jtogel writes "This New Scientist article describes our AI system that automatically generates card games. The article contains a description of a playable card game generated by our system. But card games are just the beginning... The card game generator is a part of a larger project to automatise all of game development using artificial intelligence methods — we're also working on level generation for a variety of different games, and on rule generation for simple arcade-like games."
An anonymous reader writes "Frédéric Wang, an engineer at the MathJax project, reports that the latest nightly build of Firefox now passes the MathML Acid2 test. Screenshots in his post show a comparison with the latest nightly Chrome Canary, and it's not pretty. He writes 'Google developers forked Webkit and decided to remove from Blink all the code (including MathML) on which they don't plan to work in the short term.'"
Daniel_Stuckey writes with this snippet from Motherboard with an update on Cody Wilson's Defense Distributed project: "On Friday morning, Forbes's Andy Greenberg published photos of the world's first completely 3D-printed gun. It has a 3D-printed handle, a 3D-printed trigger, a 3D-printed body and a 3D-printed barrel, all made of polymer. It's not completely plastic, though. So as not to violate the Undetectable Firearms Act and guarantee it would get spotted by a metal detector, Wilson and friends embedded a six-ounce hunk of steel inside the gun. They're calling it 'The Liberator.'" (A name I'm sure that Wilson didn't come up with accidentally.)
hypnosec writes "Google has indirectly walked right into one of the Middle East's most obstinate conflicts by labeling Palestine as an independent nation — wiping off the term 'Palestinian Territories' and replacing it with 'Palestine' in its localized search page. Google's move is more or less in line with the UN's October decision to name Palestine as a non-member observer state. The status given to Palestine will allow the state to join UN debates as well as global bodies such as the International Criminal Court, in theory at least. Up until May 1, anyone visiting http://www.google.ps were shown the phrase Palestinian Territories. This change is definitely not a huge one but, it has attracted criticism from politicians in Israel."
alphatel writes "Citing a wide range of symptoms, a federal report (PDF) released yesterday has concluded that no single event, pesticide or virus can be held responsible for CCD in North American bee colonies. Meanwhile, Europe has moved towards banning neocotinids for two years. EPA's Jim Jones stated, 'There are non-trivial costs to society if we get this wrong. There are meaningful benefits from these pesticides to farmers and to consumers, as well as for affordable food.' May R. Berenbaum, head of the department of entomology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a participant in the study, said, 'There is no quick fix. Patching one hole in a boat that leaks everywhere is not going to keep it from sinking.'"
An anonymous reader writes "Soon anyone will be able to head out to the store and buy a 3D printer: 'Staples, one of the leading office supply retailers in the U.S. announced it would begin selling 3-D Systems' entry level personal 3-D printer, The Cube. This is quite simply the single largest 3-D printer retail move to date by any 3-D printer manufacturer.' 'The Cube is one of a number of 3-D printers designed with traditional consumers in mind. Specifically, this unit can print items up to 5.5 inches tall, wide and long in one of 16 different colors. The retail bundle includes 25 free design templates to get users started but the real fun is designing and building something all your own.'"
waderoush writes "Consumer Reports calls extended warranties 'money down the drain,' and as a tech journalist and owner of myriad gadgets — none of which have ever conked out or cracked up during the original warranty period — that was always my attitude too. But when I met recently with Steve Abernethy, CEO of San Francisco-based warranty provider SquareTrade, I tried to keep an open mind, and I came away thinking that the industry might be changing. In a nutshell, Abernethy says he's aware of the extended-warranty industry's dreadful reputation, but he says SquareTrade is working to salvage it through a combination of lower prices, broader coverage, and better service. On top of that, he made some persuasive points – which don't seem to figure into Consumer Reports' argument – about the way the 'risk vs. severity' math has changed since the beginning of the smartphone and tablet era. One-third of smartphone owners will lose their devices to drops or spills within the first three years of purchase, the company's data shows. If you belong to certain categories — like people in big households, or motorcycle owners, or homeowners with hardwood floors — your risk is even higher. So, in the end, the decision about buying an extended warranty boils down to whether you think you can defy the odds, and whether you can afford to buy a new device at full price if you're one of the unlucky ones."
sciencehabit writes "The Boston marathon bombers Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev reportedly purchased several pounds of black powder explosive before the bombing. Used in fireworks and bullets, the explosive substance is both deadly and widely available. It's also very hard to detect. Now, researchers have modified one bomb-sniffing device to accurately spot very small amounts of black powder, an advance that could make us safer from future attacks. What has prevented detection of black powder by IMS in the past, however, is that sulfur and oxygen -- which composes 20% of air—hit the detector at almost the same time. A strong oxygen signal can thus mask a small amount of sulfur, like what a bombmaker's dirty fingers might leave on a luggage strap. A group led by chemist Haiyang Li at the Dalian Institute of Chemical Physics in China modified an IMS to eliminate the oxygen signal. 'We have tested the sensitivity of TR-IMS, and its limit of detection of black powder can reach as low as 0.05 nanograms,' Li says."
Nerval's Lobster writes "The 'Sequoia' Blue Gene/Q supercomputer at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) has topped a new HPC record, helped along by a new 'Time Warp' protocol and benchmark that detects parallelism and automatically improves performance as the system scales out to more cores. Scientists at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and LLNL said Sequoia topped 504 billion events per second, breaking the previous record of 12.2 billion events per second set in 2009. The scientists believe that such performance enables them to reach so-called "planetary"-scale calculations, enough to factor in all 7 billion people in the world, or the billions of hosts found on the Internet. 'We are reaching an interesting transition point where our simulation capability is limited more by our ability to develop, maintain, and validate models of complex systems than by our ability to execute them in a timely manner,' Chris Carothers, director of the Computational Center for Nanotechnology Innovations at RPI, wrote in a statement."
ErichTheRed writes "Here's yet another example of why it's very important to make sure IT employees' access is terminated when they are. According to the NYTimes article, a former employee of this company allegedly accessed the ERP system after he was terminated and had a little 'fun.' 'Employees at Spellman began reporting that they were unable to process routine transactions and were receiving error messages. An applicant for his old position received an e-mail from an anonymous address, warning him, “Don’t accept any position.” And the company’s business calendar was changed by a month, throwing production and finance operations into disorder.' As an IT professional myself, I can't ever see a situation that would warrant something like this. Unfortunately for all of us, some people continue to give us a really bad reputation in the executive suite."
rjupstate writes "The Pentagon is quickly moving to approve the latest devices and platforms from BlackBerry, Samsung, and Apple. That's good news for two of those companies. It's not-so-good news for BlackBerry. 'The Pentagon currently has about 600,000 smartphone users – almost all using BlackBerrys – but ultimately aims to have as many as 8m smartphones and tablets, under the terms of a scheme made public last November.' 'In its effort to expand into the high security government niche, one that BlackBerry has enjoyed near singular control of for years, Samsung recently created a government advisory board made up of Samsung executives and security experts from various U.S. and foreign government security agencies. ... In the end, the program will likely elevate that status of both Apple and Samsung within military and civilian government agencies in the U.S. and other western countries.'"
New submitter JoeKilner writes "The Turbulenz HTML5 games engine has been released as open source under the MIT license. The engine is a full 3D engine written in TypeScript and using WebGL. To see what the engine is capable off, check out this video of a full 3D FPS running in the browser using the Turbulenz engine and Quake 4 assets. You can see some of the games already developed with the engine at Turbulenz.com. (Note — to try the games without registering, hit the big blue 'Play as Guest' button.) Also, IE doesn't have WebGL support yet, so to play without a plugin try Chrome or FIrefox."
An anonymous reader writes "In a case stemming from a Jacksonville burglary, the Florida Supreme Court ruled 5-2 Thursday that police must get a search warrant before searching someone's cell phone. 'At this time, we cannot ignore that a significant portion of our population relies upon cell phones for email communications, text message information, scheduling, and banking,' read the majority opinion (PDF), authored by Justice Fred Lewis. 'The position of the dissent, which would permit the search here even though no issue existed with regard to officer safety or evidence preservation, is both contrary to, and the antithesis of, the fundamental protections against government intrusion guaranteed by the Fourth Amendment.'"
Krazy Kanuck sends this quote from the BBC: "Warner Bros is being sued for the alleged unauthorized use of two cats that have achieved internet fame. ... The complaint alleged that the cats were used without permission in Scribblenauts, a series of games on the Nintendo DS and other platforms. Court documents alleged that Warner Bros and 5th Cell 'knowingly and intentionally infringed' both claimant's ownership rights. 'Compounding their infringements,' court papers (PDF) said, 'defendants have used "Nyan Cat" (designed by Christopher Torres) and "Keyboard Cat" (created in 1984 by Charles Schmidt), even identifying them by name, to promote and market their games, all without plaintiffs' permission and without any compensation to plaintiffs.' "
An anonymous reader writes "Modern warfare these days is all about a 'networked environment.' But what happens when such things that make a modern military work breakdown? How would America's armed forces fight if their computers crashed, could not communicate, or were hit with massive viruses? What then? 'There's wisdom in science fiction. The conceit behind the reboot of the sci-fi epic Battlestar Galactica was that networking military forces exposes them to disaster unless commanders and weapons designers think ahead to the repercussions should an enemy exploit or break the network. The mechanical Cylons, arch foes of humanity, are able to crush the humans' battle fleet and bombard their home worlds with nukes by insinuating viruses into networked computers. They sever contact between capital ships and their fighter forces, and they shut down the fleet's and planets' defenses. Having lost the habit of fighting without networked systems, human crews make easy pickings for Cylon predators.'"
An anonymous reader writes "I'm working on a new product with one of the more senior guys at our company. To be blunt: his work is sloppy. It works and gets the job done, but it's far from elegant and there are numerous little (some might say trivial) mistakes everywhere. Diagrams that should be spread over five or six pages are crammed onto one, naming is totally inconsistent, arrows point the wrong way (without affecting functionality) and so forth. Much of this is because he is so busy and just wants to get everything out the door. What is the best way to handle this? I spent a lot of time refactoring some of it, but as soon as he makes any changes it needs doing again, and I have my own work to be getting on with. I submit bug reports and feature requests, but they are ignored. I don't want to create bad feelings, as I have to work with him. Am I obsessing over small stuff, or is this kind of internal quality worth worrying about?"
ananyo writes "A robot as small as a housefly has managed the delicate task of flying and hovering the way the actual insects do. The device uses layers of ultrathin materials that can make its wings flap 120 times a second, similar to the rate that a housefly manages. The robot's wings are composed of thin polyester films reinforced with carbon fibre ribs and its 'muscles' are made from piezoelectric crystals, which shrink or stretch depending on the voltage applied to them. Weighing in at just 80 milligrams, the tiny drone cannot carry its own power source, so has to stay tethered to the ground. It also relies on a computer to monitor its motion and adjust its attitude (abstract). Still, it is the first robot to deploy a fly's full range of aerial motion, including hovering (there's a video in the source)."
New submitter some old guy writes "Marcus Wohlsen writing in Wired Business makes a good case for why no amount of marketing hype will cure Google Glass of its inherent dorkiness. 'Google Glass fails to acknowledge that walking around with a camera mounted on the side of your face at all times makes you look dorky. Think of the Bluetooth headset: it’s a really sensible way to use your phone without having to take it out of your pocket—so sensible that there’s really no reason not to keep that headset in your ear most of the time. But you don’t, do you?' He also makes an interesting comparison to the Segway debacle: 'If we were all riding around on Segways now, cities would probably be better places to live compared to the car-infested streets we still endure. But that transformation hasn't happened. And it won’t. Why? Because Segways are lame. They’re too rational. They fail to acknowledge all the irrational reasons people love their cars.'"
SternisheFan sends this excerpt from MIT's Technology Review: "The first comprehensive and large scale smart grid is now operating. The $800 million project, built in Florida, has made power outages shorter and less frequent, and helped some customers save money, according to the utility that operates it. ... Dozens of utilities are building smart grids — or at least installing some smart grid components, but no one had put together all of the pieces at a large scale. Florida Power & Light's project incorporates a wide variety of devices for monitoring and controlling every aspect of the grid, not just, say, smart meters in people's homes. ... Many utilities are installing smart meters — Pacific Gas & Electric in California has installed twice as many as FPL, for example. But while these are important, the flexibility and resilience that the smart grid promises depends on networking those together with thousands of sensors at key points in the grid — substations, transformers, local distribution lines, and high voltage transmission lines. (A project in Houston is similar in scope, but involves half as many customers, and covers somewhat less of the grid.) In FPL's system, devices at all of these places are networked — data jumps from device to device until it reaches a router that sends it back to the utility — and that makes it possible to sense problems before they cause an outage, and to limit the extent and duration of outages that still occur. The project involved 4.5 million smart meters and over 10,000 other devices on the grid."
jrepin writes "Digital restrictions management (DRM) creates damaged goods that users cannot control or use freely. It requires users to give-up control of their computers and restricts access to digital data and media. Device manufacturers and corporate copyrights holders have already been massively infecting their products with user-hostile DRM. Tablets, mobile phones and other minicomputers are sold with numerous restrictions embedded that cripple users freedom. The proposal at table in W3C to put DRM into HTML goes even further. Fight it: use today's today is international Day Against DRM, so spread the word and make yourself heard!" The EFF suggests making every day a day against DRM.
An anonymous reader writes "When Barnes & Noble first released its Nook tablets, one of the big problems with the devices was that their custom version of Android only had access to the Barnes & Noble app store. They took the 'walled garden' approach, preventing users from accessing Google Play, which had a much larger selection of software and many more options when it came to free apps. Now, the company is reversing that decision. A software update is being rolled out to give the devices access to Google Play. 'The bottom line: if something's available for Android, it's now available for Nook, assuming it's compatible from a technical standpoint. Among other things, that means you'll be able to install Amazon's Kindle app on a Nook and read books you've purchased from Amazon. For the first time, the notion of someone with a heavy investment in Kindle books buying a Nook doesn't sound completely impractical.' The company is gambling that the devices' increased utility will make up for the loss in app revenue. Either way, it's good news for Nook tablet owners."
sciencehabit writes "If you were a rat living in a completely virtual world like in the movie The Matrix, could you tell? Maybe not, but scientists studying your brain might be able to. Today, researchers report that certain cells in rat brains work differently when the animals are in virtual reality than when they are in the real world. In the experiment, rats anchored to the top of a ball ran in place as movie-like images around them changed, creating the impression that they were running along a track. Their sense of place relied on visual cues from the projections and their self-motion cues, but they had to do without proximal cues like sound and smell. The rodents used half as many neurons to navigate the virtual world as they did the real one."
alphadogg writes "Facebook Thursday said it's making available globally a feature called 'Trusted Contacts' that lets users select three to five friends who can help users recover account access such as if they forget their password. Facebook said the idea is that once these friends are identified as 'trusted contacts' through the user's security settings, Facebook will provide each of them with a special code. 'Enter the codes from [at least 3 of] your trusted contacts, and you'll be able to access your account,' Facebook says. 'After you set your trusted contacts, we'll notify them so that they can be ready to help you if you ever need it.'"
wiredmikey writes "While some best practices such as software security training are effective in getting developers to write secure code, following best practices does not necessarily lead to better security, WhiteHat Security has found. Software security controls and best practices had some impact on the actual security of organizations, but not as much as one would expect, WhiteHat Security said in its Website Security Statistics Report. The report correlated vulnerability data from tens of thousands of Websites with the software development lifecycle (SDLC) activity data obtained via a survey. But there is good news — as organizations introduced best practices in secure software development, the average number of serious vulnerabilities found per Website declined dramatically over the past two years. 'Organizations need to understand how different parts of the SDLC affects how vulnerabilities are introduced during software development,' Jeremiah Grossman, co-founder and CTO of WhiteHat said. Interestingly, all the Websites tested under the study, 86 percent had at least one serious vulnerability exposed to attack every single day in 2012, and on average, resolving vulnerabilities took 193 days from the time an organization was first notified of the issue."
An anonymous reader writes "The Dutch government today presented a draft bill that aims to give law enforcement the power to hack into computer systems — including those located in foreign countries — to do research, gather and copy evidence or block access to certain data. Law enforcement should be allowed to block access to child pornography, read emails that contain information exchanged between criminals and also be able to place taps on communication, according to a draft bill published Thursday and signed by Ivo Opstelten, the Minister of Security and Justice. Government agents should also be able to engage in activities such as turning on a suspect's phone GPS to track their location, the bill said. Opstelten announced last October he was planning to craft this bill."