An anonymous reader writes "On October 25, 2012, as residents of the U.S. east coast made frantic preparations for the arrival of Hurricane Sandy, the captain of the HMS Bounty (a replica tall ship constructed fifty years earlier for the Marlon Brando film Mutiny on the Bounty) made a foolish decision, with the assent of his crew, to proceed with a scheduled voyage from New London, CT for St. Petersburg FL. CNN's Thom Patterson has written a long story with the benefit of survivor testimony to the NTSB and U.S. Coast Guard. Captain Robin Walbridge thought he could outrun the hurricane, and besides, he'd 'sailed into hurricanes before.' The crew (officially there were no passengers, a fact that allowed the ship to evade certain safety regulations) consisted of tall ship enthusiasts with widely varying amounts of nautical experience, perhaps taken by the vast historical literature on the great age of sailing. A day and a half into the voyage, Captain Walbridge altered his plan of sailing east of the storm, to sailing south and west of it. A day later, the Bounty was less than 200 miles from the eye of the storm; the engine room started to flood, and the pumps were jammed with debris being torn off by the storm's 70 mph winds. The end came early next day, the Bounty was knocked down by a huge wave, tossing the captain and several crew members overboard. The Coast Guard rescued fourteen of the crew members, but Claudene Christian (an adventure-loving novice who had enlisted as crew a few months before) was dead, and Captain Walbridge's body has not been found."
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RougeFemme writes "As part of a research project to develop low-cost artificial hands, DARPA has developed a two-hand robot that can almost change a tire. Research has mastered grasping objects with robotic hands; the next objective is to manipulate the objects once grasped. Research also continues on a neural interface, a direct link between a robotic arm and the human brain. The ultimate goal of the research project is to develop prostethics and robotic arms for wider use, by reducing cost and improving dexterity and machine vision."
Nerval's Lobster writes "Federal regulators are starting to make noise about Bitcoin, the digital currency that's gained in recognition and value over the past few years: the Treasury Department's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) is offering up 'guidance' for digital currency and those who use it as part of commerce. But the Bitcoin Foundation, which is devoted to standardizing and promoting the currency, doesn't like that idea; as Patric Murck, the organization's general counsel, wrote in a March 19 blog posting: 'If FinCEN would like to expand its statutory authority over "money transmitters" to include brand new categories such as "administrators" and "exchangers" of digital currency it must do so through proper rulemaking proceedings and not by fiat.' If Bitcoin continues to gain in value, it could spark a rise in virtual currencies—and force some very interesting discussions over regulation. But here's the question: would regulation actually be good for Bitcoin, if it made organizations and businesses more comfortable with using it as a currency?"
FuzzNugget writes "ReadWrite has posted a thought-provoking piece on how mobile devices killing our boredom may also be killing our creativity. Quoting: 'Numerous studies and much accepted wisdom suggest that time spent doing nothing, being bored, is beneficial for sparking and sustaining creativity. With our iPhone in hand — or any smartphone, really — our minds, always engaged, always fixed on that tiny screen, may simply never get bored. And our creativity suffers. ... For example, psychology professor Gary Marcus distinguishes between the two primary types of pursuits we use to defeat boredom. "Boredom is the brain's way to tell you you should be doing something else. But the brain doesn't always know the most appropriate thing to do. If you're bored and use that energy to play guitar and cook, it will make you happy. But if you watch TV, it may make you happy in the short term, but not in the long term." So much of what we do on our smartphones, however, is decidedly short-term: a few moments playing a game while we stand in line, a minute to scan Instagram as the person in front of us at the grocery store pulls out their checkbook. ' Of course, you'll probably be reading this on a smartphone."
New submitter alysion writes "Per research published in the online journal PLOS One, psychologists Christine Ma-Kellams of Harvard University and Jim Blascovich of the University of California, Santa Barbara report, 'Thinking about science leads individuals to endorse more stringent moral norms.' In one of the four supporting experiments, undergraduates considered an account of a date rape and were asked to judge behavior on a scale of 1 to 100. Science types, perhaps not surprisingly, proved to have a better grasp of reality, including the moral kind."
theodp writes "Responding to an earlier request by the estate of Aaron Swartz to disclose the names of those involved in the events leading to Aaron's suicide, counsel for MIT snippily told the Court, "The Swartz Estate was not a party to the criminal case, and therefore it is unclear how it has standing, or any legally cognizable interest, to petition for the modification of the Protective Order concerning others' documents." In motions filed on slow-news-day Good Friday (MIT's on spring break), the DOJ, MIT, and JSTOR all insisted on anonymity for those involved in the Swartz case, arguing that redacting of names was a must, citing threats posed by Anonymous and LulzSec, a badly-photoshopped postcard sent to Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen Heymann and another sent to his Harvard Prof father, cake frosting, a gun hoax, and e-mail sent to MIT. From the DOJ filing: 'I also informed him [Swartz estate lawyer] that whatever additional public benefit might exist by disclosing certain names was, in this case, outweighed by the risk to those individuals of becoming targets of threats, harassment and abuse.' From the MIT filing: 'The publication of MIT's documents in unredacted form could lead to further, more targeted, and more dangerous threats and attacks...The death of Mr. Swartz has created a very volatile atmosphere.' From the JSTOR filing: 'The supercharged nature of the public debate about this case, including hacking incidents, gun hoaxes and threatening messages, gives JSTOR and its employees legitimate concern for their safety and privacy.'"
An anonymous reader writes "For publicly-owned companies, the CEO gets most of the spotlight. If the company is successful and the stock goes up, the CEO gets the credit. If the company stumbles, the CEO gets the blame. But an article at the NY Times points how the board of directors for most companies seem to get a free pass, even when their decisions or their CEO selections consistently go wrong. 'Last year, there were elections for 17,081 director nominees at United States corporations, according to the service. Only 61 of those nominees, or 0.36 percent, failed to get majority support. More than 86 percent of directors received 90 percent or more of the votes. Of the 61 directors who failed to get majority approval, only six actually stepped down or were asked to resign. Fifty-one are still in place, as of the most recent proxy filings.' The article uses Hewlett-Packard as an example; the past several years have seen poor CEO choices, the abominable Autonomy acquisition, and billions in write-offs for other failed endeavors. Yet HP's directors were all re-elected."
An anonymous reader writes "It's been more than a decade and a half since the FCC adopted a set of standards for radiation exposure from cell phones. The guidelines set in 1996 (and based on studies from the '80s) have applied to all cell phones released in the U.S. since then. Now, the FCC has decided that modern devices are just a tiny bit different than models from the '90s (where did those suitcase phones go?), so they're going to review and update the standard. 'Even though the FCC hasn't changed its standards for evaluating the safety of cell phones, it has provided consumers with information about how to minimize the risk of exposure to cell phone radiation. For example, the FCC recommends people use the speakerphone feature or an earpiece when talking on the phone, since increasing the distance the device is held from the body greatly reduces exposure. But the agency has not advocated for stricter warnings nor has it even endorsed these safety measures as necessary. The current review of the standards could change that as the agency will look at its testing procedures as well as the educational information it provides to the public about cell phone safety.'"
An anonymous reader writes "A DDoS attack targeting American Express on March 28th was just one in a series of incidents by self-proclaimed 'cyber-fighters' over the past few weeks. Beyond that, it's part of a much longer campaign to disrupt financial infrastructure using attacks over the internet. Ars details the group behind the most recent attacks, called 'the cyber-fighters of Izz ad-Din al-Qassam.' From the article: 'Named after a Muslim cleric who led The Black Hand, an anti-British and anti-Zionist jihadist organization in the 1920s and 1930s, and sharing a name with the military wing of Hamas (which the group's statements claim it is tied to), Izz ad-Din al-Qassam has taken credit for a variety of attacks on U.S. financial institutions over the past year, all allegedly in protest against the posting of trailers for the film The Innocence of Muslims on YouTube. Until the film is removed, the group said it would target "properties of American-Zionist CapitalistsThis attack will continue till the Erasing of that nasty movie." [sic]' There are concerns that the group is providing cover for organizations looking to defraud those banks. 'But even if the group behind the attacks isn't profiting from them, [Arbor Networks' Dan Holden] said it's clear that there are very real investments being made in their activities—maybe not in servers or hard assets, but in the form of countless hours of maintenance of the botnet by finding new servers to exploit, and further development of attacks. "Regardless of who's behind this," Holden said, "it has to be funded at some level. Even if it's hacktivists, it's got to be funded hacktivism." That, he says, is because of both the amount of time dedicated to the attack, and to its ongoing refinement. "It's not that these are the most sophisticated things in the world," he explained, "but it has been getting more sophisticated, and it's growing."'"
paysonwelch writes "North Korea has declared a state of war against South Korea, stating that neither peace nor war has ended. Quoting the news release via Reuters: '1. From this moment, the north-south relations will be put at the state of war and all the issues arousing between the north and the south will be dealt with according to the wartime regulations.' The DPRK goes on to say that this will be a 'blitz' war and that they will regain control of the south, and destroy U.S. bases in the process." Great line from the declaration: "[The U.S.] should clearly know that in the era of Marshal Kim Jong Un, the greatest-ever commander, all things are different from what they used to be in the past." A senior U.S. official called this statement "pot-banging and chest-thumping." The official said, "North Korea is in a mindset of war, but North Korea is not going to war."
An anonymous reader sends this quote from Forbes: "... it is an almost certainty that within the next few years, three biometric options will become standard features in every new phone: a fingerprint scanner built into the screen, facial recognition powered by high-definition cameras, and voice recognition based off a large collection of your vocal samples. ... We store an enormous amount of our most intimate and personal information on cell phones. Businesses today are already struggling with policies regarding bringing devices from home, and it’s only going to get more difficult. A study by Symantec highlighted the depth of the problem – around the world, all different types of companies consider enterprise mobile device security to be one of their largest challenges. ... Ever since Apple purchased Authentec Inc in July of last year, there has been an endless stream of news stories obsessing over whether Apple will include a fingerprint scanner in their next release. In reality, Apple is one among many players, and whether they include a biometric sensor in the 5S or wait till the 6 is largely irrelevant, the entire mobile industry has been headed this way for years now. ... There are separate questions as to whether these technologies are ready for such a wide-scale deployment."
theodp writes "In a move that would do Bill Lumbergh (YouTube homage) proud, Microsoft has been pulling in about $25 million a year through its unusual practice of charging its vendors for occupying office space on its campus while working on Microsoft projects, according to the real estate firm that manages the program. And that's before a planned July 1st rate increase that Microsoft informed vendors of earlier this week, which will boost the 'chargeback' rate for its 'shadow workforce' from $450 per month ($5,400 per year) for every workstation to $510 per month (or $6,120 per year). So, is there a discount if you're moved downstairs into Storage B?"
mpthompson writes "Via RoboticsTrends' newsletter, RTS Lab in Tehran is developing Pars, which is an aerial rescue robot quadcopter designed to save potential drowning victims. The ship-based quadcopter responds instantly when alerted to potential victims in the ocean, locating them with thermal imaging sensors, and dispensing life preservers directly over them. The current prototype carries one life preserver, but they are working on a new model to carry three life preserver rings. Future models may dispense up to 15 self-inflating rings. A launching platform for use on ships has been designed, but more intriguing is an idea for a remote stand-alone launching platform. It's good to see innovative robot tech coming from a country that is not normally well covered in Western media."
RougeFemme writes "Sven Olaf Kamphius, self-described 'Internet freedom fighter,' is reportedly at the center of the investigation into this week's alleged cyber-attack against Spamhaus, a group that fights Internet spam. Mr. Kamphius became incensed when Spamhaus blacklisted two companies that he runs, including Cyberbunker, a company that, earlier this week, claimed be under attack from Dutch swat teams. Though he initially solicited support for a DDoS against Spamhaus, he now disavows any direct role in the cyberattack, which threatened to slow some web traffic to a crawl."
First time accepted submitter CanadianRealist writes "Electrolysis of water to produce hydrogen is very inefficient without the use of a catalyst. Unfortunately catalysts are currently made of crystals containing rare, expensive toxic metals such as ruthenium and iridium. Two chemists from the University of Calgary have invented a process to make a catalyst using relatively non-toxic metal compounds such as iron oxide, for 1/1000 the cost of currently used catalysts. It is suggested this would make it more feasible to use electrolysis of water to create hydrogen as a method of storing energy from variable green power sources such as wind and solar."