ananyo writes "New genome sequences from two extinct human relatives suggest that these 'archaic' groups bred with humans and with each other more extensively than was previously known. The ancient genomes, one from a Neanderthal and one from a different archaic human group, the Denisovans, were presented at a meeting at the Royal Society in London. They suggest that interbreeding went on between the members of several ancient human-like groups living in Europe and Asia more than 30,000 years ago, including an as-yet unknown human ancestor from Asia. 'What it begins to suggest is that we're looking at a 'Lord of the Rings'-type world — that there were many hominid populations,' says Mark Thomas, an evolutionary geneticist at University College London who was at the meeting but was not involved in the work."
puddingebola writes "Toyota has announced plans for a fuel cell powered car at the Tokyo Motor show. From the article, 'Satoshi Ogiso, the Toyota Motor Corp. executive in charge of fuel cells, said Wednesday the vehicle is not just for leasing to officials and celebrities but will be an everyday car for ordinary consumers, widely available at dealers. "Development is going very smoothly," he told The Associated Press on the sidelines of the Tokyo Motor Show. The car will go on sale in Japan in 2015 and within a year later in Europe and U.S."'"
Philip Ross writes "Uses for 3D printers are more widespread than ever, but researchers in Germany are expanding 3D-printing territory even further. For the first time ever, scientists from the Department of Radiology at Charité Campus Mitte in Berlin have recreated dinosaur fossils from blueprints made by computed tomography, or CT, scans. The ability to scan and 3D-print dinosaur fossils could have wide-ranging applications for not only paleontologists but also educators and private collectors alike."
Lucas123 writes "Epson and Evena Medical today unveiled a new smart-glass technology that allows nurses to see 'through' a patient's skin to the vasculature beneath in order to make intravenous placement easier. The Eyes-On Glasses System is based on Epson's Moverio Smart Glasses Technology, an Android-based, see-through wearable display launched earlier this year that allows users to interact with apps and games. The glasses use near-infrared light to highlight deoxygenated hemoglobin in a patient's veins and capture the images with two stereoscopic cameras. The cameras then project the vein images onto the see-through glass screens. The glasses can store the images and video and transfer them wirelessly to a patient's electronic health record, and they also come with dual built-in speakers for video conferencing."
50000BTU_barbecue writes "I made a comment a few days ago in a story basically saying the oscilloscope is dead. While that's a bit dramatic, I've found that over the last 20 years my oscilloscopes have been 'on' less and less. Instead, I use a combination of judicious voltage measurements, a logic analyzer and a decent understanding of the documentation of the gadget I'm working on. Stuff is just more and more digital and microcontroller-based, or just so cheap yet incredibly integrated that there's no point in trying to work on it. (I'm thinking RC toys for example. Undocumented and very cheap. Doesn't work? Buy another.) While I still do old-school electronics like circuit-level troubleshooting (on old test gear), that's not where the majority of hobbyists seem to be. Yet one thing I keep hearing is how people want an oscilloscope to work on hardware. I think it's just not that necessary anymore. What I use most are two regulated DC lab supplies, a frequency counter, a USB logic analyzer, a USB I2C/SPI master, and a USB-RS-232 dongle. That covers a lot of modern electronics. I have two oscilloscopes, a 100MHz two-channel stand-alone USB unit and a 1960s analog plug-in-based mainframe that is a '70s hacker dream scope. But I rarely use them anymore. What equipment do hardware folks out there use the most? And would you tell someone trying to get into electronics that they need a scope?"
An anonymous reader sends this news from Al-Jazeera: "BP has been accused of hiring internet 'trolls' to purposefully attack, harass, and sometimes threaten people who have been critical of how the oil giant has handled its disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. The oil firm hired the international PR company Ogilvy & Mather to run the BP America Facebook page during the oil disaster, which released at least 4.9 million barrels of oil into the Gulf in what is to date the single largest environmental disaster in U.S. history. The page was meant to encourage interaction with BP, but when people posted comments that were critical of how BP was handling the crisis, they were often attacked, bullied, and sometimes directly threatened. ... BP's 'astroturfing' efforts and use of 'trolls' have been reported as pursuing users' personal information, then tracking and posting IP addresses of users, contacting their employers, threatening to contact family members, and using photos of critics' family members to create false Facebook profiles, and even threatening to affect the potential outcome of individual compensation claims against BP."
wendyg writes "As part of redeveloping its three-site campus and without consultation with parents or the Information Commissioner, the UK's West Cheshire College installed a highly detailed tracking system using ultrawideband RFID tags handed out to its 14- to 17-year-old students. The system, which cost up approximately £1 million, was abandoned earlier this year because of escalating costs and lack of the functionality the college wanted. The college has been reluctant to answer questions, dubbing privacy campaigner and persistent questioner Pippa King 'vexatious,' and material relating to the trial has been vanishing off the Net. The law requiring parental consent for the use of biometrics in schools (for things like taking attendance and paying for meals) came into force last month. It seems it already needs to be updated."
What ever happened to point-and-click action role-playing games? Blizzard set the standard for this genre around the turn of the century, and while a few companies have launched Diablo clones, it's been a pretty quiet market. Several years ago, a group of hardcore gamers decided to change that. They put together an independent game studio and began developing Path of Exile, an ARPG that would update and refine all of the characteristics that made the genre great. On 23 October, after a lengthy open beta period, they launched the game, opting for a free-to-play business model supported by ethical microtransactions. It's dark, freewheeling, unashamedly complex — and a lot of fun. In this video review (with transcript), we take a look at what Path of Exile has to offer.
Nerval's Lobster writes "Vint Cerf, widely considered one of the 'founders of the Internet,' told an audience at the Federal Trade Commission's Internet of Things workshop that privacy could be considered 'an anomaly.' That workshop, held Nov. 19 in Washington, DC, explored (via speeches and panel discussions) how the proliferation of sensors on everything from cars to household devices is fundamentally changing how people live and work—while raising questions of how to best maintain privacy and security in an environment where more and more things are 'watchers.' 'The technology that we use today has far outraced our social intuition, our headlights,' he added. '[There's a] need to develop social conventions that are more respectful of people's privacy.' Current social behaviors, such as instantly posting images from smartphones to social networks, can result in a whole lot of embarrassment—and maybe even penalties, if data and media happens to catch someone in the act of doing something illegal. Cerf currently works at Google as chief Internet evangelist, which would make him uniquely positioned to comment on these sorts of issues even if he hadn't co-created the TCP/IP backbone that supports the modern Web. (Back in April, he told an audience that, if he had to do it all over again, he'd construct the Internet in the mold of Software-Defined Networking — but that's a whole different, tangled discussion.)"
New submitter Cid Highwind writes "If you want to download the latest version of Winamp, you'd better do it soon. According to a new banner on the download page, AOL will be pulling the plug on the iconic llama-whipping music player in a month. 'Winamp.com and associated web services will no longer be available past December 20, 2013. Additionally, Winamp Media players will no longer be available for download. Please download the latest version before that date. See release notes for latest improvements to this last release. Thanks for supporting the Winamp community for over 15 years.' Ars Technica ran an article last year detailing how the music player lost its dominance."
New submitter ElSergio writes "In a two-part interview with the American Physical Society, Elon Musk, founder of PayPal, Tesla Motors and SpaceX, talks about how important it is to be able to think in terms of first principles, a tool learned as a physics student. Later in the interview, he recommends against obtaining an MBA, claiming, 'It teaches people all sorts of wrong things' and 'They don't teach people to think in MBA schools.' In fact. if you are in business and want to work for SpaceX, you will have a better chance getting hired if you do not have one. According to Musk, 'I hire people in spite of an MBA'. He goes on to point out that if you look at the senior managers in his companies, you will not find very many MBAs there."
An anonymous reader writes "The Washington post reports on the progress of a piece of legislation many hoped would address the glut of meaningless software patents used as weapons by patent trolls. Unfortunately, the provision that would have helped the USPTO nix these patents has been nixed itself. The article credits IBM, Microsoft, and other companies with huge patent portfolios for the change, citing an 'aggressive lobbying campaign' that apparently succeeded. Quoting: 'A September letter signed by IBM, Microsoft and several dozen other firms made the case against expanding the program. The proposal, they wrote, "could harm U.S. innovators by unnecessarily undermining the rights of patent holders. Subjecting data processing patents to the CBM program would create uncertainty and risk that discourage investment in any number of fields where we should be trying to spur continued innovation." ... Last week, IBM escalated its campaign against expanding the CBM program. An IBM spokesman told Politico, "While we support what Mr. Goodlatte's trying to do on trolls, if the CBM is included, we'd be forced to oppose the bill." Insiders say the campaign against the CBM provisions of the Goodlatte bill has succeeded. The House Judiciary Committee is scheduled to hold a markup of the legislation Wednesday, and Goodlatte will introduce a "manager's amendment" to remove the CBM language from his own bill. IBM hailed that change in a Monday letter to Goodlatte.'"
An anonymous reader writes "Cats are cute, and cute is good for cognition. Which is why Memrise, a language learning startup, settled on using lolcat-style cat photos as mnemonic aids for a new series of apps aimed at people who normally wouldn't bother learning another language. The first CatAcademy app is 'Cat Spanish' From the article: 'What we found, however we sliced it, was that pictures of cats — cute pictures specifically, of which over 50% were cats — just kept on coming out as the most effective mnemonics... I have to admit we were slightly skeptical to begin with. We're a scientific group, and data driven — but the data did drive us towards cats.'" Now, just to add cat pictures to Mnemosyne.
dcblogs writes "At this year's supercomputing conference, SC13, there is worry that supercomputing faces a performance plateau unless a disruptive processing tech emerges. 'We have reached the end of the technological era' of CMOS, said William Gropp, chairman of the SC13 conference and a computer science professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Gropp likened the supercomputer development terrain today to the advent of CMOS, the foundation of today's standard semiconductor technology. The arrival of CMOS was disruptive, but it fostered an expansive age of computing. The problem is 'we don't have a technology that is ready to be adopted as a replacement for CMOS,' said Gropp. 'We don't have anything at the level of maturity that allows you to bet your company on.' Peter Beckman, a top computer scientist at the Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory, and head of an international exascale software effort, said large supercomputer system prices have topped off at about $100 million 'so performance gains are not going to come from getting more expensive machines, because these are already incredibly expensive and powerful. So unless the technology really has some breakthroughs, we are imagining a slowing down.'" Although carbon nanotube based processors are showing promise (Stanford project page; the group is at SC13 giving a talk about their MIPS CNT processor).
An anonymous reader writes with a quick bite from El Reg: "The OpenStack open-source project has come in for criticism from a Gartner analyst because the claims made by companies frequently don't line up with reality. In a forthright post published on Tuesday Gartner analyst and research director Alessandro Perilli chided the OpenStack community for a lack of clarity, lack of transparency, lack of vision, and lack of pragmatism." An OpenStack developer disagrees, and instead suggests that the perceived lack of clarity is just a result of the open development process. You just don't get to see which Amazon cloud projects fail since they are hidden behind the corporate wall.
theodp writes "Google takes Scroogling to new heights with its just-patented Automated Generation of Suggestions for Personalized Reactions in a Social Network, which not only data mines "e-mail systems, SMS/MMS systems, micro blogging systems, social networks or other systems" to get the buzz on your social circle, but also uses the data it collects to make like ELIZA and formulate appropriate responses for you to send as if they were your own (e.g., 'Happy Birthday, Mom!). Wouldn't Turing be so proud! From the patent: 'In a third example, a friend, David, sends Alice public or private message of a particular but regularly encountered message type (e.g., "how are you doing?" a common way to greet someone in the United States). The suggestion generation module suggest a good set of reactions to David, for example, based on the professional profile of David from the social network indicating that David has changed employers. The suggestion generation module generates a reply message such as "Hey David, I am fine, You were in ABC corp. for 3 years and you recently moved to XYZ corp., how do you feel about the difference, enjoying your new workplace?" The content of this suggestion are based on 1) prior conversations between Alice and David, 2) previous messages sent by Alice to other friends and 3) messages (sent by other connections in Alice's friend circle to David) which are either publicly or privately accessible to Alice, or some combination of these. Thus, the suggestion generation module generates messages that are personalized based upon both the sender and recipient using information that is accessible (public or private) to the sender.' Looks like Facebook may not be the only one strip-mining human society!"
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "For months, Wikipedia has been battling a company called 'Wiki-PR,' which purportedly sells paid editing services on Wikipedia and in October announced it had blocked or banned hundreds of Wiki-PR's sockpuppet accounts in response. Now Cyrus Farivar reports at Ars Technica that the Wikimedia Foundation (which runs Wikipedia) is escalating its game, issuing a cease and desist letter to Wiki-PR, demanding that the company immediately halt editing Wikipedia 'unless and until [Wiki-PR has] fully complied with the terms and conditions outlined by the Wikimedia Community.' The attorney representing the Wikimedia Foundation, Patrick Gunn, wrote that 'you admitted that Wiki-PR has continued to actively market paid advocacy editing services despite the ban — consistent with evidence that we have discovered independently. ... Should you fail to comply with the terms of this cease and desist letter, Wikimedia Foundation is prepared to take any necessary legal action to protect its rights.'"
jones_supa writes "As can be recalled, Mir didn't make it to the Ubuntu 13.10 release to replace X.org as the display server. Back then it suffered of problems in multi-monitor support, along with other issues. Now it turns out that Canonical's product will not make it even into the next LTS version (14.04) of the Ubuntu desktop. Mir itself would be ready for showtime in the schedule, but there are problems with XMir, which is the X11 compatibility layer that ensures Mir can work with applications built for X. The comments came at the Ubuntu Developer Summit: in an online event Mark Shuttleworth stressed that the 14.04 desktop has to be rock-solid for customers with large-scale deployments, such as educational institutions. In the meantime, you can already try out Mir in your Ubuntu system."
mrspoonsi writes with news that Apple's plan to raze the old HP headquarters and replace it with some kind of space ship is moving forward. From the article: "A little over two years since Steve Jobs presented his case for it and after the occasional setback, the Cupertino City Council has finally given Apple full approval to go ahead with its futuristic campus. In exchange, Apple has agreed to fork over more money to the city in the form of a reduced sales tax rebate — going forward, Cupertino will only give back 35 percent sales tax instead of the 50 percent it had previously. Indeed, as soon as Apple gets its final permits some time today, it can begin demolishing the former HP headquarters and start building its own."
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "On May 13, an obscure mathematician garnered worldwide attention and accolades from the mathematics community for settling a long-standing open question about prime numbers. Yitang Zhang showed that even though primes get increasingly rare as you go further out along the number line, you will never stop finding pairs of primes separated by at most 70 million. His finding was the first time anyone had managed to put a finite bound on the gaps between prime numbers, representing a major leap toward proving the centuries-old twin primes conjecture, which posits that there are infinitely many pairs of primes separated by only two (such as 11 and 13). Now Erica Klarreich reports at Quanta Magazine that other mathematicians quickly realized that it should be possible to push this separation bound quite a bit lower. By the end of May, mathematicians had uncovered simple tweaks to Zhang's argument that brought the bound below 60 million. Then Terence Tao, a winner of the Fields Medal, mathematics' highest honor, created a 'Polymath project,' an open, online collaboration to improve the bound that attracted dozens of participants. By July 27, the team had succeeded in reducing the proven bound on prime gaps from 70 million to 4,680. Now James Maynard has upped the ante by presenting an independent proof that pushes the gap down to 600. A new Polymath project is in the planning stages, to try to combine the collaboration's techniques with Maynard's approach to push this bound even lower. Zhang's work and, to a lesser degree, Maynard's fits the archetype of the solitary mathematical genius, working for years in the proverbial garret until he is ready to dazzle the world with a great discovery. The Polymath project couldn't be more different — fast and furious, massively collaborative, fueled by the instant gratification of setting a new world record. 'It's important to have people who are willing to work in isolation and buck the conventional wisdom,' says Tao. Polymath, by contrast, is 'entirely groupthink.' Not every math problem would lend itself to such collaboration, but this one did."
mask.of.sanity writes "A New Zealand researcher has detailed ways that UAVs can be crashed using cheap tools like Herf guns and GPS jammers, and could even be downed by flying drones with more powerful radio. The attacks (podcast) interfere with the navigation systems used by flying drones and are possible because security was not designed into the architecture of some machines."
jfruh writes "We've reached a point in our electronic lives where most of our gadgets draw power from a USB cable, and we have lots of USB ports to choose from — some of which live on other gadgets, some of which live on adapters that plug into your wall or car. But those ports supply wildly varying amounts of power, which can result in hours of difference in how long it takes your phone to charge. The Practical Meter, the product of a successful Kickstarter campaign, can help you figure out which power sources are going to juice up your gadgets the fastest."
Nerval's Lobster writes "The Vatican, while notoriously secretive about things buried in its vaults and archives, is being as public as the digital age allows it to be about the nearly completed restoration of catacombs early Christians used as secret churches as well as burial sites. Contractors, archaeologists and art experts spent the past five years restoring the Priscilla catacombs under the Vatican using lasers, among other techniques, to restore frescoes painted on the walls of the burial chambers. The Vatican unveiled the work Nov. 19 with a press conference in the Basilica of San Silvestro outside the burial tunnels, accompanied by a virtual tour of the Priscilla catacombs provided by Google Maps. The basilica is divided into an area for religious services and another that acts as a deposit for sculptures and artifacts dug up during excavations of the catacombs and other areas underneath the Vatican."
schwit1 writes "Some drivers along a busy Fort Worth street on Friday were stopped at a police roadblock and directed into a parking lot, where they were asked by federal contractors for samples of their breath, saliva and even blood. It was part of a government research study aimed at determining the number of drunken or drug-impaired drivers.The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which is spending $7.9 million on the survey over three years, said participation was '100 percent voluntary' and anonymous. The 'participants' hardly agree."