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Submission + - Nichelle Nichols, Uhura from Star Trek, Hospitalized with Stroke (variety.com)

fightinfilipino writes:

“Last night while at her home in L.A., Nichelle Nichols suffered from a mild stroke,” McGinnis wrote. “She is currently undergoing testing to determine how severe the stroke was. Please keep her in your thoughts.” Nichols, 82, appeared in the original “Star Trek” TV series, which ran from 1966-1969, as well as the “Star Trek” movies. She also played the role of Nana Dawson in the ABC show “Heroes,” and voiced characters in the TV series “Futurama,” “Gargoyles” and “Spider-Man.”

Submission + - WikiLeaks releases secret TISA docs

Presto Vivace writes: The new agreement that would hamstring governments and citizens even further.

the EU would be forbidden from requiring that US companies like Google or Facebook keep the personal data of European citizens within the EU—one of the ideas currently being floated in Germany. Article 9.1 imposes a more general ban on requiring companies to locate some of their computing facilities in a territory: "No Party may require a service supplier, as a condition for supplying a service or investing in its territory, to: (a) use computing facilities located in the Party’s territory."

Article 6 of the leaked text seems to ban any country from using free software mandates: "No Party may require the transfer of, or access to, source code of software owned by a person of another Party, as a condition of providing services related to such software in its territory." The text goes on to specify that this only applies to "mass-market software," and does not apply to software used for critical infrastructure. It would still prevent a European government from specifying that its civil servants should use only open-source code for word processing—a sensible requirement given what we know about the deployment of backdoors in commercial software by the NSA and GCHQ.

Any agreement whose text has not been publicly released cannot possibly be a good agreement.

Submission + - Supreme Court may decide the fate of API's, Klingonese, Dothraki... (slate.com)

nerdpocalypse writes: In a larger battle than even Godzilla V Mothra, Google V Oracle threatens not only Japan but the entire Nerd World. What is at stake is how a language can be patented. This affects not just programming languages, API's, and everything that runs..well...everything, but also the copyright status of new languages such as Klingon and Dothraki

Submission + - You thought NSA bulk data collection was dead?

fustakrakich writes: Guess again!
US officials confirmed to the Guardian that in the coming days they will ask a secret surveillance court to revive the program – deemed illegal by a federal appeals court – all in the name of “transitioning” the domestic surveillance effort to the telephone companies that generate the so-called “call detail records” the government seeks to access. The unconventional and unexpected legal circumstance depends on a section of the USA Freedom Act, which Obama signed into law on Tuesday, that provides a six-month grace period to prepare the surveillance and legal bureaucracies for a world in which the National Security Agency is no longer the repository of bulk US phone metadata. During that time, the act’s ban on bulk collection will not yet take effect.

Submission + - SpaceX applies to test Internet service satellites

lpress writes: Elon Musk's SpaceX and Greg Wyler's OneWeb both hope to provide global Interent access using constellations of low-Earth orbit satellites. Neither company plans to be in operation for several years, but Musk's SpaceX is ready to test two satellites. They have applied for permission to launch two satellites that will orbit at 625 km. They will use them to test two types of terminal at each of three West Coast ground stations.

Submission + - Batteriser extendes akaline battery life with voltage booster (pcworld.com)

ttsai writes: Batteroo is a Silicon Valley company preparing to release its Batteriser product in September. The Batteriser is a small sleeve that fits around alkaline batteries to boost the voltage to 1.5V. This means that batteries that would otherwise be thrown into the trash when the voltage dips to 1.3V or 1.4V could be used until the unboosted voltage reaches 0.6V, extending the useful life of a battery 8x, according to the company. This product has the potential to reduce the number of batteries in landfills as well as increasing the time between replacing batteries. The expected price of the sleeve is $10 for a pack of 4 sleeves.

Submission + - Mystery Moon Swirls Caused by Blasts of Comet Gas? (discovery.com)

astroengine writes: Strange bright swirls have long been known to exist on the moon’s surface and their origin is steeped in mystery. Often stretching thousands of miles across the lunar landscape, scientists have tried to make connections with the elegant curved shapes with the moon’s interior magnetism or interactions between moon dirt and the solar wind, but these explanations have fallen short. Now, inspired by the Apollo moon landings and armed with a powerful computer model, researchers at Brown University think they have an alternative answer for these swirly patterns. Over the past 100 million years, many small comets impacted the moon’s pockmarked surface. Along with the icy nuclei that carved craters into the moon rock, the gaseous comet atmospheres — known as a comet’s coma — would have also blasted into the moon’s uppermost layer of regolith, possibly leaving the swirly imprint. “We think this makes a pretty strong case that the swirls represent remnants of cometary collisions,” said planetary geoscientist Peter Schultz, at Brown University.

Submission + - How much Google spends on lobbying? (cnn.com)

Taco Cowboy writes: It has been estimated that Google has spent over $60 million on lobbying in Washington D.C. this year alone, and that figure does not include the money that Google gives to various trade organizations and "third party" groups

On its website, Google lists 43 trade associations that it belongs to, such as the Ad Council and National Cyber Security Alliance, although it says that is a "representative listing" and Google doesn't indicate how much money it gives these organizations. Google also has links to over 100 third-party groups like the AARP, Heritage Foundation and iKeepSafe that it "provides support to"

A group of Google investors are demanding that Google owns up to what they spend on and how much, and their push stems from one thing, and that thing is mainly connected to political correctness

It's a public knowledge that Google contributes to the US Chamber of Commerce, and to some quarters, "the Chamber" is suffering from 'Climate Change Denial Symptom' and they are doing their best to cut off any funding to "the Chamber" from Google, Inc

Submission + - In Advance Of Upcoming Steam Summer Sale, Valve Introduces Steam Refunds

Deathspawner writes: Despite all of its competition, Valve's Steam service remains the most popular digital PC game store around. While Steam does do a lot of things right, it can sometimes stumble in the worst of ways. Look no further than April's Skyrim mod debacle as a good example. Well, just as Valve fixed up that issue, it's gone ahead and fixed another: it's making refunds dead simple. While refunds have been possible in the past, it's required gamers to jump through hoops to get them. Now, Valve has set certain criteria, and if it's met, a refund will be granted, no questions asked — a definite step in the right direction.

Submission + - How Dinosaurs Shrank and Became Birds (quantamagazine.org)

An anonymous reader writes: Discoveries have shown that bird-specific features like feathers began to emerge long before the evolution of birds, indicating that birds simply adapted a number of pre-existing features to a new use. And recent research suggests that a few simple changes — among them the adoption of a more babylike skull shape into adulthood — likely played essential roles in the final push to bird-hood. Not only are birds much smaller than their dinosaur ancestors, they closely resemble dinosaur embryos. Adaptations such as these may have paved the way for modern birds’ distinguishing features, namely their ability to fly and their remarkably agile beaks. The work demonstrates how huge evolutionary changes can result from a series of small evolutionary steps.

Submission + - Mystery company blazes a trail in fusion energy (sciencemag.org)

sciencehabit writes: Of the handful of startup companies trying to achieve fusion energy via nontraditional methods, Tri Alpha Energy Inc. has always been the enigma. Publishing little and with no website, but apparently sitting on a cash pile in the hundreds of millions, the Foothill Ranch, California-based company has been the subject of intense curiosity and speculation. But last month Tri Alpha lifted the veil slightly with two papers revealing that its device, dubbed the colliding beam fusion reactor, has shown a 10-fold improvement in its ability to contain the hot particles needed for fusion over earlier devices at U.S. universities and national labs. “They’ve improved things greatly and are moving in a direction that is quite promising,” says plasma physicist John Santarius of the Fusion Technology Institute at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

Submission + - Perl 5.22 Released (perlnews.org)

kthreadd writes: Version 5.22 of the Perl programming language has just been released. A major new feature in this release is the double diamond operator; like the regular diamond operator it allows you to quickly read through files specified on the command line but does this in a much safer way by not evaluating special characters in the file names. Other new features include hexadecimal floating point numbers, improved variable aliasing and a nicer syntax for repetition in list assignment. Also, historical Perl modules CGI.pm and Module::Build are removed from the core distribution.

Submission + - Move-in day for the DRC Finals - imagine packing up your entire lab! (robohub.org)

Hallie Siegel writes: Imagine having to pack up your entire robotics laboratory and ship it across the country, or even the ocean. The 25 teams participating in the DARPA Robotics Challenge (DRC) had to do just that, and they are right now arriving at the competition grounds in Ponoma California to unpack and set up for this premiere international robotics, which runs June 5-6 and which will demonstrate the state of the art in disaster response humanoid robotics. The logistics of moving that much equipment and staff is enormous. And just think of the paper work at US customs! I hope DARPA debriefed the local border agents ...

Submission + - Amazon: Build Us a Better Warehouse Robot (dice.com)

Nerval's Lobster writes: Amazon relies quite a bit on human labor, most notably in its warehouses. The company wants to change that via machine learning and robotics, which is why earlier this year it invited 30 teams to a “Picking Contest.” In order to win the contest, a team needed to build a robot that can outpace other robots in detecting and identifying an object on a shelf, gripping said object without breaking it, and delivering it into a waiting receptacle. According to Engadget, Team RBO, composed of researchers from the Technical University of Berlin, won last month’s competition by a healthy margin. Their winning design combined a WAM arm (complete with a suction cup for lifting objects) and an XR4000 mobile base into a single unit capable of picking up 12 objects in 20 minutes—not exactly blinding speed, but enough to demonstrate significant promise. If Amazon’s contest demonstrated anything, it’s that it could be quite a long time before robots are capable of identifying and sorting through objects at speeds even remotely approaching human (and thus taking over those jobs). Chances seem good that Amazon will ask future teams to build machines that are even smarter and faster.

Submission + - GameStop swoops in to buy ThinkGeek for $140 million (arstechnica.com)

Lirodon writes: Remember a few days ago, when our former parent company was the subject of a $122 million takeover bid by Hot Topic? Slashdot remembers. Well, another geeky retailer entered the fray in the battle for ThinkGeek, and won. GameStop will be acquiring Geeknet for $140 million. The video game retailer has promised synergies, such as in-store pickup and integration with its rewards program.

"Necessity is the mother of invention" is a silly proverb. "Necessity is the mother of futile dodges" is much nearer the truth. -- Alfred North Whitehead