An anonymous reader writes "Coinciding with challenges in the rollout of the U.S. Affordable Care Act are challenges for NHS. The Independent reports, 'A National Health Service free at the point of use will soon be "unsustainable," if the political parties do not come forward with radical plans for change before the 2015 election, top health officials have warned. Stagnant health spending combined with ever rising costs and demand mean the NHS is facing "the most challenging period in its 65-year existence," the NHS Confederation said ... In a frank assessment of the dangers faced by the health service, senior officials at the confederation say that the two years following the next general election will be pivotal in deciding whether the NHS can continue to provide free health care for all patients. "Treasury funding for the service will be at best level in real terms," they write. "Given that demand continues to rise, drugs cost more, and NHS inflation is higher than general inflation, the NHS is facing a funding gap estimated at up to £30bn by 2020."' From The Guardian: 'Our rose-tinted view of the NHS has to change.' More at the Independent, Mirror, and Telegraph."
Daniel_Stuckey writes "Just two weeks after the Feds shuttered the Silk Road, the notorious online drug bazaar, Bitcoin prices have touched a five-month high — with a single Bitcoin fetching nearly $156 on Tokyo-based exchange Mt. Gox. Bitcoin's resiliency can no longer be denied, especially as the digital currency continued its ascendancy even against the backdrop of a U.S. government in utter disarray. At the 11th hour of the crisis, President Obama signed a bill that ended the partial government shutdown and, more importantly, raised the debt ceiling, an arbitrary limit on the amount of money the country can borrow that would have been surpassed today. If Congress had failed to reach a deal and the U.S. was unable to pay its bills, the results might have been catastrophic, eclipsing the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers five years ago, the domino that could trigger the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression."
vivIsel writes "Cyan, the company behind Myst, is taking another shot at an game in that vein — this time in a new game universe, with the Unreal 4 engine. Perhaps unsurprisingly, they haven't gotten a lot of traction with traditional game publishers, so they are turning to Kickstarter with a $1.1M total ask. The Kickstarter video also has some neat shots of the Cyan headquarters — which looks a bit like one of the buildings on Myst island itself."
Nerval's Lobster writes "Google's core search-advertising business is slowing down (despite an uptick in revenue and earnings for the most recent quarter) and a new report suggests that advertising ROI is much higher on iOS than Android. In light of that, it's worth asking whether Google, having dominated much of the mobile-device market with Android, will ever get around to more aggressively monetizing its mobile operating system, and what that could mean to the manufacturers that have been loading the software for free onto their hardware. If Google started charging licensing fees to manufacturers, and attempted to clamp down so that Google Play served as the only hub for Android apps (something that would definitely put it on a collision course with Amazon, which boasts its own Android app store), would it be shooting itself in the foot? Or would the rest of the ecosystem respond in a muted way, considering the sheer size of Google's power and presence?"
chicksdaddy writes "Security Ledger brings news that the Norwegian firm, ThinFilm has successfully tested a printable electronics component that it claims is the first, fully-functional 'smart' label. The company claims its disposable Smart Sensor Label can track the temperature of perishable goods and is a 'complete closed system built from printed and organic electronics.' Smart Sensor is being marketed to pharmaceutical makers as a way to keep temperature-sensitive drugs and to food wholesalers, which can track the temperature their product is kept at throughout the supply chain. When 'critical temperature thresholds are reached, the Smart Sensor label will change to indicate that using an integrated display driver. Such labels could make it possible to easily monitor the condition of large quantities of product, keeping it safe and effective and preventing perfectly usable products from being destroyed. But the possible applications of printable electronics are huge: they can be produced for a fraction of the cost of comparable technologies because they don't need to be assembled. And, because they're flexible and paper-like, they can be deployed pretty much anywhere you can stick a label — something ThinFilm's CEO says could provide an extensible platform for the much-ballyhooed 'Internet of Things.'"
dryriver sends this article from the Economist: "A simple idea underpins science: 'trust, but verify'. Results should always be subject to challenge from experiment. That simple but powerful idea has generated a vast body of knowledge. Since its birth in the 17th century, modern science has changed the world beyond recognition, and overwhelmingly for the better. But success can breed complacency. Modern scientists are doing too much trusting and not enough verifying — to the detriment of the whole of science, and of humanity. Too many of the findings that fill the academic ether are the result of shoddy experiments or poor analysis (see article). A rule of thumb among biotechnology venture-capitalists is that half of published research cannot be replicated. Even that may be optimistic. Last year researchers at one biotech firm, Amgen, found they could reproduce just six of 53 'landmark' studies in cancer research. Earlier, a group at Bayer, a drug company, managed to repeat just a quarter of 67 similarly important papers. A leading computer scientist frets that three-quarters of papers in his subfield are bunk. In 2000-10 roughly 80,000 patients took part in clinical trials based on research that was later retracted because of mistakes or improprieties. Even when flawed research does not put people's lives at risk — and much of it is too far from the market to do so — it squanders money and the efforts of some of the world's best minds. The opportunity costs of stymied progress are hard to quantify, but they are likely to be vast. And they could be rising."
fsagx writes "Steve Gibson has proposed a new standard method for website authentication. The SQRL system (pronounced 'squirrel') eliminates problems inherent in traditional login techniques. The website's login presents a QR code containing the URL of its authentication service, plus a nonce. The user's smartphone signs the login URL using a private key derived from its master secret and the URL's domain name. The Smartphone sends the matching public key to identify the user, and the signature to authenticate it. It may be used alongside of traditional username/password to ease adoption."
jones_supa writes "Final releases of Visual Studio 2013, .NET 4.5.1, and Team Foundation Server 2013 are now available. As part of the new release, the C++ engine implements variadic templates, delegating constructors, non-static data member initializers, uniform initialization, and 'using' aliases. The editor has seen new features, C++ improvements and performance optimizations. Support for Windows 8.1 has been enhanced and the new XAML UI Responsiveness tool and Profile Guided Optimization help to analyze responsiveness in Windows Store apps. Graphics debugging has been furthered to have better C++ AMP tools and a new remote debugger (x86, x64, ARM). As before, MSDN and DreamSpark subscribers can obtain the releases from the respective channels, and the Express edition is available zero cost for all."
Digi-Key Corporation, carefully tracks orders and tries to determine what's hot and what's not. His reason for doing so is to figure out what Digi-Key should stock in coming months and years. But his insights can also be used to decide what you might want to study or -- if you're already working in the field -- what products you or your company should consider developing. Digi-Key also has an online video library where they feature new products and give ideas of what you can do with them. Even if you're not an engineer or electronics hobbyist, it's fun to see what's available but may not have hit the mass market quite yet.
sciencehabit writes "Every night since humans first evolved, we have made what might be considered a baffling, dangerous mistake. Despite the once-prevalent threat of being eaten by predators, and the loss of valuable time for gathering food, accumulating wealth, or having sex, we go to sleep. Scientists have long speculated and argued about why we devote roughly a third of our lives to sleep, but with little concrete data to support any particular theory. Now, new evidence (abstract, full text paywalled) has refreshed a long-held hypothesis: During sleep, the brain cleans itself." During sleep, the Cerebrospinal fluid fills channels in the brain, collecting waste products. It uses a lot of energy, leading to the hypothesis that the brain can't clean up waste while also processing sensory input.
judgecorp writes "Intel has put back the delivery of its 14nm Broadwell desktop chip by a quarter because of a manufacturing issue that leaves it with too high a density of defects. The problem has been fixed, says CEO Brian Krzanich, who says, 'This happens sometimes in development phases.'" The good news is that it is just a defect density issue. A first round of tweaks failed to increase yield, but Intel seems to think a few more improvements to the 14nm process will result in acceptable yield.
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Time Magazine reports that according to an estimate from Standard & Poor's, the government shutdown, which ended with a deal late Wednesday night after 16 days, took $24 billion out of the U.S. economy and reduced projected fourth-quarter GDP growth from 3 percent to 2.4 percent. The breakdown includes about $3.1 billion in lost government services, $152 million per day in lost travel spending, $76 million per day lost because of National Parks being shut down, and $217 million per day in lost federal and contractor wages in the Washington D.C. metropolitan area alone. Hundreds of thousands of federal workers bore the economic brunt of the shutdown but small businesses also suffered from frozen government contracts and stalled business loans. With the deal only guaranteeing government funding through January 15, the situation could grow worse. 'This is a real corrosion on the economy,' says Mark Zandi, chief economist for Moody's Analytics. 'If we have to go down a similar road in the near future, the costs are going to continue to add up.'"
hypnosec writes "The MPAA and Gary Fung, owner of IsoHunt.com, have settled their case out of court, with the torrent indexing site closing as part of the deal. The judge presiding over the MPAA vs. IsoHunt.com case, Jacqueline Chooljian, canceled the hearing which was planned after she was informed that both the parties have settled outside court. 'The website isoHunt.com today agreed to halt all operations worldwide in connection with a settlement of the major movie studios' landmark copyright lawsuit against the site and its operator Gary Fung' reads the press release." Only a few days after the MPAA was accosted by the judge for seeking damages several times the total worth of isoHunt: "But if you strip him of all his assets — and you’re suggesting that a much lesser number of copyright infringements would accomplish that, where is the deterrence by telling the world that you took someone’s resources away because of illegal conduct entirely or 50 times over?" Still, the settlement seems unfair: The MPAA has asked the court for $110 million, when the MPAA itself admitted that isoHunt only has $5 or $6 million. So much for the optimism for isoHunt's successor.
astroengine writes "The meteor that exploded over the Urals region of Russia in February was a violent reminder that our planet exists in a cosmic shooting gallery. Now, astronomers are focusing on these mysterious small and possibly dangerous objects in the hope of understanding what they are made of and what kind of threat they pose in the future. However, a recent paper accepted for publication in the Astrophysical Journal has identified a possible 'Achilles Heel' of visible light surveys. Using data from NEOWISE (the near-Earth object-hunting component of NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer mission), there appears to be a bias in visible light asteroid surveys against finding small (100 meters) dark space rocks. 'With our previous NEOWISE studies, we found that about a third of NEOs larger than 100 meters are dark. It's possible that a population of smaller dark asteroids exists, but we don't have the right sample to test that theory with what we've done so far (in this research),' NASA JPL scientist and NEOWISE principal investigator Amy Mainzer told Discovery News. 'In my opinion it is probable that a similar fraction of small NEOs are dark, but the visible surveys are biased against finding them. They do find some but not many.' On considering the impact of the small Chelyabinsk object earlier this year, it is perhaps sobering to realize that while around 90 percent of NEOs with diameters larger than 1 kilometer are thought to have been discovered, less than one percent of asteroids the size of the Chelyabinsk meteor (17-20 meters in diameter) have been detected."
New submitter longhunt writes "I just started my second year of grad school and I am working on a project that involves a computationally intensive data mining problem. I initially coded all of my routines in VBA because it 'was there'. They work, but run way too slow. I need to port to a faster language. I have acquired an older Xeon-based server and would like to be able to make use of all four CPU cores. I can load it with either Windows (XP) or Linux and am relatively comfortable with both. I did a fair amount of C and Octave programming as an undergrad. I also messed around with Fortran77 and several flavors of BASIC. Unfortunately, I haven't done ANY programming in about 12 years, so it would almost be like starting from scratch. I need a language I can pick up in a few weeks so I can get back to my research. I am not a CS major, so I care more about the answer than the code itself. What language suggestions or tips can you give me?"
rtoz writes "Heating or cooling certain parts of your body — such as applying a warm towel to your forehead if you feel chilly — can help maintain your perceived thermal comfort. Using that concept, four MIT engineering students developed a thermoelectric bracelet that monitors air and skin temperature, and sends tailored pulses of hot or cold waveforms to the wrist to help maintain thermal comfort. The product is now a working prototype. And although people would use the device for personal comfort, the team says the ultimate aim is to reduce the energy consumption of buildings, by cooling and heating the individual — not the building. The team estimates that if the device stops one building from adjusting its temperature by even just 1 degree Celsius, it will save roughly 100 kilowatt-hours per month."
Trailrunner7 writes "The Apple iMessage protocol has been shrouded in secrecy for years now, but a pair of security researchers have reverse-engineered the protocol [original analysis] and found that Apple controls the encryption key infrastructure for the system and therefore has the ability to read users' text messages–or decrypt them and hand them over at the order of a government agency. ... The researchers found that while that basic framework makes sense from a security point of view, there are a number of issues with the iMessage system. One major issue is that Apple itself controls the encryption key infrastructure use for iMessage, and has the keys for each individual user. The upshot of this is that Apple has the ability to read users' messages if it so chooses. The researchers who looked at iMessage, known as Pod2g and GG, said that there is no evidence that Apple is in fact reading users' iMessages, but it's possible that the company could. Users' AppleID passwords also are sent in clear text to the Apple servers."
CowboyRobot writes "Penetration tester and long-time security professional Sumit 'Sid' Siddharth has developed a real-world SQL injection sandbox simulator, and invites the public for a capture the flag event later this month. 'The only way you can understand the true impact of vulnerabilities is by practicing exploitation. Even vulnerability identification goes hand-in-hand with exploitation,' says Siddharth. 'Sometimes identifying the vulnerability is really difficult, and it's only when you know advanced exploitation techniques that you can do so. We've also put together some really nice examples where identifying the vulnerability is really difficult, and we've asked people to find the needle in the haystack because that's how websites get compromised at the end of the day,'"
cartechboy writes "Electric vehicle batteries have three problems — they're big, heavy, and expensive. But what if you could shift EV batteries away from being big blocks under the car and engineer them into the car itself? Research groups at Imperial College London working with Volvo have spent three years developing a way to do exactly that. The researchers are storing energy in nano structure batteries woven into carbon fiber--which can then be formed into car body panels. These panel-style batteries charge and store energy faster than normal EV batteries, and they are also lighter and more eco-friendly. The research team has built a Volvo S80 prototype featuring the panels where the battery panel material has been used for the trunk lid. With the materials used on the doors, roof and hood, estimated range for a mid-size electric car is around 80 miles."
MojoKid writes "NVIDIA is holding a tech event currently in Montreal to showcase a number of the tools and technologies the company has developed to foster state of the art in game development. NVIDIA's VP of Content and Technology, Tony Tomasi took a moment to show off Faceworks, and the 'Digital Ira' face that they've demoed at various events over the last year or so. This particular demo was a little different, however, in that it was running on Logan test kit. If you're unfamiliar, Logan is the codename for one of NVIDIA's next-gen mobile SoCs, which features a Kepler-based GPU, like current GeForce GTX 600 and 700 series parts. The demo ran perfectly smooth and the quality of imagery was as good as we've seen on any other platform to date, console, PC or mobile. Incidentally, the demo was running on an Ubuntu Linux OS."
Rambo Tribble writes "Bryan Sykes of Oxford University has discovered that hairs, ostensibly from the Yeti creature of the Himalayas, were '... genetically identical to polar bear.' What the professor is suggesting is that a rare hybrid of brown and polar bear may be the actual, elusive creature of legend."
llebeel writes "Canonical announced its free Ubuntu 13.10 Linux operating system (OS) release, on the same day as Microsoft's remedial Windows 8.1 service pack update. We speak to Canonical founder and Ubuntu creator Mark Shuttleworth who tells us what to expect." Adds reader jrepin: "Kubuntu Linux 13.10 has just been released and is available for download. It comes with KDE Software Compilation 4.11, a new application for discovering and installing software, a simpler way to manage your system users. and a new Network Manager applet gives a simpler UI for connecting to a range of network types. You can now setup Wifi networking from the installer making it easier to install updates and extra packages during the install." ZDNet has a fairly tepid review of the incremental rather than startling improvements of the new release, and notes "Ubuntu 14.04 LTS, due for release on 17 April next year, will now perhaps come as even more of a shock if its promised big changes are fully realised."
The Bad Astronomer writes "On Oct. 10, 2013, the Cassini spacecraft took a series of wide-angle pictures of Saturn from well above the plane of the rings. Croatian software developer and amateur astronomical image processor Gordan Ugarkovic assembled them into a stunning mosaic (mirrored on Flickr), showing the planet from a high angle not usually seen. There's a lot to see in this image, including the rings (and the gaps therein), moons, and the planet itself, including the remnants of a monstrous northern hemisphere storm that kicked off in 2010. It's truly wondrous."
donadony writes "Oracle announced the release of VirtualBox 4.3; this is a major release that comes with important new features, devices support and improvements. According to the announcement, 'Oracle VM VirtualBox 4.3 adds a unique virtual multi-touch interface to support touch-based operating systems, and other new virtual devices and utilities, including webcam devices and a session recording facility. This release also builds on previous releases with support for the latest Microsoft, Apple, Linux and Oracle Solaris operating systems, new virtual devices, and improved networking functionality.'"
The newest iteration of Windows has begun rolling out, and is winning positive reviews. (Here's an in-depth review from Ars, and a more concise one from Wired — both give 8.1 a thumbs-up). Kelerei wrote with the above-linked TechDirt article on the release, noting that it is a staged rollout rather than global. Starting this morning, though, 8.1 is available to some customers. Kelerei writes: "The upgrade is optional (and free) for existing Windows 8 users, though if one looks at the changes, it's hard to imagine why those already on it wouldn't upgrade." Also at Slash BI.
Daniel_Stuckey writes "Keith Alexander will step down by April or May of next year. What's more, the agency's deputy director Chris Inglis also plans to retire by the end of next year, anonymous US officials told Reuters today. Though the news comes in the midst of a global public backlash over the NSA's widespread surveillance programs, it's worth pointing out that Alexander had revealed his plans to retire before Edward Snowden leaked details of PRISM in June. Officials didn't give a reason for his departure."
Nerval's Lobster writes "In the 1941 film Citizen Kane, the titular newspaper magnate (played with cheeky insouciance by Orson Welles) gleefully tells a doubter that he's prepared to lose a million dollars every year in order to keep publishing. "At a rate of a million dollars a year," he smirks, "I'll have to close this place in 60 years." Over the past decade, of course, many newspapers and magazines have lost a lot more than a million dollars a year, and there are signs that online publications are having trouble holding their finances together, as well. But some very rich people are stepping in to prop things up: first Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos bought The Washington Post for $250 million, then eBay founder Pierre Omidyar offered journalist Glenn Greenwald a whole lot of cash to start up a general interest publication. Billionaires and multimillionaires, of course, have total freedom to fund whatever they want—and that could be a good thing for publications with a mission and a serious need for cash. But what if the rich investor disagrees with something that his pet publication releases into the world? If (and when) that situation occurs, it could serve as an interesting test of whether the latest version of this "generous benefactor" model can work more effectively as an impartial channel for news than it has in the past (when conflicts of interest often sparked titanic fights between editors and owners)."
rjmarvin writes "$7 million in federal grant money originally tasked with terrorism prevention is now being used to fund construction of a new data center in Oakland to electronically gather and analyze data around the clock from a variety of sensors and databases, displaying selected info on a bank of giant monitors. The center will mine massive data streams, helping the police department tap into 911 calls, port and traffic cameras, license plate readers, gunshot sensors, social media posts and commuters' electronic toll payments."
DeviceGuru writes "Suitable Technologies is offering $50 rentals of its Beam mobile telepresence robot, allowing 50 robotics enthusiasts to remotely attend the RoboBusiness conference in Santa Clara, Calif. on Oct. 23-25. The Ubuntu- and ROS-based Beam will be available to the first 50 applicants, letting them explore the show at up to 1.5 meters/sec and interact with others via video conferencing. The bots will be allowed everywhere on the show floor as well as in conference rooms, and the show will be open late to accommodate remote users from distant time zones. The Beam is a good choice for remotely exploring conferences, saving users the cost and time of traveling to an event, says Suitable Tech; for example, RoboBusiness registration costs $1,595, not including hotel and travel. A list of the conference's keynotes, which include one by Christ Urmson, director of Google's Self-Driving Cars project, is available here."
An anonymous reader writes "After more than two weeks of bickering that made the schoolyard appear civilized, Congress has finally passed a bill to reopen the U.S. Federal Government. 'The Senate passed the measure by a vote of 81 - 18, followed by approval in the House by a vote of 285 - 144. The bill now goes to the President, who will make remarks on Thursday regarding the reopening of the federal government. ... Earlier in the day, Speaker Boehner conceded that the House would not vote to stop the Senate-negotiated agreement. In a statement, the Speaker said that, after a fight with President Obama over his signature health care law, " . . . blocking the bipartisan agreement reached today by the members of the Senate will not be a tactic for us." The agreement will raise the debt limit until February 2014, fund the government through January 2014 and establish a joint House-Senate committee to make spending cut decisions.' CNN adds, 'Obama, for one, didn't seem in the mood Wednesday night for more of the same -- saying politicians in Washington have to "get out of the habit of governing by crisis." "Hopefully, next time, it will not be in the 11th hour," Obama told reporters, calling for both parties to work together on a budget, immigration reform and other issues. When asked as he left the podium whether he believed America would be going through all this political turmoil again in a few months, the President didn't waste words. "No."'"