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Earth

Nature Lover Vladimir Putin Flies With the Cranes 285

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the sarah-palin-vs-putin-rearing-his-ugly-wings dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "Russian President Vladimir Putin is a nature lover. In 2007, the bare-chested president rode a horse through Siberia. In 2008, he fired a tranquilizer gun at a rare Siberian tiger. In 2010, he used a crossbow to shoot darts at an enormous whale in a fog-shrouded bay to collect tissue samples. Now Der Spiegel reports that on his way east to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, Putin stopped at the Arctic Circle to fulfill a mission for which the Kremlin says he prepared assiduously for a year and a half: helping to save an endangered species of crane. In a meadow some 2,000 kilometers northeast of Moscow, Putin donned a white jumpsuit and black aviator goggles before swinging himself into the seat of an ultralight aircraft and as loudspeakers played the recorded call of a mother crane, Putin lifted off and a group of orphaned white Siberian cranes followed, allowing the aircraft to lead them south toward their winter habitat. On the first attempt, only one of the young cranes followed him up, which Putin said was because a high tail wind had caused the hang glider to accelerate too fast. On the second attempt, five birds followed Putin, but only two stuck with him for the full 15-minute flight. Putin's flight, given many minutes of airtime on Russian television, provoked an array of contemptuous jokes on the Internet, one of the most popular being: 'So Putin is off to wintering with cranes. Does this mean he's not going to be back before spring?' The Russian president, however, hit back at critics telling reporters at the conclusion of APEC summit that, 'It's true that not all flew right away, but the ones that didn't fly were the weak cranes' apparently alluding to the errant ways of those involved in protests that have hit Russia over the last year."
Education

Universities Hold Transcripts Hostage Over Loans 541

Posted by Soulskill
from the might-execute-a-few-to-show-they're-serious dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "Dave Lindorff writes in the LA Times that growing numbers of students are discovering their old school is actively blocking them from getting a job or going on to a higher degree by refusing to issue an official transcript. The schools won't send the transcripts to potential employers or graduate admissions office if students are in default on student loans, or in many cases, even if they just fall one or two months behind. It's no accident that they're doing this. It turns out the federal government 'encourages' them to use this draconian tactic, saying that the policy 'has resulted in numerous loan repayments.' It is a strange position for colleges to take, writes Lindorff, since the schools themselves are not owed any money — student loan funds come from private banks or the federal government, and in the case of so-called Stafford loans, schools are not on the hook in any way. They are simply acting as collection agencies, and in fact may get paid for their efforts at collection. 'It's worse than indentured servitude,' says NYU Professor Andrew Ross, who helped organize the Occupy Student Debt movement last fall. 'With indentured servitude, you had to pay in order to work, but then at least you got to work. When universities withhold these transcripts, students who have been indentured by loans are being denied even the ability to work or to finish their education so they can repay their indenture.'"
Biotech

Gamers Outdo Computers At DNA Sequence Alignments 61

Posted by Soulskill
from the must-not-be-using-watson dept.
ananyo writes "In another victory for crowdsourcing, gamers playing Phylo have beaten a state-of-the-art program at aligning regions of 521 disease-associated genes form different species. The 'multiple sequence alignment problem' refers to the difficulty of aligning roughly similar sequences of DNA in genes common to many species. DNA sequences that are conserved across species may play an important role in the ultimate function of that particular gene. But with thousands of genomes likely to be sequenced in the next few years, sequence alignment will only become more difficult in future. Researchers now report that players of Phylo have produced roughly 350,000 solutions to various multiple sequence alignment problems, beating the accuracy of alignments from a program in roughly 70% of the sequences they manipulated."
Security

Prof. J. Alex Halderman Tells Us Why Internet-Based Voting Is a Bad Idea (Video) 264 Screenshot-sm

Posted by Roblimo
from the paper-ballots-are-still-the-best dept.
On March 2, 2012, Timothy wrote about University of Michigan Professor J. Alex Halderman and his contention that there is no way to have secure voting over the Internet using current technology. In this video, Alex explains what he meant and tells us about an experiment (that some might call a prank) he and his students did back in 2010, when they (legally) hacked a Washington D.C. online voting pilot project. This is, of course, a "professional driver on closed course; do not attempt" kind of thing. If you mess with voting software without permission, you might suddenly find the FBI coming through your door at 4 a.m., so please don't do it.
Android

Google, Motorola Ordered To Provide Android Info To Apple 240

Posted by Soulskill
from the and-put-some-mustard-on-it dept.
snydeq writes "A U.S. judge has ordered Motorola Mobility and Google to turn over information to Apple on Google's acquisition in 2005 of Android, its development of the Android OS and the proposed acquisition of Motorola. According to Motorola, the information Apple seeks regarding Google's acquisition of Motorola and Android is not relevant to any damages asserted in the case." This comes alongside news that Apple has offered licensing deals to Motorola and Samsung that would resolve some of the patent litigation. Apple is reportedly asking for $5-$15 per device sold.
Java

JavaScript JVM Runs Java 234

Posted by timothy
from the build-a-weirder-mousetrap dept.
mikejuk writes "The world of software is made slightly crazy because of the huge flexibility within any computer language. Once you have absorbed the idea of a compiler written in the language it compiles, what else is there left to gawp at? But... a Java Virtual Machine JVM written in JavaScript seems like another level of insanity. A lone coder, Artur Ventura, has implemented a large part of the standard JVM using JavaScript and you can check the code out on Github. Notice this isn't a Java to JavaScript translator but a real JVM that runs byte code. This means it could run any language that compiles to byte code." Bonus: on Ventura's website is a set of visual notes from a talk he gave titled "My Language Is Better Than Yours."
Patents

+ - No Change Yet: White House replies to Software Pat->

Submitted by ninjagecko
ninjagecko (1948930) writes "In what sounds very much like a canned response or a "yes we are aware of the sounds coming out of your mouth", the White House has issued a reply to the "Direct the Patent Office to Cease Issuing Software Patents" petition, retortingly titled "Promoting Innovation and Competitive Markets through Quality Patents", written by the office of the "CTO for Jobs and Competitiveness" at the White House Office of Science & Technology Policy.

In nearly every paragraph of the response, the office manages to imply the petition is misguided and incorrect, implying that the real issue is so-called "overly broad patents", while pointing out the merits of the (insufficient) America Invents Act. There is a paragraph noting that blame also falls onto Congress, and allegedly the Supreme Court as well.

The response also lauds the government's increased use of open source. Perhaps the government will listen when patent trolls arrive on its doorstep, or when foreign interests block the government from using certain types of software or user interfaces, perhaps allowing it with royalties. Until then, there is always https://wwws.whitehouse.gov/petitions#!/petition/actually-take-these-petitions-seriously-instead-just-using-them-excuse-pretend-you-are-listening/grQ9mNkN"

Link to Original Source
Microsoft

Skype Goes After Reverse-Engineering 207

Posted by Soulskill
from the trade-secret-my-son dept.
An anonymous reader writes "It appears Microsoft's Skype Division is cracking down on reverse-engineering of the Skype client. Skype recently rolled out a new set of APIs for integration into other desktop applications, but they have issued multiple DMCA takedown notices to a researcher publishing open-source code to send Skype messages."
IOS

Apple's Lossless Audio Codec (ALAC) Now Open Source 526

Posted by samzenpus
from the free-music dept.
Revotron writes "Apple has released the full source to their Apple Lossless Audio Codec under the Apache license. ALAC was developed by Apple and deployed on all of its platforms and devices over the last 10 years. Could the release of the ALAC source code mark a possible first step in opening up more of the iOS platform?"
Earth

Comet May Have Missed Earth By a Few hundred Kilometers 265

Posted by samzenpus
from the old-news dept.
First time accepted submitter afree87 writes "A re-analysis of historical observations at a Mexican observatory suggests Earth narrowly avoided an extinction event just over a hundred years ago. On August 12th and 13th 1883, an astronomer at a small observatory in Zacatecas in Mexico made an extraordinary observation, some 450 objects, each surrounded by a kind of mist, passing across the face of the Sun. This month, Hector Manterola at the National Autonomous University of Mexico suggests these were fragments of a comet. 'If they had collided with Earth we would have had 3275 Tunguska events in two days, probably an extinction event.'"
Google

Google Employee Accidentally Shares Rant About Google+ 354

Posted by samzenpus
from the not-everyone-is-a-fan dept.
First time accepted submitter quantumplacet writes "Longtime Googler Steve Yegge posted an insightful rant on his Google+ page about how Google is failing to make platforms of its products. He also shares some interesting little tidbits about his six year stint at Amazon working for the 'Dread Pirate Bezos'. The rant was intended to be shared only with his Google coworkers, but was accidentally made public. Steve has since removed it from his page, but it has been reposted elsewhere."
Image

Real Life Super Hero Arrested 590 Screenshot-sm

Posted by samzenpus
from the not-super-enough dept.
First time accepted submitter Pat Attack writes "In an ironic twist of fate, Phoenix Jones, a self-styled super hero from Seattle, has landed in jail. Jones happened upon a group of people fighting in the street and tried to stop the fight using pepper spray. He was arrested by police on four counts of assault. The New York Daily News quotes Jones: 'I've been shot once and I don't really want it to happen again. I've been stabbed twice, hit with a baseball bat and had my nose broken,' he says. 'But in all those incidents I helped someone who was in danger. If someone is going to take that punishment it should be the guy in body armor,' he said."
Opera

Opera Proposes Switching Browser Scrolling For 'Pages' 320

Posted by Soulskill
from the what-is-this dept.
Barence writes "Opera has proposed a new browsing system that swaps scrolling on websites for flippable pages. The Norwegian browser maker is looking to remove the side scroll bar for documents or articles in favor of 'pages' of a set-size, similar to an ebook. Text can be reflowed into a column layout, and ads will be moved into the right spot in the text, with different ones displayed depending on the orientation of the device. Pages are flipped with gestures on tablets or with mouse clicks on the desktop. It's an 'opportunity to rethink the ads on the web and the user interface,' said Hakon Wium Lie, Opera's CTO." Their main focus for this is browsing on tablets.
Japan

Film Turns Windows Into Solar Panels 186

Posted by samzenpus
from the peel-and-stick-power dept.
itwbennett writes "At the Ceatec electronics conference in Japan this week, 3M is showing film that turns windows into solar panels. Although the product only generates about 20% of the electricity of a traditional solar panel, it will cost about half as much, is much easier to install, and takes up no additional space. 'An average person could go to the store, buy some of this, and then bring it home and install it themselves,' said Yasuhiro Aoyagi, a senior manager in the company's construction markets division."

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