vikingpower writes "A team of international experts has drawn up the Soil Atlas of Africa — the first such book mapping this key natural resource — to help farmers, land managers and policymakers understand the diversity and importance of soil and the need to manage it through sustainable use. A joint commission of the African Union and the European Union has produced a complete atlas of African soils, downloadable as three hefty PDFs (Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3). The initiative was announced four years ago, and is intended 'to help farmers, land managers and policymakers understand the diversity and importance of soil and the need to manage it through sustainable use.' A digital, interactive series of maps is (still) in the making."
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Earlier this year we discussed a petition on the White House's 'We The People' site asking the administration to adopt the metric system as the standard system of measurement in the U.S. Today, the administration issued a disappointing response. Simply put: they're not going to do anything about it. They frame their response as a matter of preserving a citizen's choice to adopt whatever measurement system he wants. Quoting Patrick D. Gallagher of the National Institute of Standards and Technology: "... contrary to what many people may think, the U.S. uses the metric system now to define all basic units used in commerce and trade. At the same time, if the metric system and U.S. customary system are languages of measurement, then the United States is truly a bilingual nation. ... Ultimately, the use of metric in this country is a choice and we would encourage Americans to continue to make the best choice for themselves and for the purpose at hand and to continue to learn how to move seamlessly between both systems. In our voluntary system, it is the consumers who have the power to make this choice. So if you like, "speak" metric at home by setting your digital scales to kilograms and your thermometers to Celsius. Cook in metric with liters and grams and set your GPS to kilometers. ... So choose to live your life in metric if you want, and thank you for signing on."
redletterdave writes "After AT&T unceremoniously canceled the HTC First after just one month on the market, Facebook announced the first phone running the Facebook Home operating system will not be launching in the U.K., as originally planned. From Facebook: 'Following customer feedback, Facebook has decided to focus on adding new customization features to Facebook Home over the coming months. While they are working to make a better Facebook Home experience, they have recommended holding off launching the HTC First in the UK, and so we will shortly be contacting those who registered their interest with us to let them know of this decision. Rest assured, we remain committed to bringing our customers the latest mobile experiences, and we will continue to build on our strong relationship with Facebook so as to offer customers new opportunities in the future.'"
Chewbacon writes "Details about the used-game policy on Microsoft's newly-announced Xbox One console have been leaked. The policy explains how used-game retailers can survive Xbox One destroying the used-game market as we know it: they have to agree to Microsoft's terms and conditions to do so. In summary, the used game retailer can still buy the game from the consumer, but they must report the consumer relinquishing their license to play the game to a Microsoft database. They must also sell it at a market price (35£ in the UK), but the publisher will get a cut of the price. The article goes on to explain how Xbox One will phone home periodically to verify a player hasn't sold the game according to the aforementioned database." A big downside is that we're likely going to see the end of cheap, used games. A potential upside pointed out by Ben Kuchera at the Penny Arcade Report is that this would unquestionably boost revenue for game publishers, giving the smart ones an opportunity to step away from the $60 business model and adopt pricing practices seen on Steam and iTunes (neither of which allow the purchase of "used" games/media). Also, it's worth noting that even if the policy leak is 100% correct, it could change before the console actually launches.
guttentag writes "The Wall Street Journal is reporting that AT&T Mobility, the second-largest wireless carrier in the U.S., has added a new monthly administrative fee of 61 cents to the bills of all of its contract wireless lines as of May 1, a move that could bring in more than a half-billion dollars in annual revenue to the telecom giant. An AT&T spokeswoman said the fee covers 'certain expenses, such as interconnection and cell-site rents and maintenance.' The increased cost to consumers comes even though AT&T's growth in wireless revenue last year outpaced the costs to operate and support its wireless business. The company has talked of continuing to improve wireless profitability. Citigroup analyst Michael Rollins noted that the new administrative fee is a key component for accelerating revenue growth for the rest of the year. He said the fee should add 0.30 of a percentage point to AT&T's 2013 revenue growth; he predicts total top-line growth of about 1.5%. Normally, consumers could vote with their wallets by taking their business elsewhere. AT&T would be required to let customers out of their contracts without an early termination fee if it raised prices, but it is avoiding this by simply calling the increase a 'surcharge,' effectively forcing millions of people to either pay more money per month or pay the ETF."
Falc0n writes "Many of us don't have to look too far back to recall the impact of a natural disaster: Sandy, Chelyabinsk, Lushan, and now Oklahoma. When they occur there is typically no shortage of assistance available, but coordination is always a major challenge. In a very open source way, about 60 open source developers, designers, and sys admins came together to build a scalable tool to help those affected by the tornado. If you're interested in helping the effort, join us in irc.freenode.net #drupal4ok"
jfruh writes "Social networks like Twitter and Facebook have long hoped that the information they've gathered about you will help them create better targeted and more lucrative advertising, even though advertisers never see your personal data directly. But now Twitter is upping the ante, creating a new kind of card that encourages you to give your contact information directly to people who want to sell you things. For instance, Priceline has a new card with a 'sign up and save' button that saves you 10% on a hotel — and, though it isn't made explicit, adds your Twitter handle and contact information to a Priceline mailing list. There's nothing to stop Twitter from handing this info — including your phone number, if you've registered it with the service — to salesmen."
judgecorp writes "BT has demonstrated an 800Gbps 'superchannel' on a 410km fiber in its core network, which was not able to carry 10Gbps channels using older technology. The superchannel is an advanced dense wave division multiplexing (DWDM) technique, created by combining multiple coherent optical signals into one channel, which had previously been shown in laboratory tests. BT ran the test on a fiber with optical characteristics (high polarization mode dispersion) that made it unsuitable for 10GBps using current techniques. That's a good result for BT, because it means its existing core fiber network can be upgraded to handle more data. It's also a good customer story for Ciena, which makes the optical switches used in the test."
holy_calamity writes "Digital currency Bitcoin is gaining acceptance with mainstream venture capitalists, reports Technology Review, but at the price of its famed anonymity and ability to operate without central authority. Technology investors have now ploughed millions of dollars into a handful of Bitcoin-based payments and financial companies that are careful to follow financial regulations and don't offer anonymity. That's causing tensions in the community of Bitcoin enthusiasts, some of whom feel their currency's success has involved abandoning its most important features."
An anonymous reader writes "Looks like those guys from Aeryon Labs are at it again. Today they announced the SkyRanger a bigger brother to their Scout drone (the one that the Libyan rebels used back in 2011). This one claims flight time of close to an hour, streaming 1080p30 HD video, a range of over 3 miles and a camera that can shoot 15 Megapixel stills and thermal video simultaneously. Not only that but it pops out of a backpack and is ready to fly instantly. It ain't cheap, but it can fly at 40 mph!"
New submitter c0d3g33k writes "Google Project Hosting announced changes to the Download service on Wednesday, offering only 'increasing misuse of the service and a desire to keep our community safe and secure' by way of explanation. Effective immediately, existing projects that offer no downloads and all new projects will no longer be able to create downloads. Existing projects which currently have downloads will lose the ability to create new downloads by January 2014, though existing downloads will remain available 'for the foreseeable future.' Google Drive is recommended as an alternative, but this will likely have to be done manually by project maintainers since the ability to create and manage downloads won't be part of the Project Hosting tools. This is a rather baffling move, since distributing project files via download is integral to FOSS culture."
First time accepted submitter Rebecka writes with bad news, quoting an IB Times report: "Just as the 2013 hurricane season is about to begin, one of the U.S.' main weather satellites failed this week. The Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite, also known as GOES-13, reportedly ceased to operate as of Tuesday, making it impossible to predict weather patterns on the East Coast." A note at NOAA's page for the GOES family of satellites says "GOES-13 imaging and sounding operations suspended. Recovery efforts for GOES-13 continue and the spacecraft health and safety are nominal. GOES-14 is being activated." You can follow the progress on the agency's page of General Satellite Messages.
BStorm writes "The Toronto Mayor Rob Ford has been making headlines around the world, for allegedly smoking crack. This story was first broken by gawker.com, which is now crowd-funding $200,000 to buy the video in question. What do you look for to determine if a video has been faked? Of course I am only interested in the technical details and not the tawdry details related to this case ;) I live in Toronto, so the video still frame posted on Gawker certainly does look like Rob Ford."
Kiera Wilmot, the Florida high school student who was expelled from her school after an unauthorized science experiment was misperceived as a weapon (at least for purposes of arrest and charging), won't be going to jail. She will, though, be going to Space Camp, thanks to a crowdfunding campaign started by author and former NASA engineer Homer Hickham. All charges against her have been dropped.
Nyder writes "Kim Dotcom posted via Twitter, with a link to Torrentfreak, that he owns a security patent US6078908, titled 'Method for authorizing in data transmission systems.'" Techdirt points out that Dotcom isn't just asking for financial help: Instead, he's asking companies which use two-factor authentication "to help fund his defense, in exchange for not getting sued for the patent. He points out that his actual funds are still frozen by the DOJ and (more importantly) that his case actually matters a great deal to Google, Facebook and Twitter, because the eventual ruling will likely set a precedent that may impact them -- especially around the DMCA." Update: 05/23 14:23 GMT by T : Why is this relevant to Twitter? If you're not an active Twitter user, you might not realize that (after some well publicized twitter-account hijackings), the company is trying to regain some ground on security. Nerval's Lobster writes "Twitter is now offering two-factor authentication, a feature that could help prevent embarrassing security breaches. Twitter users interested in activating two-factor authentication will need to head over to their account settings page and click the checkbox beside 'Require a verification code when I sign in.'"
judgecorp writes "Supporters of the Communications Data Bill (also known as the Snooper's Charter) have lost no time in calling for the Bill to be revived, in response to yesterday's brutal murder of a soldier on the streets of Woolwich, South London. The Bill would have allowed monitoring of all online communications — including who people contact and what websites they visit — but was shelved after Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg opposed it, effectively splitting Britain's coalition government on the issue. Now the fear of new terrorism could rekindle support, based on the argument that even 'lone wolf' attackers use the Internet."
Tesla Motors announced today it has completely repaid the $465 million loan from the U.S. Department of Energy the company received in 2010. The funds were generated by Tesla through a recent sale of their stock, worth close to a billion dollars. The stock price had risen sharply after the company reported its first profitable quarter (and the stock still sits roughly 50% higher than before their earnings release). Today's payment of $451.8 million finished off both the loan's principal and its interest, nine years before the final payment was due. Tesla CEO Elon Musk said, 'I would like to thank the Department of Energy and the members of Congress and their staffs that worked hard to create the ATVM program, and particularly the American taxpayer from whom these funds originate. I hope we did you proud.'
psykocrime writes "The crazy kids at Fogbeam Labs have a new blog post positing that there is a trend towards advanced projects in NLP, Information Retrieval, Big Data and the Semantic Web moving to the Apache Software Foundation. Considering that Apache UIMA is a key component of IBM Watson, is it wrong to believe that the organization behind Hadoop, OpenNLP, Jena, Stanbol, Mahout and Lucene will ultimately be the home of a real 'Star Trek Computer'? Quoting: 'When we talk about how the Star Trek computer had “access to all the data in the known Universe”, what we really mean is that it had access to something like the Semantic Web and the Linked Data cloud. Jena provides a programmatic environment for RDF, RDFS and OWL, SPARQL and includes a rule-based inference engine. ... In addition to supporting the natural language interface with the system, OpenNLP is a powerful library for extracting meaning (semantics) from unstructured data - specifically textual data in an unstructured (or semi structured) format. An example of unstructured data would be the blog post, an article in the New York Times, or a Wikipedia article. OpenNLP combined with Jena and other technologies, allows “The computer” to “read” the Web, extracting meaningful data and saving valid assertions for later use.'" Speaking of the Star Trek computer, I'm continually disappointed that neither Siri nor Google Now can talk to me in Majel Barrett's voice.
FuzzNugget writes "A contributor at ScienceBlogs.com has compiled and published a shockingly long list of systematic attacks on scientific research committed by the Canadian government since the conservatives came to power in 2006. This anti-scientific scourge includes muzzling scientists, shutting down research centers, industry deregulation and re-purposing the National Research Council to align with business interests instead of doing real science. It will be another two years before Canadians have the chance to go to the polls, but how much more damage will be done in the meantime?"
DavidGilbert99 writes "Eric Schmidt hasn't changed his stance on Google's tax policies in the UK but has said that even if the tax legislation changes in the UK it will continue to invest in the country because 'we love the UK.' Gushing about its relationship with the UK, Schmidt said: 'Google will invest in the UK no matter what you guys do, because the UK is just too important for us. The citizens are too important for us and in our view we provide too much good.'" (Beware the auto-playing video advertisements). This after writing an Op-Ed lamenting the complexity of international taxes.
Via the H comes a report that the Simon Phipps, current President of the Open Source Initiative, thinks that the VP8 patent Cross-license agreeement Google brokered with the MPEG-LA is incompatible with the Open Source definition. The primary problems are that the license is not sub-licensable and only covers certain uses, leading to conflict with OSD clauses five, six, and seven. Phipps concludes: "As a consequence, I suggest the license is flawed when considered in relation to open source projects and is likely to be negatively received by many communities that value software freedom. Doubtless a case can be made that the patent license is optional, but I suspect the community issues may remain. Once again we're left with our fingers crossed. Google's making the right noises, but this draft agreement seems like a particularly unworkable approach for free and open source software. Its failure to allow sublicensing seems like a major flaw. Even if this doesn't result in a requirement for all end-users to sign the agreement, the discrepancies between this document and the OSD leave it disruptive to open source adoption of VP8."
jrepin writes "The GNU Hurd is the GNU project's replacement for the Unix kernel. It is a collection of servers that run on the Mach microkernel to implement file systems, network protocols, file access control, and other features that are implemented by the Unix kernel or similar kernels (such as Linux). The Debian GNU/Hurd team announces the release of Debian GNU/Hurd 2013. This is a snapshot of Debian 'sid' at the time of the Debian 'wheezy' release (May 2013), so it is mostly based on the same sources. Debian GNU/Hurd is currently available for the i386 architecture with more than 10,000 software packages available (more than 75% of the Debian archive)."
An anonymous reader writes "Despite warnings that a cyberattack could cripple the nation's power supply, a U.S. Congressional report (PDF) finds that power companies' efforts to protect the power grid are insufficient. Attacks are apparently commonplace, with one utility claiming they fight off some 10,000 attempted attacks every month. The report also found that while most power companies are complying with mandatory standards for protection, few do much else above and beyond that to protect the grid. 'For example, NERC has established both mandatory standards and voluntary measures to protect against the computer worm known as Stuxnet. Of those that responded, 91% of IOUs [Investor-Owned Utilities], 83% of municipally- or cooperatively-owned utilities, and 80% of federal entities that own major pieces of the bulk power system reported compliance with the Stuxnet mandatory standards. By contrast, of those that responded to a separate question regarding compliance with voluntary Stuxnet measures, only 21% of IOUs, 44% of municipally- or cooperatively-owned utilities, and 62.5% of federal entities reported compliance.'"
Wired reports on a cluster of mini-satellites that will soon be launched into orbit that will assist U.S. special forces personnel during manhunts. "SOCOM is putting eight miniature communications satellites, each about the size of a water jug, on top of the Minotaur rocket that's getting ready to launch from Wallops Island, Virginia. They’ll sit more than 300 miles above the earth and provide a new way for the beacons to call back to their masters." When special forces are able to tag their target, the target can be tracked and located through the use of satellites and cell towers, but coverage is poor in many areas of the world. The satellites going up in September will help to fill in some gaps. "This array of configurable 'cubesats' is designed to stay aloft for three years or more. Yes, it will serve as further research project. But 'operators are going to use it,' Richardson promised an industry conference in Tampa last week."
Lucas123 writes "U.S. Rep. John Tierney (D-Mass) is pushing a bill that would require all U.S. handgun manufacturers to include 'personalization technology' in their weapons. Tierney said he got the idea for The Personalized Handgun Safety Act of 2013 from the latest James Bond film, Skyfall. In it Bond escapes death when his handgun, which is equipped with technology that recognizes his fingerprints, becomes inoperable when a bad guy picks it up. 'This technology, however, isn't just for the movies — it's a reality,' Tierney said. Tierney pointed to a myriad of cases where the smart gun tech could prevent children from being harmed or killed in firearms accidents. Jim Wallace, executive director of the Massachusetts Gun Owners Action League, the official state association of the NRA, said he knows of no gun owners who would want smart gun technology on their weapons. Wallace said any technology that may impede the proper function of a weapon is a problem. He pointed to the fact that any integrated processor technology would also require a battery of some kind, which could pose a system failure if it lost power."
An anonymous reader writes "The Australian government came a step closer to formalising its plans to make Asian language study compulsory for schools this week. It has released a draft curriculum for public consultation which reveals plans to include Indonesian, Korean and french language in the curriculum. Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard publicly stated in September 2012 that in response to the "staggering growth" in the region, the government would be instigating 25 key measures to strengthen and exploit links with Asia. The plan includes the requirement that one third of civil servants and company directors have a "deep knowledge," thousands of scholarships for Asian students, and the opportunity for every schoolchild to learn one of four "priority" languages- Chinese, Hindi, Japanese or Indonesian."
mspohr writes with news that Apple might be in a bit of hot water over its policy of offshoring revenues to favorable tax jurisdictions. Only they take it a step further, from the article: "Apple relied on a 'complex web of offshore entities' and U.S. tax loopholes to avoid paying billions of dollars in U.S. taxes on $44 billion in offshore income over the past four years ... The maker of iPhones and iPads used at least three foreign subsidiaries that it claims are not 'tax resident in any nation' to help it avoid paying billions in 'otherwise taxable offshore income,' the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations said in a statement yesterday."
richlv writes "Latvian police recently raided the home of a history teacher and confiscated his computer. The crime? Scanning a history book and making it available on his website covering various topics on history. The raid was based on a complaint from the publisher (Google Translate to English), which has a near-monopoly on educational materials in Latvia, often linked with shady connections in the Ministry of Education."
hypnosec writes "The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has started accepting donations in the form of Bitcoins again after a two year hiatus, stating that the legal uncertainty hovering over the digital currency has all but disappeared. On their blog the EFF noted that a report from U.S. Treasury Department's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), in addition to their own findings, 'have confirmed that, as a user of Bitcoin or any virtual currency, EFF itself is likely not subject to regulation.'"
Nerval's Lobster writes "Location is everything when choosing the site of a data center. Firms such as Microsoft and Google and Facebook spend a lot of time looking into the costs of land, power, regulation and taxes before placing their respective data centers in a particular place. Sometimes, that local tax bill comes into play in a big way. Just ask the National Security Agency which learned it faces a multimillion-dollar annual state tax on the power consumed by its new data center in Camp Williams, south of Salt Lake City. The Salt Lake Tribune obtained a series of email exchanges between the feds and the state, with the NSA protesting a $2.4 million tax on its annual power expenditure, pegged at about $40 million. Harvey Davis, director of installations and logistics for the NSA, sent a letter (subsequently quoted by the newspaper) to state officials that made the logistics argument: 'Long-term stability in the utility rates was a major factor in Utah being selected as our site for our $1.5bn construction at Camp Williams. HP325 [the new law] runs counter to what we expected.'" This would be the data center William Binney et al claim is logging almost all domestic communication.
colinneagle writes "Scripps News reporters discovered 170,000 records online of customers of Lifeline, a government program offering affordable phone service for low-income citizens, that contained everything needed for identity theft . Last year, the FCC 'tightened' the rules for the program by requiring Lifeline phone carriers to document applicants' eligibility, which led to collecting more sensitive information from citizens. A Scripps News investigative team claims it 'Googled' the phone companies TerraCom Inc. and YourTel America Inc. to discover all of the files. A Scripps reporter asked for an on-camera interview with the COO of TerraCom and YourTel after explaining the files were freely available online. That did not happen, but shortly thereafter the customer records disappeared from the internet. Then, the blame-the-messenger hacker accusations and mudslinging began. Although the Scripps reporters videotaped the process showing how they found the documents, attorney Jonathon Lee for both telecoms threatened the 'Scripps Hackers' with violating the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA)."
benrothke writes "Had Locked Down: Information Security for Lawyers not been published by the American Bar Association (ABA) and 2 of its 3 authors not been attorneys; one would have thought the book is a reproach against attorneys for their obliviousness towards information security and privacy. In numerous places, the book notes that lawyers are often clueless when it comes to digital security. With that, the book is a long-overdue and valuable information security reference for anyone, not just lawyers." Read below for the rest of Ben's review.
jyosim writes "Hundreds of people are spending 20 or 30 hours a week just taking free Massive Open Online Courses, or MOOCs. They're not looking for credit, just the challenge of learning. This Chronicle of Higher Ed story looks at whether these MOOC addicts think they're learning as much as they would in a traditional college course. From the article: 'Consider Anna Nachesa, a 42-year-old single mother in a village near Amsterdam who logs on to MOOCs for several hours each night after dinner with her teenage kids. She has always found TV boring, she says, and for her, MOOCs replace reading books. She is a physicist by training, with a degree from Moscow State University, and she works as a software developer. "This stuff is actually addictive," she says. In some ways the lure is like Everest: Some want to climb it to see if they can. "The Dutch have the proverb 'If you never shoot, you already missed,'" she says.'"
jones_supa writes "Google's YouTube is celebrating its 8-year birthday, and at the same time they reveal some interesting numbers. 'Today, more than 100 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute. That's more than four days of video uploaded each minute! Every month, more than 1 billion people come to YouTube to access news, answer questions and have a little fun. That's almost one out of every two people on the Internet. Millions of partners are creating content for YouTube and more than 1,000 companies worldwide have mandated a one-hour mid-day break to watch nothing but funny YouTube videos. Well, we made that last stat up, but that would be cool (the other stats are true).'"
According to reports a bush fire burned down John McAfee's home in Belize on Thursday. The local fire department was unable to to contain the blaze and the the two main buildings were completely destroyed. Property Manager Noel Codd (who was not there at the time) estimated the value of the buildings at $250,000 each. Despite the reported cause of the fire, McAfee says that the destruction of his compound was no accident. We caught up with him to talk about why he thinks the fire was set and what he plans to do now. Read below to see what he had to say.
Nerval's Lobster writes "Yahoo has agreed to acquire Tumblr for $1.1 billion. As you know, Yahoo is a major corporation with a need to monetize its assets in a way that makes its shareholders happy, leaving open the question of whether it'll alter Tumblr's DNA in order to make the latter more of a significant cash generator. But at least for the moment, Yahoo seems content to leave its new property alone. 'Per the agreement and our promise not to screw it up, Tumblr will be independently operated as a separate business,' read the company's press release. 'The product, service and brand will continue to be defined and developed separately with the same Tumblr irreverence, wit, and commitment to empower creators.' Tumblr CEO David Karp, who has been known to make some very anti-advertising comments in the past, will remain in place. Even so, anyone who likes Tumblr may have some cause for concern, because Yahoo has a history of making high-profile acquisitions that subsequently implode. Back in 1999, for example, it paid over $3 billion for GeoCities, another blogging network that it eventually shut down after years of failing the update the property. In 2005, it acquired popular photo-sharing Website Flickr, which it likewise allowed to languish and die. That same year it bought Delicious, a popular Webpage-bookmarking site, and did exactly nothing with it. So when Yahoo starts off its Tumblr press release with a promise not to screw things up, it's a self-deprecating nod toward all that history. New Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer has been on a bit of a buying spree of late, snatching up startups such as Summly in an attempt to make her company 'cool' and relevant."
itwbennett writes "Whoever said 'everyone has to start somewhere' has clearly never tried contributing to an open source project — the Linux Kernel development team in particular is known for its savagery. But if you're determined to donate your time and talents, there are some things you can do to get off on the right foot. Of course you should pick something you're interested in and that you use. Check, and double check. You should also research the project, learn about the process for contributing, and do your utmost to avoid asking questions that you can find the answers to. But beyond that there are some hallmarks of beginner-friendly open source projects like Drupal, Python, and LibreOffice — namely, a friendly and active community, training and mentorship programs, and a low barrier to entry."
riverat1 writes "After being embarrassed when the Europeans did a better job forecasting Sandy than the National Weather Service Congress allocated $25 million ($23.7 after sequestration) in the Sandy relief bill for upgrades to forecasting and supercomputer resources. The NWS announced that their main forecasting computer will be upgraded from the current 213 TeraFlops to 2,600 TFlops by fiscal year 2015, over a twelve-fold increase. The upgrade is expected to increase the horizontal grid scale by a factor of 3 allowing more precise forecasting of local features of weather. The some of the allocated funds will also be used to hire some contract scientists to improve the forecast model physics and enhance the collection and assimilation of data."
The Associated Press (as carried by the Washington Post) reports that a living payload of newts and mice has been retrieved after a month orbiting earth in a Russian space capsule at an altitude of 345 miles, far higher than the ISS's orbital distance of 205 miles. Says the story: "Fewer than half of the 53 mice and other rodents who blasted off on April 19 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome survived the flight, Russian news agencies reported, quoting Vladimir Sychov, deputy director of the Institute of Medical and Biological Problems and the lead researcher. Sychov said this was to be expected and the surviving mice were sufficient to complete the study, which was designed to show the effects of weightlessness and other factors of space flight on cell structure. All 15 of the lizards survived, he said. The capsule also carried small crayfish and fish."
With the kind of cagey phrasing found in many such electronics approval applications, Google describes a device that some are taking to be the successor to its discontinued Nexus Q thus: "The device functions as a media player." From the article: "Some of the specs of the device includes a 2.4GHz WiFi b/g/n connectivity. The FCC report does not contain test photos so we do not know what the device looks like. It is likely that the H840 will support Google Play Music All Access and will have similar functionality as a Sonos media player that can be connected to external speakers."
TechCrunch reports that Yahoo's string of acquisitions may soon include Tumblr: "The Wall Street Journal is now reporting via Twitter that the rumored $1.1 billion cash acquisition deal for social blogging site Tumblr has been approved by Yahoo’s board of directors. The Tumblr acquisition was rumored last week, with a price tag reportedly north of $1 billion, which appears to be accurate if the WSJ’s sources are correct." The article notes, too, that "Yahoo had only $1.2 billion cash on hand as of its most recent quarterly earnings, which makes an all-cash offer for Tumblr a lot more of a stretch than it would be for someone like Apple, or even Facebook, which acquired Instagram for $1 billion in a mix of both cash and stock."
First time accepted submitter russotto points out the claim of industry group TechAmerican Foundation (reported by Computerworld) that "wages for the software industry are falling, not rising. Wages fell 2% to $99,000 in 2012." Averages are one thing; the article points out though that wages vary vastly within the industry, and that some jobs are harder to fill (thus, better paid) than others. An excerpt: "Victor Janulaitis, CEO of Janco Associates, a research firm that also analyzes IT wage and employment trends, cited a number of reason for the decline in wages for software professionals. First, technology is becoming easier to implement without having an IT professional, he said. Also, the option of turning to outsourcing creates less pressure to increase wages. As the recession continues, companies continue 'to look at productivity and will often look to hire individuals who are lower cost employees,' said Janulaitis. That could include displaced baby boomer workers who have been out of work for some time and 'will take a lower paying job just to get back into the workforce.'"
Velcroman1 writes "The former island home of anti-virus software pioneer John McAfee burned down Thursday afternoon under circumstance he told FoxNews.com were 'suspicious.' It's an odd choice of words from a man whom the Belize police found suspicious, following the November 2012 murder of American expatriate Gregory Faull, a well-liked builder from Florida who was shot at his home in San Pedro Town on the island of Ambergris Caye. 'I believe that there are a select few with great power in Belize that will go to great lengths to harm me,' McAfee said. 'This fire was not just a strange coincidence.'" Watch for more from McAfee soon.
girlmad writes "Despite moves by government to get Google, Amazon and Apple to admit they make sales in the UK and US, and therefore should pay tax on these earnings, this article argues these are empty threats and that any taxes paid will get returned to the tech giants in government grants and subsidies. Tough luck to the small firms out there."
Nerval's Lobster writes that a survey from the Uptime Institute "suggests something it calls 'green fatigue' is setting in when it comes to making data centers greener. 'Green fatigue' is exactly as it sounds: managers are getting tired of the increasingly difficult race to chop their PUE, or Power Usage Effectiveness. The PUE is a measure of a data center's efficiency. The lower the PUE, the better — and Microsoft and Google, with nearly limitless resources, have set the bar so high (or low, depending on your perspective) that it's making less-capitalized firms frustrated. Just a few years ago, the Uptime Institute estimated that the average PUE of a data center was around 2.4, which meant for every dollar of electricity to power a data center, $1.4 dollars were spent to cool it. That dropped to 1.8 recently, an improvement to be sure. But then you have companies such as Google and Microsoft building data centers next to rivers for cheap hydroelectric power in remote parts of the Pacific Northwest and reporting insanely low PUEs (below 1.1 in some cases). The Institute latest survey of data center operators shows only 50 percent of respondents in North America said they considered energy efficiency to be very important to their companies, down from 52 percent last year and 58 percent in 2011."
An anonymous reader writes "For years, Bell Mobility customers in northern Canada were charged 75 cents a month for 911 emergency service. The problem is that cellphone users outside Whitehorse, Yukon, don't have access to 911 service. The Supreme Court of the Northwest Territories ruled against Bell this week, following a class action lawsuit which challenged the phantom cellphone 911 billings. Subject to a possible final appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada, Bell will likely owe 30,000 northern cellphone subscribers some bucks."
puddingebola writes with an excerpt from the New York Times: "The Web site and several Twitter accounts belonging to The Financial Times were hacked on Friday by the Syrian Electronic Army in a continuing campaign that has aimed at an array of media outlets ranging from The Associated Press to the parody site The Onion, according to a claim by the so-called army. The Syrian Electronic Army said it seized control of several F.T. Twitter accounts and amended a number of the site's blog posts with the headline 'Hacked by Syrian Electronic Army.' Hackers used their access to the F.T.'s Twitter feed to post messages, including one that said, 'Syrian Electronic Army Was Here,' and another that linked to a YouTube video of an execution. Both messages were quickly removed.'"
From an article at the Houston Chronicle (not The Onion) comes a report of concern to anyone in a warm climate with, well, electronics. From the article: "According to researchers at The University of Texas at Austin, invasive 'crazy ants' are slowly displacing fire ants in the southeastern United States. These 'Tawny Crazy Ants' have a peculiar predilection toward electronics as well. 'They nest in electronics and create short circuits, as they create a contact bridge between two points when they get electrocuted they release an alarm pheromone,' says UT research assistant Edward LeBrun. 'The other ants are attracted to the chemicals that other ants give off,' he adds. At this point, more ants arrive and create a larger nest." The L.A. Times also has a report, which says "Thus far, the crazy ants are not falling for the traditional poisons used to eliminate fire ant mounds. And when local mounds are destroyed manually, they are quickly regenerated. 'They don't sting like fire ants do, but aside from that they are much bigger pests,' LeBrun said. 'There are videos on YouTube of people sweeping out dustpans full of these ants from their bathroom. You have to call pest control operators every three or four months just to keep the infestation under control. It's very expensive.'"
An anonymous reader writes "In a decision that's almost certainly going to result in this issue heading up to the Supreme Court, the Federal 1st Circuit Court of Appeals [Friday] ruled that police can't search your phone when they arrest you without a warrant. That's contrary to most courts' previous findings in these kinds of cases where judges have allowed warrantless searches through cell phones." (But in line with the recently mentioned decision in Florida, and seemingly with common sense.)