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Robotic Taster Will Judge 'Real Thai Food'

timothy posted about half an hour ago | from the what-about-best-barbecue? dept.

Technology 12

HughPickens.com (3830033) writes The NYT reports that Thailand's former prime minister, Yingluck Shinawatra repeatedly encountered a distressing problem while traveling the world: bad Thai food. Too often, she found, the meals she sampled at Thai restaurants abroad were unworthy of the name, too bland to be called genuine Thai cooking. The problem bothered her enough to raise it at a cabinet meeting. Even though her political party has since been thrown out of office, in a May military coup, the Thai government is unveiling its project to standardize the art of Thai food using a robot. The government-financed Thai Delicious Committee, which oversaw the development of the machine, describes it as "an intelligent robot that measures smell and taste in food ingredients through sensor technology in order to measure taste like a food critic." Thailand's National Innovation Agency has spent about $100,000 to develop the e-delicious machine. The e-delicious machine has 10 sensors that measure smell and taste, generating a unique fingerprint (signature) for each sample of food that passes its digital maw. Generally with electronic tasting, there are electronic sensors that work just like the taste buds on your tongue, measuring the quantity of various taste-giving compounds, acidity, etc. While these electronic sensors can't actually tell you how something tastes — that's a very subjective, human thing — they are very good at comparing two foods scientifically. Meanwhile at a tiny food stall along one of Bangkok's traffic-clogged boulevards, Thaweekiat Nimmalairatana, questioned the necessity of a robatic taster. "I use my tongue to test if it's delicious or not," said Nimmalairatana. "I think the government should consider using a human to gauge authenticity."

Apple Fixes Shellshock In OS X

timothy posted 1 hour ago | from the that's-mac-os-x-to-you-buddy dept.

Bug 30

jones_supa (887896) writes Apple has released the OS X Bash Update 1.0 for OS X Mavericks, Mountain Lion, and Lion, a patch that fixes the "Shellshock" bug in the Bash shell. Bash, which is the default shell for many Linux-based operating systems, has been updated two times to fix the bug, and many Linux distributions have already issued updates to their users. When installed on an OS X Mavericks system, the patch upgrades the Bash shell from version 3.2.51 to version 3.2.53. The update requires the OS X 10.9.5, 10.8.5, or 10.7.5 updates to be installed on the system first. An Apple representative told Ars Technica that OS X Yosemite, the upcoming version of OS X, will receive the patch later.

California Governor Vetoes Bill Requiring Warrants For Drone Surveillance

Soulskill posted 1 hour ago | from the quis-custodiet-ipsos-drones? dept.

Government 28

schwit1 sends word that California governor Jerry Brown has vetoed legislation that would have required warrants for surveillance using unmanned drones. In his veto message (PDF), Brown said, "This bill prohibits law enforcement from using a drone without obtaining a search warrant, except in limited circumstances. There are undoubtedly circumstances where a warrant is appropriate. The bill's exceptions, however, appear to be too narrow and could impose requirements beyond what is required by either the 4th Amendment or the privacy provisions in the California Constitution."

The article notes that 10 other states already require a warrant for routine surveillance with a drone (Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Montana, Oregon, Tennessee, Utah, and Wisconsin). Further, Brown's claims about the bill's exceptions are overstated — according to Slate, "California's drone bill is not draconian. It includes exceptions for emergency situations, search-and-rescue efforts, traffic first responders, and inspection of wildfires. It allows other public agencies to use drones for other purposes — just not law enforcement."

Analyzing Silk Road 2.0

Soulskill posted 4 hours ago | from the welcome-to-narcoanalytics dept.

The Internet 34

An anonymous reader writes: After a recent article about breaking the CAPTCHA on the latest incarnation of Silk Road (the darknet-enabled drug market place), Darryl Lau decided to investigate exactly what narcotics people were buying and selling online. He found roughly 13,000 separate listings. Some sellers identify the country they're in, and the top six are the U.S., Australia, England, Germany, and the Netherlands, and Canada. The site also has a bunch of product reviews. If you assume that each review comes from a sale, and multiply that by the listed prices, reviewed items alone represent $20 million worth of business. Lau also has some interesting charts, graphs, and assorted stats. MDMA is the most listed and reviewed drug, and sellers are offering it in quantities of up to a kilogram at a time. The average price for the top 1000 items is $236. Prescription drugs represent a huge portion of the total listings, though no individual prescription drugs have high volume on their own.

How Tech Is Transforming Teaching In a South African Township

Soulskill posted 6 hours ago | from the please-say-cyborgs-please-say-cyborgs dept.

Education 22

An anonymous reader writes: The founders of the African School for Excellence have an ambitious goal — nothing less than redefining low cost, scalable teaching that brings international standards to the poorest schools in Africa. Their first model school is off to a good start: in just 18 months, all grade 9 students are achieving scores higher than 50% on Cambridge Curriculum Checkpoint tests, and only one student scored less than 50% in math. The national average score in math is 13%. The school relies on a locally designed piece of marking software to function. Their teach-to-pupil ratios are not great, but the teachers are committed to using technology to stretch themselves as far as they can. What's most remarkable is that the school's running costs are already half the cost of a traditional government school, and the quality of education is much, much better. All this, and they're only a year and a half into the program.

FBI Plans To Open Up Malware Analysis Tool To Outside Researchers

Soulskill posted 7 hours ago | from the definitely-totally-detects-fbi-malware-totally-definitely dept.

Security 15

Trailrunner7 writes: The FBI has developed an internal malware-analysis tool, somewhat akin to the systems used by antimalware companies, and plans to open the system up to external security researchers, academics and others. The system is known as Malware Investigator and is designed to allow FBI agents and other authorized law enforcement users to upload suspicious files. Once a file is uploaded, the system runs it through a cluster of antimalware engines, somewhat akin to the way that Virus Total handles submissions, and returns a wide variety of information about the file.

Users can see what the detection rate is among AV engines, network connection attempts, whether the file has been seen by the system before, destination and source IP addresses and what protocols it uses.Right now, Malware Investigator is able to analyze Windows executables, PDFs and other common file types. But Burns said that the bureau is hoping to expand the portal's reach in the near future. "We are going to be doing dynamic analysis of Android files, with an eye toward other operating systems and executables soon," he said.

LTE Upgrade Will Let Phones Connect To Nearby Devices Without Towers

Soulskill posted 9 hours ago | from the just-yell-really-loud dept.

Communications 97

An anonymous reader sends this excerpt from MIT's Technology Review: A new feature being added to the LTE protocol that smartphones use to communicate with cellular towers will make it possible to bypass those towers altogether. Phones will be able to "talk" directly to other mobile devices and to beacons located in shops and other businesses. Known as LTE Direct, the wireless technology has a range of up to 500 meters, far more than either Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. It is included in update to the LTE standard slated for approval this year, and devices capable of LTE Direct could appear as soon as late 2015. ... Researchers are, for example, testing LTE Direct as a way to allow smartphones to automatically discover nearby people, businesses, and other information.

CloudFlare Announces Free SSL Support For All Customers

Soulskill posted 11 hours ago | from the big-step-in-the-right-direction dept.

Cloud 50

Z80xxc! writes: CloudFlare, a cloud service that sits between websites and the internet to provide a CDN, DDOS and other attack prevention, speed optimization, and other services announced today that SSL will now be supported for all customers, including free customers. This will add SSL support to approximately 2 million previously unprotected websites. Previously SSL was only available to customers paying at least $20/month for a "Pro" plan or higher.

Browsers connect to CloudFlare's servers and receive a certificate provided by CloudFlare. CloudFlare then connects to the website's server to retrieve the content, serving as a sort of reverse proxy. Different security levels allow CloudFlare to connect to the website host using no encryption, a self-signed certificate, or a verified certificate, depending on the administrator's preferences. CloudFlare's servers will use SNI for free accounts, which is unsupported for IE on Windows XP and older, and Android Browser on Android 2.2 and older.

Energy Utilities Trying To Stifle Growth of Solar Power

Soulskill posted 13 hours ago | from the fortunate-sun dept.

Power 307

An anonymous reader writes: Incremental improvements have been slowly but surely pushing solar power toward mainstream viability for a few decades now. It's getting to the point where the established utilities are worried about the financial hit they're likely to take — and they're working to prevent it. "These solar households are now buying less and less electricity, but the utilities still have to manage the costs of connecting them to the grid. Indeed, a new study from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory argues that this trend could put utilities in dire financial straits. If rooftop solar were to grab 10 percent of the market over the next decade, utility earnings could decline as much as 41 percent." The utilities are throwing their weight behind political groups seeking to end subsidies for solar and make "net metering" policies go away. Studies suggest that if solar adoption continues growing at its current rate, incumbents will be forced to raise their prices, which will only persuade more people to switch to solar (PDF).

Tor Executive Director Hints At Firefox Integration

Soulskill posted yesterday | from the foxes-love-onions dept.

Encryption 86

blottsie writes: Several major tech firms are in talks with Tor to include the software in products that can potentially reach over 500 million Internet users around the world. One particular firm wants to include Tor as a "private browsing mode" in a mainstream Web browser, allowing users to easily toggle connectivity to the Tor anonymity network on and off. "They very much like Tor Browser and would like to ship it to their customer base," Tor executive director Andrew Lewman wrote, explaining the discussions but declining to name the specific company. "Their product is 10-20 percent of the global market, this is of roughly 2.8 billion global Internet users." The product that best fits Lewman's description, by our estimation, is Mozilla Firefox, the third-most popular Web browser online today and home to, you guessed it, 10 to 20 percent of global Internet users.

CEO of Spyware Maker Arrested For Enabling Stalkers

Soulskill posted yesterday | from the reaping-what-you-sow dept.

Crime 142

An anonymous reader writes: U.S. authorities have arrested and indicted the CEO of a mobile software company for selling spyware that enables "stalkers and domestic abusers." The U.S. Department of Justice accuses the man of promoting and selling software that can "monitor calls, texts, videos and other communications on mobile phones without detection." The agency pointed out this is the first criminal case based on mobile spyware, and promised to aggressively pursue makers of similar software in the future. Here's the legal filing (PDF). The FBI, with approval from a District Court, has disabled the website hosting the software.

"The indictment alleges that StealthGenie's capabilities included the following: it recorded all incoming/outgoing voice calls; it intercepted calls on the phone to be monitored while they take place; it allowed the purchaser to call the phone and activate it at any time to monitor all surrounding conversations within a 15-foot radius; and it allowed the purchaser to monitor the user's incoming and outgoing e-mail messages and SMS messages, incoming voicemail messages, address book, calendar, photographs, and videos. All of these functions were enabled without the knowledge of the user of the phone."

Man Walks Past Security Screening Staring At iPad, Causing Airport Evacuation

samzenpus posted yesterday | from the paying-attention dept.

Australia 156

First time accepted submitter chentiangemalc writes While Australia is on "high alert" for terror threats a man walked past a Sydney Airport security screening while engrossed in his iPad and delayed flights for an hour. From the article: "This event was captured on CCTV and unnerved officials so much that they evacuated passengers. As the Sydney Morning Herald reported, the man found himself (or, perhaps, didn't) going into the terminal through an exit passage that clearly was convenient for him, but less convenient for the hordes of passengers who not only had to be removed from Terminal 3, but also re-screened. A spokeswoman for Qantas told the Morning Herald: 'The man disembarked a flight and left. It appears he wasn't paying attention, was looking at his iPad, forgot something and walked back past (the security area).'"

New Research Casts Doubt On the "10,000 Hour Rule" of Expertise

samzenpus posted yesterday | from the some-amount-of-practice-makes-perfect dept.

Science 148

First time accepted submitter Scroatzilla writes What makes someone rise to the top in music, games, sports, business, or science? This question is the subject of one of psychology's oldest debates. Malcolm Gladwell's '10,000 hours' rule probably isn't the answer. Recent research has demonstrated that deliberate practice, while undeniably important, is only one piece of the expertise puzzle—and not necessarily the biggest piece.

Microsoft Revives Its Hardware Conference

samzenpus posted yesterday | from the back-by-popular-demand dept.

Microsoft 43

jfruh writes Microsoft's Windows Hardware Engineering Conference, or WinHEC, was an annual staple of the '90s and '00s: every year, execs from Redmond would tell OEMs what to expect when it came to Windows servers and PCs. The conference was wrapped with software into Build in 2009, but now it's being revived to deal with not just computers but also the tablets and cell phone Microsoft has found itself in the business of selling and even making. It's also being moved from the U.S. to China, as an acknowledgment of where the heart of the tech hardware business is now.

Former GM Product Czar: Tesla a "Fringe Brand"

samzenpus posted yesterday | from the get-a-haircut dept.

Transportation 238

cartechboy writes There's been plenty of skepticism when it comes to Tesla. The Silicon Valley startup unveiled an all-electric car that stunned the world and had many other automakers rolling their eyes. Fast forward to 2014 and Tesla's preparing to launch its third model, the Model X. Production of the Model S sedan is humming along, and this new automaker continues to make headlines multiple times a week. Industry veteran Bob Lutz was the champion behind the Chevrolet Volt, and has been quite vocal about Tesla from the beginning. So what's his view on the company now? He said Tesla will remain a "fringe brand" until it launches its next generation of vehicles and the smaller, less expensive Model 3. Speaking Wednesday on CNBC's "Squawk Alley" finance show he said that Tesla's stock price was "kinda high" at the moment.

Building Apps In Swift With Storyboards

samzenpus posted yesterday | from the build-it-better dept.

Programming 66

Nerval's Lobster writes Apple touts the Swift programming language as easy to use, thanks in large part to features such as Interface Builder, a visual designer provided in Xcode that allows a developer to visually design storyboards. In theory, this simplifies the process of designing both screens and the connections between screens, as it needs no code and offers an easy-to-read visual map of an app's navigation. But is Swift really so easy (or at least as easy as anything else in a developer's workflow)? This new walkthrough of Interface Builder (via Dice) shows that it's indeed simple to build an app with these custom tools... so long as the app itself is simple. Development novices who were hoping that Apple had created a way to build complex apps with a limited amount of actual coding might have to spend a bit more time learning the basics before embarking on the big project of their dreams.

Court Rules Nokia Must Pay Damages To Buyers of Faulty Phones In Mexico

samzenpus posted yesterday | from the pay-the-people dept.

Handhelds 24

An anonymous reader writes Nokia must pay damages to consumers in Mexico who reported malfunctioning handsets, following a court ruling for a trial that has lasted four years. The case was brought to court by Mexican watchdog Profeco in 2010, before the Finnish manufacturer was acquired by Microsoft – that deal was only completed earlier this year. Profeco added that the court has ordered Nokia to either replace the faulty handsets and/or reimburse their cost. On top of that, Nokia must also pay compensation totaling at least 20 percent of the damages resulting from malfunctioning. Customers that had been affected by faulty Nokia equipment would be able to seek damages even if they had not yet presented complaints.

Google To Require As Many As 20 of Its Apps Preinstalled On Android Devices

samzenpus posted yesterday | from the new-rules dept.

Google 350

schwit1 writes Google is looking to exert more pressure on device OEMs that wish to continue using the Android mobile operating system. Among the new requirements for many partners: increasing the number of Google apps that must be pre-installed on the device to as many as 20, placing more Google apps on the home screen or in a prominent icon folder and making Google Search more prominent. Earlier this year, Google laid its vision to reduce fragmentation by forcing OEMs to ship new devices with more recent version of Android. Those OEMs that choose not to comply lose access to Google Mobile Services (GMS) apps like Gmail, Google Play, and YouTube.

Statistician Creates Mathematical Model To Predict the Future of Game of Thrones

samzenpus posted yesterday | from the math-is-coming dept.

Math 115

KentuckyFC writes One way of predicting the future is to study data about events in the past and build a statistical model that generates the same pattern of data. Statisticians can then use the model to generate data about the future. Now one statistician has taken this art to new heights by predicting the content of the soon-to-be published novels in the Song of Ice and Fire series by George R R Martin. The existing five novels are the basis of the hit TV series Game of Thrones. Each chapter in the existing books is told from the point of view of one of the characters. So far, 24 characters have starred in this way. The statistical approach uses the distribution of characters in chapters in the first five books to predict the distribution in the forthcoming novels. The results suggest that several characters will not appear at all and also throw light on whether one important character is dead or not, following an ambiguous story line in the existing novels. However, the model also serves to highlight the shortcomings of purely statistical approaches. For example, it does not "know" that characters who have already been killed off are unlikely to appear in future chapters. Neither does it allow for new characters that might appear. Nevertheless, this statistical approach to literature could introduce the process of mathematical modelling to more people than any textbook.

Marines Put Microsoft Kinect To Work For 3D Mapping

samzenpus posted yesterday | from the quick-map dept.

Microsoft 37

colinneagle points out this article about how the Marines are using a Microsoft Kinect to build maps. A military contractor has come up with something that has the U.S. Marine Corps interested. The Augmented Reality Sand Table is currently being developed by the Army Research Laboratory and was on display at the Modern Day Marine Expo that recently took place on Marine Corps Base Quantico in Virginia. The set-up is simple: a table-sized sandbox is rigged with a Microsoft Kinect video game motion sensor and an off-the-shelf projector. Using existing software, the sensor detects features in the sand and projects a realistic topographical map that corresponds to the layout, which can change in real time as observers move the sand around in the box. The setup can also project maps from Google Earth or other mapping and GPS systems, enabling units to visualize the exact terrain they'll be covering for exercises or operations. Eventually, they hope to add visual cues to help troops shape the sandbox to match the topography of a specified map. Eventually, the designers of the sandbox hope to involve remote bases or even international partners in conducting joint training and operations exercises. Future possibilities include large-scale models that could project over a gymnasium floor for a battalion briefing, and a smartphone version that could use a pocket-sized projector to turn any patch of dirt into an operational 3-D map.

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