Google

Google Says It Has "No Current Plans Regarding Bitcoin" 157 157

An anonymous reader writes "A popular Reddit submission today suggested Google's payment team was looking to incorporate Bitcoin, naturally sparking a lot of excitement in the virtual currency community. TNW reached out to Google regarding the claim and learned that it was indeed false. 'As we continue to work on Google Wallet, we're grateful for a very wide range of suggestions,' a Google spokesperson told TNW. 'While we're keen to actively engage with Wallet users to help inform and shape the product, there's no change to our position: we have no current plans regarding Bitcoin.'"
Space

US Lab Developing Technology For Space Traffic Control 47 47

coondoggie writes "Scientists at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory say they have tested technology that could eventually help them monitor and control space traffic. The driving idea behind the project is to help keep satellites and other spacecraft from colliding with each other or with debris in Low Earth Orbit."
Debian

Valve Offers Free Subscription To Debian Developers: Paying It Forward 205 205

sfcrazy writes "Valve Software, the makers of Steam OS, is already winning praise from the larger free and open source community – mainly because of their pro-community approach. Now the company is 'giving back' to Debian by offering free subscription to Debian developers. This subscription will offer full access to current and future games produced by Valve. Since Steam OS is based on Debian GNU/Linux it's a nice way for Valve to say 'thank you' to Debian developers."
Mars

Mars Rover Opportunity Finds Life-Friendly Niche 55 55

astroengine writes "Gale Crater, the region being explored by NASA's Curiosity rover, isn't the only place on Mars where ancient microbes may have thrived. New evidence from NASA's senior robotic Mars scout, Opportunity, shows life-friendly water once mixed with telltale, clay-bearing rocks that now lie on the broken rim of Endeavour Crater, an ancient 14-mile wide basin on the other side of the planet from Gale. 'If I were to go Mars early in time and wanted to do a well, I'd do it there,' planetary scientist Ray Arvidson, with Washington University in St. Louis, told Discovery News. 'It's like drinking water. This would have been a niche for whatever life at the time existed.'"
Earth

Midwestern Fault Zones Are Still Alive 115 115

sciencehabit writes "The occasional quakes rattling the New Madrid Seismic Zone, a series of Midwestern faults named for a small town in the Missouri Bootheel, aren't aftershocks of the massive quakes that rocked our fledgling nation more than 2 centuries ago, a new study suggests. In other words, modern-day quakes are signs that the faults in the region are still accumulating stress—and sometimes releasing it as fresh rumblings."
The Almighty Buck

Should Self-Driving Cars Chauffeur Shopping 'Whales' For Free? 213 213

theodp writes "Probably not the most fortuitous timing, but the USPTO has granted Google its wish for a patent on Transportation-Aware Physical Advertising Conversions, a system that arranges for free or discounted transportation to an advertiser's business location that will be more or less convenient based upon how profitable a customer is deemed. It's reminiscent of the free personal chauffeured limousine rides long enjoyed by Las Vegas casino 'whales', but at scale and using cars that may not have drivers. A server, Google explains, 'arranges the selected transportation option, for example, by dispatching a vehicle or providing instructions for using public transportation.' So, it seems a Larry or Sergey type might expect to be taken gratis to the Tesla dealership via a private autonomous car or even helicopter, while others may get a discount on a SF Muni bus ride to Safeway. Google also describes how advertisers will be able to use a customer's profile 'to exclude a customer from being considered for an offer based on exclusion criteria identified by a business,' such as age, job title, purchasing history, clothing size, or other 'desirable' characteristics."
Software

Does Anyone Make a Photo De-Duplicator For Linux? Something That Reads EXIF? 243 243

postbigbang writes "Imagine having thousands of images on disparate machines. many are dupes, even among the disparate machines. It's impossible to delete all the dupes manually and create a singular, accurate photo image base? Is there an app out there that can scan a file system, perhaps a target sub-folder system, and suck in the images-- WITHOUT creating duplicates? Perhaps by reading EXIF info or hashes? I have eleven file systems saved, and the task of eliminating dupes seems impossible."
Google

Google Charging OEMs Licensing Fees For Play Store 225 225

An anonymous reader writes "Google has begun charging OEMs for access to its proprietary Play Store applications for Android though the reported amount is as low as 75c per device. Between charging OEMs for Google Play apps, showing ads within these apps (Search, Maps and GMail) and profiling users with the data it collects this does show that Google is willing to leverage their stranglehold on the mobile market to control and monetize wherever it can. Add that these proprietary applications and the proprietary Google Play Services are the primary areas for Android innovation and development and you end up with an operating system that is less and less 'free' in the freedom and cost senses of the word."
Music

Video CES 2014: Stefan Lindsay Demonstrates the gTar (Video) 104 104

It looks like an ordinary electric guitar, except for a little LED screen on its body and blinking lights up and down the fretboard that show you where your fingers should go. But the gTar, besides being "The First Guitar That Anybody Can Play," hooks to your iPhone. The gTar app includes "...a variety of classical guitar pieces, modern rock, pop, and everything in between." The gTar Kickstarter campaign in 2012 raised $353,392 even though it only asked for $100,000. The company that makes the gTar, Incident Technologies, started in a garage in Cupertino (Silicon Valley) and is now located in San Francisco after several moves caused by the company's rapid growth. On their Support page they say, "We don't have a brick-and-mortar location for you to try the gTar yet, but we're working on it. In the meantime, check us out at events like Maker Faire, TechCrunch Disrupt, and many others."
Encryption

Snapchat Account Registration CAPTCHA Defeated 52 52

hypnosec writes "Snapchat's security troubles continue as a security researcher has managed to hack its account registration CAPTCHA system with a program of less than 100 lines that took 30 minutes to develop. Steve Hickson, a computer engineer by education, wrote a small computer program with very little effort that identifies Snapchat's ghost from the given set of images. Hickson equates Snapchat's ghost very particular and calls it a template that can be matched easily using a computer program. Hickson used a combination of Open Source Computer Vision Library (OpenCV), SURF points and FLANN matching "with a uniqueness test to determine that multiple keypoints in the training image weren't being singularly matched in the testing image.""
Social Networks

Facebook Is a Plague That'll Burn Out In a Few Years, Says Study 338 338

Nerval's Lobster writes "Facebook will bleed the majority of its users over the next three years, according to Princeton researchers John Cannarella and Joshua Spechler, who arrived at that conclusion by comparing Facebook to an infectious disease. That's sort of logical: both Facebook and viruses depend on networks of human beings to "transmit" and grow; and just as people shake off viruses, they should (according to the theory, at least) eventually stop using Facebook. But how do a bunch of determined scientists actually trace Facebook's theoretical rise and fall? Cannarella and Spechler decided to use the frequency with which "Facebook" is typed into Google as their main dataset (various other studies have also relied on Google Trends as the basis for predictions). Those search queries reached a peak in December 2012. The researchers took that dataset and plugged it into prebuilt model for the spread of infectious disease (PDF), tweaked things a bit, and found that Facebook—like any plague that's burned through a significant portion of a population—will decline before the decade is out. Seem unlikely? To be fair, the researchers ran the term 'MySpace' through their model and found it traced that social network's rise and fall with some accuracy; but Facebook is much larger than MySpace at its peak, and woven much more pervasively throughout the fabric of the Web—thousands of Websites rely on the Network That Zuckerberg Built to connect with users, advertise, sell products, and much more. That prevalence alone should slow any Facebook decline. In addition, Facebook has begun releasing standalone apps such as Messenger, as part of a broader strategy to expand the company's branding and functionality beyond its core Website. Whether or not you like this theory that Facebook will 'burn out' has any validity, it's clear the social network is trying to mutate."
Education

Ask Slashdot: How To Reimagine a Library? 231 231

dptalia writes "I'm part of a team tasked with re-imagining my local elementary school's library. Libraries, especially school libraries, are struggling to remain relevant in today's world, when so much reading and research can be done from home. But this school has mostly low-income students who don't have the sort of high-tech resources at home that we all take for granted. What ideas do you have to turn an elementary school library into an environment that fosters innovation and technology?"
Power

Will Electric Cars and Solar Power Make Gasoline and Utilities Obsolete? 734 734

cartechboy writes "Since the dawn of time (or modern civilization) two things have happened: utility companies have made money by selling us electricity, and oil companies make money by selling us gasoline. But is it possible we are on the verge of upsetting this status quo? Tony Seba, an entrepreneur and lecturer at Standford University, is writing a book in which he essentially predicts electric cars and solar power will make gasoline and utilities obsolete by 2030. How, you might ask? In his book, titled Disrupting Energy: How Silicon Valley Is Making Coal, Nuclear, Oil And Gas Obsolete, he predicts that as people buy electric cars the interest in clean energy will increase because who wouldn't want 'free travel'? Combining the use of solar panels and electric cars, consumers would be able to do just that. The miles electric cars travel on grid energy stored in their batteries eliminates the demand for gasoline, and it turns out many electric-car owners have solar panels on their homes while eliminates or dramatically reduces their dependence on utilities. So as the amount of electric cars on the road increases, the cost of both solar panels electric-car battery packs will decrease, right?"
Government

Surveillance Watchdog Concludes Metadata Program Is Illegal, "Should End" 138 138

An anonymous reader writes "Three out of five PCLOB board members are in agreement: The NSA spy programs are illegal.. Unfortunately, these lawyers are not in a position to act or make any changes, only to advise congress and the president. Could this be the start of change to come? 'According to leaked copies of a forthcoming report by the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB), the government's metadata collection program "lacks a viable legal foundation under Section 215, implicates constitutional concerns under the First and Fourth Amendments, raises serious threats to privacy and civil liberties as a policy matter, and has shown only limited value As a result, the board recommends that the government end the program.'" Not surprisingly, the Obama administration disagrees.
Supercomputing

Pentago Is a First-Player Win 136 136

First time accepted submitter jwpeterson writes "Like chess and go, pentago is a two player, deterministic, perfect knowledge, zero sum game: there is no random or hidden state, and the goal of the two players is to make the other player lose (or at least tie). Unlike chess and go, pentago is small enough for a computer to play perfectly: with symmetries removed, there are a mere 3,009,081,623,421,558 (3e15) possible positions. Thus, with the help of several hours on 98304 threads of Edison, a Cray supercomputer at NERSC, pentago is now strongly solved. 'Strongly' means that perfect play is efficiently computable for any position. For example, the first player wins."
Patents

US Supreme Court: Patent Holders Must Prove Infringment 143 143

jfruh writes "The Supreme Court issued a ruling that might help marginally curb patent madness. Ruling on a case between Medtronic and Mirowski Family Ventures, the court rules that the burden of proof in patent infringement cases is always on the patent holder. This is true even in the specific case at hand, in which Medtronic sought a declaratory judgement that it was not violating the Mirowski patents."
Businesses

Office Space: TV Documentary Looks At the Dreadful Open Office 314 314

sandbagger writes "The CBC (it's like PBS only without the begging) is broadcasting a documentary about the open plan office this evening. You can hear a radio interview about the documentary here. In this documentary, the history of the open office is looked at, how it has evolved, and how the justifications for it being best for everyone else are used by those with offices. Advocates say fewer doors and walls means more collaboration. Critics say it's all driven by bottom line economics--crowding more people into smaller spaces saves money. Is it just me or do the people who want you to work in open offices sound like the nobility in Downton Abbey?"
United Kingdom

Cameron's IP Advisor: Throw Persistent Copyright Infringers In Jail 263 263

An anonymous reader writes with this excerpt from TorrentFreak: "During a debate on the UK's Intellectual Property Bill, the Prime Minister's Intellectual Property Adviser has again called for a tougher approach to online file-sharing. In addition to recommending 'withdrawing Internet rights from lawbreakers,' Mike Weatherley MP significantly raised the bar by stating that the government must now consider 'some sort of custodial sentence for persistent offenders.' Google also got a bashing – again." The article goes on to say "Weatherley noted that the Bill does not currently match penalties for online infringement with those available to punish infringers in the physical world. The point was detailed by John Leech MP, who called for the maximum penalty for digital infringement to be increased to 10 years’ imprisonment instead of the current two years."
Facebook

Facebook's Biggest Bounty Yet To Hacker Who Found "Keys To the Kingdom" 111 111

mask.of.sanity writes "Facebook has paid out its largest bug bounty of $33,500 for a serious remote code execution vulnerability which also returned Facebook's etc/passwd. The researcher could change Facebook's use of Gmail as an OpenID provider to a URL he controlled, and then sent a request carrying malicious XML code. The Facebook response included its etc/passwd which contained essential login information such as system administrator data and user IDs. The company quickly patched the flaw and awarded him for the proof of concept remote code execution which he quietly disclosed to them."
Businesses

Lenovo To Buy IBM's Server Business For $2.3 Billion 160 160

itwbennett writes "Well, that was fast. Earlier this week the rumor mill was getting revved up about a potential sale of IBM's x86 server business, with Lenovo, Dell, and Fujitsu reportedly all interested in scooping it up. On Thursday, Lenovo Group announced it has agreed to buy IBM's x86 server hardware business and related maintenance services for $2.3 billion. The deal encompasses IBM's System x, BladeCenter and Flex System blade servers and switches, x86-based Flex integrated systems, NeXtScale and iDataPlex servers and associated software, blade networking and maintenance operations. IBM will retain its System z mainframes, Power Systems, Storage Systems, Power-based Flex servers, and PureApplication and PureData appliances." SlashBI has some words from an analyst about why Lenovo wants the x86 product line more than IBM does.
United States

Why Whistleblowers Can't Get a Fair Trial 441 441

phantomfive writes "'Seven whistleblowers have been prosecuted under the Obama administration,' writes Jesselyn Radack, a lawyer who advised two of them. She explains why they can't get a fair trial. In the Thomas Drake case, the administration retroactively marked documents as classified, saying, 'he knew they should have been classified.' In the Bradley Manning case, the jury wasn't allowed to see what information was leaked. The defendants, all who have been charged with espionage, have limited access to court documents. Most of these problems happen because the law was written to deal with traitorous spies, not whistleblowers."
China

Up To a Quarter of California Smog Comes From China 259 259

wabrandsma writes "What goes around comes around – quite literally in the case of smog. The US has outsourced many of its production lines to China and, in return, global winds are exporting the Chinese factories' pollution right back to the U.S. From the article: '...the team combined their emissions data with atmospheric models that predict how winds shuttle particles around. These winds push Chinese smog over the Pacific and dump it on the western US, from Seattle to southern California. The modelling revealed that on any given day in 2006, goods made in China for the US market accounted for up to a quarter of the sulphate smog over the western U.S..'"
Earth

Studies Say Earth Won't Die As Soon As Thought 155 155

sciencehabit writes "Take a deep breath—Earth is not going to die as soon as scientists believed. Two new modeling studies find that the gradually brightening sun won't vaporize our planet's water for at least another 1 billion to 1.5 billion years—hundreds of millions of years later than a slightly older model had forecast. The findings won't change your retirement plans but could imply that habitable, Earth-like alien worlds are more common than scientists thought."
Science

20,000 Customers Have Pre-Ordered Over $2,000,000 of Soylent 543 543

Daniel_Stuckey writes "Less than a year ago, Rob Rhinehart published a blog post explaining how he had stopped eating food and begun living entirely on a greyish, macro-nutritious cocktail. Today, he told Motherboard that he's sold more than $2 million worth of Soylent to tens of thousands of post-food consumers worldwide—and that it's on track to ship next month. 'We have crossed $2,000,000 in revenue from over 20,000 customers, with more every day,' Rhinehart told me. 'International demand is really picking up as well.' This despite the fact that Soylent isn't technically on the market yet, and has thus far only been available to beta testers. Rhinehart's company spent much of last year tinkering with the formula—the version he tried first was deficient in sulfur, and contained since-jettisoned ingredients like cow whey. But there's been a steadily building crescendo of publicity—both positive and negative—around the project since its inception."