parallel_prankster writes: A giant database of intercepted Snapchat photos and videos has been released by hackers who have been collecting the files for years.Underground photo-trading chat rooms have been filled in recent weeks with hints that something big was coming. Thursday night it finally arrived: A third-party Snapchat client app has been collecting every single photo and video file sent through it for years, giving hackers access to a 13GB library of Snapchats that users thought had been deleted.Users of 4chan have downloaded the files and are creating a searchable database that will allow people to search the stolen images by Snapchat username.
parallel_prankster writes: Scientists at University College Cork (UCC) have found that mice who were raised without bacteria in their gut showed autistic patterns of behavior. Scientists argue that their findings demonstrate the crucial role stomach bacteria plays in the development of normal social behaviour. Professor Ted Dinan, psychiatry professor and a principal investigator in the Alimentary Pharmabiotic Centre (APC), said the core of their paper argued that animals need a normal range of bacteria in their gut in order for normal social development. Dinan said, “In our studies involving mice, we found animals raised in a germ-free environment (without microbiota in their gut) spent more time interacting with objects than other animals and so have distinctively autistic patterns of behavior.” He said that the serotonin system, which helps regulate mood, does not develop properly if there is not enough bacteria in the gut. Mice in the study who did not have enough bacteria were less interested in new social situations than mice with a normal level of bacteria. The scientists said that the bacteria deficient mice behavior resembles social cognition deficits of patients. Children with autism also show repetitive behaviors and scientists pointed out that gut problems are common among those with autism. Scientists weaned bacteria and then added it and this reversed the mice’s social avoidance and repetitive behaviors, but had no impact on social cognition impairments.
parallel_prankster writes: A windows developer explains the cold hard truth behind why Windows Kernel performance is degrading. From the article "Windows is indeed slower than other operating systems in many scenarios, and the gap is worsening. The cause of the problem is social. There's almost none of the improvement for its own sake, for the sake of glory, that you see in the Linux world. Granted, occasionally one sees naive people try to make things better. These people almost always fail."
parallel_prankster writes: Amazon users are addressing the drone controversy with sarcasm. Maisto International Inc.’s model Predator drones are selling out on Amazon.com Inc.’s website as parody reviews highlight how the toys can help children hone killing skills, mocking a controversial U.S. practice. The toy is a replica of the RQ-1 Predator, an unmanned aircraft that the U.S. Air Force has used in combat over Afghanistan, Pakistan, Serbia, Iraq and Yemen, according to the product description on Amazon. Only one of the $49.99 military-style toy jets is available for purchase on Amazon’s site, which is brimming with assessments laced with dark humor. “You can’t spell slaughter without laughter,” one pithy joker wrote.
While Facebook and Twitter have always been more prominent forums for political satire, consumers have flocked to Amazon’s review section before. In October, the user comment section of an Avery Dennison Corp. binder listed on the e- commerce site became the subject of a similar outbreak. Reviewers used Amazon to make light of a comment made by then- Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney during a debate. Amazon’s conditions of use posted on its website say that the Seattle-based company reserves the right to remove or edit reviews, which it doesn’t regularly examine. So far the reviews have not been removed.
parallel_prankster writes: Augmented immune cells have made an impressive impact on the survival of people with leukemia. Thirteen people with a form of the cancer called multiple myeloma were treated with genetically engineered T-cells, and all improved. Cancers often develop because T-cells have lost their ability to target tumour cells, which they normally destroy. To retune that targeting, a team led by Aaron Rapoport at the University of Maryland in Baltimore engineered T-cell genes that coded for a receptor on the cell's surface. They extracted T-cells from each person, then inserted the engineered genes into these cells and re-injected them. The souped-up cells were better able to recognise proteins called NY-ESO-1 and LAGE-1, found on myeloma cells but not healthy ones. All 13 people also had the standard treatment for multiple myeloma, which boosts white blood cell count. Three months after the injection, 10 of the 13 were in remission or very close to it – a 77 per cent response rate – and the others showed drastic reduction in their cancer. Standard treatment alone gives a response rate of between 33 and 69 per cent. The original paper is available here . The work is encouraging, but a trial that does not include the standard therapy is needed, says Holger Auner, a myeloma specialist at Imperial College London.
parallel_prankster writes: NYTimes has an interesting article about how patents are really stiffling inovation in the tech industry. Today, almost every major technology company is involved in ongoing patent battles. Of course, the most significant player is Apple, industry executives say, because of its influence and the size of its claims: in August in California, the company won a $1 billion patent infringement judgment against Samsung. Former Apple employees say senior executives made a deliberate decision over the last decade, after Apple was a victim of patent attacks, to use patents as leverage against competitors to the iPhone, the company’s biggest source of profits. At a technology conference this year, Apple’s chief executive, Timothy D. Cook, said patent battles had not slowed innovation at the company, but acknowledged that some aspects of the battles had “kind of gotten crazy.” It is a complaint heard throughout the industry. The increasing push to assert ownership of broad technologies has led to a destructive arms race, engineers say. Some point to so-called patent trolls, companies that exist solely to sue over patent violations. Others say big technology companies have also exploited the system’s weaknesses. “There are hundreds of ways to write the same computer program,” said James Bessen, a legal expert at Harvard. And so patent applications often try to encompass every potential aspect of a new technology. When such applications are approved, Mr. Bessen said, “the borders are fuzzy, so it’s really easy to accuse others of trespassing on your ideas.” The number of patent applications, computer-related and otherwise, filed each year at the United States patent office has increased by more than 50 percent over the last decade to more than 540,000 in 2011. Google has received 2,700 patents since 2000, according to the patent analysis firm M-CAM. Microsoft has received 21,000.
parallel_prankster writes: In it's legal fillings for the case against Apple Corp. Samsung has shown that it was considering putting to market in the summer of 2006, six months before the unveiling of the iPhone, a number of phone designs that have been claimed by Apple as stolen from the Iphone. It extends to more than just the hardware — Samsung was also working on interfaces that looks remarkably like iOS (actually, that look remarkably like PalmOS) — in the summer and fall of 2006. Again, before the iPhone was released. Samsung is being accused of stealing, even thought the company was clearly working on what it supposedly stole before the iPhone was even released. Samsung's phones bear more resemblance to its own pre-iPhone designs than to the iPhone, yet Apple and its supporters still insist Samsung is a thief. Another article on this is available here .
parallel_prankster writes: NYTimes reports that etched into the base of Google’s new wireless home media player that was introduced on Wednesday is its most intriguing feature. On the underside of the Nexus Q is a simple inscription: “Designed and Manufactured in the U.S.A.” The Google executives and engineers who decided to build the player here are engaged in an experiment in American manufacturing. “We’ve been absent for so long, we decided, ‘Why don’t we try it and see what happens?’ ” said Andy Rubin, the Google executive who leads the company’s Android mobile business. The project will be closely watched by other electronics companies. It has become accepted wisdom that consumer electronics products can no longer be made in the United States. During the last decade, abundant low-cost Chinese labor and looser environmental regulations have virtually erased what was once a vibrant American industry. Since the 1990s, one American company after another, including Hewlett-Packard, Dell and Apple, has become a design and marketing shell, with production shifted to contract manufacturers in Shenzhen and elsewhere in China.
Now that trend may be showing early signs of reversing. It’s a trickle, but some American companies are again making products in the United States. While many of those companies have been small, like ET Water Systems, there have also been some highly visible moves by America’s largest consumer and industrial manufacturers. General Electric and Caterpillar, for example, have moved assembly operations back to the United States in the last year. (Airbus, a European company, is said to be near a deal to build jets in Alabama.)
parallel_prankster writes: NYTimes reports that the Supreme Court on Monday rejected much of Arizona’s tough new immigration law but allowed one key provision to stand, saying federal law did not pre-empt the state's instruction to its police to check the immigration status of people they detain. Several other important provisions of the law conflicted with federal laws, the court found, rejecting provisions that made it a state crime for immigrants not to register with the federal government or to seek or hold jobs without proper documents, and allowing warrantless arrests of some people suspected of being deportable. But on the question of allowing the status checks, the court was unanimous. “The court correctly held that federal immigration law trumps most of Arizona’s controversial immigration law," Stephen W. Yale-Loehr, who teaches immigration law at Cornell University and is co-author of a treatise on the subject, said. "But by upholding Arizona’s ‘check your papers’ provision, at least for now, the court has given other states a green light to try to enact similar immigration laws." Even after the Supreme Court’s ruling that one key provision was not automatically pre-empted, immigration groups will be able to challenge it based on an argument that the court was not considering: that the law discriminates on the basis of race and ethnic background.
parallel_prankster writes: NY Times reports that Nokia said on Thursday that it would slash 10,000 jobs, or 19 percent of its work force, by the end of 2013 as part of an emergency overhaul that includes closing research centers and a factory in Germany, Canada and Finland, and the departures of three senior executives.
The company also warned investors that its loss was likely to be greater in the second quarter, which ends June 30, than it was in the first, and that the negative effects of its transition to a Windows-based smartphone business would continue into the third quarter.Nokia, based in Espoo, Finland, posted a loss of €929 million, or $1.2 billion, in the first quarter as sales plummeted 29 percent. Once the undisputed global leader in the mobile phone business, Nokia has been outcompeted by Apple, as well as by Samsung and other makers of handsets running Google’s Android operating system.
parallel_prankster writes: New York Times reports that a judge in New Jersey has sentenced Dharun Ravi to 30 days in jail Monday for using a webcam to spy on his Rutgers University roommate having sex with a man, in a case that galvanized concern about suicide among gay teenagers but also prompted debate about the use of laws against hate crimes. The case drew wide attention because his roommate, Tyler Clementi, jumped to his death from the George Washington Bridge in September 2010, a few days after learning of the spying. A jury convicted Mr. Ravi in March of all 15 counts against him, which included invasion of privacy and bias intimidation. The relatively light sentence — he faced up to 10 years in prison — surprised many who were watching the hearing, as it came after the judge spent several minutes criticizing Mr. Ravi’s behavior.
parallel_prankster writes: Older adults who drank coffee — caffeinated or decaffeinated — had a lower risk of death overall than others who did not drink coffee, according to a study by researchers from the National Cancer Institute (NCI), part of the National Institutes of Health, and AARP. Coffee drinkers were less likely to die from heart disease, respiratory disease, stroke, injuries and accidents, diabetes, and infections, although the association was not seen for cancer. These results from a large study of older adults were observed after adjustment for the effects of other risk factors on mortality, such as smoking and alcohol consumption. They also found that the association between coffee and reduction in risk of death increased with the amount of coffee consumed. Relative to men and women who did not drink coffee, those who consumed three or more cups of coffee per day had approximately a 10 percent lower risk of death. Researchers caution, however, that they can't be sure whether these associations mean that drinking coffee actually makes people live longer. The full paper is available only for subscribers at the New England Journal of Medicine webpage .
parallel_prankster writes: Bloomberg reports that Eduardo Saverin, the billionaire co- founder of Facebook Inc. (FB), renounced his U.S. citizenship before an initial public offering that values the social network at as much as $96 billion, a move that may reduce his tax bill. Facebook plans to raise as much as $11.8 billion through the IPO, the biggest in history for an Internet company. Saverin’s stake is about 4 percent, according to the website Who Owns Facebook. At the high end of the IPO valuation, that would be worth about $3.84 billion. Saverin, 30, joins a growing number of people giving up U.S. citizenship, a move that can trim their tax liabilities in that country. Saverin won’t escape all U.S. taxes. Americans who give up their citizenship owe what is effectively an exit tax on the capital gains from their stock holdings, even if they don’t sell the shares, said Reuven S. Avi-Yonah, director of the international tax program at the University of Michigan’s law school. For tax purposes, the IRS treats the stock as if it has been sold.
parallel_prankster writes: In recent years researchers have made great strides in their theoretical understanding of how "Invisibility Cloaks" work and consequently built increasingly complex and impressive devices. But these devices generally work in the microwave region of the electromagnetic spectrum, where wavelengths are measured in centimetres. Enter Arseniy Kuznetsov at the Data Storage Institute in Singapore and a few pals. These guys say they've found an alternative to split ring resonators that work well at optical frequencies, with few losses. This alternative is silicon nanospheres between 100 and 200 nm in diameter. It turns out that these spheres behave just like split ring resonators in the sense that they allow for the same kind of magnetic resonances when they interact with light. This magnetic resonance can also be tuned to match any part of the visible spectrum simply selecting spheres of a specific size. That's important because it opens up an entirely new way make invisibility cloaks that operate in the visible region. "These optical systems open up new perspectives for fabrication of low-loss optical metamaterials and nanophotonic devices," they say. The trouble of course is making these spheres.
parallel_prankster writes: Physicists have, for the first time, demonstrated in an experiment that the decision whether two particles were in an entangled or in a separable quantum state can be made even after these particles have been measured and may no longer exist. Entangled particles exhibit correlations which are stronger and more intricate than those allowed by the laws of classical physics. If two particles are in an entangled quantum state, they have perfectly defined joint properties at the expense of losing their individual properties. This is like having two dice which have no orientation until they are subject to measurement, upon which they certainly show the same (random) side up. In contrast, so-called separable quantum states allow for a classical description, because every particle has well-defined properties on its own. Two dice, each one of them with its own well-defined orientation, are in a separable state. Now, one would think that at least the nature of the quantum state must be an objective fact of reality. Either the dice are entangled or not. Zeilinger's team has now demonstrated in an experiment that this is not always the case. Free abstract along with the choice to pay for the full paper can be found on the nature website