An anonymous reader sends this quote from Conceivably Tech: "Admit it. You are in a love-hate relationship with Firefox. Either Mozilla gets Firefox right and you are jumping up and down, or Mozilla screws up and you threaten to ditch the browser in favor Chrome. Mozilla's passionate user base keeps Firefox dangling between constant ups and downs, which is a good thing, as long as Mozilla is going up. Unfortunately, that is not the case right now. Mozilla's market share has been slipping again at a significant pace. There has been some discussion and finger-pointing, and it seems that the rapid release process has to take the blame this time. Are we right to blame the rapid release process?" What do you find most annoying or gratifying about Firefox these days?
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ananyo writes "In a feature that recalls Asimov's Foundation series and 'psychohistory', Nature profiles mathematician Peter Turchin, who says he can see meaningful cycles in history. Worryingly, Turchin predicts a wave of violence in the United States in 2020. Quoting from the piece: 'To Peter Turchin, who studies population dynamics at the University of Connecticut in Storrs, the appearance of three peaks of political instability at roughly 50-year intervals is not a coincidence. For the past 15 years, Turchin has been taking the mathematical techniques that once allowed him to track predator-prey cycles in forest ecosystems, and applying them to human history. He has analyzed historical records on economic activity, demographic trends and outbursts of violence in the United States, and has come to the conclusion that a new wave of internal strife is already on its way. The peak should occur in about 2020, he says, and will probably be at least as high as the one in around 1970. 'I hope it won't be as bad as 1870,' he adds." We recently discussed similar research into predicting violence in the short term.
Hugh Pickens writes "DefenseTech reports that Air Force Maj. Gen. Charles Lyon, the director of operations for Air Combat Command, told the Pentagon press corps that a valve that inflates the Combat Edge upper pressure garment is the cause of hypoxia-like symptoms in pilots flying the F-22. The problem forced the service to ground the Air Force's most prized stealth fighter fleet for four months and led two Raptor pilots to tell the nation on CBS's 60 Minutes that they refused to fly the jet because the pilots feared for their lives. The vests help control the breathing of pilots in high G-force environments, inflating before pilots start to experience extreme G-force conditions. However Lyon explained that the valves caused the vests to inflate too early in an F-22 flight, causing pilots to hyperventilate in the cockpits. 'It's like putting a corset around your chest,' said Lyons. Eagle and Viper pilots stopped wearing the upper pressure garments in 2004 'because they were not giving us the contribution we thought they would,' said Lyon. F-22 pilots kept wearing them because they flew at higher altitudes and the vests protected the pilots from 'rapid decompression,' adding that F-22 pilots, many of whom flew the F-15 and F-16, didn't notice the vests had inflated early because of the layers of gear a pilot wears in flight. Such a simple answer to a problem that has eluded Air Force engineers and scientists for four years has left some Air Force pilots skeptical that the USAF has solved the problem. An F-16 pilot said the Air Force is either 'incompetent for missing this until now,' or 'dishonest and trying to sweep something under the rug.'"
sl4shd0rk writes "At present, several non-profit U.S. bodies oversee the Internet's specifications as well as DNS. The Unitied Nations, however, has expressed an interest in transferring control of the Internet from the United States. The UN's Dr. Toure says any change to the governance of the internet must be supported by all countries. The U.S. has refused, arguing that 'existing multi-stakeholder institutions, incorporating industry and civil society' will continue to oversee the 'health and growth of the interenet and all its benefits.' According to earlier reports, the push is backed not only by Russia, but China, Brazil and India as well."
jfruh writes "Dan Tynan is a tech writer and blogger who discovered, while trying to post links to his writing on his Google+ profile, that his account had been suspended. This despite the fact that he used his real name and didn't violate the terms of service in any other way. Upon appeal his account was reinstated, just as mysteriously as it was shut down, but along the way he discovered a rash of people with suspended Google+ accounts who can't figure out what they did to anger the Google gods."
schwit1 writes with news from London that Olympic venues are being patrolled by so-called "Wi-Fi police," who seek out and shut down unauthorized access points and hotspots. BT is the "official communications services provider" for the Games, so access points other than the ones they set up or approve have been disallowed. A picture tweeted from the Olympics shows a gentleman carrying a portable direction antenna that can localize sources of transmission and interference. "One possible aim of shutting down such WiFi access points is to cut down on interference with essential wireless communications being used by those refereeing, reporting on and working at the sporting events. ... The news of the WiFi crackdown has angered many of those following the Games online, who were already upset at Olympic authorities' attempts to limit the use of social networking tools at the Games at certain times. The London Olympics had been billed as the first 'social media Games,' but organizers have been accused of bungling the effort to seamlessly integrate popular technologies like Twitter and Facebook into the event."
New submitter rhsanborn writes "One year ago the District of Columbia Court of Appeals ordered the TSA to hold public comment on the use body scanners in EPIC vs. DHS. The order has been ignored prompting a WhiteHouse.gov petition asking for the Obama Administration's response. One year later, Wired reports, the court has ordered the TSA to explain why it hasn't responded to its original order (PDF). The TSA has until August 30th to respond."
djl4570 writes "Samsung released to the press documents that had been excluded by Judge Lucy Koh. According to Samsung 'The judge's exclusion of evidence on independent creation meant that even though Apple was allowed to inaccurately argue to the jury that the F700 was an iPhone copy, Samsung was not allowed to tell the full story...The excluded evidence would have established beyond doubt that Samsung did not copy the iPhone design,' An article at another site described judge Lucy Koh as 'Livid.' The defendant released exculpatory evidence that had been suppressed by the judge. This after many stories in the tech press portray the case as Samsung versus Lucy Koh instead of Samsung versus Apple." An anonymous reader sent in Groklaw's detailed take on the spat. Related to the trial, colinneagle sent in more info revealed about iPhone prototypes. One early design would have featured shaped glass, but materials weren't up to spec at the time.
hypnosec tipped us to reports that Demonoid is still down after a suffering a massive DDoS last week, and that the domain is now redirecting to a malware-ridden spam site. Notable for surviving a CRIA mandated shutdown, this may be lights out for the torrent tracker: "To begin, while Demonoid’s admin told us that he would eventually bring the site back online, he clearly has other things on his mind. A really important family event puts a torrent site nowhere near the top of his priorities. ... Demonoid has been experiencing staffing issues this year. As we mentioned in an earlier article, there were rumors that one or maybe more Demonoid staffers had been questioned by authorities about their involvement in the site."
First time accepted submitter TrueSatan writes "With support from the EFF's Defend Freedom Project two Republican congressmen seek to introduce a bill called the 'Shield Act' which, if passed, would enable judges to award costs to defendants if they are found to be the victims of frivolous patent litigation. From the article: 'A new bill introduced in the House of Representatives attempts to deter frivolous patent litigation by forcing unsuccessful patent plaintiffs to cover defendants' legal costs. Introduced by Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR) and co-sponsored by Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), the Saving High-Tech Innovators from Egregious Legal Disputes (SHIELD) Act is limited to patents related to computer hardware and software.'"
derekmead writes "A new report from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory finds that solar holds more potential to generate more power (PDF) than any other clean energy source. The NREL broke things down into four groups: urban and rural utility-scale photovoltaics (giant solar plants, basically) as well as rooftop solar and concentrated mirror arrays. Between those technologies, which are all already on the market, the NREL reckons there's a proven potential for solar to hit a capacity of 200,000 gigawatts in the United States alone. For some perspective, 1 gigawatt is what a single nuclear power plant might generate, and it's more than most coal plants. A gigawatt of capacity is enough to power approximately 700,000 homes."
DavidGilbert99 writes "NBC is the sole broadcaster of the London 2012 Olympics in the U.S., having paid $1.1bn for the privilege. While NBC is providing live streaming through its website, you need to have a valid cable subscription in order to view the events. This has seen many tech savvy U.S. viewers turning to proxy servers to view the BBC's Olympic coverage, which doesn't need any sign-in to view — once your IP address looks like it is coming from the UK. One provider of VPN services has seen a ten-fold increase in new customers signing up for their services since last Friday."
SpicyBrownMustard writes "There's no secret to a rising level of 'Silicon Valley fatigue' lately, and the new reality show certainly isn't helping. And with hacker hostels packing in twenty somethings fueling the 'it's okay to fail' incubator culture that now is actually hurting startups, it's no wonder weariness with the culture is setting in. Forbes.com asks the question: Is Phoenix The Next Silicon Valley? The article covers a startup with a couple names you might know, who picked Phoenix due to its much lower cost of living and different quality of life. The startup's CTO, 'explains that having so much more financial freedom lowers the stress associated with working for a startup, as he can enjoy work/live balance.' Their location certainly didn't hurt fundraising, as they managed $2 million in seed capital. Are we indeed moving on from Silicon Valley for tech startups?"
New submitter Hanike writes "According to The Verge, Japanese hi-tech company Suidobashi Heavy Industry is developing a 13-foot, diesel-powered, real Mecha robot called Kuratas! 'The two-man team — artist Kogoro Kurata and robotics researcher Wataru Yoshizaki — isn't stopping there, either. Suidobashi wants to mass produce, starting at the low price of $1.35 million. So, what do you get for the money? Kuratas has over 30 hydraulic joints that allow it to freely move its arms, legs, and torso. It can fire water bottle rockets and fireworks, and its 6,000 round-per-minute BB Gatling guns are controlled with the pilot's smile; part of Yoshizaki's V-Shido (read like bushido, as in "way of the samurai") control system. In order to get around, the four-legged mech uses ordinary wheels, but the Suidobashi team wants to get it walking in order to navigate uneven terrain.'"
angry tapir writes "The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has backflipped again on the process for evaluating applications for new generic top-level domains such as .bank and .lol. The proposal to evaluate applications in batches of 500 had been subject to criticism from registrars, particularly the 'digital archery' component, which would be used to determine which batch an application would be part of. Last month, ICANN scrapped digital archery altogether, and now ICANN has announced that it will seek simultaneous processing of all applications. The reason people were annoyed at the batching process was it meant that even if an application for a new domain was complete and correct, and even if a domain application was not contested by anyone else, it could end up going live years after other new TLDs did. Given it will cost over a couple of hundred grand to run a new TLD, people were upset. The whole gTLD process has been fraught with delays and security breaches."