fsterman writes "Without any prompting from the U.S. Metric Association, a We The People petition to standardize the U.S. on the metric system has received 13,000 signatures in six days. That's half the number needed for an official response from the White House. It looks like ending the U.S.'s anti-metric alliance with Liberia and Burma (the only other countries NOT on the metric system) might rank up there with building a death star."
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An opinion piece by tech writer David Gilbert looks at how CES might be losing some of its luster. "It's hard to know who the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) really benefits. A common perception is that CES is the place where all the major technology companies launch their latest and greatest gadgets. But this is simply not the case. Let's look at 2012 as an example. Last year's most talked about consumer technology products (in no particular order) were: the iPhone 5, iPad 3, iPad mini, Microsoft Surface, Samsung Galaxy S3, Google Nexus 7, Amazon Kindle Fire HD and the Wii U. How many were launched at CES 2012? None."
Janek Kozicki writes "It has been long thought that dwarf galaxies orbiting Andromeda galaxy (M31), or any other galaxy for that matter, are distributed more or less randomly around the host galaxy. It seemed so obvious in fact that nobody took time to check this assumption. Until a 15-year-old student, Neil Ibata, working with his father at the astronomic observatory, wanted to check it out. It turned out that dwarf galaxies tend to be placed on a plane around M31. The finding has been published in Nature. Local press (especially in France) is ecstatic that a finding by a 15-year-old got published in Nature. However, there's another more important point: what other obvious things didn't we really bother to check?"
The years have not been kind to Polaroid. The company has gone through a couple of bankruptcies, and has tried to reinvent itself with a number of less-than-popular products including: an Android powered "smart camera," and a digital camera that incorporates instant printing. They hope to reverse their fortunes now by partnering with a startup called Fotobar and plan "to open a chain of retail stores where customers can come in and print out their favorite pictures from their mobile phones." The first is scheduled to open in February in Delray Beach, Florida, and the goal is to open 10 locations across the country before the year is out."
Hugh Pickens writes writes "Want to buy a 15,000-foot landing strip? How about a place to assemble rocket ships or a parachute-packing plant? Have we got a deal for you. The Orlando Sentinel reports that with the cleanup and wind-down of the shuttle program, NASA is quietly holding a going-out-of-business sale for the its space-shuttle facilities including Launch Pad 39A, where shuttles were launched; space in the Vehicle Assembly Building, the iconic 526-foot-tall structure first used to assemble Saturn V-Apollo rockets; the Orbiter Processing Facilities, essentially huge garages where the shuttles were maintained; Hangar N and its high-tech test equipment; the launch-control center; and various other buildings and chunks of undeveloped property. 'The facilities out here can't be in an abandoned state for long before they become unusable,' says Joyce Riquelme, NASA's director of KSC planning and development. 'So we're in a big push over the next few months to either have agreements for these facilities or not.' The process is mostly secret, because NASA has agreed to let bidders declare their proposals proprietary, keeping them out of the view of competitors and the public. Frank DiBello, thinks the most attractive facilities are those that can support launches that don't use the existing pads at KSC and adjacent Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. 'Anything that still has cleaning capabilities or satellite-processing capabilities, the parachute facility, the tile facility, the OPF, all three of them, they have real value to the next generation of space activity,' says Frank DiBello, President of Space Florida, an Independent Special District of the State of Florida, created to foster the growth and development of a sustainable and world-leading space industry in Florida. 'If the infrastructure helps you reach market, then it has value. If it doesn't, then it's just a building, it's just a launchpad, and nobody wants it.'"
It looks like the recent success of Linux gaming has caught Blizzard's eye. According to "a reliable source at the company" 2013 will be the year that "at least one of their very popular titles will see a release for Ubuntu Linux." From the article: "It's been a poorly-kept secret that Blizzard has a native Linux client of World of Warcraft. As recently as 2011, the World of Warcraft Linux client was still being maintained internally. The client has been around for years and done by their own developers as a form of testing for the popular MMORPG currently offered on Windows and Mac OS X. As for why they haven't released the client, it's come down to "targeting a specific version of the platform" with Linux being "unstandardized" due to the many different distributions. There's still some fundamental problems with gaming on Linux. With World of Warcraft working generally fine under Wine as well, the company is further unmotivated to officially support a Linux build of the game."
First time accepted submitter msamp writes "After the dotcom bubble burst so long ago,when tech jobs were so scarce, I went back to school and finished my PhD in Physics. They lied — there really is no shortage of scientists. Before the downturn I was a product manager for home networking equipment. Since getting the degree I have been program/project manager for small DoD and NASA instrumentation programs. I desperately want back into network equipment product management, but my networking tech skills aren't up to date. I find networking technology absolutely trivial and have been retraining on my own, but hiring managers see the gap and the PhD and run screaming. I'm more than willing to start over in network admin but can't even get considered for that. Suggestions?"
Dupple writes "A few days ago Google blocked access to its maps on Windows Phone 8, claiming that it 'worked best' on WebKit-based browsers — effectively excluding WP8 users. This, despite Google Maps working fine on desktop versions of IE that use the same rendering engine and users being able to spoof the user agent string on their WP8 devices to gain access. Now it appears that Google has backed down and is now allowing WP8 users access."
hypnosec writes "CERN has revealed that the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is going into hibernation and will be shut down for a period of two years for upgrades. The LHC will go through a maintenance and upgrade phase starting in March that will bring the atom smasher up to speed with its maximum energy levels. From the article: 'The machine that last year helped scientists snare the elusive Higgs boson – or a convincing subatomic impostor – faces a two-year shutdown while engineers perform repairs that are needed for the collider to ramp up to its maximum energy in 2015 and beyond. The work will beef up electrical connections in the machine that were identified as weak spots after an incident four years ago that knocked the collider out for more than a year.'"
Julie188 writes "A tiny San Francisco startup, Adamant Technologies, is trying to give your iPhone a sense of smell and taste.. The company has created a computer chip that works with a bunch of tiny sensors to digitize these senses. The first app planned is a consumer device that plugs into an iPhone and detects bad breath."
coondoggie writes "Toyota is going to show off its autonomous car/accident avoidance technology at the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas nest week. The 2013 Lexus LS uses what the car company calls its Intelligent Transport System and is fitted with on-board radar, video cameras and sensors to monitor the road, surroundings, and the driver all with the goal of preventing accidents and avoiding problems."
Hugh Pickens writes "With Windows 8, Microsoft has made a billion-dollar gamble that personal computing is taking a new direction and that new direction is touch, says David Pogue. It's efficient on a touchscreen tablet. But Microsoft expects us to run Windows 8 on our tens of millions of everyday PCs. Although touch has been incredibly successful on our phones, tablets, airport kiosks and cash machines, Pogue says touch will never take over on PCs. The reason? Gorilla Arms. There are three big differences between tablet screens and a PC's screen: angle, distance and time interval. The problem is 'the tingling ache that [comes] from extending my right arm to manipulate that screen for hours, an affliction that has earned the nickname of gorilla arm.' Some experts say gorilla arm is what killed touch computing during its first wave in the early 1980s but Microsoft is betting that Windows 8 will be so attractive that we won't mind touching our PC screens, at least until the PC concept fades away entirely. 'My belief is that touch screens make sense on mobile computers but not on stationary ones,' concludes Pogue. 'Microsoft is making a gigantic bet that I'm wrong.'"
Bruce66423 writes "An article at The Guardian discusses the prospects for food from radically different sources than the ones we're used to. 'Sweet fried crickets' anyone? Quoting: '... artificial steak is still a way off. Pizza toppings are closer. The star of the Dutch research into in-vitro meat, Dr Mark Post, promised that the first artificial hamburger, made from 10bn lab-grown cells, would be ready for "flame-grilling by Heston Blumenthal" by the end of 2012. At the time of writing it is still on the back burner. Post (who previously produced valves for heart surgery) and other Dutch scientists are currently working over the problem of how to turn the "meat" from pieces of jelly into something acceptably structured: an old-fashioned muscle. Electric shocks may be the answer. ... The technological problems of producing the new hi-tech foods are nothing compared to the trouble the industry is having with the consumers – the "yuck factor," as the food technology scientists across the world like to put it. Shoppers' squeamishness has turned the food corporations, from whom the real money for R&D will have to come, very wary, and super-secretive about their work on GM in America.'"
New submitter razor88x writes "Although just 16% of Americans have purchased an e-book to date, the growth rate in sales of digital books is already dropping sharply. At the same time, sales of dedicated e-readers actually shrank in 2012, as people bought tablets instead. Meanwhile, printed books continue to be preferred over e-books by a wide majority of U.S. book readers. In his blog post Will Gutenberg Laugh Last?, writer Nicholas Carr draws on these statistics and others to argue that, contrary to predictions, printed books may continue to be the book's dominant form. 'We may be discovering,' he writes, 'that e-books are well suited to some types of books (like genre fiction) but not well suited to other types (like nonfiction and literary fiction) and are well suited to certain reading situations (plane trips) but less well suited to others (lying on the couch at home). The e-book may turn out to be more a complement to the printed book, as audiobooks have long been, rather than an outright substitute.'"