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Submission + - Controversy Over High-Tech Brooms Sweeps Through Sport of Curling writes: Billy Witz reports at the NYT that the friendly sport of curling suddenly has become roiled in controversy over — what else? — the brooms. The crux of the debate is fabric — specifically, something called directional fabric. The use of this material in broom pads is the latest escalation in an arms race among manufacturers, whereby the world’s best curlers can guide the 44-pound stone around a sheet of ice as if it were controlled by a joystick. Many of the sport’s top athletes, but not all of them, signed an agreement last month not to use the newest brooms. But with few regulations on the books and Olympic qualifying tournaments underway this month, the World Curling Federation has stepped in and issued new rules that set severe restrictions on the types of brooms that can be used. “There’s definitely some anger over it,” says Dean Gemmell. “In curling, we’re generally known for being pretty friendly with most of your opponents. Even at the big events, you see the top players hanging out. But it’s sort of taken that away this year, that’s for sure.”

It was prototype brooms made by BalancePlus that were the focus of complaints at the Toronto tournament, but Scott Taylor, president of BalancePlus, says they were never intended for sale, and were meant to demonstrate the problems that the reversed fabrics could cause. Players say the brooms allowed sweepers to "steer" the rock much more than they were comfortable with, and even slow them down. The brooms have been compared to high-tech drivers that allow amateur golfers to hit the ball as far as a pro, or the advanced full-body swimsuits that were banned from competition in 2010 for providing an unfair advantage. Of his company’s high-tech broom, Taylor says: “This isn’t good. It’s like hitting a golf ball 500 yards.”

Submission + - October was the hottest month in NASA's entire temperature database. (

GregLaden writes: Scientists track the global surface temperature, an average of readings from thermometers at approximately head height, and an estimate of sea surface temperatures, in order to track global warming. Over the last year or so we have been seeing many record breaking months, but this month, October 2016, both the Japan Meteorological Agency and NASA has identified October as an extraordinary month.

October 2016 is significantly warmer than any month in the NASA record, which goes back to 1880 (and there were no warmer months, likely, for thousands of years prior to that, or at least, not many).

From these data we can generate numerous rather impressive graphics showing a 12 month moving average, Octobers compared over time, year to date, etc.

Submission + - EFF Is Fighting A Law Allowing California Police to Obtain and Keep Your DNA

An anonymous reader writes: California is invading your privacy in a new way...

"The state’s arrestee DNA collection law violates privacy and search and seizure protections guaranteed under the California constitution. The law allows police to collect DNA from anyone arrested on suspicion of a felony—without a warrant or any finding by a judge that there was sufficient cause for the arrest."

Even those who aren't convicted after they are arrested still have their DNA stored forever, and searchable by local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies. The EFF argues against the law because, "DNA contains our entire genetic makeup—private and personal information that maps who we are, where we come from, and who we are related to. Arrestees, many of whom will never be charged with or convicted of a crime, have a right to keep this information out of the state’s hands."

Read more about the EFF filing here.

Submission + - Even the CEO's job is susceptible to automation, McKinsey report says (

colinneagle writes: Global management consultants McKinsey and Company said in a recent report that many of the tasks that a CEO performs could be taken over by machines.

Those redundant tasks include "analyzing reports and data to inform operational decisions; preparing staff assignments; and reviewing status reports," the report says.

This potential for automation in the executive suite is in contrast to "lower-wage occupations such as home health aides, landscapers, and maintenance workers," the report says. Those jobs aren't as suitable for automation, according to the report. The technology has not advanced enough.

Submission + - Google's New About Me Tool Is The Anti-Google+

An anonymous reader writes: Google has launched a new tool called About me that lets you see, edit, and remove the personal information that the company’s services show to other users. Google confirmed to VentureBeat that the feature started rolling out to users this week. Google’s various products and services (Gmail, Hangouts, Google Maps, Inbox, Google Play, YouTube, Google+, and so on) sometimes ask you to share certain personal information. These details are then shown to other users who interact with you or search for you. Until now, all of this was stored in Google+, assuming you created an account. But Google+ is no longer a requirement for Google’s services, and so the company needs a new solution, and ideally one that isn’t public by default.

Submission + - New Book 'Sold Out' Offers a Look at the H-1B Debate

theodp writes: The New York Post has published an excerpt from Sold Out: How High-Tech Billionaires and Bipartisan Beltway Crapweasels Are Screwing America's Best and Brightest Workers, a new book on the H-1B debate from conservative syndicated columnist Michelle Malkin and programmer-turned-attorney John Miano. "Sold Out," notes a Computerworld review, "clearly has a point a view about the program (crapweasels, for instance), but it backs up its assertions and gives H-1B supporters a high threshold to cross. A serious argument in defense of the visa program requires explaining how America gains when a U.S. worker is replaced by a foreign visa holder hired to do the exact same job. If you are going to justify the H-1B program, then you have to defend firms that force their employees (no severance otherwise) to train their replacements. That may be the point here. This book lays bare the replacement process, the broad use of the H-1B visa by the IT offshore outsourcing industry, and the lobbying effort in Washington to minimalize the visa's use in displacing U.S. workers." With anecdotes like "how Microsoft wined and dined the Bush administration to expand the foreign worker supply through administrative fiat to circumvent public disclosure and congressional debate," the book seeks out a broader audience than just those already familiar with the H-1B issue.

Submission + - Hacked Amazon Echo Controls a Wheelchair (

An anonymous reader writes: Amazon Echo, which is designed around your voice, answers to “Alexa” and can tell you scores, read your book, play your music, or check your calendar. And if you have a smart home, Echo can control lights and other technology.

Bob Paradiso, however, wondered if he “could push Echo’s utility a little further.” He certainly did. Paradiso turned an electric wheelchair into a voice-controlled wheelchair using Echo, a Raspberry Pi and Arduino Uno. Echo thinks it’s turning lights on and off, but it’s really controlling the wheelchair. Paradiso says, “Alexa, turn on left 4” and the wheelchair spins. He then says, “Alexa, turn on forward 4” and the wheelchair moves forward.

Submission + - TV Networks Cutting Back on Commercials (

An anonymous reader writes: Cable providers aren't the only ones feeling pressure from cord cutters. The TV networks themselves are losing viewers the same way. A lot of those viewers are going to Netflix and other streaming services, which are often ad-free, or have ad-free options. Now, in an effort to win back that audience (and hang on to the ones who are still around), networks are beginning to cut back on commercial time during their shows. "Time Warner’s truTV will cut its ad load in half for prime-time original shows starting late next year, Chief Executive Officer Jeff Bewkes said last week on an earnings call. Viacom has recently slashed commercial minutes at its networks, which include Comedy Central and MTV. Earlier this month, Fox said it will offer viewers of its shows on Hulu the option to watch a 30-second interactive ad instead of a typical 2 1/2-minute commercial break. Fox says the shorter ads, which require viewers to engage with them online, are more effective because they guarantee the audience’s full attention."

Submission + - Indian Astronomers Detect Dying, Giant Radio Galaxy (

invictusvoyd writes: A team of astronomers working at the National Centre for Radio Astrophysics here has discovered an extremely rare galaxy of gigantic size. This galaxy — located about nine billion light years away — emits powerful radio waves, the researchers found. Such galaxies with extremely large 'radio size' are called giant radio galaxies.

Submission + - Rooted, Trojan-infected Android Tablets Sold On Amazon (

dinscott writes: If you want to buy a cheap Android-powered tablet, and you're searching for it on Amazon, the best thing you can do is carefully read all the negative reviews you can find. If you are lucky, you'll see some that will warn you about the device being rooted and coming pre-installed with malware.

The malware in question is the Cloudsota Trojan, which allows remote control of the infected devices and conducts malicious activities without user consent.

Submission + - MST3K Kickstarter Announced (

An anonymous reader writes: Joe Don Baker is Kickstarter. No, not really but Joel and the bots do want come back to the big screen. We have 30 days to raise $5.5mm for twelve new episodes of wacky, cheesy goodness. Donate now or some hot chick will write "Jerk" in red lipstick on your windshield... You've been warned.


Submission + - Scientists think they've solved the mystery of dark matter (

universe520 writes: Scientists are starting to say that the only credible reason for a clutch of gamma rays they've been looking at is that they are emitted when dark-matter particles collide. This is the nearest scientists have come to detecting dark matter. It's hard to spot because it doesn't interact with light, so it's invisible.

Everything from the motions of galaxies to calculations about what sort of universe came out of the Big Bang says it must exist—and must outweigh familiar, atomic, matter by about six to one. But no one has ever detected it other than by its gravitational effects. Dan Hooper and Lisa Goodenough think they have found a second way. And all other alternative explanations have been eliminated.

Submission + - The Myth of Basic Science writes: For more than fifty years, it has been an article of faith that science would not get funded if government did not do it, and economic growth would not happen if science did not get funded by the taxpayer. Now Matt Ridley writes in the WSJ that when you examine the history of innovation, you find, again and again, that scientific breakthroughs are the effect, not the cause, of technological change. "It is no accident that astronomy blossomed in the wake of the age of exploration," says Ridley. "The steam engine owed almost nothing to the science of thermodynamics, but the science of thermodynamics owed almost everything to the steam engine. The discovery of the structure of DNA depended heavily on X-ray crystallography of biological molecules, a technique developed in the wool industry to try to improve textiles." According to Ridley technological advances are driven by practical men who tinkered until they had better machines; abstract scientific rumination is the last thing they do.

It follows that there is less need for government to fund science: Industry will do this itself. Having made innovations, it will then pay for research into the principles behind them. Having invented the steam engine, it will pay for thermodynamics. After all, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the U.S. and Britain made huge contributions to science with negligible public funding, while Germany and France, with hefty public funding, achieved no greater results either in science or in economics. To most people, the argument for public funding of science rests on a list of the discoveries made with public funds, from the Internet (defense science in the U.S.) to the Higgs boson (particle physics at CERN in Switzerland). But that is highly misleading. Given that government has funded science munificently from its huge tax take, it would be odd if it had not found out something. This tells us nothing about what would have been discovered by alternative funding arrangements. "Governments cannot dictate either discovery or invention," concludes Ridley. "They can only make sure that they don’t hinder it. Innovation emerges unbidden from the way that human beings freely interact if allowed. Deep scientific insights are the fruits that fall from the tree of technological change."

Comment Re:What about speeding / useing the center of the (Score 3, Insightful) 451

This. All the studies that I've seen boasting about the enormous time advantages of self-driving cars ignore the fact that most human drivers tend to cruise from 5 to 15 MPH over the posted speed limit on many interstates and highways. I can't imagine a self-driving car being designed so as to operate above the posted speed limit in self-driving mode. Unless a second set of roads or a second set of rules is created for autonomous vehicles, you're going to have a difficult time convincing people of the advantage of being slower than anyone else on your morning commute.

2 pints = 1 Cavort