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vinces99 writes Car and truck exhaust fumes that foul the air for humans also cause problems for pollinators. In new research on how pollinators find flowers when background odors are strong, University of Washington and University of Arizona researchers found that both natural plant odors and human sources of pollution can conceal the scent of sought-after flowers. When the calories from one feeding of a flower gets you only 15 minutes of flight, as is the case with the tobacco hornworn moth studied, being misled costs a pollinator energy and time. "Local vegetation can mask the scent of flowers because the background scents activate the same moth olfactory channels as floral scents," according to Jeffrey Riffell, UW assistant professor of biology. "Plus the chemicals in these scents are similar to those emitted from exhaust engines and we found that pollutant concentrations equivalent to urban environments can decrease the ability of pollinators to find flowers."
An anonymous reader writes The spacecraft it is hoped will take man to Mars has passed its first parachute tests. Nasa's Orion spacecraft landed gently using its parachutes after being shoved out of a military jet at 35,000 feet. "We've put the parachutes through their paces in ground and airdrop testing in just about every conceivable way before we begin sending them into space on Exploration Flight Test (EFT)-1 before the year's done," Orion program manager Mark Geyer said in a NASA statement. "The series of tests has proven the system and will help ensure crew and mission safety for our astronauts in the future."
schwit1 writes in with this story about some interesting new eyewear purchased by the Defense Department. Getting secret information to specific people, like the location of the nearest nuclear power plant, in a way that doesn't draw attention from outside is a classic spy problem. Another one is giving agents the ability to match names to faces in the real world, at blackjack tables and fancy soirees and other places spies frequent. The Defense Department is buying some new spy specs to give spooks in the field an intelligence edge over everybody else. The glasses, called simply the X6, are from San Francisco-based Osterhout Design Group. They look like the lovechild of Google Glass and the Oculus Rift, providing more information to the wearer than the small window on Google's much-maligned headset but not obstructing vision like the Oculus Rift. (Admittedly, for spy glasses, they lack a certain subtlety.)
An anonymous reader writes Google's Advanced Technology and Projects (ATAP) group demonstrated Tango, a tablet with 3D cameras similar to Microsoft's Kinect and a version of the Ara phone that could almost boot to the Android home screen (it froze during the demo) at Google I/O today. Project Ara will give $100,000 to anyone who can create an Ara module that does something current smartphones can't. From the article: "Ara moved from concept render to physical mockup in about six months, and onstage today Google demonstrated a version of the phone that could just about boot to the Android home screen. In the demo above, the phone displayed a partial boot screen before freezing. The full boot time (had the demo worked as intended) would be about a minute, which would be a long time for a shipping phone but is reasonably impressive for such an early prototype. Software is the other thing that Ara's developers need to figure out. Current Android builds ship with support for the hardware the phone runs, but they don't include a whole bunch of extraneous drivers for other modems or Wi-Fi modules or cameras or SoCs. Current phone hardware doesn't change, so Android doesn't typically need to worry about this kind of thing."
mpicpp writes with good news for every New Yorker who needs 44oz of soft drink to be refreshed. New York's Court of Appeals ruled Thursday that New York City's ban on large sugary drinks, which was previously blocked by lower courts, is illegal. "We hold that the New York City Board of Health, in adopting the 'Sugary Drinks Portion Cap Rule,' exceeded the scope of its regulatory authority," the ruling said. Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg had pushed for the ban on sugary drinks larger than 16 ounces as a way to fight obesity and other health problems.
coondoggie (973519) writes "While Video has become ubiquitous thanks mostly to smartphones it doesn't mean you want to actually watch all of it. Carnegie Mellon University computer scientists say they have invented a video highlighting technique called LiveLight that can automatically pick out action in videos shot by smartphones, GoPro cameras, or Google Glass users."
schwit1 (797399) writes with word that, after revelations that Verizon assisted the NSA in its massive surveillance program, Germany is cutting ties with Verizon as their infrastructure provider. From the article: The Interior Ministry says it will let its current contract for Internet services with the New York-based company expire in 2015. The announcement comes after reports this week that Verizon and British company Colt provide Internet services to the German parliament and other official entities. ... Ministry spokesman Tobias Plate said Thursday that Germany wants to ensure it has full control over highly sensitive government communications networks.
The Skysense website says, 'Save time and manage your drone operations remotely: whenever the batteries run out, land on a Skysense Charging Pad and take off as soon as the batteries are recharged. Without ever leaving the office.' That certainly sounds convenient. Since it looks like everybody and her dog is jumping on the flying drone bandwagon, the next step is obviously charging the things without human intervention. We're talking about battery-powered ones, of course, like the multicopter drones that are starting to be used for things like pipeline inspection, mapmaking, and security alarm response. Sadly, using drones for beer delivery is currently against the law in the USA, as are the Burrito Bomber and the much-ballyhooed Amazon Prime Air drone delivery system. All this may change in the next few years as the FAA figures out how to regulate the many commercial drones that will inevitably be zipping through our skies, landing on pads to recharge themselves, and continuing their missions without human intervention. The next step in drone automation will probably be using driverless ground vehicles as drone launching and control stations. Shockingly, there aren't a dozen Kickstarter projects raising money to build automated ground support systems for automated flying drones already, but surely they'll show up before long. (Alternate Video Link)
An anonymous reader writes As of approximately 9AM PDT, funding for the iFind project at Kickstarter, the one with the bluetooth tags that have no battery and that harvest energy from WiFi and other radio sources, has been suspended. No word yet on how this came about. Not an unexpected outcome since their claims of harvesting enough energy for a Bluetooth beacon from ambient wireless signals looked pretty far-fetched.
An anonymous reader writes Former NSA Chief General Keith Alexander has apparently started his own cybersecurity consulting firm, IronNet Cybersecurity, and approached the banking industry pitching his company's suite of services. Word from Wired indicates that his services cost $1 million per month with a special discount asking price of $600,000 per month. Congressman Alan Grayson (D-FL) expressed concern about General Alexander's activities to the banking industry, stating, "I question how Mr. Alexander can provide any of the services he is offering unless he discloses or misuses classified information, including extremely sensitive sources and methods....Without the classified information he acquired in his former position, he literally would have nothing to offer to you." (PDF) The congressman from the House of Representatives reminds the bankers (and General Alexander, should he be listening) that selling top secret information is a federal offense.
sciencehabit (1205606) writes For the first time, scientists have taught computers to figure out the direction of time in videos, a result that could help researchers better understand our own perception of time. Regardless of any possible applications, "we just thought it was a great problem," says one of the study's authors. Teaching computers to see the arrow of time combines computer science, physics, and human perception to get at the heart of the question, "How do we understand the visual world?" The researchers "broke down 180 YouTube videos into square patches of a few hundred pixels, which they further divided into four-by-four grids. Combining standard techniques for discovering objects in still photographs with motion detection algorithms, the researchers identified 4000 typical patterns of motion, or 'flow words,' across a grid’s 16 cells. ... When they tested their program on the remaining 60 videos, the trained computers could correctly determine whether a video ran forward or backward 80% of the time."
overThruster (58843) writes A phys.org article says UK researchers have made a breakthrough that could make ammonia a practical source of hydrogen for fueling cars. From the article: "Many catalysts can effectively crack ammonia to release the hydrogen, but the best ones are very expensive precious metals. This new method is different and involves two simultaneous chemical processes rather than using a catalyst, and can achieve the same result at a fraction of the cost. ... Professor Bill David, who led the STFC research team at the ISIS Neutron Source, said 'Our approach is as effective as the best current catalysts but the active material, sodium amide, costs pennies to produce. We can produce hydrogen from ammonia "on demand" effectively and affordably.'" The full paper. The researchers claim that a two-liter reaction chamber could produce enough hydrogen to power a typical sedan.
Qbertino (265505) writes I've been rummaging around on old backups and cleaning out my stuff and have once again run into my expert-like paranoid backups and keepsakes from back in the days (2001). I've got, among other things, a full set of Debian 3 CDs, an original StarOffice 6.0 CD including a huge manual in mint condition, Corel Draw 9 for Linux, the original box & CDs — yes it ran on a custom wine setup, but it ran well, I did professional design and print work with it.
I've got more of other stuff lying around, including the manuals to run it. Loki Softs Tribes 2, Kohan, Rune, and the original Unreal Tournament for Linux have me itching too. :-)
I was wondering if it would be possible to do an old 2001ish setup of a Linux workstation on some modern super cheap, super small PC (Raspberry Pi? Mini USB PC?), install all the stuff and give it a spin. What problems should I expect? VESA and Soundblaster drivers I'd expect to work, but what's with the IDE HDD drivers? How well does vintage Linux software from 2003 play with todays cheap system-on-board MicroPCs? What's with the USB stuff? Wouldn't the install expect the IO devices hooked on legacy ports? Have you tried running 10-15 year old Linux setups on devices like these and what are your experiences? What do you recommend?
KentuckyFC (1144503) writes The idea that people tend to use positive words more often the negative ones is now known as the Pollyanna hypothesis, after a 1913 novel by Eleanor Porter about a girl who tries to find something to be glad about in every situation. But although widely known, attempts to confirm the hypothesis have all been relatively small studies and so have never been thought conclusive.
Now a group of researchers at Computational Story Lab at the University of Vermont have repeated this work on a corpus of 100,000 words from 24 languages representing different cultures around the world. They first measured the frequency of words in each language and then paid native speakers to rate how they felt about each word on a scale ranging from the most negative or sad to the most positive or happy. The results reveal that all the languages show a clear bias towards positive words with Spanish topping the list, followed by Portuguese and then English. Chinese props up the rankings as the least happy. They go on to use these findings as a 'lens' through which to evaluate how the emotional polarity changes in novels in various languages and have set up a website where anybody can explore novels in this way. The finding that human language has universal positive bias could have a significant impact on the relatively new science of sentiment analysis on social media sites such as Twitter. If there is a strong bias towards positive language in the first place, and this changes from one language to another, then that is obviously an important factor to take into account.
Rambo Tribble (1273454) writes In their ongoing effort to capitalize on local business, Amazon has unveiled a "VERY gradual expansion unless things go gangbusters," of their Amazon Local services, namely takeout food ordering in Seattle. Rivalling smaller, more focused firms in the space, it appears the online giant is trying to wrap recommendations, ordering, and payments in a convenient Amazon bundle. And to think, "word of mouth" used to involve actual mouths.
Trailrunner7 (1100399) writes ... Security experts have been pounding the drum about the importance of encrypting not just data in transit, but information stored on laptops, phones, and portable drives. But the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court put a dent in that armor on Wednesday, ruling that a criminal defendant could be compelled to decrypt the contents of his laptops. The case centers on a lawyer who was arrested in 2009 for allegedly participating in a mortgage fraud scheme. The defendant, Leon I. Gelfgatt, admitted to Massachusetts state police that he had done work with a company called Baylor Holdings and that he encrypted his communications and the hard drives of all of his computers. He said that he could decrypt the computers seized from his home, but refused to do so. The MJSC, the highest court in Massachusetts, was considering the question of whether the act of entering the password to decrypt the contents of a computer was an act of self-incrimination, thereby violating Gelfgatt's Fifth Amendment rights. The ruling.
An anonymous reader writes with news that, not long after UK ISPs agreed to send piracy notices (Voluntary Copyright Alerts Program), thoughts have already turned toward adding criminal penalties. From the article: Prime Minister David Cameron's IP advisor believes that the carrot needs to be backed up by a stick. In a report published yesterday largely detailing the "Follow the Money" approach to dealing with pirate sites, Mike Weatherley MP says now is the time to think about VCAP’s potential failure. "The Voluntary Copyright Alert Programme (VCAP) is welcomed and will be a good step forward once it is hopefully in operation in 2015, although it is primarily an education tool," Weatherley says. ... "Warnings and fines are obvious first steps, with Internet access blocking and custodial sentencing for persistent and damaging infringers not to be ruled out in my opinion." These suggestions aren't new, but this is the second time in a matter of months that the Prime Minister's closest advisor on IP matters has spoken publicly about the possibility of putting persistent file-sharers in jail.
theodp (442580) writes Facebook is mostly white dudes, writes Valleywag's Sam Biddle, cutting to the chase of Facebook's inaugural disclosure of diversity figures. "We're serious about building a workplace that reflects a broad range of experience, thought, geography, age, background, gender, sexual orientation, language, culture and many other characteristics," said Facebook, which has a tech workforce that's 15% female and only 1% Black. By contrast, Wikipedia's Baseball Color Line article notes that "by the late 1950s, the percentage of blacks on Major League teams matched or exceeded that of the general population." So, is it surprising that the company whose stated mission is "to give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected" is having problems connecting with the general population in 2014?
Last fall, Newegg lost a case against patent troll TQP for using SSL with RC4, despite arguments from Diffie of Diffie-Hellman key exchange. Intuit was also targeted by a lawsuit for infringing the same patent, and they were found not to be infringing. mpicpp (3454017) sends this excerpt from Ars: U.S. Circuit Judge William Bryson, sitting "by designation" in the Eastern District of Texas, has found in a summary judgment ruling (PDF) that the patent, owned by TQP Development, is not infringed by the two defendants remaining in the case, Intuit Corp. and Hertz Corp. In a separate ruling (PDF), Bryson rejected Intuit's arguments that the patent was invalid. Not a complete victory (a clearly bogus patent is still not invalidated), but it's a start.
schwit1 (797399) sends word of a new and exciting use for all of the data various entities are collecting about you. From the article: You may soon get a call from your doctor if you've let your gym membership lapse, made a habit of ordering out for pizza or begin shopping at plus-sized stores. That's because some hospitals are starting to use detailed consumer data to create profiles on current and potential patients to identify those most likely to get sick, so the hospitals can intervene before they do. Acxiom Corp. (ACXM) and LexisNexis are two of the largest data brokers who collect such information on individuals. They say their data are supposed to be used only for marketing, not for medical purposes or to be included in medical records. While both sell to health insurers, they said it's to help those companies offer better services to members.
sciencehabit (1205606) writes Scientists excavating an archaeological site in southern Spain have finally gotten the real poop on Neanderthals, finding that the Caveman Diet for these quintessential carnivores included substantial helpings of vegetables. Using the oldest published samples of human fecal matter, archaeologists have found the first direct evidence that Neanderthals in Europe cooked and ate plants about 50,000 years ago.
cartechboy writes Tired of waiting for self-driving cars from the automakers? If 2017 and 2020 just feel too far away there's now a solution. It's called Cruise, and for $10,000 it'll turn your current ride into a self-driving car. Kyle Vogt started the company and recruited a team of engineers and roboticists from MIT to work on autonomous vehicles. Cruise plans to market the hardware as something that can be retrofitted to existing cars using roof-mounted sensors near the windshield, actuators to operate the controls, and a trunk-mounted computer that manages everything. The idea is that drivers can merge onto the highway and simply hit the "Cruise" button on the dashboard. This will engage the system and basically turns the car on autopilot. The system can use the steering, brakes, and throttle to keep the car in its lane. Currently the first system, called RP-1, only works on current-generation Audi A4 and S4 models. RP-1 is currently available for pre-order with the launch set for near year.
angry tapir writes The Australian government has indicated it intends to seek a boost to the powers of Australia's spy agencies, particularly ASIO (the Australian Security Intelligence Organization). The attorney-general told the Senate today that the government would introduce legislation based on recommendations of a parliamentary committee that last year canvassed "reforms" including boosting ASIO's power to penetrate third party computer systems to intercept communications to and from a target. That report also covered other issues such as the possibility of introducing a mandatory data retention scheme for ISPs and telcos.
jfruh writes Intel is developing a series of robot kits for hobbyists, ranging from "Jimmy", a $1,500 "social robot," to a more robust $16,000 model. The robots are powered by Intel x86 chips, are programmable, and can have exoskeletons parts produced at home by 3-D printers. From the article: "The two-legged Jimmy will be one in a line of robots that Intel hopes do-it-yourself enthusiasts will embrace, developing more functionality for the robots, which will be able to handle tasks such as turning on lights, picking up newspapers and even having conversations, researchers said at the Intel Future Showcase 2014 in New York City Tuesday. Intel and its robotics partners will sell kits with servo motors, batteries, boards, a frame and other internal parts. Using 3D printers, users can create robot designs and place them on the exoskeleton."