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Mars

The Strangeness of the Mars One Project 246

Posted by Soulskill
from the volunteer-space-travel dept.
superboj sends an article written after its author investigated the Mars One Project for over a year. Even though 200,000 people have (supposedly) signed up as potential volunteers on a one-way trip to Mars, there are still frightfully few details about how the mission will be accomplished. From the article: [Astronaut Chris Hadfield] says that Mars One fails at even the most basic starting point of any manned space mission: If there are no specifications for the craft that will carry the crew, if you don’t know the very dimensions of the capsule they will be traveling in, you can’t begin to select the people who will be living and working inside of it. "I really counsel every single one of the people who is interested in Mars One, whenever they ask me about it, to start asking the hard questions now. I want to see the technical specifications of the vehicle that is orbiting Earth. I want to know: How does a space suit on Mars work? Show me how it is pressurized, and how it is cooled. What’s the glove design? None of that stuff can be bought off the rack. It does not exist. You can’t just go to SpaceMart and buy those things." The author concludes that the Mars One Project is "...at best, an amazingly hubristic fantasy: an absolute faith in the free market, in technology, in the media, in money, to be able to somehow, magically, do what thousands of highly qualified people in government agencies have so far not yet been able to do over decades of diligently trying, making slow headway through individually hard-won breakthroughs, working in relative anonymity pursuing their life’s work."
Medicine

Gates Donates $500M+ To Fight Malaria and Other Diseases 106

Posted by samzenpus
from the end-the-suffering dept.
jones_supa writes In the 63rd annual meeting of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene in New Orleans, Bill Gates announced that he will donate over $500 million to fight malaria and other infectious diseases in the developing world. Gates described the Ebola epidemic that has killed more than 4,900 people in West Africa since the beginning of the year as a "critical moment in the history of global health", and said it underscores the need for stronger efforts to stay ahead of disease threats such as drug-resistant malaria and dengue fever. The more than $500 million announced Sunday includes over $150 million to the PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative to advance development of next-generation malaria vaccines, and $29 million to the Clinton Health Access Initiative to support malaria elimination efforts in Southern Africa and the Greater Mekong Sub-region of Southeast Asia.
Security

Google Adds USB Security Keys To 2-Factor Authentication Options 121

Posted by timothy
from the something-you-have dept.
An anonymous reader writes with this excerpt from VentureBeat: Google today announced it is beefing up its two-step verification feature with Security Key, a physical USB second factor that only works after verifying the login site is truly a Google website. The feature is available in Chrome: Instead of typing in a code, you can simply insert Security Key into your computer's USB port and tap it when prompted by Google's browser. "When you sign into your Google Account using Chrome and Security Key, you can be sure that the cryptographic signature cannot be phished," Google promises. While Security Key works with Google Accounts at no charge, you'll need to go out and buy a compatible USB device directly from a Universal 2nd Factor (U2F) participating vendor.
Intel

Where Intel Processors Fail At Math (Again) 239

Posted by Soulskill
from the 1+1=3-for-sufficiently-large-values-of-1 dept.
rastos1 writes: In a recent blog, software developer Bruce Dawson pointed out some issues with the way the FSIN instruction is described in the "Intel® 64 and IA-32 Architectures Software Developer's Manual," noting that the result of FSIN can be very inaccurate in some cases, if compared to the exact mathematical value of the sine function.

Dawson says, "I was shocked when I discovered this. Both the fsin instruction and Intel's documentation are hugely inaccurate, and the inaccurate documentation has led to poor decisions being made. ... Intel has known for years that these instructions are not as accurate as promised. They are now making updates to their documentation. Updating the instruction is not a realistic option."

Intel processors have had a problem with math in the past, too.
Privacy

Stanford Promises Not To Use Google Money For Privacy Research 54

Posted by samzenpus
from the bang-for-your-buck dept.
An anonymous reader writes Stanford University has pledged not to use money from Google to fund privacy research at its Center for Internet and Society — a move that critics claim poses a threat to academic freedom. The center has long been generously funded by Google but its privacy research has proved damaging to the search giant as of late. Just two years ago, a researcher at the center helped uncover Google privacy violations that led to the company paying a record $22.5 million fine. In 2011-2012, the center's privacy director helped lead a project to create a "Do Not Track" standard. The effort, not supported by Google, would have made it harder for advertisers to track what people do online, and likely would have cut into Google's ad revenue. Both Stanford and Google say the change in funding was unrelated to the previous research.
Input Devices

Video Released, Crowdfunding Underway For Axiom Open Source Cinema Camera 52

Posted by timothy
from the for-just-a-few-euros-more dept.
New submitter atagunov writes "Video clips have been released as crowdfunding starts for the world first open source cinematic videocam. "I am a filmmaker myself ... I would like to have powerful tools that I know to have full control over and that I can tune and tweak," says Sebastian Pichelhofer of Apertus. He is working on the Axiom Beta, the 2nd generation Apertus videocam, fully open sourced under GPL and OHL. It's not cheap compared to consumer-grade cameras, but being not-cheap hasn't stopped people from snapping up Joel Rubenstein's Digital Bolex.
Medicine

US Scientists Predict Long Battle Against Ebola 119

Posted by Soulskill
from the time-to-call-in-dustin-hoffman-and-rene-russo dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Despite recent advances in medicine to treat Ebola, epidemiologists are not hopeful that the outbreak in west Africa will be contained any time soon. Revised models for the disease's spread expect the outbreak to last 12 to 18 months longer, likely infecting hundreds of thousands of people. "While previous outbreaks have been largely confined to rural areas, the current epidemic, the largest ever, has reached densely populated, impoverished cities — including Monrovia, the capital of Liberia — gravely complicating efforts to control the spread of the disease. ... What worries public health officials most is that the epidemic has begun to grow exponentially in Liberia. In the most recent week reported, Liberia had nearly 400 new cases, almost double the number reported the week before. Another grave concern, the W.H.O. said, is 'evidence of substantial underreporting of cases and deaths.' The organization reported on Friday that the number of Ebola cases as of Sept. 7 was 4,366, including 2,218 deaths." Scientists are urging greater public health efforts to slow the exponential trajectory of the disease and bring it back under control.
Education

The MOOC Revolution That Wasn't 182

Posted by Soulskill
from the back-to-the-drawing-board dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Dan Friedman at TechCrunch is ready to call Massive Open Online Courses a failure. Originally hailed as a revolution in learning, MOOCs have seen disappointing course completion numbers. Coursera and Udacity, two of the most prominent online learning hubs, have seen about 8 million enrollments in the past few years. Unfortunately, half of those students didn't even watch a single lecture, and only a few hundred thousand completed the course they signed up for.

Friedman says, "[N]ew technologies enable methods of "learn by doing" that just weren't possible before we could deliver immersive experiences to people's laptops and phones. In the 1960's, Jerome Bruner expanded an educational theory known as constructivism with the idea that students should learn through inquiry under the guidance of a teacher to grasp complex ideas intuitively. That process of trial, failure, and then being shown the correct path has been proven to drive student motivation and retention of learning. What we don't yet know is if that process of trial and failure can become 10x more engaging when delivered through a new medium such as Minecraft or Oculus. ... These new immersive worlds promise to hold the attention of students in ways textbooks never could."
Piracy

Rightscorp's New Plan: Hijack Browsers Until Infingers Pay Up 376

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the guilty-until-proven-guilty dept.
A few weeks ago, Rightscorp announced plans to have ISPs disconnect repeat copyright infringers. mpicpp (3454017) wrote in with news that Rightscorp announced during their latest earnings call further plans to require ISPs to block all web access (using a proxy system similar to hotel / college campus wifi logins) until users admit guilt and pay a settlement fine (replacing the current system of ISPs merely forwarding notices to users). Quoting TorrentFreak: [Rightscorp] says 75,000 cases have been settled so far with copyright holders picking up $10 from each. ... What is clear is that Rightscorp is determined to go after "Comcast, Verizon, AT&T, Cable Vision and one more" in order to "get all of them compliant" (i.e forwarding settlement demands). The company predicts that more details on the strategy will develop in the fall, but comments from COO & CTO Robert Steele hint on how that might be achieved. ... "[What] we really want to do is move away from termination and move to what's called a hard redirect, like, when you go into a hotel and you have to put your room number in order to get past the browser and get on to browsing the web." The idea that mere allegations from an anti-piracy company could bring a complete halt to an entire household or business Internet connection until a fine is paid is less like a "piracy speeding ticket" and more like a "piracy wheel clamp", one that costs $20 to have removed.
Transportation

Chicago Red Light Cameras Issue Thousands of Bogus Tickets 229

Posted by Soulskill
from the it's-not-a-bug,-it's-a-funding-mechanism dept.
mpicpp points out a report in the Chicago Tribune saying that thousands of the city's drivers have been wrongfully ticketed for red light violations because of "faulty equipment, human tinkering, or both." The Tribune's investigation uncovered the bogus tickets by analyzing the data from over 4 million tickets issued in the past seven years. Cameras that for years generated just a few tickets daily suddenly caught dozens of drivers a day. One camera near the United Center rocketed from generating one ticket per day to 56 per day for a two-week period last summer before mysteriously dropping back to normal. Tickets for so-called rolling right turns on red shot up during some of the most dramatic spikes, suggesting an unannounced change in enforcement. One North Side camera generated only a dozen tickets for rolling rights out of 100 total tickets in the entire second half of 2011. Then, over a 12-day spike, it spewed 563 tickets — 560 of them for rolling rights. Many of the spikes were marked by periods immediately before or after when no tickets were issued — downtimes suggesting human intervention that should have been documented. City officials said they cannot explain the absence of such records.
Businesses

Time Warner Cable Customers Beg Regulators To Block Sale To Comcast 80

Posted by Soulskill
from the non-compete-clause dept.
An anonymous reader sends this report from Ars Technica: New York is shaping up as a major battleground for Comcast's proposed acquisition of Time Warner Cable. While the $45.2 billion merger will be scrutinized by federal officials, it also needs approval at the state level. TWC has 2.2 million cable TV, Internet, and phone customers in 1,150 New York communities, and hundreds of them have called on the New York Public Service Commission to block the sale to Comcast. Comcast doesn't compete against TWC for subscribers, and its territory in New York is limited but includes a VoIP phone service offered to residential and business customers in 10 communities. "Both Time Warner Cable and Comcast already have monopolies in each and every territory in which they do business today, and combining the companies will reinforce those individual territorial monopolies under a single corporate umbrella, with NBC-Universal thrown in to boot," resident Frank Brice argued in a comment to the PSC posted yesterday.
Math

How Often Do Economists Commit Misconduct? 305

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the easier-this-way dept.
schwit1 (797399) writes A survey of professional academic economists finds that a large percentage are quite willing to cheat or fake data to get the results they want. From the paper's abstract: "This study reports the results of a survey of professional, mostly academic economists about their research norms and scientific misbehavior. Behavior such as data fabrication or plagiarism are (almost) unanimously rejected and admitted by less than 4% of participants. Research practices that are often considered 'questionable,' e.g., strategic behavior while analyzing results or in the publication process, are rejected by at least 60%. Despite their low justifiability, these behaviors are widespread. Ninety-four percent report having engaged in at least one unaccepted research practice."

That less than 4% engage in "data fabrication or plagiarism" might seem low, but it is a terrible statistic . ... 40% admit to doing what they agree are "questionable" research practices, while 94% admit to committing "at least one unaccepted research practice." In other words, almost none of these academic economists can be trusted in the slightest. As the paper notes, "these behaviors are widespread.""
Television

Fox Moves To Use Aereo Ruling Against Dish Streaming Service 210

Posted by timothy
from the crossing-the-streams dept.
An anonymous reader writes A day after a surprise U.S. Supreme Court decision to outlaw streaming TV service Aereo, U.S. broadcaster Fox has moved to use the ruling to clamp down on another internet TV service. Fox has cited Wednesday's ruling – which found Aereo to be operating illegally – to bolster its claim against a service offered by Dish, America's third largest pay TV service, which streams live TV programming over the internet to its subscribers and allows them to copy programmes onto tablet computers for viewing outside the home.
Social Networks

In 2012, Facebook Altered Content To Tweak Readers' Emotions 130

Posted by timothy
from the beats-the-top-stories-option-at-least dept.
The Atlantic reports that two years ago, Facebook briefly conducted an experiment on a subset of its users, altering the mix of content shown to them to emphasize content sorted by tone, negative or positive, and observe the results. From the Atlantic article: For one week in January 2012, data scientists skewed what almost 700,000 Facebook users saw when they logged into its service. Some people were shown content with a preponderance of happy and positive words; some were shown content analyzed as sadder than average. And when the week was over, these manipulated users were more likely to post either especially positive or negative words themselves. This tinkering was just revealed as part of a new study, published in the prestigious Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Many previous studies have used Facebook data to examine “emotional contagion,” as this one did. This study is different because, while other studies have observed Facebook user data, this one set out to manipulate it. At least they showed their work.
Businesses

2600 Distributor Withholds Money, Magazine's Future In Limbo 59

Posted by timothy
from the wish-I-could-make-this-year's-hope dept.
First time accepted submitter themusicgod1 (241799) writes According to 2600, their distributor (Previously known as "Source Interlink", now recently renamed to "TEN: The Enthusiast Network") has decided to consolidate its resources and is keeping the money retailers paid for the last two issues of the quarterly magazine. 2600, in the meanwhile, is still busy trying to organize the upcoming HOPE X conference. However, according to the link: "In the worst case scenario, being ripped off at this level would make it almost impossible for us to continue publishing. We would have to make a lot of painful choices and cut back on things for no reason other than some outside company's mismanagement. Our readers have supported both our print and digital publications and we've been doing quite well overall." Note: As it says at the linked explanation, 2600 is not a charity, and they're not seeking donations -- but they would like you to buy the magazine (in print or Kindle form), and to attend the upcoming HOPE X conference. (I wish I could make this year's HOPE but can't; as conferences go, HOPE is a wildly good bargain.)

"If you want to eat hippopatomus, you've got to pay the freight." -- attributed to an IBM guy, about why IBM software uses so much memory

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