Zothecula writes "Despite recent demonstrations by the US Navy, we still think of laser weapons as being things of the future. However, previously-classified British documents prove that not only were the major powers working on laser weapons in the 1970s and 80s, but that they were already being deployed with combat units in war zones. A letter from the Ministry of Defence released under the 30-year rule reveals that laser weapons were deployed on Royal Navy ships during the Falklands War in 1982, and that the British government was concerned about similar weapons being developed behind the Iron Curtain."
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First time accepted submitter briglass writes "Imagine being a total non-gamer and then suddenly playing an hour of StarCraft a day for almost two months. A new study of mine demonstrates that a group of female gaming novices (seriously novice, as in 0 to 1 hour of gaming per week novice) demonstrated increased cognitive flexibility after playing StarCraft, a sort of fast-paced chess on steroids. The control group played The Sims. It's been well known that video gaming can lead to psychological benefits, such as faster perceptual information processing after playing first-person shooter games. But this new study, published in PLOS ONE, shows that video gaming can also affect higher-level cognitive functions. The StarCraft game was customized to be adaptive and remain challenging as the newly minted gamers honed their skills, and in-game behavior was recorded to determine what aspects of StarCraft leads to the boost in flexibility."
coolnumbr12 tipped us to a tale of a contest gone wrong at LG's G2 release event. Quoting El Reg: "The PR boffins at LG decided it would be a good idea to release 100 helium-filled balloons, each carrying a voucher entitling the recipient to claim their 950,000 won ($852.54) smartphone. It then took to social media to promote the event, inviting people to witness the balloons' release and encouraging them to grab one of the vouchers. But what must have sounded like a good idea in the marketing meeting quickly dissolved into chaos. People aren’t stupid. They figured out that the only way to get the voucher was to burst the balloons, and they showed up equipped to do so with BB guns, knives on sticks, and other tools." In the ensuing carnage, 20 people were injured. Whoops.
darthcamaro writes "Apache has always dominated the web server landscape. But in August, its share has slipped below 50 percent for the first time in years. The winner isn't nginx either — it's Microsoft IIS that has picked up share. But don't worry, this isn't likely a repeat of the Netscape/IE battle of the late 90's, Apache is here to stay (right?)" The dip is mostly the result of GoDaddy switching to IIS from Apache. Which is to say GoDaddy hosts a whole lot of sites.
In a mixed ruling for Fourth Amendment rights, a federal judge today ruled that NYC's Stop-and-Frisk program violated constitutional rights due to disproportionately targeting minorities. However, despite the program being unconstitutional in its current form, it will not stop. From the New York Times: " Judge Scheindlin also ordered a number of other remedies, including a pilot program in which officers in at least five precincts across the city will wear body-worn cameras in an effort to record street encounters. She also ordered a 'joint remedial process' — in essence, a series of community meetings — to solicit public input on how to reform stop-and-frisk. ... The Supreme Court had long ago ruled that stop-and-frisks were constitutionally permissible under certain conditions, and Judge Scheindlin stressed that she was 'not ordering an end to the practice.' But she said that changes were needed to ensure that the street stops were carried out in a manner that “protects the rights and liberties of all New Yorkers, while still providing much needed police protection.' ... The judge found that the New York police were too quick to deem as suspicious behavior that was perfectly innocent, in effect watering down the legal standard required for a stop. " The ruling itself (PDF). Bloomberg is furious about the decision, and the city, naturally, intends to appeal.
astroengine writes "Entrepreneur Elon Musk revealed details today about his concept for a high-speed transportation system he calls the Hyperloop. After tweeting that he'd pulled an all-nighter preparing for the announcement, Musk told Businessweek that the design could transport people as well as cars inside aluminum pods that move up to 800 miles per hour through a tube. The tubes would be mounted on columns 50 to 100 yards apart, not interfering with land needs because it would essentially follow major highways, such as I-75 in California."
An anonymous reader writes "Humans have progressed and evolved creating complex tools throughout the years. Based on artifacts and fossils in combination with research, scientists have known that people have used tools made from all kinds of materials. Now in a new study, two research teams discovered that the first specialized set of bone tools were created by Neanderthals in Europe."
Trailrunner7 writes "The concept of malware riding shotgun with legitimate mobile apps is not a new one. There have been a slew of cases in which attackers have compromised apps in the Google Play store and inserted malware into the file. But a new attack uncovered by Palo Alto Networks is using a new technique that starts with the user installing an app on her Android phone. The app could be a legitimate one or a malicious one, but it will include some code that, once the app is installed, will reach out to an ad network. Many apps include such code for legitimate ad revenue purposes, but these apps are connecting to a malicious ad network. Once the connection is made, the app will then wait until the user is trying to install another app and will pop up an extra dialog box asking for permission to install some extra code. That code is where the bad things lie. The malicious code immediately gains control of the phone's SMS app for both command and control and in order to sign the victim up for some premium-rate SMS services. The attack is interesting, said Wade Williamson, a senior security analyst at Palo Alto, because the attackers can use a legitimate ad network that's already connected to a group of apps and then at any given time flip the switch and begin using it for malicious purposes."
Nerdfest writes "Bruce Schneier writes in The Atlantic: 'Bluntly: The government has commandeered the Internet. Most of the largest Internet companies provide information to the NSA, betraying their users. Some, as we've learned, fight and lose. Others cooperate, either out of patriotism or because they believe it's easier that way. I have one message to the executives of those companies: fight.'"
coondoggie writes "The U.S. Department of Transportation has high hopes of standardizing the way autos talk to each other and with other intelligent roadway systems of the future. The department recently issued a call for public and private researchers and experts to help it build what the DOT called 'a hypothetical four layer approach to connected vehicle devices and applications certification.'"
benrothke writes "Diet books are literally a dime a dozen. They generally benefit only the author, publisher and Amazon, leaving the reader frustrated and bloated. With a failure rate of over 99%, diet books are the epitome of a sucker born every minute. One of the few diet books that can offer change you can believe in is The Healthy Programmer: Get Fit, Feel Better, and Keep Coding. Author Joe Kutner observes that nearly every popular diet fails and the reason is that they are based on the premise of a quick fix without focusing on the long-term core issues. It is inevitable that these diets will fail and the dieters at heart know that. It is simply that they are taking the wrong approach. This book is about the right approach; namely a slow one. With all of the failed diet books, Kutner is one of the few that has gotten it right." Keep reading for the rest of Ben's review.
hypnosec writes "Linus Torvalds released Linux 3.11-rc5 yesterday wishing that it would have been a lovely coincidence if he were able to release final Linux 3.11 as on the exact same day 20 years ago Microsoft released Windows 3.11. 'Sadly, the numerology doesn't quite work out, and while releasing the final 3.11 today would be a lovely coincidence (Windows 3.11 was released twenty years ago today), it is not to be,' notes Torvalds in the release announcement."
CowboyRobot writes "It's looking like Microsoft is planning to replace its underachieving Surface tablet with two new products, but it may need three to finally have success with the Surface. Three tablets would provide an entry point and an upgrade path. Multiple Surface RT models would help Windows RT survive OEM skepticism. Microsoft needs device fanfare to accompany Windows 8.1, and to coincide with enterprise hardware upgrades. If the company releases one of the models before the end of the year, the device would arrive in time not only for the holiday season, but also to cash in on user interest in Windows 8.1, which will be released later this fall. Surface devices released next year, meanwhile, could capitalize on enterprise hardware upgrades, which are expected to pick up as Windows XP's April 8, 2014 end-of-service date nears."
judgecorp writes "In a swift response to a media storm, the City of London has closed down a trial of recycling bins which track the phones of pedestrians. Renew provides recycling bins funded by digital advertising, and has been told to stop a trial where bins tracked phones. Although the CEO of Renew claims there was no intention to breach privacy, his own marketing material says otherwise."
SmartAboutThings writes "We've been hearing quite a lot lately about the Firefox OS, but there are actually only a few Firefox OS phones launched on the market. ZTE Open is one of them and is actually the first Firefox OS phone for consumers. Even if Firefox OS has support from carriers all over the world, it's pretty hard to sell devices in more locations across the world. To remedy that, ZTE is going to sell the Firefox OS Open phone on eBay for eighty dollars, which is actually ten dollars less than the launch price. A real great thing is that the handset will be off-contract and unlocked which means you will be able to use it on all mobile networks. ZTE didn't mention when exactly the device will go on sale on eBay, the company just mentioning 'soon.'"
carmendrahl writes "The abundance of shale gas in the U.S. is expected to lower the cost of petrochemicals for fuel and other applications, making it harder for plant-based, renewable feedstocks to compete in terms of price. In the search for cost-competitive crops, companies are testing plants other than traditional biofuel sources such as corn and sugarcane. In this video, you can see how a company is test-growing a relative of sugarcane, which is expected to yield 5 times the ethanol per acre compared to corn."
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Miriam Kramer writes at Space.com that in the new movie Elysium, Earth is beyond repair, and the rich and powerful have decided to leave it behind to live in a large, rotating space station stocked with mansions, grass, trees, water and gravity. 'The premise is totally believable to me. I spent 28 years working on NASA's International Space Station and retired last summer as the director of ISS at NASA Headquarters. When I took a look at the Elysium space station, I thought to myself, that's certainly achievable in this millennium,' says Mark Uhran, former director of the International Space Station Division in NASA's Office of Human Exploration and Operations. 'It's clear that the number-one challenge is chemical propulsion.' Nuclear propulsion could be a viable possibility eventually, but the idea isn't ready for prime time yet. 'We learned an incredible amount with [the International Space Station] and we demonstrated that we have the technology to assemble large structures in space.' The bottom line: 'If you threw everything you had at it, could you reach a space station of the scale of Elysium in 150 years?' says Uhran. 'That's a pretty tall order.'"
Nerval's Lobster writes "BlackBerry is considering whether to sell itself off to the highest bidder. The company's Board of Directors has announced the founding of a Special Committee to explore so-called 'strategic alternatives to enhance value and increase scale,' which apparently includes 'possible joint ventures, strategic partnerships or alliances, a sale of the Company or other possible transactions.' BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins added that, while the committee did its work, the company would continue to its recent overhead-reduction strategy. Prem Watsa, chairman and CEO of Fairfax Financial—BlackBerry's largest shareholder—announced that he would resign from the company's board in order to avoid a potential conflict of interest. News that BlackBerry is considering a potential sale should surprise nobody. Faced with fierce competition from Google and Apple, the company's market-share has tumbled over the past several quarters. In a desperate bid to regain its former prominence in the mobile-device industry, BlackBerry developed and released BlackBerry 10, a next-generation operating system meant to compete toe-to-toe against Google Android and Apple iOS—despite a massive ad campaign, however, early sales of BlackBerry 10 devices have proven somewhat underwhelming."
First time accepted submitter kazade84 writes "Over the weekend the Elementary team released the stable version of Elementary OS, codenamed "Luna" which is based on Ubuntu 12.04. The new OS features an entirely custom desktop shell called Pantheon which has been developed from scratch using Vala and Gtk+ which allows for fast apps with a small memory footprint. Elementary OS has been years in the making, and the team have documented the process in their latest blog post."
An anonymous reader writes "When Hostess, baker of Twinkies, filed for bankruptcy and ceased operations in November, Twinkies were no more. Then, a private equity firm bought the business for $410 million and planned to resume production in 'The Sweetest Comeback in the History of Ever.' Now, an article in the Pittsburg Post-Gazette reports that they're still hard to get, since an unprecedented demand has caused orders to exceed production capacity 'by a significant amount.'"
judgecorp writes "Bitcoin users have been warned that storing them in a wallet app on Android is insecure, A weakness in Android's random number generator means its random numbers may not be so random, giving attackers a chance of breaking into the wallet. those with Bitcoins have been advised to put them elsewhere, by bitcoin.org"
An anonymous reader writes "In a fascinating post from Kelly Jacklin, the long time Apple software engineer details how he helped create the default text alert sound on the iPhone — a sound otherwise known as 'Tri-tone.' The history of the the pleasant text alert sound that we've all come to know and love stretches all the way back to 1998, nearly 10 years before the iPhone ever hit store shelves." Here's Jacklin's post.
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Dogs have been trained to sniff out drugs, explosives, cadavers, mobile phones, firearms, and money but now AP reports that researchers have started training canines to sniff out the signature compound that indicates the presence of ovarian cancer. If the animals can isolate the chemical marker, scientists at the nearby Monell Chemical Senses Center will work to create an electronic sensor to identify the same odorant. "Because if the dogs can do it, then the question is, Can our analytical instrumentation do it? We think we can," says organic chemist George Preti. More than 20,000 Americans are diagnosed with ovarian cancer each year. When it's caught early, women have a five-year survival rate of 90 percent. But because of its generic symptoms — weight gain, bloating or constipation — the disease is more often caught late."
Zothecula writes "Armchair sports lovers are at the mercy of TV directors who chose what camera angle is shown when. Most sports fans will have been frustrated with their shot selection at one time or another, but a new panoramic camera would put such decisions in the viewer's hands. Comprising ten individual cameras, the OmniCam 360 provides a full 360-degree of the action." Just don't roll it down a hill and try to watch the results.