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Submission + - Parse.com shutting down -- Thanks, Facebook. (parse.com)

waimate writes: Parse.com, a popular BAAS (back-end as a service), has fallen prey to Facebook. Declared by Fast Company as one of the top 50 most innovative companies of 2013, committed users shuddered when it was purchased by Facebook soon after. Today the other shoe finally dropped, when Facebook announced they are shutting the service down, leaving thousands of users scrambling for a viable replacement. It calls into question to what extent developers can trust *AAS providers, while at the same time creating an opportunity for a vendor to deploy a Parse.com compatible service. Many other service provision offerings exist, but none quite the same as Parse. Thanks for nothing, Facebook.

Submission + - Hear the recordings Google stores of voice commands you've said to your phone (betanews.com)

Mark Wilson writes: OK Google, Siri, and Cortana all make it possible to control a phone simply by speaking to it. In the case of Google, what you might not be aware — it's hardly something the company shouts about — is that recordings of every command, question, and request are stored online.

Listening back through these could well be interesting, embarrassing, perhaps even nostalgic. You can step back in time and remind yourself of trips abroad, fun nights out, and the like, but you might also be concerned about privacy. If you would rather these recordings were not stored online, you can delete them; here's how.

Pay a visit to the Voice & Audio Activity section of your Google account and you'll probably find a lengthy list of recordings stretching back months.

Submission + - How a lunar eclipse is different from a dark sky site

StartsWithABang writes: By far, one of the highlights of astronomy this year took place earlier this week: a total lunar eclipse featuring a perigee Moon. The sight of watching the Earth’s shadow consume the Moon, eventually swallowing it whole and revealing a faint, red lunar disk, and then the process reversing itself, is unlike any other visible to the naked eye. But the rest of the sky is always a treat as well. While a full Moon often ruins an otherwise pristine night sky with its light pollution, a dark sky during a lunar eclipse can be just as exciting as a new Moon sky, with a transition unlike anything else.

Submission + - NASA's New Horizons shows Pluto's moon Charon is a strange, new world (examiner.com)

MarkWhittington writes: NASA's New Horizons has returned a stunning series of images of Pluto, the dwarf planet that resides on the edge of the solar system, revealing a strange new world of ice mountains and glaciers of frozen nitrogen. NASA released images of Pluto’s largest moon. Charon. Scientists expected a plain ball of rock pockmarked with craters. What they saw was anything but plain and monotonous.

Submission + - 30 years a sysadmin (itworld.com)

itwbennett writes: Sandra Henry-Stocker’s love affair with Unix started in the early 1980s when she 'was quickly enamored of the command line and how much [she] could get done using pipes and commands like grep.’ Back then, she was working on a Zilog minicomputer, a system, she recalls, that was 'about this size of a dorm refrigerator’. Over the intervening years, a lot has changed, not just about the technology, but about the job itself. 'We might be ‘just' doing systems administration, but that role has moved heavily into managing security, controlling access to a wide range of resources, analyzing network traffic, scrutinizing log files, and fixing the chinks on our cyber armor,’ writes Henry-Stocker. What hasn’t changed? Systems administration remains a largely thankless role with little room for career advancement, albeit one that she is quick to note is ‘seldom boring’ and ‘reasonably' well-paid.

Submission + - How someone acquired the Google.com domain name for a single minute (bgr.com)

An anonymous reader writes: We’ve all been there: It’s nearly 2 in the morning and you’re cruising around the Internet looking for new domain names to purchase. I mean, talk about a cliched night, right?

Now imagine that during the course of your domain browsing, you unexpectedly discover that the holy grail of domain names — Google.com — is (gasp!) available for purchase for the low, low price of just $12. Testing fate, you attempt to initiate a transaction. Dare I say, you’re feeling a little bit lucky. And just like that, in the blink of an eye, the transaction goes through and the vaunted and highly valuable Google domain is in your possession.

While this might read like a ridiculous plot summary from some horrible piece of nerd fiction, this series of events above, believe it or not, actually happened to former Googler Sanmay Ved earlier this week.

Comment Re:I doubt it (Score 1) 29

If only.

I wear a few medical devices which talk to each other, and other things, wirelessly. I have seen firsthand that the main device can connect to a computer and obey a command to download its history without any indication showing on the screen, no beep or other indication that anything is going on. If it can do that without my permission, what else is it open to? Could it obey a command to, say, silently overdose me?

It is clear from my experience that these devices were designed with convenience in mind, both for the user and the doctor's office, and with security in mind not at all. My worry is mitigated some because I don't believe anyone has it out for me personally.

Comment Re:Why no public discussion beforehand? (Score 1) 190

As long as the collection of cells is not proven to be self aware I do not believe it matters what they do with those cells.

You haven't been proven to be self aware, so it doesn't matter what people do to you, either, I suppose?

Oh you say... sure you've been proven to be self aware? Not to a philosopher's satisfaction, you haven't. You can't disprove the solipsism hypothesis. So I haven't been proven to be self aware, either. Not to your satisfaction, anyway.

So don't be so fast to demand proof of self-awareness. I'm upset on behalf of brains in vats, because they can't protest on their own behalf. They deserve, philosophically, our great caution, lest someone else be quick to deny you or me our rights.

Hardware

Xerox PARC Creates Self-Destructing Chip 96

angry tapir writes: Engineers at Xerox PARC have developed a chip that will self-destruct upon command, providing a potentially revolutionary tool for high-security applications. The chip, developed as part of DARPA's vanishing programmable resources project, could be used to store data such as encryption keys and, on command, shatter into thousands of pieces so small, reconstruction is impossible.

Submission + - Another slew of science papers retracted because of fraud

schwit1 writes: The uncertainty of peer-review: A major scientific publisher has retracted 64 articles in 10 journals after discovering that the so-called independent peer reviewers for these articles were fabricated by the authors themselves.

The cull comes after similar discoveries of 'fake peer review' by several other major publishers, including London-based BioMed Central, an arm of Springer, which began retracting 43 articles in March citing "reviews from fabricated reviewers". The practice can occur when researchers submitting a paper for publication suggest reviewers, but supply contact details for them that actually route requests for review back to the researchers themselves.

Overall, this indicates an incredible amount of sloppiness and laziness in the peer-review field. In total, more than a 100 papers have been retracted, simply because the journals relied on the authors to provide them contact information for their reviewers, never bothering to contact them directly.

Submission + - Crushing snakes kill by blood constriction, not suffocation (biologists.org)

mohan.umesh writes: When a non venomous snake coils around its prey to kill it, people have always assumed that the act of coiling suffocates the prey thereby killing it but the speed at which prey dies made scientists doubt this theory as far back as in 1994. An alternate theory was proposed saying that quick death is caused by circulatory or cardiac arrest and not suffocation. This theory has been tested by Scott Boback and his colleagues at the Dickinson College, USA and published in the latest issue of Journal of Experimental Biology (Abstract of the study. Full text is paywalled)

A well written summary of the study by the journal's News & Views editor Kathryn Knight is freely available.

Submission + - 22 Years Later an Update Arrives! (callapple.org)

An anonymous reader writes: After 22 year, the Apple IIGS finally gets an update to its operating system GS/OS. Apparently, leaked source code allowed the community to give a beloved retro machine a badly needed upgrade. Who needs Windows 10? We got GS/OS 6.0.2. Long live the Apple IIGS!

Submission + - Most Powerful Geomagnetic Storm of Solar Cycle 24 is Happening (discovery.com)

astroengine writes: The most powerful solar storm of the current solar cycle is currently reverberating around the globe. Initially triggered by the impact of a coronal mass ejection (CME) hitting our planet’s magnetosphere, a relatively mild geomagnetic storm erupted at around 04:30 UT (12:30 a.m. EDT), but it has since ramped-up to an impressive G4-class geomagnetic storm, priming high latitudes for some bright auroral displays.

Comment Re:Sovereign Immunity (Score 1) 538

There is an ancient concept called "sovereign immunity" which holds that rulers (people making laws) are automatically exempt from those laws.

Very ancient concept. What was it, Magna Carta, 1215*, that established that the sovereign was indeed subject to the law? Nowadays, sovereign immunity only applies to the state itself being immune from lawsuit, unless voluntarily waived. I think.

[0] - actually its 800th anniversary was 1 month ago today.

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