fustakrakich sends news that researchers from the Austrian Academy of Sciences have used embryonic stem cells to grow a tiny human brain in a laboratory. The miniature brain, roughly the size of a pea, is at the same level of development as that of a 9-week-old fetus. From the BBC: "They used either embryonic stem cells or adult skin cells to produce the part of an embryo that develops into the brain and spinal cord - the neuroectoderm. This was placed in tiny droplets of gel to give a scaffold for the tissue to grow and was placed into a spinning bioreactor, a nutrient bath that supplies nutrients and oxygen. The cells were able to grow and organise themselves into separate regions of the brain, such as the cerebral cortex, the retina, and, rarely, an early hippocampus, which would be heavily involved in memory in a fully developed adult brain. The tissues reached their maximum size, about 4mm (0.1in), after two months. The 'mini-brains' have survived for nearly a year, but did not grow any larger. There is no blood supply, just brain tissue, so nutrients and oxygen cannot penetrate into the middle of the brain-like structure."
C0R1D4N writes "A New Jersey Appeals Court has ruled that both sides of a texting conversation which resulted in a car accident could be held liable. The ruling came as part of a case in which the driver of a truck received a text message shortly before striking a motorcycle carrying two passengers. The court ruled that while in this case, the person sending the text wasn't liable, they could be if the circumstances were a little different. '...a person sending text messages has a duty not to text someone who is driving if the texter knows, or has special reason to know, the recipient will view the text while driving.'"
Today Nintendo announced a new handheld gaming console called the 2DS. It will play all games from the DS and the 3DS, but games from the latter will be shown in 2-D (essentially as if the 3DS's depth slider was turned all the way down). The 2DS abandons the clamshell design of the earlier handhelds; instead, the device is a slightly wedge-shaped tablet with two small LCD screens — thicker at the top and thinner at the bottom. "It's a design that seems calculated to reduce manufacturing costs and durability issues, but it also seems fated to make the system nearly impossible to fit inside most pants pockets. The buttons and controls that were on the bottom half of previous DS and 3DS systems are now shifted toward the top, so you can reach the shoulder buttons that now rest above the top screen. This means you grip the 2DS from the sides rather than supporting it from the bottom with the corners resting in palm of your hand, like previous DS models." Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aime said the new console is target at younger children, as the 3DS is recommended for players age 7 and up. It's also cheaper than the other models at $130.
Zothecula writes "New research demonstrates that triggering an out-of-body experience (OBE) could be as simple as getting a person to watch a video of themselves with their heartbeat projected onto it. According to the study, it's easy to trick the mind into thinking it belongs to an external body and manipulate a person's self-consciousness by externalizing the body's internal rhythms. The findings could lead to new treatments for people with perceptual disorders such as anorexia and could also help dieters too."
An anonymous reader writes "Kirobo, a talking humanoid robot, has been launched into space and is headed to the International Space Station. From the article: 'Japan has launched the world's first talking humanoid robot "astronaut" toward the International Space Station. Kirobo — derived from the Japanese words for "hope" and "robot" — was among five tons of supplies and machinery on a rocket launched Sunday from Tanegashima in southwestern Japan, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, or JAXA, said. The childlike robot was designed to be a companion for astronaut Koichi Wakata and will communicate with another robot on Earth, according to developers. Wakata is expected to arrive at the space station in November.'"
SmartAboutThings writes "If you think optical discs are dead and are a sign of the past, maybe you need to take this into consideration – Sony and Panasonic have just announced in Tokyo that they have signed a basic agreement with the objective of developing the next-generation optical discs that are said to have a recording capacity of at least 300GB. The two companies have even set a deadline for this ambitious project: before the end of 2015."
Jeremiah Cornelius writes "After signing a $30 million iPad deal with Apple in June, the Los Angeles School Board of Education has revealed the full extent of the program that will provide tablets to all students in the district. CiteWorld reports that the first phase of the program will see pupils receive 31,000 iPads this school year, rising to 640,000 Apple tablets by the end of 2014. Apple previously announced that the initiative would include 47 campuses and commence in the fall." Certain companies (not just Apple) stand to benefit from this kind of outlay.
Nerval's Lobster writes "The topic of dealing with insider threats has entered the spotlight in a big way recently thanks to Edward Snowden. A former contractor who worked as an IT administrator for the National Security Agency via Booz Allen Hamilton, Snowden rocked the public with his controversial (and unauthorized) disclosure of top secret documents describing the NSA's telecommunications and Internet surveillance programs to The Guardian. Achieving a layer of solid protection from insiders is a complex issue; when it comes to protecting a business's data, organizations more often focus on threats from the outside. But when a trusted employee or contractor uses privileged access to take company data, the aftermath can be as catastrophic to the business or organization as an outside attack. An administrator can block removal of sensitive data via removable media (Snowden apparently lifted sensitive NSA data using a USB device) by disabling USB slots or controlling them via access or profile, or relying on DLP (which has its own issues). They can install software that monitors systems and does its best to detect unusual employee behavior, but many offerings in this category don't go quite far enough. They can track data as it moves through the network. But all of these security practices come with vulnerabilities. What do you think the best way is to lock down a system against malicious insiders?"
Despite a hue and cry from disappointed users, Google has not made any moves to reverse its decision to close down Google Reader on the first of July, just a few weeks away. Despite the name — and the functions it started out with in 2001 — Reader has become more than a simple interface to RSS feeds; Wikipedia gives a concise explanation of how it evolved from just a few features to a full-blown platform of its own, incorporating social-sharing features of the kind that have become expected in many online apps. Those features have morphed over the years along with Google's larger social strategies, along the way upsetting some readers who'd grown used to certain features. If you're a Google Reader user, will you be replacing it with another aggregator?
First time accepted submitter Bas_Wijnen writes "3D printing is being condemned in the media because of the potential for printing guns. Engineers at Michigan Tech believe there is far more potential for 3D printers to make our lives better rather than killing one another. To encourage thinking about constructive uses of 3D printing technology Michigan Tech Open Sustainability Technology (MOST) Lab and Type A Machines sponsor the first 3-D Printers for Peace Contest. Designers are encouraged to consider: If Mother Theresa of Ghandi had access to 3D printing what would they print? What kind of designs could help reduce military spending and conflict while making us all safer and more secure? Anyone in the United States may enter and there is no cost."
Nerval's Lobster writes "But at this year's Google I/O conference in San Francisco, Google announced that it has a plan to make Google Plus users more engaged, courtesy of new features backed by a handful of data-analytics tricks. Google Plus postings now feature Google-generated hashtags that, when clicked, direct the user to related content from across their network. From a backend-infrastructure perspective, that sort of thing leans heavily on Google's semantic analysis and the ability to make the right connections between various pieces of data. Google Plus will also automatically highlight certain photos out of dozens or even hundreds of shots. Say you went on vacation to India and took some photos of your significant other in front of the Taj Mahal; Google Plus will leverage its database of information to recognize that as a prominent landmark and pluck those photos out of the pile as 'special.' In the words of that posting on the Google+ Blog: 'Your darkroom is now a Google data center.' Are all these nifty, analytics-intensive features enough to change the larger fortunes of Google Plus? That's the big question. Google has a handsome-looking platform, one that performs certain activities with a high degree of polish and zip—but is that enough to counter Facebook?"
An anonymous reader writes with this quick bite from the H: "Just a few days after the one year anniversary of the release of the first version of OpenOffice from the Apache Foundation (Apache OpenOffice 3.4) on 8 May 2012, the project can now boast 50 million downloads of the Open Source office suite. 10 million of those downloads happened since the beginning of March. In contrast, LibreOffice claimed it had 15 million unique downloads of its office suite in all of 2012."
First time accepted submitter carlypage3 writes "Benefits claimants in the UK are being forced to use Microsoft's now obsolete Windows XP and Internet Explorer 6 software. The Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) states that its online forms are not compatible with Internet Explorer 7, 8, 9 and 10, Safari, Google Chrome or Firefox. As if that wasn't unnerving enough, the Gov.UK website says that users cannot submit claims using Mac OS X or Linux operating systems, either." (Note: as we noted not long ago, it's not just the DWP that's stuck using IE6.)
An anonymous reader writes "Canonical's plan to develop the Mir Display Server for Ubuntu rather than going with their original plans to adopt Wayland has been met with criticism from KDE (and other) developers... The GNOME response to Ubuntu's Mir is that they will now be rushing support for the GNOME desktop on Wayland. Over the next two release cycles they plan to iron out the Wayland support for the GNOME Shell, the GTK+ toolkit, and all GNOME packages so that by this time next year you can be running GNOME entirely on Wayland while still having X11 fall-back support."
TrueSatan writes "Miguel de Icaza, via his blog, has explained his gradual move to the Apple Mac platform. 'While I missed the comprehensive Linux toolchain and userland, I did not miss having to chase the proper package for my current version of Linux, or beg someone to package something. Binaries just worked.' Here is one of his main reasons: 'To me, the fragmentation of Linux as a platform, the multiple incompatible distros, and the incompatibilities across versions of the same distro were my Three Mile Island/Chernobyl.' Reaction to his announcement includes a blog post from Jonathan Riddell of Blue Systems/Kubuntu. Given de Icaza's past association with Microsoft (CodePlex Foundation) and the Free Software Foundation's founder Richard Stallman's description of de Icaza as a 'traitor to the free software community,' this might be seen as more of a blow to Microsoft than to GNU/Linux."