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Japan

Japanese Maglev Train Hits 500kph 418

Posted by timothy
from the for-amtrak-that-takes-negligence dept.
An anonymous reader writes Japan has now put 100 passengers on a Maglev train doing over 500kph. That's well over twice as fast as the fastest U.S. train can manage, and that only manages 240kph on small sections of its route. The Japanese Shinkansen is now running over 7 times times as fast as the average U.S. express passenger train. 500kph is moving towards the average speed of an airliner. Add the convenience of no boarding issues, and city-centre to city-centre travel, and the case for trains as mass-transport begins to look stronger.
Bitcoin

Entrepreneur Injects Bitcoin Wallets Into Hands 77

Posted by timothy
from the heirs-are-not-amused dept.
wiredmikey writes A Dutch entrepreneur has had two microchips containing Bitcoin injected into his hands to help him make contactless payments. The chips, enclosed in a 2mm by 12mm capsule of "biocompatible" glass, were injected using a special syringe and can communicate with devices such as Android smartphones or tablets via NFC. "What's stored on the microchips should be seen as a savings account rather than a current account," Martijn Wismeijer, co-founder of MrBitcoin said. "The payment device remains the smartphone, but you transfer funds from the chips." The chips are available on the Internet, sold with a syringe for $99, but Wismeijer suggested individuals should find a specialist to handle the injection to avoid infections.
Security

Website Peeps Into 73,000 Unsecured Security Cameras Via Default Passwords 321

Posted by Soulskill
from the security-through-insecurity dept.
colinneagle writes: After coming across a Russian website that streams video from unsecured video cameras that employ default usernames and passwords (the site claims it's doing it to raise awareness of privacy risks), a blogger used the information available to try to contact the people who were unwittingly streamed on the site. It didn't go well. The owner of a pizza restaurant, for example, cursed her out over the phone and accused her of "hacking" the cameras herself. And whoever (finally) answered the phone at a military building whose cameras were streaming on the site told her to "call the Pentagon."

The most common location of the cameras was the U.S., but many others were accessed from South Korea, China, Mexico, the UK, Italy, and France, among others. Some are from businesses, and some are from personal residences. Particularly alarming was the number of camera feeds of sleeping babies, which people often set up to protect them, but, being unaware of the risks, don't change the username or password from the default options that came with the cameras.

It's not the first time this kind of issue has come to light. In September 2013, the FTC cracked down on TRENDnet after its unsecured cameras were found to be accessible online. But the Russian site accesses cameras from several manufacturers, raising some new questions — why are strong passwords not required for these cameras? And, once this becomes mandatory, what can be done about the millions of unsecured cameras that remain live in peoples' homes?
Education

Glut of Postdoc Researchers Stirs Quiet Crisis In Science 283

Posted by Soulskill
from the opportunity-cost dept.
HughPickens.com writes: Carolyn Johnson reports in the Boston Globe that in recent years, the position of postdoctoral researcher has become less a stepping stone and more of a holding tank. Postdocs are caught up in an all-but-invisible crisis, mired in an underclass as federal funding for research has leveled off, leaving the supply of well-trained scientists outstripping demand. "It's sunk in that it's by no means guaranteed — for anyone, really — that an academic position is possible," says Gary McDowell, a 29-year old biologist doing his second postdoc. "There's this huge labor force here to do the bench work, the grunt work of science. But then there's nowhere for them to go; this massive pool of postdocs that accumulates and keeps growing." The problem is that any researcher running a lab today is training far more people than there will ever be labs to run. Often these supremely well-educated trainees are simply cheap laborers, not learning skills for the careers where they are more likely to find jobs. This wasn't such an issue decades ago, but universities have expanded the number of PhD students they train from about 30,000 biomedical graduate students in 1979 to 56,800 in 2009, flooding the system with trainees and drawing out the training period.

Possible solutions span a wide gamut, from halving the number of postdocs over time, to creating a new tier of staff scientists that would be better paid. One thing people seem to agree on is that simply adding more money to the pot will not by itself solve the oversupply. Facing these stark statistics, postdocs are taking matters into their own hands, recently organizing a Future of Research conference in Boston that they hoped would give voice to their frustrations and hopes and help shape change. They ask, "How can we, as the next generation, run the system?"
Iphone

Consumer Reports: New iPhones Not As Bendy As Believed 304

Posted by Soulskill
from the but-mah-hashtags dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Over the past several days, we've been hearing reports about some amount of users noticing that their brand new iPhone 6 Plus is bending in their pockets. The pictures and videos shown so far have kicked off an investigation, and Consumer Reports has done one of the more scientific tests so far. They found that the iPhone 6 Plus takes 90 pounds of pressure before it permanently deforms. The normal iPhone 6 took even less: 70 lbs. They tested other phones as well: HTC One (M8): 70 lbs, LG G3: 130 lbs, iPhone 5: 130 lbs, Samsung Galaxy Note 3: 150 lbs. The Verge also did a report on how Apple torture-tests its devices before shipping them. Apple's standard is about 55 lbs of pressure, though it does so thousands of times before looking for bends. One analysis suggests that Apple's testing procedure only puts pressure on the middle of the phone, which doesn't sufficiently evaluate the weakened area where holes have been created for volume buttons. Consumer Reports' test presses on the middle of the device as well.
Science

New Process Promises Ammonia From Air, Water, and Sunlight 117

Posted by timothy
from the kid-tested-mother-shocked dept.
The synthesis of ammonia is one of the globe's most significant industrial applications of chemistry. PhysOrg reports the publication in the August issue of Science (sadly, article is paywalled) the description of a low-energy process to syntheize ammonia for fertilizer using just air, water, and sunlight, by zapping with electricity water bubbling through a matrix of iron oxide, and sodium and potassium hyroxide. Electricity isn't free, though — "Low energy" in this case means two-thirds the energy cost of the long-in-use Haber-Bosch process. Researcher Stuart Licht is getting some of the energy to run this reaction from a high-efficiency solar cell he's created, which creates hydrogen as a byproduct. Along with the elimination of the need to produce hydrogen from natural gas, the overall emissions are reduced quite significantly. The whole process also takes place at milder conditions, not requiring 450C and 200 times atmospheric pressure as the Haber-Bosch process does. ... But even with Licht's method, [University of Bristol electrochemistry professor David] Fermin points out that we are far away from being able to replicate nature's efficiency at converting nitrogen from the air to useful chemicals, which is done by nitrogen-fixing bacteria. "What is truly remarkable is that nature does it incredibly efficiently at low-temperature," Fermin added. And yet, if something more efficient can replace the Haber-Bosch process, it would lower the energy input of the production of one of the worlds most important chemicals and lead to a notable reduction in global CO2 emissions.

Comment: Re:PCI-DSS (Score 2) 217

Remember that PCI-DSS is a fairly new standard. A quick search got me a VISA document that listed january 1, 2008 as the date for phasing out old payment systems that didn't manage card numbers securely.

The plain text credit card number was apparently used in a transaction from 2005. Still a bad idea to use a plain text card number. But ompanies doing stupid stuff like that.is kind of the reason why PCI-DSS became mandatory in the first place.

Comment: Re:Crazy (Score 1) 778

by Wildclaw (#47498707) Attached to: States That Raised Minimum Wage See No Slow-Down In Job Growth

My issue is that you dont want a free market

The very core of free market theory is consensual trade. Without mutual consent you can't have a free market. And that is why the low end labor market is in no way a free market. The worker is not consenting to work, he is figuratively forced at gunpoint.

So the only negative impact the minimum wage has on the free market is imaginary as there wasn't a free market to begin with. Well, unless you had some kind of basic income to remove the figurative gun from the picture.

Comment: Re:Free market economy (Score 1) 529

Anyone calling the current economy a free market is spouting bullshit. The core of free market theory is consent between seller (employee) and consumer (employer). But you can't have proper consent when the seller is under duress.

Unions are kind of a solution, but that is essentially fighting duress with duress which is a negative cold war strategy. Not what I would call a free market.

The better solution in my opinion is an unconditional basic income, that directly tries to solve the problem of sellers being under duress to begin with. All without having the government doing any extra regulations of the market. In fact, with a proper basic income you can even remove regulations such as the minimum wage.

Earth

Giant Crater Appears In Northern Siberia 122

Posted by Soulskill
from the when-earth-attacks dept.
New submitter DavidMZ writes: The Siberian Times reports on a large crater of unknown origin that has appeared in the Yamal Peninsula in northern Siberia. The Russian government has dispatched a group of scientists to investigate the 80-meter-wide crater. Anna Kurchatova from Siberia's Sub-Arctic Scientific Research Center believes the crater was a result of an explosion when a mixture of water, salt, and natural gas exploded underground. The Yamai Peninsula is known to hold Russia's biggest natural gas reserve."
Businesses

Indie Game Developers Talk About Why They Struck Out On Their Own 49

Posted by timothy
from the you-can-hire-someone-to-flog-you dept.
Nerval's Lobster (2598977) writes Technology writer Jon Brodkin sat down with a group of indie game developers (as well as a professor at the University of Southern California's game-design program) to talk about why they decided to launch their own small studios rather than stick with comfortable (albeit stressful) jobs at major firms like Disney or Zynga. The answer, as you'd expect, boils down to control. "Working for a bigger company is a good way to gain experience, and learn how games are made," said Graham Smith, one of the co-founders of Toronto-based DrinkBox Studios. "It's also nice to have a steady salary coming in as you learn the ropes. On the flip side, depending on the company, you might not have much control over the game's design, or even be making the types of games that you enjoy playing." But startups come with their own challenges, not the least of which is the prospect of an economic downturn quickly wiping you out, or not making your Kickstarter goal.

Comment: Re:Good! (Score 0) 619

by Wildclaw (#47276829) Attached to: 2 US Senators Propose 12-Cent Gas Tax Increase

Taxes real have four purposes for the federal government. or any other sovereign fiat currency owner.

The first two purposes are similar, namely to manage inflation and create a base demand for currency. You do those with general taxing and failure to do it leads to inflation and a devalued currency.

The third purpose is to punish externalities. You could outlaw things instead, but that is a very blunt solution. It is better to punish excessive usage via taxes. The gas tax is one such tax. Failure to properly implement these taxes makes the society as a whole worse off thanks to people exploiting externalities.

The final purpose is to ensure money circulation. This is done via wealth, land and progressive taxes. Failure to properly do that forces the government to issue more and more money as the existing money keeps accumulating in the top 1%, Since most modern countries use a bond system, that is equivalent to subsidizing the top 1% and going into an ever increasing debt.

Oh, and as technology improves, the return on capital will as well, causing money to accumulate upwards even faster. The most extreme example is when one person owns all the capital and can press a single button and produce enough for the whole population. In that case, that person will have to be taxed at nearly 100% if you want to keep the economy functioning.

Transportation

Shawn Raymond's Tandem Bike is Shorter Than Yours (Video) 85

Posted by Roblimo
from the get-on-your-mechanical-pony-and-ride dept.
This isn't a "both peddlers are equal" bike. The person sitting in the rear seat is in the "control" position. Because of the wide handlebars, he or she can reach around the person in the front seat to steer. The person in the front seat can't really do much except enjoy the ride, or maybe lean back and whisper a sweet nothing or two if the person in the back seat is someone the front-seater loves. The bike is called the UnaTandem (turn music off in the lower left corner of the page), and Shawn Raymond tried to get Kickstarter funding for it back in 2012 but only raised $1651, which was quite a ways short of his $70,000 goal. So, with Kickstarter in the rear view mirror, Shawn is trying to do his own crowdfunding. Will this work? Can he get enough people to buy into his idea of a tandem bike that gives you the old "riding on the handlebars" feeling to get his company off the ground? Can he use his own money (assuming he has enough) to build and sell his tandem bikes without bringing in outside investors at all? And then there's the price problem. Shawn says he's looking at a retail price in the $850 range. That may not seem like a lot to some, but you can buy 10 Walmart bikes for that much. Or four or five bikes from specialty bicycle or sporting goods stores. Despite the high price, some will undoubtedly buy these short tandem bikes and like them. But will enough people buy enough of them to make this a viable business? Shawn obviously thinks so. (Alternate Video Link)
Crime

Man Behind Hacks of Bush Family and Other Celebs Indicted In the US 65

Posted by Soulskill
from the bet-you-wish-you'd-stood-in-bed dept.
New submitter criticalmass24 writes: 42-year-old Marcel Lehel Lazar, better known as Guccifer, the hacker that gained unauthorized access to email and social network accounts of high-profile public figures, has been charged in the United States. According to the Department of Justice, "[F]rom December 2012 to January 2014, Lazar hacked into the e-mail and social media accounts of high-profile victims, including a family member of two former U.S. presidents, a former U.S. Cabinet member, a former member of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, and a former presidential adviser. After gaining unauthorized access to their e-mail and social media accounts, Lazar publicly released his victims’ private e-mail correspondence, medical and financial information, and personal photographs. The indictment also alleges that in July and August 2013, Lazar impersonated a victim after compromising the victim’s account." The full indictment can be read online.

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