Sockatume writes "The IEC, the standards body which wrote the phone charger specification used in the EU, has approved a standardised laptop charger. While the 'DC Power Supply for Portable Personal Computer' doesn't have a legal mandate behind it, the IEC is still optimistic that it will lead to a reduction in electronics waste and make it easier to find a replacement charger. Unfortunately the technical documentation does not seem to be available yet, but previous comments indicate that it will be a barrel plug of some kind." I wish they'd push a yank-resistant and positive-connecting plug along the lines of Apple's MagSafe.
FuzzNugget writes "An awakening piece in the Wall Street Journal paints a grim picture of how America's police departments went from community officers walking the beat to full-on, militarized SWAT operations breaking down the doors of non-violent offenders. From the article: 'In the 1970s, there were just a few hundred [raids] a year; by the early 1980s, there were some 3,000 a year. In 2005, there were approximately 50,000 raids.' It goes on to detail examples of aggressive, SWAT-style raids on non-violent offenders and how many have ended in unnecessary deaths. Last year, after a Utah man's home was raided for having 16 small marijuana plants, nearly 300 bullets in total were fired (most of them by the police) in the ensuing gunfight, the homeowner believing he was a victim of a home invasion by criminals. The U.S. military veteran later hanged himself in his jail cell while the prosecution sought the death sentence for the murder of one officer he believed to be an criminal assailant. In 2006, a man in Virginia was shot and killed after an undercover detective overheard the man discussing bets on college football games with buddies in a bar. The 38-year-old optometrist had no criminal record and no history of violence. The reports range from incredulous to outrageous; from the raid on the Gibson guitar factory for violation of conservational law, to the infiltration of a bar where underage youth were believed to be drinking, to the Tibetan monks who were apprehended by police in full SWAT gear for overstaying their visas on a peace mission. Then there's the one about the woman who was subject to a raid for failing to pay her student loan bills. It's a small wonder why few respect police anymore. SWAT-style raids aren't just for defense against similarly-armed criminals anymore; it's now a standard ops intimidation tactic. How much bloodshed will it take for America to realize such a disproportionate response is unwarranted and disastrous?"
dcblogs writes "The number of electrical engineers in the workforce has declined over the last decade. It's not a steady decline, and it moves up and down, but the overall trend is not positive. In 2002 the U.S. had 385,000 employed electrical engineers; in 2004, post dot.com bubble, it was at 343,000. It reached 382,000 in 2006, but has not risen above 350,000 since then, according to U.S. Labor Data. In 2012, there were 335,000 electrical engineers in the workforce. Of the situation, one unemployed electrical engineer said: 'I am getting interviews but, they have numerous candidates to choose from. The employers are very fussy. They are really only interested in a perfect match to their needs. They don't want the cost to develop talent internally. They are even trying to combine positions to save money. I came across one employer trying to combine a mechanical and electrical engineer.'"
An anonymous reader sends this excerpt from a post by Xiph.org's Monty Montgomery: "Xiph.Org has been working on Daala, a new video codec for some time now, though Opus work had overshadowed it until just recently. With Opus finalized and much of the mop-up work well in hand, Daala development has taken center stage. I've started work on 'demo' pages for Daala, just like I've done demos of other Xiph development projects. Daala aims to be rather different from other video codecs (and it's the first from-scratch design attempt in a while), so the first few demo pages are going to be mostly concerned with what's new and different in Daala. I've finished the first 'demo' page (about Daala's lapped transforms), so if you're interested in video coding technology, go have a look!"
theodp writes "GeekWire reports that Google has patented an image-capturing walking stick, which can boldly go where no Google Street View Car can. The walking stick has embedded cameras and location sensors, and a switch at the bottom that causes the device to snap pictures whenever the stick hits the ground. The patent also covers using canes and crutches in a similar fashion."
antdude writes "Pew Internet reports that: 'Teens are sharing more info about themselves on social media sites than they have in the past, but they are also taking a variety of technical and non-technical steps to manage the privacy of that information. Despite taking these privacy-protective actions, teen social media users do not express a high level of concern about third-parties (such as businesses or advertisers) accessing their data.'"
An anonymous reader writes "The Australian government came a step closer to formalising its plans to make Asian language study compulsory for schools this week. It has released a draft curriculum for public consultation which reveals plans to include Indonesian, Korean and french language in the curriculum. Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard publicly stated in September 2012 that in response to the "staggering growth" in the region, the government would be instigating 25 key measures to strengthen and exploit links with Asia. The plan includes the requirement that one third of civil servants and company directors have a "deep knowledge," thousands of scholarships for Asian students, and the opportunity for every schoolchild to learn one of four "priority" languages- Chinese, Hindi, Japanese or Indonesian."
itwbennett writes "Whoever said 'everyone has to start somewhere' has clearly never tried contributing to an open source project — the Linux Kernel development team in particular is known for its savagery. But if you're determined to donate your time and talents, there are some things you can do to get off on the right foot. Of course you should pick something you're interested in and that you use. Check, and double check. You should also research the project, learn about the process for contributing, and do your utmost to avoid asking questions that you can find the answers to. But beyond that there are some hallmarks of beginner-friendly open source projects like Drupal, Python, and LibreOffice — namely, a friendly and active community, training and mentorship programs, and a low barrier to entry."
First time accepted submitter anarcat writes "After two years since the last Debian release (6.0, nicknamed "squeeze"), the Debian release team has finally published Debian 7.0 (nicknamed "Wheezy"). A newly created blog has details on the release, which features multi-arch support (e.g. you can now install packages for both i386 and amd64 on the same install), improvements to multimedia support (no need for third party repositories!) and improved security through hardening flags. Debian 7.0 also ships with the controversial Gnome 3 release, and the release notes explicitly mention how to revert to the more familiar 'Gnome classic' interface. Finally, we can also mention the improved support for virtualization infrastructure with pre-built images available for Amazon EC2, Windows Azure and Google Compute Engine. Debian 7.0 also ships with the OpenStack suite and the Xen Cloud Platform. More details on the improvements can be found in the release notes and the Debian wiki." An anonymous reader points out (from the announcement) that "[t]he installation process has been greatly improved: Debian can now be installed using software speech, above all by visually impaired people who do not use a Braille device. Thanks to the combined efforts of a huge number of translators, the installation system is available in 73 languages, and more than a dozen of them are available for speech synthesis too. In addition, for the first time, Debian supports installation and booting using UEFI for new 64-bit PCs (amd64), although there is no support for Secure Boot yet."
Why does a car rated for 47mpg fall so far short? The Houston Chronicle features an article on just why EPA gas estimates can be so different from real-world drivers' experience at the pump (or in looking at the dashboard display), in particular for hybrid cars. From the article: "A geometric average of the FTP-75 and HFET results (with city driving weighted at 55 percent and highway driving weighted at 45 percent) produces a vehicle's CAFE fuel economy, which is then incorporated into a manufacturer's corporate average. CAFE is measured using these tests to the present day. In fact, this methodology will be 50 years old when it's used to gauge compliance with the forthcoming 54.5-mpg CAFE requirements in 2025. That kind of continuity is admirable in baseball, but not in transportation. These tests are irrelevant to contemporary real-world driving. For example, the maximum acceleration on either test is 3.3 mph per second. At that rate, it takes more than 18 seconds to hit 60 mph. Even in the horsepower-deprived 1970s, most people were driving harder than that. And the 60-mph maximum speed on the highway test does not accord with the 75-mph truth of today's interstate traffic."
Pop over to the Do the Math blog. With current energy growth, somewhere between 400 and 500 years from now, the oceans start to boil. http://physics.ucsd.edu/do-the-math/2011/07/galactic-scale-energy/
An anonymous reader writes "In 2008, Sherrie Walters, now 42 years old, discovered that she had rapidly spreading basal cell cancer in her ear. The disease is a type of skin cancer. The doctors pursued an aggressive treatment to combat the destructive disease, removing her ear, part of her skull, and her left ear canal. Though Walters was left without an ear, she was still able to hear with the help of a special hearing aid. A few months ago, doctors from the renowned Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore decided to try a new procedure on Walters. Using cartilage from her rib, the doctors stitched a new ear to match her right one. Then their creation was implanted under the skin of her forearm, where the ear grew for months. ...Doctors attached the ear and blood vessels surgically. Another surgery, conducted this week, gave the ear shape and detail. Dr. Patrick Byrne, a revered plastic and reconstructive surgeon, says that after the swelling goes down and the ear heals, Walters will have an ear that both looks and functions normally."
Mansing writes "Citizens need to evaluate if they are indeed safer for all the 'security precautions' put into place. 'The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has rushed to acquire a new, multibillion-dollar version of the BioWatch system for detecting biological attacks without establishing whether it was needed or would work, according to a new report by a nonpartisan investigative arm of Congress. ... The existing system's repeated false alarms have triggered tense, high-stakes deliberations over whether to order mass evacuations, distribute emergency medicines or shut down major venues.' Is this just more money funneled to U.S. companies, or is this really keeping the U.S. safer? Are the same types of 'security precautions' being instituted in Spain and the UK? Or is this preying on fear a uniquely U.S. phenomenon?"
I think it was Robert X. Cringely who compared personal user data to toxic waste. You don't ever want to produce it. If you do produce it, it's your responsibility forever because you don't know where an undiscovered drum of it is hiding. If it touches something, that something becomes toxic also. Finally, the legal implications of it getting out into public are capable of destroying your company.
One of the photos is of an active test at the site (seen from a distance), and there's a link to a Russian news release that says (google translation): " The engine number A165 has been successfully fire tested: December 8th, 2011 at booth number 1-751 NEC JSC "NPO Energomash them. Academician VP Glushko "took LPS engine RD171M number A165 for" Zenit ". The test is successful, the comments on the process of testing have arisen. This was the last fire-LPS in the past year. " So, it's an active test facility