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Submission + - A remarkable number of people think 'The Martian' is based on a true story (examiner.com)

MarkWhittington writes: “The Martian” is a smash hit movie that made $100 million worldwide during its first weekend. The science and engineering depicted was, with certain notable exceptions, near perfect. The cinematography and special effects were so well done that one could almost imagine that Ridley Scott sent Matt Damon and a film crew to Mars to shoot the movie. In fact, perhaps the film was a little too good. Buzzfeed took a stroll through social media and discovered that many people think that “The Martian” is based on a true story.

Submission + - Rookie Dongle Warns Parents When Their Kids Are Driving Too Fast (thestack.com)

An anonymous reader writes: Dongle Apps, a Belgian tech company, has introduced a new system which alerts a car owner if the vehicle’s driver is breaking the speed limit. Initially designed for parents and guardians to keep an eye on their young ones behind the wheel, the 'Rookie Dongle', connects to the vehicle’s on-board diagnostics (OBD II) port, internal GPS and mobile technologies to push real-time data to the cloud and send notifications to car owners via email or text when the driver is speeding, suddenly accelerates, brakes hard or has high RPM levels.

Submission + - Prison Debate Team Beats Harvard's National Title Winners

HughPickens.com writes: Lauren Gambino reports at The Guardian that months after winning this year’s national debate championship, Harvard’s debate team has fallen to a debate team of three inmates with violent criminal records. The showdown took place at the Eastern correctional facility in New York, a maximum-security prison where convicts can take courses taught by faculty from nearby Bard College, and where inmates have formed a popular debate club. The Bard prison initiative has expanded since 2001 to six New York correctional facilities, and aims to provide inmates with a liberal arts education so that when the students leave prison they are able to find meaningful work. A three-judge panel concluded that the Bard team had raised strong arguments that the Harvard team had failed to consider and declared the team of inmates victorious. “Debate helps students master arguments that they don’t necessarily agree with,” says Max Kenner. “It also pushes people to learn to be not just better litigators but to become more empathetic people, and that’s what really speaks to us as an institution about the debate union.”

The prison team has proven formidable in the past, beating teams from the US military academy at West Point and the University of Vermont. They lost a rematch against West Point in April, setting up a friendly rivalry between the teams. The competition against West Point has become an annual event, and the prison team is preparing for the next debate in spring. In the morning before the debate, team members talked of nerves and their hope that competing against Harvard—even if they lost—would inspire other inmates to pursue educations. “If we win, it’s going to make a lot of people question what goes on in here,” says Alex Hall, a 31-year-old from Manhattan convicted of manslaughter. “We might not be as naturally rhetorically gifted, but we work really hard.”

Submission + - TI Graphing Calculators Are Now Musical Instruments

An anonymous reader writes: Thanks to a recently published open source music editor/sequencer, you can now create music on Texas Instruments graphing calculators. The complexity of the sound is impressive for such a simple device, which does not feature any dedicated sound hardware. HoustonTracker 2 is open source, and is available for the TI-82, 83, 83Plus, and 84Plus.

Submission + - MIT to offer free* online master's degree (bostonglobe.com)

sean_nestor writes: A new pilot program at the Massachusetts Institute for Technology will allow learners around the world to earn a master’s degree through one semester of online classes then one semester on campus, MIT President L. Rafael Reif announced Wednesday.

The pilot program will be for one degree only — the two-year program in supply chain management. Reif said the rising cost of higher education plus the capabilities of Internet learning motivated them to try this idea.

“We are experimenting with bold ideas to enhance the education we offer our own students and to lower the barriers to access for learners around the world,” Reif said in a statement issued in advance of his scheduled 12:30 p.m. announcement of the program at MIT.

Submission + - What if videogames had actual AI?

jtogel writes: It is commonly agreed that game AI in (commercial) games is a completely different beast than AI that is being research in academia. This article explains the difference very well and discusses some of the reasons for it. However, what would we be able to do in videogames if we had access to actual working AI? This post describes a vision for games that has actual AI in them.

Submission + - Self-propelled nanoparticles find and repair cracks in electronics

JMarshall writes: Self-propelled nanoparticles autonomously detect surface cracks in circuit wiring and then nestle into the cracks to patch them. To fix a broken circuit, a drop of the nanoparticle-containing solution could be placed on the surface of the circuit without needing to pinpoint the location of the damage.

One hemisphere of each gold nanoparticle is coated with platinum, which catalyzes a reaction with hydrogen peroxide into water that creates a concentration gradient and pushes the particles around. The other hemisphere is coated with a hydrophobic molecule that sticks when it encounters a hydrophobic surface, like the exposed silicon beneath cracks in wiring on a circuit board. When it sticks in the crack site, the gold nanoparticle bridges the gap and current can flow again. Researchers demonstrate that they could fix a circuit and relight an LED within five minutes of applying the particles.

Comment Selfies with tigers in NY (Score 1) 160

New York State passed a bill in June 2014 to prohibit people from having their photo taken (or taking it themselves) while "hugging, patting or otherwise touching tigers."

In related news, the government of India passed a law to prohibit people from having their photo taken (or taking it themselves) while "hugging, patting or otherwise touching the Statue of Liberty."

Comment Re:PP slogans won't cut it (Score 1) 233

And those tips from that Enterpriseprojects.com article? Empty buzzwords.

This. A thousand times, this.

I thought I was having a brain aneurism when I read "move at the speed of trust". What is that? Some kind of lame-o version of Green Lantern's power?

Then they pulled out the horrid "DevOps" cliche'. In reality those guys transitioned from a 40-year-old mainframe and software to something more modern. What's that you say? Your version control, integration, builds, and automated testing got faster? What a surprise!

Submission + - What Hurricane Sandy Taught IT about Disaster Preparedness

StewBeans writes: The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Climate Prediction Center is calling for calmer than normal storm activity this hurricane season, which runs through Nov. 30. But it's likely that data centers and IT companies in NYC are still taking disaster preparedness seriously. Three years ago, Hurricane Sandy devastated homes, businesses, transportation, and communication in New York, and taught many companies (the hard way) how to keep the lights on when the lights were literally off for weeks on end. Alphonzo Albright, former CIO of the Office of Information Technology in New York City, gives a behind-the-scenes account of what life and business were like in the dark, cold days following Hurricane Sandy in NYC. He also shares tips for other tech leaders to create their own Business Continuity Plan in case this year's storms take a turn for the worse.

Submission + - Michigan Sues HP Over Decade Long, $49 Million Incomplete Project

itwbennett writes: On Friday, embattled HP was hit with a new lawsuit filed by the state of Michigan over a 10-year-old, $49 million project that called for HP to replace a legacy mainframe-based system built in the 1960s. Through the suit filed in Kent County Circuit Court, the state seeks $11 million in damages along with attorney's fees and the funds needed to rebid and reprocure the contract.

Submission + - Volkswagen CEO Issues Apology Over Emission-Cheating Software

cartechboy writes: Last Friday we learned that Volkswagen got caught cheating on emissions testing via software programming. The punishment? It could get slapped with up to $18 billion in fines. While they company has yet to admit to any wrong doing, the CEO has now issued a formal apology and said the automaker will cooperate fully with any and all investigations. It's issued a stop-sale on all new and used TDI vehicles until further notice. VW's currently in talks with the EPA and the California Air Resources Board in regards to these allegations. It's also ordered an external investigation of its own into the matter. Whether criminal charges will be filed is yet to be seen.

Submission + - This is What a Real Bomb Looks Like (hackaday.com) 2

szczys writes: You see them all the time in movies and TV shows, but is that what an actual bomb looks like? Probably not... here's what a real bomb looks like.

This story stems from a millionaire gone bust from gambling addiction who decided to extort riches back from the casino. He built a bomb and got it into the building, then ransomed the organization for $3 million. The FBI documented the mechanisms in great detail — including the 8 independent trigger systems that made it impossible for them to disarm the thing. The design was so nefarious it's still used today as a training tool.

"Lead us in a few words of silent prayer." -- Bill Peterson, former Houston Oiler football coach