Jono Bacon writes "This week at Mobile World Congress both Firefox OS and Ubuntu have been wooing the audience with their mobile offerings. CNET reviewed both and felt that Ubuntu was 'the clear winner.' From the article, 'The team thought that Ubuntu Touch, the tablet version of which we got our hands-on for the first time at MWC, feels more like the complete package at this point. We liked its slick, elegant interface that makes use of every side of the screen and puts your content and contacts front and center, minimizing the time spent hopping back to a home screen.'" They still liked Firefox OS though, and the mere existence of multiple Free Software mobile systems with carrier support is a good sign if you ask me.
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curtwoodward writes "MIT researchers looked at 150 of the school's spin-out companies in manufacturing businesses over a decade, and found many of them hit the same chasm: Once it was time to ramp up to large-scale production, they couldn't find domestic investors and had to go overseas. The bulk of the research will be published later this year, but it raises an interesting conundrum — if an MIT-pedigreed company has serious trouble ramping up production in the U.S., how much harder is it for the 'average' business that wants to grow? Is it even still possible to do high-tech manufacturing here — or should it be?" Intel seems to be doing OK with U.S. manufacturing, but they have the advantage of established operations.
An anonymous reader writes with this excerpt from TorrentFreak: "The website blocking phenomenon has continued today in the UK, with the High Court adding three major torrent sites to the country's unofficial ban list. Following complaints from the music industry led by the BPI, the Court ordered the UK's leading Internet service providers to begin censoring subscriber access to Kickass Torrents, H33T and Fenopy." Unlike when the Pirate Bay was blocked, none of the ISPs contested this. They did, however, refuse to block things without a court order. Looks like the flood gates have been opened. On the topic of filesharing, Japan arrested 27 file sharers, using the recent changes to their copyright law that allow criminal charges to be brought against file sharers.
theodp writes "By trotting out politicians (Bill Clinton, Mike Bloomberg, Marco Rubio, Al Gore) and celebrities (Chris Bosh, will.i.am, Ashton Kutcher), Tuesday's Code.org launch certainly was a home run with the media. But will it actually strike a chord with kids and inspire them to code? Dave Winer has his doubts, and explains why — as someone who truly loves programming — code.org rubbed him the wrong way. 'I don't like who is doing the pitching,' says Winer, 'and who isn't. Out of the 83 people they quote, I doubt if many of them have written code recently, and most of them have never done it, and have no idea what they're talking about.' Code.org's because-you-can-make-a-lot of-money-doing-it pitch also leaves Dave cold. So, why should one code, Dave? 'Primarily you should do it because you love it, because it's fun — because it's wonderful to create machines with your mind. Hugely empowering. Emotionally gratifying. Software is math-in-motion. It's a miracle of the mind. And if you can do it, really well, there's absolutely nothing like it.' Nice. So, could Code.org use less soulless prattle from 'leaders and trendsetters' and more genuine passion from programmers?" Just force all ninth graders to learn Scheme instead of Microsoft Word.
Entropy98 sends this quote from the LA Times: "Army Pfc. Bradley Edward Manning pleaded guilty Thursday to 10 charges that he illegally acquired and transferred highly classified U.S. government secrets, agreeing to serve [up to] 20 years in prison for causing a worldwide uproar when WikiLeaks published documents describing the inner workings of U.S. military and diplomatic efforts in Iraq, Afghanistan and around the globe. The 25-year-old soldier, however, pleaded not guilty to 12 more serious charges, including espionage for aiding the enemy, meaning that his criminal case will go forward at a general court-martial in June. If convicted at trial, he risks a sentence of life in prison at Ft. Leavenworth, Kan."
Dystopian Rebel writes "A Stanford comp-sci student has found a serious bug in Chromium, Safari, Opera, and MSIE. Feross Aboukhadijeh has demonstrated that these browsers allow unbounded local storage. 'The HTML5 Web Storage standard was developed to allow sites to store larger amounts of data (like 5-10 MB) than was previously allowed by cookies (like 4KB). ... The current limits are: 2.5 MB per origin in Google Chrome, 5 MB per origin in Mozilla Firefox and Opera, 10 MB per origin in Internet Explorer. However, what if we get clever and make lots of subdomains like 1.filldisk.com, 2.filldisk.com, 3.filldisk.com, and so on? Should each subdomain get 5MB of space? The standard says no. ... However, Chrome, Safari, and IE currently do not implement any such "affiliated site" storage limit.' Aboukhadijeh has logged the bug with Chromium and Apple, but couldn't do so for MSIE because 'the page is broken" (see http://connect.microsoft.com/IE). Oops. Firefox's implementation of HTML5 local storage is not vulnerable to this exploit."
An anonymous reader writes "Officials at the Chinese Defense Ministry say hackers from the U.S. have been attacking Chinese military websites. 'The sites were subject to about 144,000 hacking attacks each month last year, two thirds of which came from the U.S., according to China's defense ministry. The issue of cyber hacking has strained relations between the two countries.' This follows recent hacks from people in China on high-profile U.S. sites, as well as a report accusing the Chinese government of supporting a hacking group. '[Defense Ministry spokesman Geng Yansheng] called on U.S. officials to "explain and clarify" what he said were recent U.S. media reports that Washington would carry out "pre-emptive" cyber attacks and expand its online warfare capabilities. Such efforts are "not conducive to the joint efforts of the international community to enhance network security," he said.'"
Freshly Exhumed writes "Chris Welch at The Verge tells us: 'Speaking at the Morgan Stanley Technology Conference moments ago, Time Warner Cable's Chief Financial Officer Irene Esteves seemed dismissive of the impact Google Fiber is having on consumers. "We're in the business of delivering what consumers want, and to stay a little ahead of what we think they will want," she said when asked about the breakneck internet speeds delivered by Google's young Kansas City network. "We just don't see the need of delivering that to consumers."' The article goes on to quote her: '...residential customers have thus far shown little interest in TWC's top internet tiers. "A very small fraction of our customer base" ultimately choose those options.'"
An anonymous reader writes "MIT has posted a letter to campus newspaper The Tech providing a timeline of last weekend's 'gunman' hoax. On Saturday morning, Cambridge, MA police were contacted via Internet relay by a tipster who claimed that a someone wearing armor and carrying a 'really big gun' was in Building 7 at MIT (the Massachusetts Ave. entrance to the Infinite Corridor) and was heading towards the office of MIT President Rafael Reif. The call continued for 18 minutes, with the caller eventually claiming that the gunman was seeking to avenge the suicide of Aaron Swartz, who was being prosecuting for alleged illegal downloads of millions of journal articles using MIT's computer network. The caller also identified the gunman as an MIT staff member, who has since been questioned by police and cleared. MIT has been criticized for waiting 1.5 hours before sending a campus-wide alert after the call was received."
An anonymous reader writes "Develop reports on comments from Blake Jorgensen, Electronic Arts' Chief Financial Officer, speaking at the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media, and Telecom Conference. As you may have guessed from the name of the conference, the business aspect of EA was the topic. Jorgensen said, 'The next and much bigger piece [of the business] is microtransactions within games. ... We're building into all of our games the ability to pay for things along the way, either to get to a higher level to buy a new character, to buy a truck, a gun, whatever it might be, and consumers are enjoying and embracing that way of the business.' This is particularly distressing given EA's recent implementation of microtransations in Dead Space 3, where you can spend money to improve your weaponry."
pigrabbitbear writes "Look outside of your window: if you see miles of farmland, chances are you have terrible internet service. That's because major telecommunications companies don't think it's worth the investment to bring high-speed broadband to sparsely populated areas. But like most businesses, farms increasingly depend on the internet to pay bills, monitor the market and communicate with partners. In the face of a sluggish connection, what's a group of farmers to do? Grow their own, naturally. That's what the people of Lancashire, England, are doing. Last year, a coalition of local farmers and others from the northwestern British county began asking local landowners if they could use their land to begin laying a brand-new community-owned high-speed network, sparing them the expense of tearing up roads. Then, armed with shovels and backhoes, the group, called Broadband for the Rural North, or B4RN (it's pronounced 'barn'), began digging the first of what will be approximately 180,000 meters of trenches and filling them with fiber-optic cable, all on its own."
gurps_npc writes "Recently there was a poorly designed study that claimed computers don't help teaching. Here with the opposing viewpoint is Sugata Mitra in his recent TED talk. He went to a tiny village in India and put a computer there with software about DNA replication (in English, even though they did not speak or read English). When he came back months later, a group of young children said, 'We don't understand anything — except that mistakes in DNA replication cause diseases.' At heart, his argument is that the old style of teaching derives from Victorian England's need for bureaucrats, so it creates minimally competent people that know how to read, write, and do math in their head. He wants to update our teaching methods with more creative and technological solutions." One of Mitra's main points is that given resources and a question to ponder, children will learn on their own. Interference and too much direction gets in the way of that. Mitra won the $1M TED prize this year for his work. He said in an interview, "We spent 7000 years debating this issue of how do we educate everybody. We have never lived in a world where one standard educated everyone. And given that we have failed for over 7000 years, perhaps we will never have one standard. Maybe the right conclusion is that we do away with standard education. Maybe the convergence of technology and curiosity will solve this problem."
An anonymous reader writes "Continuing a firehose tradition of maximum information density, Xiph.Org's second video on digital media explores multiple facets of digital audio signals and how they really behave in the real world. Demonstrations of sampling, quantization, bit-depth, and dither explore digital audio behavior on real audio equipment using both modern digital analysis and vintage analog bench equipment... just in case we can't trust those newfangled digital gizmos. You can also download the source code for each demo and try it all for yourself!" Plus you get to look at Monty's beard and hear his soothing voice. There's a handy wiki page with further information and a summary of the video if text is your thing.
hypnosec writes "Ubuntu Developer Summits Community Manager Jono Bacon has announced that the bi-annual Ubuntu Developer Summits, which were held at different locations like Brussels, Oakland, Copenhagen will be replaced by online events by moving to the cloud. Bacon revealed that the event has been successful, but in a bid to bring about improvements and refinement in the openness and accessibility of the event, it is going to transition into an online event." They are also going to be held every three months instead of every six.
pigrabbitbear writes with a story about some interesting possible effects of Global Warming. From the article: "It's a good thing that robots are stealing our jobs, because in about thirty-five years, nobody in their right mind is going to want to do them. Scientists from NOAA just published a report ... that details how a warming climate impacts the way we work, and the results are pretty clear — we do less of it. NOAA discovered that over the last 60 years, the hotter, wetter climate has decreased human labor capacity by 10%. And it projects that by 2050, that number will double."
An anonymous reader writes "With work done by ARM and Linaro, there is now a bootable image of Debian/Ubuntu that works for ARM64, the new 64-bit ARM architecture. There are still some caveats and work ahead, but Linux is once again the first platform that has software ready to run on a new architecture when released. This 64-bit ARM Linux support also includes the ability to run 32-bit ARM software side-by-side." You can grab a bootable rootfs, but there's no hardware to actually run it on now (the developers are using the free-as-in-beer simulator from ARM). Kernel support for the architecture was released around a year ago; this is more a tale of getting from a bootable kernel to a bootable operating system.
Zaatxe writes with a bit of news about the music industry; sales are slightly up (basically flat). From the article: "The music industry, the first media business to be consumed by the digital revolution, said on Tuesday that its global sales rose last year for the first time since 1999, raising hopes that a long-sought recovery might have begun. The increase, of 0.3 percent, was tiny, and the total revenue, $16.5 billion, was a far cry from the $38 billion that the industry took in at its peak more than a decade ago. Still, even if it is not time for the record companies to party like it's 1999, the figures, reported Tuesday by the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, provide significant encouragement. 'At the beginning of the digital revolution it was common to say that digital was killing music,' said Edgar Berger, chief executive of the international arm of Sony Music Entertainment. Now, he added, it could be said 'that digital is saving music.'" Because CDs aren't digital. CD sales are declining, and being replaced by the sale of lossy files. I wonder how much more money they could be making if they'd just sell folks lossless music on the open market (not just iTunes) since at least that's all that keeps me buying a CD or three a year (I own way too many CDs personally, and stopped buying music until discovering Bandcamp and easy lossless downloads rekindled my desire to find new stuff).
schwit1 writes "New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie signed a bill Tuesday legalizing Internet gambling. While the bill only allows Atlantic City casino companies to take online bets, the WSJ believes that those casinos will partner with overseas companies that provide services for online gambling, potentially opening up a bigger market. Furthermore, the bill (PDF) will allow bettors from other states to gamble online, so long as regulators determine that the activity isn't prohibited by any federal or state laws. They included setting a 10-year trial period for online betting, and raising the taxes on the Atlantic City casinos' online winnings from 10 to 15 percent. New Jersey became the third state in the nation to legalize gambling over the Internet. Nevada and Delaware have passed laws legalizing Internet betting, which also is going on offshore, untaxed and unregulated."
eegad writes "I've been thinking a lot about how much information I give to technology companies like Google and Facebook and how I'm not super comfortable with what I even dimly know about how they're handling and selling it. Is it time for major companies like this, who offer arguably utility-like services for free in exchange for info, to start giving customers a choice about how to 'pay' for their service? I'd much rather pony up a monthly fee to access all the Google services I use, for example, and be assured that no tracking or selling of my information is going on. I'm not aware of how much money these companies might make from selling data about a particular individual, but could it possibly be more than the $20 or $30 a month I'd fork over to know that my privacy is a little more secure? Is this a pipe dream, or are there other people who would happily pay for their private use of these services? What kinds of costs or problems could be involved with companies implementing this type of dual business model?"
pigrabbitbear writes "Even as we all love to debate the scholarly merits of Wikipedia, there's no denying that it's an immensely powerful research and learning tool. That goes doubly so in poor nations, where access to education materials can be limited to nonexistent. To that end, Wikimedia started the Wikipedia Zero project, which aims to partner with mobile service providers to bring Wikipedia to poor regions free of charge. It's a killer strategy, because while computer and internet access is still fleeting for much of the world, cell phones are far more ubiquitous. Wikimedia claims that four mobile partnerships signed since 2012 brings free Wiki service to 330 million cell subscribers in 35 countries, a huge boon for folks whose phones have web capability but who can't afford data charges."
New submitter ThatsNotPudding writes "The U.S. Supreme court has rejected pleas to allow any challenges to the FISA wiretapping law unless someone can prove they've been harmed by it. 'The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA, was originally designed to allow spying on the communications of foreign powers. But after the September 11 attacks, FISA courts were authorized to target a wide array of international communications, including communications between Americans and foreigners. ... In this case, the plaintiffs' groups said their communications were likely being scooped up by the government's expanded spying powers in violation of their constitutional rights. Today's decision, a 5-4 vote along ideological lines by the nation's highest court, definitively ends their case. In an opinion (PDF) by Justice Samuel Alito, the court ruled that these groups don't have the right to sue at all, because they can't prove they were being spied on.'" Further coverage at SCOTUSblog.
dp619 writes "Penn State law professor Clark Asay has written an editorial on F/OSS patent risk, saying, '...under the current patent system, it's entirely possible to obtain a patent that reads on software that FOSS communities independently create. Consequently, FOSS communities and their users are vulnerable to third party patent claims, even absent any sort of wrongdoing or copying on their part.' He suggests that developers collaborate to prevent bad or frivolous patents from being issued in the first place. The ongoing work of Linux Defenders and Peer-to-Patent are cited as good examples of how the FOSS community's collaborative spirit can help it counteract potential legal threats."
rtoz writes "Code.org has released infographics and a video to explain why students should be taught to code in school. They've gathered support from leaders in politics and the tech industry. Mark Zuckerberg says, 'Our policy at Facebook is literally to hire as many talented engineers as we can find. There just aren't enough people who are trained and have these skills today.' Former U.S. President Bill Clinton adds, 'At a time when people are saying, "I want a good job – I got out of college and I couldn't find one," every single year in America, there is a standing demand for 120,000 people who are training in computer science.' Bill Gates said, 'Learning to write programs stretches your mind, and helps you think better, creates a way of thinking about things that I think is helpful in all domains.' Google's Eric Schmidt is looking beyond first-world countries: 'For most people on Earth, the digital revolution hasn't even started yet. Within the next 10 years, all that will change. Let's get the whole world coding!'" Part of the standing demand for computer science jobs may be influenced by bad policies from tech companies, like Yahoo's ban on working from home.
concealment writes "Many of us have had the experience of going to Amazon to buy one thing but checking out with a huge shopping cart of items that we didn't initially seek—or even know were available. Amazon's merchandising often benefits Amazon's customers, but trademark owners who lose sales to their competition due to it aren't as thrilled. Fortunately for Amazon, a California federal court recently upheld Amazon's merchandising practices in its internal search results."
Hugh Pickens writes "UPI reports that for the first time in the history of Nobel Prize, one of the Nobel Prize medals, along with the diploma presented by the Nobel committee, is on auction — with an opening bid of $250,000. Awarded to Francis Crick, who along with James Watson and Maurice Wilkins won the Nobel Prize for medicine in 1962 'for their discoveries concerning the molecular structure of nucleic acids and its significance for information transfer in living material,' the medal will be auctioned off in New York City, by Heritage Auctions. The medal has been kept in a safe deposit box in California since Crick's widow passed away in 2007 and a portion of the proceeds will go to the Francis Crick Institute of disease research scheduled to open in London in 2015. '"By auctioning his Nobel it will finally be made available for public display and be well looked after. Our hope is that, by having it available for display, it can be an inspiration to the next generation of scientists," says Crick's granddaughter, Kindra Crick. "My granddad was honored to have received the Nobel Prize, but he was not the type to display his awards; his office walls contained a large chalkboard, artwork and a portrait of Charles Darwin."'"
New submitter OlivierB writes "I am moving to a new house in the UK. The house will have very fast broadband but there is only one TV/cable aerial to plug into which is also very inconveniently located in the property. The cable TV provider can move it (for a high fee), but the biggest issue is that their channel packages are just too expensive and not appealing to me. Ideally, I would like access to the UK Freeview channels, and maybe a few extras such as Discovery Channel, Eurosport etc. All of this content would be available via IPTV, which I could watch from an HTPC or simple set-top boxes. Do you have any ideas to share with me?"
An anonymous reader writes "Google is working on identifying Chrome tabs that are currently playing audio (or recording it). The feature is expected to show an audio animation if a tab is broadcasting or recording sound. François Beaufort spotted the new feature, a part of which is already available in the latest Chromium build."
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."