An anonymous reader writes "The Chinese are going to have a very, very hard time kicking the Windows XP habit. The deadline for the retirement of Microsoft's most successful operating system ever is eight months from tomorrow: April 8, 2014. That's the day when the Redmond, Wash. company is to deliver the last XP security update. According to analytics company Net Applications, 37.2% of the globe's personal computers ran Windows XP last month. If Microsoft's estimate of 1.4 billion Windows PCs worldwide is accurate, XP's share translates into nearly 570 million machines. In the U.S., 16.4% of all personal computers ran Windows XP in July, or about one in six, Net Applications' data showed. But in China, 72.1% of the country's computers relied on the soon-to-retire operating system last month, or nearly three out of every four systems."
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vinces99 writes "Scientists have unveiled a comprehensive portrait of the genome of the world's first immortal cell line, known as HeLa, derived in 1951 from an aggressive cervical cancer that killed Henrietta Lacks, a 31-year-old African-American woman. The cells, taken without her or her family's knowledge, were pivotal in developing the polio vaccine, in vitro fertilization and cloning, and were the subject of a 2010 New York Times best-seller 'The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.' The Lacks family has never been compensated and, until this new University of Washington study, has never had a say in how the information is used. The study, published Aug. 8 in Nature, pieced together the complicated insertion of the human papillomavirus genome, which contains its own set of cancer genes, into Lacks' genome near an 'oncogene,' a naturally occurring gene that can cause cancer when altered. Scientists had never succeeded in reproducing cells in a culture until the HeLa cells, which reproduced an entire generation every 24 hours and never stopped. The cells allowed scientists to perform experiments without using a living human. The researchers discovered that the genome of the HeLa cell line, which has been replicated millions, if not billions of times, has remained relatively stable."
Nerval's Lobster writes "The microelectronic sensors and mechanical systems built into smartphone cameras and other tiny electronic devices may soon evolve into microscopic, custom-printed versions designed as bionic body parts rather than smartphone components. Engineering researchers at Tel Aviv University have developed a micro-printing process that can build microscopic microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) onto a flexible, non-toxic organic polymer designed for implantation in the human body. Current-generation MEMS are typically found in the accelerometers in smartphones, or the tiny actuator motors that focus cell-phone camera lenses. Most are made from substrates based on silicon, and built using techniques common to semiconductor fabrication. The new process, as described in the journal Microelectronic Engineering , relies on an organic polymer that is hundreds of times more flexible than conventional materials used for similar purposes. That flexibility not only makes the units easier to fit into the oddly shaped parts of a human body, it allows them to be made more sensitive to motion and energy-efficient. That alone would give a boost to the miniaturization of electronics, but the stretch and flex of the new materials could also serve as more comfortable and efficient replacements for current prosthetics that sense stimuli from an amputee's nervous system to power a prosthetic arm, for example, or operate a synthetic bladder."
MojoKid writes "Google's second gen Nexus 7 tablet is a worthy successor to the original, boasting an improved design both internally and externally. It's thinner and lighter, has a faster Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro SoC, 2GB of RAM, a higher resolution 1920X1200 display and it's running the latest Android 4.3 Jelly Bean release. The display alone was a nice upgrade in a 7-inch slate that retails for well under $300. However, it turns out the new Nexus 7 is also one of the fastest tablets out there right now, with benchmark numbers that best some of the top tablets on the market, especially in graphics and gaming. From a price/performance standpoint, Google's second generation Nexus 7 seems to be the tablet to beat right now."
astroengine writes "Europa has only been seen from afar, but its aura of intrigue has inspired scientists to study ideas as to how to explore the icy Jovian moon. In a new study published in the journal Astrobiology [paper], a NASA-appointed science definition team lays out the rich tapestry of discovery facing any mission to study Europa, but what questions do we need answering? 'If one day humans send a robotic lander to the surface of Europa, we need to know what to look for and what tools it should carry,' said Robert Pappalardo, of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., and the study's lead author. 'There is still a lot of preparation that is needed before we could land on Europa, but studies like these will help us focus on the technologies required to get us there, and on the data needed to help us scout out possible landing locations. Europa is the most likely place in our solar system beyond Earth to have life today, and a landed mission would be the best way to search for signs of life.'"
TorrentFreak reports that piracy rates of the television show Under the Dome shot up by more than a third last weekend, even though official ratings dropped. What caused the increase? On Friday, three million subscribers to Time Warner's cable TV service lost access to CBS programming, the network on which Under the Dome airs. The article says this provides compelling evidence that the availability of a show is a key factor in the decision to pirate it. "To find out whether download rates in the affected markets increased, we monitored U.S. BitTorrent downloads of last week's episode as well as the one that aired this Monday following the blackout. The data from these two samples show that in Los Angeles, New York City, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Detroit and Pittsburgh, relatively more people downloaded the latest episode, an indication that customers are turning to unauthorized channels to get the show. With hundreds of thousands of downloads Under The Dome is one of the most pirated TV-shows at the moment. Of all sampled downloaders in the U.S. 10.9% came from the blackout regions for last week's episode, and this increased to 14.6% for Monday's episode, a 34% increase. In New York City, one of the largest affected markets, the relative piracy rate more than doubled from 1.3% of all U.S. downloads last week to 3% for the episode that aired after the blackout."
tlhIngan writes "An East Texas federal judge has concluded that Bitcoin is a currency that can be regulated under American Law. The conclusion came during the trial of Trendon Shavers, who is accused of running the Bitcoin Savings and Trust (BTCST) as a Ponzi scheme. Shavers had argued that since the transactions were all done in Bitcoins, no money changed hands and thus the SEC has no jurisdiction. The judge found that since Bitcoins may be used to purchase goods and services, and more importantly, can be converted to conventional currencies, it is a form of currency (PDF) and investors wishing to invest in the BTCST provided an investment of money, and thus the SEC may regulate such business."
gspec writes "I am an engineer with about 14 years experience in the industry. Lately I have been interviewing with a few companies hoping to land a better position. In almost all those interviews, I was asked these types of question: 'Have you been a leader in a project?' or 'Why after these many years, you are not in a management? Do you lack leadership skills?' Sometimes these questions discourage me and make me feel like an underachiever. I found an article in which the author talked about exactly this, and I agree with him. I think in this modern society, especially in the U.S., we overvalue the leaders and undervalue the followers to the point that we forget that leaders cannot do any good if they do not have good followers."
Zothecula writes "A team at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) has come up with a promising new way to create 3D images from a stationary camera or microscope with a single lens. Rather than expensive hardware, the technique uses a mathematical model to generate images with depth and could find use in a wide range of applications, from creating more compelling microscopy imaging to a more immersive experience in movie theaters."
ananyo writes "Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, has brokered a deal with the family of Henrietta Lacks to release the genetic sequence of the HeLa cell line to researchers. The HeLa cell line was established in 1951 from a biopsy of a cervical tumour taken from Henrietta Lacks, a working-class African-American woman living near Baltimore. The cells were taken without the knowledge or permission of her or her family, and they became the first human cells to grow well in a lab. They contributed to the development of a polio vaccine, the discovery of human telomerase and countless other advances. Controversy erupted earlier this year after researchers published the sequence without the permission of the Lacks family. In a Q&A with the journal Nature, Collins explains how the deal was reached."
In a post on Google+, Jean-Baptiste Quéru, long-time maintainer of the Android Open Source Project, has said he'll no longer be working on it. "There's no point being the maintainer of an Operating System that can't boot to the home screen on its flagship device for lack of GPU support, especially when I'm getting the blame for something that I don't have authority to fix myself and that I had anticipated and escalated more than 6 months ahead." Quéru is referring to the recently-released Nexus 7 revision, for which Google has not provided factory images of Android 4.3. This seems to be because GPU maker Qualcomm is refusing to release the blobs necessary to boot the device.
An anonymous reader writes "This article in Wired advances the idea that humans are losing the copyright battle against machines because the fair use laws are tilted against them. The writer wanted to include photos in his book, but the licensing fees were too high. The aggregators, though, like Google, are building their own content by scraping all of the photos they can find. If anyone complains, they just say, 'Fill out a DMCA form.' Can humans compete against the machines? Should humans be able to use the DMCA to avoid copyright fees too? Should web sites be able to shrug and say, 'Hey, we just scraped it?'"
Okian Warrior writes "Adding to the 3-D printed gun/rifle controversy, Delta-V Engineering built a Full-auto Gauss gun (aka 'machine gun'), capable of firing 15 steel bolts from its magazine in less than two seconds. At 3% the muzzle energy of a .22, it's still in the prototype stage. Bullets are made from turned-down nails, and the gun uses no chemical propellants. The builder has posted the design notes online. Video of the gun in action is pretty interesting."
sciencehabit writes "A new study reveals that bottlenose dolphins can remember each other's signature contact whistles — calls that function as names — for more than 20 years, the longest social memory ever recorded for a nonhuman animal. 'The ability to remember individuals is thought to be extremely important to the "social brain,"' says Janet Mann, a marine mammal biologist at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., who was not involved in the research. Yet, she notes, no one has succeeded in designing a test for this talent in the great apes — our closest kin — let alone in dolphins."
sl4shd0rk writes "The American journalist Glenn Greewald, who published much of the initial info on illegal NSA programs, plans to release more revelations on the NSA spying machine in 10 days. 'The articles we have published so far are a very small part of the revelations that ought to be published,' Greenwald said on Tuesday. Greenwald further elaborated on public posturing which many nations are currently taking: 'The Brazilian government is showing much more anger in public than it is showing in private discussions with the U.S. government. All governments are doing this, even in Europe.'" The U.S. decided to pull out of a summit with Russia next month, citing the decision to grant Snowden asylum as a factor: "However, given our lack of progress on issues such as missile defense and arms control, trade and commercial relations, global security issues, and human rights and civil society in the last twelve months, we have informed the Russian Government that we believe it would be more constructive to postpone the summit until we have more results from our shared agenda. Russia's disappointing decision to grant Edward Snowden temporary asylum was also a factor that we considered in assessing the current state of our bilateral relationship. Our cooperation on these issues remains a priority for the United States, so on Friday, August 9, Secretaries Hagel and Kerry will meet with their Russian counterparts in a 2+2 format in Washington to discuss how we can best make progress moving forward on the full range of issues in our bilateral relationship."