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Crime

Death Wish Meets GPS: iPhone Theft Victims Confronting Perps 664

Posted by timothy
from the charles-bronson-not-involved dept.
theodp (442580) writes "Thankfully, no one's gone full-Charles-Bronson yet, but the NY Times reports that victims of smartphone theft are using GPS to take the law into their own hands, paying visits to thieves' homes and demanding the return of their stolen phones. "The emergence of this kind of do-it-yourself justice," writes Ian Lovett, "has stirred worries among law enforcement officials that people are putting themselves in danger, taking disproportionate risks for the sake of an easily replaced item." And while hitting "Find My iPhone" can take you to a thief's doorstep, LAPD Cmdr. Andrew Smith urges resisting the impulse to do so. "It's just a phone," he said. "it's not worth losing your life over. Let police officers take care of it. We have backup, guns, radio, jackets — all that stuff civilians don't have.""
Transportation

Will the Nissan Leaf Take On the Tesla Model S At Half the Price? 398

Posted by timothy
from the need-more-juice dept.
cartechboy (2660665) writes "Ask most people why they won't consider an electric car, and they talk about range anxiety. And I can easily imagine why 84 miles of range isn't enough. Now it sounds like Nissan is listening, as well as watching Tesla's success. The company plans to boost the Leaf electric car's driving range with options for larger battery packs. Not long ago Nissan surveyed Tesla Model S owners, and they probably heard loud and clear that longer driving range is very, very important. So it looks like the Leaf might get up to 150 miles of range, possibly by the 2016 model year. The range increase will come from a larger battery pack, possibly 36 or 42 kWh, and more energy-dense cells. Either way, clearly Nissan is looking to expand the appeal of the world's best-selling electric car, and increasing its driving range is pretty clearly a key to doing so. I just wish Nissan would ditch the weird styling while they're at it."

Comment: Re:Untested? (Score 1) 357

by Do You Smell That (#46253057) Attached to: Under Armour/Lockheed Suit Blamed For US Skating Performance
I can guarantee you, from years of overseas consulting, that this is not a US phenomenon.

Just this month, we found out at a non-US client recently that a new build of our server made it from Dev to Prod *untested* by the bank who was implementing it. A sub-beta-build, at that (spot/hot-fix). It treated a certain type of function call differently (almost unarguably better) than before, however we have to defend why the old version "worked"; while on the new server, this causes a "bug" due to a consultant's *cough cough sorry* poor coding.

I'm all for trashing on the US (though shooting fish in a barrel is generally not recognized as sportsmanlike), as I think it's only being intellectually honest to treat all downward-sloping-gradients equally; but please don't believe that we're exceptional in this regard.

Comment: Re: Bullshit we won't notice (Score 1) 466

by Do You Smell That (#45178431) Attached to: Redesigned Seats Let Airlines Squeeze In More Passengers
Most of the non-bottom-of-the-barrel airlines offer this, for United at least it's called economy plus.

I've flown US->Brazil 6 times in the last year. I've kept an eye open for business class at an affordable price each time, but the difference tends to be $1400 vs $6000 (sometimes 8). Economy plus is an extra ~$115 each way, and gets you 'up to' 5" extra legroom. As an added bonus, you generally get to board early, so the overhead bins will be nice and empty.

Still, I feel your pain. Try to shop around and see if you can find a similar-priced flight on an airline with this option. For me at least, the difference between having that metal bar from the top of the magazine rack (WHY do you need to put a damn metal bar in there! my knees protest verily!) and suffering for days, vs paying the extra $115 or so and getting room to shift my legs freely, is making flying tolerable again.

Best of luck.

Android

Cyanogen Mod Goes Commercial To Make "Available On Everything, To Everyone" 230

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the live-long-and-profit dept.
The popular Cyanogen Mod distribution of the Android Open Source Project dropped a bombshell today: the founding members have formed a corporation (currently with a team of seventeen hackers) to work on the project with the founder of Boost Mobile as the CEO. Quoting the announcement: "You have probably seen the pace of development pick up drastically over the past few months. More devices supported, bigger projects such as CM Account, Privacy Guard, Voice+, a new version of Superuser, and secure messaging. We vastly improved our infrastructure. We’re doing more bug fixes, creating more features, and improving our communication. We think that the time has come for your mobile device to truly be yours again, and we want to bring that idea to everybody. ... So what does this all mean for the community? The first thing I wanted to do when I realized we were actually doing this, was tell everyone possible. But when starting a company, you have to think about the larger picture. This meant not announcing until the time was right, our house was in order and we would have something to show. I have seen open source projects come and go, some being bought out and closed, others stagnating and falling by the wayside. I don’t want to see this happen with CM."

Comment: Re:Sounds like evil to me (Score 1) 325

One of my favorites was the time when, after getting through security in Zurich on a flight to the US (and mind you, having my ovomaltine crunchy cream (think nutella consistency), a gift for my wife, confiscated; because it's a "liquid"!), being able to buy cask-strength whisky and lighters *in the same shop*, dozens of feet from the gate to my plane.

...(also, yes spellcheck, whisky is the right spelling of that word, considering my heritage).

Earth

First Gear Mechanism Discovered In Nature 136

Posted by timothy
from the where's-the-missing-link-this-time dept.
GameboyRMH writes "A gear mechanism has been discovered [paywalled original paper here, for those with access] for the first time in nature in the nymph of the Issus, a small plant-hopping insect common in Europe. It uses the gears to synchronize the movement and power of its hind legs, forcing the legs to propel it in a straight line when jumping, which would otherwise be impossible for the insect if it had to control the timing and force of its leg muscles independently."
Cellphones

Nokia Insider On Why It Failed and Why Apple Could Be Next 420

Posted by Soulskill
from the investment-in-waffle-technology-was-a-poor-choice dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The former chief designer of Nokia explains how the company's success and its corporate culture stopped it from taking risks and left it open to being beaten by Apple. He now sees the same warning signs emerging at Apple. Quoting: 'I look back and I think Nokia was just a very big company that started to maintain its position more than innovate for new opportunities. All of the opportunities were in front of them and Nokia was working on them, but the key word is a sense of urgency. While things were in play there was a real sense of saying "we will get to that eventually."' He worries Apple is now in a similar place: 'Nokia became more of a maintainer, more of an iterator, whereas innovation only comes in re-invention and Nokia waited too long to make the next big bold move ... that is now Apple’s challenge. Apple has arrived at a very safe place, it is responsible for something everybody loves, so it feels it has to keep it going.'" Oddly enough, this comes alongside news that a different former insider, Thomas Zilliacus (who was Nokia’s former Asia-Pacific CEO), has founded a company called "Newkia" in the wake of Microsoft's acquisition of Nokia. His goal is to take on former Nokia engineers and set them to building phones again — this time, running Android.
Biotech

Nitrogen Fixing Bacteria That Can Colonize Most Plants Discovered 187

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the watch-out-for-miracle-gro-assassins dept.
Zothecula writes "Synthetic crop fertilizers are a huge source of pollution. This is particularly true when they're washed from fields (or leach out of them) and enter our waterways. Unfortunately, most commercial crops need the fertilizer, because it provides the nitrogen that they require to survive. Now, however, a scientist at the University of Nottingham has developed what he claims is an environmentally-friendly process, that allows virtually any type of plant to obtain naturally-occurring nitrogen directly from the atmosphere." The process involves injecting a bacteria that colonizes the plant and fixes atmospheric nitrogen in exchange for a bit of sugar, similar to soybeans. Only this bacteria will readily colonize most any plant.

Comment: Re:Risk vs. Reward? (Score 1) 249

by Do You Smell That (#43738109) Attached to: Drones: Coming Soon To the New Jersey Turnpike?
...your first point may be valid (but really? *this* is what the laws spend time protecting?)... but your second point is handled already by the GP's HS math teacher reference. Or, your own post, which points out that in order to break the average speed >= speed limit rule, your speed must either always equal the speed limit, or have exceeded it at some point.

If you need an in-depth lesson (sans actual math), I recommend the first few lectures from http://www.thegreatcourses.com/tgc/Courses/course_detail.aspx?cid=1413 .

Comment: Re:Greed (Score 1) 292

by Do You Smell That (#43695573) Attached to: Hanford Nuclear Waste Vitrification Plant "Too Dangerous"
Indeed, re-purposed weapons-grade material is a great source of enriched uranium. In general it's enriched *way* beyond what's needed to run a plant, so can in fact be diluted before being used.

http://www.cfr.org/energy/global-uranium-supply-demand/p14705

The uranium market declined significantly through the 1980s and 1990s because of the end of the Cold War arms race as well as a cessation in construction of new nuclear plants. Disarmament of nuclear-weapons stockpiles added surplus weapons-grade uranium to the market, which led to a price drop as low as $7 a pound. Much of the fuel currently powering U.S. reactors, for instance, was originally intended for warheads atop Soviet ballistic missiles.

...the fun part is that, for a while, this led to mining/processing companies not actually supplying the amounts needed per year. As the flow of HEU from established stockpiles was slowing down, this led the market price to spike - I'm still kicking myself for not investing in uranium-linked financial instruments (for some silly reason they don't just let people buy uranium hexafluoride like many other commodities ;-) ) over the last few decades. Note that recently, due to less-than-expected new reactor building, and a ramp-up in mining/processing, the price has stabilized a bit, but for a while there was a small fortune to be made if you read the supply/demands right.

Comment: Re:slow news day? (Score 1) 631

by Do You Smell That (#43409543) Attached to: No Such Thing As a Tax-Free Lunch At Google?

ask anyone who works in Manhattan.

Ding ding. I couldn't possibly drive to work. My VP used to, it cost him ~$350/mo for a parking space nearby our office. That's double my monthly train ticket.

I do also consume 5 cups/day of coffee (K-cups, not terribly cheap), with fresh milk. I don't bring my own batteries to work to power my computer. I flush probably 5 toilets/day without paying for the water. I'm typing this post on a computer I didn't pay for...

I'm not saying that taxing services/benefits/freebies/comps/whatever isn't legitimate, but I'd like to see a strict formal definition before deciding whether it's rational.

Power

Big Advance In Hydrogen Production Could Change Alternative Energy Landscape 340

Posted by Soulskill
from the or-we-could-keep-burning-dead-dinosaurs dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Researchers at Virginia Tech say they've had a genuine breakthrough in alternative energy production that could shake up the world's energy structure. Specifically, they've hit on a way to derive large amounts of hydrogen from any plant source. The method uses renewable natural resources, releases almost no greenhouse gasses, and needs no costly or heavy metals. The key is using xylose, the most abundant simple plant sugar, to produce a large quantity of hydrogen that previously was attainable only in theory."

Comment: Re:Avionics (Score 1) 369

by Do You Smell That (#43275291) Attached to: FAA Pushed To Review Ban On Electronics
Ding ding ding. Well, I can't conclude that the danger is effectively nil, but it's definitely not something they're very worried about.

I fly very often. Most of the times the reminder to turn off the devices will come just before takeoff, and basic compliance checks even for the devices which the attendants saw out and being used tend not to be done. Often you could ignore the request and not have it asked again, since they'll finish their run up the aisle, then prepare for takeoff.

A few times, I've fallen asleep before takeoff (a good special power for a consultant to have) with the bright red light on my noise-cancelling headphones (connected to my phone for music) beaming towards the aisle, and not been awoken by the crew to turn it off. At least twice, my computer has refused to properly standby/hibernate before takeoff, so effectively was still running the whole time in my backpack. As you mention, this was never checked, nor questioned.

Theory is gray, but the golden tree of life is green. -- Goethe

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