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  • Bidding At FCC TV Spectrum Auction May Be Restricted For Large Carriers

    An anonymous reader writes "Rumors have surfaced that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will restrict bidding at their TV spectrum auction in 2015 to effectively favor smaller carriers. Specifically, when 'auction bidding hits an as-of-yet unknown threshold in a given market, the FCC would set aside up to 30MHz of spectrum in that market. Companies that hold at least one-third of the low-band spectrum in that market then wouldn't be allowed to bid on the 30MHz of spectrum that has been set aside.' Therefore, 'in all band plans less than 70MHz, restricted bidders—specifically AT&T and Verizon (and in a small number of markets, potentially US Cellular or CSpire)—would be limited to bidding for only three blocks.' The rumors may be true since AT&T on Wednesday threatened to not participate in the auction at all as a protest against what it sees as unfair treatment."

    74 comments | yesterday

  • FAA Shuts Down Search-and-Rescue Drones

    An anonymous reader writes "For about a decade, Gene Robinson has been putting cameras on remote-controlled model aircraft and using them in search-and-rescue missions. But now the Federal Aviation Administration has shut him down, saying his efforts violate a ban on flying RC aircraft for commercial purposes. Robinson doesn't charge the families of the people he's looking for, and he created a non-profit organization to demonstrate that. He also coordinates with local authorities and follows their guidelines to the letter. The FAA shut him down because they haven't designed regulations to deal with situations like this, even though they've been working on it since 2007. 'So it's difficult to argue that his flights are more dangerous than what goes on every weekend at RC modeling sites throughout the United States, which can include flights of huge models that weigh 10 times as much as Robinson's planes; aerial stunts of nitromethane-fueled model helicopters; and the low-altitude, 500-kilometer-per-hour passes in front of spectators of model jets powered by miniature turbine engines.'"

    214 comments | 5 days ago

  • Book Review: How I Discovered World War II's Greatest Spy

    benrothke (2577567) writes "When it comes to documenting the history of cryptography, David Kahn is singularly one of the finest, if not the finest writers in that domain. For anyone with an interest in the topic, Kahn's works are read in detail and anticipated. His first book was written almost 50 years ago: The Codebreakers – The Story of Secret Writing; which was a comprehensive overview on the history of cryptography. Other titles of his include Seizing the Enigma: The Race to Break the German U-Boats Codes, 1939-1943. The Codebreakers was so good and so groundbreaking, that some in the US intelligence community wanted the book banned. They did not bear a grudge, as Kahn became an NSA scholar-in-residence in the mid 1990's. With such a pedigree, many were looking forward, including myself, to his latest book How I Discovered World War IIs Greatest Spy and Other Stories of Intelligence and Code. While the entire book is fascinating, it is somewhat disingenuous, in that there is no new material in it. Many of the articles are decades old, and some go back to the late 1970's. From the book description and cover, one would get the impression that this is an all new work. But it is not until ones reads the preface, that it is detailed that the book is simple an assemblage of collected articles." Keep reading for the rest of Ben's review.

    102 comments | about two weeks ago

  • FCC Boosts Spectrum Available To Wi-Fi

    bbsguru (586178) writes "Wi-Fi networks will soon be improving thanks to a vote by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) today. The FCC voted unanimously to open 100 MHz of wireless spectrum in an unlicensed 5GHz block . The move will increase the number of frequencies available to unlicensed wireless networks (such as those set up through Wi-Fi routers) by nearly 15 percent, and in turn, allow them to handle a greater level of traffic at higher speeds. 'Today's action represents the largest amount of spectrum suitable for mobile broadband that the Commission has made available for auction since the 700MHz band was auctioned in 2008,' the FCC wrote in a statement. 'Access to these bands will help wireless companies meet growing consumer demand for mobile data by enabling faster wireless speeds and more capacity.' The increased spectrum should mean that Wi-Fi networks will be less congested, and next-gen routers will be able to take better advantage of gigabit broadband speeds that are cropping up all over the country."

    73 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Contact Lenses With Infrared Vision?

    Orlando (12257) writes "A story on Singularity Hub reports that "Researchers at the University of Michigan, led by electrical engineer Zhaohui Zhong, have devised a way to capture the infrared spectrum without requiring the cooling that makes infrared goggles so cumbersome." The method uses graphene and could one day lead to ultra light weight infrared vision technology."

    99 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Continued Rise In Autism Diagnoses Puzzles Researchers, Galvanizes Advocates

    sciencehabit (1205606) writes "The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has raised eyebrows, and concern among current and prospective parents, with a new report documenting that the rate of autism spectrum disorder diagnosis in the United States jumped 30% between 2008 and 2010, from one in 88 to one in 68 children. CDC officials don't know, however, whether the startling increase is due to skyrocketing rates of the disorder or more sensitive screening, or a combination of both."

    558 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Startup Employees As an Organized Labor Group

    An anonymous reader writes "Last Friday may turn out to have marked the beginning of Silicon Valley's organized labor movement--startup employees met in Palo Alto 'to share war stories and to start developing what organizers called a 'Startup Employee Equity Bill of Rights'.'" That probably should include the right to work late, for little pay, and to trade less certainty now for greater hoped-for benefits down the road. If you've been a startup employee, or started one of your own, what would you put on the wishlist?

    107 comments | about a month ago

  • Wireless Carriers In Huge Washington Lobby Fight Over Spectrum Auction

    First time accepted submitter techpolicy (3586897) writes "The big four wireless carriers are spending millions of dollars to hire professors, fund Washington think tanks and to meet with the Federal Communications Commission to try to convince the agency to write rules for an upcoming auction of spectrum that favor them, according to an article posted by the Center for Public Integrity in Washington. The frequencies are needed to bolster or build out their nationwide networks — and this kind of low-band spectrum won't be up for sale for a very long time. The biggest fight is over a rule that would limit how much AT&T and Verizon can get of these valuable frequencies. How it plays out will determine who has control over your smartphone."

    51 comments | about a month ago

  • Is DIY Brainhacking Safe?

    An anonymous reader writes "My colleague at IEEE Spectrum, Eliza Strickland, looked at the home transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) movement. People looking to boost creativity, or cure depression, are attaching electrodes to their heads using either DIT equipment or rigs from vendors like Foc.us. Advocates believe experimenting with the tech is safe, but a neuroscientist worries about removing the tech from lab safeguards..."

    183 comments | about a month ago

  • Power Cables' UV Flashes Apparently Frighten Animals

    Rambo Tribble writes "Ultraviolet light flashes, or "corona", may be scaring animals and altering behavior. An international scientific team, first studying behavioral anomalies in reindeer near power lines, have found that sporadic flashes of UV from the lines are probably responsible. As most mammals can see into the UV spectrum, this has broad implications for the disruption of animal behavior. From the BBC article: "Since, as the researchers added, coronas 'happen on all power lines everywhere,' the avoidance of the flashes could be having a global impact on wildlife.""

    183 comments | about a month ago

  • It's True: Some People Just Don't Like Music

    sciencehabit writes "Researchers have found that between 1 and 3% of people don't like music of any kind. These people aren't tone deaf or incapable of grasping the emotional meaning of a song—their brains simply didn’t find listening to music rewarding. While some psychiatric disorders are associated with the loss of the ability to feel pleasure, called anhedonia, the music-haters represent the first evidence for not feeling pleasure from only one specific pleasing stimulant, a condition that has been dubbed music-specific anhedonia. Curious where you fall on the music reward spectrum? The researchers have an online quiz." I know I actively prefer silence to most music, but what I like, I like intensely. Update: 03/06 21:48 GMT by T : Sorry for the garbled submission; now fixed.

    268 comments | about a month ago

  • Open Source Tech Providing Mobile Communications In Developing Nations

    An anonymous reader writes "A village in the West Papua central highlands runs a telecom network out of a box latched to a tree. The network runs on open source. 'OpenBTS, an all-software cellular transceiver, is at the heart of the network running on that box attached to a treetop. Someday, if those working with the technology have their way, it could do for mobile networks what TCP/IP and open source did for the Internet. The dream is to help mobile break free from the confines of telephone providers' locked-down spectrum, turning it into a platform for the development of a whole new range of applications that use spectrum "white space" to connect mobile devices of every kind. It could also democratize telecommunications around the world in unexpected ways. ... It is a 2G GSM system with two operating channels (GSM absolute radio-frequency channel numbers, or ARFCNs) in the 900MHz range, putting out 10 watts of signal power from an omnidirectional antenna. That gives the system a range of about five kilometers under ideal conditions, but in reality it averages about a three kilometer range because of vegetation and terrain (1.86 miles to 3.10 miles). The whole system is installed in a weatherproof box up a tree and draws less than 80 watts of power.'"

    20 comments | about a month and a half ago

  • How To Take Apart Fukushima's 3 Melted-Down Reactors

    the_newsbeagle writes "In Japan, workers have spent nearly three years on the clean-up and decommissioning of the ruined Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station. They only have 37 years to go. Taking apart the plant's three melted-down reactors is expected to take 40 years and cost $15 billion. The plant's owner, TEPCO, admits that its engineers don't yet know how they'll pull off this monumental task. An in-depth examination of the decommissioning process explains the challenges, such as working amid the radioactive rubble, stopping up the leaks that spill radioactive water throughout the site, and handling the blobs of melted nuclear fuel. Many of the tasks will be accomplished by newly invented robots that can go where humans fear to tread."

    167 comments | about a month and a half ago

  • Inside Chris Anderson's Open-Source Drone Factory

    the_newsbeagle writes "The former editor of Wired is betting that the 21st century skies will be filled with drones, and not the military sort. His company, 3D Robotics, is building open-source UAVs for the civilian market, and expects its drones to catch on first in agriculture. As noted in an article about the company's grand ambitions: 'Farms are far from the city's madding crowds and so offer safe flying areas; also, the trend toward precision agriculture demands aerial monitoring of crops. Like traffic watching, it's a job tailor-made for a robot: dull, dirty, and dangerous.' Also, farmers apparently wouldn't need FAA approval for privately owned drones flying over their own property."

    56 comments | about 2 months ago

  • Crowded US Airwaves Desperately In Search of Spectrum Breathing Room

    alphadogg writes "Ahead of a major new spectrum auction scheduled for next year, America's four major wireless carriers are jockeying for position in the frequencies available to them, buying, selling and trading licenses to important parts of the nation's airwaves. Surging demand for mobile bandwidth, fueled by an increasingly saturated smartphone market and data-hungry apps, has showed no signs of slowing down. This, understandably, has the wireless industry scrambling to improve its infrastructure in a number of areas, including the amounts of raw spectrum available to the carriers. These shifts, however, are essentially just lateral moves – nothing to directly solve the problems posed by a crowded spectrum. What's really going to save the wireless world, some experts think, is a more comprehensive re-imagining of the way spectrum is used."

    105 comments | about 2 months ago

  • Nostalgic For the ZX Spectrum? Soon You Can Play With a New One

    An anonymous reader writes "There is a very interesting project underway to recreate the ZX Spectrum and more. The Bluetooth ZX Spectrum has been successfully crowdfunded, and it is due to go on sale in September 2014. If you want to go back to the 1980s — to the wonderful era of 8-bit gaming, you can instead try one of the many ZX Spectrum emulators." I remember being excited at the new Sinclair when my dad brought it home, but my strongest memory now is of what might be the worst keyboard I've ever had the chance to use.

    91 comments | about 2 months ago

  • New 'pCell' Technology Could Bring Next Generation Speeds To 4G Networks

    An anonymous reader writes in about a possible game changer in wireless technology that embraces interference with great results: "It's one of those elegant inventions that only surface maybe once a decade. If it works at scale, according to IEEE Spectrum, it could 'radically change the way wireless networks operate, essentially replacing today's congested cellular systems with an entirely new architecture that combines signals from multiple distributed antennas to create a tiny pocket of reception around every wireless device.' This scheme could allow each device to use the full bandwidth of spectrum available to the network, which would 'eliminate network congestion and provide faster, more reliable data connections.' And the best part? It's compatible with 4G LTE phones, which means it could be deployed today." The idea is that an array of dumb antennas are deployed and a very powerful cluster computes signals that are sent from all of them which then appear to be a single coherent signal to only a single device. There's a short paper on the Distributed In Distributed Out technique, but it is a bit light on the mathematical details.

    120 comments | about 2 months ago

  • 11-Year UK Study Reports No Health Danger From Mobile Phone Transmissions

    Mark.JUK writes "The United Kingdom's 11-years long Mobile Telecommunications and Health Research Programme (MTHR) has today published a comprehensive report that summarizes 31 research projects, which investigated the potential for biological or adverse health effects of mobile phone and wireless signals on humans (e.g. as a cause for various cancers or other disorders). The good news is that the study, which has resulted in nearly 60 papers appearing in peer-reviewed scientific journals, found 'no evidence' of a danger from mobile transmissions in the typically low frequency radio spectrum bands (e.g. 900MHz and 1800MHz etc.)."

    180 comments | about 2 months ago

  • Amputee Has Prosthetic Hand Wired To Nerves

    New submitter kalman5 writes "Dennis Aabo Sørensen is the first amputee in the world to feel sensory rich information — in real-time — with a prosthetic hand wired to nerves in his upper arm. Sørensen could grasp objects intuitively and identify what he was touching while blindfolded. The surgical team 'attached electrodes from a robotic hand to a 36-year-old volunteer's median and ulnar nerves. Those nerves carry sensations that correspond with the volunteer's index finger and thumb, and with his pinky finger and the edge of his hand, respectively. The volunteer controlled the prosthetic with small muscle movements detected by sEMG, a method that dates to the 1970s and measures electrical signals through the skin—unlike the electrodes attached to his nerves, sEMG is not invasive.' The results? 'The volunteer was able to complete the requested tasks with his prosthetic thumb and index finger 67 percent of the time the first day and 93 percent of the time by the seventh day of the experiment, Micera and colleagues report. He found the pinky finger harder to control: he was only able to accomplish the requested grip 83 percent of the time by the end of the experiment.'"

    72 comments | about 2 months ago

  • Who's Writing Linux These Days?

    cold fjord writes "IEEE Spectrum reports, "About once a year, the Linux Foundation analyzes the online repository that holds the source code of the kernel, or core, of the Linux operating system. As well as tracking the increasing complexity of the ever-evolving kernel over a series of releases from versions 3.0 to 3.10, the report also reveals who is contributing code, and the dominant role corporations now play in what began as an all-volunteer project in 1991. While volunteer contributors still represent a plurality among developers, over 80 percent of code is contributed by people who are paid for their work. ""

    63 comments | about 2 months ago

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