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Communications

Google's Project Loon Can Now Launch Up To 20 Balloons Per Day, Fly 10x Longer 114

Posted by timothy
from the first-they-said-you-were-crazy dept.
An anonymous reader writes Google [Thursday] shared an update from Project Loon, the company's initiative to bring high-speed Internet access to remote areas of the world via hot air balloons. Google says it now has the ability to launch up to 20 of these balloons per day. This is in part possible because the company has improved its autofill equipment to a point where it can fill a balloon in under five minutes. This is a major achievement, given that Google says filling a Project Loon balloon with enough air so that it is ready for flight is the equivalent of inflating 7,000 party balloons.
Education

Genes Don't Just Predict Intelligence, But Also How Well You Do In School 154

Posted by Soulskill
from the banking-on-my-extra-credit-genes dept.
sciencehabit writes: If you sailed through school with high grades and perfect test scores, you probably did it with traits beyond sheer smarts. A new study of more than 6000 pairs of twins finds that academic achievement is influenced by genes affecting motivation, personality, confidence, and dozens of other traits, in addition to those that shape intelligence (abstract). The results may lead to new ways to improve childhood education.
Earth

Ozone Layer Recovering But Remains Threatened 59

Posted by samzenpus
from the getting-better dept.
First time accepted submitter i kan reed writes in with some good news from the ozone report of the United Nations. The Earth’s protective ozone layer is on track to recover by the middle of the century, the United Nations today reported, urging unified action to tackle climate change and curb continued fluctuations to the composition of the atmosphere. That is according to the assessment of 300 scientists in the summary document of the Scientific Assessment of Ozone Depletion 2014, published by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the UN World Meteorological Organization (WMO). “International action on the ozone layer is a major environmental success story,” WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud said in a news release. “This should encourage us to display the same level of urgency and unity to tackle the even greater challenge of climate change.”
Microsoft

Microsoft Killing Off Windows Phone Brand Name In Favor of Just Windows 352

Posted by samzenpus
from the a-rose-by-any-other-name dept.
DroidJason1 writes Microsoft is killing off the "Windows Phone" name in favor of Windows. The company also plans to drop the "Nokia" name from handsets in favor of just "Lumia." These details were revealed in a leaked memo. We've already begun seeing these changes in recent advertisements from Microsoft and it makes perfect sense seeing as how Microsoft is shifting towards one operating system to rule them all.

Comment: VZW appeared overloaded, not blocked (Score 2) 211

by CLorox (#43461405) Attached to: Boston Officials Did Not Shut Down Cell Network After Marathon Bombing

VZW appeared heavily overloaded and calls were not going through. Additionally, text messages also appeared to be throttled or heavily delayed. If this was a result of jamming or some other technology to throttle the network, calls were being placed, they were not however providing audio. I received about 20 calls from my girlfriend who lives in the area and her calls were ringing through and "completing", but no audio was making it over the line. Calls I was placing appeared to ring through (five or six rings?) and made it to voicemail in most cases, although I did get a couple Verizon messages instead of the voicemail box.

Text messages we were sending each other were either extremely delayed or never made it at all (some did). I would go with the disaster norm of badly overloaded. We resorted to email via wifi instead of relying on the cell networks. When she took to the car to pick up her sister in South Boston (T services were shutdown in and around Boston), she was able to start completing calls and texts were making it through.

Comment: A racket for many, a valuable experience for few. (Score 2) 716

by CLorox (#42169031) Attached to: Just Say No To College

As a never-went through age 22, I wore skipping college as a badge of pride while I tolled away at various dot coms and consulting companies. I did attempt to go back at 23, but did not appreciate the challenge and went back to work. I decided to restart my college education in my 30s and I have found a new appreciation for the courses taught. If a lesson is learned by a kid going to college, I believe it should not simply be how to buckle down and get work done, but how to critically think and logically examine the many sides of an issue. Personally, I was a pretty black and white thinker through my mid 20s---perhaps I just greyed out of that a little---and I do believe that college education helped me to recognize and analyze multiple opinions and viewpoints on a myriad of issues without being too quick to rush to judgement.

The conversion of a college degree into an MCSE style mill is undermining most of the value that a college diploma would add to a resume. In my initial college venture I encountered a lot of undergrads that seemed to believe that if you just showed up, you would get your diploma and upon graduation be rewarded with your new six figure job (pre-recession). I am not sure where that idea came from, but I felt bad for them. Tens of thousands of dollars of student debt, and limited post-college career prospects often netted well under 40k a year pay, for years, while they learned their actual career skills.

IMHO, the system has turned into a racket. There are a decreasing minority of students who try and make the most of the education and they are the ones who are most likely rewarded on a long-term timeline by their hard work. There also seems to be an increasing majority that treat it as High School Round 2. They simply show up physically, incur huge amounts of debt with no takeaway other than a piece of paper, and then move on to the next hurdle (law or grad school) and repeat the process. Having either type of student coming out into the workforce with massive amounts of debt doesn't seem like a great economy builder to me... Perhaps I am overreaching, but it seems like for-profit education and wreck-less fiscal accountability in the state schools has undermined the entire reason higher education exists, to internalize critical thinking, Socratic methods, and mold well rounded people that help the economy and civilization as a whole positively evolve.

Just my two cents

Google

Google Admits To Collecting Emails and Passwords 157

Posted by kdawson
from the but-we-didn't-inhale dept.
wiredmikey writes "Alan Eustace, Google's Senior VP of Engineering & Research, just put up an interesting blog post on how Google will be creating stronger privacy controls. Right at the end is an interesting admission: that after Streetview WiFi Payload data was analyzed by regulators, their investigations revealed that some incredibly private information was harvested in some cases. Eustace noted that 'It's clear from those inspections that while most of the data is fragmentary, in some instances entire emails and URLs were captured, as well as passwords.'"

Comment: But people stopped doing rolling stops! (Score 3, Insightful) 567

by CLorox (#33061884) Attached to: Tennessee Town Releases Red Light Camera Stats

The article doesn't state how many residents of the town were ticketed as opposed to out of town drivers passing through, but lets pretend it did. Nearly 50% of people in this town flagged, and a little under a quarter were ticketed.... in 3 short months? Not sure how many were drivers from outside the town, but that is a ridiculous sum. Change the law or scrap the camera, this is not working and is a burden to the citizens. I wonder how many traffic collisions will occur because people are slamming on the breaks trying to avoid getting ticketed.

How many of these drivers were traveling at a safe posted speed limit and caught a yellow on a rainy day and had no choice but to either enter a skidding sliding stop or get a ticket. and now due to their unfortunate luck have the added benefit of fighting this in court. Burden to the court, burden to the citizen and a significant expense of time and money. What a racket.

Emulation (Games)

Gameboy Color Boot ROM Dumped After 10 Years 124

Posted by Soulskill
from the what's-a-decade-among-friends dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Costis was able to dump the elusive boot ROM from the Gameboy Color by using various voltage and clock glitching tricks. The boot ROM is what initializes the Gameboy hardware, displays the 'GAMEBOY' logo and animation, and makes the trademarked 'cling!' sound effect. Even decapping the CPU had failed previously, but now the boot image and specifics on how it was dumped (along with many photos) are available for download."
Space

Sunspots Return 276

Posted by kdawson
from the try-this-proven-acne-cure dept.
We're emerging from the longest, deepest sunspot drought since 1913 (we discussed its depths here) with the appearance of a robust group of sunspots over the weekend. Recently we discussed a possible explanation for the prolonged minimum. The Fox News article quotes observer Michael Buxton of Ocean Beach, Calif.: "This is the best sunspot I've seen in two years." jamie found a NASA site where you can generate a movie of the recent sunspot's movement — try selecting the first image type and bumping the resolution to 1024. The magnetic field lines are clearly visible.
Security

Malicious Activity Grew At a Record Pace In 2008 56

Posted by Soulskill
from the until-the-record-is-broken-in-2009 dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Symantec announced that malicious code activity continued to grow at a record pace throughout 2008, primarily targeting confidential information of computer users. According to the company's Internet Security Threat Report Volume XIV (PDF), Symantec created more than 1.6 million new malicious code signatures in 2008. This equates to more than 60 percent of the total malicious code signatures ever created by Symantec — a response to the rapidly increasing volume and proliferation of new malicious code threats. These signatures helped Symantec block an average of more than 245 million attempted malicious code attacks across the globe each month during 2008." Another anonymous reader notes a related report from Verizon (PDF), which says 285 million records were compromised in 2008, more than the total of the previous four years combined.
Space

+ - Whistle While You Work? Not in Space.

Submitted by
Ant
Ant writes "ABC News report that astronauts on spacewalks will never, ever be able to whistle while they work in space. Former NASA astronaut, Dan Barry has seven hours of spacewalking time to his credit. He tried whistling during his spacewalk on STS-96 in May 1999. "It wasn't something I hadn't planned — I thought of it on the fly. It turned out that it didn't work." he said. "You can't whistle because the air pressure in the suit is only 4.3 [pounds per square inch], and normal atmospheric pressure is 14.7 psi, so there are not enough air molecules blowing by your lips to make a sound," he said. Seen on Blue's News."

The reason that every major university maintains a department of mathematics is that it's cheaper than institutionalizing all those people.

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