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Things You Drink Can Be Used To Track You 202

sciencehabit writes with an intriguing story about the potential of figuring out where people have been by examining their hair: "That's because water molecules differ slightly in their isotope ratios depending on the minerals at their source. Researchers found that water samples from 33 cities across the United State could be reliably traced back to their origin based on their isotope ratios. And because the human body breaks down water's constituent atoms of hydrogen and oxygen to construct the proteins that make hair cells, those cells can preserve the record of a person's travels. Such information could help prosecutors place a suspect at the scene of a crime, or prove the innocence of the accused." Or frame someone by slipping them water from every country on the terrorist watchlist.
User Journal

Journal Journal: Flash: the next <TABLE>

When Flash was introduced, it was for creating vector-based animation and basic interactive games. (Kind of like Shockwave but lighter.) It became very popular very quickly because it did lots of neat stuff with very small (vector-based) files and because the browser plugin itself was only a few hundred kilobytes at a time when most people were on dialup and most other plugins (like Shockwave and QuickTime) were several megabytes. Once you downloaded the plugin (just a few minutes) you could


Google Hacked, May Pull Out of China 687

D H NG writes "Following a sophisticated attack on Google infrastructure originating from China late last year, Google has decided to take 'a new approach' to China. In their investigation, Google found that more than 20 large companies had been infiltrated and dozens of Chinese human rights activists' Gmail accounts had been compromised. Google has decided to 'review the feasibility of [its] business operations in China,' no longer censoring results in, and if necessary, to 'shut down, and potentially [Google's] offices in China.'"

Super-Earths Discovered Orbiting Nearby, Sun-Like Star 242

likuidkewl writes "Two super-earths, 5 and 7.5 times the size of our home, were found to be orbiting 61 Virginis a mere 28 light years away. 'These detections indicate that low-mass planets are quite common around nearby stars. The discovery of potentially habitable nearby worlds may be just a few years away,' said Steven Vogt, a professor of astronomy and astrophysics at UCSC. Among hundreds of our nearest stellar neighbors, 61 Vir stands out as being the most nearly similar to the Sun in terms of age, mass, and other essential properties."

Submission + - AT&T Censors 4chan server 13

An anonymous reader writes: Details how (home of the notorious /b/ — "Random" image board) is being actively blocked by AT&T. According to the scant details available on 4chan and Reddit there are reports that has become inaccessible from California to Texas and some reports claim as far east as Connecticut. Supposedly this is to stop a ring of pedophiles, but as one Reddit poster said it best "First the came for the pedophiles and I was not a pedophile..."
Disturbing news indeed.

Consumers May Find Smart Appliances a Dumb Idea 347

theodp writes "As GE readies appliances that communicate with smart meters in the hope of taking advantage of cheaper electricity rates, CNet asks a big question: Are consumers ready for the smart grid? Right now, most utilities only offer a flat rate, not time-of-use pricing, so the example of a drier that reacts to a 'price signal' about peak rates by keeping one's clothes wet until a more affordable time is pretty much a fantasy. And longer-term, a big question is whether consumers will want to deal with the hassle of optimizing household appliance energy usage themselves, or be willing to relinquish monitoring and control to utility companies — with a concomitant loss of privacy. After all, losing one's copy of 1984 is one thing — losing one's lights and refrigerator is another thing altogether."

SSN Required To Buy Palm Pre 543

UltraOne writes "Sprint requires your Social Security number in order to run a credit check before they will allow you to open an account, according to a store manager in Silver Spring, MD. Since Sprint is the exclusive carrier for the Palm Pre, if you are not willing to provide an SSN, you can't buy this product. I believe a full credit check for this level of consumer purchase is a clear example of overkill. I have supplied an SSN when buying a house and renting an apartment, but never for any other consumer purchase. I have purchased my cars with cash so far, so I don't have first-hand experience, but a car loan also seems to be an appropriate place to require an SSN for a credit check. At the very least, Sprint should have an alternative for people who don't want to give out their SSN. I also found the entire experience a powerful argument against exclusive license agreements." Read below for details of this reader's experience.

Company Claims EEG Scans Can Help Identify ADHD 373

Al writes "Technology Review has an article about a company hoping to expand the clinical use of electroencephalography. Thanks to better sensor technologies, data-processing techniques, and more detailed knowledge of the brain, EEG is expanding into completely new areas. A startup called ElMindA, is developing an EEG system to help doctors diagnose attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Scientists have also used ElMindA's system to characterize brain-activity patterns in patients with ADHD, identifying statistical parameters that differ between normal people and those with ADHD." If "normal people" can sit through high-school classes without being distracted and grumpy, count me out.

Survey Finds Airport Wi-Fi More Important Than Food 247

Ninjakicks writes "For the business traveler (and the traveler in general, really), Wi-Fi is important — crucial, even. But more important than sustenance? That's exactly what was found in a recent survey by American Airlines and HP, where some 47% of business travelers responded that Wi-Fi was the most important airport amenity, outscoring basic travels needs such as food by nearly 30 percent."

Microsoft Blocks Messenger In Five Embargoed Countries 194

Spooky McSpookster writes "Microsoft has turned off its Windows Live Messenger service for five countries: Cuba, Syria, Iran, Sudan, and North Korea. Users in these countries trying to log in get the following error: '810003c1: We were unable to sign you in to the .NET Messenger Service.' Why now, since this flies in the face of the Obama administration's softening stance on Cuba? This isn't the first time the US trade embargo has had questionable outcomes. US-based Syrian political activist George Ajjan created a web site promoting democracy in Syria, only to find GoDaddy blocked anyone inside Syria from seeing it. The article argues, 'Messenger is a medium for communication, and the citizens of these countries should not be punished from such a basic tool because the US has problems with their governments' policies.' What does this say for the wisdom of non-US citizens relying on US companies for their business or communication?"

"The most important thing in a man is not what he knows, but what he is." -- Narciso Yepes