VentureBeat reports that the unofficial Google ambassador to the world has made another significant visit to a place where Internet access is either forbidden or impractical for most of the citizenry; hopefully it heralds change on that front. Continuing his tour of countries with authoritarian governments and less-than-favorable Internet access, Google Chairman Eric Schmidt made a secret visit to Cuba yesterday. The U.S. government has forbidden its citizens from traveling to Cuba or spending any money within the country since cold war tensions in the 1960s. Even though the cold war is over, the ban remains in effect, which is why Schmidt’s visit is significant. Unofficially (meaning not on behalf of his company), the powerful Googler has also made controversial visits to North Korea and Myanmar to promote Internet freedom, and has previously spoken out against online censorship happening in both China and India. Schmidt, says the article, "was joined by a crew of former Google employees as well as author Jared Cohen."
mdsolar (1045926) writes "Researchers have carried out an environmental lifecycle assessment of 2-megawatt wind turbines mooted for a large wind farm in the U.S. Pacific Northwest. They conclude that in terms of cumulative energy payback, or the time to produce the amount of energy required of production and installation, a wind turbine with a working life of 20 years will offer a net benefit within five to eight months of being brought online." Watts Up With That? has a more skeptical take on the calculations.
An anonymous reader writes The U.S. National Archives has revealed to Wikipedia newspaper The Signpost that it will be uploading all of its holdings to the Wikimedia Commons. Dominic McDevitt-Parks told the Signpost that "The records we have uploaded so far contain some of the most high-value holdings ... However, we are not limiting ourselves ... Our approach has always been simply to upload as much as possible ... to make them as widely accessible to the public as possible."
An anonymous reader writes A day after a surprise U.S. Supreme Court decision to outlaw streaming TV service Aereo, U.S. broadcaster Fox has moved to use the ruling to clamp down on another internet TV service. Fox has cited Wednesday's ruling – which found Aereo to be operating illegally – to bolster its claim against a service offered by Dish, America's third largest pay TV service, which streams live TV programming over the internet to its subscribers and allows them to copy programmes onto tablet computers for viewing outside the home.
New submitter redr00k (3719103) writes with a link to the summary of a RAND Corporation study addressing "a general perception that there is a shortage of cybersecurity professionals within the United States, and a particular shortage of these professionals within the federal government, working on national security as well as intelligence. Shortages of this nature complicate securing the nation's networks and may leave the United States ill-prepared to carry out conflict in cyberspace." One of the key findings: waive the Civil Service rules. (The NSA can already bypass those rules; RAND's authors say this should be extended to other agencies.)
mikejuk (1801200) writes Due to its importance in the history of computing, the UK's Computer Conservation Society embarked on a 4-year project to build a replica of EDSAC. The main challenge facing the team of volunteers who are working on the rebuild is the lack of documentation. There are almost no original design documents remaining so the rebuild volunteers have to scrutinize photographs to puzzle out which bits go where. However, three years into the project, a set of 19 detailed circuit diagrams have come to light and been handed to the EDSAC team by John Loker, a former engineer in the University of Cambridge Mathematical Laboratory. "I started work as an engineer in the Maths Lab in 1959 just after EDSAC had been decommissioned. In a corridor there was a lot of stuff piled up ready to be thrown away, but amongst it I spotted a roll of circuit diagrams for EDSAC. I'm a collector, so I couldn't resist the urge to rescue them. " In the main, the documents confirm that the team has been correct in most of its re-engineering assumptions, but the drawings have thrown up a few surprises. The most significant discrepancy between the original and the reconstruction that the papers reveal is in the "initial orders" (boot ROM in modern terminology). In the absence of fuller information, the reconstruction team had considered and rejected one possibility which was in fact the one that was used by the original engineers. That will now be rectified in the reconstruction, which is due for completion in late 2015.
MojoKid (1002251) writes LG is probably getting a little tired of scraping for brand recognition versus big names like Samsung, Apple and Google. However, the company is also taking solace in the fact that their smartphone sales figures are heading for an all-time high in 2014, with an estimated 60 million units projected to be sold this year. LG's third iteration of their popular "G" line of flagship smartphones, simply dubbed the LG G3, is the culmination of all of the innovation the company has developed in previous devices to date, including its signature rear button layout, and a cutting-edge 5.5-inch QHD display that drives a resolution of 2560X1440 with a pixel density of 538 PPI. Not satisified with pixel overload, LG decide to equip their new smartphone with 'frickin' laser beams' to assist its 13MP camera in targeting subjects for auto-focus. The G3 performs well in the benchmarks with a Snapdragon 801 on board and no doubt its camera takes some great shots quickly and easily. However, it's questionable how much of that super high res 2560 display you can make use of on a 5.5-inch device.
Jason Koebler (3528235) writes "The cybersecurity bill making its way through the Senate right now is so broad that it could allow ISPs to classify Netflix as a "cyber threat," which would allow them to throttle the streaming service's delivery to customers. "A 'threat,' according to the bill, is anything that makes information unavailable or less available. So, high-bandwidth uses of some types of information make other types of information that go along the same pipe less available," Greg Nojeim, a lawyer with the Center for Democracy and Technology, said. "A company could, as a cybersecurity countermeasure, slow down Netflix in order to make other data going across its pipes more available to users.""
Last week at Google I/O, the company introduced Cardboard, its cheap-and-cheerful (it's made of cardboard, after all) approach to nearly instant VR viewing. It's no Oculus Rift — lacking the Rift's connection to a powerful backend PC, it can't do the same heavy lifting. In fact, it looks sort of like a prank, and the announcement at I/O that everyone at the conference would be getting "a piece of cardboard" drew a lot of chuckles. Gigaom argues that it's nonetheless extremely valuable, because it makes immersive viewing easy and cheap for anyone with a fairly capable smartphone — a pretty satisfying experience in itself, and a good taste of what even higher-end viewers can bring. "In addition to the Cardboard app," writes an anonymous reader, "Google has pushed out an updated version of Google Maps which includes a VR mode for Street View." And if you weren't blessed with an I/O pass, and aren't sure about your skills cutting one out of a pizza box, note that you can buy a kit for about $25, including the RF tag that will tell a phone to fire up the Cardboard app. (The linked article says an aluminum version is in the works from at least one company; I'd like to see one in corrugated plastic — strong but light — and with connection points for a headstrap.) If you've made something similar (or would like to), what would you improve in the design or feature set? (Look soon for a video introduction to Cardboard with Google VP Clay Bavor, too.)
cold fjord (826450) writes with this excerpt from ScienceNordic: Researchers the world over almost unanimously agree that our climate is changing ... But many farmers – at least Swedish ones – have experienced mild winters and shifting weather before and are hesitant about trusting the scientists. The researcher who discovered the degree of scepticism among farmers was surprised by her findings. Therese Asplund ... was initially looking into how agricultural magazines covered climate change. Asplund found after studying ten years of issues of the two agricultural sector periodicals ATL and Land Lantbruk that they present climate change as scientifically confirmed, a real problem. But her research took an unexpected direction when she started interviewing farmers in focus groups about climate issues. Asplund had prepared a long list of questions about how the farmers live with the threat of climate change and what they plan to do to cope with the subsequent climate challenges. The conversations took a different course: "They explained that they didn't quite believe in climate changes," she says. "Or at least that these are not triggered by human activities." (Original paper here.)
cartechboy writes What if you got into your car and you had to authenticate that it was you behind the wheel? That might be what's coming in the near future as Ford's working with Intel to bring facial recognition to the car. The idea would be to improve safety and in-car tech with this system which is being called Project Mobil. When someone enters a Project Mobil-equipped car the system uses front-facing cameras to authenticate the driver. If the driver can't be authenticated it'll send a photo to the vehicle owner's phone asking for permission for this person to drive the vehicle. Once identified, the car can then automatically adjust certain settings to the driver's preference. This could also theoretically allow parents to control how loud their kids listen to the music while driving, how fast they can drive, and even simply monitor them driving. Obviously this NSA-like surveillance tech is a bit creepy on some levels, but there could be a lot of terrific applications for it. While only an experiment, don't be surprised if your dashboard stares back at you eventually.
The Atlantic reports that two years ago, Facebook briefly conducted an experiment on a subset of its users, altering the mix of content shown to them to emphasize content sorted by tone, negative or positive, and observe the results. From the Atlantic article: For one week in January 2012, data scientists skewed what almost 700,000 Facebook users saw when they logged into its service. Some people were shown content with a preponderance of happy and positive words; some were shown content analyzed as sadder than average. And when the week was over, these manipulated users were more likely to post either especially positive or negative words themselves. This tinkering was just revealed as part of a new study, published in the prestigious Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Many previous studies have used Facebook data to examine “emotional contagion,” as this one did. This study is different because, while other studies have observed Facebook user data, this one set out to manipulate it. At least they showed their work.
Nate the greatest (2261802) writes "Here in the US it is legal to resell your MP3s on Redigi, and thanks to the UsedSoft decision you can resell downloaded software in Europe. But if you want to resell your ebooks you had better act fast. Tom Kabinet launched last week in the Netherlands to offer a marketplace for used ebooks, and it is already getting legal threats. The Dutch Trade Publishers Association (GAU) says that the site is committing piracy and if it doesn't shut down the GAU plans to take it to court. Citing a ruling from a German court, secretary general of the GAU Martijn David said that the question of legality had already been settled. Would anyone care to place a bet on whether the site is still in operation in 6 months?"
mpicpp (3454017) writes Apple told news website The Loop that it has decided to abandon Aperture, its professional photo-editing software application. "With the introduction of the new Photos app and iCloud Photo Library, enabling you to safely store all of your photos in iCloud and access them from anywhere, there will be no new development of Aperture," Apple said in a statement to The Loop. "When Photos for OS X ships next year, users will be able to migrate their existing Aperture libraries to Photos for OS." The new Photos app, which will debut with OS X Yosemite when it launches this fall, will also replace iPhoto. It promises to be more intuitive and user friendly, but as such, likely not as full featured as what Aperture currently offers.
An anonymous reader writes with this story about a machine-learning project out of the UK's University of Sheffield: Using simple drones the researchers have created automatic-control software that enables the "flying robot" to learn about its surroundings using a camera and an array of sensors. The robot starts with no information about its environment and the objects within it. But by overlaying different frames from the camera and selecting key reference points within the scene, it builds up a 3D map of the world around it. Other sensors pick up barometric and ultrasonic data, which give the robot additional clues about its environment. All this information is fed into autopilot software to allow the robot to navigate safely, but also to learn about the objects nearby and navigate to specific items.