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Submission Summary: 0 pending, 45 declined, 14 accepted (59 total, 23.73% accepted)

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Submission + - Animations in UI Design: For, Against, or Just Another /. Toxic Waste Zone?

Press2ToContinue writes: Google made it big limiting advertisements using strict guidelines: only simple text ads were allowed.Google's home page adhered to a similar concept: no distractions, nothing moving. It simply said "Google." The rise of the world's biggest brand was based on this premise of a simple, unmoving, unanimated theme.

How soon we forget. Now Google's page is always animated. The more they grow, the more they feel it is acceptable that user experience elements move, and more and more distractions are now acceptable, even pre-pending video ads at the beginning of videos, and animating Gmail sign-in boxes as they glide into place. But clearly, as evinced by the popularity of Adblock, distractions are annoying and unwelcome, Adblock is now so popular that makes a fortune accepting Google's payments to let distractions through, while users desperately search for ways to disable all possible animations. Somehow, it seems counterproductive to what we consider "good" UI design.

In fact, and depending entirely on who you consult, it seems that there can be no limit to the the idea that animation only ever makes the user experience richer. If it doesn't move in some way, it can be improved by movement. And this is the inherent, conflicting unquestioned assumption in the current state of UI design: movement is good. But where is the line between helpful movement and distractions? And is it the same for everyone?

Again, this is at odds with the anti-trend precepts that made Google popular, and at odds with the hate that we spew for animations and distractions on web pages, and especially for the videos that start playing when we land on a page.

But I ask you, seriously, as web and UI designers, in your head, where is that line between good UI design, and distracting, pointless movement? Does a line even exist? When it comes to UI design, is the sky the limit, and is it OK for everything to be animated at the whim of the designer, because they can utter incantations that justify their new, more animated, design?

Does anyone even think that UI animations, and animations in advertising, may both be simply manifestations of our innate desire to catch people's attention? Animations are the trend, but would anyone really miss them if they went away? Or worse, are some users actually distracted and impeded by them, but we don't want to know because it's less fun to design a static UI?

I can think of a dozen ways to design a UI with more efficient and accurate inputs than swipes, gestures, and carousels with artificially-induced momentum. Vista and Windows 8 failed miserably. Could it be that the commonality was that their core concept revolved around the assumption that users crave skeuomorphic movement? Will there come a time when someone says, these are all simply subclasses of the now-faded skeuomorphism fad of early UI design, the faux marble bitmaps and the cheesy animated gifs of the early web?

And could they, in some cases, actually be harmful enough that even though we think they are cool, we should always provide a way to switch them off?

And is the worst-case scenario, that we are simply wasting development time, and slowing down the user interface without really adding any value, time that could be better spent because what users really want is better performance, and real functionality?

Submission + - Who is Discouraging Women From STEM Careers? (

Press2ToContinue writes: Having worked in a STEM field (computer programming) for over a quarter of a century, I have found the idea that girls are discouraged from entering STEM fields to be curious. It certainly didn't line up with my experience in the industry. Schools have been pushing girls into math and science, not discouraging them. In my experience technology companies have been bending over backwards and jumping through hoops to get more women into IT (information technology). From programs aimed at getting high school students involved in technology to hiring decisions, there has always been a blunt, out-in-the-open emphasis on getting more women into IT.

So, if it's not “the patriarchy” pushing women down and denying them a chance to enter technology fields, what does account for women being underrepresented in technology fields? After a little research into personality types and career fields, I think I found the answer.

The Myers-Briggs personality test places people into 16 personality type categories. One researcher surveyed computer programmers to determine what personality types were represented. I compared how common the personality types were among programmers compared to how common they were in the general population, and although there is always room for error, a clear pattern emerged from my analysis placing programmers, men, and women, into a clearer picture for me to understand their under-representation.

Submission + - What Would A Year in Space Do to Your Mind?

Press2ToContinue writes: This week, NASA and the Russian Federal Space Agency will send two astronauts to spend a year in the International Space Station. This will be one of the first times people have stayed in space for such a long period of time, and the first time anybody has spent so much time aboard the ISS. While they're up there, American Scott Kelly and Russian Mikhail Kornienko will take part in more than a dozen studies about the physical and mental effects of working in space longer-term.

NASA tests aspiring astronauts strictly —and somewhat mysteriously— before choosing them for missions. Those selected are easygoing with good social skills. If they're married, they can't have marital problems.

Even after weeding out those with mental disorders, depression and conflicts still arise among well-adjusted crews. After all, they're in a situation that's basically new to humanity. Longtime space-psychology researcher Nick Kanas listed someknown problems long-term astronauts can face: anxiety, depression, and psychosis, psychosomatic symptoms [one Soviet astronaut had psychosomatic toothaches], emotional problems related to the stage of the mission, and postflight personality changes. Interpersonal issues include interpersonal tension, decreased cohesiveness over time, need for privacy, and task vs emotional leadership.

Over the past several years, NASA has been funding a group of psychologists to develop a software program astronauts could use, while aboard spacecraft, to help them work through depression and conflicts with their fellow space-goers. Because astronauts are often reluctant to admit to anxiety or depression, out of fear they won't be allowed to go to space again, the software is designed so nobody can track whether an astronaut uses it,

Submission + - Feds Eavesdropped for Ten Years - Still Failed to Stop 9/11 (

Press2ToContinue writes: One of the big arguments trotted out repeatedly by surveillance state defenders concerning the NSA's Section 215 program to collect records on all phone calls is that such a thing "would have prevented 9/11" if it had been in place at the time. Here's former FBI boss Robert Mueller making just that argument right after the initial Snowden leaks. Here's Dianne Feinstein making the argument that if we had that phone tracking program before September 11th, we could have stopped the attacks. And here's former NSA top lawyer and still top NSA supporter Stewart Baker arguing that the program is necessary because the lack of such a program failed to stop 9/11.

Except, it turns out, the feds did have just such a program prior to 9/11 — run by the DEA. As you may recall, back in January it was revealed that the DEA had its own database of phone call metadata of nearly all calls from inside the US to foreign countries. Brad Heath at USA Today came out with a report yesterday that goes into much more detail on the program, showing that it dates back to at least 1992 — meaning that the feds almost certainly had the calls that Feinstein and Mueller pretended the government didn't have prior to 9/11.

Submission + - Chinese internet addicts pay for digital detox in military-style bootcamps

Press2ToContinue writes: Last year, China recognized internet addiction as an official disorder. Since then, over 6,000 patients have submitted themselves for treatment, after some spent up to 14 hours a day online

And as these amazing pictures show, dealing with it is serious. The Daxing Internet Addiction Treatment Centre (IATC) is a military-style bootcamp nestled in the suburbs of Bejing.

The young men that enter its doors are subjected to a strict military regime of exercise, medication and solitary confinement. Any kind of electronic gadgetry is completely banned. Additionally, patients are frequently subjected psychiatric assessments and brain scans to make sure they stay on the straight and narrow.

And if you're thinking it's just an extreme reaction by the Chinese, think again. The western world is following suit. Last year, a man was treated in the US after spending 18 hours a day using Google Glass.

Despite it's recent official classification, Is internet addition a real disorder? Or is it a red herring masking depression and escapism? And to make things more indeterminate, Isn't more and more time online the inevitable future?

And the concept is gaining steam, the first Internet Congress on Internet Addiction Disorders was held in Milan in early 2014.

Submission + - This Is Big: A Robo-Car Just Drove Across the Country (

Press2ToContinue writes: AN AUTONOMOUS CAR just drove across the country.

Nine days after leaving San Francisco, a blue car packed with tech from a company you’ve probably never heard of rolled into New York City after crossing 15 states and 3,400 miles to make history. The car did 99 percent of the driving on its own, yielding to the carbon-based life form behind the wheel only when it was time to leave the highway and hit city streets.

This amazing feat, by the automotive supplier Delphi, underscores the great leaps this technology has taken in recent years, and just how close it is to becoming a part of our lives. Yes, many regulatory and legislative questions must be answered, and it remains to be seen whether consumers are ready to cede control of their cars, but the hardware is, without doubt, up to the task.

Submission + - Is the World Ready for the "Schrödinger's Physicist" Experiment? (

Press2ToContinue writes: Imagine a physicist sitting in a chamber with a gun pointed directly at her head.

Every few seconds, the spin direction of a random particle in the room is measured. If the particle is spinning one direction then the gun goes off and the physicist dies. If the particle is spinning in the opposite direction, there's just a clicking sound and the physicist survives.

She has a 50/50 chance of surviving, right?

It might not be that simple if we live in a multiverse — the idea that multiple universes, apart from the one we call home, exist.

This scenario with the physicist and the gun is the start of a famous thought experiment called "quantum suicide," and it's one way for physicists to consider if we really are living in just one of many (and potentially infinitely many) universes.

This is different from the Schrödinger's cat experiment because this time, the observer is continuously integrated into the experiment, and plays an integral part which contributes to the conclusion.

Her survival is tied to a quantum probability, so she'll be both dead and alive at once — just in different universes. If a new universe splits off every time a particle is measured and the gun either fires or doesn't, then in one of those universes, the physicist will end up surviving, say 50 particle measurements. You can think of this as flipping a coin 50 times in a row. You have an extremely low likelihood of getting heads each of those 50 times — less than a 1 quadrillion chance, but it is possible.

And if it happens, that's enough for the physicist to conclude that the multiverse is real, and effectively she becomes immortal in the universe in which the gun never goes off. But she also becomes the only person who knows that parallel universes exist.

Submission + - Is this ET? Mystery of strange radio bursts from space (

Press2ToContinue writes: Telescopes have been picking up so-called fast radio bursts (FRBs) since 2001. They last just a few milliseconds and erupt with about as much energy as the sun releases in a month. Ten have been detected so far, most recently in 2014, when the Parkes Telescope in New South Wales, Australia, caught a burst in action for the first time. The others were found by sifting through data after the bursts had arrived at Earth. No one knows what causes them, but the brevity of the bursts means their source has to be small – hundreds of kilometres across at most – so they can't be from ordinary stars. And they seem to come from far outside the galaxy.

To calculate how far the bursts have come, astronomers use a concept called the dispersion measure. Each burst covers a range of radio frequencies, as if the whole FM band were playing the same song. But electrons in space scatter and delay the radiation, so that higher frequency waves make it across space faster than lower frequency waves. The more space the signal crosses, the bigger the difference, or dispersion measure, between the arrival time of high and low frequencies – and the further the signal has travelled.

Michael Hippke of the Institute for Data Analysis in Neukirchen-Vluyn, Germany, and John Learned at the University of Hawaii in Manoa found that all 10 bursts' dispersion measures are multiples of a single number: 187.5 (see chart). This neat line-up, if taken at face value, would imply five sources for the bursts all at regularly spaced distances from Earth, billions of light-years away.

They claim there is a 5 in 10,000 probability that the line-up is coincidence. "If the pattern is real," says Learned, "it is very, very hard to explain."

Submission + - Now It's Easy To Tell Congress To Fight Patent Trolls

Press2ToContinue writes: Application Developers Alliance is running two campaigns to help get the message to Washington. First is the Fight Patent Trolls initiative, which includes a tool for sending a letter to Senators and Representatives.

The second campaign is Innovators Need Patent Reform, an open letter to Congress that makes the same key points along with a public list of signers.

As both letters note, there are already proposals in both the House and the Senate, plus recommendations from the President, that contain some of the all-important protections that the victims of patent trolls need. Though the future of these specific bills is uncertain, the building blocks are beginning to fall into place, and it's time to run with that momentum.

Submission + - FBI Figures Manipulated to Show Phony Increase in Mass Shootings ( 1

Press2ToContinue writes: Crime stats published by the FBI and relied upon by the media distort the gun violence and leave the public with the impression "mass shooting" incidents are a much bigger threat than they really are, according to a criminologist and Second Amendment scholar.

The bureau's annual reports tabulating and classifying a wide range of crime throughout the nation have been historically free of politics, but John Lott, president of the Crime Prevention Research Center, said the latest statistics contain numbers that are misleading at best and deliberately fudged at worst. Lott believes the numbers may have been presented to overstate for political purposes the true risk of being a victim of random gun crimes.

“I have been reading FBI reports for 30 years and I have never seen anything like this.It is one thing for the Bureau of Justice Statistics or the National Institute of Justice to put out politically biased studies, but there has always been a Chinese wall separating the FBI raw data collection from political pressures.”

A counter report by the CPRC shows that if the biases and errors were corrected, the Bureau’s data would show that the annual growth rate for homicides in mass shootings had been cut in half, Lott said.

He suspects manipulation, and not merely mistakes

Submission + - Hadron Collider To Create a Black Hole, Contact A Parallel Universe Within Days (

Press2ToContinue writes: Scientists conducting a mindbending experiment at the Large Hadron Collider next week hope to connect with a parallel universe outside of our own.

The staggeringly complex LHC ‘atom smasher’ at the CERN centre in Geneva, Switzerland, will be fired up to its highest energy levels ever in a bid to detect — or even create — miniature black holes.

If successful a completely new universe will be revealed – rewriting not only the physics books but the philosophy books too.

It is even possible that gravity from our own universe may ‘leak’ into this parallel universe, scientists at the LHC say.

The experiment is sure to inflame alarmist critics of the LHC, many of whom initially warned the high energy particle collider would spell the end of our universe with the creation a black hole of its own.

But so far Geneva remains intact and comfortably outside the event horizon.

Submission + - New Estimate: Billions of Milky Way Planets are in the Habitable Zone (

Press2ToContinue writes: Astronomers have discovered thousands of exoplanets using the Kepler satellite. By analyzing these planetary systems, researchers have calculated the probability for the number of stars that might have planets in the habitable zone. The calculations show that billions of stars in the Milky Way will have one to three planets in the habitable zone, where there is the potential for liquid water and where life could exist.

Submission + - What Do Robot Clones and Pigs with human DNA Have In Common? (

Press2ToContinue writes: Martine Rothblatt talks about outlandish feats that sound like science fiction—including an explanation of how she used artificial intelligence to simulate the human brain and create a copy of her wife—in the same way most executives discuss quarterly business forecasts.

The CEO of biotech firm United Therapeutics, founder of SiriusXM radio, and America’s highest-paid female and transgender executive is also working with Craig Venter, who helped sequence the human genome, to use organs from genetically-modified pigs for human organ transplants. The goal is to come up with a way to create a never-ending supply of organs.

“When we started doing this, the longest a genetically-modified pig could survive in a bath of human blood was two hours and now that we are up to over eight days, it’s mind-blowing,” she said, in a wide-spanning conversation that drew an audience of hundreds at the South by Southwest conference.

Rothblatt also explained how she hired a team of robotic scientists to create a robot that was a “mind clone” of her wife, Bina Aspen.

Starting with a “mindfile”—a digital database of a person’s mannerisms, personality, recollections, feelings, beliefs, attitudes, and values gleaned from social media, email, videos, and other sources—Rothblatt’s team created a robot that can converse, write Tweets, and even express human emotions such as jealousy and pain in ways that mimic the person she was modeled after.


Press2ToContinue writes: You probably haven't bought a 3D printer yet, have you? Sure they make great models of... stuff, but how many 10cm figurines of Bart Simpson does a house need? No, what you really want on your kitchen counter is a PancakeBot.

Claiming the prestigious title of "world's first pancake printer", the PancakeBot allows wrist-weary cooks to design and "print" their own pancakes.

Created by Miguel Valenzuela, the bot comes with a neat piece of software that allows you to 'trace' out your desired pancake shape, before transferring the design to the bot via an SD card. A motor-driven printing arm then squeezes batter (that you still have to make) onto a griddle, which then cooks your undoubtedly wacky 'cake.

Never appeal to a man's "better nature." He may not have one. Invoking his self-interest gives you more leverage. -- Lazarus Long