cold fjord writes in with this story about research that breaks down Twitter conversations in 6 basic types."The Pew Research Center and the Social Media Research Foundation analyzed thousands of twitter conversations going back to 2010. They found these conversations occurred based on the structure of the individual's Twitter network. For example, the subjects and content that a person tweets about, the people they follow, the people who follow them and the way they network creates a structure of social activity. In a recently released report Pew reports that they uncovered six distinct patterns for these structures. 'These are data-driven early steps in understanding Twitter discussion structures that contribute to the emerging science of social participation,' Ben Shneiderman professor of computer science at the University of Maryland ... 'This new field is emerging right before our eyes and could eventually have a large impact on our understanding of everything from health to community safety, from business innovation to citizen science and from civic engagement to sustainable energy programs.' ... 'These maps provide insights into people's behavior in a way that complements and expands on traditional research methods ... '"
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sfcrazy writes "Canonical is bringing back menu integration with application windows. In 14.04 there will be an option for users to enable menus in application windows. That's a huge u-turn from Mark's stand on Global Menus which upset a lot of Ubuntu users."
sciencehabit writes "When you hear a friend's voice, you immediately picture her, even if you can't see her. And from the tone of her speech, you quickly gauge if she's happy or sad. You can do all of this because your human brain has a 'voice area.' Now, scientists using brain scanners and a crew of eager dogs have discovered that dog brains, too, have dedicated voice areas. The finding helps explain how canines can be so attuned to their owners' feelings."
itwbennett writes "The Obama administration on Thursday launched a website with information to assist people and businesses targeted in patent lawsuits or receiving patent demand letters. The White House also announced that it would launch a new crowdsourcing initiative focused on identifying prior art (evidence of existing inventions) that the USPTO can use to reject bad patent claims and will expand a USPTO patent examiner technical training program by allowing outside technologists to help with the training."
An anonymous reader writes "Can computers pick up your age and gender from your tweets? If you want to give it a try, here's your chance: 'To develop your software for age and gender identification, we provide you with a training data set that consists of blog posts, Twitter tweets, social media texts, as well as hotel reviews.' Well, at least my paid Amazon reviews are safe for the time being..."
An anonymous reader writes "Attackers have crafted the E-Z-2-Use malware code that exploits a 14-month-old vulnerability in Android devices. The vulnerability exists in the WebView interface a malicious website can utilize it to gain a remote shell into the system with the permissions of the hijacked application. Vulnerable devices are any device that is running a version earlier than 4.2 (in which the vulnerability was patched) which is a staggeringly large amount of the market. The vulnerability is in Android itself rather than the proprietary GMS application platform that sits atop the base operating system so it is not easily patched by Google."
SirLurksAlot writes "News is beginning to circulate on Twitter and various sites that Jim Weirich, the creator of Rake, has passed away at the age of 58. He was an active developer (his last commit in the last 24 hours) and has made many contributions to the Ruby community over the years, as well as being a prolific speaker and teacher. He had a great sense of humor and was beloved by many. He will be greatly missed."
paugq writes "NuttX is a real-time operating system (RTOS) with an emphasis on standards compliance and small footprint. Scalable from 8-bit to 32-bit microcontroller environments, the primary governing standards in NuttX are POSIX and ANSI standards. Additional standard APIs from Unix and other common RTOS's (such as VxWorks) are adopted for functionality not available under these standards, or for functionality that is not appropriate for deeply-embedded environments. NuttX was first released in 2007 by Gregory Nutt under the permissive BSD license, and today the 100th release was made: NuttX 6.33. Supported platforms include ARM, Atmel AVR, x86, Z80 and others."
New submitter kjbullis writes with this snippet from Technology Review: "When Toyota recalled over two million cars last week because of flaws with antilock braking systems and other problems, the fix was simple — a few software updates .The implementation of that fix is far from simple. Every one of those cars has to be taken into a dealership to have the new software installed, an expensive process that can take months. Cars that haven't been fixed could, in some cases, suddenly stall and crash. There is an alternative — the same sort of remote software updates used for PCs and smart phones. Indeed, one automaker, Tesla Motors, already provides what it calls 'over-the-air updates,' which allowed it to execute a recent software fix without requiring anybody to bring in their cars. But other automakers are dragging their feet, both because they're worried about security and because they might face resistance from dealers."
kc123 writes "A telescope to find worlds around other stars has been selected for launch by the European Space Agency's Science Policy Committee. Known as Plato (Planetary Transits and Oscillations of stars), the mission should launch on a Soyuz rocket in 2024. The Plato space telescope will prepare the way for scientists searching for alien life by locating the first genuinely Earth-like exoplanets orbiting nearby stars. It will break new ground in astronomy by using a "bug eye" array of 34 individual telescopes. The intention is for this array to sweep about half the sky, to investigate some of its brightest and nearest stars."
Nerval's Lobster writes "Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg decided to drop a cool $16 billion on WhatsApp, a messaging service with 450 million users. It was a mind-boggling sum, even if you buy into Facebook's argument that WhatsApp (which will continue to operate as an independent subsidiary, at least for the moment) will soon connect a billion people around the world. But it wasn't the biggest tech acquisition of all time: that honor belongs to Hewlett-Packard, which bought Compaq for (an inflation-adjusted) $33.4 billion in 2001. Facebook's purchase of WhatsApp comes in second on the list, followed by Hewlett-Packard's purchase of Electronic Data Systems for $15.4 billion; Google's acquisition of Motorola Mobility for $13 billion, and Oracle snatching up Peoplesoft for $12.7 billion. In sixth comes Hewlett-Packard again, with its Autonomy buy in 2011 (for $11.7 billion), followed by Oracle's BEA Systems acquisition ($9.4 billion) and Microsoft seizing Skype ($9.0 billion). What do many of these highest-cost purchases have in common? Many of them didn't pan out. Hewlett-Packard's Compaq, Autonomy, and EDS acquisitions, for example, made all the sense in the world on paper, the tech giant eventually took significant write-downs on all three (Autonomy in particular was an outright disaster, resulting in a $8.8 billion write-off and widespread allegations of financial and management impropriety)." Update: 02/20 19:32 GMT by T : Of interest: Mother Jones has an interesting take on the seeming mismatch between Facebook's business model and the way the WhatsApp founders think about advertising. Hint: they hate it.
lunatick writes "I put in my application for Google Glass as a joke. I never figured I would be selected. Well in less than one week I got my invite to buy Google Glass. My main hold back is the $1500 price tag for a device that just seems to be a camera and navigation aid. Does anyone in the /. community have Google Glass and can they give some advice to the rest of us considering it?"
cartechboy writes "It's amazing how far we've come with technology. Now many of us have the ability to work remotely, and we can even lock/unlock our vehicles via the Internet. And yet, the way we receive our packages from FedEx, UPS, and USPS hasn't really changed. But Volvo thinks it has a way to revolutionize package delivery with Roam Delivery: instead of having packages delivered to your house or office, you could have packages dropped off in the trunk of your car. Volvo says this would work via its new digital keys technology which would allow customers to choose their car as a delivery option when ordering goods online. Via a smartphone or tablet, the owner would be informed when a delivery requires dropping off or picking up from the car. Accepting the delivery will enable a digital key which tracks when the car is opened, and then when it's locked again. The digital key expires once the delivery is complete. Not only does this sound pretty slick, but the technology to make it happen is pretty simple. Now the only question is whether you really want your Amazon box being delivered to your vehicle."
DavidHumus writes with this excerpt from a New York Times article: "Big paydays on Wall Street often come under laserlike scrutiny, while Silicon Valley gets a pass on its own compensation excesses. Why the double standard? The typical director at a Standard & Poor's 500 company was paid $251,000 in 2012, according to Bloomberg News. Mr. Schmidt [Google's CEO] is above that range by over $100 million. ...The latest was the criticism of Jamie Dimon's pay for 2013, given the many regulatory travails of his bank, JPMorgan Chase. The bank's board awarded Mr. Dimon $20 million in pay for 2013, $18.5 million of which was in restricted stock that vests over three years. ...For one, the outsize pay for Mr. Schmidt doesn't square with Google's performance. Putting aside the fact that he is not even the chief executive, Google had net income of $12.9 billion last year. JPMorgan was higher at $17.9 billion...." DavidHumus notes "Maybe the bigger question is why is CEO pay so entirely disconnected from company performance?"
bunratty writes "According to recent articles by Roy Spencer and John Christy, our climate models have done a poor job of predicting warming due to humans burning fossil fuels. They claim that we've observed only a fraction of the warming they predict. But when I look at the source they claim to use, the State of the Climate in 2012, I see that it shows a warming of 0.7 degrees Celsius worldwide since 1980, close to the 0.8 degrees Celsius warming predicted by the climate models. Take a look at the data for yourself. How well do our predictions match our observations?"
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Gary Marshall writes that.Microsoft's marvelous motion-sensing device is doing really good work for Sony, helping the PS4 outsell the Xbox One in the US and rocketing it to the top of the world's console sales charts. With the Xbox One $100 more expensive than the PlayStation 4, the Kinect is the explanation for the huge difference in price between the rival platforms says Marshall. "That kind of money makes a huge difference, and I wonder: if Microsoft had kept the Kinect as an optional add-on, which we all know it should be, would the Xbox One be much more attractive?" Ben Kuchera describes the peripheral as one of the most hated pieces of equipment in current use. "The system is still new, but every Xbox One owner now has a peripheral that has little reason to exist, aids their gaming in very few real ways and costs them a significant amount of money." The common defense of the Kinect is that developers wouldn't support it unless it was forced on consumers but according to Kuchera pushing a product on the public with the hope that it will be useful once we have it is a cruel inversion of how product adoption should be handled. "The forced pack-in proves something we already knew at the beginning of this generation: Almost no one would want to buy the Kinect separately if they were given the choice," writes Kuchera. "It's time to make the Kinect a peripheral, not a pack-in.""
colinneagle writes "Amid all the talk about Microsoft forking Android for a smartphone OS, one suggestion involves a look back to Microsoft's DOS days. Microsoft DOS was designed per IBM's specification to run exclusively on IBM's PC hardware platforms. Phoenix Technologies employed software developers it nicknamed 'virgins,' who hadn't been exposed to IBM's systems, to create a software layer between Microsoft's DOS system and PCs built by IBM's competitors. This helped Microsoft avoid infringing on IBM's patents or copyrights, and subsequently helped fuel the explosive growth of PC clones. Microsoft could use the same approach to 'clone' the proprietary Android components in its own Android fork. This would prevent copyright infringement while giving Microsoft access to Google Play apps, as well as Android's massive base of developers." Microsoft (or anyone) could generate a lot of goodwill by completely replacing the proprietary bits of Android; good thing that doing so is a work in progress (and open-source, too), thanks to Replicant. (Practically speaking, though, couldn't Google just make access to the Play Store harder, if Microsoft were to create an Android-alike OS? Even now, many devices running Android variants don't have access to it.)
jonyami writes "Virtual reality headsets are the next big thing thanks to the rise of the Oculus Rift, but this new headset from tiny startup GameFace Labs promises to one-up its rivals by going completely wireless. A new article goes heads-on with the new device and features an interview with the company's founder, Ed Mason."
An anonymous reader writes "Include Security unveiled new research showing that users of the popular online dating app Tinder were at significant risk due to a vulnerability they discovered in the geo-location feature of the application. This vulnerability allowed Tinder users to track each another's exact location for much of 2013. Anyone with rudimentary programming skills could query the Tinder API directly and pull down the co-ordinates of any user. This resulted in a privacy violation for the users of the application." Include Security has posted a video that shows how the the flaw could be exploited, before it was fixed last month.
First time accepted submitter paulbes writes "Jan Koum picked a meaningful spot to sign the $19 billion deal to sell his company WhatsApp to Facebook [Wednesday]. Koum, cofounder Brian Acton and venture capitalist Jim Goetz of Sequoia drove a few blocks from WhatsApp's discreet headquarters in Mountain View to a disused white building across the railroad tracks, the former North County Social Services office where Koum, 37, once stood in line to collect food stamps. That's where the three of them inked the agreement to sell their messaging phenom –which brought in a minuscule $20 million in revenue last year — to the world's largest social network." Forbes overstates the apparent selling price by a few billion dollars; big numbers, either way. [Update: 02/20 13:51 GMT by T : The $19 billion makes sense, if you include retention bonuses in the form of restricted stock units.] Another reader points out the interesting fact that "Acton — himself a former Apple engineer — applied for jobs at both Twitter and Facebook way before WhatsApp became a wildly popular mobile app. Both times he was rejected."
An anonymous reader writes "Homeland security officials on Wednesday abruptly shelved a proposal to build a national database of license-plate scans after criticism from privacy advocates. The proposal, which had been posted online last week by the office of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, sought a contractor who could establish a searchable database of license plates, with the times and locations where they were spotted by traffic cameras and other sources. But in a statement late Wednesday, the department announced a reversal. 'The solicitation, which was posted without the awareness of ICE leadership, has been canceled,' said spokeswoman Gillian Christensen. 'While we continue to support a range of technologies to help meet our law enforcement mission, this solicitation will be reviewed to ensure the path forward appropriately meets our operational needs.'"
sandbagger writes in with a story about U.S. and British government interest and involvement with journalists visiting the Wikileaks website. "The Intercept recently published an article and supporting documents indicating that the NSA and its British counterpart GCHQ surveilled and even sought to have other countries prosecute the investigative journalism website WikiLeaks. GCHQ also surveilled the millions of people who merely read the WikiLeaks website. The article clarifies the lengths that these two spy organizations go to track their targets and confirms, once again, that they do not confine themselves to spying on to those accused of terrorism. One document contains a summary of an internal discussion in which officials from two NSA offices discuss whether to categorize WikiLeaks as a "malicious foreign actor" for surveillance targeting purposes. This would be an important categorization because agents have significantly more authority to engage in surveillance of malicious foreign actors."
retroworks writes "Just over a year ago, complex systems theorists at the New England Complex Systems Institute warned that if food prices continued to climb, so too would the likelihood that there would be riots across the globe. Sure enough, we're seeing them now. The paper's author, Yaneer Bar-Yam, charted the rise in the FAO food price index—a measure the UN uses to map the cost of food over time—and found that whenever it rose above 210, riots broke out worldwide. It happened in 2008 after the economic collapse, and again in 2011, when a Tunisian street vendor who could no longer feed his family set himself on fire in protest."
Hallie Siegel writes "PackBots will be deployed in Brazil during the 2014 World Cup Soccer season to bring a high-tech approach to security. The nation's government has secured a $7.2 million deal with PackBot's creators for 30 of the military bots. The robots will be stationed throughout Brazil's 12 host cities, during the soccer matches to boost security and help examine any suspicious objects."
wjcofkc writes "CNN reports that astronomers using NASA's NuSTAR telescope have for the first time mapped deep within the radioactive material from a supernova. The light from the originating star, Cassiopeia A, located about 11,000 light-years away and having had about eight time the mass of our sun, first reached Earth about 350 years ago. But that does not mean there still isn't a lot to study. Scientists using the NuSTAR, which stands for Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, launched in June 2012 and consisting of an instrument with two telescopes that focus high energy X-ray light, were able to peer deep within the cataclysmic aftermath. While there is currently no model for how the process of a supernova works, the findings in the study are a big step forward. 'Until we had NuSTAR, we couldn't see down to the core of the explosion,' Brian Grefenstette, lead author and research scientist at the California Institute of Technology, said at a news conference Wednesday."