An anonymous reader writes "Google on Thursday released Chrome version 25 for Windows, Mac, and Linux. While Chrome 24 was largely a stability release, Chrome 25 is all about features, including voice recognition support via the newly added Web Speech API and the blocking of silent extension installation. You can update to the latest release now using the browser's built-in silent updater, or download it directly from google.com/chrome." But if you're more interested in the growing raft of Google-branded hardware than running Google OSes, some good news (via Liliputing) about the newly released Pixel: Bill Richardson of Google posted on Thursday that the Pixel can boot Linux Mint, and explained how users can follow his example, by taking advantage of new support for a user-provided bootloader.
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s122604 writes "Automakers aren't too happy about a recent U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) proposal, which uses part of the wireless spectrum assigned to vehicle-to-vehicle technology for Wi-Fi instead. The FCC announced that it plans to free up 195 MHz of spectrum in the 5 GHz band for unlicensed use in an effort to address the U.S.' spectrum crisis. This could potentially lead to Wi-Fi speeds faster than 1 gigabit per second."
Questioning his belief in relational database dogma, new submitter Travis Brown happened to evaluate Amazon's Dynamo DB and MonogDB. His situation was the opposite of Jeff Cogswell's: he started off wanting to prefer Dynamo DB, but came to the conclusion that the benefits of Amazon managing the database for him didn't outweigh the features Mongo offers. From the article: "DynamoDB technically isn't a database, it's a database service. Amazon is responsible for the availability, durability, performance, configuration, optimization and all other manner of minutia that I didn't want occupying my mind. I've never been a big fan of managing the day-to-day operations of a database, so I liked the idea of taking that task off my plate. ... DynamoDB only allows you to query against the primary key, or the primary key and range. There are ways to periodically index your data using a separate service like CloudSearch, but we are quickly losing the initial simplicity of it being a database service. ... However, it turns out MongoDB isn't quite as difficult as the nerds had me believe, at least not at our scale. MongoDB works as advertised and auto-shards and provides a very simple way to get up and running with replica sets." His weblog entry has a few code snippets illustrating how he came to his conclusions.
An anonymous reader writes "Back in late 2012, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg attributed the increase in statistical city-wide crime to Apple, noting that thieves had a propensity to target folks using iPhones and iPads. As an illustration of the problem, there were 3,890 more Apple product thefts than in 2012 than there were in 2011. At the time, Mayor Bloomberg's press secretary Marc La Vorgna explained that 'if you just took away the jump in Apple', crime in New York City would have been down year over year. Indeed, the number of major crimes reported in 2011 in NYC came in at 104,948 compared to 108.432 in 2012. If you exclude Apple related thefts from the figures, then the crime rate in 2012 is essentially the same as it was in 2011. In light of that, a new report from the New York Post details that Apple is now working with the NYPD in an effort to curb iPhone and other Apple related thefts."
An anonymous reader sends this excerpt from the Daily Dot: "Starting next week, most U.S. Internet users will be subject to a new copyright enforcement system that could force them to complete educational programs, and even slow their Internet speeds to a crawl. A source with direct knowledge of the Copyright Alert System [said] the five participating Internet service providers will start the controversial program Monday. The ISPs — industry giants AT&T, Cablevision, Comcast, Time Warner, and Verizon — will launch their versions of the CAS on different days throughout the week. Comcast is expected to be the first, on Monday." Of course, there are many ways around the Copyright Alert System, so it probably won't be terribly effective.
An anonymous reader writes "For a while now, John Carmack has been pushing to bring virtual reality technology back to the gaming world. VR was largely abandoned over a decade ago when it became apparent that the hardware just wasn't ready to support it. In 2013, things are different; cheap displays with a high pixel density and powerful processors designed for small systems are making virtual reality a... reality. One of the last obstacles to be conquered is latency — the delay between moving your head and seeing your perspective change in the virtual world. In a lengthy and highly-technical post at #AltDevBlogADay, Carmack has outlined a number of strategies for mitigating and reducing latency. With information and experience like this being shared with the game development community at large, it shouldn't be long until VR makes a permanent place for itself in our gaming lives."
Copper Nikus writes "In yet another fascinating example of insects being smarter than we give them credit for, this article describes how fruit flies are able to fight back against deadly wasps by using alcohol. Quoting: 'These wasps lay eggs on the larva or pupa of the flies, and their offspring feed on the animal internally, often killing them in the process. (Flies have larval stages, during which we call them maggots, and pupate just as butterflies do before emerging in their adult form.) Once infected, there isn't much one of the larva can do to get rid of the parasite. Its one option: booze (abstract). Fruit flies, as their name implies, like to dine on fruit, especially during the larval stages. In many cases, that involves ingesting the alcohol that's produced by natural fermentation of rotting fruit (this can approach 20 percent alcohol content). Some species of flies have developed the ability to tolerate this alcohol as they chew through the fruit as maggots. But for most of the wasp species, even moderate levels of alcohol are toxic."
eldavojohn writes "A new report from China's environment ministry has resulted in long-overdue self-realizations as well as possible explanations for 'cancer villages.' The term refers to villages (anywhere from 247 to 400 known of them) that have increased cancer rates due to pollution from nearby factories and industry. The report revealed that many harmful chemicals that are prohibited and banned in developed nations are still found in China's water and air. Prior research has shown a direct correlation between industrialization/mining and levels of poisonous heavy metals in water. As a result, an air pollution app has grown in popularity and you can see the pollution from space. China has also released a twelve-year plan for environmental protection."
Nerval's Lobster writes "Earlier this month, a very public argument erupted between Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk and New York Times reporter John Broder, who claimed in a Feb. 8 column that his electric-powered Model S sedan had ground to a halt on a lonely stretch of Connecticut highway, starved for power. Musk retaliated by publishing the data from Broder's test drive, which suggested the reporter had driven the vehicle at faster speeds than he had claimed in the article (which would have drained the battery at a quicker rate) and failed to fully charge the car at available stations. Musk seems to have let the whole thing drop, but the whole brouhaha raises a point that perhaps deserves further exploration: the rising use of sensors in cars, and whether an automobile company—or any other entity, for that matter—has the right to take data from those sensors and use it for their own ends without the owner's permission. (For his part, Musk has claimed that Tesla only turns on data logging with 'explicit written permission from customers.') What do you think, Slashdot? Do we need the equivalent of a 'Do-Not-Track' option for cars?"
Vigile writes "A big shift in the way graphics cards and gaming performance are tested has been occurring over the last few months, with many review sites now using frame times rather than just average frame rates to compare products. Another unique testing methodology called Frame Rating has been started by PC Perspective that uses video capture equipment capable of recording uncompressed high resolution output direct from the graphics card, a colored bar overlay system and post-processing on that recorded video to evaluate performance as it is seen by the end user. The benefit is that there is literally no software interference between the data points and what the user sees, making it is as close to an 'experience metric' as any developed. Interestingly, multi-GPU solutions like SLI and CrossFire have very different results when viewed in this light, with AMD's offering clearly presenting a poorer, and more stuttery, animation."
Hugh Pickens writes "The NY Times reports that a college degree is becoming the new high school diploma: the new minimum requirement for getting even the lowest-level job. Many jobs that didn't require a diploma years ago — positions like dental hygienists, cargo agents, clerks and claims adjusters — increasingly requiring a college degree. From the point of view of business, with so many people going to college now, those who do not graduate are often assumed to be unambitious or less capable. 'When you get 800 résumés for every job ad, you need to weed them out somehow,' says Suzanne Manzagol. A study by Georgetown University's Center on Education and the Workforce found that more than 2.2 million jobs that require a minimum of a bachelor's degree have been created (PDF) since the 2007 start of the recession. At the same time, jobs that require only a high school diploma have decreased by 5.8 million in that same time. 'It is a tough job market for college graduates but far worse for those without a college education,' says Anthony P. Carnevale, co-author of the report. 'At a time when more and more people are debating the value of post-secondary education, this data shows that your chances of being unemployed increase dramatically without a college degree.' Even if they are not exactly applying the knowledge they gained in their political science, finance and fashion marketing classes, young graduates say they are grateful for even the rotest of rote office work they have been given. 'It sure beats washing cars,' says Georgia State University graduate Landon Crider, 24, an in-house courier who, for $10 an hour, ferries documents back and forth between the courthouse and his company's office."
An anonymous reader writes "The BBC reports that the reclusive country of North Korea is planning to enable 3G mobile internet access. It will not be available to the country's estimated one million mobile users, however. The service will be available only to international visitors, who have been allowed to bring their own mobile devices into the country since January of this year. The decision comes shortly after Google Chairman Eric Schmidt said enabling 3G internet in the country would be 'very easy' during his recent visit there. Currently, North Korean citizens can only access a small number of state-controlled sites. Might this decision open the door for some of them to surreptitiously access the open net?"
Trailrunner7 writes "In the wake of high-profile compromises of companies such as Facebook, the New York Times, Apple and others, officials at Zendesk, an online customer support provider, said that the company also had been compromised and the attackers had made off with the email addresses of customers of Twitter, Tumblr and Pinterest, all of which use Zendesk's services. All three companies sent out emails to affected customers, notifying them of the incident and warning that their email addresses may have been compromised. In what has become an almost daily occurrence now, Zendesk officials posted a notice on the company's blog with the heading "We've been hacked". The Zendesk hack notice says that the company became aware of the attack on its network sometime this week and that the company then identified and patched the vulnerability the attackers had used."
New submitter Gunilla sends this news from an AP report: "It turns out this year's flu shot is doing a startlingly dismal job of protecting older people, the most vulnerable age group. The vaccine is proving only 9 percent effective in those 65 and older against the harsh strain of the flu that is predominant this season, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday. Health officials are baffled as to why this is so. But the findings help explain why so many older people have been hospitalized with the flu this year. Despite the findings, the CDC stood by its recommendation that everyone over 6 months get flu shots, the elderly included, because some protection is better than none, and because those who are vaccinated and still get sick may suffer less severe symptoms." An anonymous reader adds information about a new drug that treats influenza by hijacking its own infection mechanism. The compound "binds to an enzyme on the surface of the flu virus called neuraminidase. This enzyme is responsible for severing the connection between the flu virus and human cell so it can move on and infect other cells. The new class of drugs — DFSAs — permanently bind to the enzyme, blocking its action and stopping it from spreading further, the journal Science reported (abstract). Currently available antivirals also work by attaching to this enzyme. But DFSAs do so in such a way that the flu virus cannot evolve to be resistant to the drug without rendering itself useless."
derGoldstein writes "We've seen some very impressive aerobatics performed by quadrocopters before, but this is getting ridiculous. Robohub points to the latest advancement from the Flying Machine Arena, which developed algorithms that allow quadrocopters to juggle an inverted pendulum. One of the researchers working on it said, 'We started off with some back-of-the-envelope calculations, wondering whether it would even be physically possible to throw and catch a pendulum. This told us that achieving this maneuver would really push the dynamic capabilities of the system. As it turned out, it is probably the most challenging task we've had our quadrocopters do. With significantly less than one second to measure the pendulum flight and get the catching vehicle in place, it's the combination of mathematical models with real-time trajectory generation, optimal control, and learning from previous iterations that allowed us to implement this.'"
An anonymous reader writes "Michael Arrington, founder of TechCrunch, lives near Seattle and bought a boat there. He ordered it from a company based near him, but across the border in Canada. Yesterday, the company tried to deliver it to him, and it had to clear customs. An agent for the Department of Homeland Security asked him to sign a form. The form contained information about the boat, including its cost. The price was correct, but it was in U.S. dollars rather than Canadian dollars. Since the form contained legal warnings about making sure everything on it is true and accurate, Arrington suggested to the agent that they correct the error. She responded by seizing the boat. 'As in, demanded that we get off the boat, demanded the keys and took physical control of it. What struck me the most about the situation is how excited she got about seizing the boat. Like she was just itching for something like this to happen. This was a very happy day for her. ... A person with a gun and a government badge asked me to swear in writing that a lie was true today. And when I didn't do what she wanted she simply took my boat and asked me to leave.'"
Dr Max writes "Ever wonder how al-Qaeda operates under the watchful eye of the U.S. Army? Well, the Associated Press found a list of 22 of their tips and tricks on avoiding drone strikes. Most of it consists of the obvious: stay in the shadows or under thick trees, don't use wireless communications. However, there are also some less obvious solutions, like the $2,595 Russian 'sky grabber, which can track the drones. Their document (PDF) also suggests covering your roof and car with broken glass. They also claim good snipers can take out the reconnaissance drones, which fly at a lower level. Now the question is: will all of this still be relevant during the robo-apocalypse?"
cylonlover writes "In the wake of the meteor blast over Russia and the close-quarter flyby of asteroid 2012 DA14 last week, many people's thoughts have turned to potential dangers from above. It is timely then that the Canadian Space Agency will next week launch NEOSSat (Near-Earth Object Surveillance Satellite), the world's first space telescope for detecting and tracking asteroids, satellites and space debris." The meteor incident in Russia has spurred interested in asteroid defense across the globe; donations are pouring in for asteroid-related projects, government officials are making a show of seeming interested, and researchers are stepping up their efforts. Unfortunately, as a related article at Wired notes, we're still a long, long way from having anything more than early warning systems. Quoting: "A new endeavor coming online in 2015 named the Asteroid Terrestrial-impact Last Alert System Project (ATLAS) will provide an early warning system that could provide one week’s notice for city-destroying 45-meter asteroids and three week’s notice for potentially devastating 140-meter objects. ... A more targeted effort comes from the B612 Foundation, which plans to launch the Sentinel telescope in late 2016. This spacecraft would sit inside the orbit of Venus and constantly be on the lookout for killer asteroids, whichever direction they come from. Sentinel will spot nearly all asteroids 150 meters or larger and identify a significant portion of those down to 30 meters in diameter."
Hugh Pickens writes "The LA Times reports that in a new report aimed at improving healthcare and controlling runaway costs, a coalition of leading medical societies has identified nearly 100 medical procedures, tests and therapies that are overused and often unnecessary. The medical interventions — including early cesarean deliveries, CT scans for head injuries in children and annual Pap tests for middle-aged women — may be necessary in some cases, but are often not beneficial and may even cause harm. 'We are very concerned about the rapidly escalating cost of healthcare,' says Dr. Bruce Sigsbee. 'This is not healthy for the country, and something has to be done.' Each of the specialty medical societies has provided a list of five procedures that physicians and patients should question about the overuse of medical tests and procedures that provide little benefit and in some cases harm. A 2012 report from the independent Institute of Medicine estimated total waste in the system at 30%, or $750 billion a year. 'Millions of Americans are increasingly realizing that when it comes to healthcare, more is not necessarily better,' says Dr. Christine K. Cassel." According to pigrabbitbear, it's the robots we should be wary of. He writes "'We are committed to helping victims of robot surgery receive the medical care and compensation they deserve. As both a lawyer and a licensed medical doctor, Dr. Francois Blaudeau has made it his mission to fight for the victims of traumatic complications as a result of botched robot surgery.' That's the opening salvo from the medical malpractice lawyers who run the slick fear factory of a website, BadRobotSurgery.com. According to the doctor-lawyers behind it—doctor-lawyers like Francois Blaudeau, MD, JD, FACHE, FCLM—'thousands of people have suffered severe and critical complications at the hands of surgical robots. In fact, 'robotic surgery has been linked to many serious injuries and severe complications, including death.'
An anonymous reader writes "Quenching some rumors 'Sony Worldwide Studios boss Shuhei Yoshida has told Eurogamer that PlayStation 4 will not block the use of second-hand games, contrary to various reports, speculation and even a Sony patent unearthed last month.'"
carmendrahl writes "Unless Congress and the White House act before March 1, the automatic across-the-board spending cuts known as the sequester will kick in. And federal agencies are bracing for the fiscal impact. Federal agencies and the White House are releasing details about how these cuts will affect their operations. If the cuts take effect, expect fewer inspections to the food supply, cuts to programs that support cleanups at former nuclear plants, and plenty of researcher layoffs, among other things."
cylonlover writes "If Joseph Zawodny, a senior scientist at NASA's Langley Research Center, is correct, the future of energy may lie in a nuclear reactor small enough and safe enough to be installed where the home water heater once sat. Using weak nuclear forces that turn nickel and hydrogen into a new source of atomic energy, the process offers a light, portable means of producing tremendous amounts of energy for the amount of fuel used. It could conceivably power homes, revolutionize transportation and even clean the environment."
mk1004 writes "Yahoo news has an article explaining how the text-based CAPTCHA is giving way to ad-based challenge/response. It's claimed that users are faster at responding to familiar logos, shortening the amount of time they spend proving that they are human. From the article: 'Rather than taking just a mere glance to figure out, recent studies show that a typical CAPTCHA takes, on average, 14 seconds to solve, with some taking much, much longer. Multiply that by the millions and millions of verifications per day, and Web users as a whole are wasting years and years of their lives just trying to prove they're not actually computers. This has led many companies to abandon the age-old system in favor of something not only more secure, but also easier to use for your average Webgoer: Ad-based verification, which can actually cut the time it takes to complete the task in half.'"
Copper Nikus writes "An article at the BBC makes a shocking claim about mosquitoes. It appears some individual insects in the wild have developed the ability to ignore the very popular DEET repellent after a first exposure. From the article: 'To investigate why this might be happening, the researchers attached electrodes to the insects' antenna. Dr Logan explained: "We were able to record the response of the receptors on the antenna to Deet, and what we found was the mosquitoes were no longer as sensitive to the chemical, so they weren't picking it up as well. "There is something about being exposed to the chemical that first time that changes their olfactory system - changes their sense of smell - and their ability to smell Deet, which makes it less effective."'"