ananyo writes "California lawmakers are weighing a bill aimed at protecting their state's citizens from surreptitious genetic testing but scientists are voicing their growing concerns that, if passed, such a law would have a costly and damaging effect on research. The bill, dubbed the Genetic Information Privacy Act, would require an individual's written consent for the collection, analysis, retention, and sharing of his or her genetic information—including DNA, genetic test results, and even family disease history. The University of California has submitted a formal letter objecting to the bill, estimating that the measure could increase administrative costs by up to $594,000 annually — money which would come out of the cash-strapped state's General Fund. The university has also expressed concern that its researchers would suffer competitive losses in obtaining research grants."
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This morning's nixed launch of SpaceX's Dragon capsule to the ISS with the company's Falcon booster was an exciting thing to be on hand for, despite the (literally) last-second halt. Shuttle launches used to cause miles of traffic backups extending well outside the gates of NASA's Cape Canaveral launch facilities; for all the buzz around the first private launch to the ISS, today's launch attempt was much more sparsely attended. In a small set of bleachers set up near the massive countdown clock, there were a few dozen enthusiasts and reporters aiming their cameras and binoculars at the launch site on the horizon. They counted down in time with the clock, and — just like NASA's own announcer — reached all the way to "liftoff." There was a brief flash as the engines ignited, but it died as fast as it appeared. It took only a few seconds for the crowd to realize that it was all over for today's shot. While the company's representatives remain upbeat, pointing out that the software worked as intended to stop a launch before anomalies turn into catastrophes, most of those on hand to see what they'd hoped to be a historic launch were a bit glum as they walked back to the parking lot and the press area — especially the ones who can't stay until the next try. I'm sticking around the area until the next scheduled launch window; hopefully next time the fates (and engines) will align.
oyenamit writes "In a significant boost to online privacy, Twitter has announced that they will officially support the Do Not Track feature in browsers. While this is a good news for privacy advocates and users in general, it leaves Twitter to use only the information that is handed over to them by the users for advertising purposes."
schliz writes "The Australian software patent system could be used by open source developers to ensure their inventions remain available to the community, a conference organized by intellectual property authority IP Australia heard this week According to Australian inventor Ric Richardson, whose company came out on top of a multi-million dollar settlement with Microsoft in March, a world without software patents would be 'open slather for anybody who can just go faster than the next person.' Software developer Ben Sturmfels, whose 2010 anti-software-patent petition won the support of open source community members such as Jonathan Oxer, Andrew Tridgell, and software freedom activist Richard Stallman, disagreed."
walterbyrd writes about a program from Microsoft to clean up bloated base installs, for a price. From the article: "Microsoft even offers up numbers to show how detrimental this OEM-installed crapware is to your system. Microsoft claims that Signature systems start up 39 percent faster, go into sleep mode 23 percent faster, and resume from sleep a whopping 51 percent faster compared to their crapware-ladened counterparts. (A 'Signature' system is one without crapware). But now, Microsoft will offer customers the opportunity to give their Windows 7 PC the Signature treatment by bringing it to a Microsoft Store and paying $99, according to the Wall Street Journal."
McGruber writes "The Federal Times is reporting that Northrup Grumman has filed suit against the US Postal Service, accusing the USPS of violating the terms of the 2007 fixed-price ($875 million) contract to produce 100 massive automatic sorting systems, each capable of handling millions of magazines, catalogs and other pieces of flat mail. The Postal Service embarked on the project just as mail volume was beginning to nosedive, cutting into anticipated efficiency gains. The sorting machines' performance has been uneven, according to a series of reports by the Postal Service's inspector general."
colinneagle writes with an excerpt from Network World: "Guy's and St Thomas' Hospital in London began trials of a Kinect-driven camera last week that would sense body position, and by waving his or her hands, the surgeon can sift through medical images, such as CT scans or real-time X-rays, while in the middle of an operation. During surgery, a surgeon will stop and consult medical images anywhere from once an hour to every few minutes. So the surgeon doesn't have to leave the table, the doctor will work with assistants, but sometimes, if you want things done to your satisfaction, you have to do it yourself. Dr. Tom Carrell, a consultant vascular surgeon at Guy's and St Thomas', described an operation on a patient's aorta earlier this month to New Scientist. 'Up until now, I'd been calling out across the room to one of our technical assistants, asking them to manipulate the image, rotate one way, rotate the other, pan up, pan down, zoom in, zoom out.' With the Kinect, he says, 'I had very intuitive control.'"
Lasrick writes "Benjamin Loehrke describes the rather odd definitions of what is a 'tactical' nuclear weapon and what isn't. 'There is enough ambiguity surrounding the capabilities of tactical and strategic nuclear weapons to render the term "tactical" all but useless for arms control purposes. As the United States and Russia pursue new arms control treaties, they should drop the tactical distinction and limit the total number of all nuclear weapons — strategic, tactical, or other.'"
PhunkySchtuff writes "I'm seeking the collective's recommendations on a laptop with a numeric keypad that doesn't suck. For practicality reasons, an external USB keypad is less convenient than a built-in one. A keypad is required for entry of lots of numbers, and using the alpha keys with the Fn key to turn them into a keypad is not acceptable. Looking at the larger manufacturers, it seems that none of their business grade laptops (e.g. Lenovo's T-Series or similar quality levels) have numeric keypads. Looking at their laptops that do have keypads, invariably they are cheap, plastic and flimsy. Looking at Lenovo's offering with a Keypad, whilst it's a 15" screen, the vertical resolution is just 768 pixels, and the build quality of it leaves a lot to be desired. I need to find something that is built to the quality of a 'real' ThinkPad, or even a MacBook Pro, but has a full-sized keyboard with a numeric keypad and there doesn't seem to be anything like that on the market at the moment. This is a mystery to me as to why it would be the case as I'd imagine it's business users who need to use a keypad more than the average user, yet it is the consumer grade laptops that have keypads."
theodp writes "Q. What do you get when you surround the image of Men in Black star Will Smith trying on sunglasses with a pitch for 'MIB Bill Smith Dark Shades'? A. U.S. Patent No. 8,180,688. 'Many people consume broadcast media such as television shows and movies for many hours a week,' Amazon explained to the USPTO in its patent application for a Computer-Readable Medium, System, and Method for Item Recommendations Based on Media Consumption. 'The consumed broadcast media may depict a variety of items during the course of the transmission, such as clothing, books, movies, accessories, electronics, and/or any other type of item.' So, does Amazon's spin on As Seen on TV advertising deserve a patent?"
judgecorp writes "Stung by continued criticism from Greenpeace and protests at Apple's headquarters over its use of electricity from non-renewable sources, Apple has promised that its data center in Maiden, North Carolina will use 100 percent renewable electricity, 60 percent of it generated by Apple itself. The update is possible because it is building a second giant solar array, and because its data center only needs 20MW at full capacity, instead of the 100MW which Greenpeace had estimated."
New submitter closer2it writes with news of interface changes in Windows 8. From the article: "Microsoft has revealed that it has made some big changes to its desktop UI for Windows 8, which includes moving away from Aero Glass — the UI first introduced with Vista. According to the company, this means visual changes that include 'flattening surfaces, removing reflections, and scaling back distracting gradients.' Despite all of these changes with the interface, the company doesn't appear to be worried about the issue of 'learnability.' Instead, Microsoft believes that with a little help it won't take long for users to adapt to the new operating system."
ClockEndGooner writes "Sadly, SpaceX had to abort its launch of the Falcon 9 to the International Space Station this morning due to higher than expected pressure levels in one of its engine chambers. NASA and SpaceX have another launch window scheduled for early next week." Probably better than an engine failing during launch; hopefully everything is worked out for Tuesday.
Hugh Pickens writes "Steve Blank, a professor at Berkeley and Stanford and serial entrepreneur from Silicon Valley, says that the the Facebook IPO is the beginning of the end for Silicon Valley as we know it. "Silicon Valley historically would invest in science, and technology, and, you know, actual silicon," says Blank. "If you were a good venture capitalist you could make $100 million." But there's a new pattern emerging created by two big ideas that will lead to the demise of Silicon Valley as we know it. The first is putting computer devices, mobile and tablet especially, in the hands of billions of people and the second is that we are moving all the social needs that we used to do face-to-face onto the computer and this trend has just begun. "If you think Facebook is the end, ask MySpace. Art, entertainment, everything you can imagine in life is moving to computers. Companies like Facebook for the first time can get total markets approaching the entire population." That's great for Facebook but it means Silicon Valley is screwed as a place for investing in advanced science. "If I have a choice of investing in a blockbuster cancer drug that will pay me nothing for ten years, at best, whereas social media will go big in two years, what do you think I'm going to pick?" concludes Blank. "The headline for me here is that Facebook's success has the unintended consequence of leading to the demise of Silicon Valley as a place where investors take big risks on advanced science and tech that helps the world. The golden age of Silicon valley is over and we're dancing on its grave.""
DerekduPreez writes "The UK government has finally unveiled the second iteration of its Cloudstore after a number of delays, and has reneged on its pledge to make version 2.0 open source. Cloudstore is an online catalogue that the public sector can use to procure cloud services provided by suppliers signed up to the G-Cloud framework. The first version of the Cloudstore was unveiled in February. Computerworld UK spoke to former G-Cloud director Chris Chant shortly after the first release, who was at the time also overseeing the second iteration. He stated during his interview that Cloudstore 2.0 would be go live in April and it would be built using open source code. However, following weeks of delays, the Cabinet Office has now confirmed that the second iteration also isn't open source."