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Science

Does Journal Peer Review Miss Best and Brightest? 22

Posted by Soulskill
from the selecting-for-mediocrity dept.
sciencehabit writes: A study published today indicates that the scientific peer review system does a reasonable job of predicting the eventual interest in most papers, but it may fail when it comes to identifying really game-changing research. Papers that were accepted outright by one of the three elite journals tended to garner more citations than papers that were rejected and then published elsewhere (abstract). And papers that were rejected went on to receive fewer citations than papers that were approved by an editor. But there is a serious chink in the armor: All 14 of the most highly cited papers in the study were rejected by the three elite journals, and 12 of those were bounced before they could reach peer review. The finding suggests that unconventional research that falls outside the established lines of thought may be more prone to rejection from top journals.
DRM

An Automated Cat Litter Box With DRM 42

Posted by Soulskill
from the because-that's-what-the-world-needed dept.
HughPickens.com writes: Jorge Lopez had always wanted an automatic cat litter box, and finally found one called the CatGenie, a fully automated self-washing litter box connected to water, electricity and the sewer that cleans itself with water and soap. "It's the Rolls Royce of cat litter boxes, a hefty device that scoops, cleans, and disposes of the waste all on it's own. It's completely automated, even senses when a cat poops and cleans up afterwards." But there's trouble in paradise. "Life with the CatGenie was great, but not quite perfect," writes Lopez, after discovering that CatGenie uses a smart cartridge that is only available from the manufacturer. "I found that the "Smart" in SmartCartridge is that it has an RFID chip inside of it to keep track of how much solution it has, and once it runs out, well, you can't refill. I honestly did not believe this and tore one of the cartridges apart, and there it was, looking back at me, a tiny chip holding up it's little metal finger." Fortunately there are some amazing people helping the CatGenie community who have released products like the custom firmware CatGenious and CartridgeGenius, which allows you to use whatever solution you want. "The cost savings is great, but isn't the biggest driver for me, it's mainly the principle that I don't own the device I paid for, and I'm really tired of having cat litter everything in my home."
Patents

Uber Pushing For Patent On Surge Pricing 65

Posted by Soulskill
from the efficiently-separating-you-from-your-money dept.
mpicpp sends news that Uber is renewing its push for a patent on "surge pricing," the practice of increasing rider fees when many people are trying to find transportation. The system measures supply (Uber drivers) and demand (passengers hailing rides with smartphones), and prices fares accordingly. It’s one of at least 13 U.S. patent applications filed by Uber or its founders to give it an edge over potential rivals ahead of a potential initial public offering. So far, Uber hasn’t had any luck. Ten applications were initially rejected by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for “obviousness” or for covering something not eligible for protection.
Christmas Cheer

Goodbye, Alek's Internet-Controlled Christmas Lights for Celiac Research 13

Posted by timothy
from the ho-ho-ho-and-a-merry-old-hoax-except-it's-real-these-days dept.
Alek Komarnitsky, Colorado (and the Internet's) own Clark Griswold, has decided to retire as his own props master, programmer, best boy, and effects specialist. After 10 years of increasingly elaborate set-ups, Alek's decided to go out with a bang, with his largest-yet rooftop display of open-source powered, remotely controllable, internet-connected Christmas lights. (This year, he even matches the fictional Griswold's 25,000 lights, but truth tops fiction, with live webcams, animated props, and more.) We talked with Alek last year, too; but now he's got a full decade's worth of reminiscing about his jest-made-real hobby as That Guy With the Lights, and some advice for anyone who'd like to take on a project like this.

Alek has managed to stay on good terms with his neighbors, despite the car and foot traffic that his display has drawn, and kept himself from serious harm despite a complex of minor, overlapping risks including ladders, squirrels, a fair amount of electricity and (the most dangerous, he says) wind. The lights are what the world sees, but the video capture and distribution to the vast online audience is an equal part of the work. Alek has learned a lot along the way about automation, logistics, wireless networking, and the importance of load balancing. It's always possible the lights will return in some form, or that someone will take up the mantle as Blinkenlights master, but this tail end of 2014 (and the first day of 2015) is your last good chance to tune in and help toggle some of those lights. (The display operates from 1700-2200 Mountain time.) Alternate Video Link Update: 12/22 22:50 GMT by T : Note: Alek talks about the last year here.
Google

Google Unveils New Self-Driving Car Prototype 60

Posted by samzenpus
from the drive-off-into-the-sunset dept.
colinneagle writes In May, Google released a teaser image showing a mock-up of the autonomous vehicle it planned to build. Today, the company followed up with an image showing the finished product. Google says the first edition of its self-made self-driving car will feature "temporary manual controls as needed while we continue to test and learn." When Google introduced its prototype back in May, the company claimed its self-driving cars "won't have a steering wheel, accelerator pad, or brake pedal because they don't need them." Apparently, it still has yet to reach that point. The development is an important step forward for Google's driverless car efforts, which have been deemed impractical by many of late. Last year, the Financial Times reported that Google had difficulty finding manufacturing partners that would build vehicles featuring the self-driving capabilities used in its Prius. In that light, maybe Google's willingness to build its own hardware just to get the technology on the road means that its self-driving car team knows something the rest of the industry doesn't."

+ - ESA Carries Out Asteroid Impact Drill->

Submitted by Zothecula
Zothecula (1870348) writes "If there were any dinosaurs around, they could tell you that an asteroid impact can ruin your whole day. But if we did learn that one was actually going to strike the Earth in a month, what would the authorities do? To find out, the European Space Agency (ESA) held its first ever mock asteroid drill to work on solutions and identify problems in how to handle such a catastrophe."
Link to Original Source

+ - How a Wildfire Helped Spread the Hashtag->

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "Chris Messina is credited with originating the use of hashtags at Twitter. What’s not widely known is the role of San Diego’s wildfires in making hashtags reach a tipping point. Messina, who was Twitter user 1,186, says in the fall of 2007, Web developer Nate Ritter started posting updates on the firestorms using the hashtag #sandiegofire. Other users, including the news media, glommed onto the handle and citizen journalism took a big step forward. From there, other world events and use cases (e.g., Instagram) would lead Twitter to make hashtags more searchable."
Link to Original Source
Intel

Chromebook Gets "OK Google" and Intel's Easy Migration App 35

Posted by samzenpus
from the try-it-out dept.
An anonymous reader points out that Chromebook users just got a couple of early gifts. "Chromebooks have had a good run thus far in their history, and most recently they've had a stellar year of sales – famously beating out Apple's iPad. However, Google is not stopping there, as the company has decided to include and integrate 'OK Google' into their Chromebook tablets. As it turns out, the feature was possible all along with the code that had been included in the operating system, but was hidden well from users' direct line of sight. Intel has also shown a lot of support for Chromebooks, and the company has now released the Easy Migration app that will fittingly migrate data between Windows devices, iOS devices, and Android devices. The only catch is that users will have to be running a Chromebook that hosts an Intel processor. Intel has provided a website to check if your device is compatible, but it will surely be a significant hit for the Chromebook."
Earth

How a Massachusetts Man Invented the Global Ice Market 78

Posted by samzenpus
from the keeping-it-cool dept.
An anonymous reader writes with the story of Frederic Tudor, the man responsible for the modern food industry. "A guy from Boston walks into a bar and offers to sell the owner a chunk of ice. To modern ears, that sounds like the opening line of a joke. But 200 years ago, it would have sounded like science fiction—especially if it was summer, when no one in the bar had seen frozen water in months. In fact, it's history. The ice guy was sent by a 20-something by the name of Frederic Tudor, born in 1783 and known by the mid-19th century as the "Ice King of the World." What he had done was figure out a way to harvest ice from local ponds, and keep it frozen long enough to ship halfway around the world.

Today, the New England ice trade, which Tudor started in Boston's backyard in 1806, sounds cartoonishly old-fashioned. The work of ice-harvesting, which involved cutting massive chunks out of frozen bodies of water, packing them in sawdust for storage and transport, and selling them near and far, seems as archaic as the job of town crier. But scholars in recent years have suggested that we're missing something. In fact, they say, the ice trade was a catalyst for a transformation in daily life so powerful that the mark it left can still be seen on our cultural habits even today. Tudor's big idea ended up altering the course of history, making it possible not only to serve barflies cool mint juleps in the dead of summer, but to dramatically extend the shelf life and reach of food. Suddenly people could eat perishable fruits, vegetables, and meat produced far from their homes. Ice built a new kind of infrastructure that would ultimately become the cold, shiny basis for the entire modern food industry."
Transportation

Finland Announces an Anti-Laser Campaign For Air Traffic 110

Posted by samzenpus
from the stop-pointing dept.
jones_supa writes Trafi, the Finnish Pilots' Association, and STUK, the Finnish Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority, have launched a joint campaign against air traffic interference with the title "Lasers Are Not Toys." Ilkka Kaakinen from Trafi says that laser pointers interfering with air traffic is a real problem in Finland. "We receive reports of several cases of laser interference every month and every one of them is potentially dangerous," Kaakinen says. Last year, 60 cases of laser pointer interference were reported in Finland, and the figure for this year was at 58 in November. Despite the continuing interference, only one person has been caught misusing a laser pointer in this way in Finland. That single person was not convicted of a crime, as the court was not able to establish intent. Kaakinen says other countries hand down severe punishments for interfering with air traffic, even years-long stretches in prison. He also reminds that it is important for users of laser pointers to understand that the devices are not toys, and that children should be warned of the potential danger in using them irresponsibly – or ideally, not given one at all.
Google

Google+ Will Make Your Videos Look Better 37

Posted by Soulskill
from the won't-fix-your-awkward-breathing-into-the-microphone dept.
ErnieKey writes: A new Google+ feature for uploaded videos has been released that automatically enhances lighting, color, and stability. Soon, it'll also enhance speech in videos. "As more and more people now also take videos with their smartphones, it makes sense for Google to bring some of the technologies it has developed for photos (and YouTube) to these private videos, as well. Google has long offered a similar feature for YouTube users, so there is likely some overlap between the two systems here. While YouTube offers the option to 'auto-fix' videos, though, it doesn't automatically prompt its users to do this for them. YouTube also offers a number of manual tools for changing contrast, saturation and color temperature that Google+ doesn’t currently offer."

+ - Google Can Make Your Videos Look Better->

Submitted by ErnieKey
ErnieKey (3766427) writes "Today, the new Google+ feature will be released and it will be able to automatically enhance lighting, color and stability. Coming soon, it’ll also enhance speech in videos. The new feature is now available in Google+ on Mac, Windows and ChromeOS (you can find it behind the ‘More’ menu, as well as in the Google+ Photos app."
Link to Original Source
Security

Cyberattack On German Steel Factory Causes 'Massive Damage' 203

Posted by Soulskill
from the social-engineering-is-the-bug-you-can't-fix dept.
An anonymous reader writes: In a rare case of an online security breach causing real-world destruction, a German steel factory has been severely damaged after its networks were compromised. "The attack used spear phishing and sophisticated social engineering techniques to gain access to the factory's office networks, from which access to production networks was gained. ... After the system was compromised, individual components or even entire systems started to fail frequently. Due to these failures, one of the plant's blast furnaces could not be shut down in a controlled manner, which resulted in 'massive damage to plant,' the BSI said, describing the technical skills of the attacker as 'very advanced.'" The full report (PDF) is available in German.

+ - Cyberattack on German steel factory causes 'Massive Damage'->

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "In a rare case of an online security breach causing real-world destruction, a German steel factory has been severely damaged after its networks were compromised. "The attack used spear phishing and sophisticated social engineering techniques to gain access to the factory’s office networks, from which access to production networks was gained. ... The attack used spear phishing and sophisticated social engineering techniques to gain access to the factory’s office networks, from which access to production networks was gained. Due to these failures, one of the plant’s blast furnaces could not be shut down in a controlled manner, which resulted in 'massive damage to plant,' the BSI said, describing the technical skills of the attacker as 'very advanced.'" The full report (PDF) is available in German."
Link to Original Source
ISS

NASA 'Emails' a Socket Wrench To the ISS 143

Posted by Soulskill
from the hardware-as-a-service dept.
HughPickens.com writes: "Sarah LeTrent reports at CNN that NASA just emailed the design of a socket wrench to astronauts so that they could print it out in the orbit. The ratcheting socket wrench was the first "uplink tool" printed in space, according to Grant Lowery, marketing and communications manager for Made In Space, which built the printer in partnership with NASA. The tool was designed on the ground, emailed to the space station and then manufactured where it took four hours to print out the finished product. The space agency hopes to one day use the technology to make parts for broken equipment in space and long-term missions would benefit greatly from onboard manufacturing capabilities. "I remember when the tip broke off a tool during a mission," recalls NASA astronaut TJ Creamer, who flew aboard the space station during Expedition 22/23 from December 2009 to June 2010. "I had to wait for the next shuttle to come up to bring me a new one. Now, rather than wait for a resupply ship to bring me a new tool, in the future, I could just print it."

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