Frequent contributor Bennett Haselton is still thinking about prediction markets, and giving away money. He writes: "In an article last December I described a problem with prediction markets, where even markets with cap on betting limits could be manipulated by a single trader willing to spend a lot of money to distort the marketplace odds. So I offered a $100 cash prize to be split between readers who collectively came up with the best solution to the problem. Here's an idea that I think would work." Read on for the rest.
An anonymous reader writes "Ars has an extensive review of the newly-released BlackBerry 10 operating system. Since it's such a late entry into the market, the tech community has been eyeballing the new operating system with trepidation — would all that time go to waste with a poor offering, or would BlackBerry 10 be a reasonable alternative to iOS and Android? Well, it seems BlackBerry (the company formerly known as RIM) actually put the time to good use. The review finds most of the UI innovations to actually be.. innovative. "BlackBerry took a lot of time to see what the competition is doing, and then it worked to refine its operating system. It essentially had an excellent cheat sheet, filled with everything that has worked wonderfully and all the things that have bombed. That said, BlackBerry still has to mold its product for its two huge core audiences: the business-oriented multi-tasker and the developing smartphone markets. To that end, it has included all of the essential features and apps to appeal to both of those parties. The corporate user has his or her share of content to watch on the train ride to work, games and apps to help keep busy when not entrenched in a meeting, and the perfect Hub for messaging (not to mention the literal split between work and personal environments)." However, the review also notes that the system is not really designed to make people drop their Android or iOS devices, so uptake is going to be slow at best. The question for the platform's success (and the company's) is no longer 'Is it any good? but 'Is it too late?'" There's also a review of the z10 smartphone itself.
Nerval's Lobster writes "The man who designed the world's most energy-efficient supercomputer in 2011 has taken on a new task: improving how robo-bugs fly. Wu-chun Feng, an associate professor of computer science in the College of Engineering at Virginia Tech, previously built Green Destiny, a 240-node supercomputer that consumed 3.2 kilowatts of power—the equivalent of a couple of hair dryers. That was before the Green500, a list that Feng and his team began compiling in 2005, which ranks the world's fastest supercomputers by performance per watt. On Feb. 5, the Air Force's Office of Scientific Research announced it had awarded Feng $3.5 million over three years, plus an option to add $2.5 million funding over an additional two years. The contract's goal: speed up how quickly a supercomputer can simulate the computational fluid dynamics of micro-air vehicles (MAVs), or unmanned aerial vehicles. MAVs can be as small as about five inches, with an aircraft close to insect size expected in the near future. While the robo-bugs can obviously be used for military purposes, they could also serve as scouts in rescue operations."
Hugh Pickens writes writes "Reuters reports that a pair of bulbous, helium-filled 'aerostats', each 243 feet long, will be moored to the ground and fly as high as 10,000 feet, as part of a high-tech shield designed to protect the Washington D.C. area from an air attack like the one that took place on September 11, 2001. One of the aerostats carries a powerful long-range surveillance radar with a 360-degree look-around capability that can reach out to 340 miles. The other carries a radar used for targeting. Operating for up to 30 days at a time, JLENS is meant to give the military more time to detect and react to threats (PDF), including cruise missiles and manned and unmanned aircraft, compared with ground-based radar and is also designed to defend against tactical ballistic missiles, large caliber rockets and moving vehicles that could be used for attacks, including boats, cars and trucks. 'We're trying to determine how the surveillance radar information from the JLENS platforms can be integrated with existing systems in the National Capital Region,' says Michael Kucharek, a spokesman for the North American Aerospace Defense Command. Washington is currently guarded by an air-defense system that includes Federal Aviation Administration radars and Department of Homeland Security helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft on alert at Reagan National Airport to intercept slow, low-flying aircraft."
First time accepted submitter jsmyth writes "MySQL 5.6.10 has been released, marking the General Availability of version 5.6 for production." Here's more on the features of 5.6. Of possible interest to MySQL users, too, is this look at how MySQL spinoff MariaDB (from Monty, one of the three creators of MySQL) is making inroads into the MySQL market, including (as we've mentioned before) as default database system in some Linux distributions.
pigrabbitbear writes "Internet access is an essential need on par with education access, but at what point do regulators recognize that? When will government officials acknowledge that widespread, guaranteed access is essential to fostering growth in the country? Somewhat surprisingly, that time is now, as the FCC is now calling for nationwide free wi-fi networks to be opened up to the public. The FCC proposes buying back spectrum from TV stations that would allow for what the Washington Post is dubbing 'super wi-fi,' as the commission wants to cover the country with wide-ranging, highly-penetrative networks. Essentially, you can imagine the proposal as covering a majority of the country with open-access data networks, similar to cell networks now, that your car, tablet, or even phone could connect to. That means no one is ever disconnected, and some folks – especially light users and the poor – could likely ditch regular Internet and cell plans altogether."
theodp writes "For those students for whom it's all about the Benjamins, BusinessInsider's Alyson Shontell has compiled a nice list of 20 Tech Companies That Pay Interns Boatloads Of Money. 'If you intern for a high-profile tech company,' notes Shontell, 'you can make more money than the average US citizen. Facebook, for example, pays its average intern $6,056 per month. That ends up being a base salary of about $72,000 per year.' Sure beats making a 'measly' $5,808 per month at LinkedIn, where you might find yourself having to participate in embarrassing sing-a-longs and Flash Mobs!"
Velcroman1 writes "Ever wonder how troops serving abroad in remote locations and even underwater might get to watch the Super Bowl? The very same highly advanced technology used to pass classified drone video feeds will be deployed this Sunday to ensure U.S. troops can see the Super Bowl — - no matter how far away from home they are. The broadcast is the result of a unique media, government and technology partnership with the American Forces Radio and Television Service, Raytheon and the U.S. Air Force. The Global Broadcast Service (GBS) may be normally used to disseminate video, images and other data, but major sporting events have been broadcast over it as well. The system will be 'as small as a laptop, and [equipment] the size of a shoebox and umbrella' yet 'in other places will be projected onto large screens in hangers' like aircraft carriers out at sea, explained Raytheon Intelligence and Information Systems' chief innovation officer Mark Bigham."
gannebraemorr writes "U-T San Diego reports that the city has become 'the latest in a cadre of California cities turning their backs on red-light cameras — aloof intersection sentries that have prompted $490 tickets to be mailed to 20,000 motorists per year' there. 'Mayor Bob Filner announced his decision to take down the city's 21 cameras at a news conference set at the most prolific intersection for the tickets, North Harbor Drive and West Grape Street, near San Diego International Airport. A crew went to work immediately taking down "photo enforced" signs throughout the city. "Seems to me that such a program can only be justified if there are demonstrable facts that prove that they raise the safety awareness and decrease accidents in our city," Filner said of the cameras. "The data, in fact, does not really prove it."' I have to say I'm a bit surprised that my city is voluntarily shedding potentially $9.8M in revenue after objectively evaluating a program. I wonder how much a system would cost that could switch my light from green to red if it detected a vehicle approaching from a red-lit direction at dangerous speeds. Can you think of an other alternative uses for these cameras?"
Flozzin writes with news that documents published to the U.S. Federal Communications Commission's website have provided new details about Project Glass, Google's augmented-reality headset. "A test report describes video playing on the device alongside audio running to a 'vibrating element.' The description tallies with a patent filing suggesting it plays sound via 'bone-conduction' tech rather than earbuds. Developers are due to receive a test edition of the headset later this year. ... [The FCC's papers] describe data being sent to the small screen display via wi-fi and Bluetooth using a radio unit manufactured by Broadcom. The equipment is also said to be able to store video files internally and can be recharged by plugging a power connector into the computing unit on the right-hand arm of the glasses' frame. However, the most arresting detail is the suggestion that audio is provided without the user needing to wear headphones which might disturb how they hear ambient sounds. Last week Google filed a patent application entitled Wearable Computing Device with Indirect Bone-Conduction Speaker."
When the Wii U was released at the end of last year, Nintendo got a head-start on the long-awaited new generation of video game consoles. Now, Sony has announced a press conference for February 20th that is expected to unveil the PlayStation 4, codenamed 'Orbis.' This will precede the announcement of the Xbox 360's successor, codenamed 'Durango,' but that too will likely be announced by E3 in June. Specs for development kits of both systems have leaked widely. The two systems both use 8-core AMD chips clocked around 1.6 GHz. Durango has 8GB of DDR3 RAM, while Orbis has 4GB of GDDR5 RAM, though Sony is trying to push that up to 8GB for the console's final spec. Reports also suggest Sony is tinkering with its controller design, going so far as to add a "Share" button to let people exchange screenshots and recordings. Developers indicate the systems are very close in power, though Sony's system currently has an edge. With the upcoming announcement of the PS4, the big-three console makers will kick off a new round of direct competition. They'll maneuver to one-up each other with the most powerful hardware and the slickest software. However, they'll also hope the release of three major consoles in rapid succession will help to anchor a part of the games industry that no longer enjoys the dominance it once did, thanks to threats from mobile.
tsu doh nimh writes "A sophisticated cyberattack targeted The Washington Post in an operation that resembled intrusions against other major American news organizations and that company officials suspect was the work of Chinese hackers, the publication acknowledged on Friday. The disclosure came just hours after a former Post employee shared information about the break-in with ex-Postie reporter Brian Krebs, and caps a week marked by similar stories from The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. Krebs cites a former Post tech worker saying that the publication gave one of its hacked servers to the National Security Agency for analysis, a claim that the Post's leadership denies. The story also notes that the Post relied on software from Symantec, the same security software that failed to detect intrusions at The New York Times for many months."
An anonymous reader writes "The BBC is running a story about invention and innovation, suggesting that there have been no truly new inventions in a long time. 'Consumers are presented with an "invention illusion," which is really little more than a marketing tool to give the impression of "breakthrough" products. This is a difficult cycle to break, particularly with the media's appetite for sensational stories, and it is hampering opportunities for credible companies without sexy stories. It also means that many entrepreneurs are looking for innovation in the wrong places and pursuing new product design ineffectively.' It leads to the question: what are the most recent things you can think of that have been actual, new inventions? Or has the high-tech revolution just been iterative innovation?"
silverpig writes "It now appears that graphene has reached a point worthy of serious, direct industrial attention. The grant money itself comes from the European Union for the Future and Emerging Technologies (FET), but the work will be done by a large non-governmental company with eyes on developing useful real-world applications. Smartphones contain many components with high potential for making use of graphene. From the article: 'Nokia is leading the electronic firms within the Graphene Flagship Consortium, which includes 73 other companies and academic institutions from a number of mediums. The Finnish handset manufacturer has received a grant of $1.35 billion to research and develop graphene for practical applications, with the European Union for the Future and Emerging Technologies (FET) providing the grant itself.'"
First time accepted submitter Brandon Butler writes "Amazon.com, the multi-billion online retail website, experienced an outage of unknown proportions on Thursday afternoon. Rumblings of an Amazon.com outage began popping up on Twitter at about 2:40 PM ET. Multiple attempts to access the site around 3:15 PM ET on Thursday were met with the message: 'Http/1.1 Service Unavailable.' By 3:30 PM ET the site appeared to be back online for at least some users. How big of a deal is an hour-long Amazon outage? Amazon.com's latest earnings report showed that the company makes about $10.8 billion per quarter, or about $118 million per day and $4.9 million per hour." Update: 01/31 22:25 GMT by T : "Hackers claim credit."