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Former Apple CEO Creates an iPhone Competitor 131

An anonymous reader links to Fast Company's profile of Obi Worldphone, one-time Apple CEO John Sculley's venture into smartphones. The company's first two products (both reasonably spec'd, moderately priced Android phones) are expected to launch in October. And though the phones are obviously running a different operating system than Apple's, Sculley says that Obi is a similarly design-obsessed company: "The hardest part of the design was not coming up with cool-looking designs," Sculley says. "It was sweating the details over in the Chinese factories, who just were not accustomed to having this quality of finish, all of these little details that make a beautiful design. We had teams over in China, working for months on the floor every day. We intend to continue that process and have budgeted accordingly." Obi is also trying to set itself apart from the low-price pack by cutting deals for premium parts. "Instead of going directly to the Chinese factories, we went to the key component vendors, because we know that ecosystem and have the relationships," Sculley says. "We went to Sony. It’s struggling and losing money on its smartphone business, but they make the best camera modules in the world."
Wireless Networking

Massachusetts Boarding School Sued Over Wi-Fi Sickness 586

alphadogg writes: The parents of an anonymous student at the Fay School in Southborough, Mass., allege that the Wi-Fi at the institution is making their child sick, according to a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court earlier this month (PDF). The child, identified only as "G" in court documents, is said to suffer from electromagnetic hypersensitivity syndrome. The radio waves emitted by the school's Wi-Fi routers cause G serious discomfort and physical harm, according to the suit. "After being continually denied access to the school in order to test their student's classroom, and having their request that all classrooms in which their child is present have the WiFi network replaced with a hard-wired Ethernet denied, the parents sued under the Americans with Disabilities Act."

Two Arrests In Denmark For Spreading Information About Popcorn Time 244

An anonymous reader writes: You may recall Popcorn Time, the software that integrated torrents with a streaming media player. It fell afoul of the law quite quickly, but survived and stabilized. Now, out of Denmark comes news that two men operating websites related to Popcorn Time have been arrested, and their sites have been shut down. It's notable because the sites were informational resources, explaining how to use the software. They did not link to any copyright-infringing material, they were not involved with development of Popcorn Time or any of its forks, and they didn't host the software. "Both men stand accused of distributing knowledge and guides on how to obtain illegal content online and are reported to have confessed."

Climatologists: By 2100, the Earth Will Have an Entirely Different Ocean 417

merbs writes: The ocean is in the midst of radical, manmade change. It can seem kind of crazy that one of the most immense properties on Earth—the ocean washes over 71 percent of the planet—could be completely transformed by a swarm of comparatively tiny, fleshy mammals. But humans are indeed remaking the ocean, in almost every conceivable way. The ocean we know today—that billions swim, fish, float, and surf in—that vast planetary body of water will be of an entirely different character by the end of the century: hotter, higher, trashier, and more acidic.

Comment I was ready to rip on this due to bad reporting... (Score 3, Insightful) 234

You have to love how they use gallons as a unit of measurement because it gives a really big number - 300,000,000. But in water terms, that's actually very little. That computes out to just under 921 acre-feet, which is the standard unit of measuring large quantities of water. Not so impressive-sounding now, so let's see what the actual costs are. Divide the $34,500,000 cost by the number of acre-feet and then again by the expected lifetime of the balls - say, 20 years. You wind up with $1,900 per acre-foot. This is a lot of money, but California residents and normal businesses normally pay around $1,000 per acre-foot. If you amortize the cost of these balls over the total water going through the system it's still a bit pricey but not insane when you consider the effects of droughts. For example, in Carlsbad, California they are building a desalinization plant with guaranteed annual sales at a cost of just over $2,000 per acre-foot.

Of course, real sanity would address the real causes of the "drought" - the fact that the two groups that use 85% of California's water pay nowhere near this much. Government pays $0 per acre-foot and wastes a breathtaking amount of water. Big agriculture pays around $10 per acre-foot (the small organic farms I buy my produce from still pay the two-orders-of-magnitude-higher residential rates). I'm all for agriculture - California is an amazing place to grow food and provides a huge percentage of the fruits and vegetables consumed in the US - but the artificially low prices have been abused by some farms and orchards. There is still a lot of flood irrigation being used (and some farmers were actually growing rice in the desert). A massive amount of alfalfa is being grown in the desert and then shipped to China, because at the subsidized water prices this is actually cheaper than China growing their own hay. Sit back and bask in that insanity. The government has dumped as much as a third of California's water supply for various environmental purposes - you could argue the costs and merits of this except for the fact that none of these projects are having their desired effect, so all of that water is just pure waste (around 33% of state water usage). And then they threaten to fine us if we water our lawns more than twice a week (> 5% of state water usage).

So anyway, for once, the black balls are the government doing something expensive but not completely stupid. But the fact that this is even necessary due to government stupidity and a breathtakingly colossal mismanagement of a valuable natural resource sort of makes it all moot in the end. There is no shortage due to drought - there's a shortage due to bad policies.

Comment They're beginning with a false premise (Score 3, Insightful) 519

"the vast majority of internet users who refuse to pay for news."

I don't think ad blockers exist because people don't want ads or "refuse to pay for news." Ad blockers exist because ads have become so ridiculously obnoxious and disruptive with animations or even sound that they make the web pages they're on pretty close to unusable. This is on top of the occasional but still-to-frequent usage of ad networks as malware distribution platforms. If the ad networks set some reasonable standards and actually enforced them, then ad blockers wouldn't be as much of an issue. As it is right now, using an ad block is a security requirement, not an option. From an aesthetic and usability standpoint it's just highly desirable.

Comment Depends on the corporate culture involved (Score 4, Interesting) 64

Speed of implementation in various organizations (or even departments, divisions, etc) runs a spectrum of "do stuff on more or less a whim" to "go through eight years of planning meetings to discuss the possibility of actually doing something." On the former end of the spectrum you buy extra capacity. At the latter end of the spectrum it doesn't matter, because you won't get the budget to buy extra capacity.


Israeli Security Company Builds "Unhackable" Version of Windows 253

New submitter Neavey writes: Sounds too good to be true, but Morphisec, an Israeli startup, claims to have built an unhackable version of Windows. Its not yet publicly available, a red flag if ever I saw one, but internal testing has had a 100% success rate: "In a statement for BI, Dudu Mimran, the co-founder of the company, describes this new OS version as the Windows that 'Microsoft should be doing,' explaining that, while the platform was initially designed for government use, it can be actually installed by any enterprise that wants to make sure that no hack is possible. Basically, this operating can block any zero-day attack, the founder says, thanks to the operating system randomizing all memory, which means that the hacker cannot target the computer memory and compromise the data stored on the drives." What things memory randomization does not fix, left as an exercise for the reader.

Comment Amazon Households is not ready for Prime time (Score 2) 79

Argh - I just set up my Household on Amazon... there are some issues with sharing Prime within a household, and nobody in Customer Service understands what's going on. After an hour wasted with an idiot and a supervisor I finally figured it out on my own (you have to enable Content sharing or Prime doesn't share). Most of the documentation appears to be wrong. Apparently Amazon has never heard of this whole UX testing thing... but at least I get a pun out of it.


Two Years Later, White House Responds To 'Pardon Edward Snowden' Petition 608

An anonymous reader writes: In June of 2013, a petition was posted to demanding that Edward Snowden receive a full pardon for his leaks about the NSA and U.S. surveillance practices. The petition swiftly passed 100,000 signatures — the point at which the White House said it would officially respond to such petitions. For two years, the administration was silent, but now they've finally responded. In short: No, Edward Snowden won't be receiving a pardon.

Lisa Monaco, the President's Advisor on Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, said, "Mr. Snowden's dangerous decision to steal and disclose classified information had severe consequences for the security of our country and the people who work day in and day out to protect it. If he felt his actions were consistent with civil disobedience, then he should do what those who have taken issue with their own government do: Challenge it, speak out, engage in a constructive act of protest, and — importantly — accept the consequences of his actions. He should come home to the United States, and be judged by a jury of his peers — not hide behind the cover of an authoritarian regime. Right now, he's running away from the consequences of his actions."

Comment Define "free." (Score 4, Insightful) 654

1) I can get anywhere I want with public transportation as it is right now. The problem is that it takes literally four to eight times more time (in my specific circumstances), and my time is far from free.

2) The notion that it's free is, frankly, dishonest and disingenuous. *Somebody* is paying for it, and that somebody is me, in one form or another. Just because the money is not coming directly from your wallet at that instant doesn't mean it's not happening.

3) It ignores subjective value. I often enjoy driving. I don't enjoy being crowded into a bus or tram / trolley. Trains aren't too bad from a comfort standpoint, but still not as fun as driving.


Bumblebees Being Crushed By Climate Change 225

sciencehabit writes: As the climate changes, plants and animals are on the move. So far, many are redistributing in a similar pattern: As habitat that was once too cold warms up, species are expanding their ranges toward the poles, whereas boundaries closer to the equator have remained more static. Bumblebees, however, appear to be a disturbing exception, according to a new study (abstract) . A comprehensive look at dozens of species finds that many North American and European bumblebees are failing to "track" warming by colonizing new habitats north of their historic range. Simultaneously, they are disappearing from the southern portions of their range.

The road to ruin is always in good repair, and the travellers pay the expense of it. -- Josh Billings