a surcharge to customers who pay with credit cards. The so-called swipe fees arose from the settlement of a seven-year lawsuit filed by retailers against Visa, Mastercard, and big banks, who collect an electronic processing fee averaging 1.5 to 3 percent on transactions involving credit cards. The banks naturally have opposed the consumer surcharges, preferring that the extra costs to be passed along in the form of higher prices. Consumers in ten states (California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Kansas, Maine, Massachusetts, New York, Oklahoma, Texas) won't be affected, since laws in those states forbid the practice (it seems that gasoline station owners here in Massachusetts got a different memo, though). Also, the surcharges won't be collected for debit or prepaid cards."
As reported by news.com.au, Julian Assange has seen leaked copies of the script of an upcoming film depicting WikiLeaks, and blasts it as inaccurate propaganda. He says, among other things, "They tried to frame Iran as having an active nuclear weapons program. Then they try to frame WikiLeaks as the reason why that's not known to the public now." Says the article: "Assange declined to say where he got the script, although he hinted that he had been supplied with several copies of it over time. He also declined to say whether the script would be posted to the WikiLeaks website, saying only that "we are examining options closely.'"
hypnosec writes "The Raspberry Pi Foundation has released OpenArena – a multiplayer first person shooter game based on Quake III — for the Raspberry Pi. Available as a free download, the game has been rated 'Adults Only' because of the blood and guns. The open-source game is powered by the 'ioquake3' fork of the engine that Quake III runs on id's Tech 3 engine. Modifications have been made to the gameplay by removing the copyrighted material and adding new free content."
Damien1972 writes "The Brazilian government has begun fixing trees in the Amazon rainforest with a wireless device, known as Invisible Tracck, which will allow trees to contact authorities once they are felled and moved. Here's how it works: Brazilian authorities fix the Invisible Tracck onto a tree. An illegal logger cuts down the tree and puts it onto a truck for removal, unaware that they are carrying a tracking device. Once Invisible Tracck comes within 20 miles (32 kilometers) of a cellular network it will 'wake up' and alert authorities."
Matt Steelblade writes "I've been in love with computers since my early teens. I took out books from the library and just started messing around until I had learned QBasic, then Visual Basic 5, and how to take apart a computer. Fast forward 10 years. I'm a very recent college graduate with a BA in philosophy (because of seminary, which I recently left). I want to get into IT work, but am not sure where to start. I have about four years experience working at a grade/high school (about 350 computers) in which I did a lot of desktop maintenance and some work on their AD and website. At college (Loyola University Chicago) I tried to get my hands on whatever computer courses I could. I ended up taking a python course, a C# course, and data structures (with python). I received either perfect scores or higher in these courses. I feel comfortable in what I know about computers, and know all too well what I don't. I think my greatest strength is in troubleshooting. With that being said, do I need more schooling? If so, should I try for an associate degree (I have easy access to a Gateway technical college) or should I go for an undergraduate degree (I think my best bet there would be UW-Madison)? If not, should I try to get certified with CompTIA, or someone else? Or, would the best bet be to try to find a job or an internship?"
redletterdave writes "On Friday morning, BitTorrent launched the alpha test of a new, free public service called BitTorrent Sync, which allows users to securely back up and sync files over the Web using BitTorrent's platform. Unlike competing services such as Box or Dropbox, BitTorrent Sync doesn't store files on remote servers (which means that no third party has access to one's files), and also has no storage limits other than what your devices can hold."
dcblogs writes "A bipartisan group of Senators is planning to introduce a bill that allows the H-1B visa cap to rise automatically with demand to a maximum of 300,000 visas annually. This 20-page bill, called the Immigration Innovation Act of 2013 or the 'I-Squared Act of 2013,' is being developed by Sens. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), and Chris Coons (D-Del.). It may be introduced next week. Presently, the U.S. has an H-1B visa cap of 65,000. There are another 20,000 H-1B visas set aside for advanced degree gradates of U.S. universities, for 85,000 in total. Under the new bill, the base H-1B cap would increase from 65,000 to 115,000. But the cap would be allowed to rise automatically with demand, according to a draft of the legislation."
theodp writes "Explaining that it believes 'the most important questions are the ones that will come from the MIT community,' MIT announced that it won't be accepting questions from outsiders for its President-ordered 'review' of the events that preceded the suicide of Aaron Swartz. But if you feel the 25 questions asked thus far don't cover all the bases, how about posting additional ones in the comments where MIT'ers can see them and perhaps repost to the MIT site some that they feel deserve answers? Do it soon — MIT President Rafael Reif will be returning any day now from Davos, where he sat on a panel with Bill Gates, who coincidentally once found himself in hot water over unauthorized computer access. 'They weren't sure how mad they should be about it,' Gates explained in a 2010 interview, 'because we hadn't really caused any damage, but it wasn't a good thing. Computer hacking was literally just being invented at the time, and so fortunately we got off with a bit of a warning.'" Related: text has been published of public domain advocate Carl Malamud's remarks at Swartz's memorial. Quoting: "Aaron wasn't a lone wolf, he was part of an army, and I had the honor of serving with him for a decade. Aaron was part of an army of citizens that believes democracy only works when the citizenry are informed, when we know about our rights—and our obligations."
judgecorp writes "China's Lenovo could take over RIM, according to Lenovo chief financial officer Wong Mai Ming, speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos Switzerland. The Canadian authorities might object, and so might BlackBerry users, after what ultimately happened to the ThinkPad brand under Lenovo's guidance. Canadian Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said, 'It’s something that we would look carefully at. We always look at foreign investment in Canada as a cause for reflection. We have to look at intelligence concerns.'"
Tyketto writes "Referencing a decision outlined in the Federal Register, Tech News Daily has published an article noting that the window to unlock your new mobile phone in the U.S. is closing. 'In October 2012, the Librarian of Congress, who determines exemptions to a strict anti-hacking law called the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), decided that unlocking mobile phones would no longer be allowed. But the library provided a 90-day window during which people could still buy a phone and unlock it. That window closes on January 26.' While this doesn't apply to phones purchased before the window closes, this means that after 1/26/13, for any new mobile phone you purchase, you'll have to fulfill your contract, or break the law to unlock it." It will still be perfectly legal to purchase an unlocked phone, which many carriers offer. This change removes the exemption for buying a new phone under contract (and thus, at a discount) and then unlocking it.
Lasrick writes "The Guardian has an exclusive story regarding a secret uranium-enriching plant in the UK that was closed due to safety fears. From the article: 'A top-secret plant at Aldermaston that makes enriched uranium components for Britain's nuclear warheads and fuel for the Royal Navy's submarines has been shut down because corrosion has been discovered in its 'structural steelwork', the Guardian can reveal. The closure has been endorsed by safety regulators who feared the building did not conform to the appropriate standards. The nuclear safety watchdog demands that such critical buildings are capable of withstanding 'extreme weather and seismic events,' and the plant at Aldermaston failed this test. It has set a deadline of the end of the year for the problems to be fixed.'"