An anonymous reader writes Ars Technica reports that for the first time in Bitcoin's five-year history, a single entity has repeatedly provided more than half of the total computational power required to mine new digital coins, in some cases for sustained periods of time. It's an event that, if it persists, signals the end of crypto currency's decentralized structure."
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itwbennett (1594911) writes "In a victory for the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), which is suing to make the DOJ release information about surveillance on U.S. citizens, a California judge on Friday ordered the Department of Justice to produce 66 pages of documents for her review. The judge said the agency failed to justify keeping the documents secret and she will decide whether the documents, including one opinion and four orders by the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC), were improperly withheld from the public."
In a story that's sure to bring to the surface the long-debunked myth of an over-elaborate NASA quest to create a pen to operate in space, Wired reports that the coffee situation aboard the International Space Station is about to improve: the station will be getting a 20kg, custom designed Lavazza espresso machine, to be delivered along with Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti. Among other differences from terrestrial espresso machines: the resulting beverage must be pumped into a straw-friendly bag rather than a demitasse. I wonder if there could be some way to adapt a (much lighter) Aeropress for space purposes, as a backup.
Steve Patterson (2850575) writes It's rumored that Amazon will launch its own 3D smartphone on June 18. While it may be compelling, a sexy 3D feature won't catapult Amazon into the lead of the cut-throat smartphone category. If this were true, the EVO 3D, introduced two years ago by HTC and the W960, introduced by Samsung four years ago, would have been top sellers rather than niche products. However, a smartphone that renders 3D images does present an internet retailing opportunity for Amazon. It would be useful to Amazon in selling tangible consumer merchandise, just like Amazon's Kindle Fire tablet was designed to improve Amazon's merchandising of ebooks and video streaming products. What else would you like to use a 3D phone for?
lpress (707742) writes "Google, along with Facebook, is a founding partner of Internet.org, which seeks "affordable internet access for the two thirds of the world not yet connected." Google is trying to pull it off — they have projects or companies working on Internet connectivity using high-altitude platforms and low and medium-earth orbit satellites. These extra-terrestrial approaches to connectivity have been tried before, without success, but Google is revisiting them using modern launch technology (public and private), antennas, solar power, radios and other electronics, as well as tuning of TCP/IP protocols to account for increased latency. For example, they just acquired Skybox Imaging, which has a low-earth orbit satellite for high resolution video imaging. In the short run, Skybox is about data, video and images, but the long range goal may be connectivity in developing nations and rural areas — substituting routers for telescopes. Skybox plans to operate a constellation of low-earth orbit satellites and that sounds a lot like Teledesic's attempt at providing connectivity in the mid 1990s, using the technology of 2014."
A New York Times piece (as carried by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette) outlines a fascinating project operating in unlikely circumstances for a quixotic goal. They want to control, and return to earth, the International Sun-Earth Explorer-3, launched in 1978 but which "appears to be in good working order." Engineer Dennis Wingo, along with like minded folks (of whom he says "We call ourselves techno-archaeologists") has established a business called Skycorp that "has its offices in the McDonald's that used to serve the Navy's Moffett air station, 15 minutes northwest of San Jose, Calif. After the base closed, NASA converted it to a research campus for small technology companies, academia and nonprofits. ... The race to revive the craft, ISEE-3, began in earnest in April. At the end of May, using the Arecibo Observatory radio telescope in Puerto Rico, the team succeeded in talking to the spacecraft, a moment Mr. Wingo described as "way cool." This made Skycorp the first private organization to command a spacecraft outside Earth orbit, he said. The most disheartening part: "No one has the full operating manual anymore, and the fragments are sometimes contradictory." The most exciting? "Despite the obstacles, progress has been steady, and Mr. Wingo said the team should be ready to fire the engines within weeks."
The New York Times, in an article about Apple CEO Tim Cook, focuses in large part on the ways in which Cook is not Jobs. He's less volatile, for one thing, whether you think that means he's less passionate or just more circumspect. A small slice: Lower-level employees praise Mr. Cook’s approachability and intellect. But some say he is less hands-on in developing products than his predecessor. They point to the development of the so-called iWatch — the “smartwatch” that Apple observers are eagerly awaiting as the next world-beating gadget. Mr. Cook is less involved in the minutiae of product engineering for the watch, and has instead delegated those duties to members of his executive cabinet, including Mr. Ive, according to people involved in the project, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to press. Apple declined to comment on the watch project. ... Mr. Cook has also looked outside of Apple for experienced talent. He has hired executives from multiple industries, including Angela Ahrendts, the former head of Burberry, to oversee the physical and online stores, and Paul Deneve, the former Yves Saint Laurent chief executive, to take on special projects. He also hired Kevin Lynch, the former chief technology officer of Adobe, and Michael O’Reilly, former medical officer of the Masimo Corporation, which makes health monitoring devices. Not to mention the music men of Beats.
MarkWhittington (1084047) writes According to a Saturday story in the Los Angeles Times, the recent revival of tensions between the United States and Russia, not seen since the end of the Cold War, may provide a shot in the arm for the American rocket engine industry. Due in part in retaliation for economic sanctions that were enacted in response to Russian aggression in the Ukraine, Russia announced that it would no longer sell its own RD-180 rocket engines for American military launches. This has had American aerospace experts scrambling to find a replacement. The stakes for weaning American rockets off of dependency on Russian engines could not be starker, according to Space News. If the United States actually loses the RD-180, the Atlas V would be temporarily grounded, as many as 31 missions could be delayed, costing the United States as much as $5 billion. However SpaceX, whose Falcon family of launch vehicles has a made in the USA rocket engine, could benefit tremendously if the U.S. military switches its business from ULA while it refurbishes its own launch vehicles with new American made engines.
An anonymous reader writes "Many years ago, I was a coder—but I went through my computer science major when they were being taught in Lisp and C. These days I work in other areas, but often need to code up quick data processing solutions or interstitial applications. Doing this in C now feels archaic and overly difficult and text-based. Most of the time I now end up doing things in either Unix shell scripting (bash and grep/sed/awk/bc/etc.) or PHP. But these are showing significant age as well. I'm no longer the young hotshot that I once was—I don't think that I could pick up an entire language in a couple of hours with just a cursory reference work—yet I see lots of languages out there now that are much more popular and claim to offer various and sundry benefits I'm not looking to start a new career as a programmer—I already have a career—but I'd like to update my applied coding skills to take advantage of the best that software development now has to offer. (More, below.)
As reported by the San Jose Mercury News, the state of California is "in the throes of a whooping cough epidemic, state health department officials announced Friday. Dr. Ron Chapman, director of the California Department of Public Health, said 3,458 cases of whooping cough have been reported since Jan. 1 -- including 800 in the past two weeks. That total is more than all the cases reported in 2013." Public broadcaster KPBS notes that of the 621 people known to have come down with whooping cough in San Diego county, the vast majority (85 percent) were up to date on their immunizations.
On June 8th, with a radio source beamed at the asteroid designated 2014 HQ124 (less formally, "the beast") while two other telescopes tracked that beam's reflections, NASA was able to gather high-quality images of the object as it zipped by a mere 776,000 miles from Earth. (Some asteroids are closer, and a vast number of them could soon be better known, but none have allowed as good an opportunity for radar obvservation.) Astronomy Magazine's account adds a bit more detail: To obtain the new views, researchers paired the 230-foot (70m) Deep Space Network antenna at Goldstone, California, with two other radio telescopes, one at a time. Using this technique, the Goldstone antenna beams a radar signal at an asteroid and the other antenna receives the reflections. The technique dramatically improves the amount of detail that can be seen in radar images. To image 2014 HQ124, the researchers first paired the large Goldstone antenna with the 1,000-foot (305m) Arecibo radio telescope in Puerto Rico. They later paired the large Goldstone dish with a smaller companion, a 112-foot (34m) antenna, located about 20 miles (32km) away. ... The first five images in the new sequence — the top row in the collage — represent the data collected by Arecibo and are 30 times brighter than what Goldstone can produce observing on its own.
According to an article at The Escapist, a group of hardware developers is working on a portable version of the long-rumored SteamBox console, dubbed the SteamBoy. (Video tease.) This portable version wouldn't be as powerful as some other Steam-centric rigs, but a representative of this group says "it will be possible to play the majority of current games in Steam." While the exact hardware itself is still under wraps, the SteamBoy design should feature a Quad-Core CPU, 4GB RAM, a 32GB built-in memory card, and a 5" 16:9 touchscreen. ... The pictured SteamBoy looks like a combination of the Steam Controller and the PlayStation Vita, with two touchpads, 8 action buttons, 4 triggers, and two additional buttons to the rear. While that should certainly be as functional as a Steam Machine, we still aren't aware what the system specs will be.
theodp (442580) writes With the battle for the connected home underway, Wired's Mat Honan offered his humorous and scary Friday the 13th take on what life in the connected home of the future might be like. "I wake up at four to some old-timey dubstep spewing from my pillows," Honan begins. "The lights are flashing. My alarm clock is blasting Skrillex or Deadmau5 or something, I don't know. I never listened to dubstep, and in fact the entire genre is on my banned list. You see, my house has a virus again. Technically it's malware. But there's no patch yet, and pretty much everyone's got it. Homes up and down the block are lit up, even at this early hour. Thankfully this one is fairly benign. It sets off the alarm with music I blacklisted decades ago on Pandora. It takes a picture of me as I get out of the shower every morning and uploads it to Facebook. No big deal." Having been the victim of an epic hacking, Honan can't be faulted for worrying.
Dimetrodon (2714071) writes British consultancy Plextek has just announced the world's first immersive medical training system for the military using the Oculus Rift. The virtual reality technology will be used to simulate pre-hospital care on the battlefield, requiring trainees to "negotiate and prioritise" clinical needs while under virtual fire.
jones_supa (887896) writes Monthly Prescribing Reference reports that the "Eskimo diet" hypothesis, suggested as a factor in the alleged low incidence of coronary artery disease (CAD) in Greenland Eskimos, seems not to be supported in the literature, according to a metastudy published in the Canadian Journal of Cardiology (abstract). Researchers found that only one study directly assessed the prevalence of CAD or CAD risk factors, and that study showed that CAD morbidity was similar among Inuit and American and European populations. In most studies, the prevalence of CAD was similar for Greenland Eskimos and Canadian and Alaskan Inuit and for non-Eskimo populations. The original studies from the 1970s that formed the basis of the supposed cardioprotective effect of the Eskimo diet did not examine the prevalence of CAD. "The totality of reviewed evidence leads us to the conclusion that Eskimos have a similar prevalence of CAD as non-Eskimo populations," the authors write. "To date, more than 5,000 papers have been published studying the alleged beneficial properties of omega-3 fatty acids not to mention the billion dollar industry producing and selling fish oil capsules based on a hypothesis that was questionable from the beginning."
An anonymous reader writes MIT researchers develop technology that can monitor people's breathing and heart rate through walls. 'Their latest report demonstrates that they can now detect gestures as subtle as the rise and fall of a person's chest. From that, they can determine a person's heart rate with 99 percent accuracy. The research could be used for health-tracking apps, baby monitors, and for the military and law enforcement.' The report describes how they extended their through-wall technology to up to five users and how they track vital signs.