First time accepted submitter core_tripper writes "Students at the University of Twente have stolen thirty laptops from various members of the university's staff. They were not prosecuted for this, so they could just get on with their studies. Indeed, these students even received ECTS credits for these thefts. UT researcher Trajce Dimkov asked the students to steal the machines as part of a scientific experiment. Stealing these laptops turned out to be a pretty simple matter."
First time accepted submitter beerdragoon writes "In order to protest the government's new Internet snooping legislation, some Canadians have started a somewhat unorthodox protest. Vic Toews, the minister responsible for tabling the legislation, has had his twitter account bombarded with tweets regarding the boring, banal aspects of regular Canadians' lives. The idea is that since Toews wants to know everything about your personal life, we should oblige him and #TellVicEverything."
MojoKid writes "OpenXC is an open source connectivity platform developed in tandem by Ford and open source hardware maker Bug Labs. Announced this fall, the platform is designed to allow developers the ability to use Android- and Arduino-based modules to interact with a vehicle's in-car tech, such as vehicle sensors and GPS units. The OpenXC website succinctly describes the platform as 'an API to your car.' Ford announced that OpenXC beta test kits are now shipping to developers worldwide, including U.S. institutions such as MIT and Standford as well as India's HCL Technologies."
kgeiger writes "Feeling blue? DARPA is funding a program to investigate the feasibility of battlefield cyborg-surrogates: 'In its 2012 budget, DARPA has decided to pour US $7 million into the 'Avatar Project,' whose goal is the following: "develop interfaces and algorithms to enable a soldier to effectively partner with a semi-autonomous bi-pedal machine and allow it to act as the soldier's surrogate."' Power and bandwidth constraints aside, what could go wrong? Chinese hackers swooping in and commandeering one's army?"
ananyo writes "DNA origami, a technique for making structures from DNA, has been used to build devices that can seek out and potentially destroy cancer cells. The nanorobots use a similar system to cells in the immune system to engage with receptors on the outside of cells. The barrel-shaped devices, each about 35 nanometers in diameter, contain 12 sites on the inside for attaching payload molecules and two positions on the outside for attaching aptamers, short nucleotide strands with special sequences for recognizing molecules on the target cell (abstract). The aptamers act as clasps: once both have found their target, they spring open the device to release the payload. The researchers tested six combinations of aptamer locks, each of which were designed to target different types of cancer cells in culture. Those designed to hit a leukemia cell could pick that cell out of a mixture of cell types, then release their payload — in this case, an antibody — to stop the cells from growing. The researchers designed the structure of the nanorobots using open-source software, called Cadnano."
Hugh Pickens writes "Time Magazine reports that hidden deep inside in the White House's $3.8 trillion, 2,000-page budget that was sent to Congress this week is a proposal to make pennies and nickels cheaper to produce. Why? Because it currently costs the federal government 2.4 cents to make a penny and 11.2 cents for every nickel. If passed, the budget would allow the Treasury Department to 'change the composition of coins to more cost-effective materials' resulting in changes that could save more than $100 million a year. Since 1982, our copper-looking pennies have been merely coppery. In the 1970s, the price of copper soared, so President Nixon proposed changing the penny's composition to a cheaper aluminum. Today, only 2.5% of a penny is copper (which makes up the coin's coating) while 97.5% is zinc. The mint did make steel pennies for one year — in 1943 — when copper was needed for the war effort and steel might be a cheaper alternative this time. What about the bill introduced in 2006 that the US abandon pennies altogether.? At the time, fifty-five percent of respondents considered the penny useful compared to 43 percent who agreed it should be eliminated. More telling, 76 percent of respondents said they would pick up a penny if they saw it on the ground."
superglaze writes "Following its takedown earlier this week of the music blog RnBXclusive, the UK's Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) has claimed that "a number of site users have deleted their download histories" in response. Given that the site didn't host copyright-infringing files itself, how do they know? We've asked, but SOCA refuses to discuss its methods. A security expert has pointed out that, if they were hacking using Trojans, the police would themselves have been breaking the law. Added fun fact: SOCA readily admits that the scare message it showed visitors to the taken-down site was written 'with input from industry.'"
First time accepted submitter chadenright writes "A university study asserts that the problems caused by the gas extraction process known as hydraulic fracturing, or 'fracking,' arise because drilling operations aren't doing it right. The process itself isn't to blame, according to the study, released today by the Energy Institute at the University of Texas at Austin."
halfEvilTech writes "A North Carolina mom is irate after her four-year-old daughter returned home late last month with an uneaten lunch the mother had packed for the girl earlier that day. But she wasn't mad because the daughter decided to go on a hunger strike. Instead, the reason the daughter didn't eat her lunch is because someone at the school determined the lunch wasn't healthy enough and sent it back home. What was wrong with the lunch? That's still a head-scratcher because it didn't contain anything egregious: a turkey and cheese sandwich, banana, potato chips, and apple juice. But for the inspector on hand that day, it didn't meet the healthy requirements."
First time accepted submitter Hotawa Hawk-eye writes "Tor Books has announced that the release date for the final volume in the Wheel of Time series of books, A Memory Of Light, will be January 8, 2013. [Barring a Mayan apocalypse, of course.] The fantasy series, started by Robert Jordan and continued by Brandon Sanderson after Jordan's death, will span 15 books and over 10,000 pages."
ananyo writes with this snippet from Nature (for which this earlier Nature article is also background): "'The courthouse in L'Aquila, Italy, yesterday hosted a highly anticipated hearing in the trial of six seismologists and one government official indicted for manslaughter over their reassurances to the public ahead of a deadly earthquake in 2009. .... During the hearing, the former head of the Italian Department of Civil Protection turned from key witness into defendant, and a seismologist from California criticized Italy's top earthquake experts.' Lalliana Mualchin, former chief seismologist for the Department of Transportation in California, criticized the Italian analysis, which he says was based on a poor model. If the court agrees with Mualchin, the defendants could face up to 12 years in jail."
New submitter Garth Smith writes "Tim Schafer has a video update for his crowdsourced project, Double Fine Adventure. Because of the nearly $2 million in funding, the budget is now large enough for language translations, voice acting, music, and more platforms. The XBox and PS3 are absent. I wonder what would the chances of a DRM-free release have been if funding had come from a traditional publisher?"
New submitter simula67 writes "Oracle wins back some karma from the open source community by releasing MySQL cluster 7.2 with ambitious claims of 70x performance gains. The new release is GPL and claims to have processed over 1 billion queries per minute. Readers may remember the story about Oracle adding commercial extensions to MySQL."
pigrabbitbear writes "To prevent hoarding of materials and their potential for theft and illicit use, the Drug Enforcement Agency sets quotas for the chemical precursors to drugs like Adderall. The DEA projects the need for amphetamine salts, then produces and distributes the materials to pharmaceutical companies so that they can produce their drugs. But with the number of prescriptions for Adderall jumping 13 percent in the past year, pharmaceutical companies claim that the quotas are no longer sufficient for supplying Americans with their Adderall. The DEA contends that their quotas do, in fact, meet demands, and that any shortages arise from pharmaceutical companies selectively producing only certain, typically name-brand and more expensive versions of ADHD medications."
Despite Apple's protestation that the iBooks Author EULA was misinterpreted, the idea of a book publishing system that could be used to grab copyright of the prepared text is annoying — like the sort of EULAs that seem to give photo-sharing sites unlimited re-use rights of hosted personal photos. New submitter rohangarg points out a publishing system which shouldn't have such problems, and is nicely cross-platform besides: "A new open-source digital writing and publishing platform has been launched by non-profit group Sourcefabric. Booktype allows for collaborative editing and writing of books that can be easily outputted to on-demand print services and eReaders such as the Amazon Kindle, Nook, iPad, and more with a few simple clicks. Booktype source can be found here." The online demo also leads to some downloadable examples (as PDFs).