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Submission + - Japanese 'Octopus' robot to support rescue and recovery missions (

An anonymous reader writes: A team of Japanese researchers has designed an eight-legged ‘Octopus’ robot [] to help clear heavy and contaminated rubble following the 2011 Fukushima disaster. Engineers at Waseda University’s Future Robotics Organisation and the Kikuchi Corporation, have created the 1.7-meter tall robot with four arms and four tank-treads, which is specifically built to deal with difficult terrain and lend assistance in rescue missions. As well as heavy-lifting, it has also been engineered to efficiently put out fires, deal with radioactive waste and cut through rock with fiber laser capabilities. "We hope to overcome the obstacles that come with natural disasters and an aging society, and use this robot to bring new industries to Fukushima prefecture,” said ‘Octopus’ robot creator Professor Masakatsu Fujie.

Submission + - Google caught altering search-results for profit (

mi writes: We've always suspected, this may happen some day — and, according to FTC's investigation inadvertently shared with the Wall Street Journal, it did.

In a lengthy investigation, staffers in the FTC’s bureau of competition found evidence that Google boosted its own services for shopping, travel and local businesses by altering its ranking criteria and “scraping” content from other sites. It also deliberately demoted rivals.

For example, the FTC staff noted that Google presented results from its flight-search tool ahead of other travel sites, even though Google offered fewer flight options. Google’s shopping results were ranked above rival comparison-shopping engines, even though users didn’t click on them at the same rate, the staff found. Many of the ways Google boosted its own results have not been previously disclosed.

Submission + - Iain Banks dies of cancer

An anonymous reader writes: BBC News is reporting that Iain Banks, best known for his Culture series novels and The Wasp Factory, has died of cancer aged 59. It had been announced several months ago that he was suffering from bladder cancer, and he had stated his intentions to spend his remaining time visiting places which meant a lot to him after marrying his partner.

Google Releases Software To Iran 286

eldavojohn writes "After working closely with US officials following the lifting of export restrictions, Google has announced that their Google Earth, Picasa and Chrome are now available for download in Iran. US sanctions once prevented this but now Google has created versions of its popular software that block all Iranian government IP addresses from utilizing them — thus satisfying the new restrictions."

Encrypt Your Smartphone — Or Else 304

pin0chet writes "Modern smartphones contain ever-increasing volumes of our private personal data — from text messages to images to emails — yet many smartphone security features can easily be circumvented by thieves or police officers equipped with off-the-shelf forensics equipment. Worse, thanks to a recent California Supreme Court ruling, police officers may be able to search your smartphone for hours without a warrant if you're arrested for any reason. Ars Technica has an article exploring the legal issues surrounding cell phone searches and explaining how you can safeguard your smartphone from the prying eyes of law enforcement officers."

Stuxnet Authors Made Key Errors 228

Trailrunner7 writes "There is a growing sentiment among security researchers that the programmers behind the Stuxnet attack may not have been the super-elite cadre of developers that they've been mythologized to be in the media. In fact, some experts say that Stuxnet could well have been far more effective and difficult to detect had the attackers not made a few elementary mistakes."

Submission + - Jessica Watson sets sail (

DarkOx writes: Jessica Watson has begun her round the world voyage, if successful she will be the youngest person, age 16, to circumnavigate the globe by sail unassisted and non-stop.

She will 23,000 nautical miles (about 38,000 kilometres), departing and returning to Sydney as required to set the record. This will be a journey lasting around 240 days, during which she may not acquire any outside supplies or receive any assistance with repairs.

She will have internet access, e-mail, and her position will be continuously tracked and monitored. This is a pretty high tech undertaking both in the electronics sense and as in sailing kit. Her yacht is a S&S (Sparkman and Stephens) 34 a boat that has successfully been used in other solo circumnavigation bids.

Much more information can be found at her website:

Submission + - Mozilla blocks WPF & .NET Framework Add-Ins (

An anonymous reader writes: Mozilla has blocked the Microsoft WPF Plug-In & .NET Framework add-in. Firefox users on Windows will start seeing these blocked completely by the browser as of Saturday.

Submission + - How Ray Bradbury overcame fear of flying (

daria42 writes: Sci-fi and fantasy publisher Tor Books has published on YouTube a series of excerpts from a recent video with acclaimed American sci-fi author Ray Bradbury, in which he discusses his books and various aspects of his personal life. For example, he describes meeting a carnival performer named "Mr Electrico" who was the spur for Bradbury to begin writing in the first place. The author also talks about overcoming his fear of flying; he first flew on Delta Airlines only after drinking three double martinis first.
The Media

Sound Bites of the 1908 Presidential Candidates 410

roncosmos writes "Science News has up a feature on the first use of sound recording in a presidential campaign. In 1908, for the first time, presidential candidates recorded their voices on wax cylinders. Their voices could be brought into the home for 35 cents, equivalent to about $8 now. In that pre-radio era, this was the only way, short of hearing a speech at a whistle stop, that you could hear the candidates. The story includes audio recordings from the 1908 candidates, William Jennings Bryan and William Howard Taft. Bryan's speech, on bank failures, seems sadly prescient now. Taft's, on the progress of the Negro, sounds condescending to modern ears but was progressive at the time. There are great images from the campaign; lots of fun."

An Open Source Legal Breakthrough 292

jammag writes "Open source advocate Bruce Perens writes in Datamation about a major court victory for open source: 'An appeals court has erased most of the doubt around Open Source licensing, permanently, in a decision that was extremely favorable toward projects like GNU, Creative Commons, Wikipedia, and Linux.' The case, Jacobsen v. Katzer, revolved around free software coded by Bob Jacobsen that Katzer used in a proprietary application and then patented. When Katzer started sending invoices to Jacobsen (for what was essentially Jacobsen's own work), Jacobsen took the case to court and scored a victory that — for the first time — lays down a legal foundation for the protection of open source developers. The case hasn't generated as many headlines as it should."
The Courts

Judge Suppresses Report On Voting Systems 192

Irvu writes "A New Jersey Superior Court Judge has prohibited the release of an analysis conducted on the Sequoia AVC Advantage voting system. This report arose out of a lawsuit challenging on constitutional grounds the use of these systems. The study was conducted by Andrew Appel on behalf of the plaintiffs, after the judge in the case ordered the company to permit it. That same judge has now withheld it indefinitely from the public record on a verbal order."
Operating Systems

Linux Rescues Battery Life On Vista Notebooks From Dell 200

nerdyH writes "Dell is preparing to ship two enterprise-oriented Windows Vista notebooks with an interesting feature — a built-in TI OMAP (smartphone) processor that can power instantly into Linux. The 'Latitude ON' feature is said to offer 'multi-day' battery life, while letting users access email, the web, contacts, calendar, and so on, using the notebook's full-size screen and keyboard. I wonder if someday we'll just be able to plug our phones into our laptops, switching to the phone's processor when we need to save battery life? Or, maybe x86 will just get a lot more power-efficient. Speaking at MontaVista's Vision event today, OLPC spokesperson and longtime kernel hacker Deepak Saxena said the project is aiming for 10-20 hours of battery life during active use, on existing hardware (AMD Geode LX800 clocked at 500MHz, with 1GB of Flash and 256MB of RAM)."

The clothes have no emperor. -- C.A.R. Hoare, commenting on ADA.