parallel_prankster writes "Researchers at MIT are developing tiny robots that can assemble themselves into products and then disassemble when no longer needed. 'A heap of smart sand would be analogous to the rough block of stone that a sculptor begins with. The individual grains would pass messages back and forth and selectively attach to each other to form a three-dimensional object; the grains not necessary to build that object would simply fall away. When the object had served its purpose, it would be returned to the heap. Its constituent grains would detach from each other, becoming free to participate in the formation of a new shape.' To attach to each other, to communicate and to share power, the cubes use 'electropermanent magnets,' materials whose magnetism can be switched on and off with jolts of electricity."
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First time accepted submitter ericjones12398 writes "If you haven't seen the words 'health care' in news headlines lately, you must be living under a rock. What seems most controversial among the latest research and news is a flawed payment scale that undervalues primary care and overvalues specialty care. There is evidence suggesting that publicly funded health care spending (i.e., Medicare) has not been based on primary health care needs. Rather, In the U.S. Medicare spending relies on a resource-based relative value scale (RBRVS) which seems to promote higher spending without evidence of better patient outcomes. A study comparing spending and mortality rates in Ontario had the opposite findings however, supporting a link between higher spending and better outcomes for patients. What are we doing different in the U.S.? "
According to an annual report by Dean Headley, a business professor at Wichita State University, flying is getting slowly better. Lost bag reports, delayed flights, service complaints and cases of getting bumped from your flight were all slightly down in 2011. From the article: "Hawaiian Airlines did the best job of arriving on time with an average of 92.8 percent, while JetBlue Airways had the worst on-time performance, 73.3 percent. A flight is considered on time if it arrives within 15 minutes of when it was originally due. Nearly half the 15 airlines improved their on-time arrival performance in 2011, and seven had an on-time arrival percentage over 80 percent — Hawaiian, Southwest Airlines, AirTran Airways, Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, and Mesa Airlines. The average on-time performance for the industry was 80 percent last year, just a tad better than 2010's average of 79.8 percent."
Hugh Pickens writes "Ben Grubb reports that an iPhone app that essentially allowed users to stalk women nearby using a location-based social networking service has been pulled from the iTunes app store by its developer after an outcry of criticism including a comment by Gizmodo labelling the 'Girls Around Me' app as the 'world's creepiest' app and a comment in The New York Times Bits blog, which said it 'definitely' won the prize for being 'too creepy'. The 'Girls Around Me' app utilized publicly available data to show a map with women who had checked-in to locations nearby using Foursquare and let users view Facebook information of those ladies if they had tied their Facebook account to their Foursquare account and if their Facebook account privacy settings were lax enough to allow any user to access it. The promotional website used for marketing the app states that the service 'helps you see where nearby girls are checking in, and shows you what they look like and how to get in touch, adding 'In the mood for love, or just after a one-night stand? Girls Around Me puts you in control! Reveal the hottest nightspots, who's in them, and how to reach them.' Foursquare yanked the Girls Around Me app's access to its data, which in turn led to the app's developer removing it from iTunes as it didn't work properly. In a statement to the Wall Street Journal, the company behind the app defended its creation: 'Since the app's launch till last Friday nobody ever raised a privacy concern because, again, it is clearly stated that Girls Around Me cannot show the user more data than [what Foursqure or Facebook] already does.'"
MistrX writes "The Dutch company PAL-V completed its first series of test flights with its flying car, the PAL-V One, successfully. The PAL-V One flies like a gyrocopter, with a minimal runway length of 165 meters, and drives around like a trike on the road. Furthermore it offers 2 passengers a maximum speed of 180km/h both on land and in the air. The company aims with the PAL-V One at usage within the United States, China, the United Kingdom, Germany and France, because private flying is more commonplace."
An anonymous reader writes "Global Payments, the U.S.-based credit card processor company that experienced a security breach affecting Visa and MasterCard, confirmed that the breached portion of its processing system was confined to North America. The company also finally revealed how many credit card numbers were stolen: around 1,500,000."
harrymcc writes "On April 2nd, 1987 — 25 years ago today — IBM announced OS/2. It was supposed to be the next-generation operating system that would replace DOS. It never did. But for a famous failure, it's doing okay — it still runs the computers that manage the New York Subway's Metrocard fare cards, for instance. Over at TIME.com, I've taken a look at its occasional triumphs, frequent tribulations and enduring legacy."
dsmalle writes "Apple has adapted its warranty to cover 2 years, under pressure of the European Union and after European consumer organizations sued Apple. From the article: 'The warranty conditions have been changed and these changes can be found on the website of Apple. Products that are purchased on the website of the manufacturer or in stores are now under warranty for two years, as it is required by the EU warranty guidelines. However, the warranty for Apple products that have been purchased elsewhere will not change and they will only be given a limited one-year warranty.'"
'GreenSQL is an Open Source database firewall used to protect databases from SQL injection attacks,' says the GreenSQL.net website, which also says, 'GreenSQL works as a proxy and has built-in support for MySQL and PostgreSQL. The logic is based on evaluation of SQL commands using a risk scoring matrix as well as blocking known db administrative commands (DROP, CREATE, etc).' The company also maintains a commercial version as a separate entity. GreenSQL CTO/CoFounder David Maman gives more details about both the company and open source GreenSQL in this video interview.
Adrian Bachtold at the Catalan Institute of Nanotechnology in Barcelona has created the world's most sensitive scale. The new subatomic weight scale can measure masses as tiny as one yoctogram, less than the mass of a proton. From the article: "Bachtold hopes the scales could be used to distinguish different elements in chemical samples, which might differ only by a few protons. They might also diagnose health conditions by identifying proton-scale differences in molecular mass that are markers of disease."
An anonymous reader writes "Variety is reporting that Ashton Kutcher – who you likely recognize from That 70s Show, Punked, and Two and a Half Men – has been tapped to play Apple co-founder Steve Jobs in an indie film titled 'Jobs', based on a script from Matt Whiteley. The film will chronicle Steve Jobs from wayward hippie to co-founder of Apple, where he became one of the most revered creative entrepreneurs of our time."
New submitter reovirus1 writes "Mike Smith, the character Bubbles on the Canadian TV show Trailer Park Boys, is leading the Race for Space contest that will send one lucky reader into space. 'Throughout the series, Bubbles often talks about his love for space and his lifelong desire to become a spaceman someday, but his poor eyesight has always prevented him from even owning a driver's license. It's a fictional show obviously, but Bubble's desire to go to space on the show was actually born out of my love of space and rocketry. It has been a hobby of mine since I was 5 years old. If I win this chance to go to space, I intend to shoot a documentary of the entire process leading up to the flight, in hopes of inspiring a new generation of young people to become involved in space exploration,' he writes."
Fluffeh writes "Judge Holderman ruled against copyright holders who were trying to paint a rather distorted picture. They sue just one Internet user, but use that lawsuit as a pretext to subpoena other defendants who had participated in the same BitTorrent swarm. The plaintiffs in these lawsuits claim that the other users had participated in a "conspiracy" to assist one another in distributing particular copyrighted works. Because the copyright holder's threat is based on the cost of litigation (and risk of public embarrassment — as this is a tactic used increasingly by the pron industry) more so than the damages a defendant would face in the event of a loss, innocent defendants have virtually as much incentive to settle as guilty ones do. That's not how things are supposed to work, and more and more judges are refusing to play along. Coupled with recent rulings in Florida, the copyright holders seem to be finding less and less favor with judges."
First time accepted submitter nachiketas points out this story about a new online service offered by the Taliban. "Worried about whether Islamic verses on Facebook are allowed? Or that suicide bombers kill innocent civilians? Afghanistan's Taliban have set up a new question-and-answer section on their website to address such issues. The facility on Voice of Jihad, the official website of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan — the Taliban's own name for their movement — allows readers to submit queries to spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid. It is a demonstration of how far the insurgents' attitude towards technology has changed."
First time accepted submitter Duncan J Murray writes "I will be attending a 3-day science conference soon, consisting mainly of lectures, and was wondering what people thought would be the ultimate hardware/software combo note-taking device, taking into account keyboard quality, endurance, portability, discretion & future ease-of-reference. Is a notepad and pen still king? What about an Ipad? N900? Psion 5mx? A small Thinkpad X-series? And if so which OS? Would you have a GUI? Which text-editor?"