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Swiss Scientists Discover DNA Remains Active After Space Journey and Re-entry

retroworks Very limited test (53 comments)

Surviving the estimated 1000 degree centigrade reentry temperature is impressive. The rest of the test - a suborbital flight of 780 seconds - is less so. But I would have expected the seconds of heat to be more deadly to the DNA than light years of cold, so it's still interesting.

5 hours ago
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Volcanic Eruption In Japan Disrupts Flights

retroworks Vocanic Winter (20 comments)

There's actually a fairly cool and intelligent discussion that could be had about volcanic activity's role in the history of world climate, and how forecasting of volcanic activity can play a role in climate modelling. Too bad I can't anticipate actually having that discussion without an eruption of troll commentary. Merely discussing it amounts to flamebait due to the polarizing of opinions on the issue. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/V...

5 hours ago
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Mathematicians Study Effects of Gerrymandering On 2012 Election

retroworks Creates False Impressions of Opinion Majority (301 comments)

Besides the effect on lawmaking (or failure to pass laws under gridlock), gerrymandering gives people on both sides of issues a sense of majority. "I won in a landslide, I must be right", combined with polarized news programming, has been demonstrated to make people dumber. Harvard Business Review has an interesting article this week on opinion reinforcement and groupthink this week [ https://hbr.org/2014/11/making... ], which compares focus groups from liberal Boulder CO USA and conservative Colorado Springs USA. The researchers documented the negative effects of grouping like-minded people in political discussions. I think gerrymandering has the same effect on political intelligence. Their own conservatism or liberalism appears validated by landslide elections in their districts.

8 hours ago
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Google Told To Expand Right To Be Forgotten

retroworks Extend to Facial Recognition Software? (177 comments)

This is the big thing. Not just NSA, but retailer cameras selling stuff you literally "browse" by foot in the aisle. According to this article, Google and Facebook have the biggest "face banks" for the facial recognition software. Can they be told to forget that, too? If not, you aren't really "forgotten" just because you don't appear in a search engine. I don't think Europe could pass a law making Google delete the information. http://www.fastcocreate.com/30...

yesterday
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Ask Slashdot: Why Is the Power Grid So Crummy In So Many Places?

retroworks Re:In Finland (508 comments)

It isn't "crazy" to suppose, as de Tocqueville does, that the free market (like the fisherman of 'rude attainments') may have thought of something we didn't think of. Of course you are right about buildings being several stories tall and not expandable are made of stone. Therefore... the free market makes city buildings out of stone, even in the ignorant USA. Big city buildings are stone, big ocean ships are metal, small homes in countrysides are wood, and small small boats are still made of wood, even in the USA. The broader point is that someone as intelligent as Alexis dT could be surprised, for all his education, that the free market had made a rational decision. The original post is the equivalent of saying that small fishing boats should be made of metal. The argument is whether building codes and other social engineering will outperform the free market. The question is especially dangerous when the code developer has a quasi-religious approach, a moral certitude. It would be an environmental waste to make small boats out of metal boats. They'd be sturdier, but the amount of carbon and fossil fuels wasted by mining and refining ores to make heavy, slow, small metal boats would be a waste (though probably supported by the metal mining industry). USA has other problems with its wooden structure model, such as "urban sprawl"... I don't think the free market is perfect, but "command and control" scares me, especially when it's promoted by factoids and math that dazzle non-engineers, and are used to support a pompous argument over homebuilding material. Your math of finite resources is exactly on point... But you are using the math on finite resources to promote the theory that European command and control will protect those resources better than the free market. That's the argument central to TFA... Was the free market stupid, or would "solving" it just as likely lead to stone buildings in the countryside and small metal boats?

yesterday
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Ask Slashdot: Why Is the Power Grid So Crummy In So Many Places?

retroworks Re:In Finland (508 comments)

Valid points. But generally, the cost of entrenching is a bet against innovation. Maybe you're right and it's a good bet to bury several billion dollars of copper. I wasn't thinking the innovation would eliminate cable, the analogy to DSL in the home walls was that I'd paid to entrench what turned out to be the wrong kind of cable.

yesterday
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Ask Slashdot: Why Is the Power Grid So Crummy In So Many Places?

retroworks Re:In Finland (508 comments)

As an American married to a European, I've often been asked by puzzled Europeans as to why Americans build houses from wood. Alexis de Tocqueville probably said it best (Democracy in America Vol II, Chapter VIII):

"I accost an American sailor, and I inquire why the ships of his country are built so as to last but for a short time; he answers without hesitation that the art of navigation is every day making such rapid progress, that the finest vessel would become almost useless if it lasted beyond a certain number of years. In these words, which fell accidentally and on a particular subject from a man of rude attainments, I recognize the general and systematic idea upon which a great people directs all its concerns."

Americans regularly get second mortgages and put additions and improvements to their homes, expanding and adapting them. The less this is true (inner cities) the less likely the home is made of wood. And that may turn out to be true of many high-line wires. I'm not sure about power lines, but would assume we'd pay for telephone cables to be buried at the same time, and that seems incredibly wasteful. If the USA paid to put all the telephone cables underground, how will it pay off if everyone goes wireless, as has happened in most rapidly emerging market cities? When I had my home rewired in 1998, I thought it would be wise to pay for double phone lines, put in for DSL cable. I wish I could get that money back and put it into a savings bond.

2 days ago
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Blame America For Everything You Hate About "Internet Culture"

retroworks Re:The French can be just as Clownish... (373 comments)

Who can worry about Kitty Cat Memes, with all the Evil Clown crime? http://www.theatlantic.com/int...

My friends in Denmark and Norway tell me that the word "Friend" in the north is much more reserved, and it has held Facebook back. But like Halloween, differences in culture have a way of being only a generation deep. My mother in law, in southern France, is no slouch with the LOLs.

5 days ago
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Corning Reveals Gorilla Glass 4, Promises No More Broken IPhones

retroworks If they can only make the GLUE 10x weaker (202 comments)

Great news on the glass, all for it. But it's still too difficult to repair and replace the glass (and batteries) on these phones due to the adhesive.

5 days ago
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How "Big Ideas" Are Actually Hurting International Development

retroworks What Works and What Doesn't (91 comments)

What works is the "tinkerer's blessing" (opposite of the curse of natural resources). Chronicled in Yuzo Takahashi's history of Japanese radio technicians https://muse.jhu.edu/login?aut... , development is best done through normal trade with geeks and technicians. South Korea, Singapore, Guangdong, Taiwan, etc. all developed from refurbishing and reverse engineering used technology. Benjamin Franklin was engaged in buying used surplus printing machines and textile machines for reassembly in the USA, Technicians, nerds, repairers, fixers tend to be smart quiet truthful people, and when economies grow from talented knock off (Shanzai in Chinese) to outsourced contracting to ODM, you wind up with Terry Gou, Simon Lin, and Lee Byung-chul.

What has tragically happened in Africa and India is that do gooders and celebrities like Annie Leonard have found a recipe of white guilt and created a bogus "e-waste" crisis which puts African geeks and nerds in prison. FreeHurricaneBenson. Forums like Slashdot, where repair and tinkerers gather, have been important places to assess the ewaste hoax. http://retroworks.blogspot.com... I lived in Africa in the mid 1980s and have been finding win-win trade with display devices for almost two decades, and see Africans getting increasingly furious at the people making up fake stats, taking pictures of kids at dumps, and making money without sharing. Search Heather Agyepong's "The Gaze on Agbogbloshie", or read Emmanuel Nyaletey's "My Reaction to The E-Waste Tragedy" http://www.isri.org/news-publi... Emmanuel is an electronics repair technician who grew up a few blocks from Agbogbloshie, Ghana, the scrapyard in a city of 4 million people (Ghana). currently on scholarship for coding at Georgia Tech. I'll put my money on geeks like Emmanuel and the free market over anti-trade rantists and celebrity AID show Bob Geldoffs all day long.

5 days ago
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Ask Slashdot: Who's the Doctors Without Borders of Technology?

retroworks fairtraderecycling.org (112 comments)

It's an international group which helps defend falsely accused "geeks of color". Here are two recent examples of FTR projects.

1. Ambassador program flies students and techs overseas to meet and qualify buyers of used tech who people are afraid to sell to based on "ewaste" myths. http://resource-recycling.com/...

2. Defense and petitions of UK TV repairman and ex-pat Nigerian Joe Benson, imprisoned in UK for "e-waste crime" based on "common knowledge" that 80% of exports of used equipment to Africa are burned in primitive dumps. FairTradeRecycling got the UN to fund actual research of the containerloads in question, which revealed 91% reuse and repair, better than brand new product, and found the African geeks who buy and repair used equipment were earning 6 times average wages (Ghana, Nigeria). http://resource-recycling.com/...

Disclosure, I'm the founder.

about two weeks ago
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Overbilled Customer Sues Time Warner Cable For False Advertising

retroworks What is the Next High Bandwidth Tech? (223 comments)

Breaking up the cable companies probably wouldn't do much without a new technology introduction. Break up of AT&T worked in retrospect because of advances in cell phone transmission, a leapfrog technology. Otherwise the Baby Bells would have still owned the local cable (like Fairpoint in New England).

I despise so much about Comcast. They have tech support / sales entertwined... Phone support techs in faraway lands read scripted lines like "your modem is at end-of-life". The "tech's" only knowledge of my modem is that it isn't rented from Comcast, can't tell me anything else? C'mon Tech Supporter! ...If you know it's "end of life" you must know when I bought it and must know what it is, right..? Ohhh... All you know is there's no monthly rent charge? Unfortunately, for now it's the fastest and cheapest bandwidth I can get. No other company is going to run a cable to my house. I doubt making "Baby Comcast/TWC" changes that. There has to be a technical advance, probably via satellite service. When Direct TV can compete technologically, cable will play nice.

about two weeks ago
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Interviews: Ask Rachel Sussman About Photography and the Oldest Living Things

retroworks And so Where Is Mel Brooks? (35 comments)

Oy. The 2,000 year old man must be what? 2030, 2040 by now?

about two weeks ago
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Study: Body Weight Heavily Influenced By Heritable Gut Microbes

retroworks Re:How are microbes heritable? (297 comments)

Well, Yes, I understand, but that methodology (comparing identical twins to fraternal twins) was already used in 1992 to study alcoholism, and among the reasons it was not definitive is that taste buds are genetically inherited (for example), and dopamine receptors are genetically inherited. They could not say that alcoholism was genetic because correlations /= causation, and it was possible that diet and other causes, e.g. habits affected by taste, were being measured. http://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publ...

... It seemed to me that if the 1992 study could not determine whether alcoholism was genetic, or environmental, that the original poster had made a valid observation. If alcohol consumption could be caused by diet preference (e.g. people who love the taste of beer start drinking earlier in life, when the brain is developing, leading to stronger habits / dependencies), gut flora could also be affected by diet preference, habit, or tastes. I guess you could argue that is a genetic trait, but not nearly in as assertive a way as the Summary suggests.

about three weeks ago
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Study: Body Weight Heavily Influenced By Heritable Gut Microbes

retroworks Re:How are microbes heritable? (297 comments)

Agreed, finding correlating microbes in the guts of twins does not seem to prove genetic causality, if the twins grew up in the same family and same environment. Since we know that the microbes can be passed between mammals via fecal matter ( https://www.sciencenews.org/ar... ) and identical twins are likely exposed to the same traces of fecal matter, I don't see how they have proven genetic causality. The study is behind a paywall unfortunately.

about three weeks ago
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Scotland Builds Power Farms of the Future Under the Sea

retroworks Re:Underwater will face the same challenges as Tid (216 comments)

Since the idea of both tidal and wave energy has been promoted since OPEC price disruptions of the 1970s (see Severn Barrage) but has never been successfully implemented (due to economic costs, largely managing brine and mollusks), either A) they have figured out a simple solution, or 2) they came up with a more novel solution, more interesting than the article suggests, or C) this is /.

about three weeks ago

Submissions

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Engineering Groupthink: How Polarized Opinion Works

retroworks retroworks writes  |  yesterday

retroworks (652802) writes "Harvard Business Review (5 free articles until payall warning) has an interesting article about groupthink. The authors describe a study of two focus groups. One is from classically "red state" conservative Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA. A second focus group hailed from more liberal leaning Boulder, Colorado. Individually, members of each focus group were surveyed for their opinions before the groups met. Individual members (as anticipated) trended conservatively in Colorado Springs, and liberally in Boulder. Everyone was re-surveyed (anonymously and otherwise) after the groups met. After meeting with their opinionated peers, respondents opinions hardened. Conservatives answered the same surveys responded MORE conservatively, and liberals MORE liberally. When focus groups are randomized (blues and reds in proportion, in the same group), opinions become less polarized. The article discusses the effects on public policy and business decision making when groups assigned a problem to solve self-select and recruit people like themselves. Diversity leads to more intelligent decision making. Or if you are selling a specific (weaker) solution, be obnoxious to reduce participation from competitive views. Incentive-driven opinion benefits from the lack of diversity, protecting its agenda by driving away newbies who avoid trolls.

Maybe this is nothing new... the effect of co-ed dorms vs. single-sex dorms and fraternities has been studied for decades. As someone who has participated in /. for about 15 years, attracted to intelligent discourse, I notice how many mod points must today be spent on flamebait. There is still good debate, but frequently someone making an otherwise very valid counter-argument dilutes its effect with emphatic hostility and ad hominem attacks on the original poster. Is the ratio of "inciteful" to "insightful" going down? It's no way to attract women slashdotters, btw."

Link to Original Source
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Space E-Waste? Or Russian Killer Satellite?

retroworks retroworks writes  |  about a week ago

retroworks (652802) writes "Financial Times reports:

"For the past few weeks, amateur astronomers and satellite-trackers in Russia and the west have followed the unusual manoeuvres of Object 2014-28E, watching it guide itself towards other Russian space objects... The object had originally been classed as space debris, propelled into orbit as part of a Russian rocket launch in May to add three Rodnik communications satellites to an existing military constellation. The US military is now tracking it under the Norad designation 39765."

"Its purpose is unknown, and could be civilian: a project to hoover up space junk, for example. Or a vehicle to repair or refuel existing satellites. But interest has been piqued because Russia did not declare its launch – and by the object’s peculiar, and very active, precision movements across the skies. Russia officially mothballed its anti-satellite weaponry programme – Istrebitel Sputnikov or satellite killer – after the fall of the iron curtain, though its expertise has not entirely disappeared. Indeed, military officials have publicly stated in the past that they would restart research in the event of a deterioration in relations with the US over anti-missile defence treaties. In 2010, Oleg Ostapenko, commander of Russia’s space forces, and now head of its space agency, said Russia was again developing “inspection” and “strike” satellites."

For Russian RT coverage, see http://www.rt.com/news/206843-...

To Track the satellite on your own, visit: http://www.n2yo.com/?s=39765"

Link to Original Source
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Interpol Developing "Guidelines" for Use of Facial Recognition Software

retroworks retroworks writes  |  about a month ago

retroworks (652802) writes "INTERPOL announced the first meeting of its "Facial Expert Working Group" in order to "begin the process of developing international facial recognition standards." The two-day meeting (14 and 15 October) gathered 24 technical and biometrics experts and examiners from 16 countries who produced a ‘best practice guide’ for the quality, format and transmission of images to be used in facial recognition. It will be circulated to all 190 INTERPOL member countries to serve as a guideline for improving the quality of images necessary for accurate and effective facial recognition.

Last December (Bloomberg News) described a similar "voluntary guidelines" meeting between Facebook and Walmart for use of visual recognition to keep identification by retail store cameras in targeted online advertising. CBS also covered the story last December. http://newyork.cbslocal.com/20.

As more technology start ups like Facedeals http://techcrunch.com/2012/08/... recognize the opportunity to sell our browsing habits at stores to online marketing firms, Minority Report seems closer than ever. And unlike programs to erase, block, or deliver false clicks (cookie camouflage) to online advertisers, the solutions (wearing a Guy Fawkes mask or Groucho Marx glasses) seem much more intrusive."

Link to Original Source
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Google Fiber to Launch in Austin, Texas in December

retroworks retroworks writes  |  about a month and a half ago

retroworks (652802) writes "WSJ blog reports on the third city to get fiber-optic high speed internet networks laid down by Google (Kansas City and Provo, UT were the first). The service averages 1 gigabit per second, about 100X the average US household speed, and costs $70-120 per month (depending on television). Google promotes the roll-outs by holding "rallies" in small neighborhoods. Suggested slogan — "Don't be Comcast"."
Link to Original Source
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Facial Recognition At Retailers: How Are They Used To Target Facebook Ads?

retroworks retroworks writes  |  about 1 month ago

retroworks (652802) writes "I made a comment a couple of days ago about how specific items I stopped to view at retail stores, without purchasing, showed up in hours on my Facebook ads. One respondent thought it was just coincidence, another told me to take off my tinfoil hat.

However, it was just last December (Bloomberg News) that Facebook and Walmart announced a "voluntary system" to keep identification by retail store camera from being misused. CBS also covered the story last December. http://newyork.cbslocal.com/20... Business Insider covered it earlier, May 2013. http://www.businessinsider.com...

It seems hush hush, but I'm certain I'm getting ads targeted at me solely based on time I spend viewing certain products (Sony video camera, HP Laser printers) at Staples and Best Buy. There are dozens of cameras and dozens of laser printers in the aisle, and I got ads for the specific camera / printer I touched or held in the store. Can we really believe that technology start ups like Facedeals http://techcrunch.com/2012/08/... have not recognized the opportunity to sell the "opportunity" to marketing firms? As we approach the holiday shopping season, how big is this advertising market going to get, and how fast?"

Link to Original Source
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Rise and Fall of Gluten Intolerance Parellels use of Monsanto's RoundUp

retroworks retroworks writes  |  about 2 months ago

retroworks (652802) writes "The decades of increasing cases of "gluten intolerance" and "celiac sprue" among Americans has been linked (in Toxicology peer reviewed article) to the use or disuse of Monsanto's "Roundup" on USA crops. Unknown a few decades ago, "sprue" or gluten intolerance has spiked, leading to widely recognized "gluten free" advertised diets. The article (linked from Mother Jones http://www.motherearthnews.com... coverage) shows that when glyphosate — the active ingredient in Monsanto's RoundUp — use decreases, cases of gluten intolerance also fell."
Link to Original Source
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Paypal Jumps into Bitcoin with Both Feet

retroworks retroworks writes  |  about 3 months ago

retroworks (652802) writes "BBC, WSJ, Bloomberg, Forbes and several other business sites are buzzing with Paypal's incorporation of Bitcoin transactions. According to Wired, Paypal will be "the best thing ever to happen to bitcoin" http://www.wired.com/2014/09/p... Paypal-owned Braintree not only brings 150 million active users in close contact with Bitcoin, it signals "mainstreaming" similar to cell phone app banking, perceived as experimental just a few years ago.

Meanwhile Wired News reports on "someone's efforts" to expose or unmask Bitcoin guru Satoshi Nakamoto... http://www.wired.com/2014/09/s..."

Link to Original Source
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Tesla to Open $5B Battery Factory in Nevada

retroworks retroworks writes  |  about 3 months ago

retroworks (652802) writes ""In winning the contract, Nevada beat out California, Texas, Arizona and New Mexico to become the new home of the factory where Tesla, in partnership with Japanese electronics giant Panasonic, will build the lithium ion power plants for its Model S and Model X electric vehicles.""
Link to Original Source
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Apple Stock falls 3-4% after "Nude Celeb Scandal"

retroworks retroworks writes  |  about 3 months ago

retroworks (652802) writes "Both the Wall Street Journal (paywall http://blogs.wsj.com/moneybeat...), USA

Today, and Business Insider are all running stories about the big dip in Apple stock, close to the eve of the iPhone 6 rollout. Huffington Post's Headline is "Apple Stock Getting Killed" http://www.huffingtonpost.com/...

There are two different explanations given for the tanking Apple stock. To be sure, potential liabilities over The iCloud photo scandal and leaked celebrity nude photos gets its share of the blame. But and a note from Pacific Crest analyst Andy Hargreaves telling investors to sell Apple shares seems to carry more weight.

"Last week, the company was flying high as anticipation built for the iPhone 6, and the iWatch, which are expected to be announced next week. The stock was hitting new all-time highs...It all came to a screeching halt over the weekend for Apple, when nude photos of celebrities hit the web. Apple's weak security on iCloud, where the photos were backed up, was blamed for the photos hitting the web."

Apple's new mobile payments feature, as well as health tracking data tied to the iPhone, may feel the pinch from the data security breach (although most of that data is likely to be stored right on the phone, not in the iCloud, BusinessInsider points out). Pacific Crest's Hargreaves says, "We recommend taking profits in Apple.""

Link to Original Source
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Burger King Announces Possible Move to Canada, Eh?

retroworks retroworks writes  |  about 3 months ago

retroworks (652802) writes "The announced merger discussions of Burger King and Canadian Burger-Coffee Chain Tim Hortons sets the stage for an "inverse acquisition", where the smaller company winds up the HQ. This tactic has long been used in domestic markets (waste giants BFI and Waste Management both had inverse mergers with smaller waste hauling firms more than a decade ago). http://www.nytimes.com/1998/03...

The spin on the Burger King — Tim Horton's deal is that it would allow Burger King itself to move to Canada, where corporate taxes are lower. Similar "big pharma" deals are cited in the WSJ coverage of the BK-TH deal. WSJ notes that since 2010, Burger King has been owned by a Brazilian company, 3G Capital Management, which took BK stock private, and purchased Heinz (the ketchup chain) and Anheiser Busch... so making an example out of Burger King could put Obama (who has publicly professed a willingness to "take action" on inverse mergers and expatriation) could take the USA out of the frying pan and into the flame broiler. WSJ http://online.wsj.com/articles..."

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Potentially Immortal Single Cell Life form Eats, Breathes, Electrons

retroworks retroworks writes  |  about 4 months ago

retroworks (652802) writes "University of Southern California, Los Angeles researchers are studying forms of bacteria, found on the sea bed, which can feed directly on electrons from electric current. Unlike any other living thing on Earth, electric bacteria use energy in its purest form – naked electricity in the shape of electrons harvested from rocks and metals. NewScientist reports on cells which make ATP, a molecule that acts as an energy storage unit for almost all living things. This life form needs no sugar or protein, it can consume electrons, from electricity, directly.

"To grow these bacteria, the team collects sediment from the seabed, brings it back to the lab, and inserts electrodes into it. First they measure the natural voltage across the sediment, before applying a slightly different one. A slightly higher voltage offers an excess of electrons; a slightly lower voltage means the electrode will readily accept electrons from anything willing to pass them off. Bugs in the sediments can either "eat" electrons from the higher voltage, or "breathe" electrons on to the lower-voltage electrode, generating a current. That current is picked up by the researchers as a signal of the type of life they have captured.""

Link to Original Source
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Dubai's Climate-Controlled "Dome City": Members Only?

retroworks retroworks writes  |  about 4 months ago

retroworks (652802) writes "Motherboard.vice reports on Dubai's planned 7Km "pedestrian city", complete with retractable air conditioned dome. The mega-project is projected to open at the United Arab Emirates World Expo Trade Fair (2020). Dubai's demographics — 85% expatriot imported labor (mostly Asian) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/D... — is already one of the most polarized by income level, and Motherboard finds the air conditioned cityscape artwork "dystopian". Prime Minister Mohammed Bin Rasheed, on the other hand, sees it as a move towards a tourism economy, and part of the kingdom's plan for post-petroleum. "We plan to transform Dubai into a cultural, tourist and economic hub for the two billion people living in the region around us; and we are determined to achieve our vision," Bin Rasheed explains in a press release. http://www.dubaiholding.com/me...

Details of the "Mall of the World" project include:
- World’s largest mall occupying 8 million sq. ft. connected to 100 hotels and serviced apartments buildings with 20,000 hotel rooms
- Temperature-controlled covered retail street network spreading over 7 km
- Largest indoor family theme park in the world
- Wellness district catering to medical tourists in 3 million sq. ft."

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British Airways Experiments with Electronic Mood Reading Blankets

retroworks retroworks writes  |  about 5 months ago

retroworks (652802) writes "From Bloomberg Businessweek: "British Airways (BAY:LN), the airline that pioneered the flat-bed seats in the 1990s, has taken the business of in-flight sleep to its next (logical? absurd?) level: The airline has developed a blanket to analyze the “meditative state” of premium cabin fliers. The wool “happiness blanket” is embedded with tiny fiber-optic LEDs that change color based on brainwaves transmitted via Bluetooth from a band worn on a passenger’s head. Blue signifies calm, peace, and relaxation and is seen most often when the person is sleeping deeply."

A British Airways video (embedded in the article) http://www.businessweek.com/ar... describes how its gizmo monitors "neurons in the brain" sensing when a passenger is enjoying a state of well being. Information is transferred via bluetooth to microfibers in the blanket, which turn bright red if the passenger feels anxious. Now, the video explains, British Airways knows — scientifically — that people like to sleep during their flight."

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NIgerian born UK TV repairman sentenced 16 months prison for 91% reuse

retroworks retroworks writes  |  about 5 months ago

retroworks (652802) writes "The Guardian uses a stock photo of obvious electronic junk in its coverage of the sentencing of Joseph Benson of BJ Electronics. But film of the actual containers showed fairly uniform, sorted televisions which typically work for 20 years. In 2013, the Basel Convention Secretariat released findings on a two-year study of the seized sea containers containing the alleged "e-waste", including Benson's in Nigeria, and found 91% working and repaired product. The study, covered in Slashdot last February, declared the shipments legal, and further reported that they were more likely to work than new product sent to Africa (which may be shelf returns from bad lots, part of the reason Africans prefer used TVs from nations with strong warranty laws).

Director of regulated industry Harvey Bradshaw of the UK tells the Guardian: "This sentence is a landmark ruling because it's the first time anyone has been sent to prison for illegal waste exports." But 5 separate university research projects question what the crime was, and whether prohibition in trade is really the best way to reduce the percentage of bad product (less than 100% waste). Admittedly, I have been following this case from the beginning and interviewed both Benson and the Basel Secretariat Executive Director, and am shocked that the UK judge went ahead with the sentencing following the publication of the E-Waste Assessment Study last year. http://retroworks.blogspot.com... But what do Nerds at Slashdot think about the campaign to arrest African geeks who pay 10 times the value of scrap for used products replaced in rich nations?"

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PR Firms Admit: Whitewashing Wikipedia Articles is a "Black Hat" Process

retroworks retroworks writes  |  about 5 months ago

retroworks (652802) writes "In the wake of a dispute over paid edits of Wikipedia pages, 11 of the largest public relations firms have agreed to comply with the online encyclopedia's rules. The move comes after Wikimedia Foundation, the organization that administers Wikipedia, threatened legal action for "suspicious edits", citing FTC laws.

Acknowledging that "prior actions of some in our industry have led to a challenging relationship" with Wikipedia editors, the firms vowed to abide by the site's policies, guidelines and terms of service. The firms also promised to police their own industry and counsel their clients in regard to proper conduct on the site.

The WSJ Blogger Jeff Elder quotes Wikipedia representatives position that whitewashing Wikipedia articles is a "black hat" process. http://blogs.wsj.com/digits/20..."

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Australian Solar Power Breaks Key Milestone: Subcritical Steam

retroworks retroworks writes  |  about 6 months ago

retroworks (652802) writes "Gizmag and ScienceAlert.com report that a solar thermal test plant in Newcastle, Australia, has generated “supercritical” steam. According to the reports, CSIRO is claiming it as a world record, and a big step for solar thermal energy. Using a field of more than 600 directional mirrors (heliostats) directed at two towers housing solar receivers and turbines, the researchers generated steam at a pressure of 23.5 mpa (3,400 psi) and 570 C (1,058 F).

"It's like breaking the sound barrier; this step change proves solar has the potential to compete with the peak performance capabilities of fossil fuel sources," Dr Alex Wonhas, CSIRO’s Energy Director, told Colin Jeffrey for Gizmag. Supercritical steam is used to drive the world’s most advanced power plant turbines, but the articles claim it was previously only been possible by burning fossil fuels (or I'd presume nuclear fission)."

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Saturated Fat and Heart Disease Studies Full of Baloney (NYT, WSJ)

retroworks retroworks writes  |  about 7 months ago

retroworks (652802) writes "The NYT and WSJ both report growing frustration with long-held medical "wisdom" on saturated fats in the human diet. While medical associations continue to caution against saturated fats, the strongest correlations seem to stem from research bias.

Per wikipedia: "Medical, heart-health, and governmental authorities, such as the World Health Organization, the American Dietetic Association, the Dietitians of Canada, the British Dietetic Association, American Heart Association, the British Heart Foundation, the World Heart Federation, the British National Health Service, the United States Food and Drug Administration, and the European Food Safety Authority advise that saturated fat is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease (CVD)."

However, original studies may have been influenced by "big corn". Nina Tiecholz (WSJ) writes "The fact is, there has never been solid evidence for the idea that these [saturated] fats cause disease... Nutrition policy has been derailed over the past half-century by a mixture of personal ambition, bad science, politics and bias... Too much whole-grain oatmeal for breakfast and whole-grain pasta for dinner, with fruit snacks in between, add up to a less healthy diet than one of eggs and bacon."

"Butter and lard had long been staples of the American pantry until Crisco, introduced in 1911, became the first vegetable-based fat to win wide acceptance in U.S. kitchens. Then came margarines made from vegetable oil and then just plain vegetable oil in bottles. All of these got a boost from the American Heart Association—which Procter & Gamble, the maker of Crisco oil, coincidentally helped launch as a national organization. " Tiecholz goes on to document the concerns now associated with saturated fats replacements, from oxidation to Alzheimers. "In short, the track record of vegetable oils is highly worrisome—and not remotely what Americans bargained for when they gave up butter and lard."

http://online.wsj.com/news/art..."

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Arkansas Tornado Coverage with Drone Camera Raises Legal Questions

retroworks retroworks writes  |  about 7 months ago

retroworks (652802) writes "In the latest tornado and storm tragedy to hit the USA's south and midwest, small drone cameras steered by storm-tracker and videographer Brian Emfinger gathered stunning bird's-eye footage of the wreckage. Forbes magazine covers the [paywalled] Arkansas Democrat-Gazette's speculation that Emfinger has violated FAA rules which prohibit commercial use of small drones. The laws, designed years ago to restrict hobbyists use of model airplanes, may conflict with USA First Amendment free press use. So far, nothing in the article says that the FAA is enforcing the rule on the media outlets that may pay Emfinger for his video coverage, but interest in the footage will probably create a business economy for future commercial drone use if the FAA does not act."
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Is facial recognition at retailers being used to target banner ads online?

retroworks retroworks writes  |  about 7 months ago

retroworks (652802) writes "Yesterday I had to go to a retail store (Staples) for something unrelated to laser printers. While I was in the store, I decided to check out the laser printers, see what's new, though I don't really need one.

Now my Sunday morning news search is filled with laser printer ads for HP. I have not been searching online. Looking for updates on whether stores are selling my aisle browsing habits to online advertisers, I found this NYT article by Natasha Singer to be quite informative, with interesting links to varying leads from Snowden testimony to Silicon Valley startups to National Telecom and Information Agency web pages."

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WSJ: Prepare to hang up the phone - forever

retroworks retroworks writes  |  about 8 months ago

retroworks (652802) writes "Telecom giants AT&T and Verizon Communications are lobbying states, one by one, to hang up the plain, old telephone system, what the industry now calls POTS--the copper-wired landline phone system whose reliability and reach made the U.S. a communications powerhouse for more than 100 years. Is landline obsolete, and should be immune from grandparents era social protection?"
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Journals

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Free Manoi-Go in Vermont

retroworks retroworks writes  |  more than 3 years ago

Vermont environmentalists were torn when Agency of Natural Resources began a crackdown on "e-waste" reuse, recycling, and repair company in Middlebury. Japanese robot Manio-Go was seized and impounded as hazardous waste, under actual new Vermont laws classifying electronic devices with less than 80% battery levels as "hazardous". A petition was released to get Governor Peter Schumlin to commute the sentence of recycling-by-shredder, to Free Manio-Go. This is partly April Fools, but sadly not April Fools enough http://tinyurl.com/saveManoi

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To Our Recycling Friends In Egypt

retroworks retroworks writes  |  more than 3 years ago

Ten years ago this week, I was inspired to attempt to establish "fair trade recycling" exports of the much maligned "e-waste" (which is one of the most misleading and misunderstood terms ever coined). It was based on my experience in Africa, watching entrepreneurs and small businesspeople who "tinkered" and repaired goods, which I recognized was the way Japan, Taiwan, Korea, and Signapore emerged. The opposite of the "resource curse", repair and refubishment is so vital to economic development that one could even argue that it was worth the price of "waste"... but I also believe that proper recycling, the best recycling, is done with hand-disassembly.

[Read more about my fair trade recycling philosophy, and how it guides my own company, at www.retroworks.blogspot.com ]

Like Fair Trade Coffee (which emerged in response to a horrible "coffee boycott" idea to help coffee farmers), the result of fairly traded used electronics can result in proper recycling infrastructures within the developing world, which has its own "ewaste" to manage. More importantly, it can result in Egyptian revolutions... the 3 billion people in the world who earn about $3 thousand per year have gotten online at ten times the rate of growth of the developed world, and they are not doing it with brand new PCs. http://retroworks.blogspot.com/2011/01/to-our-recycling-friends-in-egypt.html

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Camouflage v. Cloaking

retroworks retroworks writes  |  more than 11 years ago Submitted for comment:

A program which submits random browser data can effectively complicate investigative work by 3rd party data collectors. It would take a lot of camouflage users to pollute Google or NSA's historic record base, but only take a few pieces of bad data to "poison the well" of information (e.g. he visited a gay website) used in court. I would like an option which is not completely random, which does not submit false terrorist or pedofile site data for example.

This would not be very effective against cookies (except when presence of cookies was to be used as evidence in a courtroom) but would effectively cloud any suspicions with doubt at the level of a large database such as a search engine.

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