An anonymous reader writes with a bit of sports commentary on the just-concluded RoboCup 2013 soccer matches: "Previously achieved results are no guarantee for the future, as was demonstrated once again in the final match of the Middle Size League. Team Tech United Eindhoven had reached the final unbeaten and without a single goal against them, but the Chinese team Water turned out to be the stronger party in the final." It's hard to stop watching video of soccer-playing robots.
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It's not just for obscure Japanese islands anymore: reader NobleSavage writes with news that "If you're a tourism board, non-profit, university, research organization or other third party who can gain access and help collect imagery of hard to reach places, you can apply to borrow the Trekker and help map the world." You can also help map the world (albeit without the very neat Trekker backpack cam) without an application process via OpenStreetMap. But if you had access to a panoramic camera like this, what places or spaces would you want to capture? I hope there will be street view imagery of Petra, but I don't see any yet.
In Paul Theroux's dystopian novel O-Zone, wearing masks in public is simply a fact of life, because of the network of cameras that covers the inhabited parts of earth. Earthquake Retrofit writes with a story at the New York Times describing a life-imitating-art reaction to the perception (and reality) that cameras are watching more of your life than you might prefer: clothing that obscures your electronic presence. "[Adam Harvey] exhibited a number of his stealth-wear designs and prototypes in an art show this year in London. His work includes a series of hoodies and cloaks that use reflective, metallic fabric — like the kind used in protective gear for firefighters — that he has repurposed to reduce a person’s thermal footprint. In theory, this limits one’s visibility to aerial surveillance vehicles employing heat-imaging cameras to track people on the ground. He also developed a purse with extra-bright LEDs that can be activated when someone is taking unwanted pictures; the effect is to reduce an intrusive photograph to a washed-out blur. In addition, he created a guide for hairstyling and makeup application that might keep a camera from recognizing the person beneath the elaborate get-up. The technique is called CV Dazzle — a riff on 'computer vision' and 'dazzle,' a type of camouflage used during World War II to make it hard to detect the size and shape of warships."
theodp writes "Silicon Valley's stranglehold on West Coast innovation is in danger. The main problem? It's no fun to live in Silicon Valley. Technology is people, explains The Atlantic's Derek Thompson, and more people are choosing to live in cities. And Silicon Valley isn't like a city, it's like a suburb. 'What's happening now,' says author Bruce Katz, 'is workers want to be in Oakland and San Francisco.' So, how might Silicon Valley save itself? 'Silicon Valley is going to have to urbanize,' Katz said. '[There is a] migration out of Silicon Valley to places where people really want to live.'"
An anonymous reader writes "While the landmark immigration bill (full text PDF), which recently passed the U.S. Senate, is being hailed as bringing crucial reforms that will vastly improve the state of immigration in this country, there is a provision in it that is seeing relatively little discussion: section 4101, a 'market-based' increase in the amount of H-1B visas for skilled workers. 'The pitched arguments of both sides, which are likely to resurface in the House when it takes up its version of an immigration overhaul, cloud a complicated reality. There is little empirical evidence to suggest that foreign engineers displace American engineers as a whole. If anything, one recent study suggests, the growth of immigrant workers in American companies helps younger American technical workers — more of them are hired and at higher-paying jobs — but has no noticeable consequences, good or bad, on older workers.'"
An anonymous reader writes "A report by the Wall Street Journal says Google is working on an Android-based gaming console in addition to the long-rumored smartwatch. 'The hardware plans are the latest sign of Google's determination to build on the success of Android, the software it launched in 2008 that powered 75% of all smartphones and 57% of tablets shipped globally in the first quarter, according to the research firm IDC. ... The people briefed on the matter said Google is reacting in part to expectations that rival Apple will launch a videogame console as part of its next Apple TV product release.' This development push comes as the company is wrapping up work on Android 4.3, and as the Kickstarted, Android-based Ouya console is finding success in retail markets. Google is also reportedly working on a revision to its Nexus Q media streaming device, which the company announced last year and quickly shelved after they realized it was a bit weird and not terribly useful."
An anonymous reader writes "The MIT Blackjack Team, made famous by the book 'Bringing Down the House' and the movie '21,' learned important lessons about running a business when they were beating casinos in the '80s and '90s. Key members of the team went on to start influential tech companies like SolidWorks and Stanza and invest in startups. Why did they do that instead of becoming, say, hedge fund managers? MIT entrepreneurship leader Bill Aulet moderated a team reunion panel in Boston, and he writes that the themes that carry over from blackjack to startups include staying disciplined, playing for the long term, and not taking unnecessary risks. And, of course, disrupting the powers that be."
An anonymous reader writes "Many content sites restrict access from different markets or have variable pricing for downloads in different markets. New Zealand-based ISP Slingshot is now offering a 'global mode' that lets customers hide their location. This means they can access overseas online services that would normally be restricted to specific markets."
An anonymous reader writes "Companies such as Microsoft, Facebook, Apple, and Google are scrambling to restore trust amid fresh litigation over the PRISM surveillance program. Richard Stallman, the founder of the Free Software Foundation and a newly-inducted member of the 2013 Internet Hall of Fame, speaks about not only abandoning the cloud, which he warned about 5 years ago, but also escaping software with back doors. 'I don't think the US government should use operating systems made in China,' he says in this new interview, 'for the same reason that most governments shouldn't use operating systems made in the US and in fact we just got proof since Microsoft is now known to be telling the NSA about bugs in Windows before it fixes them.'"
An anonymous reader writes with a story at Ars Technica, according to which "For the past two years, a secretive unit in the Metropolitan Police has been developing the tools for blanket surveillance of the public's social media conversations. Operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week, a staff of 17 officers in the National Domestic Extremism Unit (NDEU) has been scanning the public's tweets, YouTube videos, Facebook profiles, and anything else UK citizens post in the public online sphere. ... Surveillance operations often require a ministerial sign-off or permission from a superior, but it is unclear whether targeting of public social media data requires the same level of oversight, as head of research at Privacy International Eric King points out."
coondoggie writes "If you have ever visualized in your mind winning a race or overcoming a serious life hurdle then you understand at least some of the concept behind a new virtual video a technology that could help people with their social anxieties. Researchers say they have tested a system that lets people with all manner of social anxieties — from using public transportation and buying a drink at a bar to socializing at a party, shopping, or talking to a stranger — see themselves interacting in those situations via video capture."
bshell writes "The Verge has a great photo-essay about Tûranor PlanetSolar, the first boat to circle the globe with solar power. 'The 89,000 kg (nearly 100 ton) ship needs a massive solar array to capture enough energy to push itself through the ocean. An impressive 512 square meters (roughly 5,500 square feet) of photovoltaic cells, to be exact, charge the 8.5 tons of lithium-ion batteries that are stored in the ship's two hulls.' The boat is currently in NYC. Among other remarkable facts, the captain (Gérard d'Aboville) is one of those rare individuals who solo-rowed across both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, journeys that took 71 and 134 days, respectively. The piece has a lot of detail about control systems and design."
StonyCreekBare writes "How can an autodidact get past the jobs screening process? I have a long track record of success, despite limited formal education. Despite many accomplishments, published papers, and more, I cannot seem to get past the canned hiring process and actually get before a hiring manager. Traditional hiring processes seem to revolve around the education and degrees one holds, not one's track record and accomplishments. Now as an older tech-worker I seem to encounter a double barrier by being gray-haired as well. All prospective employers seem to see is a gray-haired old guy with no formal degrees. The jobs always seem to go to the younger guys with impressive degrees, despite a total lack of accomplishment. How can an accomplished, if gray-haired, self-educated techie get a foot in the door?"
It's been over 13 years since we did a Q&A with Linux International executive director Jon "maddog" Hall. For decades, maddog has been one of the highest profile advocates for free and open source software. He is currently working on Project Caua which aims "to promote more efficient computing following the thin client/server model, while creating up to two million privately-funded high-tech jobs in Brazil, and another three to four million in the rest of Latin America." He's also gearing up for FISL in Brazil, and helping to plan the FOSS part of Campus Party Europe in London. maddog has graciously agreed to find time to answer some of your questions. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one question per post.
A few weeks ago you had the chance to ask James Logan, the founder of Personal Audio, about the business, the patents the company holds, and the lawsuits it has filed. James answered most of the questions in great detail. Read below to see what he has to say and what question he passed on and why.
An anonymous reader writes in with bad news for the Bitcoin Foundation. "California's Department of Financial Institutions has issued a cease and desist letter to the Bitcoin Foundation for "allegedly engaging in the business of money transmission without a license or proper authorization," according to Forbes. The news comes after Bitcoin held its "Future of Payments" conference in San Jose last month. If found in violation, penalties range from $1,000 to $2,500 per violation per day plus criminal prosecution (which could lead to more fines and possibly imprisonment). Under federal law, it's also a felony "to engage in the business of money transmission without the appropriate state license or failure to register with the US Treasury Department," according to Forbes. Penalties under that law could be up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine."
An anonymous reader writes "Google's acquisition of Waze has piqued the interest of the FTC and is now facing an antitrust review. "Google confirmed that it has been contacted by lawyers from the Federal Trade Commission over the company's '$1.1 billion acquisition of the mobile navigation company Waze, which closed in mid-June. A Google spokeswoman declined to comment on details of the antitrust review by the FTC. Representatives of the agency didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.'"
symbolset writes "While some might liken the deal to the Empire joining up with the Trade Federation, there may be some interesting outcomes for this one. On Monday Microsoft and Oracle are expected to announce a 'cloud" partnership'. Although the two companies often seem to be at odds, two of their founders — Bill Gates and Larry Ellison — are partners in charity in the 'giving pledge.' Is this the beginning of a beautiful friendship? 'Oracle is battling an image not of growing up, but of growing old. On Thursday the company announced lower than expected earnings, which it ascribed to a tough economy overseas. Cloud-based software grew well, but remains a small part of its overall revenue. The company also said it would raise its dividend and announced a big stock buyback, behaviors usually undertaken by tech companies when they begin to grow more slowly.'"
MojoKid writes "Google (and many other tech manufacturers lately), have been evangelizing the mantra that technology is here to enhance and improve our lives, not get in the way; in the truest sense to 'serve humanity.' Recent events and breakthroughs in the healthcare industry, which make use of leading-edge technology, illustrate this vision better than any marketing or ad campaign could ever possibly hope to. Dr. Rafael Grossman strapped on his Google Glass eyewear to become the first 'Glass Explorer Surgeon.' The procedure involved is called Gastrostomy, a process by which a surgeon inserts a feeding tube into a patient's abdomen. In this case, the good doctor performed the procedure endoscopically, such that he was able to display the entire procedure and the view of it directly as it was being performed. The opportunities for remote medical consultation, mentoring and even real-time guidance are obvious with the sort of technology that products like Google Glass bring to the table. It's always nice to hear stories of how not only 'quality of life' is improved but how lives are actually saved as a result of these magnificent inventions we create."
theodp writes "As Steve Wozniak publicly laments how government used new technologies he introduced in unintended ways to monitor people, the NY Times reports how the digital masterminds behind the Obama Presidential campaign are cashing in by bringing the secret, technologically advanced formulas used for reaching voters to commercial advertisers. 'The plan is to bring the same Big Data expertise that guided the most expensive presidential campaign in history to companies and nonprofits,' explains Civis Analytics, which is backed by Google Chairman and Obama advisor Eric Schmidt. Also boasting senior members of Obama's campaign team is Analytics Media Group (A.M.G.), which pitched that 'keeping gamblers loyal to Caesars was not all that different from keeping onetime Obama voters from straying to Mitt Romney.' The extent to which the Obama campaign used the newest tech tools to look into people's lives was largely shrouded, the Times reports, but included data mining efforts that triggered Facebook's internal safeguard alarms. ... 'We asked to see [voter's Facebook] photos but really we were looking for who were tagged in photos with you, which was a really great way to dredge up old college friends — and ex-girlfriends.' The Times also explains how the Obama campaign was able to out-optimize the Romney campaign on TV buys by obtaining set-top box TV show viewing information from cable companies for voters on the Obama campaign's 'persuadable voters' list. "