Zothecula writes "Some of the most advanced work in autonomous aerial robotics is not done by DARPA, or by massive corporations. Rather, it is accomplished by teams of university students who participate in the International Aerial Robotics Competition (IARC). For the past 23 years, the IARC has challenged college teams with missions requiring complex autonomous robotic behaviors that are often beyond the capabilities of even the most sophisticated military robots. This year's competition, which was held in China and the United States over the past week, saw the team from Tsinghua University in Beijing successfully complete the current mission – an elaborate espionage operation known as Mission Six."
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First time accepted submitter Zoë Mintz writes "Researchers have 'resurrected' a 4-billion-year-old Precambrian protein and found they resembled those that existed when life began, proving that protein structures have the ability to remain constant over extended periods of time."
Via the FSF: "The first round of videos from LibrePlanet 2013 is now available for streaming and downloading. LibrePlanet is an annual conference sponsored and organized by the Free Software Foundation, with LibrePlanet 2013 being the best one yet. ... This year we set out to make sure LibrePlanet featured fully functioning live video streaming using only free software, and it was a great success. The videos are now available for viewing in VP8/Vorbis, both free media formats, and are hosted on an instance of GNU MediaGoblin, the social media sharing platform which many of you helped support." The rest of the videos should trickle onto their Mediagoblin instance over the next weeks. All of the videos are freely licensed (looks like a mixture of CC BY and BY-SA 3.0).
sciencehabit writes "Ever since people in the Middle East started dying of a mysterious new infection last year, scientists have been trying to pinpoint the source of the outbreak. Now they may finally have found a clue in an unlikely population: retired racing camels. Countries like Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates produce and consume large amounts of camel meat. The authors of the paper point out that huge numbers of camels are imported to the Middle East from African countries as well as from Australia, where the animals were introduced in the 19th century and which now has an estimated 1 million feral camels. (Australia started exporting camels to Saudi Arabia for meat production in 2002.) That raises the possibility that African or Australian bats harbor the virus and camels carried it to the Middle East."
An anonymous reader writes "Mozilla today announced the Persona Identity Bridge for Gmail users. If you have a Google account, this means you can now sign into Persona-powered websites with your existing credentials. The best part is of course Mozilla's pledge to its users. 'Persona remains committed to privacy: Gmail users can sign into sites with Persona, but Google can't track which sites they sign into,' Mozilla Pesrona engineer Dan Callahan promises."
Daniel_Stuckey writes with this excerpt from Motherboard: "Word has it there's a military sting operation to bust soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan who are using Craigslist to find casual hookups, and now troopers are being warned to keep their sexual exploits on the down-low. It all started when news article published last week in the Army Times suggested undercover military cops were trolling the Craigslist Baghdad personals to catch officers posting lewd photos looking for casual sex. (The Baghdad site is presumably a product of the war in Iraq, though most of the posters now are deployed in Afghanistan.) The story was picked up by the Daily Mail and a subsequent wave of media outlets, exposing the X-rated subculture."
First time accepted submitter tocsy writes "Microsoft has seemingly not learned from their previous PR fiasco. According to the official site, some features as basic as recording and sharing gameplay videos will require a $60/year Xbox Live Gold account. PS4 owners will of course also have to pay for some online services, but recording and streaming will not be exclusive to Plus subscribers."
Dorianny writes "New research which takes advantage of the increase in cell phone use after 9pm due to the popularity of 'free nights and weekends' plans showed no corresponding increase in crash rates (PDF). Additionally, the researchers analyzed the effects of legislation banning cellphone use, enacted in several states, and similarly found that the legislation had no effect on the crash rate. 'One thought is that drivers may compensate for the distraction of cellphone use by selectively deciding when to make a call or consciously driving more carefully during a call.' Score this a -1 for common sense."
clorkster writes to note the following explanation posted to the front page of encrypted email provider Lavabit: "'I have been forced to make a difficult decision: to become complicit in crimes against the American people or walk away from nearly ten years of hard work by shutting down Lavabit. After significant soul searching, I have decided to suspend operations. I wish that I could legally share with you the events that led to my decision. I cannot. I feel you deserve to know what's going on--the first amendment is supposed to guarantee me the freedom to speak out in situations like this. Unfortunately, Congress has passed laws that say otherwise. As things currently stand, I cannot share my experiences over the last six weeks, even though I have twice made the appropriate requests.' No doubt this has much to do with Snowden's use of the provider."
reifman writes "Nothing sucks more than finding an 'Error establishing database connection' on your blog hours after the fact, but it's not easy to find inexpensive, simple monitoring solutions which support smartphone notifications. I wrote MonitorApp, a free, open source software applet which sends notifications to your iPhone (or Android) if anything goes wrong with your web site or services. This tutorial describes how to install and configure MonitorApp for your own purposes. The only cost is a $4.99 mobile application called Pushover — which links MonitorApp to your phone. Pushover also links with Nagios, a more complex open source option — but ironically, Nagios' website was down when I looked for it last month."
RemyBR writes "Can computers tell a good joke? Is comedy just a matter of statistics or is there something only a human can bring to creating a joke? A joke generator created at the University of Edinburgh (PDF) suggests that AI can be funny. Some AI generated jokes: 'I like my relationships like I like my source, open,' 'I like my coffee like I like my war, cold,' 'I like my boys like I like my sectors, bad.'"
alphadogg writes "Following up on work commissioned by the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), IBM has developed a programming paradigm, and associated simulator and basic software library, for its experimental SyNAPSE processor. The work suggests the processors could be used for extremely low-power yet computationally powerful sensor systems. 'Our end goal is to create a brain in a box,' said Dharmendra Modha, and IBM Research senior manager who is the principal investigator for the project. The work is a continuation of a DARPA project to design a system that replicates the way a human processes information." Also at SlashBI.
ArduSats were launched last week from Japan, along with an ISS resupply package, and on August 9 this payload is due to arrive at the International Space Station. Jon Oxer is a co-founder of Freetronics, a company that sells Arduino-based products, so he has a vested interest in ArduSat's success. He's also a major Free Software booster, which may be part of the reason he was at OSCON -- where Timothy Lord and his camcorder caught up with him. BTW: This is the same JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) launch that is carrying the first talking humanoid robot to go into space from Earth. So this launch is not only "a giant leap for robots," as Japanese robot Mirata famously said, but is also a good-sized step for Arduinos. And for CubeSats, too.
Nerval's Lobster writes "In a new interview with Bloomberg Businessweek, Bill Gates discussed his Foundation's work to eradicate polio and malaria, while suggesting that vaccine programs and similar initiatives to fight disease and poverty will ultimately do much more for the world than technology projects devoted to connecting everybody to the Internet. While Gates professes his belief in the so-called digital revolution, he doesn't think projects such as Google's Internet blimps (designed to transmit WiFi signals over hundreds of miles, bringing Internet to underserved areas in the process) will do the third world nearly as much as good as basic healthcare. "When you're dying of malaria, I suppose you'll look up and see that [Internet] balloon, and I'm not sure how it'll help you," he said. "When a kid gets diarrhea, no, there's no website that relieves that." Gates then sharpened his attack on the search-engine giant: "Google started out saying they were going to do a broad set of things. They hired Larry Brilliant, and they got fantastic publicity. And then they shut it all down." Google focusing on its core mission is fine, he added, "but the actors who just do their core thing are not going to uplift the poor." The Microsoft co-founder also has no intention of following Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, and other tech entrepreneurs into the realm of space exploration. "I guess it's fun, because you shoot rockets up in the air," he said. "But it's not an area that I'll be putting money into.""
PMcGovern writes "At BSidesLV in Las Vegas, Ed Bellis and Data Scientist Michael Roytman gave a talk explaining how security vulnerability statistics should be done: 'Don't fix all security issues. Fix the security issues that matter, based on statistical relevance.' They looked at 23,000,000 live vulnerabilities across 1,000,000 real assets, which belonged to 9,500 clients, to explain their thesis."