Cellphones

Smartphones May Soon Provide Earthquake Warnings (sciencemag.org) 32

sciencehabit writes: When it comes to an earthquake, just a few seconds' warning could make the difference between life and death. But many earthquake-prone countries lack the seismic networks that would give their citizens the lead time to find cover or shut down critical utilities. Now, a group of enterprising engineers is looking at a substitute network: smartphones. Using smartphones' built-in accelerometers, researchers have invented an app, released today, that they say can detect strong earthquakes seconds before the damaging seismic waves arrive. MyShake, as the app is called, could become the basis for an earthquake warning system for the world's most vulnerable regions.
Earth

Researchers Improve Efficiency of Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles By Almost 12% (dispatchtribunal.com) 34

hypnosec writes: A new study has put forward claims that by working on and improving the energy management system (EMS) that decides when the switch from 'all-electric' mode to 'hybrid' mode in plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, efficiency of these vehicles can be improved by as much as 12 per cent. Researchers have shown in their lab tests that blended discharge strategies wherein power from the battery is used throughout the trip, have proven to be more efficient at minimizing fuel consumption and emissions.
Education

US Copyright Law Forces Wikimedia To Remove the Diary of Anne Frank (wikimedia.org) 86

Today, the Wikimedia Foundation announced its removal of The Diary of Anne Frank from Wikisource, a digital library of free texts. According to the United States' Digital Millennium Copyright Act, works are protected for 95 years from the date of publication, meaning Wikimedia is not allowed to host a copy of the book before 2042. Rogers, the Legal Counsel for the Wikimedia Foundation, says this is just one of the many examples of the overreach of the United States' current copyright law. He goes on to say, "Our removal serves as an excellent example of why the law should be changed to prevent repeated extensions of copyright terms."
Social Networks

French Court Rules That Facebook Can Now Be Sued in France (thestack.com) 74

An anonymous reader writes: A Paris court of appeal has ruled in favor of a French complainant whose account was suspended, because he linked to an image of the 1866 Gustav Courbet nude 'L'Origine du monde', currently residing at the Musee d'Orsay. The appeals court not only agreed that the user's suspension by Facebook constitutes censorship, but the ruling itself negates Facebook's insistence that all legal challenges take place in its native California.
GUI

Fresh Wayland Experiences With Weston, GNOME, KDE and Enlightenment 71

jones_supa writes: Software developer Pavlo Rudyi has written a blog post about his experiences with the various desktop environments currently supporting Wayland. The results are not a big surprise, but nevertheless it is great to see the continued interest in Wayland and the ongoing work by many different parties in ensuring that Wayland will eventually be able to dominate the Linux desktop. To summarize, Pavlo found Weston to be "good," GNOME is "perfect," KDE is "bad," and Enlightenment is "good." He also created a video from his testing. Have you done any testing? What's your experience?
Censorship

UK GHCQ Is Allowed To Hack (bbc.co.uk) 58

An anonymous reader writes: A security tribunal has just decreed that hacking by the UK security agency GCHQ is legal. [The case was launched after revelations by Edward Snowden about the extent of US and UK spying. Campaigners Privacy International claimed GCHQ's hacking operations were too intrusive]. The legal challenge that they were violating European law was rejected.
Space

Scientists Say Goodbye to Philae Comet Lander (cnn.com) 45

Today, scientists from the German Aerospace Center (DLR) announced that they are saying goodbye to Philae, the comet lander that is currently perched on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko as it races toward the sun. According to Stephan Ulamec, Philae's project manager, "Unfortunately, the probability of Philae re-establishing contact with our team at the DLR Lander Control Center is almost zero." Philae first made history when it successfully landed on a comet in fall of 2014, but problems soon began when commands were not able to reach the robot.
Privacy

Austrian Minister Calls For a Constitutional Right To Pay In Cash 175

New submitter sittingnut writes: Bloomberg reports that Austrian Deputy Economy Minister Harald Mahrer has called for a constitutional right to use cash to protect their privacy. According to the report, Mahrer said, "We don't want someone to be able to track digitally what we buy, eat and drink, what books we read and what movies we watch. We will fight everywhere against rules," including caps on cash purchases. EU finance ministers at a meeting in Brussels last Friday urged the European Commission, the EU's executive arm, to "explore the need for appropriate restrictions on cash payments exceeding certain thresholds," " to crack down on "illicit cash movements."
Networking

UCL Scientists Push 1.125Tbps Through a Single Coherent Optical Receiver 23

Mark.JUK writes: A team of researchers working in the Optical Networks Group at the University College London in England claim to have achieved the "greatest information rate ever recorded using a single [coherent optical] receiver", which was able to handle a record data speed of 1.125 Terabits per second (Tbps). The result, which required a 15 sub-carrier 8GBd DP-256QAM super-channel (15 channels of data) and total bandwidth of 121.5GHz, represents an increase of 12.5% relative to the previous record (1Tbps). Now they just need to test it using some long fibre optic cable because optical signals tend to become distorted when they travel over thousands of kilometers.
Firefox

Pwn2Own 2016 Won't Attack Firefox (Because It's Too Easy) (eweek.com) 223

darthcamaro writes: For the last decade, the Pwn2own hacking competition has pitted the world's best hackers against web browsers to try and find zero-day vulnerabilities in a live event. The contest, which is sponsored by HPE and TrendMicro this year, is offering over half a million dollars in prize money, but for the first time, not a penny of that will directed to Mozilla Firefox. While Microsoft Edge, Google Chrome and Apple Safari are targets, Firefox isn't because it's apparently too easy and not keeping up with modern security: "'We wanted to focus on the browsers that have made serious security improvements in the last year,' Brian Gorenc, manager of Vulnerability Research at HPE said."
Australia

Dallas Buyers Club LLC Abandons Fight Against Australian Pirates (theage.com.au) 35

New submitter aphelion_rock writes: It's a happy day for Aussie pirates: The Hollywood studio behind the film Dallas Buyers Club has abandoned its fight to extract huge sums of cash from alleged copyright infringers. Dallas Buyers Club LLC had until midday Thursday to lodge a second appeal against an August Federal Court decision which effectively prevented it from engaging in so-called 'speculative invoicing' in Australia.
Government

Senate Passes Bill Making Internet Tax Ban Permanent (consumerist.com) 92

kheldan writes: Nearly two decades ago, Congress passed the first Internet Tax Freedom Act, establishing that — with a handful of grandfathered exceptions — local, state, and federal governments couldn't impose taxes on Internet access. Problem is, that law has had to be renewed over and over, each time with an expiration date. But today, the U.S. Senate finally passed a piece of legislation that would make the tax ban permanent.
United Kingdom

Google Settles Decade-Long Tax Dispute In UK (thestack.com) 61

An anonymous reader writes: Alphabet, Inc., parent company to Google, has agreed to pay $185 million to settle UK taxes going back to 2005. The company has also agreed to adopt a new approach to taxes in the UK going forward. While this is a sizeable figure, many believe it is too little, and constitutes a sweetheart deal between the government and Google. Matt Brittin, the President of EMEA Business and Operations for Google, was a participant in a televised hearing today in which UK lawmakers questioned the $185 million settlement. He stated, "We find ourselves in the position where we are paying the tax that the tax authorities told us to pay."
Biotech

Self-Propelling Microparticles Spot Ricin In Minutes (acs.org) 21

ckwu writes: Tiny rocketlike particles that move around on their own in a hydrogen peroxide solution can detect trace amounts of the lethal toxin ricin within minutes. The tube-shaped, microsized particles--made of graphene oxide lined with platinum--carry sensor molecules that glow when they bind to ricin. In a dilute hydrogen peroxide solution, the platinum catalyzes the breakdown of the peroxide into water and oxygen. The oxygen bubbles shoot out one end of the tube, propelling them in the liquid like little rockets. The swimming motors could actively seek out ricin in a sample and speed up detection, paving the way towards a quick, easy way to detect the bioterrorism agent in food and water samples (without having to bring them back to a lab).
Desktops (Apple)

Kim Jong-Un Found To Be Mac User 188

jones_supa writes: He might hate the United States, but he sure digs those designed-in-California computers. You probably wouldn't take Kim Jong-un as a Mac user. Usually, in photos of him checking out military computers, we see the North Korean dictator in front of a PC with a Dell monitor. However, a handful of photos of the supreme leader at his own desk show him with Macs, leading to the assumption that while the military may use PCs, his personal preference is Mac. Reuters correspondent James Pearson, who covers both Koreas, tweeted out a fresh image of little Kim using a MacBook Pro inside an aircraft. There are other images, including a 2013 image of Kim Jong-un at his desk with an iMac. That same year, the South Korean newspaper Chosun published a photo from North Korean Central News Agency, which features an Apple iMac. This might also explain why the country's home-grown Linux distribution Red Star imitates OS X.
Businesses

Time Inc. Buys MySpace Parent Company Viant (theverge.com) 38

Today, in a surprising turn of events, Time Inc. went back in time 10 years and bought MySpace. Just kidding - there was no time travel. But Time did announce today that they acquired Viant, a company that has a large ad tech business, but also owns other properties, including the old networking site MySpace. Terms of the deal have not yet been disclosed, but Time described the acquisition as "game changing," most likely in regards to Viant's ad-tech business. It remains to be seen what this will do for the future of MySpace ...
Earth

Our Hidden Neanderthal DNA May Increase Risk of Allergies, Depression (sciencemag.org) 130

sciencehabit writes: Depressed? Your inner Neanderthal may be to blame. Modern humans met and mated with these archaic people in Europe or Asia about 50,000 years ago, and researchers have long suspected that genes picked up in these trysts might be shaping health and well-being today. Now, a study in the current issue of Science details their impact. It uses a powerful new method for scanning the electronic health records of 28,000 Americans to show that some Neanderthal gene variants today can raise the risk of depression, skin lesions, blood clots, and other disorders.
Earth

Drivers Need To Forget Their GPS 528

HughPickens.com writes: Greg Milner writes in the NYT that an American tourist in Iceland directed the GPS unit in his rental car to guide him from Keflavik International Airport to a hotel in nearby Reykjavik, and ended up 250 icy miles away in Siglufjordur, a fishing village on the outskirts of the Arctic Circle. Mr. Santillan apparently explained that he was very tired after his flight and had "put his faith in the GPS." In another incident, a woman in Belgium asked GPS to take her to a destination less than two hours away and two days later, she turned up in Croatia. Finally disastrous incidents involving drivers following disused roads and disappearing into remote areas of Death Valley in California have became so common that park rangers gave them a name: "death by GPS." "If we're being honest, it's not that hard to imagine doing something similar ourselves" says Milner. "Most of us use GPS as a crutch while driving through unfamiliar terrain, tuning out and letting that soothing voice do the dirty work of navigating."

Could society's embrace of GPS be eroding our cognitive maps? Julia Frankenstein, a psychologist at the University of Freiburg's Center for Cognitive Science, says the danger of GPS is that "we are not forced to remember or process the information — as it is permanently 'at hand,' we need not think or decide for ourselves." "Next time you're in a new place, forget the GPS device. Study a map to get your bearings, then try to focus on your memory of it to find your way around. City maps do not tell you each step, but they provide a wealth of abstract survey knowledge. Fill in these memories with your own navigational experience, and give your brain the chance to live up to its abilities."
Desktops (Apple)

Htop 2.0 Released, Runs Natively On BSDs and Mac OSX 35

An anonymous reader writes: The popular Linux process viewer htop got a new major revision, and now runs natively on FreeBSD, OpenBSD and Mac OS X. The author discussed the process of making the tool cross-platform earlier this year at FOSDEM. Htop also got some new features, including mouse wheel support via ncurses 6 and listing process environment variables.
Education

Interviews: Ask Author and Programmer Andy Nicholls About R 150

Andy Nicholls has been an R programmer and consultant for Mango Solutions since 2011 (where he currently manages the R consultancy team), after a long stint as a statistician in the pharmaceutical industry. He has a serious background in mathematics, too, with a Masters in math and another in Statistics with Applications in Medicine. Andy has taught more than 50 on-site R training courses and has been involved in the development of more than 30 R packages; he's also a regular contributor to events at LondonR, the largest R user group in the UK. But since not everyone can get to London for a user group meeting, you can get some of the insights he's gained as an R expert in Sams Teach Yourself R In 24 Hours (available in print or at Safari), of which he is the lead author. Today, though, you can ask Andy about the much-lauded statistics-oriented free software (GPL) language directly -- Why to use it, how to get started, how to get things done, and where those intriguing release names come from. (The about page is helpful, too.) As usual, please ask as many questions as you'd like, but one question at a time, please.

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