schwit1 writes "The U.S. Supreme Court agreed on Friday to decide whether police can search an arrested criminal suspect's cell phone without a warrant in two cases that showcase how the courts are wrestling to keep up with rapid technological advances. Taking up cases from California and Massachusetts arising from criminal prosecutions that used evidence obtained without a warrant, the high court will wade into how to apply older court precedent, which allows police to search items carried by a defendant at the time of arrest, to cell phones."
An anonymous reader writes "Microsoft indicated this week that it has fixed a Windows XP resource-hog problem associated with the system's SVCHOST.EXE processes. Windows XP users affected by this problem typically found that the operating system was using up system resources for 15 minutes to an hour after startup, making it difficult to use the machine during that period. The Microsoft Update team had vowed last month to spend the holiday break tackling the issue, which has plagued some users for years. The fix involved stopping the system from perpetually checking Internet Explorer updates. Microsoft indicated that the fix was rolled out on Tuesday."
sciencehabit writes "A European publisher today terminated a journal edited by climate change skeptics. The journal, Pattern Recognition in Physics, was started less than a year ago. Problems cropped up soon afterward. In July, Jeffrey Beall, a librarian at the University of Colorado, Denver, noted 'serious concerns' with Pattern Recognition in Physics. As he wrote on his blog about open-access publishing, Beall found self-plagiarism in the first paper published by the journal. 'In addition,' says another critic, 'the editors selected the referees on a nepotistic basis, which we regard as malpractice in scientific publishing.'"
First time accepted submitter neiras writes "Mozilla is building a map of publicly-observable cell tower and WiFi access points to compete with proprietary geolocation services like Google's. Coverage is a bit thin so far but is improving rapidly. Anyone with an Android phone can help by downloading the MozStumbler app and letting it run while walking or driving around. The application is also available on the F-Droid market." "Thin" is relative; it's quite a few data points since we first mentioned the pilot program a few months ago.
greatgreygreengreasy writes "In 2005, then-governor of North Dakota John Hoeven signed into law a bill 'ensuring drivers' ownership of their EDR (Electronic Data Recorder) data.' Now a U.S. senator, Hoeven (R-ND) has teamed up with Amy Klobuchar, D-MN, to introduce similar legislation at the Federal level. 'Under this legislation, EDR data could only be retrieved [for specific reasons].' The EFF has expressed concern in the past over the so-called black boxes and their privacy implications. This legislation, however, would not address the recent revelations by a Ford executive on their access to data, since in those cases, 'The vehicle owner or lessee consents to the data retrieval.' The bill has gained the support of about 20 senators so far."
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "CNN reports that Ohio inmate Dennis McGuire appeared to gasp and convulse for roughly 10 minutes before he finally died during his execution by lethal injection using a new combination of drugs. The new drugs were used because European-based manufacturers banned U.S. prisons from using their drugs in executions — among them, Danish-based Lundbeck, which manufactures pentobarbital. The state used a combination of the drugs midazolam, a sedative, and the painkiller hydromorphone, the state corrections department told CNN. In an opinion piece written for CNN earlier this week, a law professor noted that McGuire's attorneys argued he would 'suffocate to death in agony and terror.' 'The state disagrees. But the truth is that no one knows exactly how McGuire will die, how long it will take or what he will experience in the process,' wrote Elisabeth A. Semel, clinic professor of law and director of the Death Penalty Clinic at U.C. Berkeley School of Law. According to a pool report from journalists who witnessed the execution, the whole process took more than 15 minutes, during which McGuire made 'several loud snorting or snoring sounds.' Allen Bohnert, a public defender who lead McGuire's appeal to stop his execution in federal court on the grounds that the drugs would cause undue agony and terror, called the execution process a 'failed experiment' and said his office will look into what happened. 'The people of the state of Ohio should be appalled by what took place here today in their name.'"
astroengine writes "After a decade of exploring the Martian surface, the scientists overseeing veteran rover Opportunity thought they'd seen it all. That was until a rock mysteriously 'appeared' a few feet in front of the six wheeled rover a few days ago. News of the errant rock was announced by NASA Mars Exploration Rover lead scientist Steve Squyres of Cornell University at a special NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory '10 years of roving Mars' event at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), Pasadena, Calif., on Thursday night. The rock, about 'the size of a jelly doughnut' according to Squyres, is thought to have either come from a freak "flipping" event or a very recent meteorite impact. However, the latter isn't thought to be very likely. Although they are still working on the rock's origin, the rover team believe it was 'tiddlywinked' by Opportunity's broken wheel; as the rover was turning on the spot, the rock was kicked from place under the wheel and flipped a few feet away from the rover. Never missing a science opportunity, Squyres told Discovery News, 'It obligingly turned upside down, so we're seeing a side that hasn't seen the Martian atmosphere in billions of years and there it is for us to investigate. It's just a stroke of luck.'"
Lucas123 writes "Scientists at the Lawrence Livermore National Lab are trying to expand 3D printing to include mixed materials at the same time, such as polymers and metals. With those advances, a company could build, for example, body armor for soldiers that are stronger and lighter. If their work pans out, they'll create materials that have properties that simply don't exist today."
redletterdave writes "The government of China is not too fond of foreign mobile operating systems like iOS and Android, so the country cooked up its own homegrown solution: A Linux-based, open-source operating system called the COS, or China Operating System. But consumers have every right to be skeptical; China is using the recent NSA scandal in the U.S. to push its own product. A government-approved mobile operating system, especially in China of all places, reeks of its own backdoor exploits for governmental spying."
vikingpower writes "In a landmark report on bushfires and climate change (PDF), the Australian Climate Council concludes that heat waves in Australia, as driven by climate change, are becoming more frequent — and that they get hotter. 'It is crucial that communities, emergency services, health services and other authorities prepare for the increasing severity and frequency of extreme fire conditions,' says the Council in the report. Sarah Perkins, one of the report's co-authors, was interviewed by The Guardian Australia. '"While we can't blame climate change for any one event, we can certainly see its fingerprint. This is another link in the chain." Perkins said her latest work had analyzed heatwave trends up to 2013. She said the trend "just gets worse – it's a bit scary really."' In 2009, the United Nations World Meteorological Organization signaled that a Southeast Australian heatwave was the hottest in 100 years."
An anonymous reader writes "Google's recent acquisition of Nest, the maker of smart thermostats and smoke detectors, has sparked concerns of future plans for the devices, and how Google's omnipresent thirst for information will affect them. Thus, a team of engineers at Spark sat down and roughed out a prototype for an open source version of Nest. It looks surprisingly good for such a short development cycle, and they've posted their code on Github. The article has a number of short videos illustrating the technology they used, and how they used it. Quoting: 'All in, we spent about $70 on components to put this together (including $39 for the Spark Core); the wood and acrylic were free. We started working at 10am and finished at 3am, with 3.5 engineers involved (one went to bed early), and the only work we did in advance was order the electronic components. We're not saying that you can build a $3.2 billion company in a day. But we are saying that you can build a $3.2 billion company, and it's easier now than it's ever been before.'"
In a speech today, U.S. President Barack Obama announced changes for the operations of the country's intelligence agencies. He says the current program will end "as it currently exists," though most of the data collection schemes will remain intact. However, the data collected in these sweeps will not be stored by the U.S. government, instead residing with either the communications providers or another third party. (He pointed out that storing private data within a commercial entity can have its own oversight issues, so the attorney general and intelligence officials will have to figure out the best compromise.) In order for the NSA to query the database, they will need specific approval from a national security court. Obama also announced "new oversight" to spying on foreign leaders, and an end to spying on leaders of friendly and allied countries. Further, decisions from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court will be annually reviewed for declassification. A panel advocating for citizen privacy will have input into the FISC. There will be chances to national security letters: they will no longer have an indefinite secrecy period. Companies will be able to disclose some amount of information about the NSLs they receive, something they've been asking for. Another change is a reduction in the number of steps from suspected terrorists that phone data can be gathered. Instead of grabbing all the data from people three steps away, it's now limited to two.
jfruh writes "Who says Americans are politically apathetic? The FCC's proposal to allow cellular data — and, if the airline allows it, voice calls — on airplanes unleashed a flood of responses even before the official comment period began this week. The sentiment was overwhelmingly opposed to people talking on phones in flight. Some correspondents spun terrifying hypotheticals about yapping teens, some accused FCC chair Tom Wheeler of flying on private planes and being out of touch with the full-on horror of in-flight chatter, and one person concluded their letter with the word 'no' with letter 'o' repeated 213 times."
cold fjord writes "Politico reports, 'Sen. Dianne Feinstein says she once found a drone peeking into the window of her home — the kind of cautionary tale she wants lawmakers to consider as they look at allowing commercial drone use. ... she used the episode to implore lawmakers to "proceed with caution." Feinstein said she encountered the flying robot while a demonstration was taking place outside her house. She said she went to the window to peek out — and "there was a drone right there at the window looking out at me." ... "Obviously the pilot of the drone had some surprise because the drone wheeled around and crashed ..." she said. ... Feinstein, who chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee, said Wednesday that she has seen firsthand the surveillance capabilities of drones and called civilian privacy concerns "significant." She ... recommended a search warrant requirement. Feinstein said she is working on legislation with the Commerce Committee and urged senators to move swiftly to create "strong, binding enforceable privacy policies that govern drone operations before the technology is upon us."'"
An anonymous reader writes "Slate reports on new anti-science education coming out of Texas. The state has a charter school system called Responsive Education Solutions, which is publicly funded. Unfortunately, 'it has been connected from its inception to the creationist movement and to far-right fundamentalists who seek to undermine the separation of church and state.' The biology workbook used in these schools actually reads, "In the beginning, God created the Heavens and the Earth." It also brings up social Darwinism as if it's an aspect of evolutionary theory and introduces doubt that the Earth is billions of years old. The article continues, 'To get around court rulings, Responsive Ed and other creationists resort to rhetoric about teaching "all sides" of "competing theories" and claiming that this approach promotes "critical thinking." In response to a question about whether Responsive Ed teaches creationism, its vice president of academic affairs, Rosalinda Gonzalez, told me that the curriculum "teaches evolution, noting, but not exploring, the existence of competing theories."' Other so-called education texts being used by the Responsive Ed program teach Western superiority and how feminism forced women to 'turn to the state as a surrogate husband.'"
angry tapir writes "The stolen credit card numbers of millions of Target shoppers took an international trip — to Russia. A peek inside the malicious software that infected Target's POS (point-of-sale) terminals is revealing more detail about the methods of the attackers as security researchers investigate one of the most devastating data breaches in history. Findings from two security companies show the attackers breached Target's network and stayed undetected for more than two weeks. Over two weeks, the malware collected 11GB of data from Target's POS terminals. The data was first quietly moved to another server on Target's network and then transmitted in chunks to a U.S.-based server that the attackers had hijacked. Logs from that compromised server show the data was moved again to a server based in Russia starting on Dec. 2." A related article at Wired points out that Target suffered a similar breach in 2005, and apparently didn't learn its lesson.
An anonymous reader writes "Google has announced on its official blog that it's working on a new way for diabetics to monitor their blood sugar: a 'smart' contact lens. Diabetes is a difficult condition to treat because blood sugar levels vary widely by a person's activity level and food intake. It's also hard to monitor without painful and intrusive measurements — people can feel normal at dangerously high blood sugar levels, while extremely low levels can impair their ability to seek treatment. Google says, 'Over the years, many scientists have investigated various body fluids—such as tears—in the hopes of finding an easier way for people to track their glucose levels. But as you can imagine, tears are hard to collect and study. At Google[x], we wondered if miniaturized electronics—think: chips and sensors so small they look like bits of glitter, and an antenna thinner than a human hair—might be a way to crack the mystery of tear glucose and measure it with greater accuracy. We're now testing a smart contact lens that's built to measure glucose levels in tears using a tiny wireless chip and miniaturized glucose sensor that are embedded between two layers of soft contact lens material. We're testing prototypes that can generate a reading once per second.' They're talking with the FDA and bringing in experts to help them figure out the best way to do it."
First time accepted submitter gallifreyan99 writes "Researchers from Duke revealed today that they had discovered nearly 5,900 gas leaks under the streets of Washington DC, including 12 that posed a serious risk of explosion. And it's not just Washington: a gas industry whistleblower who is part of the team showed this was happening in cities all over America."
Zothecula writes "Previously, chemists have managed to create artificial cell walls and developed synthetic DNA to produce self-replicating, synthetic bacterial cells. Now, for the first time, researchers have used polymers to produce an artificial eukaryotic cell capable of undertaking multiple chemical reactions through working organelles."
angry tapir writes "The founder of the Silk Road underground website has forfeited the site and thousands of bitcoins, worth around $28 million at current rates, to the U.S. government. The approximately 29,655 bitcoins were seized from the Silk Road website when the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) moved to close it in late September. 'The United States Marshals Service shall dispose of the Silk Road Hidden Website and the Silk Road Server Bitcoins according to law,' wrote Judge J. Paul Oetken, of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, in a court order that was issued this week. The ruling represents the largest-ever forfeiture of bitcoins. 'It is the intention of the government to ultimately convert the bitcoins to U.S. currency,' said Jim Margolin, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's office for the Southern District of New York."
alphadogg writes "Two-year-old startup Wickr is offering a reward of up to $100,000 to anyone who can find a serious vulnerability in its mobile encrypted messaging application, which is designed to thwart spying by hackers and governments. The reward puts the small company in the same league as Google, Facebook and Microsoft, all of which offer substantial payouts to security researchers for finding dangerous bugs that could compromise their users' data. Wickr has already closely vetted its application so the challenge could be tough. Veracode, an application security testing company, and Stroz Friedberg, a computer forensics firm, have reviewed the software, in addition to independent security researchers."
dcblogs writes "Despite an expanding use of electronics in products, the number of people working as electrical engineers in U.S. declined by 10.4% last year. The decline amounted to a loss of 35,000 jobs and increased the unemployment rate for electrical engineers from 3.4% in 2012 to 4.8% last year, an unusually high rate of job losses for this occupation. There are 300,000 people working as electrical engineers, according to U.S. Labor Department data analyzed by the IEEE-USA. In 2002, there were 385,000 electrical engineers in the U.S. Ron Hira, an assistant professor of public policy at the Rochester Institute of Technology, called the electrical engineering employment trend 'truly disturbing,' and said, 'just like America's manufacturing has been hollowed out by offshoring and globalization, it appears that electrical and electronics engineering is heading that way.'"