An anonymous reader writes "MIT researchers have developed a highly articulated robotic manipulator based on soft materials that can harden to reposition the device. The technique is known as jamming, and it relies on pouches filled with granular material like coffee grounds; when air is removed from the pouches, they become rigid. The researchers combined jamming actuators with cables to build a manipulator resembling an elephant trunk. They say the device is low-cost, capable of grasping a variety of objects, and can remain in a hardened state for extended periods of time using little energy."
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snydeq writes "With WWDC around the corner, iOS 6 rumors are taking center stage, but the real action for developers may be around iCloud. Forthcoming OS X Mountain Lion will integrate iCloud into the formal file system, making iCloud usage much easier and thus more common, and thanks to iCloud Documents, which lets apps open and save documents directly in iCloud, developers will be able to better tap iOS-to-OSX document syncing in their apps, a la iWork. But there is a downside to this opportunity: 'For developers, it further enmeshes you in the Apple ecosystem, almost in the way that America Online did in its heyday. Case in point: OS X apps can use the iCloud Documents APIs only if they are sold through the Mac App Store.'"
First time accepted submitter ixarux writes "India is at a crucial crossroad at the moment. Internet censorship laws are getting stricter as it begins to ban file-sharing and video-sharing websites. It started with Indian courts allowing censorship of Google, Facebook, etc. It has now gone one step ahead and decided to ask ISPs to block file-sharing sites. It is the movie industry which is again at the forefront of this. Anonymous retaliated, and targeted the websites of various Indian government websites in protest. What India lacks at this crucial juncture are debates in the public domain about this and citizens actually organizing protests as seen in the West."
First time accepted submitter eGuy writes "ZDNet sparked a debate about password policies when John Fontana wrote about my open source (LGPL) password policy project that rewards XKCD-like passwords. Steve Watts of SecurEnvoy replies that it is too little, too late. What think ye? Is there hope for passwords?"
zarmanto writes "It seems the Flashback botnet has netted their creators nothing but frustration. Flashback was tagged early on by anti-virus vendors, who promptly sink-holed many of the command & control addresses, and essentially crippled the hacker's ability to control the vast majority of the Flashback botnet... but that's not the best part. The Flashback spawned click fraud campaign resulted in... nada! It seems that their pay-per-click affiliate may be on to their scheme, as they refused to pay out. Score one for the good guys, for once."
jbrodkin writes "The U.S. International Trade Commission today ordered an import ban on Motorola Mobility Android products, agreeing with Microsoft that the devices infringe a Microsoft patent on 'generating meeting requests' from a mobile device. The import ban stems from a December ruling that the Motorola Atrix, Droid, and Xoom (among 18 total devices) infringed the patent, which Microsoft says is related to Exchange ActiveSync technology. Today, the ITC said in a 'final determination of violation' (PDF) that 'the appropriate form of relief in this investigation is a limited exclusion order prohibiting the unlicensed entry for consumption of mobile devices, associated software and components thereof covered by ... United States Patent No. 6,370,566 and that are manufactured abroad by or on behalf of, or imported by or on behalf of, Motorola.' Motorola (which is being acquired by Google) was the last major Android device maker not to pay off Microsoft in a patent licensing deal. Microsoft has already responded to the decision, saying it hopes Motorola will now reconsider."
An anonymous reader writes "The folks at Facebook may be focusing on their IPO today, but a complaint filed in federal court has given them something else to think about. The filing consolidates 21 separate but similar cases and alleges Facebook invaded users privacy by tracking their browsing behavior even after they had logged out of the site. The claim seeks $15 billion in damages. 'If the claimants are successful in their case against Facebook, they could prevent Menlo Park from collecting the huge amount of data it collects about its users to serve ads back to them. Like the previous lawsuits, Facebook is once again being accused of violating the Federal Wiretap Act, which provides statutory damages per user of $100 per day per violation, up to a maximum per user of $10,000. The complaint also asserts claims under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, the Stored Communications Act, various California Statutes and California common law.'"
sciencehabit writes "A project to drill deep into the heart of a 'supervolcano' in southern Italy has finally received the green light, despite claims that the drilling would put the population of Naples at risk of small earthquakes or an explosion. Yesterday, Italian news agency ANSA quoted project coordinator Giuseppe De Natale of Italy's National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology as saying that the office of Naples mayor Luigi de Magistris has approved the drilling of a pilot hole 500 meters deep. The project’s organizers originally intended to bore a 4-kilometer-deep well in the area of the caldera late in 2009, but the plan was put on hold by then-mayor Rosa Russo Iervolino after scientists expressed concerns about the risks."
New submitter The God of Code writes "EA has announced that they will be waiving all Origin distribution fees for crowd-funded games — like those from Kickstarter — for the first 90 days. 'The public support for crowd-funding creative game ideas coming from small developers today is nothing short of phenomenal,' Origin VP David DeMartini commented. 'It's also incredibly healthy for the gaming industry. Gamers around the world deserve a chance to play every great new game, and by waiving distribution fees on Origin we can help make that a reality for successfully crowd-funded developers.' The recently funded Wasteland 2 developer Brian Fargo applauds EA's move, saying, 'Having Origin waive their distribution fees for 90 days for fan funded games is a major economic bonus for small developers. We look forward to bringing Wasteland 2 to the Origin audience.'"
CowboyRobot writes "Opening with the line, 'To me, a personal computer should be small, reliable, convenient to use and inexpensive,' Steve Wozniak gave his system description of the Apple-II in the May, 1977 issue of BYTE. It's instructive to read what was worth bragging about back then (PDF), such as integral graphics: 'A key part of the Apple-II design is an integral video display generator which directly accesses the system's programmable memory. Screen formatting and cursor controls are realized in my design in the form of about 200 bytes of read only memory.' And it shows what the limitations were in those days, 'While writing Apple BASIC, I ran into the problem of manipulating the 16 bit pointer data and its arithmetic in an 8 bit machine. My solution to this problem of handling 16 bit data, notably pointers, with an 8 bit microprocessor was to implement a nonexistent 16 bit processor in software, interpreter fashion.'"
benrothke writes "Elementary Information Security, based on its title, weight and page length, I assumed was filled with mindless screen shots of elementary information security topics, written with a large font, in order to jack up the page count. Such an approach is typical of far too many security books. With that, if there ever was a misnomer of title, Elementary Information Security is it." Read below for the rest of Ben's review
mblase writes "SpaceX and NASA have been working hard to make this weekend's launch happen — and that has meant navigating the cultural differences between this small, young startup and the huge veteran space agency. The relationship involves daily calls and emails between people who live in two different worlds: age versus youth, bureaucracy versus a flat startup-like structure, and a sense of caution versus a desire to move forward quickly. But they both have an almost religious belief in the need for humans to venture forth into space, a geeky love for rockets, and technical know-how — plus, they both need each other to succeed." The launch is scheduled for 4:55AM EDT (08:55 GMT) tomorrow morning. NASA TV will begin coverage at 3:30AM EDT, and there will be a press conference at 8:30AM. SpaceX's press kit (PDF) has mission details. The rendezvous with the ISS is scheduled for day 4 of the mission after a series of maneuvering tests to ensure the Dragon capsule can approach safely. It carries 1,200 pounds of supplies for the people aboard the ISS, and it carries 11 science experiments designed by students.
The Bad Astronomer writes "What's the nearest star to Earth that can explode as a supernova? Spica, at 260 light years away, is the nearest massive star that can explode, but IK Pegasi — a Sirius-like binary composed of a normal star and a white dwarf — will also one day blow. At a distance of 150 light years, it's truly the closest supernova candidate. Happily, that's too far away to damage the Earth when it goes off — and it won't explode for millions of years at least, by which time it'll be even farther away. Either way, we're safe... for now."
medv4380 writes "38 Studios, run by Curt Schilling, is having a hard time paying its bills and employees. The gaming community hasn't been happy with the company since the issue with an Online Pass for Single Player Content, which we discussed previously. Now, 38 Studios has bounced a check intended as a payment on its $75 million loan from the state of Rhode Island. If the company defaults, Rhode Island taxpayers will have to cover the loan and interest, which could total nearly $100 million."
Facebook's much-hyped IPO kicked off today, but an anonymous reader points out that things didn't go quite as smoothly as investors hoped. "Public trading didn't get underway until about 11:30 a.m. ET, half an hour after it was supposed to. The delay was likely caused by the huge amount of interest in the stock – especially by retail investors. In the first few minutes of trading, Facebook shares were only up between 5 and 10 per cent and by noon were essentially back down to the IPO price of $38. Many observers had expected the stock to double in price by the end of the day, if not sooner." The NY Times has a data visualization showing how Facebook's IPO compares to other tech IPOs throughout the years, and how the first day of trading treated all of those companies. Meanwhile, the debate is lively over whether the social networking giant will be a good investment. "The banks helping take Facebook public want us to value this 8-year-old upstart at as much as $104 billion, more than Disney or Kraft Foods, though those companies earn three and four times more. That top valuation is also more than 100 times Facebook's earnings last year, versus 13 times for the average company. At such a high price, it will take years for this so-called earnings multiple to fall to a more reasonable level, and that's assuming the company can maintain its torrid earnings growth."