Submission + - New Zealand's hackable transport card grants free bus rides (

mask.of.sanity writes: Kiwis could have their names, addresses, dates of birth and phone numbers exposed by flaws in the Christchurch public transport system that could also allow locals to travel on buses for free.

The flaws in the MiFare Classic system allow anyone to add limitless funds to their transport cards and also buy cheap grey market cards and add them to the system (VIDEO).

The website fails to check users meaning attackers could look up details of residents and opens the potential for someone to write a script and erase all cards in existence. The flaws have been known to the operator since 2009.

Submission + - "Whizz Kids" Discover Optimum Male Urination Angle (

stevegee58 writes: Ever wonder while standing at a urinal what is the best target to minimize or maximize splashing? Ever wonder where the big puddles on the floor come from? Well wonder no longer; science once more comes to the rescue.
Fluid dynamics researchers at Brigham Young University have determined the optimum distance and angle for minimal splashing. (Hint: don't aim at the urinal cake)

Submission + - EPA makes most wood stoves illegal

Jody Bruchon writes: The Environment Protection Agency has lowered the amount of fine-particle matter per cubic meter that new wood stoves are allowed to release into the atmosphere by 20%. Most wood stoves in use today are of the type that is now illegal to manufacture or sell, and old stoves traded in for credit towards new ones must be scrapped out. This shouldn't be much of a surprise since more and more local governments are banning wood-burning stoves and fireplaces entirely, citing smog and air pollution concerns.

Submission + - Row over US mobile phone 'cockroach backpack' app (

Tigger's Pet writes: A US company claims that its "Electronic Backpack" which allows kids to control the movements of a cockroach from their mobile phone "...the insects are treated humanely and ... does not harm them.". This is despite the fact that "Sandpaper is used to remove the waxy coating on the shell of the insect's head" then "...a needle is used to poke a hole in their thorax in order to insert a wire. Their antennae are then cut and electrodes are inserted..."
And this is supposedly being sold to encourage children to take an interest in neuroscience. Sounds more like encouraging the practice of pulling legs off creatures just to see how they react.

Submission + - Google starts tracking retail store visits on Android and iOS

recoiledsnake writes: Google is beta-testing a program that uses smartphone location data to determine when consumers visit stores, according to agency executives briefed on the program by Google employees. Google then connects these store visits to Google searches conducted on smartphones. If someone conducts a Google mobile search for “screwdrivers,” for instance, a local hardware store could bid to have its store listing served to that user. By pairing that person’s location data with its database of store listings, Google can see if the person who saw that ad subsequently visited the store.It is easiest for Google to conduct this passive location tracking on Android users, since Google has embedded location tracking into the software. Once Android users opt in to location services, Google starts collecting their location data as continuously as technologically possible.

Submission + - There Would Be No Iranian Nuclear Talks If Not for Fracking (

Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes: Matthew Philips writes at Bloomberg that US Secretary of State John Kerry landed in Geneva on Friday to begin negotiations with Iran over its nuclear weapons program and there is sudden optimism that a deal is in the offing. But the simple fact is that Iran would not be coming to the negotiating table without the US oil boom. Over the last two years, the US has increased its crude production by about 2 million barrels a day. According to a recent report from the Congressional Research Service (pdf), Iran’s oil exports have been cut in half since 2011 (PDF), from 2.5 million barrels per day to a bit more than 1 million today. As a result, Iran has had to halt an equal amount of production. “I think it’s pretty clear that without the U.S. shale revolution, it never would have been possible to put this kind of embargo on Iran,” says Julius Walker. “Without US production gains, I think we’d be looking at $150 a barrel." Instead, international prices have hovered around $110, and are less than $100 in the US. According to data from Bloomberg, the combined carrying capacity of oil tankers leaving Iranian ports last month dropped 22 percent from September. “They’re having a very hard time finding buyers,” says Walker. If a deal gets done, the trick will be to ease Iranian oil back onto the broader market without disrupting prices. If not managed properly, flooding the market with Iranian crude could carry its own negative consequences by suddenly making fracked oil in the US unprofitable.

Submission + - Sochi Olympic Torch Taken On historic Spacewalk (

rtoz writes: Two Russian cosmonauts are taking the torch for the Sochi Winter Olympics on its first historic spacewalk, ahead of next year’s games in Russia.

took the unlit version of the torch through the hatch of the International Space Station.

The torch will spend up to six hours in open space.

The Olympic torch has been carried into space twice before – in 1996 and 2000 – but it has never left a spaceship. It is not being lit aboard the space station as this would consume oxygen and pose a risk to the crew.

Submission + - Row over US mobile phone 'cockroach backpack' app (

arisvega writes: A US company that has developed an "electronic backpack" that fits onto a cockroach allowing its movements to be controlled by a mobile phone app has defended itself against cruelty claims.

For the "electronic backpack" to work the cockroaches have to be placed in icy water to subdue them before sandpaper is used to remove the waxy coating on the shell of the insect's head.

An electrode connector and electrodes are then glued on to the insect's body and a needle is used to poke a hole in their thorax in order to insert a wire. Their antennae are then cut and electrodes are inserted. A circuit is attached to their backs, and signals are received through a mobile phone app allowing users to control the cockroaches' movements to the left and to the right.

The Roboroach weighs 4.5g and is compatible with most mobile phones. It overrides the insect's antennae making it turn left and right at the flick of a switch.

Submission + - GOCE satellite is falling to Earth but Scientists don't know where. (

Virtucon writes: The Gravity field and steady-state Ocean Circulation Explorer or GOCE Satellite is expected to fall to Earth this weekend. It weighs over a ton and unfortunately the Scientists don't exactly know where it will land. You can track it here. It should re-enter sometime between Sunday night and Monday morning.

Makr Hopkins, chair of the National Society's Executive Committee said: "The satellite is one of the few satellites in a Polar Orbit. Consequently, it could land almost anywhere,"

The GOCE mission was to create an accurate gravity map of the Earth.

Submission + - Don't Call It Stack Rank: Yahoo's QPR System for Culling Non-Performers

An anonymous reader writes: Employees don't like to be graded on the bell curve (or any other curve except for Lake Wobegon's) — we know that from the Microsoft experience. But Yahoo is struggling with what some say is vastly bloated headcount, and CEO Marissa Mayer has implemented a 'quarterly performance review' system that requires, or strongly recommends, that managers place a certain quota of their charges in the less-than-stellar categories. That sounds a lot like the infamous GE-Microsoft stack rank system. But according to AllThingsD's Kara Swisher, who (as usual) broke the latest story about life inside Mayer's Yahoo, Mayer's curve may more similar to the elaborate evaluation system used by her old employer, Google.

Submission + - Germany Finances Major Push Into Home Battery Storage for Solar (

mdsolar writes: "The German government has responded to the next big challenge in its energy transition – storing the output from the solar boom it has created – by doing exactly what it has successfully done to date: greasing the wheels of finance to bring down the cost of new technology.

Over the past five years, Germany has been largely responsible for priming an 80 per cent fall in the price of solar modules. Now it is looking at bringing down the cost of the next piece in the puzzle of its energy transition – battery storage....

Storage means that the energy output can be held in reserve. The idea is to even out the peaks and troughs which is making it difficult for other generators to stay in business. This is seen as critical as the level of renewable penetration rises to around 40 per cent – a level expected in Germany within the next 10 years."

Submission + - Motorola wants to patent microphone skin tattoo (

Alfin03 writes: Electronics company Motorola has applied for a patent for an electronic microphone tattoo that sticks toauser's neck.

Google-owned Motorola has applied for a patent for a microphone tattoo.
The 'tattoo' sticker is electronic and would be placed onto a person’s throat and pick sounds created by their voice.
If the user is making a phone call, the tattoo would then send these sounds wirelessly to the smartphone and the caller.
The patent states the tattoo will have a microphone embedded into it, a transceiver that enables wireless communication with the user's smartphone, a battery and controller.

It would be used for "acoustic noise for a mobile communication device and more particularly to reducing acoustic noise with an auxiliary voice input."

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