Twitter Shuts Down JSON API and Names New CEO 97

An anonymous reader writes: This month Twitter is closing down the JSON endpoint API which thousands of third-party software and plugin developers have depended upon for years. The alternative Rest API offers data which is aggregated or limited in other ways, whilst the full-featured share data offered by Gnip (purchased last year by Twitter) can cost developers thousands per month to access — in one case up to £20,000 a month. The general objective seems to be to either drive users back to the core Twitter interface where they can be monetized via the social network's advertising, or to regain lost advertising by converting open source data — currently utilized a lot in scientific research — into premium information, offering the possibility for well-funded organizations to gain reputations as Twitter barometers without ever needing to expose the expensive, accurate share figures. The company also announced today that co-founder Jack Dorsey would be the new CEO.
Hardware Hacking

Sensor Network Makes Life Easier For Japan's Aging Rice Farmers 84

szczys writes: The average age of Japan's rice farmers is 65-70 years old. The work is difficult and even small changes to the way things are done can have a profound impact on these lives. The flooded paddies where the rice is grown must maintain a consistent water level, which means farmers must regularly traverse the terraced fields to check many different paddies. A simple sensor board is changing this, letting farmers check their fields by phone instead of in person.

This might not sound like much, but reducing the number of times someone needs to walk the fields has a big effect on the man-hours spent on each crop. The system, called TechRice, is inexpensive and the nodes recharge batteries from a solar cell. The data is aggregated on the Internet and can be presented as a webpage, a text-message interface, or any other reporting scheme imaginable by utilizing the API of the Open Source software. This is a testament to the power we have as small groups of engineers to improve the world.

Review: The Martian 214

I was both pleased and disappointed, as always, when I heard that a book I enjoyed was being made into a movie. Andy Weir's The Martian was the best new book I'd read in years. It was written for nerds, by a nerd — by somebody with an obvious love for NASA, science, and spaceflight. How could it possibly be condensed into the format of a Hollywood blockbuster? Well, director Ridley Scott and screenwriter Drew Goddard figured out how. The Martian is an excellent film, well worth watching. Read on for my review (very minor spoilers only), and feel free to share your own in the comments.

Nissan Creates the Ultimate Distracted Driving Machine 127

jfruh writes: More and more research is suggesting that it isn't safe to text or even talk on our phones hands-free while driving, but one brave car company is pushing full-speed in the other direction. Nissan has created a concept car in which every surface, including the entire dashboard and even the seats, is a display device. The car is the result of "extensive" surveys with the younger generation that came to the conclusion that, according to Nissan, young people "feel that time spent in a car should be time for connecting and sharing experiences with friends."

B612 Foundation Loses Partnership With NASA; Asteroids Not a Significant Risk 166

StartsWithABang writes: Yes, asteroids might be humanity's undoing in the worst-case scenario. It's how the dinosaurs went down, and it could happen to us, too. The B612 foundation has been working to protect us by mapping and then learning to deflect potential threats to our planet, but their proposed mission needed $450 million, a goal they've fallen well short of. As a result, NASA has severed their partnership, which is a good thing for humanity: the risk assessment figures show that worrying about killer asteroids is largely a waste.

Trans-Pacific Partnership Trade Deal Is Reached 248

An anonymous reader writes: The NY Times reports that negotiators have finally reached agreement over the Trans-Pacific Partnership from the U.S. and 11 other nations. The TPP has been in development for eight years, and has the potential to dramatically strengthen U.S. economic ties to east Asia. Though the negotiations have been done in secret, the full text of the agreement should be published within a month. Congress (and the legislative houses of the other participating countries) will have 90 days to review it and decide whether to ratify it. The TPP has been criticized in tech circles for how it regards intellectual property and facilitates website blocking, among other issues.

Proponents will also have to answer broader questions about whether it stifles competition, how it treats individuals versus large corporations, as if it creates environmental problems. To give you an idea of how complex it is: "The Office of the United States Trade Representative said the partnership eventually would end more than 18,000 tariffs that the participating countries have placed on United States exports, including autos, machinery, information technology and consumer goods, chemicals and agricultural products ranging from avocados in California to wheat, pork and beef from the Plains states."

Advertising Malware Affects Non-Jailbroken iOS Devices 67

An anonymous reader writes: Malware called YiSpecter is infecting iOS devices belonging to Chinese and Taiwanese users, and is the first piece of malware that successfully targets both jailbroken and non-jailbroken devices, Palo Alto Networks researchers warn. What's more, the techniques it uses for hiding are making it difficult to squash the infection. YiSpecter's malicious apps were signed with three iOS enterprise certificates issued by Apple so that they can be installed as enterprise apps on non-jailbroken iOS devices via in-house distribution. Through this kind of distribution, an iOS app can bypass Apple's strict code review procedures and can invoke iOS private APIs to perform sensitive operations.

Majority of EU Nations Seek Opt-Out From Growing GM Crops 275

schwit1 writes: Nineteen EU member states have requested opt-outs for all or part of their territory from cultivation of a Monsanto genetically-modified crop, which is authorized to be grown in the European Union, the European Commission said on Sunday. Under a law signed in March, individual countries can seek exclusion from any approval request for genetically modified cultivation across the 28-nation EU. The law was introduced to end years of stalemate as genetically modified crops divide opinion in Europe. The requests are for opt-outs from the approval of Monsanto's GM maize MON 810, the only crop commercially cultivated in the European Union, or for pending applications, of which there are eight so far, the Commission said.

Sex, Drugs, and Transportation: How Politicians Tried To Keep Uber Out of Vegas 129 writes: Johana Bhuiyan has written an interesting article about how the Las Vegas taxi industry used every political maneuver in its arsenal to keep Uber and Lyft off the strip. Vegas is one of the most lucrative transportation markets in the country, with some 41.1 million visitors passing through it annually. The city's taxi industry has raked in a whopping $290 million this year to date (PDF). What made Vegas unique — what made it Uber's biggest challenge yet — was the extent to which local governments were willing to protect the incumbents. According to Bhuiyan, in Las Vegas, Uber and its pugnacious CEO Travis Kalanick really did run into the corrupt taxi cartel bogeymen they'd long claimed to be saving us from, and this cartel would prove to be their most formidable opponent. But when push came to shove and the fight turned ugly, the world's fastest-growing company ran right over its entrenched opposition.

3 Scientists Share Nobel For Parastic Disease Breakthroughs 36

The Australian reports that a trio of scientists (hailing from from Japan, China, and Ireland) has been awarded this year's Nobel Prize in Medicine for their work in treating parasitic diseases. Irish scientist William Campbell (currently research fellow emeritus at New Jersey's Drew University), and Japanese biochemist Satoshi Omura, were awarded half of the monetary award for their work in defeating roundworm infections; the drug they developed as a result, Avermectin, has helped drastically lower two devastating diseases -- river blindness and lymphatic filariasis -- and has shown promise in treating other ailments as well. The other half of the prize has been awarded to Chinese researcher Youyou Tu, who discovered a novel antimalarial drug based on her research into traditional herbal medicines. (Also at The Washington Post, CNN, The New York Times, and elsewhere. The awards were live-blogged by The Guardian.)

An Ice House Design Concept For Mars Bets Long On Liquid Water 63

The Times of India reports that NASA has awarded a $25,000 first prize to Space Exploration Architecture for their design, called "Mars Ice House," of a habitat suitable for Mars. The concept relies on the (predicted) availability of Martian water, as well as on 3-D printing; according to the text accompanying the design. The 5-cm thick shell of ice which would serve as both skin and support structure for the shelter "protects against radiation without compromising life above ground." Two other teams (Gamma and LavaHive) were awarded second and third-place prizes, respectively.

TiVo's Latest Offering Detects and Skips Ads, Adds 4K Capability 81

As described by The Verge, the newest generation of TiVo is in some ways a step backward: it comes with fewer tuners than some earlier models, and less storage as well. However, two big features that distinguish the company's new Bolt DVR may entice users anyhow: it adds 4K recording, and (probably of use to more people, given the scarcity of 4K content, not to mention its file size) also can recognize and skip commercials, a feature that users have sorely missed as a mainstream feature in standalone DVRs for quite a while. (And it's possible that broadcasters will come up with a way to kill the commercial-skip function as they did with Dish's AutoHop.)

Google Lets Advertisers Target By (Anonymized) Customer Data 58

An anonymous reader writes: Google's new advertising product, called Customer Match, lets advertisers upload their customer and promotional email address lists into AdWords. The new targeting capability extends beyond search to include both YouTube Trueview ads and the newly launched native ads in Gmail. Customer Match marks the first time Google has allowed advertisers to target ads against customer-owned data in Adwords. Google matches the email addresses against those of signed-in users on Google. Individual addresses are hashed and are supposedly anonymized. Advertisers will be able to set bids and create ads specifically geared to audiences built from their email lists. This new functionality seems to make de-anonymization of google's supposedly proprietary customer data just a hop, skip and jump away. If you can specify the list of addresses that get served an ad, and the criteria like what search terms will trigger that ad, you can detect if and when your target searches for specific terms. For example, create an email list that contains your target and 100 invalid email addresses that no one uses (just in case google gets wise to single-entry email lists). Repeat as necessary for as many keywords and as many email addresses that you wish to monitor.

4 Calif. Students Arrested For Alleged Mass-Killing Plot 400

The New York Times reports that four high school students in the small California town of Tuolumne, about 120 miles east of San Francisco, have been arrested, but not yet charged, for planning an attack on their school, Summerville High School. According to the Times, three of the four were overheard discussing this plot, and a fourth conspirator was later identified. Their goal, according to Toulumne sheriff James Mele, was "to shoot and kill as many people as possible at the campus"; they had not however been able yet to obtain the weapons they wanted to carry out the attack. From NBC News' version of the story: "Detectives located evidence verifying a plot to shoot staff and students at Summerville High School," Mele said. "The suspects' plan was very detailed in nature and included names of would-be victims, locations and the methods in which the plan was to be carried out."

Daimler Tests a Self-Driving Truck On the Autobahn 114

Engadget reports that Daimler has tested an autonomous truck in one environment guaranteed to put stress on any car: the German Autobahn. While the Mercedes Actros truck was guided with a mix of "radar, a stereo camera array and off-the-shelf systems like adaptive cruise control," there was a human crew on hand, too, just in case. From the article: This doesn't mean you'll see fleets of robotic trucks in the near future. Daimler had to get permission for this run, and the law (whether European or otherwise) still isn't equipped to permit regular autonomous driving of any sort, let alone for giant cargo haulers. Still, this could make a better case for approving some form of self-driving transportation.