SchrodingerZ writes "Designers of Disney Research in Pittsburgh Pa, have turned the average household plant into a musical device and remote control. Called the Botanicus Interacticus project, this new program can turn any household plant into touch-sensitive computer system. 'The system is built upon capacitive touch sensing — the principle used on touchscreens in smartphones and tablets — but instead of sensing electrical signals at a single frequency, it monitors capacitive signals across a broad range of frequencies. It's called Swept Frequency Capacitive Sensing.' This works by putting a pulsating electrode into the soil around a plant, which excites the plant, making any touch to the parts of the plant a replayable signal. This could mean soon swatting at your household plant could change the television channel or turn up the volume (PDF)."
Hugh Pickens writes "Forbes Magazine reports that employee benefits of Google are among the best in the land—free haircuts, gourmet food, on-site doctors and high-tech "cleansing" toilets are among the most talked-about but the latest perk for Googlers extends into the afterlife. 'This might sound ridiculous,' says Google's Chief People Officer Laszlo Bock, 'But we've announced death benefits at Google.' Should a U.S. Googler pass away while under the employ of the 14-year old search giant, their surviving spouse or domestic partner will receive a check for 50% of their salary every year for the next decade. Even more surprising, a Google spokesperson confirms that there's 'no tenure requirement' for this benefit, meaning most of their 34 thousand Google employees qualify."
wiredmikey writes "A new malware intelligence system developed at Georgia Tech Research Institute is helping organizations share threat intelligence and work together to understand malware and cyber attacks. Dubbed "Titan", the system lets members submit threat data and collaborate on malware analysis and classification. Unlike some other systems, members contribute data anonymously so no one would know which specific organizations had been affected by a specific attack. Titan users also get reports on malware samples they have submitted, such as the potential harm, the likely source, the best remedy, and the risks posed by the sample. The analysis is based on what GTRI researchers learn by reverse-engineering the malware. The project currently analyzes and classifies an average of 100,000 pieces of malicious code each day and growing. While other information sharing initiatives have been launched, many are by vendors, which sometimes sparks concern that the vendor may have some bias, and may be pushing a certain product. Not the case with Titan."
hypnosec writes "Want to trace the source of a virus that has infected your computer? Researchers at the Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne in Switzerland have the answer. The scientists have devised software capable of tracing computer viruses back to their source. Beyond computer viruses, the software can also trace terror suspects, rumor-mongering and even infectious diseases back to their source. Pedro Pinto, one of the researchers, explained that the algorithm works by going through information in a reverse direction back to the original source. He said, 'Using our method, we can find the source of all kinds of things circulating in a network just by "listening" to a limited number of members of that network.' The team tested their software on a known data maze to check if their research actually pinpoints the individuals behind the 9/11 attacks and they were able to pin-point three suspects, out of which one was the mastermind behind the attacks."
SternisheFan snips this news from Tech Radar: "The Surface tablets that Microsoft will start selling on 26 October at Microsoft Stores (and in temporary 'holiday stores' in twelve US cities including New York) are only the first of a planned family of Windows devices and Surface 2.0 is already under development. Although Microsoft corporate communications chief Frank Shaw said recently that calling Surface 'our new family of PCs built to be the ultimate stage for Windows' was no more than 'literary licence' and that there was nothing more than the two tablets already announced, the Surface team is 'currently building the next generation' of 'devices that fully express the Windows vision' — according to more than a dozen job adverts posted on the Microsoft Careers site between June and August."
An anonymous reader writes "Last week at SIGGRAPH, Pixar Animation Studios announced OpenSubdiv, an open source implementation of the Renderman subdivision surface technology, thus releasing the patents to the long standing Pixar 'secret sauce.' In addition to the offline subdivision scheme, it also includes a GPU implementation. This video demonstrates a realtime deforming subdivision surface running at 50 FPS in Maya (though it is freely available to use anywhere). The source code is available on Pixar's GitHub account." Says the project's site: "OpenSubdiv is covered by the Microsoft Public License, and is free to use for commercial or non-commercial use. This is the same code that Pixar uses internally for animated film production."
With the availability of RTM builds of Windows 8 this past week, it's become clear that at least for the initial release, they won't be providing a way to disable the controversial new "Windows 8 style UI," formerly known as "Metro." While I think this issue is a long way from being fully resolved one way or the other, it will be something that will hound both the release and adoption of Windows 8. Read on for my thoughts.
jfruh writes "Agile and, in particular, Scrum, have been popular project management methods for software development for more than a decade, and now its use is spreading well beyond software. For example, NPR is using Agile for faster, cheaper development of new radio programs. 'I was looking for some inspiration and found it one floor up inside our building (where Digital Media sits),' says NPR vice president of programming Eric Nuzum. NPR has used this 'Agile-inspired' approach to create several new programs, including TED Radio Hour, Ask Me Another, and Cabinet of Wonders."
itwbennett writes "For those of you who can't count on a friend to tell you that a little more air should come between you and your Calvins, a Bloomingdales store in Palo Alto has just the solution: An Xbox Kinect-based body scanner that will help you find your best fit. While body measuring systems aren't new, using the Xbox Kinect is a much more affordable solution. Which means that soon we'll all have the opportunity for a computer to tell us that we should 'avoid wearing low to mid rise jeans.'"
david.emery writes "In a document from the ongoing Samsung/Apple trial, provided in both English translation and Korean original, Samsung engineers provided a detailed comparison of user interface features in their phone against the iPhone. In almost all cases, the recommendation was to adopt the iPhone's approach. Among other observations, this shows how much work goes into defining the Apple iPhone user experience." Ars has an article on the evidence offered by Apple so far.
theodp writes "It's not that Chunka Mui isn't impressed by the smarts of Instagram CEO and Forbes cover boy Kevin Systrom. Still, Mui can't help but ask, 'How Long Before Facebook Writes Off Its $1B Purchase of Instagram?' While pundits and analysts have almost universally praised Facebook's acquisition of Instagram, Mui is less-than-impressed by Instagram's 80 million unmonetized mobile users. 'My prediction,' writes Mui, 'is that we'll look back on the acquisition as a bust — much in the same way we now view News Corp.'s purchase of Myspace, AOL's purchase of Bebo, and Excite@Home's purchase of Blue Mountain Arts.' Ouch. Mui notes that according to a recent SEC filing, Facebook could ditch the deal by paying a $200 million fee if regulators block the merger or if Facebook terminates the agreement after Dec. 10, 2012."
jfruh writes "One of the odder moments during the Oracle v. Google trial over Java patents came when patent blogger Florian Mueller disclosed that he had a 'consulting relationship' with Oracle. Now it looks like we're going to find out which other tech bloggers and journalists were on the payroll of one of the two sides in this epic fight. Judge William Alsup has ordered (PDF) that both parties disclose 'all authors, journalists, commentators or bloggers who have reported or commented on any issues in this case and who have received money (other than normal subscription fees) from the party or its counsel during the pendency of this action.'"
Hugh Pickens writes "Since coming to Yahoo!, CEO Marissa Mayer has added a weekly, Friday afternoon all-hands meeting, just like at Google; she announced that henceforth the food in Yahoo's URLs Cafe will be free, just like at Google; and she has begun prepping major changes to the layout of the work spaces and buildings of Yahoo to make it feel more collaborative and cool, just like, well.. you get the idea. Such focus on improving cultural issues is an interesting initial move by the neophyte CEO, since the care and feeding and, most of all, cosseting of employees has been a critical element to Google's success at creating an always-sunny work environment. But Mayer has been up to much more serious business, said several sources, especially product innovation as the savior for Yahoo: Better email! Better search! Better ad-serving! And a special plea to make Flickr awesome again! In other words, better every product Yahoo has to offer. 'This is the sound of Yahoo becoming a technology company again,' says one source. 'It will be all about platforms and products.' Sources say that will likely mean a big splashy tech or product deal in the days ahead, perhaps via an acquisition to signal the new direction, perhaps with the acquisition of a sexy product like Flipboard. In the meantime, many at Yahoo are bracing for a pack of current and former Googlers — Mayer had a lot of loyal staffers — to come on board, writes Kara Swisher. 'And, by the looks of all the Googley changes at Yahoo, they'll feel right at home when they get there.'"
An anonymous reader writes "Technology Review profiles Petr Mitrichev, who has since 2005 dominated the world of competitive programming, a little known sport where competitors furiously code for five hours in pursuit of glory and cash prizes worth tens of thousands of dollars. Mitrichev now works for Google, and competes only for leisure, but is still ranked number one. Many large tech companies, such as Facebook and Google, now sponsor and pay close attention to competitive coding contests, seeing them as a place to recruit new talent."
An anonymous reader writes "While President Putin was touring the area of Seliger Youth Forum, Marat Karatov demonstrated what can only be described as a fair amount of daring when he called out to the president and requested to present ReactOS to him. Putin agreed, and the project has now presented ReactOS to two successive Russian presidents. Putin responded to the presentation by stating he would think on it."