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mdsolar (1045926) writes with news of nuclear plants across the U.S. dealing with the consequences of the failure of Yucca Mountain. From the article: "The steel and concrete containers used to store the waste on-site were envisioned as only a short-term solution when introduced in the 1980s. Now they are the subject of reviews by industry and government to determine how they might hold up — if needed — for decades or longer. With nowhere else to put its nuclear waste, the Millstone Power Station overlooking Long Island Sound is sealing it up in massive steel canisters on what used to be a parking lot. The storage pad, first built in 2005, was recently expanded to make room for seven times as many canisters filled with spent fuel. ... The government is pursuing a new plan for nuclear waste storage, hoping to break an impasse left by the collapse of a proposal for Nevada's Yucca Mountain. The Energy Department says it expects other states will compete for a repository ... But the plan faces hurdles including a need for new legislation that has stalled in Congress." There's always recycling or transmutation.
theodp (442580) writes "Among the speakers at last week's National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT) Summit was Chelsea Clinton, who spoke fondly of the Commodore she received as a kid on Christmas Day in 1987. During the Q&A, Clinton was asked (Vimeo), 'What do you see as some of the right policies that could help put Computer Science — which is undeniably the most important 21st Century skill — into our classrooms?' To which the former First Daughter responded, 'I won't quibble with the fact that I think it's very important. I also think other things admittedly are important.' Such as? Aligning Computer Science with Common Core, for one thing ('Ensure that Computer Science is part of the definition of science'). Using state budget surpluses to hire additional physical education teachers for elementary and middle school students, for another ('For Computer Science, as any subject, kids that are well-fed with healthy food and who have been activated in their bodies will able to learn and retain information in any subject better than if they're not'). And, last but not least, 'continuing to tell stories of people that are not...people who don't look like Mark Zuckerberg as successful in Computer Science and technology.' NCWIT, by the way, was listed as a "major partner" on last December's Hour of Code, which arguably made Mark Zuckerberg the face of Computer Science for K-12 students in the nationwide campaign embraced by President Obama during CSEdWeek."
Via the HTTP working group list comes a post from Poul-Henning Kamp proposing that HTTP 2.0 (as it exists now) never be released after the plan of adopting Google's SPDY protocol with minor changes revealed flaws that SPDY/HTTP 2.0 will not address. Quoting: "The WG took the prototype SPDY was, before even completing its previous assignment, and wasted a lot of time and effort trying to goldplate over the warts and mistakes in it. And rather than 'ohh, we get HTTP/2.0 almost for free', we found out that there are numerous hard problems that SPDY doesn't even get close to solving, and that we will need to make some simplifications in the evolved HTTP concept if we ever want to solve them. ... Wouldn't we get a better result from taking a much deeper look at the current cryptographic and privacy situation, rather than publish a protocol with a cryptographic band-aid which doesn't solve the problems and gets in the way in many applications ? ... Isn't publishing HTTP/2.0 as a 'place-holder' is just a waste of everybody's time, and a needless code churn, leading to increased risk of security exposures and failure for no significant gains ?"
Hallie Siegel (2973169) writes "From the Open Roboethics Research Initiative: Earlier this month, when we asked people about your general thoughts on autonomous cars, we found that one of the main advantages of autonomous cars is that those who are not licensed to drive will be able to get to places more conveniently. Some results from our reader poll: About half of the participants (52%) said that children under the legal driving age should not be able to ride driverless cars, 38% of the participants believe that children should be able to ride driverless cars alone and the other 10% also think that children should be able to drive autonomous cars with proven technology and specific training."
An anonymous reader writes in with good news for everyone who wants to hold a LAN party in a Stratofortress. "The US Air Force's 10th Flight Test Squadron recently took delivery of the first B-52H Stratofortress to complete a refit through the Combat Network Communications Technology (CONECT) program. It's an effort to bring the Cold War era heavy bomber into the 21st century way of warfare—or at least up to the 1990s, technology-wise. While the aircraft received piecemeal upgrades over the past 50 years of flying, CONECT is the first major information technology overhaul for the Air Force's B-52H fleet since the airplanes started entering service in 1961."
An anonymous reader writes "According to a report Apple will be unveiling a new smart home system at the upcoming Worldwide Developers Conference. The system will allow users to control security systems, appliances and lighting with their iPhones. A "select number" of device makers will be certified to offer products that work with Apple's upcoming system, according to the report, which didn't name any of the manufacturers."
mdsolar (1045926) writes in with a story about how important buying the right kind of kitty litter can be. "In February, a 55-gallon drum of radioactive waste burst open inside America's only nuclear dump, in New Mexico. Now investigators believe the cause may have been a pet store purchase gone bad. 'It was the wrong kitty litter,' says James Conca, a geochemist in Richland, Wash., who has spent decades in the nuclear waste business. It turns out there's more to cat litter than you think. It can soak up urine, but it's just as good at absorbing radioactive material. 'It actually works well both in the home litter box as well as the radiochemistry laboratory,' says Conca, who is not directly involved in the current investigation. Cat litter has been used for years to dispose of nuclear waste. Dump it into a drum of sludge and it will stabilize volatile radioactive chemicals. The litter prevents it from reacting with the environment. And this is what contractors at Los Alamos National Laboratory were doing as they packed Cold War-era waste for shipment to the dump. But at some point, they decided to make a switch, from clay to organic. 'Now that might sound nice, you're trying to be green and all that, but the organic kitty litters are organic,' says Conca. Organic litter is made of plant material, which is full of chemical compounds that can react with the nuclear waste. 'They actually are just fuel, and so they're the wrong thing to add,' he says. Investigators now believe the litter and waste caused the drum to slowly heat up 'sort of like a slow burn charcoal briquette instead of an actual bomb.' After it arrived at the dump, it burst."
benrothke (2577567) writes "The only negative thing to say about Hacking Point of Sale: Payment Application Secrets, Threats, and Solutions is its title. A cursory look at it may lead the reader that this is a book for a script kiddie, when it is in fact a necessary read for anyone involved with payment systems. The book provides a wealth of information that is completely pragmatic and actionable. The problem is, as the book notes in many places, that one is constantly patching a system that is inherently flawed and broken." Keep reading for the rest of Ben's review.
jfruh (300774) writes "In 20 cantons in Belgium's Flanders region, voting machines are x86 PCs from the DOS era, with two serial ports, a parallel port, a paltry 1 megabyte of RAM and a 3.5-inch disk drive used to load the voting software from a bootable DOS disk. A software bug in those machines is slowing the release of the results from yesterday's election, in which voters chose members of the regional, national, and European parliaments. The remaining voting machines, which are Linux-based, are unaffected, as were voters in the French-speaking Wallonia region of the country, most of whom use paper ballots."
DroidJason1 (3589319) writes "A registry workaround, which tricks Windows Update into thinking you are running Windows Embedded POSReady 2009, allows you to get free security updates until 2019. All you need is a simple 32bit or 64bit registry entry in order to make this work. POSReady 2009 is slated to receive security updates for another five years. Microsoft ended support for Windows XP on April 8th of 2014."
An anonymous reader writes "Google today announced the release of VirusTotal Uploader for OS X, allowing Mac users to upload suspicious files for scanning. You can download it now directly for OS X 10.8 and 10.9 from VirusTotal. For those who don't know, VirusTotal Uploader for Windows is a popular tool for submitting suspicious files to the online scanning service. The process is as simple as right-clicking any file and selecting the relevant option from the context menu."
An anonymous reader writes "Sci-fi author Charles Stross has a post providing insight into Amazon's recent bullying tactics against a major book publishing group. He puts the fight into perspective for the two most important parts of the book market: author and reader. He says: 'Amazon's strategy (as I noted in 2012) is to squat on the distribution channel, artificially subsidize the price of ebooks ("dumping" or predatory pricing) to get consumers hooked, rely on DRM on the walled garden of the Kindle store to lock consumers onto their platform, and then to use their monopsony buying power to grab the publishers' share of the profits. If you're a consumer, in the short term this is good news: it means you get cheap books. But if you're a reader, you probably like to read new books. By driving down the unit revenue, Amazon makes it really hard for publishers—who are a proxy for authors—to turn a profit. Eventually they go out of business, leaving just Amazon as a monopoly distribution channel retailing the output of an atomized cloud of highly vulnerable self-employed piece-workers like myself. At which point the screws can be tightened indefinitely. And after a while, there will be no more Charlie Stross novels because I will be unable to earn a living and will have to go find a paying job. TL:DR; Amazon's strategy against Hachette is that of a bullying combine the size of WalMart leaning on a much smaller supplier. And the smaller supplier in turn relies on really small suppliers like me. It's anti-author, and in the long term it will deprive you of the books you want to read.'"
It wasn't long after the rise of the Oculus Rift that Sony hopped on the virtual reality bandwagon and announced a headset of their own. Now, Eurogamer has had a chance to operate and test Sony's hardware, which they say "has its own distinct vision for VR," as well as a distinct focus on console gaming. "On the 640x768 per eye first-gen Rift, the result was the perception of a disappointingly minuscule resolution, with a highly distracting "screen door" effect where you could see between the pixels. This is far less of an issue with Morpheus, and we were pleasantly surprised by how good image quality is in an environment where resolution remains at a premium. In discussing the situation with Sony, it's clear that some effort has gone into judging how to best apply the fisheye lens effect that distorts the image, with a stronger focus on retaining resolution in the key focus area. Over and above that, we wouldn't be surprised if the narrower field of view also contributes to improving image integrity. ... However, in comparing Morpheus to what we've seen from Oculus VR, it's perhaps surprising to discover that a truly transformative element of the proposition comes from a piece of hardware that you might already own: PlayStation Move. Our aspirations for the hardware were never fully realized, but the hook-up with Morpheus is a match made in heaven - in fact, if there is to be a struggle for market leadership with Oculus (and potentially Microsoft), the existing motion controller is undoubtedly one of the strongest weapons in Sony's arsenal."
An anonymous reader writes in with news about a UPMC Presbyterian Hospital trial starting this month which brings us one step closer to suspended animation. "The researchers behind it don't want to call it suspended animation, but it's the most conventional way to explain it. The world's first humans trials will start at the UPMC Presbyterian Hospital in Pittsburgh, with 10 patients whose injuries would otherwise be fatal to operate on. A team of surgeons will remove the patient's blood, replacing it with a chilled saline solution that would cool the body, slowing down bodily functions and delaying death from blood loss. According to Dr. Samuel Tisherman, talking to New Scientist: 'We are suspending life, but we don't like to call it suspended animation because it sounds like science fiction... we call it emergency preservation and resuscitation.'" We covered this story a few months ago when it was announced.
An article at Wired takes a look at two multiplayer survival games, DayZ and Rust, and at the behavior of players when their actions are freed from a civilized moral code. 'Violence wouldn't bother a psychopath, [Dr. Adam Perkins] says, but they might have another incentive to avoid violence: the consequences of getting caught. Most psychopaths are logical people, he says, and understand that actions bring consequences. The threat of repercussions — say, for example, prison — might keep them from acting out. Such disincentives do not exist in virtual worlds. Absent a sense of empathy, you're free to rob and kill at will. What we do with this reveals something about us.
Jon Ronson, author of The Psychopath Test, says imagining ourselves doing something horrible is a way to see ourselves in a new light. "One of the ways we keep ourselves moral is to imagine the terrible things we could do, but then don't do," Ronson says. "You stand on a train platform and think, 'I could push that person in front of the train.' That thought pops into your head, and it doesn't make you a lunatic. It makes you a good person, because what you're actually saying is, 'Oh my god, I’m capable of doing a terrible thing, but I would never actually do it.'" ... But we're still left with the big question: Are our actions in a virtual world tantamount to imagining those things we could do in real life but never would? Or are we merely behaving as we would in real life if there were no consequences for our actions?'
theodp (442580) writes "Over at Forbes, Kashmir Hill examines the disturbing Internet footprint of Santa Barbara shooter Elliot Rodger. 'A decade ago,' observes TechCrunch's John Biggs in The Internet Is Now Part Of The Crime Scene, 'a crime scene was a photo and a report. Now it is a sea of interconnected tracings, the murderer bobbing loosely in social media and the forums. We can watch him make his way through these straits, we can watch the madness growing, and we can watch his terrible end, all through murk of media. We are quick to judge and we are quick to look at his wake and say, definitively, that he was this or he was that. He was frustrated. The frustration grew. He went to a place he thought would help. It didn't.'"
KentuckyFC (1144503) writes "The history of astronomy is littered with ideas that once seemed incontrovertibly right and yet later proved to be bizarrely wrong. Not least among these are the ancient ideas that the Earth is flat and at the center of the universe. But there is no shortage of others from the modern era. Now one astronomer has compiled a list of examples of wrong-thinking that have significantly held back progress in astronomy. These include the idea put forward in 1909 that telescopes had reached optimal size and that little would be gained by making them any bigger. Then there was the NASA committee that concluded that an orbiting x-ray telescope would be of little value. This delayed the eventual launch of the first x-ray telescope by half a decade, which went on to discover the first black hole candidate among other things. And perhaps most spectacularly wrong was the idea that other solar systems must be like our own, with Jupiter-like planets orbiting at vast distances from their parent stars. This view probably delayed the discovery of the first exoplanet by 30 years. Indeed, when astronomers did find the first exo-Jupiter, the community failed to recognize it as a planet for six years. As Mark Twain once put it: 'It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so.'"
SmartAboutThings (1951032) writes "According to rumors circulating, the wife of Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling has reportedly met billionaire former Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer on Sunday and they discussed the selling of the club. Previously, it was reported that Donald Sterling had surrendered control of the Los Angeles Clippers to his wife. The rumored deal has been estimated at about $2 billion, and if it does get through, there are chances that Ballmer might want to move the club to Seattle. If Ballmer does end up buying the Clippers, this would make him the second former Microsoft top executive to own an NBA team, after Paul Allen, the owner of the Portland Trailblazers."
An anonymous reader writes "A Cambridge England company called Dovetailed has created the world's first 3D printed 'fruit'. They use a process of spherification to create little balls of fruit puree, which they then print to form the shape of the given fruit. Images here where you can see a 3D printed raspberry. Vaiva Kalnikait, creative director and founder of Dovetailed, said: 'We have been thinking of making this for a while. It’s such an exciting time for us as an innovation lab. Our 3D fruit printer will open up new possibilities not only to professional chefs but also to our home kitchens – allowing us to enhance and expand our dining experiences. We have re-invented the concept of fresh fruit on demand.'"
An anonymous reader writes "Twitter made a public stance in 2011 to remain a platform for free speech, having helped fuel movements such as the Arab Spring. This past week, however, Twitter is shown to have complied with Russian government demands to block a pro-Ukrainian Twitter feed from reaching Russian citizens, with Turkish government demands that it remove content that the Turkish government wants removed, and with a Pakistani bureaucrat's request that content he considers blasphemous and unethical be censored in Pakistan. Given Twitter's role in the democratic uprisings of the past few years, what do these capitulations bode for future movements? Will other platforms take Twitter's place? Or is the importance to democracy of platforms such as Twitter overblown?"
Taco Cowboy (5327) writes "Research carried out by UK consumer magazine What Car? which concluded that official manufacturers' MPG figures are unrealistic. Based on the research, new car buyers in the UK who trust official, government-sanctioned fuel economy figures will pay an average of £1,000 (€1,216) more than they expect on fuel over a three-year period. Since launching True MPG two years ago, What Car? has tested almost 400 cars in real-world conditions, using cutting-edge test equipment and achieving economy figures that are on average 19% lower than the government figures."
VentureBeat reports that one market formerly closed to console makers is opening up in a big way. An excerpt: "One month after Microsoft announced its launching the Xbox One in China this September, Sony today announced that its PlayStation business is coming to the world’s most populous country. It’s unclear which PlayStation hardware and games will come to China — or when — but it’s reasonable to assume Sony will bring its PlayStation 4 console (and perhaps its PlayStation Vita handheld) to China later this year. The Chinese game industry is already worth $13 billion, most of which gets spent on PC and mobile. That’s not console makers’ fault: China implemented a console ban in 2000, saying it would protect children from violent video games. As soon as the Chinese Ministry of Culture said it would begin working on new rules, Microsoft, Nintendo, and Sony all expressed interest in bringing their consoles to the country. Like Microsoft, which is working with Chinese media firm BesTV to bring the Xbox One to China, Sony also has a local partner: Shanghai Oriental Pearl Culture Development (OPCD). Both OPCD and BesTV are subsidiaries of China’s Shanghai Media Group."