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Crime

Attempted Breach of NSA HQ Checkpoint; One Shot Dead 307

Posted by samzenpus
from the breaking-news dept.
seven of five writes One man is dead and another severely injured after a shootout at one of the main gates of the National Security Agency located at Fort Meade, Maryland. Two men dressed as women attempted to 'penetrate' the entry point with their vehicle when a shootout occurred, officials said. The FBI said they do not believe the incident is related to terrorism.
Robotics

Festo Reveals New Robotic Ants and Butterflies 19

Posted by samzenpus
from the metal-swarm dept.
mikejuk writes "Every year around this time of year Festo builds some amazing robot or other — last year it was a kangaroo. What could it possibly do to top previous amazing devices? What about some even more amazing robotic insects. BionicANT is designed not only look good but to demonstrate swarm intelligence. The robot not only looks like an ant, but it works like one. The design makes use of piezo bending transducers rather than servos to move. As well as being able to move its six legs, it also has a piezo-activated pair of pincers. The second insect robot is a butterfly — eMotion. For flying machines these are incredibly lightweight at 32 grams. The bodies are laser sintered and the wings use carbon fiber rods. Two miniature servo motors are attached to the body and each wing. The electronics has a microcontroller, an inertial sensor consisting of gyro, accelerometer and compass and two radio modules. Flying time is around 3 or 4 minutes."
Transportation

German Auto Firms Face Roadblock In Testing Driverless Car Software 177

Posted by timothy
from the and-what-if-that-man-was-your-mother?! dept.
An anonymous reader writes As nations compete to build the first operational autonomous car, German auto-manufacturers fear that current domestic laws limit their efforts to test the appropriate software for self-driving vehicles on public roads. German carmakers are concerned that these roadblocks are allowing U.S. competitors, such as Google, to race ahead in their development of software designed to react effectively when placed in real-life traffic scenarios. Car software developers are particularly struggling to deal with the ethical challenges often raised on the road. For example when faced with the decision to crash into a pedestrian or another vehicle carrying a family, it would be a challenge for a self-driving car to follow the same moral reasoning a human would in the situation. 'Technologically we can do fully automated self-driving, but the ethical framework is missing,' said Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn.
The Almighty Buck

Russian Official Proposes Road That Could Connect London To NYC 226

Posted by samzenpus
from the use-the-bathroom-before-you-go dept.
An anonymous reader writes There's great news coming out of Russia for epic road trip lovers. Russian Railways president Vladimir Yakunin has proposed building a highway that would reach from London to Alaska via Russia, a 13,000-mile stretch of road. "This is an inter-state, inter-civilization, project," the Siberian Times quoted Yakunin. "The project should be turned into a world 'future zone,' and it must be based on leading, not catching, technologies."
Star Wars Prequels

Boeing Patents Star Wars Style Force Field Technology 126

Posted by samzenpus
from the power-up-the-deflector-shield dept.
An anonymous reader was one of many to point out that Boeing doesn't want to rely on a sad devotion to an ancient religion to protect aircraft and conjure up the stolen data tapes, but plans on using force fields instead. "Boeing's new patent may let the force be with you even in real life. The aircraft and defense company has taken a cue from science fiction with its plan to develop a Star Wars style force field that would use energy to deflect any potential damage. Just liking the luminescent shields seen in the film, Boeing's "Method and system for shock wave attenuation via electromagnetic arc" could provide a real-life layer of protection from nearby impacts to targets. The downside: It won't protect from direct hits."
Google

"Google Glass Isn't Dead!" Says Google's CEO Eric Schmidt 141

Posted by samzenpus
from the I'm-getting-better dept.
lord_rob the only on writes "After Google stopped selling its wearable Glass device in January this year, many people speculated that the controversial gadget was on its way out for good. However, Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt has said that the technology behind Glass is too important to throw away, and that the program has been put under the control of Nest's Tony Fadell to "make it ready for users" in the future.
Crime

Online "Swatting" Becomes a Hazard For Gamers Who Play Live On the Internet 569

Posted by samzenpus
from the hands-up-controllers-down dept.
HughPickens.com writes Nick Wingfield reports at the NYT that practical jokers who call in bogus reports of violence provoking huge police responses have set their sights on a new set of victims: video gamers who play live on the Internet, often in front of huge online audiences. Last month, several hundred people were watching Joshua Peters as he played RuneScape from his parents' home as video showed Peters suddenly leaving his computer when police officers appeared at the house and ordered him and his family at gunpoint to lie face down on the ground after some had called 911 claiming Peters had just shot his roommate. "With the live-streaming platforms, it amplifies the entire situation," says James Clayton Eubanks who says he has been swatted about a half-dozen times while he streamed his Call of Duty sessions. "Not only do they get to do this and cause this misery, they get to watch it unfold in front of thousands of people."

Game companies like Twitch have publicly said that swatting is dangerous, but that there is little else they can do to prevent the pranks. Tracking the culprits behind the pranks is difficult. While bomb scares and other hoaxes have been around for decades, making threats anonymously has never been so easy. Swatters use text messages and online phone services like Skype to relay their threats, employing techniques to make themselves hard to trace. They obtain personal addresses for their victims through property records and other public databases, or by tricking businesses or customer service representatives at a victim's Internet provider into revealing the information. Brandon Willson, a gamer known online as "Famed God," made up a murder to get police to go to an unsuspecting west suburban resident's home last year and ended up behind bars in Nevada awaiting extradition. As part of the investigation, police traveled to Las Vegas to help local police execute a search warrant at Willson's home. Computers seized there contained evidence of the swatting incident, as well as similar incidents across the country, prosecutors claim. Willson faces up to five years in prison if he is convicted on charges of computer tampering and one count each of intimidation, computer fraud, identity theft and disorderly conduct. His mother, Brenda Willson, says her son is innocent and does not smoke, drink or have tattoos. "He would never swat," she says.
Programming

A Software Project Full of "Male Anatomy" Jokes Causes Controversy 764

Posted by samzenpus
from the can't-we-all-just-get-along? dept.
An anonymous reader writes with the story of a Github user's joke repository that is causing some controversy. "There's no question that the tech world is an overwhelmingly male place. There's legit concern that tech is run-amok with 'brogrammers' that make women programmers feel unwelcome. On the other hand, people just want to laugh. It's at that intersection that programmer Randy Hunt, aka 'letsgetrandy' posted a 'project' earlier this week to software hosting site GitHub called 'DICSS.' The project, which is actual free and open source software, is surrounded by geeky jokes about the male anatomy. And it's gone nuts, so to speak, becoming the most trending project on Github, and the subject of a lot of chatter on Twitter. And, Hunt tells us, the folks at Github are scratching their heads wondering what they should do about it. Some people love DICSS ... and some people are, understandably, offended. The offended people point out that this is exactly the sort of thing that makes tech unwelcoming to women, and not just because of the original project, but because of some of the comments (posted as "commits") that might take the joke too far."
Transportation

Virgin Could Take On Tesla With Electric Car 105

Posted by timothy
from the like-a-branson dept.
According to a story at Ars Technica, Virgin empire founder Richard Branson says 'teams of people' are working on electric cars. Says the article: Virgin is working on electric cars and could one day take on Tesla, according to company founder Richard Branson. Speaking at a racing event in Miami, Branson said Virgin had "teams of people" working on electric cars but refused to be drawn on specific details. The company's Virgin Racing team already competes in the all-electric Formula E championship, a high-speed, battery-powered spinoff of Formula 1. Branson has now hinted that Virgin's involvement could lead to the company selling its own electric cars. ... Branson's business has continued to expand in recent years. As well as trains and planes, Virgin now has a fledgling space operation and is soon to launch its own cruise ships.
Transportation

Chevy Malibu 'Teen Driver' Tech Will Snitch If You Speed 224

Posted by timothy
from the no-problem-for-ferris-bueller dept.
mpicpp writes General Motors wants to help curb teen crashes with a new system that lets parents monitor their kids' driving habits—even when mom and dad aren't actually in the car. Dubbed Teen Drive, the new system will debut in the 2016 Chevy Malibu, offering a bunch of features designed to encourage safe driving. It will, for instance, mute the radio or any device paired with the car when front seat occupants aren't wearing their seatbelts, and give audible and visual warnings when the vehicle is traveling faster than preset speeds. It doesn't end there. Brace yourself, teens, because you might not like this next part too much. The new system also lets parents view a readout of how you drove the car, including how fast you went, how far you drove, and whether any active safety features (like over-speed warnings) were engaged. Parents can also set the radio system's maximum volume to a lower level, and select a maximum speed between 40 and 75 miles per hour, which, if exceeded, will trigger warnings.
Businesses

Why Is the Grand Theft Auto CEO Also Chairman of the ESRB? 128

Posted by samzenpus
from the fox-in-the-hen-house dept.
donniebaseball23 writes In an editorial at GamesIndustry.biz, Brendan Sinclair asks an important question about the game ratings board in America. Should Strauss Zelnick, the CEO of Take-Two, which owns the Grand Theft Auto franchise and has been at the heart of the ESRB's biggest controversies of the last decade, really be serving as its chairman? "No matter how removed from the day-to-day running of the ESRB Zelnick might be, his current role invites accusations of impropriety," he writes. "It's the sort of thing any critic of the games industry can point to as a clear conflict of interest, and many reasonable outsiders would probably look at that as a valid complaint. At least when titans of industry in the U.S. become the head of the regulatory agencies that oversee their former companies, they actually have to leave those companies."
The Internet

Mike Godwin Interviewed 89

Posted by samzenpus
from the nationalsozialistische-deutsche-arbeiterpartei dept.
theshowmecanuck writes CBC Radio in Canada has just posted an interview with Mike Godwin, the originator of the famous Godwin's Law. Unbelievably it comes after a week where Canadian politicians started flinging the H word at each other. Part of the interview reads: "I really wanted people not to make silly or glib comparisons that really show no awareness of history... and I think that to that extent Godwin's Law has succeeded."
Twitter

Twitter Will Ban Revenge Porn and Non-consensual Nudes 114

Posted by Soulskill
from the be-a-jerk-elsewhere dept.
AmiMoJo writes: Twitter has changed its rules to state it will forbid users from posting revenge porn and non-consensual nudes on its service. In the private information section of the site's policy list, the company added that users "may not post intimate photos or videos that were taken or distributed without the subject's consent." Twitter seemed to indicate that it would use some combination of automated and manual checks to decide whether a reported post is revenge porn or not before removing the post. "We will ask a reporting user to verify that he or she is the individual in question in content alleged to be violating our policy and to confirm that the photo or video in question was posted without consent." There will be an appeal process too.

In February, reddit made a similar rules change after the site was embroiled in controversy for allowing the posting of stolen nude celebrity photos in 2014. Banning "involuntary pornography," reddit urged victims to e-mail the site with details so administrators could remove the offending posts.
Crime

LAPD Police Claim Helicopters Stop Crimes Before They Happen 160

Posted by samzenpus
from the bear-in-the-air dept.
HughPickens.com writes True Angelenos don't even bother to look up when one of the LAPD's 17 helicopters rattles their windows searching for a car-jacked Camry or an assault suspect hiding under a jacaranda but few doubt that more bad guys would get away without the nation's largest police helicopter fleet to help chase them. Now the LA Times reports that data shows that LA's helicopters are stopping crimes before they happen. Tapping into the data-driven policing trend, the department uses heat maps, technology and years of statistics to identify crime "hot spots." Pilots then use their downtime to fly over them, on the theory that would-be criminals tend to rethink their nefarious plans when there's "ghetto birds," as Ice Cube calls them, hovering overhead [explanatory video with annoying sound]. Months of data show that the number of serious crimes reported in the LAPD's Newton Division in South L.A. fell during weeks when the helicopters conducted more flights. During the week of Sept. 13, when the helicopter unit flew over Newton 65 times, the division recorded 90 crimes. A week later, the number of flights dropped to 40 and the number of reported crimes skyrocketed to 136, with rises seen among almost all types of crime, including burglary, car theft and thefts from vehicles. "It's extremely cutting edge," says Capt. Gary Walters, who heads the LAPD's air support unit. "It's different. It's nothing that we've ever done before with this specificity."

But Professor Geoffrey Alpert. a policing expert who has studied the use of police helicopters in Miami and Baltimore, says the choppers can deter crime in the short-term but criminals will likely return when they're not around (PDF). "You are deterring the criminals but you aren't getting rid of them and their intent. Those criminals could strike in a different time and place," says Alpert. "I mean that's the whole thing about random patrol. You see a police car and it's the same thing. You hide, he goes around the block and you go back to your breaking and entering."
Bitcoin

California Looking To Make All Bitcoin Businesses Illegal 224

Posted by samzenpus
from the your-money-is-no-good-here dept.
An anonymous reader writes A new law has been proposed in California that would effectively outlaw all Bitcoin-related businesses that don't first get "permission." The details are vague within the bill itself, which is part of what makes it dangerous. If you're doing anything with virtual currency, you may have to go line up in Sacramento to get permission first.

"Now this is a totally brain damaged algorithm. Gag me with a smurfette." -- P. Buhr, Computer Science 354

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