itwbennett writes "Yesterday, a story suggesting that Amazon was planning to launch a sub-$300 Android game console made the rounds. A $300 box to play mobile games on your TV? ITworld's Peter Smith doesn't buy it. 'If Amazon is working on some kind of set-top box, it's going to be about streaming,' says Smith. 'Music, video, and games. Remember back in November when Amazon announced G2, a new AWS instance type designed for streaming GPU intensive tasks like games? Combine Amazon's G2 cloud servers and an Amazon set top box for console-like game streaming, plus supporting Android and/or iOS games (possibly the latter would also be streamed), and of course support for Amazon Video and MP3, and we're getting closer to something that may be worth $300.'"
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First time accepted submitter J05H writes "Soldier and veteran suicide rates are increasing due to various factors. Critically, the rates have jumped in recent years. Now, Bayesian search experts are using anonymous Veteran's Administration notes to predict suicide risks. A related effort by Chris Poulin is the Durkheim Project which uses opt-in social media data for similar purposes."
storagedude writes "A recent study of hard drive reliability by Backblaze was deeply flawed, according to Henry Newman, a longtime HPC storage consultant. Writing in Enterprise Storage Forum, Newman notes that the tested Seagate drives that had a high failure rate were either very old or had known issues. The study also failed to address manufacturer's specifications, drive burn-in and data reliability, among other issues. 'The oldest drive in the list is the Seagate Barracuda 1.5 TB drive from 2006. A drive that is almost 8 years old! Since it is well known in study after study that disk drives last about 5 years and no other drive is that old, I find it pretty disingenuous to leave out that information. Add to this that the Seagate 1.5 TB has a well-known problem that Seagate publicly admitted to, it is no surprise that these old drives are failing.'"
monkeyhybrid writes "Following a tweet from the developer of Maia (a cross platform game soon to hit Steam) that Linux was bringing him more game sales than OS X. Gaming On Linux decided to investigate further by reaching out to multiple developers for platform sales statistics. Although the findings and developer comments show Linux sales to still be sitting in third place, behind those of OS X and Windows, they are showing promise. Developer feedback certainly appears to be positive about the platform's future. With Steam OS on its way, surely leading to more big title releases making their way to the Linux platform, could Linux gaming be set to take the number two spot from Apple?"
New submitter Karashur sends this report from The Guardian: "Ministers are looking at saving tens of millions of pounds a year by abandoning expensive software produced by firms such as Microsoft. Some £200m has been spent by the public sector on the computer giant's Office suite alone since 2010. The Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude believes a significant proportion of that outlay could be cut by switching to free 'open-source' software, such as OpenOffice, or Google Docs. 'I want to see a greater range of software used, so civil servants have access to the information they need and can get their work done without having to buy a particular brand of software. In the first instance, this will help departments to do something as simple as share documents with each other more easily. But it will also make it easier for the public to use and share government information.'"
_0x783czar writes "Google today announced that they will be selling Motorola Mobility to Lenovo for the sum of $2.91 billion USD. Google says the move should allow the company to receive the attention and focus it deserves in order to thrive. From the announcement: '[T]he smartphone market is super competitive, and to thrive it helps to be all-in when it comes to making mobile devices. It's why we believe that Motorola will be better served by Lenovo — which has a rapidly growing smartphone business and is the largest (and fastest-growing) PC manufacturer in the world. This move will enable Google to devote our energy to driving innovation across the Android ecosystem, for the benefit of smartphone users everywhere.' Google was quick to add that this does not signal a move away from their other hardware projects. Additionally Google will 'retain the vast majority of Motorola's patents,' which they hope to continue using to stabilize the Android ecosystem. The deal has yet to be approved by either the U.S. or China."
vinces99 writes "A substantial fraction of the Neanderthal genome persists in modern human populations. A new analysis (abstract) of 665 people from Europe and East Asia shows that more than 20 percent of the Neanderthal genome survives in the DNA of this contemporary group, whose genetic information is part of the 1,000 Genomes Project." Another study published today (abstract) finds that Neanderthal genes are present in some parts of our genome that we've found to be important. Some of the genes influence fertility and skin pigment, and others actually increase our susceptibility to diseases like diabetes and lupus. The researchers are now taking these known genetic markers and seeing if they correlate with any other health conditions.
OpenStreetMap spokesman Serge Wroclawski. Serge stresses the point that OpenStreetMap isn't a mapping application, but consists of the data behind mapping applications; that there are many apps that use OpenStreetMap data; and that you are free to use OpenStreetMap as the data engine behind a map-based application. You are also welcome, even encouraged, to contribute, and you may want to check out the OpenStreetMap Foundation, which is "an international not-for-profit organization supporting, but not controlling, the OpenStreetMap Project." Now comes the question: Do you really want Google or MapQuest or another commercial (or government) entity to know where you are and where you're going? With OpenStreetMap you can download maps of your area, country or even the whole world and keep your travels confidential. You can also help create accurate maps of the areas you know best, including points of interest chosen by actual users like you, not because they paid to have their names on a commercially-produced map. A last thought: In addition to watching Serge in the video, you might want to read an article Serge wrote for his blog that The Guardian picked up about the need for OpenStreetMap. The 195+ comments attached to the article are interesting, too.
Lucas123 writes "In a report released today, Gartner predicts that the time is drawing near when 3D-bioprinted human organs will be readily available, an advance almost certain to spark a complex debate involving a variety of political, moral and financial interests. For example, some researchers are using cells from human and non-human organs to create stronger tissue, said Pete Basiliere, a Gartner research director. 'In this example, there was human amniotic fluid, canine smooth muscle cells, and bovine cells all being used. Some may feel those constructs are of concern,' he said. While regulations in the U.S. and Europe will mean human trials of 3D printed organs will likely take up to a decade, nations with less stringent standards will plow ahead with the technology. For example, last August, the Hangzhou Dianzi University in China announced it had invented the biomaterial 3D printer Regenovo, which printed a small working kidney that lasted four months. Apart from printing tissue, 3D printing may also threaten intellectual property rights. 'IP will be ignored and it will be impossible or impractical to enforce. Everything will change when you can make anything.' said John Hornick, an IP attorney."
mikejuk writes "Google and Opera split from WebKit to create Blink, their own HTML rendering engine, and everyone was worried about the effect on standards. Now we have the first big example of a split in the form of CSS Regions support. Essentially Regions are used to provide the web equivalent of text flow, a concept very familiar to anyone who has used a desktop publishing program. The basic idea is that you define containers for a text stream which is then flowed from one container to another to provide a complex multicolumn layout. The W3C standard for Regions has mostly been created by Adobe — a long time DTP company. Now the Blink team has proposed removing Regions support to save 10,000 lines of code in 350,000 in the name of efficiency. If Google does remove the Regions code, which looks highly likely, this would leave Safari and IE 10/11 as the only two major browsers to support Regions. Both Apple and Microsoft have an interest in ensuring that their hardware can be used to create high quality magazine style layouts — Google and Opera aren't so concerned. I thought standards were there to implement not argue with." Although mikejuk thinks this is a bad thing, a lot of people think CSS Regions are awful. Mozilla has never intended to implement them, instead offering the CSS Fragmentation proposal as an alternative. One major flaw of CSS Regions is its reliance upon markup that is used solely for layout, violating the separation of content and style that CSS is intended to enforce.
astroengine writes "Telltale evidence of the solar system's traumatic childhood can be found in the main asteroid belt, which contains a far more integrated assortment of bodies than previously believed, a new study shows. Previous observations of the 2,000 or so biggest asteroids in the belt — those with diameters of roughly 100 kilometers (62 miles) or larger — showed a neat structure, with asteroids closer to the sun having surface temperatures warmer than those located farther away. The observations neatly matches theories about the formation of the solar system, which posits that bodies formed in warm environments would be found closer to the sun and those formed in cold environments are farther away."
holy_calamity writes "MIT Technology Review reports on a new cryptosystem designed to protect stolen data against attempts to break encryption by brute force guessing of the password or key. Honey Encryption serves up plausible fake data in response to every incorrect guess of the password. If the attacker does eventually guess correctly, the real data should be lost amongst the crowd of spoof data. Ari Juels, who invented the technique and was previously chief scientist at RSA, is working on software to protect password managers using the technique."
sciencehabit writes "Until about 11,000 years ago, mammoths, giant beavers, and other massive mammals roamed North America. Many researchers have blamed their demise on incoming Paleoindians, the first Americans, who allegedly hunted them to extinction. But a new study points to climate and environmental changes instead. The findings could have implications for conservation strategies, including controversial proposals for 'rewilding' lions and elephants into North America."
An anonymous reader writes "The climate of Middle Earth has recently been under the spotlight, with the current and future climate of Middle Earth simulated using the HadCM3L General Circulation Model. However, to the best of our knowledge, there has been little work investigating the historical carbon emissions of Middle Earth. Specifically, what impact has the demise of dragons had on carbon emissions? To shed some light on this question, we start by considering the carbon footprint of the antagonist, Smaug." Smaug is surprisingly environmentally friendly.
Nerval's Lobster writes "Rovio Entertainment, the software company behind Angry Birds, denies that it knowingly shares data with the NSA, Britain's GCHQ, or any other national intelligence agency. But that didn't stop hackers from briefly defacing the Angry Birds website with an NSA logo and the title 'Spying Birds.' Rovio's troubles began with a New York Times article that suggested the NSA and GCHQ had installed backdoors in popular apps such as Angry Birds, allowing the agencies to siphon up enormous amounts of user data. The Times drew its information from government whistleblower Edward Snowden, who has leaked hundreds of pages of top-secret documents related to NSA activities over the past few months. 'The alleged surveillance may be conducted through third party advertising networks used by millions of commercial web sites and mobile applications across all industries,' Rovio wrote in a statement on its website. 'If advertising networks are indeed targeted, it would appear that no Internet-enabled device that visits ad-enabled web sites or uses ad-enabled applications is immune to such surveillance.' The company pledged to evaluate its relationships with those ad networks. The controversy is unlikely to dampen enthusiasm for the Angry Birds franchise, which has enjoyed hundreds of millions of downloads across a multitude of platforms. It could, however, add momentum to continuing discussions about the NSA's reach into peoples' lives."
An anonymous reader writes "Rhawn Joseph, a self-described astrobiologist involved with the infamous Journal of Cosmology, is suing NASA, demanding 100 high-resolution photos and 24 micrographs be taken of the 'donut' rock that recently appeared in front of the Opportunity rover on Mars, on the basis that it is a living organism. The remarkable full text of the complaint, which cites NASA's mineralogical analysis of the rock as evidence against it being a rock, is available to read at Popular Science." Really, the lawsuit is worth a read.
SmartAboutThings writes "Edward Snowden has a chance of getting the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize, as two Norwegian members of the Parliament have nominated him — Baard Vegard Solhjell (a former environment minister) and Snorre Valen. So, the fact that members of the Norwegian Parliament have proposed him for the Nobel Peace Prize could improve his chance of winning. After all, if Obama got this prize, why wouldn't Snowden get it?"
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Naoki Hiroshima, creator of Cocoyon and a developer for Echofon, writes at Medium that he had a rare one-letter Twitter username — @N — and had been offered as much as $50,000 for its purchase. 'People have tried to steal it. Password reset instructions are a regular sight in my email inbox,' writes Hiroshima. 'As of today, I no longer control @N. I was extorted into giving it up.' Hiroshima writes that a hacker used social engineering with Paypal to get the last four digits of his credit card number over the phone then used that information to gain control of his GoDaddy account. 'Most websites use email as a method of verification. If your email account is compromised, an attacker can easily reset your password on many other websites. By taking control of my domain name at GoDaddy, my attacker was able to control my email.' Hiroshima received a message from his extortionist. 'Your GoDaddy domains are in my possession, one fake purchase and they can be repossessed by godaddy and never seen again. I see you run quite a few nice websites so I have left those alone for now, all data on the sites has remained intact. Would you be willing to compromise? access to @N for about 5 minutes while I swap the handle in exchange for your godaddy, and help securing your data?' Hiroshima writes that it''s hard to decide what's more shocking, the fact that PayPal gave the attacker the last four digits of his credit card number over the phone, or that GoDaddy accepted it as verification. Hiroshima has two takeaways from his experience: Avoid custom domains for your login email address and don't let companies such as PayPal and GoDaddy store your credit card information."
itwbennett writes "Facebook said last year that it was exploring Blu-ray for its data-center storage needs, and on Tuesday it showed a prototype system at the Open Compute Project summit meeting in San Jose, California. It designed the system to store data that hardly ever needs to be accessed, or for so-called 'cold storage' (think duplicates of users' photos and videos that it keeps for backup). The Blu-ray system reduces costs by 50% and energy use by 80% compared with its current cold-storage system, which uses hard disk drives, said Jay Parikh, Facebook's vice president of infrastructure engineering." It's a prototype, and they're also evaluating low power flash as another alternative to keeping seldom accessed data on hard drives.
ananyo writes "In 2006, Japanese researchers reported a technique for creating cells that have the embryonic ability to turn into almost any cell type in the mammalian body — the now-famous induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells. In papers published this week in Nature, another Japanese team says that it has come up with a surprisingly simple method — exposure to stress, including a low pH — that can make cells that are even more malleable than iPS cells, and do it faster and more efficiently. The work so far has focused on mouse white blood cells but the group are now trying to make the method work with cells from adult humans. If they're successful, that would dramatically speed up the process of creating stem cells for potential clinical applications."
An anonymous reader writes "Coursera is an online website that offers free courses from many of the world's top universities. Now, all students from Syria, Sudan, Iran and Cuba will no longer be able to access Coursera. The official blog provides more info regarding the ban: 'Until now the interpretation of export control regulations as they relate to MOOCs has been unclear and Coursera has been operating under the interpretation that MOOCs would not be restricted. We recently received information that has led to the understanding that the services offered on Coursera are not in compliance with the law as it stands ... United States export control regulations prohibit U.S. businesses, such as MOOC providers like Coursera, from offering services to users in sanctioned countries, including Cuba, Iran, Sudan, and Syria. Under the law, certain aspects of Coursera's course offerings are considered services and are therefore subject to restrictions in sanctioned countries, with the exception of Syria.'"
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "The human body did not evolve to live in space, and the longest any human has been off Earth is 437 days. Some problems, like the brittling of bone, may have been overcome already. Others have been identified — for example, astronauts have trouble eating and sleeping enough — and NASA is working to understand and solve them. But Kenneth Chang reports in the NY Times that there are some health problems that still elude doctors more than 50 years after the first spaceflight. The biggest hurdle remains radiation. Without the protective cocoon of Earth's magnetic field and atmosphere, astronauts receive substantially higher doses of radiation, heightening the chances that they will die of cancer. Another problem identified just five years ago is that the eyeballs of at least some astronauts became somewhat squashed. 'It is now a recognized occupational hazard of spaceflight,' says Dr. Barratt. 'We uncovered something that has been right under our noses forever.' NASA officials often talk about the 'unknown unknowns,' the unforeseen problems that catch them by surprise. The eye issue caught them by surprise, and they are happy it did not happen in the middle of a mission to Mars. Another problem is the lack of gravity jumbles the body's neurovestibular system (PDF) that tells people which way is up. When returning to the pull of gravity, astronauts can become dizzy, something that Mark Kelly took note of as he piloted the space shuttle to a landing. 'If you tilt your head a little left or right, it feels like you're going end over end.' Beyond the body, there is also the mind. The first six months of Scott Kelly's one-year mission are expected to be no different from his first trip to the space station. Dr. Gary E. Beven, a NASA psychiatrist, says he is interested in whether anything changes in the next six months. 'We're going to be looking for any significant changes in mood, in sleep, in irritability, in cognition.' In a Russian experiment in 2010 and 2011, six men agreed to be sealed up in a mock spaceship simulating a 17-month Mars mission. Four of the six developed disorders, and the crew became less active as the experiment progressed. 'I think that's just an example of what could potentially happen during a Mars mission, but with much greater consequence,' says Dr. Beven. 'Those subtle changes in group cohesion could cause major problems.'"
SmartAboutThings writes "We are less than a month away from seeing the first ever Tizen smartphone from Samsung. The leaked image points toward a Feb. 24th launch date at MWC 2014 in Barcelona. The phone design is very similar to Galaxy phones, while the UI reminds us of Windows Phone 8. Samsung is also one of the world's top smartphone vendors, so it should have a decent chance at developing a mobile OS of its own, don't you think?"
necro81 writes "In the aftermath of the Cold War, the disintegrating Soviet Union had tens of thousands of nuclear weapons and tons of weapons-grade fissile material. In the economic and political turmoil, many feared that it would fall into unfriendly hands. However, thanks to the doggedness of an MIT professor, Dr. Thomas Neff, 500 metric tons of weapons grade material made its way into nuclear reactors in the United States through the Megatons to Megawatts program. During the program, about 10% of all electricity generated in the U.S. came from weapons once aimed at the country. Now, after nearly 20 years, the program is coming to an end. The final shipment of Soviet-era uranium, now nuclear fuel, has arrived in Baltimore."
angry tapir writes "Oracle is continuing its legal battle against third-party software support providers it alleges are performing such services in a manner that violates its intellectual property. Last week, Oracle sued StratisCom, a Georgia company that offers customers support for Oracle's Solaris OS, claiming it had 'misappropriated and distributed copyright, proprietary software code, along with the login credentials necessary to download this code from Oracle's password-protected websites.'"