An anonymous reader writes "With the eyes of the tech world fixed on CES this week, Apple this morning conveniently decided to issue a press release announcing that the iTunes App Store has now topped over 40 billion downloads. That's an incredible feat, to be sure, but even more incredible is that nearly half of those downloads occurred in 2012. In December alone, iOS users downloaded over 2 billion applications, setting a monthly record in the process."
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judgecorp writes "Google has abandoned its policy of warning Chinese users against keywords that trigger censorship. The search giant had added a warning that advised Chinese users not to use search terms that could cause the Chinese authorities to shut off their access to Google, but has now abandoned these warnings. While Google says they were ineffectual, free speech campaigners have expressed disappointment."
Rambo Tribble writes "Reuters reports that Los Almos National Laboratory has removed switches produced by Chinese firm H3C, which once had ties to Huawei. This appears to be a step taken to placate a nervous Congress, rather in response to any detected security issues. From the article: 'Switches are used to manage data traffic on computer networks. The exact number of Chinese-made switches installed at Los Alamos, how or when they were acquired, and whether they were placed in sensitive systems or pose any security risks, remains unclear. The laboratory - where the first atomic bomb was designed - is responsible for maintaining America's arsenal of nuclear weapons. A spokesman for the Los Alamos lab referred inquiries to the Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration, or NNSA, which declined to comment.'"
iComp writes "It's all gestures and eyeball-tracking at CES this year, with Tobii releasing a USB peripheral that adds control-by-sight to any Windows PC and Lenovo upgrading its Yoga to finger-watching. Tobii demonstrated its eyeball-tracking technology at CES last year, but this time it is announcing a 5,000 unit production run of a USB bar which can be stuck to the bottom of the monitor of any Windows 8 PC to start tracking eyeballs. Lenovo isn't even waiting that long. Although it is only tracking fingers, it's adding the capability to existing Yoga laptops courtesy of eyeSight Tech."
theodp writes "Saturday, the 2013 FIRST Robotics Competition kicked off, and — much like the Pinewood Derby — mentoring by adult engineers there doesn't hurt one's chances of winning. So, any advice for 'ordinary' high schools going up against the likes of FIRST Robotics Teams sponsored and mentored by NASA? FIRST Robotics Team 254's Lab at NASA Ames Research Center, for instance, includes 'an 80% size practice field as well as a small machine shop, workspace, computer lab and meeting space.' Not surprisingly, Team 254 won the 2011 FIRST Championship." We took our camera to the Michigan FRC championships last year, and had a great time.
An opinion piece by tech writer David Gilbert looks at how CES might be losing some of its luster. "It's hard to know who the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) really benefits. A common perception is that CES is the place where all the major technology companies launch their latest and greatest gadgets. But this is simply not the case. Let's look at 2012 as an example. Last year's most talked about consumer technology products (in no particular order) were: the iPhone 5, iPad 3, iPad mini, Microsoft Surface, Samsung Galaxy S3, Google Nexus 7, Amazon Kindle Fire HD and the Wii U. How many were launched at CES 2012? None."
Hugh Pickens writes writes "Want to buy a 15,000-foot landing strip? How about a place to assemble rocket ships or a parachute-packing plant? Have we got a deal for you. The Orlando Sentinel reports that with the cleanup and wind-down of the shuttle program, NASA is quietly holding a going-out-of-business sale for the its space-shuttle facilities including Launch Pad 39A, where shuttles were launched; space in the Vehicle Assembly Building, the iconic 526-foot-tall structure first used to assemble Saturn V-Apollo rockets; the Orbiter Processing Facilities, essentially huge garages where the shuttles were maintained; Hangar N and its high-tech test equipment; the launch-control center; and various other buildings and chunks of undeveloped property. 'The facilities out here can't be in an abandoned state for long before they become unusable,' says Joyce Riquelme, NASA's director of KSC planning and development. 'So we're in a big push over the next few months to either have agreements for these facilities or not.' The process is mostly secret, because NASA has agreed to let bidders declare their proposals proprietary, keeping them out of the view of competitors and the public. Frank DiBello, thinks the most attractive facilities are those that can support launches that don't use the existing pads at KSC and adjacent Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. 'Anything that still has cleaning capabilities or satellite-processing capabilities, the parachute facility, the tile facility, the OPF, all three of them, they have real value to the next generation of space activity,' says Frank DiBello, President of Space Florida, an Independent Special District of the State of Florida, created to foster the growth and development of a sustainable and world-leading space industry in Florida. 'If the infrastructure helps you reach market, then it has value. If it doesn't, then it's just a building, it's just a launchpad, and nobody wants it.'"
First time accepted submitter msamp writes "After the dotcom bubble burst so long ago,when tech jobs were so scarce, I went back to school and finished my PhD in Physics. They lied — there really is no shortage of scientists. Before the downturn I was a product manager for home networking equipment. Since getting the degree I have been program/project manager for small DoD and NASA instrumentation programs. I desperately want back into network equipment product management, but my networking tech skills aren't up to date. I find networking technology absolutely trivial and have been retraining on my own, but hiring managers see the gap and the PhD and run screaming. I'm more than willing to start over in network admin but can't even get considered for that. Suggestions?"
Bruce66423 writes "An article at The Guardian discusses the prospects for food from radically different sources than the ones we're used to. 'Sweet fried crickets' anyone? Quoting: '... artificial steak is still a way off. Pizza toppings are closer. The star of the Dutch research into in-vitro meat, Dr Mark Post, promised that the first artificial hamburger, made from 10bn lab-grown cells, would be ready for "flame-grilling by Heston Blumenthal" by the end of 2012. At the time of writing it is still on the back burner. Post (who previously produced valves for heart surgery) and other Dutch scientists are currently working over the problem of how to turn the "meat" from pieces of jelly into something acceptably structured: an old-fashioned muscle. Electric shocks may be the answer. ... The technological problems of producing the new hi-tech foods are nothing compared to the trouble the industry is having with the consumers – the "yuck factor," as the food technology scientists across the world like to put it. Shoppers' squeamishness has turned the food corporations, from whom the real money for R&D will have to come, very wary, and super-secretive about their work on GM in America.'"
This year's Consumer Electronics Show has nearly arrived. Later today, I'll be hurtling (or perhaps just slogging) across the West Texas desert, bound for Vegas. CES is far too big an event to see very much of, no matter what: the endless aisles (highways!) of cheap laptop bags and e-cigarettes alone take up an incredible amount of floor space, but the good stuff takes up at least as much. The categories represented aren't necessarily new, but the trends vary each time: remote-controlled helicopters, from Parrot and others, have been been getting more capable for a few years running, along with 3D televisions, action cameras, ever-bigger displays, toys for kids, toys for adults, and the newest/slimmest/priciest/cheapest laptops and handhelds. Last year I had a chance to get close-up video views at Ubuntu TV and the successfully crowdfunded TouchFire keyboard, as well as interviews with John Ryan of Pixel Qi and Raspberry Pi instigator Eben Upton. I'll be on the lookout for some of my usual obsessions (open source in consumer products, bright LED-based projectors, interesting input devices), but what would you like to see up-close from this year's crop of exhibitors (sorry, it's a long list), and why?
abhatt writes "Intel is set to debut the most power efficient chip in the world — a limited edition 'Ivy Bridge' processor in the upcoming annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Only a select group of tablet and ultrabook vendors will receive the limited Ivy Bridge chips. From the article: 'Intel did not say how far below 10 watts these special "Y" series Ivy Bridge processors will go, though Intel vice president Kirk Skaugen is expected to talk about the processors at CES. These Ivy Bridge chips were first mentioned at Intel's annual developer conference last year but it wasn't clear at that time if Intel and its partners would go forward with designs. But it appears that some PC vendors will have select models in the coming months, according to Intel.'"
An anonymous reader writes "Right on schedule, Microsoft on Thursday announced its usual advance notification for the upcoming Patch Tuesday. While the company is planning to release seven bulletins (two Critical and five Important) which address 12 vulnerabilities, there is one that is notably missing: a bulletin for the new IE vulnerability discovered on Saturday. For those who didn't see the news on the weekend, criminals started using a new IE security hole to attack Windows computers in targeted attacks. While IE9 and IE10 are not affected, versions IE6, IE7, and IE8 are."
alphadogg writes "Results from the early application rounds at the nation's best technical colleges indicate that it will be another excruciatingly difficult year for high school seniors to get accepted into top-notch undergraduate computer science and engineering programs. Leading tech colleges reported a sharp rise in early applications, prompting them to be more selective in choosing prospective freshmen for the Class of 2017. Many colleges are reporting lower acceptance rates for their binding early decision and non-binding early action admissions programs than in previous years. Here's a roundup of stats from MIT, Stanford and others."
cathyreisenwitz writes "The 2012 bankruptcy of Rhode Island-based video-game developer 38 Studios isn't just a sad tale of a start-up tech company falling victim to the vagaries of a rough economy. It is a completely predictable story of crony capitalism, featuring star-struck legislators and the hubris of a larger-than-life athlete completely unprepared to compete in business." Reason makes no bones about its view of this kind of public-private "partnership."
crookedvulture writes "Slashdot has previously covered The Tech Report's exposure of frame latency issues with recent AMD graphics processors. Both desktop and notebook Radeons exhibit frame latency spikes that interrupt the smoothness of in-game animation but don't show up in the FPS averages typically used to benchmark performance. AMD has been looking into the problem and may have discovered the culprit. The Graphics Core Next architecture underpinning recent Radeons is quite different from previous designs, and AMD has been rewriting the memory management portion of its driver to properly take advantage. This new code improves frame latencies, according to AMD's David Baumann, and the firm has accelerated the process of rolling it into the official Catalyst drivers available to end users. Radeon owners can take some comfort in the fact that a driver update may soon alleviate the frame latency problems associated with AMD's latest GPUs. However, they might also be disappointed that it's taken AMD this long to optimize its drivers for the now year-old GCN architecture."