Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Elizabeth Barber reports in the Christian Science Monitor that when a CH-46E Sea Knight helicopter plummeted into the ground at more than 30 miles per hour, there was jubilation from the scientists on the ground at the culmination of some two years of preparation to test a helicopter's crashworthiness. 'We designed this test to simulate a severe but survivable crash under both civilian and military requirements,' says NASA lead test engineer Martin Annett. 'It was amazingly complicated with all the planning, dummies, cameras, instrumentation and collaborators, but it went off without any major hitches.' During the crash, high-speed cameras filming at 500 images per second tracked the black dots painted on the helicopter, allowing scientists to assess the exact deformation of each part of the craft, in a photographic technique called full field photogrammetry. Thirteen instrumented crash test dummies and two un-instrumented manikins stood, sat or reclined for a potentially rough ride. The goal of the drop was to test improved seat belts and seats, to collect crashworthiness data and to check out some new test methods but it was also to serve as a baseline for another scheduled test in 2014. 'It's extraordinarily useful information. I will use this information for the next 20 years,' says Lindley Bark, a crash safety engineer at Naval Air Systems Command on hand for the test. 'Even the passenger airplane seats in there were important to us because we fly large aircraft that have the same type of seating."'
Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive
i_want_you_to_throw_ writes "U.S. spy agencies have built an intelligence-gathering colossus since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, but remain unable to provide critical information to the president on a range of national security threats, according to the government's top secret budget. The $52.6 billion 'black budget' for fiscal 2013, obtained by The Washington Post from former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden, maps a bureaucratic and operational landscape that has never been subject to public scrutiny. Although the government has annually released its overall level of intelligence spending since 2007, it has not divulged how it uses those funds or how it performs against the goals set by the president and Congress."
First time accepted submitter Tekla Perry writes "In 'The Augmented Reality America's Cup' Stan Honey and Ken Milnes describe the positioning, communications, graphics, and augmented reality technology they developed that will be used in the upcoming America's Cup races and, they hope, will change the way sailing is televised and watched forever after. Honey and Milnes pioneered car navigation with the startup Etak, and changed the way we watch football on TV with Sportvision's yellow line."
coondoggie writes "Men are supposed to be from Mars as John Gray's iconic relationship book would have you think, but new research presented this week suggests that in reality; we all may hail from the Red Planet. 'The evidence seems to be building that we are actually all Martians; that life started on Mars and came to Earth on a rock. It's lucky that we ended up here nevertheless, as certainly Earth has been the better of the two planets for sustaining life. If our hypothetical Martian ancestors had remained on Mars, there might not have been a story to tell,' Professor Steven Benner of The Westheimer Institute for Science and Technology said."
schwit1 writes with news that the Obama administration has released a memo stating that it will not fight liberalized marijuana laws in states like Colorado and Washington, but made that promise conditional on a set of guidelines, such as requiring efforts to dissuade underage use. From the Washington Post's coverage: "Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole detailed the administration's new stance, even as he reiterated that marijuana remains illegal under federal law. The memo directs federal prosecutors to focus their resources on eight specific areas of enforcement, rather than targeting individual marijuana users, which even President Obama has acknowledged is not the best use of federal manpower. Those areas include preventing distribution of marijuana to minors, preventing the sale of pot to cartels and gangs, preventing sales to other states where the drug remains illegal under state law, and stopping the growing of marijuana on public lands."
cold fjord writes with this news, straight from the BBC: "One of the biggest canyons in the world has been found beneath the ice sheet that smothers most of Greenland. The canyon — which is 800km long and up to 800m deep — was carved out by a great river more than four million years ago ... It was discovered by accident as scientists researching climate change mapped Greenland's bedrock by radar. The British Antarctic Survey said it was remarkable to find so huge a geographical feature previously unseen. The hidden valley is longer than the Grand Canyon in Arizona. ... The ice sheet, up to 3km (2 miles) thick, is now so heavy that it makes the island sag in the middle (central Greenland was previously about 500m above sea level, now it is 200m below sea level)."
Nerval's Lobster writes "For quite some time, some economists and social scientists have argued that advances in robotics and computer technology are systematically wrecking the job prospects of human beings. Back in June, for example, an MIT Technology Review article detailed Erik Brynjolfsson (a professor at the MIT Sloan School of Management) and a co-author suggesting that the evolution of computer technology was "largely behind the sluggish employment growth of the last 10 to 15 years." Of course, technological change and its impact on the workforce is nothing new; just look at the Industrial Revolution, when labor-saving devices put many a hard-working homo sapien out of economic commission. But how far can things go? There are even arguments that the technology behind Google's Self-Driving Car, which allows machines to rapidly adapt to situations, could put whole new subsets of people out of jobs."
tsu doh nimh writes "Yesterday saw the publication of two stories focusing on two different Syrian men thought to be core members of the Syrian Electronic Army, the hacking group that took credit for recent break-ins that compromised the Web sites of The New York Times, The Washington Post and other media outlets. Working with a source who says he hacked into the SEA's servers this year, Vice.com profiles a fairly high-profile SEA member who uses the nickname "ThePro" and outs him as a young man named Hatem Deeb. Separately, Brian Krebs managed to get hold of the SQL database for the SEA's Web site after it was allegedly hacked this year, and follows a trail of clues back to one of two administrators of the SEA, which leads to another Syrian guy — a Web developer named Mohammed Osman, a.k.a. Mohamed Abd AlKarem."
Giulia D'Amico, Business Development VP for One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) talks about the new OLPC tablets, which are now available in the U.S. through Target, Amazon, Walmart, and other retailers, with some of the $150 sales price for each tablet going to support the OLPC project in places like Uruguay, Cambodia, Rwanda, and other countries where a tablet loaded with teaching software is a way better deal than trying to supply all the books a child needs for six or eight years of school. While there are many Android tablets for sale for less than $150, Giulia points out that the OLPC tablets contain up to $300 worth of software. Plus, of course, just as with almost any other Android device, there are many thousands of apps available for it through Google Play. And let's not forget the original OLPC laptop. It has been redesigned, and renamed the OLPC XO-4 and looks much cooler than the original. You can learn more about it through olpc.tv, which has videos from the introduction of both the OPLC tablet and the XO-4 at CES 2013. OLPC has shipped close to 3 million laptops so far, and is working to port Sugar to Android so that the laptop and the tablet can use the same software. One more thing: OLPC is now focusing on software rather than hardware. When the project started at MIT, back in 2006 or so, there was no suitable hardware available. Today, many companies make low-cost tablets and keyboards for them, so there's no real need for OLPC to make its own instead of using existing hardware.
cartechboy writes "As Nissan develops autonomous cars for its 2020 target date, the company's engineers are modeling the tech after behaviors seen in bumblebees and fish. Nissan actually tests self-navigation algorithms in seven small toy-looking robots called EPORO. The robots have 180-degree vision (modeled after bees) and monitor each others' positions, travel nose to nose and avoid collisions--just like a school of fish. Getting small robots to zip around without bumping into things might be the first step in getting cars to do the same."
schnell writes "As government investigators continue to try to figure out just how much data whistleblower Edward Snowden had access to, MSNBC is reporting that Snowden used his sysadmin privileges to assume the user profiles of top NSA officials in order to gain access to the most sensitive files. His sysadmin privileges also enabled him to do something other NSA users can't — download classified files from NSAnet onto a thumb drive. 'Every day, they are learning how brilliant [Snowden] was,' said a former U.S. official with knowledge of the case. 'This is why you don't hire brilliant people for jobs like this. You hire smart people. Brilliant people get you in trouble.'"
redkemper writes with this news from BGR.com (based on a report at Hacker News), excerpting: "Android might be targeted by hackers and malware far more often than Apple's iOS platform, but that doesn't mean devices like the iPhone and iPad are immune to threats. A post on a Russian website draws attention to a fairly serious vulnerability that allows nefarious users to remotely crash apps on iOS 6, or even render them unusable. The vulnerability is seemingly due to a bug in Apple's CoreText font rendering framework, and OS X Mountain Lion is affected as well."
An anonymous reader notes that Skype is reportedly working on a 3D version of its messaging application. As reported by the BBC, an unnamed senior executive says that rumors to this effect are true. However, don't get too worked up about sending your avatar to school or to work just yet: Microsoft's corporate vice-president for Skype, Mark Gillett, says that "the capture devices are not yet there. As we work with that kind of technology you have to add multiple cameras to your computer, precisely calibrate them and point them at the right angle. ... We have it in the lab, we know how to make it work and we're looking at the ecosystem of devices and their capability to support it in order to make a decision when we might think about bringing something like that to market." Also at SlashBI.
Joe Marine of No Film School has a short interview with two of the creators of the Black Betty, a deceptively old-school looking digital cinema camera. The Black Betty gets around one issue with the massive data processing and storage needs inherent to high-capacity, high-resolution video cameras by attacking it head-on. Rather than use the camera "merely" as a collection device, the creators have jammed into the machined aluminum case the guts of a Mac Mini, which means the camera not only has a powerful processing brain, but a built-in SSD drive, and can (in a pinch, or even by preference in the field) be used to edit and transmit the footage collected with the actual imaging system, which is based around the SI-2K Mini sensor, which shoots 1080p video at up to 30fps.
First time accepted submitter rjkimble writes "In June, the USPTO solicited proposals for voluntary best practices supporting intellectual property enforcement, especially against infringement that occurs online. It received 23 responses from individuals and organizations, including Google, the EFF, and the MPAA and RIAA. [On Wednesday] they were posted to the USPTO web site."
hypnosec writes that the Tor network has witnessed a massive rise in the number of users connecting to it for the month of August. "The privacy-enhancing network is known for providing an anonymous browsing experience through the use of a series of encrypted relays, and has had as many as 500k users throughout this year so far. But if we check the latest statistics available through Tor Metrics Portal there has been a whopping 100 percent increase in the number of Tor clients and as many as 1,200,000 users are connecting to the network. The previous peak for the network was in January 2012, when it saw as many as 950,000 users."
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Sue Marek reports at Fierce Wireless that the mobile virtual network operator business is booming again, with new MVNOs launching nearly every week and operators like Sprint and T-Mobile hungry for MVNO partners because MVNOs offer a good economic return and can help them to grow their market share and reach into markets where they might not have visibility. 'It's a good strategic play for us,' says Matt Carter, president of Sprint wholesale and emerging solutions. 'It's another army to help us garner more subscribers on the network.' But unlike the MVNO craze of the 2005-2006 era--highlighted by high-profile failures like ESPN Mobile, Disney Mobile, Amp'd Mobile and Helio, today's high-profile MVNOs like FreedomPop, Republic Wireless, Solavei and Ting offer innovative service plans, marketing techniques and, in some cases, devices that they hope will draw consumers to their offerings. Today's MVNOs can be successful with a seemingly tiny number of customers. For example, Tucows' MVNO Ting, which sells mobile usage by minutes, text messages and megabytes, announced they currently have around 25,000 total customers, and that the business is on track to cross the break-even threshold in the fourth quarter of this year. Virtual carriers now also get the latest phones like the Moto X at launch and don't have to wait for new Android handsets to trickle down."
curtwoodward writes "Uber has just raised a monster investment round that valued the company at some $3.5 billion. And it looks like some of that cash will have to be earmarked for more legal expenses. The startup, which offers an easy-to-use mobile app for hailing "black car" sedans and other rides, is being sued in federal court over allegations that it's illegally skimming the tips paid to drivers. The lawsuit also claims that Uber is misclassifying its drivers as contractors, rather than employees. The upshot: If the federal judge certifies this as a national class action, Uber could be facing millions of dollars in potential damages. Oh, and the lawyer behind it? She's made a career out of suing companies for exactly these kind of violations."
PolygamousRanchKid writes "A gambling website's favorite as Microsoft Corp.'s next chief executive officer is Stephen Elop, the Nokia CEO who has presided over a 62 percent decline in market value. Elop, a former Microsoft executive, has 5-to-1 odds to be hired as Steve Ballmer's replacement, according to Ladbrokes, the U.K.-based gambling operator. He leads a pool including internal candidates Kevin Turner and Julie Larson-Green and outsiders like Apple CEO Tim Cook — a 100-to-1 dark horse."
First time accepted submitter georgeaperkins writes "A man targeted by marketing companies is making money from cold calls with his own premium-rate phone number. So far he's made £300 profit following a £10+VAT initial investment. The premium rate regulator has 'strongly discouraged' the practice, as it violates the code of practice. Nevertheless, the novel idea is sure to resonate with everyone worn down by mindless cold calling!"
An anonymous reader writes "Eddie Castillo is the first American to successfully have his government-issued photo identification taken while wearing a colander, though DPS officials are reportedly planning to follow up with Castillo in order to 'rectify' the situation. Others have tried unsuccessfully, and Castillo told KLBK that he was surprised at his victory, which he called a 'political and religious milestone for all atheists everywhere.'" Two years ago Niko Alm won the right to wear a pasta strainer on his head although Austrian authorities required him to obtain a doctor's certificate that he was "psychologically fit" to drive.
An anonymous reader writes "Paris' prosecutor office opened a preliminary investigation after a complaint by two human rights associations who hope to determine the roles played by companies in the PRISM program. Two million communications (phone calls, SMS and mails) are said to have been intercepted in France by U.S. agencies."
theodp writes "In Microsoft's eyes, the idea of scanning Gmail so advertisers can bid on access to those suffering from breast cancer, bi-polar disorder, depression, and panic anxiety, deserves no kudos. The USPTO, on the other hand, feels it deserves a patent. GeekWire reports that Google has been awarded a patent on "Scroogling", aka its system and method for targeting information based on message content in a reply. Google takes some jabs at Microsoft in the diagrams accompanying the patent, including one implying that MS-Access and Excel files pose security risks, and another that suggests alternatives to Access."