New submitter countach44 writes "From an article in IEEE's Spectrum magazine: 'Upon closer consideration, moving from petroleum-fueled vehicles to electric cars begins to look more and more like shifting from one brand of cigarettes to another. We wouldn't expect doctors to endorse such a thing. Should environmentally minded people really revere electric cars?' The author discusses the controversy and social issues behind electric car research and demonstrates what many of us have been thinking: are electric cars really more environmentally friendly than those based on internal combustion engines?" Reader Jah-Wren Ryel takes issue with one of the sources, and offers a criticism from Fast Company.
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ectoman writes "In a recent policy speech, Federal Trade Commission Chairwoman Edith Ramirez indicated that the FTC might be preparing to seriously address patent abuse in the United States. Mark Bohannon, Vice President of Corporate Affairs and Global Public Policy at Red Hat, has reviewed Ramirez's remarks, calling them 'some of the most direct and specific to date from a senior U.S. Government official regarding "harmful PAE [patent assertion entities] activities."' Bohannon writes that the FTC's proposed roadmap for patent reform 'is both ambitious and doable,' and he discusses how the agency could make its potential contributions to reforms most effective. The piece arrives one week after Bohannon analyzed other patent reform efforts currently ongoing in Washington—in a piece Slashdot readers have been discussing."
Lasrick writes "Interesting read of the geopolitics between the U.S. and Russia when it comes to reducing nuclear warheads. Pavel Podvig is a physicist trained at the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology who works on the Russian nuclear arsenal, US-Russian relations, and nonproliferation. His take here is essential to understanding what is happening between Washington and Moscow on nuclear weapons cuts." Reader auric_dude also sent in a link to a few other views on the issue.
theodp writes "In the days leading up to the Senate's passage of the landmark immigration bill, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg unveiled a new ad from FWD.us, his pro-immigration reform PAC. The ad, 'Emma', contains an altered version of Emma Lazarus' famous 1883 poem 'The New Colossus' ('Give me your tired, your poor...'), which is engraved on a bronze plaque inside the Statue of Liberty. 'In doing so,' notes the Latin Times, 'it [the ad] departs radically from the meaning of Lazarus' original — which exalted the Statue of Liberty as a "mother of exiles" and redeemer of the world's rootless poor — to accommodate the PAC's call for more high-skilled workers from abroad be allowed to work and live legally in the United States.' Instead of the original's call for 'the wretched refuse of your teeming shore' and 'the homeless, tempest-tossed', the FWD.us remix asks for 'the influencers and the dreamers...talent that is searching for purpose...those dedicated to the doing'. Here's a YouTube Doubler of readings of both versions — pick your fave, kids!"
krkhan writes "It has been confirmed by Zynga that the head of Microsoft's Interactive Entertainment Business, Don Mattrick, is taking over as the new CEO. Mattrick joined Microsoft in 2007 and has led the business during much of the lifespan of Xbox 360, as well as the launch of Kinect and pre-launch of Xbox One. Zynga shares jumped 12% following the news."
Nerval's Lobster writes "The European Organization for Nuclear Research (known as CERN) requires truly epic hardware and software in order to analyze some of the most epic questions about the nature of the universe. While much of that computing power stems from a network of data centers, CERN is considering a more aggressive move to the cloud for its data-crunching needs. To that end, CERN has partnered with Rackspace on a hybrid cloud built atop OpenStack, an open-source Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) platform originally developed by Rackspace as part of a joint effort with NASA. Tim Bell, leader of CERN's OIS Group within its IT department, suggested in an interview with Slashdot that CERN and Rackspace will initially focus on simulations—which he characterized as 'putting into place the theory and then working out what the collision will have to look like.' CERN's private cloud will run 15,000 hypervisors and 150,000 virtual machines by 2015—any public cloud will likely need to handle similarly massive loads with a minimum of latency. 'I would expect that there would be investigations into data analysis in the cloud in the future but there is no timeframe for it at the moment,' Bell wrote in a follow-up email. 'The experiences running between the two CERN data centers in Geneva and Budapest will already give us early indications of the challenges of the more data intensive work.' CERN's physicists write their own research and analytics software, using a combination of C++ and Python running atop Linux. 'Complex physics frameworks and the fundamental nature of the research makes it difficult to use off-the-shelf [software] packages,' Bell added."
sciencehabit writes "A patient admitted to a hospital with a serious bacterial infection may have only a few hours to live. Figuring out which antibiotic to administer, however, can take days. Doctors must grow the microbes in the presence of the drugs and see whether they reproduce. Rush the process, and they risk prescribing ineffective antibiotics, exposing the patient to unnecessary side effects, and spreading antibiotic resistance. Now, researchers have developed a microscopic 'tuning fork' that detects tiny vibrations in bacteria. The device might one day allow physicians to tell the difference between live and dead microbes—and enable them to recognize effective and ineffective antibiotics within minutes."
otaku244 writes "Since 1998, Microsoft TechNet has been a mainstay for all system developers attached to the Microsoft platform, given the ease of access to almost every product the company has produced. Unfortunately, the days of a cheap, unlimited Microsoft development stack are coming to an end."
An anonymous reader writes "Legendary DIY gaming guru Ben Heck has given a new interview in which he talks about the Access Controller, his modular controller for consoles that lets disabled gamers play with one hand, and how he plans to update it for the next generation of consoles: 'I'm sure I will. At the very least people are going to want the accessibility controllers I build...People have already asked about them for the next-gen consoles, and that was at E3. When I was there, the thing I looked at the most was the controllers. The Xbox One looks pretty similar to what we have at the moment, but they finally fixed the D-pad.'"
MojoKid writes "Microsoft's Windows "Blue" 8.1 update has been long-awaited. Those who've been using the base OS since launch have no doubt been anticipating some of the enhancements that are coming. At the moment, Windows 8.1 is available only as a preview, and if you are looking to give it a try, there are a couple of things to be aware of. The most important is the fact that once you upgrade, you can't easily downgrade — so you may wish to try the update in a virtual machine or on a test machine if possible. In addition, your current product keys will not work, so you'll effectively be turning your activated OS into an evaluation (it's assumed that once 8.1 goes final, we'll be able to update using our original keys). That said, Microsoft's free update offers a slew of enhancements like a new Start Screen, the return of the Start Button, even quicker shutdown and restart, boot to desktop, quicker integrated search and Skydrive enhancements. All told, Microsoft's new OS release is a more than worthy successor for end users but now Microsoft really needs to work on getting developers on board."
moon_unit2 writes "Tech Review has a story on research showing that facial recognition software can accurately spot signs that programming students are struggling. NC State researchers tracked students learning java and used an open source facial-expression recognition engine to identify emotions such as frustration or confusion. The technique could be especially useful for Massive Open Online Courses — where many thousands of students are working remotely — but it could also help teachers identify students who need help in an ordinary classroom, experts say. That is, as long as those students don't object to being watched constantly by a camera."
Last week you had a chance to ask Jon "maddog" Hall about his work on Project Caua and FOSS in general. Below you'll find his answers to those questions.
dcblogs writes "Infosys, an India-based offshore IT outsourcing firm, recently announced that it had won a $49.5 million contract to develop a health benefit exchange for the District of Columbia. The contract was awarded to a U.S.-based Infosys subsidiary, Infosys Public Services. That's one of the larger government contracts won by an offshore outsourcing firm, but it's unclear whether any of the work will be done overseas. The District isn't disclosing any contract details. An FOIA request for the contract has been submitted. Infosys is one of the largest users of H-1B visas, and has been under a grand jury investigation for its use of B1 visitor visas."
Nerval's Lobster writes "Mozilla and its hardware partners have begun launching the first Firefox OS smartphones, starting with Spain's Telefonica releasing the ZTE Open later this week. A lightweight mobile OS based on HTML5, Firefox OS (once known as 'Boot to Gecko') offers a user interface instantly familiar to anyone who's used Google Android or Apple iOS: in addition to home-screens of individual apps arranged on a grid, features include messaging, email, built-in social-networking, maps, and the Firefox Web browser. There's also Firefox Marketplace, an online storefront of HTML5 apps; early apps include Twitter, Facebook, AccuWeather, and a handful of games. But can Firefox OS make any headway in a mobile-device crowded with options? At this February's Mobile World Congress, Mozilla claimed that some 17 operators around the world have committed to the Firefox OS initiative, including China Unicom, Sprint, MegaFon, and the Telecom Italia Group. But many of those operators released rather ambiguous statements about whether they would launch an actual Firefox OS smartphone. Tony Cripps, principal device analyst at Ovum, wrote in a research note earlier this year that 'the real acid test for Firefox OS and its long-term prospects is the quality of the software itself and the user and developer experiences that it fosters.' In other words, Mozilla and its partners need to produce some quality devices, paired with a variety of spectacular apps. Some early reviews of the ZTE Open weren't good, to put it mildly, with The Verge citing: 'unremarkable hardware' and a 'laggy' OS. But that doesn't mean future phones can't go toe-to-toe against anything else on the market, provided Mozilla and its partners provide solid support and marketing."
cylonlover writes "Age-related macular degeneration is the leading cause of blindness among older adults in the western world. Unfortunately, conventional optical aids provide little help for a retina which has lost the acuity of its central area. Now a team of multinational researchers led by University of California, San Diego Professor Joseph Ford has created a telescopic contact lens that can switch between normal and magnified vision to offer AMD patients a relatively unobtrusive way to enhance their vision."
An anonymous reader writes "The New York Times reports a growing number of American workers are being paid by prepaid payroll card. The cards often have fees attached to basic services like making a cash withdrawal or for inactivity. Some employees report that the employers pay by card by default, with paperwork barriers to opting out, and some report that their employers refuse to pay them by check or direct deposit. The issuing banks pitch the cards to employers as a cost-cutting payroll alternative, and sometimes even offer a financial reward for each employee they sign up."
An anonymous reader writes "Apple has filed a trademark application for 'iwatch' in Japan. 'The maker of iPhones is seeking protection for the name which is categorized as being for products including a handheld computer or watch device, according to a June 3 filing with the Japan Patent Office that was made public last week. Takashi Takebayashi, a Tokyo-based spokesman for Apple, didn’t respond to a message left at his office seeking comment on the application.' Rumors suggest that the new iWatch is expected to sport a 1.5-inch OLED screen."
dryriver writes with this excerpt from the Guardian: "U.S. intelligence services are spying on the European Union mission in New York and its embassy in Washington, according to the latest top secret U.S. National Security Agency documents leaked by the whistleblower Edward Snowden. One document lists 38 embassies and missions, describing them as 'targets.' It details an extraordinary range of spying methods used against each target, from bugs implanted in electronic communications gear to taps into cables to the collection of transmissions with specialised antennae. Along with traditional ideological adversaries and sensitive Middle Eastern countries, the list of targets includes the E.U. missions and the French, Italian and Greek embassies, as well as a number of other American allies, including Japan, Mexico, South Korea, India and Turkey. ... One of the bugging methods mentioned is codenamed Dropmire, which, according to a 2007 document, is 'implanted on the Cryptofax at the E.U. embassy, DC' – an apparent reference to a bug placed in a commercially available encrypted fax machine used at the mission. The NSA documents note the machine is used to send cables back to foreign affairs ministries in European capitals."
An anonymous reader writes "With the first half of 2013 now over, Windows 8 continues to grow its share steadily but slowly, while Windows XP and Vista decline. In fact, Windows 8 has now passed the 5 percent mark, as well as surpassed the market share of its predecessor's predecessor, Windows Vista. The latest market share data from Net Applications shows that June 2013 was an impressive one for Windows 8, which gained 0.83 percentage points (from 4.27 percent to 5.10 percent) while Windows 7 fell 0.48 percentage points (from 44.85 percent to 44.37 percent)."
An anonymous reader writes "The FreeBSD project has begun the process of making it possible for the operating system to run alongside Windows 8 on a computer which has secure boot enabled." Linux distros have taken to using a minimal loader, signed by Microsoft, to enable booting on UEFI systems with secure boot. "Indeed we will likely take the Linux shim loader, put our own key in it, and then ask Microsoft to sign it," says developer Marshall McKusick in the linked IT Wire article. "Since Microsoft will have already vetted the shim loader code, we hope that there will be little trouble getting them to sign our version for us."