zacharye writes "Microsoft is no stranger to criticism these days, and the company's new Windows 8 platform is once again the target of a scathing review from a high-profile user. Well-known Internet entrepreneur and MIT professor Philip Greenspun handed Windows 8 one of its most damning reviews yet earlier this week, calling the new operating system a 'Christmas gift for someone you hate.' Greenspun panned almost every aspect of Microsoft's new software, noting that Microsoft had four years to study Android and more than five to examine iOS, but still couldn't build a usable tablet experience..."
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Capt.Albatross writes "Thorium has attracted interest as a potentially safer fuel for nuclear power generation. In part, this has been because of the absence of a route to nuclear weapons, but a group of British scientists have identified a path that leads to uranium-233 via protactinium-233 from irradiated thorium. The protactinium separation could possibly be done with standard lab equipment, which would allow it to be done covertly, and deliver the minimum of U233 required for a weapon in less than a year. The full article is in Nature, but paywalled."
An anonymous reader writes with this quote from Tom's Hardware: "Due to Apple's anti-3rd-party browser stance, and Windows RT's IE-only advantage on the 'Desktop,' Android is the only mobile platform where browser competition is thriving. The results are pretty surprising, with the long-time mobile browsers like Dolphin, Maxthon, Sleipnir, and the stock Android browser coming out ahead of desktop favorites like Firefox, Opera, and even Chrome. Dolphin, thanks to its new Jetpack HTML5 engine, soars ahead of the competition."
New submitter d18c7db writes "Internet tycoon Kim Dotcom has won another court victory, today given the right to drag the secretive GCSB into the spotlight of a courtroom. Forcing the GCSB to be tied to the court action opens it up to court ordered discovery — meaning Dotcom's lawyers can go fishing for documents as they continue to fight extradition to the U.S. to face copyright charges. But the GCSB claimed any disclosure of what [was] intercepted would prejudice New Zealand's national security interests 'as it will tend to reveal intelligence gathering and sharing methods.' Dotcom and his fellow Mega Upload accused asked Chief High Court Judge Helen Winkelmann for the right to have the GCSB become part of the proceedings, amend their statement of claim, and for additional discovery. In a judgment issued today she gave that permission."
Orome1 writes "Check Point has revealed how a sophisticated malware attack was used to steal an estimated €36 million from over 30,000 customers of over 30 banks in Italy, Spain, Germany and Holland over summer this year. The theft used malware to target the PCs and mobile devices of banking customers (PDF). The attack also took advantage of SMS messages used by banks as part of customers' secure login and authentication process. The attack infected both corporate and private banking users, performing automatic transfers that varied from €500 to €250,000 each to accounts spread across Europe."
First time accepted submitter its a trappist! writes "When I started my career back in the early 1990s, everyone had a 'business phone' phone on their desk. The phone was how your co-workers, customers, friends and family got in touch with you during the business day. It had a few features that everyone used — basic calling, transfer, hold, mute, three-way calling (if you could figure it out). This was before personal mobile phones or corporate IM, so the phone was basically the one and only means of real-time communication in the office. Flash forward 20 years. Today I have a smart phone, corporate IM, several flavors of personal IM, the Skype client and several flavors of collaboration software including Google Apps/Docs, GoToMeeting. My wife and daughter call me or text me on the cell phone. My co-workers who are too lazy or passive aggressive to wander into my office use IM. My brother in Iraq uses Skype. I use GoToMeeting and its built-in VoIP with customers. The big black phone sits there gathering dust. I use it for conference calls a few times each month. I'm sure that there are sales people out there who would rather give up a body part than their trusty office phone, but do any of the rest of us need them? Around here, the younger engineers frequently unplug them and stick them in a cabinet to free up desk space. Are the days of the office phone (and the office phone system) at an end?"
judgecorp writes "The European Commission is resisting pressure from US firms and public bodies designed to derail its privacy proposals, which include the 'right to be forgotten' that would allow users to demand their data be removed from Internet sites. Facebook and others oppose the right to be forgotten as it would interfere with their ability to market stuff at friends and connections of their users."
cylonlover writes "The dirigible airship, the oddball aircraft of another era, is making a comeback. California-based Aeros Corporation has created a prototype of its new breed of variable buoyancy aircraft and expects the vehicle to be finished before the end of 2012. With its new cargo handling technology, minimum fuel consumption, vertical take-off and landing features and point to point delivery, the Aeroscraft platform promises to revolutionize airship technology. The Aeroscraft ship uses a suite of new mechanical and aerospace technologies. It operates off a buoyancy management system which controls and adjusts the buoyancy of the vehicle, making it light or heavy for any stages of ground and flight operation. Automatic flight control systems give it equilibrium in all flight modes and allow it to adjust helium pressurized envelopes depending on the buoyancy requirements. It just needs one pilot and has an internal ballast control system, which allows it to offload cargo, without using ballast. Built with a rigid structure, the Aeroscraft can control lift at all stages with its Vertical Takeoff and Landing (VTOL) capabilities and carry maximum payload while in hover. What makes it different from other cargo vehicles is that it does not need a runway or ground infrastructure."
An anonymous reader writes "A specially equipped Black Hawk was recently used to demonstrate the helicopter's ability to operate on its own. In the first such test of its type, the U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Research's Development and Engineering Center, based at Redstone Arsenal, flew the Black Hawk over Diablo Mountain Range in San Jose, Calif. Pilots were aboard the aircraft for the tests, but all flight maneuvers were conducted autonomously: obstacle field navigation, safe landing area determination, terrain sensing, statistical processing, risk assessment, threat avoidance, trajectory generation and autonomous flight control were performed in real-time. 'This was the first time terrain-aware autonomy has been achieved on a Black Hawk,' said Lt. Col. Carl Ott, chief of the Flight Projects Office at AMRDEC's Aeroflightdynamics Directorate and one of the test's pilots."
First time accepted submitter nickvad writes "The Belgian Centre for Microsystems Technology has built a spherical LCD display in a contact lens. The technology is groundbreaking and holds a wide range of applications from medical to cosmetic applications and more. The LCD technology has the potential to be used as a productivity or a social tool, paving the way for futuristic technological innovations like Google Glass."
SternisheFan writes "A self-controlled swimming robot has completed a journey from San Francisco to Australia. The record-breaking 9,000 nautical mile (16,668km) trip took the PacX Wave Glider just over a year to achieve. Liquid Robotics, the U.S. company behind the project, collected data about the Pacific Ocean's temperature, salinity and ecosystem from the drone. The company said its success demonstrated that such technology could 'survive the high seas.' The robot is called Papa Mau in honor of the late Micronesian navigator Pius 'Mau' Piailug, who had a reputation for finding ways to navigate the seas without using traditional equipment. 'During Papa Mau's journey, [it] weathered gale-force storms, fended off sharks, spent more than 365 days at sea, skirted around the Great Barrier Reef, and finally battled and surfed the east Australian current to reach his final destination in Hervey Bay, near Bundaberg, Queensland,' the company said in a statement. Some of the data it gathered about the abundance of phytoplankton -plant-like organisms that convert carbon dioxide into oxygen and provide food for other sea life -could already be monitored by satellite. However, the company suggested that its equipment offered more detail, providing a useful tool for climate model scientists."
Hugh Pickens writes writes "William J. Broad writes that a plan now before Congress would create a national park to protect the aging remnants of the atomic bomb project from World War II, including hundreds of buildings and artifacts scattered across New Mexico, Washington and Tennessee — among them the rustic Los Alamos home of Dr. Oppenheimer and his wife, Kitty, and a large Quonset hut, also in New Mexico, where scientists assembled components for the plutonium bomb dropped on Japan. 'It's a way to help educate the next generation,' says Cynthia C. Kelly, president of the Atomic Heritage Foundation, a private group in Washington that helped develop the preservation plan. 'This is a major chapter of American and world history. We should preserve what's left.' Critics have faulted the plan as celebrating a weapon of mass destruction, and have argued that the government should avoid that kind of advocacy. 'At a time when we should be organizing the world toward abolishing nuclear weapons before they abolish us, we are instead indulging in admiration at our cleverness as a species,' says Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich. Historians and federal agencies reply that preservation does not imply moral endorsement, and that the remains of so monumental a project should be saved as a way to encourage comprehension and public discussion. A park would be a commemoration, not a celebration, says Heather McClenahan, director of the Los Alamos Historical Society pointing out there are national parks commemorating slavery, Civil War battles and American Indian massacres. 'It's a chance to say, "Why did we do this? What were the good things that happened? What were the bad? How do we learn lessons from the past? How do we not ever have to use an atomic bomb in warfare again?" '"
holy_calamity writes "MIT Technology Review looks at the small companies attempting to build dedicated chips for mining Bitcoins. Several are claiming they will start selling hardware based on their chips early in 2013, with the technology expected to force many small time miners to give up. However, as happened in the CPU industry, miners may soon be caught in an expensive arms race that pushes development of faster and faster chips."
SternisheFan sends this quote from the Boston Globe: "The moon's battered crust is riddled with deep fractures that may extend miles underground, according to the first findings from two NASA spacecraft orbiting Earth's nearest neighbor. The results of the mission, led by a Massachusetts Institute of Technology scientist, surprised researchers, who said it will provide new insight into the evolution of the early solar system, and even help inform the search for life on Mars. Announced Wednesday, the discoveries are also a reminder that the familiar moon still holds secrets four decades after NASA ended its manned missions there. 'We have known that the moon's crust and other planetary crusts have been bombarded by impacts, but none of us could have predicted just how cracked the lunar crust is,' said Maria Zuber, the MIT geoscientist who led the mission, called GRAIL." Here are the abstracts from the three studies published in Science.