An anonymous reader writes "I am choosing a smartphone for work, moving up from a long history of just-a-phone phones. This coincides with moving into an environment where I will have a desktop machine in my office, rather using my laptop — so I'll VPN in from home, and am looking forward to not trucking my laptop around everywhere. BUT ... this means I now won't have my laptop all the time. I have gotten used to scripting various little things that make my life easier, and would like to carry that over to the phone. For example, periodically check that a certain machine is online and backing things up the way it is supposed to; if the lab monitoring system sends me an email that the -80 freezer is up to -50, play a sound and run the vibrate system in a specific, arbitrarily chosen pattern; when I press this button, record an MP3, when I release it prep an email with it attached, that sort of thing. Does such a beast exist? Has anyone used one and if so what do you think? Bonus points if you know if I can use it with Rogers (Canadian wireless provider used by my workplace)." I've heard good things about (but never used) the payware Android app called Tasker; what other recommendations do you have for running the world from a smartphone?
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A widely carried Associated Press article (here, as run by the Wall Street Journal) reports that some of the convincingly scientific-sounding claims of opponents of fracking don't seem to hold up to scrutiny. That's not to say that all is peaches: the article notes, for instance, that much of the naturally radioactive deep water called flowback forced up along with fracking-extracted gas "was once being discharged into municipal sewage treatment plants and then rivers in Pennsylvania," leading to concern about pollution of public water supplies. Public scrutiny and regulation mean that's no longer true. But specific claims about cancer rates, and broader ones about air pollution or other ills, are not as objective as they might appear to be, according to Duke professor Avner Vengosh and others. An excerpt: "One expert said there's an actual psychological process at work that sometimes blinds people to science, on the fracking debate and many others. 'You can literally put facts in front of people, and they will just ignore them,' said Mark Lubell, the director of the Center for Environmental Policy and Behavior at the University of California, Davis. Lubell said the situation, which happens on both sides of a debate, is called 'motivated reasoning.' Rational people insist on believing things that aren't true, in part because of feedback from other people who share their views, he said."
Bismillah writes "The 'Skynet' copyright act has been in effect for six months in New Zealand and rights holders reckon it halved the number of infringements in the first month. Even so, they're not happy and say over forty per cent of Kiwis continue to infringe online. The fix? Rightsholders want the current NZ$25 infringement notice processing fee payable to ISPs to be dropped to just a few dollars or even pennies, so that they can send out thousands of notices a month. ISPs want the fee to increase four times instead, to cover their costs. Unfortunately, the submissions for the review of the infringement notice fees are kept secret by the government."
theodp writes "Apple may have killed off Ping, its attempt at a music social network, but the USPTO on Thursday disclosed that Apple has patent-pending plans for a hearing aid-based social network. So, if Apple's granted patents covering its Social Network for Sharing a Hearing Aid Setting and method of Remotely Updating a Hearing Aid Profile, will it use them to 'go thermonuclear' on Google when the search giant gets around to improving its current offerings for the hard of hearing?"
ananyo writes "Bioengineers have made an artificial jellyfish using silicone and muscle cells from a rat's heart. The synthetic creature, dubbed a medusoid, looks like a flower with eight petals. When placed in an electric field, it pulses and swims exactly like its living counterpart. The team now plans to build a medusoid using human heart cells. The researchers have filed a patent to use their design, or something similar, as a platform for testing drugs (abstract). 'You've got a heart drug?' says Kit Parker, a biophysicist at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, who led the work. 'You let me put it on my jellyfish, and I'll tell you if it can improve the pumping.'" The video that accompanies the text is at once beautiful and creepy.
McGruber writes "The Arizona Republic has an update on Morris Jarvis, a Project Manager at Intel who also happens to head Space Transport and Recovery (STAR) Systems, a commercial space-travel company, out of his east Mesa, Arizona home. Jarvis has built the Hermes, a prototype, proof-of-concept model of a space shuttle, that is 27 feet long with a 21-foot wingspan. He believes that if he were to receive $10 million today, he could have the first test launch in a year. Jarvis 'envisions two tour options for his completed Hermes. In the first, a high-altitude balloon will raise the Hermes to 100,000-plus feet, where customers can see the curvature of the Earth. The second is a rocket-powered option that will put customers in a suborbital trajectory where they can experience weightlessness.' According to the Silicon Valley Watcher, Morris likes to describe himself as the 'Red Neck Rocket Scientist.' (He was interviewed in this May 24, 2011 IntelFreePress Video posted at YouTube.)"
First time accepted submitter fredprado writes "Apparently at least one subcontractor hired to clean up the Fukushima site has been urging their workers to put their radiation detectors lined under lead shieldings. A diagram can be seen here. The authorities decided not to prosecute him, even after one employee presenting them recordings of him trying to talk the said employee into it."
slew writes "Unlike its more famous carbon cousins: diamonds and fullerenes, you've probably never heard of M-Carbon, but this form of compressed graphite which is as hard as diamonds has baffled researcher for half a century. Over the past few years, many theoretical computations have suggested at least a dozen different crystal structures for this phase of carbon, but new experiments showed that only one crystal structure fits the data: M-carbon."
lpress writes "If you lived in Riga, Latvia, you would not have to 'cut the cord' to see video entertainment at a reasonable cost. You would simply get a triple play subscription with 20 Mbps up and 5 Mbps down from service provider Balti-Com for $25.43 USD. Balti-Com had the lowest triple pay price in a New America Foundation report, The Cost of Connectivity, which compares prices charged by 885 ISPs in 22 cities worldwide. The report found that five of the cheapest 15 triple-play offerings were in Paris — the fruit of competition between ISPs. With the Telecommunication Act of 1966, the U.S. Congress hoped to foster similar competition, but failed. As study co-author Benjamin Lennett says, U.S. telephone and cable companies have arranged a 'negotiated truce' in which cable incumbents enjoy a de facto monopoly on high-speed broadband service, while Verizon and AT&T focus primarily on their wireless platforms."
mikejuk writes "Support Vector Machines (SVMs) are fairly simple but powerful machine learning systems. They learn from data and are usually trained before being deployed. SVMs are used in security to detect abnormal behavior such as fraud, credit card use anomalies and even to weed out spam. In many cases they need to continue to learn as they do the job and this raised the possibility of feeding it with data that causes it to make bad decisions. Three researchers have recently demonstrated how to do this with the minimum poisoned data to maximum effect. What they discovered is that their method was capable of having a surprisingly large impact on the performance of the SVMs tested. They also point out that it could be possible to direct the induced errors so as to produce particular types of error. For example, a spammer could send some poisoned data so as to evade detection for a while. AI based systems may be no more secure than dumb ones."
Modellismo writes "Last week four journalists from Sansai Books were arrested for selling, through the company website, a copy of a magazine published last year (with a free cover mounted disc) focused on how to backup/rip DVDs. They violated Japan's Unfair Competition Prevention Law that recently has been revised to make illegal the sale of any DRM circumvention device or software. It's interesting to note that Japanese cyber police could arrest the Amazon Japan CEO, too, as the online giant is selling a lot of magazines, books and software packages for DVD copy and ripping: exactly what put Sansai Books' staff in trouble."
wiredmikey writes "A researcher specializing in smart grids has released an open-source tool designed to assess the security of smart meters. Dubbed 'Termineter,' the framework would allow users, such as grid operators and administrators, to test smart meters for vulnerabilities. Termineter uses the serial port connection that interacts with the meter's optical infrared interface to give the user access to the smart meter's inner workings. The user interface is much like the interface used by the Metasploit penetration testing framework. It relies on modules to extend its testing capabilities. Spencer McIntyre, a member of SecureState's Research and Innovation Team, is scheduled to demonstrate Termineter in a session 'How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Smart Meter,' at Security B-Sides Vegas on July 25. The Termineter Framework can be downloaded here." As the recent lucky winner of a smart meter from the local gas company, I wish householder access to this data was easy and expected.
First time accepted submitter rawket.scientist writes "I'm a full time lawyer and part time nerd doing most of the IT support for my small (~10 person) firm. We make heavy use of our old Windows Server 2003 machine for networked storage, and we use it as a DNS server (by choice, not necessity), but we don't use it for our e-mail, web hosting, productivity or software licensing. No Sharepoint, no Exchange, etc. Now old faithful is giving signs of giving out, and I'm seriously considering replacing it with a NAS device like the Synology DS1512+ or Dell PowerVault NX200. Am I penny-wise but pound foolish here? And is it overambitious for someone who's only dabbled in networking 101 to think of setting up a satisfactory, secure VPN or FTP server on one of these? We've had outside consultants and support in the past, but I always get the first 'Why is it doing this?' call, and I like to have the answer, especially if I was the one who recommended the hardware."
judgecorp writes "Europe is set to get pay-as-you-go high speed satellite broadband from Avanti's Ka-band HYLAS1 satellite in the 26.5 — 40GHz range. Avanti says satellite broadband services have improved massively including a far better uplink than used to be available, though the round-trip latency can't be improved much." Conspicuously missing: the actual price.
An anonymous reader writes "The Power Pwn may look like a power strip, but it's actually a DARPA-funded hacking tool for launching remotely-activated Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and Ethernet attacks. If you see one around the office, make a point to ask if it's supposed to be there. Pwnie Express, which developed the $1,295 tool, says it's 'a fully-integrated enterprise-class penetration testing platform.' That's great, but the company also notes its 'ingenious form-factor' (again, look at the above picture) and 'highly-integrated/modular hardware design,' which to me makes it look like the perfect gizmo for nefarious purposes."