Nerval's Lobster writes "Research In Motion has whipped the curtain back from BlackBerry 10. The revamped operating system is widely perceived as RIM's best chance at staying relevant in a smartphone market dominated by Google Android and Apple's iOS. Once a significant player in mobility, RIM watched its earnings and market-share crumble over the past few years. BlackBerry 10 abandons the longtime BlackBerry user interface, centered on grids of icons, in favor of one built on the same QNX technology that powers RIM's PlayBook tablet. The BlackBerry 10 home-screen offers 'live tiles' that dynamically refresh with updated information, and RIM is playing up how users can move between apps and alerts by swiping and flicking the screen. Other features include BlackBerry Balance, which divides the 'personal' and 'corporate' sides of the phone, as well as an updated BlackBerry Messenger. More details in the article." RIM also announced they are rebranding themselves as BlackBerry. If you like pictures, omfglearntoplay sent in an article that delivers. Gimmicks of the launch include hiring Alicia Keys as their "Global Creative Director."
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Better known by his stage name "The Amazing Randi", James Randi has made it his quest to "debunk psychic nonsense, disprove paranormal fakers, and squash claims of pseudoscience in order to bring the truth to the forefront." Randi worked as a popular magician most of his life and earned international fame in 1972 when he accused the famous psychic Uri Geller of being a fraud and challenged him to prove otherwise. In 1996 Randi founded The James Randi Educational Foundation (JREF) a non-profit organization whose mission includes "educating the public and the media on the dangers of accepting unproven claims, and to support research into paranormal claims in controlled scientific experimental conditions." He began offering $1000 in 1964 to anyone who could demonstrate proof of the paranormal. That amount has grown over the years, and the foundation's prize for such proof is now $1M. Around 1000 people have tried to claim the prize so far without success. Randi has agreed to take a break from busting ghostbusters and giving psychic healers a taste of their own medicine in order to answer your questions. As usual, you're invited to ask as many questions as you'd like, but please divide them, one question per post.
Zothecula writes "Taking a two-month-old in for vaccination shots and watching them get stuck with six needles in rapid succession can be painful for child and parent alike. If the work of an MIT team of researchers pans out, those needles may be thing of the past thanks to a new dissolvable polymer film that allows the vaccination needle to be replaced with a patch. This development will not only make vaccinations less harrowing, but also allow for developing and delivering vaccines for diseases too dangerous for conventional techniques." The patch was designed with delivering DNA-based vaccines in mind. Thus far efforts to use DNA to generate more robust and safe vaccines has failed thanks to the immune system destroying them; the polymer film embeds itself in your skin and slowly dissolves, protecting the DNA in the process.
wehe writes "Heise News reports today some Samsung notebooks can be turned into a brick if booted just one time via UEFI into Linux. Even the firmware does not boot anymore. Some reports in the Ubuntu bug tracker system report that such notebooks can not be recovered without replacing the main board. Other Linux distributions may be affected as well. Kernel developers are discussing a change in the Samsung-laptop driver." It appears even Samsung is having trouble tracking down the problem (from the article): "According to Canonical's Steve Langasek, Samsung developers have been attempting to develop a firmware update to prevent the problem for several weeks. Langasek is advising users to start Ubuntu installation on Samsung notebooks from an up-to-date daily image, in which the Ubuntu development team has taken precautions to prevent the problem from arising. It is, however, not completely clear that these measures are sufficient."
TAGmclaren writes "The Harvard Business Review is running a fascinating article exploring the issues facing Boeing's Dreamliner. Rather than simply blaming outsourcing, as much of the commentary has been focused on, the article delves into the benefits of integration and how being integrated when developing a new product gives engineers more degrees of freedom. From the article: 'Historically, Boeing understood that, and had worked with its subcontractors on that basis. If it was going to rely on them, it would provide them with detailed blueprints of the parts that were required — after Boeing had already created them. That, in turn, meant that Boeing had to design all the relevant pieces of the puzzle itself, first. But with the 787, it appears that Boeing tried a very different approach: rather than having the puzzle solved and asking the suppliers to provide a defined puzzle piece, they asked suppliers to create their own blueprints for parts. The puzzle hadn't been properly solved when Boeing asked suppliers for the pieces. It should come as little surprise then, that as the components came back from far-flung suppliers, for the first plane ever made of composite materials... those parts didn't all fit together. Time and cost blew out accordingly. It's easy to blame the outsourcing. But, in this instance, it wasn't so much the outsourcing, as it was the decision to modularize a complicated problem too soon.'"
An anonymous reader writes with news that the first successful case was brought before the copyright tribunal under NZ's three strikes law. From the article: "The first music pirate stung under new file-sharing laws has been fined $616 but 'didn't realise' the actions were illegal. The Recording Industry Association of New Zealand (RIANZ) — which represents music studios — took an unnamed offender to the Copyright Tribunal last year for sharing songs on the Internet — a track by Barbadian pop-star Rihanna on two occasions and the other by Nashville band Hot Chelle Rae. In a decision released today, the tribunal found in RIANZ's favor and ordered the offender ... to pay a penalty $616.57." Torrent Freak has a slightly different perspective: a lack of evidence and pushback from the tribunal resulted in much smaller fines than the RIANZ wanted.
An anonymous reader writes "From the LA Times: 'Although Microsoft's 128 GB Surface Pro tablet is advertised as having 128 gigabytes of storage, the amount of space available to users is much less than that. That's also true for the 64 GB model. The Redmond, Wash., company confirmed Tuesday that the 128 GB Surface Pro has 83 GB of free storage, while the 64 GB version comes with 23 GB of open space. The reason for the difference: space already taken up by the tablet's Windows 8 Pro operating system and various preinstalled apps.' It's generally understood that your device won't have as much available storage as advertised, but it's usually a lot closer than this. Should device-makers be required to advertise how much storage is available to users, rather than the size of the storage media?"
Lasrick writes "This article starts with an interesting anecdote: 'In 1998, President Bill Clinton read a novel about biological warfare that deeply disturbed him. In fact, the story reportedly kept him up all night. It’s one of the reasons that Clinton became personally invested in protecting the United States from bioterrorism threats. The book was The Cobra Event (Preston, 1998), a sci-fi thriller by journalist and novelist Richard Preston that told of a mad scientist who brewed a lethal, genetically engineered virus in his New York City apartment. Preston’s tale highlighted the potential ease with which individuals or small groups with access to advanced bioweapons capabilities could launch attacks on major US cities.1 After reading The Cobra Event, Clinton called several advisory meetings and ordered classified assessments and simulation exercises to examine the threat depicted in the story. As a result of these deliberations, by the end of his administration Clinton had increased funding for biodefense preparedness efforts fourfold, to more than $400 million per year.' The article goes on to describe the two trajectories of bioweapons threats, and puts them both in perspective. It may or may not calm everyone who's ever spent a sleepless night after reading one of the many bioterrorism novels"
Gunkerty Jeb writes "In a project that found more than 80 million unique IP addresses responding to Universal Plug and Play (UPnP) discovery requests, researchers at Rapid7 were shocked to find that somewhere between 40 and 50 million of those are vulnerable to at least one of three known attacks. A Rapid7 white paper enumerated UPnP-exposed systems connected to the Internet and identified the number of vulnerabilities present in common configurations. Researchers found that more than 6,900 product models produced by 1,500 different vendors contained at least one known vulnerability, with 23 million systems housing the same remote code execution flaw. 'This research was primarily focused on vulnerabilities in the SSDP processor across embedded devices,' Rapid7's CSO HD Moore said. 'The general process was to identify what was out there, make a list of the most commonly used software stacks, and then audit those stacks for vulnerabilities. The results were much worse than we anticipated, with the most commonly used software stack (libupnp) also being the most vulnerable.'"
waderoush writes "It may be the biggest art hack ever: a project to install 25,000 individually addressable LED lights on the western span of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge. New York-based 'light sculptor' Leo Villareal was in San Francisco last week to test the vast 'Bay Lights' art installation, which will officially debut on March 5 and last for two years; Xconomy has photos and video of Villareal running the light show from his laptop. To optimize his algorithms and figure out which patterns would be most interesting or arresting, Villareal needed to experiment on the bridge itself, says Bay Lights director Ben Davis, who has raised $5.8 million for the project so far. 'This has never been done before in history — literally debugging software 500 feet in the air, in front of a million people,' says Davis."
Grench writes "Search giant Google is providing funding to the Raspberry Pi Foundation to give 15,000 new Raspberry Pi Model B computers to schools all around the United Kingdom. Google Giving's partnership with the Raspberry Pi Foundation is a significant investment in UK IT education; it is hoped this will help turn around the decline in UK schoolkids going on to study IT in colleges or universities. The Foundation said, 'CoderDojo, Code Club, Computing at Schools, Generating Genius, Teach First and OCR will each be helping us identify those kids, and will also be helping us work with them. ... Grants like this show us that companies like Google aren’t prepared to wait for government or someone else to fix the problems we’re all discussing, but want to help tackle them themselves.' 15,000 Model B units at $35 each would run $525,000."
An anonymous reader sends this excerpt from an article at Bloomberg giving an inside look at how the Libor scandal happened: "Every morning, from his desk by the bathroom at the far end of Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc’s trading floor overlooking London’s Liverpool Street station, Paul White punched a series of numbers into his computer. White, who had joined RBS in 1984, was one of the employees responsible for the firm’s submissions for the London interbank offered rate, or Libor, the global benchmark for more than $300 trillion of contracts from mortgages and student loans to interest-rate swaps. Behind him sat Neil Danziger, a derivatives trader who had worked at the bank since 2002. On the morning of March 27, 2008, Tan Chi Min, Danziger’s boss in Tokyo, told him to make sure the next day’s submission in yen would increase, Bloomberg Markets magazine will report in its March issue. 'We need to bump it way up high, highest among all if possible,' [Tan wrote]. ... Events like those that took place on RBS’s trading floor ... are at the heart of what is emerging as the biggest and longest-running scandal in banking history. ... For years, traders at Deutsche Bank AG, UBS AG, Barclays, RBS and other banks colluded with colleagues responsible for setting the benchmark and their counterparts at other firms to rig the price of money, according to documents obtained by Bloomberg and interviews with two dozen current and former traders, lawyers and regulators. UBS traders went as far as offering bribes to brokers to persuade others to make favorable submissions on their behalf, regulatory filings show."
fluor2 writes "Team XBMC have released XBMC 12 'Frodo.' Features for XBMC 12 include: HD audio support (including DTS-MA and Dolby True-HD) via the new XBMC AudioEngine (OS X/iOS not yet available), live TV and PVR support, h.264 10-bit (aka Hi10P), 64-bit support in OS X to match the 64-bit support in Linux, improved image support, support for the Raspberry Pi, initial support for the Android platform, improved AirPlay support across all platforms, improved controller support in Windows and Linux, advanced filtering in the library, video library tags to complement movie sets, advanced UPnP sharing, and more!"
dp619 writes "Ross Gardler, of Apache Fame, has written a guest post on the Outercurve Foundation blog advocating that universities accelerate the research process through a collaborative sharing and development of research software while examining reasons why many have been reluctant to publish their source code. Quoting: 'These highly specialized software solutions are not rarely engineered for reuse. They are often hacks to answer a specific question quickly. ... What many academic researchers fail to understand is that this specialization problem is not unique to research projects. Most software developers will seek to provide an adequate solution to their specific problem, as quickly as possible. They don't seek to build a perfect, all-purpose, tool set that can be reused in every conceivable circumstance. They simply solve the problem at hand and move on to the next one. The difference is that open source developers will do this incremental problem solving using shared code. They will share that code in incremental steps rather than wait until they've built the complete system they need but is too specific for others to use. Other people will reuse and improve on the initial solution, perhaps generalizing it a little in the process. There is no need to share the details of why one needs a 'green widget' nor is there any reason to prevent someone modifying it so it can be either a 'green widget' or a 'blue widget.'"
coondoggie writes "Stanford researchers said this week they had used a supercomputer with 1,572,864 compute cores to predict the noise generated by a supersonic jet engine. 'Computational fluid dynamics simulations test all aspects of a supercomputer. The waves propagating throughout the simulation require a carefully orchestrated balance between computation, memory and communication. Supercomputers like Sequoia divvy up the complex math into smaller parts so they can be computed simultaneously. The more cores you have, the faster and more complex the calculations can be. And yet, despite the additional computing horsepower, the difficulty of the calculations only becomes more challenging with more cores. At the one-million-core level, previously innocuous parts of the computer code can suddenly become bottlenecks.'"