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Robotics

Homemade Robot Patrols Atlanta Streets 324

Posted by Soulskill
from the serving-justice-and-delicious-hot-dogs dept.
Josh Fink brings news of an Atlanta resident who has created a remote control robot to scare off criminals during the night. Rufus Terrill, an engineer, uses it to patrol the streets and encourage drug dealers and other shady characters to move on. Local residents call it his "Robocop." From CNN: "It's a barbecue smoker mounted on a three-wheeled scooter, and armed with an infrared camera, spotlight, loudspeaker and aluminum water cannon that shoots a stream of icy water about 20 feet. Operated by remote control, the robot spotlights trespassers on property down the street from his bar, O'Terrill's. Using a walkie-talkie, Terrill belts out through the robot's loudspeaker, 'That's private property. You guys need to get out of here.'"
Novell

De Icaza Regrets Novell/Microsoft Pact 264

Posted by Soulskill
from the win-some-lose-some dept.
Ian Lamont writes "Novell Vice President and GNOME architect Miguel de Icaza sounded off at a MIX 08 panel on a number of topics. First, he claimed that he was 'not happy' with Novell's cross-patent licensing agreement with Microsoft, saying that if he had his way, the company would have stayed with the open-source community. He also said that neither Windows nor Linux are relevant in the long term, thanks to Web 2.0 business models: 'They might be fantastic products ... but Google has shown itself to be a cash cow. There is a feature beyond selling corporate [software] and patents ... it's going to be owning end users.' He also tangled with Mike Schroepfer, a Mozilla engineering executive, about extending patent protection for Moonlight to third parties. However, de Icaza did say that Novell has 'done the best it could to balance open-source interests with patent indemnification.' We discussed the beginnings of the deal between Microsoft and Novell back in 2006."
Privacy

Bill of Rights for the Digital Age 164

Posted by Soulskill
from the how-about-a-declaration-of-independence dept.
diewlasing writes "Since we are living in a world where the need is growing for privacy measures and rights to use emerging technology, it seems to me that state governments should adopt a bill of rights regarding internet privacy, use of technology and speech on the internet. For example: make it illegal to allow ISPs to release personal information to anyone who wants it. Now, obviously, that's not the only issue. If you were asked by your state government to come up with a bill of rights for internet privacy, technology use, and free speech regarding the internet and emerging technologies, what would you include? Many things are covered (here in the US) under the Bill of Rights in the Constitution, but it seems to me that, these days, people with enough money can disregard this. Perhaps the states might find it a good idea to enshrine rights into law."
Space

NASA Running Out of Plutonium 264

Posted by Soulskill
from the so-am-i dept.
PRB_Ohio takes us to Space.com for a story about NASA's plutonium shortage, and how it may affect future missions to the far reaches of the solar system. The U.S. hasn't produced plutonium since 1988, instead preferring to purchase it from Russia. We discussed the U.S. government's plans to resume production in 2005, but those plans ended up being shelved. If NASA is unable to find an additional source, it could limit missions that take spacecraft too far from the Sun. Quoting: "Alan Stern, NASA associate administrator for science, ... said he believed the United States had sufficient plutonium-238 on hand or on order to fuel next year's Mars Science Lab, an outer planets flagship mission targeted for 2017 and a Discovery-class mission slated to fly a couple years earlier to test a more efficient radioisotope power system NASA and the Energy Department have in development. To help ensure there is enough plutonium-238 for those missions, NASA notified scientists in January that its next New Frontiers solicitation, due out in June, will seek only missions that do not require a nuclear power source."
Space

The Universe Is 13.73 Billion Years Old 755

Posted by kdawson
from the so-happy-birthday-already dept.
CaptainCarrot writes "Phil Plait, aka The Bad Astronomer has summarized for his readers the new results released by NASA from the Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP), which has been surveying the 3K microwave radiation left over from the Big Bang. Some of the most interesting results: The age of the universe is now known to unprecedented accuracy: 13.73 billion years old, +/- 120 million. Spacetime is flat to within a 2% error margin. And ordinary matter and energy account for only 4.62% of the universe's total. Plait's comment on the age result: 'Some people might say it doesn't look a day over 6000 years. They're wrong.'"
Graphics

NVIDIA Doubts Ray Tracing Is the Future of Games 198

Posted by kdawson
from the pick-your-horse dept.
SizeWise writes "After Intel's prominent work in ray tracing in the both the desktop and mobile spaces, many gamers might be thinking that the move to ray-tracing engines is inevitable. NVIDIA's Chief Scientist, Dr. David Kirk, thinks otherwise as revealed in this interview on rasterization and ray tracing. Kirk counters many of Intel's claims of ray tracing's superiority, such as the inherent benefit to polygon complexity, while pointing out areas where ray-tracing engines would falter, such as basic antialiasing. The interview concludes with discussions on mixing the two rendering technologies and whether NVIDIA hardware can efficiently handle ray tracing calculations as well."
Google

Google Pulls Map Images At Pentagon's Request 217

Posted by kdawson
from the limits-to-openness dept.
Stony Stevenson alerts us to a little mixup in which a Google Street View crew requested and was granted access to a US military base. Images from inside the base (which was not identified in press reports) showed up online, and the Pentagon requested that they be pulled. Google complied within 24 hours. The military has now issued a blanket order to deny such photography requests in the future; for its part Google says the filming crew should never have asked.
Cellphones

Apple Targeting Business World for the iPhone 338

Posted by Soulskill
from the we-will-add-your-technological-distinctiveness-to-our-own dept.
The New York Times is running a couple of stories about the future of the iPhone in the business world and Apple's plan to maintain control of application development. Now that the iPhone SDK has been released and the "App store" has been demonstrated, Steve Jobs is pushing for the adoption of the iPhone as a standard business tool. In addition, a venture capitalist named John Doerr has launched a $100 million "iFund" to spur development of applications for the iPhone. From the NYTimes: "Mr. Jobs was upfront that there are limitations on what applications can do. He talked about bans on pornography and malicious programs. He also said Apple will not allow any application to be installed on the machine other than through the iTunes store. Nor will applications be permitted that enable an end run around Apple's deals with wireless carriers. Many questions remain unanswered. How much streaming video will Apple allow, because the iPhone is such an interesting video device? Mr. Jobs did say that the application development environment will have a lot of capabilities for video playback. Will Apple allow a service like Last.FM to offer streaming music on the iPhone?"
Education

Student Faces Expulsion for Facebook Study Group 554

Posted by Soulskill
from the our-way-or-the-highway dept.
Pickens brings news that a student at Ryerson University is facing 147 counts of academic misconduct after helping to run a chemistry study group through Facebook. School officials have declined to comment, but students are claiming that it is simply a valid studying technique in the information age. Quoting: "Avenir, 18, faces an expulsion hearing Tuesday before the engineering faculty appeals committee. If he loses that appeal, he can take his case to the university's senate. The incident has sent shock waves through student ranks, says Kim Neale, 26, the student union's advocacy co-ordinator, who will represent Avenir at the hearing. 'That's the worst part; it's creating this culture of fear, where if I post a question about physics homework on my friend's wall (a Facebook bulletin board) and ask if anyone has any ideas how to approach this - and my prof sees this, am I cheating?' said Neale, who has used Facebook study groups herself."
Security

+ - Ameritrade Acknowledges Database Leak->

Submitted by HunterGT
HunterGT (931849) writes "While investigating stock-related spam, TD Ameritrade has uncovered "unauthorized code" that allowed access to a database containing email addresses, names, birth dates, phone numbers, account numbers and Social Security Numbers. While TD Ameritrade claims there is "there is no evidence" to suggest that the most sensitive of this information was taken, we all know that "unauthorized code" isn't likely to be logging its activities."
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This is an unauthorized cybernetic announcement.

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