Okian Warrior writes "Aram Bartholl is building a series of USB dead drops in New York City. Billed as 'an anonymous, offline, peer to peer file-sharing network in public space,' he has embedded USB sticks as file cache devices throughout the city. Bartholl says, 'I am "injecting" USB flash drives into walls, buildings and curbs accessible to anybody in public space. You are invited to go to these places (so far 5 in NYC) to drop or find files on a dead drop. Plug your laptop to a wall, house or pole to share your files and data.' Current locations (more to come) include: 87 3rd Avenue, Brooklyn, NY (Makerbot), Empire Fulton Ferry Park, Brooklyn, NY (Dumbo), 235 Bowery, NY (New Museum), Union Square, NY (Subway Station 14th St), and West 21st Street, NY (Eyebeam)"
Knowzy writes "At least two divisions at HSBC Bank apparently failed card issuing 101 and are mailing out debit cards pre-activated. Because they are debit cards, fraudulent transactions come directly out of a victim's checking account. A similar report from 2004 suggests this issue is longstanding and widespread. When confronted with the evidence, HSBC would not commit to fixing this issue, preferring instead to offer vague statements like, 'Through our systems and analytics, we focus on the greatest and most active threats in an effort to avoid negatively impacting customer experience.'"
mmmscience writes "In 2009, a series of small earthquakes shook the region of L'Aquila, Italy. Seismologists investigated the tremors, but concluded that there was no direct indication of a big quake on the horizon. Less than a month later, a magnitude 6.3 earthquake killed more than 300 people. Now, the chief prosecutor of L'Aquila is looking to charge the scientists with gross negligent manslaughter for not predicting the quake."
l_bratch writes "A malicious backdoor was added to the UnrealIRCd source archive some time around November 2009. It was not noticed for several months, so many IRC servers are likely to be compromised. A Metasploit exploit already exists."
Declan McCullogh is reporting at CNET that a federal district court judge has rebuked the Department of Homeland Security, "which had claimed it can seize a traveler's laptop and search it six months later without warrant." As described in the article, DHS policies have been stacked against travelers entering the US, including citizens returning from abroad: "There's no requirement that they be returned to their owners after even six months or a year has passed, though supervisory approval is required if they're held for more than 15 days. The complete contents of a hard drive or memory card can be perused at length for evidence of lawbreaking of any kind, even if it's underpaying taxes or not paying parking tickets." This ruling does not address immediate searches at the border, but says that DHS cannot hold computers for indefinite searching, as in the case to hand, concerning a US citizen returning from a trip to Korea, whose laptop was seized and held for months before a search was even conducted on it.
Ars has a note about New Zealand's plans for nationwide broadband access, which will induce envy in many North American readers. "New Zealand has decided not to sit around while incumbent DSL operators milk the withered dugs of their cash cow until it keels over from old age. Instead, the Kiwis have established a government-owned corporation to invest NZ$1.5 billion for open-access fiber to the home. By 2020, 75 percent of residents should have, at a bare minimum, 100Mbps down/50 Mbps up with a choice of providers. Crown Fibre Holdings Limited is the company, and it's wholly owned by the government — for now — and the company's mission couldn't be any clearer. Two of its six guiding principles include 'focusing on building new infrastructure, and not unduly preserving the "legacy assets" of the past' and 'avoiding "lining the pockets" of existing broadband network providers.'"
crimeandpunishment writes "This one sounds too good to be true: surf the Web, and you'll be helping the government. The FCC is looking for 10,000 volunteers to take part in a study to determine if broadband providers are really providing Internet connections that are as fast as advertised. The broad look at broadband will involve special equipment installed in homes across the country to measure Internet connections and compare them to advertised speeds." Here's where to go to apply.
da_how writes "A group of students and graduates at Imperial College London have built an electric car with a massive range — 248+ miles on a charge at 'reasonable' highway speeds (60 mph). They did this by filling the car to the absolute max with as many lithium iron phosphate batteries as possible — 56 kWh — and designing a very efficient direct drive powertrain, about 90% batteries-to-wheels at highway speeds. The choice of vehicle is an interesting one: it's a converted Radical SR8 — a track racing car with a speed record on the Nurburgring. Not an obvious contender for an endurance vehicle (no windscreen either!) — but then they claim it's lightweight to start with, being constructed of steel space frame and glass fiber. Also, Radical is based in the UK and provided some help and sponsorship. The students plan to drive their 'SRZero' 15,000 miles down the Pan American Highway, beginning July 8 in Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, and ending up in Tierra Del Fuego three month later. That's about 60 charges."
An anonymous reader writes "German neuroscientists made a breakthrough in 'age-related cognitive decline', a common condition that often begins in one's late 40s (especially declarative memory — the ability to recall facts and experiences). Their new study identifies a genetic 'switch' for the cluster of learning and memory genes that cause memory impairment in aging mice. By injecting an enzyme, the team 'flipped' the switch to its on position for older mice, giving them the memory and learning performance they'd enjoyed when they were young. Now the team ultimately hopes to recover seemingly lost long-term memory in human patients." The video, which explains the gene flipping mechanism, is worth a watch (2:18).
alexhiggins732 writes with this tantalizing PopSci snippet: "A demo of a quantum calculation carried out by Japanese researchers has yielded some pretty mind-blowing results: a single molecule can perform a complex calculation thousands of times faster than a conventional computer. A proof-of-principle test run of a discrete Fourier transform — a common calculation using spectral analysis and data compression, among other things — performed with a single iodine molecule transpired very well, putting all the molecules in your PC to shame."
An anonymous reader writes "Looks like we have found a cure for genetic blindness (clinical trial — abstract — paper [PDF] — ABC News video). This gene therapy treatment increases both cone and rod photoreceptor-based vision. These engineered viruses are implanted to do our bidding to restore vision. Clinical trials on 6 children and young people proved the therapy and didn't find any notable side effects." Any blind person, especially any adapted and competent one, who wants to gain the sense of sight would be well advised to study Oliver Sachs's classic piece "To See and Not See."
An anonymous reader passes along this discussion on the data for the Toyota accelerator problem, from a few weeks back. (Here's a Google spreadsheet of the data.) "Several things are striking. First, the age distribution really is extremely skewed. The overwhelming majority are over 55. Here's what else you notice: a slight majority of the incidents involved someone either parking, pulling out of a parking space, in stop and go traffic, at a light or stop sign... in other words, probably starting up from a complete stop."
An anonymous reader writes "The Cybersecurity Act of 2009 passed a Senate panel, giving the president unprecedented power to issue a nation-wide blackout or restriction on websites without congressional approval. The bill, written by Sen. Jay Rockefeller [D-WV] and revised by Sen. Olympia Snow [R-ME], was drafted in an attempt to thwart internet-based terrorist threats, and gives the president this 'kill switch' without oversight or explanation. The bill is up for Senate vote."
eldavojohn writes "Studies are showing that Norway's dirtiest hospitals are actually cleaner than most other countries', and the reason for this is that Norwegians stopped taking antibiotics. A number of factors like paid sick leave and now restrictions on advertising for drugs make Norway an anomaly when it comes to diseases like Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). A Norwegian doctor explains, 'We don't throw antibiotics at every person with a fever. We tell them to hang on, wait and see, and we give them a Tylenol to feel better.' Norway is the most MRSA free country in the world. In a country like Japan, where 17,000 die from MRSA every year, 'doctors overprescribe antibiotics because they are given financial incentives to push drugs on patients.'"
tjansen writes "Panasonic has announced plans to create 'home batteries.' They are lithium-ion batteries large enough to power a house for a week, making energy sources such as solar and wind power more feasible. Also, you can buy energy when it is cheapest, and don't need to worry about power outages anymore."