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Books

App Gives You Free Ebooks of Your Paperbacks When You Take a "Shelfie" 102

Posted by samzenpus
from the show-us-the-pages dept.
Peter Hudson writes Alan Henry writes on LifeHacker: "Paper books are awesome, but sometimes there's no beating the portability of an ebook on your phone or tablet. If you have a physical book you'd love to read on the go, BitLit may be able to get you an ebook version for free—all you need to do is take a photo of your book case: a 'shelfie.'" CNET notes that it's not quite as useful as it sounds: "As you might expect from a startup in the e-book space, BitLit currently offers a very limited selection -- only about 75,000 books, so the likelihood of a match is pretty slim. Browsing the library, I recognized very few mainstream authors."
Science

Scientists Say the Future Looks Bleak For Our Bones 87

Posted by samzenpus
from the no-bones-about-it dept.
HughPickens.com writes Nicholas St. Fluer reports at The Atlantic that according to researchers, our convenient, sedentary way of life is making our bones weak foretelling a future with increasing fractures, breaks, and osteoporosis. For thousands of years, hunter-gatherers trekked on strenuous ventures for food with dense skeletons supporting their movements and a new study pinpoints the origin of weaker bones at the beginning of the Holocene epoch roughly 12,000 years ago, when humans began adopting agriculture. "Modern human skeletons have shifted quite recently towards lighter—more fragile, if you like—bodies. It started when we adopted agriculture. Our diets changed. Our levels of activity changed," says Habiba Chirchir. A second study attributes joint bone weakness to different levels of physical activity in ancient human societies, also related to hunting versus farming.

The team scanned circular cross-sections of seven bones in the upper and lower limb joints in chimpanzees, Bornean orangutans and baboons. They also scanned the same bones in modern and early modern humans as well as Neanderthals, Paranthropus robustus, Australopithecus africanus and other Australopithecines. They then measured the amount of white bone in the scans against the total area to find the trabecular bone density. Crunching the numbers confirmed their visual suspicions. Modern humans had 50 to 75 percent less dense trabecular bone than chimpanzees, and some hominins had bones that were twice as dense compared to those in modern humans. Both studies have implications for modern human health and the importance of physical activity to bone strength. "The lightly-built skeleton of modern humans has a direct and important impact on bone strength and stiffness," says Tim Ryan. That's because lightness can translate to weakness—more broken bones and a higher incidence of osteoporosis and age-related bone loss. The researchers warn that with the deskbound lives that many people lead today, our bones may have become even more brittle than ever before. "We are not challenging our bones with enough loading," says Colin Shaw, "predisposing us to have weaker bones so that, as we age, situations arise where bones are breaking when, previously, they would not have."
Games

Should Video Games Be In the Olympics? 211

Posted by Soulskill
from the triathlon-should-be-swimming-cycling-and-zerging dept.
An anonymous reader writes: The BBC is running a story about e-sports and competitive video game. It's based on comments from Rob Pardo, formerly of Blizzard Entertainment, who says there's a good argument for having e-sports in the Olympics. He says video games are well positioned to be a spectator sport — an opinion supported by Amazon's purchase of Twitch.tv for almost a billion dollars. The main obstacle, says Pardo, is getting people to accept video games as a legitimate sport. "If you want to define sport as something that takes a lot of physical exertion, then it's hard to argue that videogames should be a sport, but at the same time, when I'm looking at things that are already in the Olympics, I start questioning the definition." The article notes, "Take chess, for instance. Supporters of the game have long called for its inclusion the Games, but the IOC has been reluctant, considering it a 'mind sport' and therefore not welcome in the Games." So, should the Games expand to include "mind sports" and video games?
Google

The History of the NORAD/Microsoft and Google Santa Trackers 57

Posted by Soulskill
from the NSA-only-has-santa-metadata dept.
theodp writes: Marketing Land's Danny Sullivan has a pretty epic post on How Google Became A Santa Tracker Tradition To Rival NORAD, and wonders if future generations will think of Santa tracking as synonymous with Google, just as past ones have felt about NORAD. Until it split with Google in 2012 (for unknown reasons) and hooked up with Microsoft, Sullivan explains, NORAD had really been the only place to go for a serious, dependable Santa tracking service. "There's a big part of me that wishes Google had gotten out of Santa tracking when it split from NORAD," says Sullivan of the divorce. "The NORAD Santa tracker brings back memories from my childhood; it brings back memories of me being a father with young kids checking in on Santa's progress. In contrast, Google feels to me like an upstart interloper messing with my nostalgic memories. But maybe Google's a welcome alternative to others. It's not uncommon to see the occasional complaint about a NORAD "Santa Cam" video showing Santa being accompanied by fighter jets. Some might prefer a Santa tracker that's not connected to a military organization. Of course, some might not feel one connected to a giant company is necessarily preferable. Part of me is also sad that when I go to NORAD's own site, I get a big Internet Explorer icon in the top right corner, which effectively opens up an ad for Microsoft. I guess I feel it's too blatant. Of course, complaining about the commercialization of something Christmas-related, I suppose, is kind of useless." Sullivan adds, "Overall, I'm thankful to the many people who are involved with both operations [NORAD Tracks Santa and Google Santa Tracker], who work hard to make children smile on Christmas Eve.""

+ - Yes, Virginia, There are NORAD/Microsoft and Google Santa Trackers

Submitted by theodp
theodp (442580) writes "Twas the Night Before Christmas, and Marketing Land's Danny Sullivan has a pretty epic post on How Google Became A Santa Tracker Tradition To Rival NORAD, and wonders if future generations will think of Santa tracking as synonymous with Google, just as past ones have thought of for NORAD. Until it split with Google in 2012 (for unknown reasons) and hooked up with Microsoft, Sullivan explains, NORAD had really been the only place to go for a serious, dependable Santa tracking service. "There’s a big part of me that wishes Google had gotten out of Santa tracking when it split from NORAD," says Sullivan of the divorce. "The NORAD Santa tracker brings back memories from my childhood; it brings back memories of me being a father with young kids checking in on Santa’s progress. In contrast, Google feels to me like an upstart interloper messing with my nostalgic memories. But maybe Google’s a welcome alternative to others. It’s not uncommon to see the occasional complaint about a NORAD “Santa Cam” video showing Santa being accompanied by fighter jets. Some might prefer a Santa tracker that’s not connected to a military organization. Of course, some might not feel one connected to a giant company is necessarily preferable. Part of me is also sad that when I go to NORAD’s own site, I get a big Internet Explorer icon in the top right corner, which effectively opens up an ad for Microsoft. I guess I feel it’s too blatant. Of course, complaining about the commercialization of something Christmas-related, I suppose, is kind of useless." Sullivan adds, "Overall, I’m thankful to the many people who are involved with both operations [NORAD Tracks Santa and Google Santa Tracker], who work hard to make children smile on Christmas Eve.""
DRM

How Laws Restricting Tech Actually Expose Us To Greater Harm 107

Posted by Soulskill
from the defective-by-design dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Cory Doctorow has an article in Wired explaining why crafting laws to restrict software is going to hurt us in the long run. The reason? Because we're on an irreversible trajectory toward integrating technology with our cars and houses, bodies and brains. If we don't control the software, then at some point, we won't control parts of our homes and our selves. Doctorow writes, "Any law or regulation that undermines computers' utility or security also ripples through all the systems that have been colonized by the general-purpose computer. And therein lies the potential for untold trouble and mischief.

Code always has flaws, and those flaws are easy for bad guys to find. But if your computer has deliberately been designed with a blind spot, the bad guys will use it to evade detection by you and your antivirus software. That's why a 3-D printer with anti-gun-printing code isn't a 3-D printer that won't print guns—the bad guys will quickly find a way around that. It's a 3-D printer that is vulnerable to hacking by malware creeps who can use your printer's 'security' against you: from bricking your printer to screwing up your prints to introducing subtle structural flaws to simply hijacking the operating system and using it to stage attacks on your whole network."

+ - How Laws Restricting Tech Actually Expose Us to Greater Harm->

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "Cory Doctorow has an article in Wired explaining why crafting laws to restrict software are going to hurt us in the long run Why? Because we're on an irreversible trajectory to integrating technology with our cars and houses, bodies and brains. If we don't control the software, then at some point, we won't control parts of our homes and our selves. Doctorow writes, "Any law or regulation that undermines computers' utility or security also ripples through all the systems that have been colonized by the general-purpose computer. And therein lies the potential for untold trouble and mischief. ... Code always has flaws, and those flaws are easy for bad guys to find. But if your computer has deliberately been designed with a blind spot, the bad guys will use it to evade detection by you and your antivirus software. That's why a 3-D printer with anti-gun-printing code isn't a 3-D printer that won't print guns—the bad guys will quickly find a way around that. It's a 3-D printer that is vulnerable to hacking by malware creeps who can use your printer's “security” against you: from bricking your printer to screwing up your prints to introducing subtle structural flaws to simply hijacking the operating system and using it to stage attacks on your whole network.""
Link to Original Source
First Person Shooters (Games)

Human Eye's Oscillation Rate Determines Smooth Frame Rate 162

Posted by Soulskill
from the subtle-yet-obvious dept.
jones_supa writes: It should be safe to conclude that humans can see frame rates greater than 24 fps. The next question is: why do movies at 48 fps look "video-y," and why do movies at 24 fps look "dreamy" and "cinematic." Why are games more realistic at 60 fps than 30 fps? Simon Cooke from Microsoft (Xbox) Advanced Technology Group has an interesting theory to explain this all. Your eyes oscillate a tiny amount, ranging from 70 to 103 Hz (on average 83.68 Hz). So here's the hypothesis: The ocular microtremors wiggle the retina, allowing it to sample at approximately 2x the resolution of the sensors. Showing someone pictures that vary at less than half the rate of the oscillation means we're no longer receiving a signal that changes fast enough to allow the supersampling operation to happen. So we're throwing away a lot of perceived-motion data, and a lot of detail as well. Some of the detail can be restored with temporal antialiasing and simulating real noise, but ideally Cooke suggests going with a high enough frame rate (over 43 fps) and if possible, a high resolution.

+ - Should Video Games Be In the Olypmics?-> 1

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "The BBC is running a story about e-sports and competitive video game. It's based on comments from Rob Pardo, formerly of Blizzard Entertainment, who says there's a good argument for having e-sports in the Olympics. He says video games are well positioned to be a spectator sport — an opinion supported by Amazon's purchase of Twitch.tv for almost a billion dollars. The main obstacle, says Pardo, is getting people to accept video games as a legitimate sport. "If you want to define sport as something that takes a lot of physical exertion, then it's hard to argue that videogames should be a sport, but at the same time, when I'm looking at things that are already in the Olympics, I start questioning the definition." The article notes, "Take chess, for instance. Supporters of the game have long called for its inclusion the Games, but the IOC has been reluctant, considering it a 'mind sport' and therefore not welcome in the Games." So, should the Games expand to include "mind sports" and video games?"
Link to Original Source
Crime

Study: Police Body-Cams Reduce Unacceptable Use of Force 339

Posted by Soulskill
from the big-brother-watching-big-brother dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Incidents like the Michael Brown case have recently put police body-worn cameras into the public consciousness, but they're not a new idea to criminology experts. In fact, researchers at Cambridge began a study in 2012 using law enforcement in Rialto, California as a test bed. Their results are now in: "The experiment showed that evidence capture is just one output of body-worn video, and the technology is perhaps most effective at actually preventing escalation during police-public interactions: whether that's abusive behavior towards police or unnecessary use-of-force by police." The simple knowledge that both parties are being watched puts a damper on violence. "During the 12-month Rialto experiment, use-of-force by officers wearing cameras fell by 59% and reports against officers dropped by 87% against the previous year's figures." This was enough for the city of Rialto to decide it wants to move forward with body-worn cameras; hopefully the study will encourage other police departments as well.
Hardware Hacking

Many DDR3 Modules Vulnerable To Bit Rot By a Simple Program 122

Posted by Soulskill
from the flipping-bits-for-fun-and-profit dept.
New submitter Pelam writes: Researchers from Carnegie Mellon and Intel report that a large percentage of tested regular DDR3 modules flip bits in adjacent rows (PDF) when a voltage in a certain control line is forced to fluctuate. The program that triggers this is dead simple — just two memory reads with special relative offset and some cache control instructions in a tight loop. The researchers don't delve deeply into applications of this, but hint at possible security exploits. For example a rather theoretical attack on JVM sandbox using random bit flips (PDF) has been demonstrated before.

+ - Study: Police Body-Cams Reduce Unacceptable Use of Force->

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "Incidents like the Michael Brown case have recently put police body-worn cameras into the public consciousness, but they're not a new idea to criminology experts. In fact, researchers at Cambridge began a study in 2012 using law enforcement in Rialto, California as a test bed. Their results are now in: "The experiment showed that evidence capture is just one output of body-worn video, and the technology is perhaps most effective at actually preventing escalation during police-public interactions: whether that's abusive behavior towards police or unnecessary use-of-force by police." The simple knowledge that both parties are being watched puts a damper on violence. "During the 12-month Rialto experiment, use-of-force by officers wearing cameras fell by 59% and reports against officers dropped by 87% against the previous year's figures." This was enough for the city of Rialto to decide it wants to move forward with body-worm cameras; hopefully the study will encourage other police departments as well."
Link to Original Source
Stats

The World Is Not Falling Apart 194

Posted by Soulskill
from the how-not-to-sell-newspapers dept.
An anonymous reader writes: As much as we like complaining, and as much as the big media stations like to focus on the most horrible news of the day, the world is actually becoming a better place. Stephen Pinker and Andrew Mack have an article in Slate going through many of the statistics for things like homicide rates, child abuse, wars, and even autocracy vs. democracy. They're all trending in the right direction. Maybe not fast, or even fast enough, but it's getting better.

They say, "Too much of our impression of the world comes from a misleading formula of journalistic narration. Reporters give lavish coverage to gun bursts, explosions, and viral videos, oblivious to how representative they are and apparently innocent of the fact that many were contrived as journalist bait. Then come sound bites from "experts" with vested interests in maximizing the impression of mayhem: generals, politicians, security officials, moral activists. The talking heads on cable news filibuster about the event, desperately hoping to avoid dead air. Newspaper columnists instruct their readers on what emotions to feel. There is a better way to understand the world. ... An evidence-based mindset on the state of the world would bring many benefits."

+ - The world is not falling apart->

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "As much as we like complaining, and as much as the big media stations like to focus on the most horrible news of the day, the world is actually becoming a better place. Stephen Pinker and Andrew Mack have an article in Slate going through many of the statistics of things like homicide rates, child abuse, wars, and even autocracy vs. democracy. They're all going in the right direction. Maybe not fast, or even fast enough, but it's getting better. They say, "Too much of our impression of the world comes from a misleading formula of journalistic narration. Reporters give lavish coverage to gun bursts, explosions, and viral videos, oblivious to how representative they are and apparently innocent of the fact that many were contrived as journalist bait. Then come sound bites from “experts” with vested interests in maximizing the impression of mayhem: generals, politicians, security officials, moral activists. The talking heads on cable news filibuster about the event, desperately hoping to avoid dead air. Newspaper columnists instruct their readers on what emotions to feel. There is a better way to understand the world. ... An evidence-based mindset on the state of the world would bring many benefits.""
Link to Original Source

+ - Human Eyes' Oscillation Rate Determines Smooth Frame Rate

Submitted by jones_supa
jones_supa (887896) writes "It should be safe to conclude that humans can see frame rates greater than 24 fps. The next question is why do movies at 48 fps look "videoy", and why do movies at 24 fps look "dreamy" and "cinematic". Why are games more realistic at 60 fps than 30 fps? Simon Cooke from Microsoft (Xbox) Advanced Technology Group has an interesting theory to explain this all. Your eyes oscillate a tiny amount, ranging from 70 to 103 Hz (on average 83.68 Hz). So here's the hypothesis. The ocular microtremors wiggle the retina, allowing it to sample at approximately 2x the resolution of the sensors. Showing someone pictures that vary at less than half the rate of the oscillation, means we're no longer receiving a signal that changes fast enough to allow the supersampling operation to happen. So we’re throwing away a lot of perceived-motion data, and a lot of detail as well. Some of the detail can be restored with temporal antialiasing and simulating real noise, but ideally Cooke suggests going with a high enough frame rate (over 43 fps) and if possible, a high resolution."

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