Sockatume writes: Apple's new thin-but-wide iPhones 6 require more space in users' pockets. Perhaps more space than is available, as owners are reporting that their phones are subtly but permanently bending after several hours of ordinary sitting, even when stored in a front rather than back pocket. The issue was noted occasionally on the previous aluminium models, the iPhone 5 and 5S; earlier handsets and most competitors' models are made of steel or plastic. Apple commentator John Gruber proffers that affected owners "need looser pants".
Submission Summary: 0 pending, 20 declined, 35 accepted (55 total, 63.64% accepted)
Sockatume writes: If you've been browsing Apple's site, eagerly awaiting the iPhone 6 launch, you might've noticed something a little odd. Apple has edited the handset's protruding camera out of every single side-on view of the handset. (The camera is, necessarily, retained for images showing the back of the device.) The absence is particularly conspicuous given the number of side views Apple uses to emphasise the device's thin-ness; perhaps they felt that the camera was an unslightly blemish upon the device's clean, elegant lines.
Sockatume writes: Mojang, the developers of the extraordinarily popular Minecraft game, have confirmed rumours that they will be bought by Microsoft. Minecraft creator Marcus Persson will be leaving the company, along with co-founders Jakob Porser and Carl Manneh. The sale was motivated in part by the pressure and responsibility placed upon Persson by the game's unexpected success. The details of the deal have yet to be settled, but Microsoft has agreed that the game will not become an exclusive to their platforms and will continue to be developed and supported on other formats.
Sockatume writes: The Verge has an article on Discovery's hugely successful Shark Week, discussing how the increasing sensationalist special event misrepresents science and exploits nature and local history for shock value. Scientists who appeared in and were misrepresented by the channel's programming are beginning to encourage their peers to stay away from the Discovery network, which stands by the programming's viewing figures.
Sockatume writes: Lee Hutchison at Ars Technica reports with sadness that a mission which would study the effects of freefall on lizard reproduction has gone awry. Due to control failures, it not be possible to return the capsule and its menagerie of experimental life forms to Earth. Data collection is still possible, meaning that the creatures' sacrifice will not be in vain.
Sockatume writes: In a statement to the Financial Times and reported by the BBC, Google has confirmed that it will remove the music videos of independent artists unless they sign up to its upcoming subscription music service. Many independent musicians and labels have refused to do so, claiming that the contracts offer significantly worse deals than the likes of Spotify and Pandora, and that Google is unwilling to negotiate on the rates it offers artists. A Google spokesperson indicated that the company could start removing videos within days.
Sockatume writes: According to a press release issued by WIN, a group representing independent musicians, Google is threatening to de-list musicians' videos from YouTube if they do not agree to the terms for its unannounced streaming music service. The template contracts issued to musicians are described as "undervalued" relative to other streaming services, and are not open for negotiation. The press release was issued by WIN but rescinded when Google agreed to further discussions; The Associated Free Press and The Guardian have published stories based on that original release.
Sockatume writes: Prof Lennart Bengtsson of the University of Reading, who made waves last week by comparing the environment in climate research to McCarthy-era America, has distanced himself from the Times story that popularised his remarks. In a statement, Prof. Bengtsson explains: "I do not believe there is any systematic 'cover-up' of scientific evidence on climate change or that academics' work is being 'deliberately suppressed', as the Times front page suggests. I am worried by a wider trend that science is gradually being influenced by political views. Policy decisions need to be based on solid fact. I was concerned that the Environmental Research Letters reviewer's comments suggested his or her opinion was not objective or based on an unbiased assessment of the scientific evidence."
Sockatume writes: The resignation of Prof. Lennart Bengtsson from an anti-global-warming think tank has triggered widespread outrage in the British tabloids, with the University of Bristol Professor blaming his departure on a "witch-hunt" environment amongst climate scientists and the rejection of one of his papers. The UK's Times quotes a passage from the reviewer comments in support of this, in which it is claimed that the paper was rejected for being "unhelpful to their cause". In response, that journal's publisher has taken the rare step of publishing the referees' report in full. The report describes Bengtsson's paper as a "simplistic comparison of ranges from AR4, AR5, and Otto et al [data sets], combined with the statement they they are inconsistent", "where no consistency was to be expected in the first place" and therefore is not publishable research. The referee adds a number of possible areas of discussion which would allow Bengtsson to make the same data into a publishable paper, but warns that publishing it in its current state "opens the door for oversimplified claims of errors and worse from the climate sceptics media ".
Sockatume writes: The latest episode of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's Mediawatch program addresses GeoResonance's claims to have found the lost Malasia Airlines MH370 in the Bay of Bengal. They attribute the company's sudden prominence to increasing desperation amongst the press. Meanwhile, the Metabunk web site has been digging into the people and technology behind GeoResonance and its international siblings, finding noted pseudoscientist Vitaly Gokh and a dubious variation on Kirlian photography.
Sockatume writes: GeoResonance has leapt into the papers this week having claimed to have found missing flight MH370 in the Bay of Bengal. The Australian company claims to perform prospecting and munitions searches using secret Russian technology, with a web site boasting that they can "carry out a search for any substance". A recent press release clarifies that their technique "analyses super-weak electromagnetic fields captured by airborne multispectral images". However if you search for the patents listed on the company's site, Ukranian no. 35122 and 86496, you'll find the research described as a "method of radiation and chemical processing of analogue aerospace photographs" which closely resembles old-fashioned Kirlian photography. This process is well-known in the paranormal community, where it is used to take images of spirits and auras. Look up the writer on that second piece and you'll find him explicitly selling the technology as Kirlian-derived. You'll also find other companies in Eastern Europe selling technology ostensibly based on the same patents or other Kirlian techniques.
Sockatume writes: Would you like to see a half-million-dollar TV show in which four teams of indie developers and Youtube personalities compete to create amazing videogames? Tough luck, because GAME_JAM from Maker Studios has spectacularly imploded. Although a lot could go wrong with this kind of show, the blame isn't being levelled at game developer egos or project mismanagement but the heroic efforts of one Matti Leshem, a branding consultant brought in for Pepsi. After imposing Mountain Dew branding rules that even banned coffee from the set, his efforts to build a gender divide amongst the teams culminated in the competitors downing their tools and the projection collapsing. Accounts from Adriel Wallick, Zoe Quinn, and Robin Arnott are also available.
Sockatume writes: Researchers in Italy have demonstrated a powered exoskeleton that can lift 50kg with each hand, as demonstrated in video with the BBC. The "body extender" from the Perceptual Robotics Laboratory of the Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna in Pisa has been developed for applications like disaster relief, and is just one of many strength-augmenting systems being developed for use in rescue, military, and medical applications. While neither the researchers nor the BBC make the comparison to the Powerloader in the movie "Aliens", I mean come on, look at it.
Sockatume writes: The beleaguered MtGox bitcoin exchange has officially filed for bankruptcy in Tokyo, as reported in various news sources via AFP. According to the Wall Street Journal (paywalled; see The Verge for re-reporting) Bitcoin held an impromptu press conference that addressed recent rumours. They state that they have over $60m in liabilities against just $30m in assets, and confirm the loss of over $500m worth of Bitcoins, split between customers' balances (750,000 BTC) and company assets (100,000 BTC).
Sockatume writes: If you want to ship a phone with Google's apps on it, you need to licence them. A copy of the OEM licencing agreement from 2011 was recently leaked, and Ars Technica provides a summary. Amongst the rules: a company licencing Google Apps can't act in a way that would fragment Android, but must also maintain the platform's open-ness; most of Google's services must be included; Google apps must be defaults, and placed within a couple of clicks of the default home screen. No surprises but it's interesting to see the details laid out.