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NASA

NASA Wants New Space Net To Sustain Big Data Dumps; Moon and Mars Trips 63

coondoggie writes "What kind of network can support future commercial and government space trips around Earth and support bigger distances to the moon and Mars? NASA is in the process of exploring exactly what technology will be needed beyond 2022 in particular to support future space communication and navigation. The agency recently issued a Request for Information (RFI) to begin planning for such a new architecture."
Electronic Frontier Foundation

EFF Jumps In To Defend Bloggers Being Sued By Prenda 87

NewYorkCountryLawyer writes "The Electronic Frontier Foundation has entered the fray to defend the bloggers sued by Prenda Law Firm. Prenda, oblivious to such well known legal niceties as the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the affirmative defense of truth, the difference between a defamatory statement of fact and the expression of a negative opinion, and the First Amendment, has immediately — and illegally — sought to subpoena information leading to the identities of the bloggers. I would not be surprised to see these "lawyers" get into even more hot water than they're already in. And I take my hat off to the EFF for stepping in here."
Earth

Nuclear Arms Cuts, Supported By 56% of Americans, Would Make the World Safer 615

Lasrick writes "Kingston Reif of the Nukes of Hazard blog writes about nuclear arms reductions are back in the news, thanks to President Obama's State of the Union address and now also a Gallup poll that shows 56% of Americans support U.S.-Russian reductions. From the Article: 'A recent report by the Center for Public Integrity revealed that senior Obama administration officials believe the United States can reduce its arsenal of deployed strategic warheads to between 1,000 and 1,100 without harming national security. Those numbers would put the total below levels called for by New START...' Congressional Republicans of course are against those cuts; Reif lays out why the cuts would make the U.S. and the world safer." Do we even need a thousand nuclear warheads?
DRM

Netflix Using HTML5 Video For ARM Chromebook 232

sfcrazy writes "Netflix is using HTML5 video streaming instead of using Microsoft's Silverlight on Chromebooks (which now supports DRM for HTML5). Recently Google enabled the much controversial DRM support for HTML5 in Chrome OS to bring services like Netflix to Chromebooks using HTML5." Still no word on general support for GNU/Linux, but x86 or ARM, what's the difference? (If you're ok with DRM at least.)
Facebook

Facebook Knows If You're Gay, Use Drugs, Or Are a Republican 473

Hugh Pickens writes writes "Not that there's anything wrong with that — as the Guardian reports that Facebook users are unwittingly revealing their sexual orientation, drug use and political beliefs– using only public 'like' updates. A study of 58,000 Facebook users in the US found that sensitive personal characteristics about people can be accurately inferred from information in the public domain. Researchers were able to accurately infer a Facebook user's race, IQ, sexuality, substance use, personality or political views (PDF) using only a record of the subjects and items they had 'liked' on Facebook – even if users had chosen not to reveal that information. 'It is good that people's behavior is predictable because it means Facebook can suggest very good stories on your news feed,' says Michal Kosinski, 'But what is shocking is that you can use the same data to predict your political views or your sexual orientation. This is something most people don't realize you can do.' For example, researchers were able to predict whether men were homosexual with 88% accuracy by their likes of Facebook pages such as 'Human Rights Campaign' and 'Wicked the Musical' – even if those users had not explicitly shared their sexuality on the site. According to the study other personality traits linked to predictive likes include for High IQ — 'The Godfather,' 'Lord of the Rings,' 'The Daily Show'; for Low IQ — 'Harley Davidson,' 'I Love Being A Mom,' 'Tyler Perry'; and for male heterosexuality — 'Wu Tang Clan,' 'Shaq,' and 'Being Confused after Waking Up from Naps.' Facebook's default privacy settings mean that your 'likes' are public to anyone and Facebook's own algorithms already use these likes to dictate what stories end up in users' news feeds, while advertisers can access them to determine which are the most effective ads to show you as you browse."
China

North Korea Kills Phone Line, 1953 Armistice; Kim Jong Un's Funds Found In China 330

eldavojohn writes "Last week, North Korea promised a "preemptive nuclear strike" prior to a UN vote on new sanctions. Despite the threat, the sanctions were unanimously approved. North Korea has responded by killing a Red Cross hotline with Seoul and claims that it has canceled the 1953 Armistice although the UN notes this cannot be done unilaterally (North Korea attempted the same thing in 2003 and 2009). While everyone thought that Kim Jong Un would ride out the sanctions on slush funds, the United States claims to have found his funds in Shanghai and other parts of China totaling hundreds of millions of dollars. Beijing has reportedly refused to confiscate these funds despite voting for the very UN resolutions sanctioning North Korea that read: 'More specifically, States are directed to prevent the provision of financial services or the transfer of any financial or other assets or resources, including 'bulk cash,' which might be used to evade the sanctions.'"
Government

Using Sensor Data For Smarter Urban Planning 14

kenekaplan writes "Sensor technology and data analytics are becoming foundations of urban planning. Herman D'Hooge, Intel engineer and University of Oregon Instructor, says that so-called smart cities aren't merely defined by optimized energy or transportation systems. 'The analytics behind them have become more sophisticated so you can make sense out of sensor data,' he said. 'If we start mixing data from the transportation system with data from the building system and the schools system and start meshing that data together, we may start seeing efficiencies and opportunity that weren’t visible within each of those silos'"
Cloud

SXSW: Stephen Wolfram Jumps On Bandwagon For Cloud, Mobile Devices 36

Nerval's Lobster writes "At this year's SXSW conference, Stephen Wolfram—most famous in tech circles as the chief designer of the Mathematica software platform, as well as the Wolfram Alpha 'computation knowledge engine'—demonstrated his upcoming Programming Cloud, and indicated he was developing a mobile platform for engineering and mathematical applications based on the Wolfram programming language built for Mathematica. He also talked more broadly about the future of Wolfram Alpha, which he said will become more anticipatory of peoples' queries. 'People generally don't understand all the things that Wolfram Alpha can do,' Wolfram told the audience. His researchers are also working on a system modeler tool, which will allow researchers to simulate complex devices with tens of thousands of components; in theory, you could even use such a platform for 3D printing. Wolfram also wants to set Wolfram Alpha loose on documents, with the ability to apply complex calculations to, say, company spreadsheets. 'A whole bunch of things that I've been working on for 30 years are converging in a very nice way,' he said."
Apple

Apple Bringing Second Lawsuit To Samsung, Won't Wait For Appeal 239

sl4shd0rk writes "Hot on the heels of last year's Apple win over Samsung, Apple is geared up for its second attempt at knocking Samsung's alleged copy-cat products off the store shelves. District Judge Lucy Koh asked both parties if they could stay the new case while the first one goes up on Appeal. Apple denied citing a delay would "seriously and irreparably prejudice Apple." The company "will likely suffer a long-term loss of market share and of downstream sales". Samsung replied with a statement saying "Apple will be unable to meet its burden of proving infringement without resorting to the same improper 'representative product' strategy," [that shouldn't have been allowed in the first case.] Although some may think this is a good move for business on Apple's part, some claim the litigation is responsible for Apple's dipping sales and stock prices as well as Increased visibility of Samsung. In the end however, all this litigation is most likely going to be shouldered on the pocketbook of the consumer'"
Facebook

Sheryl Sandberg and Technology's Female Leaders 181

AlistairCharlton writes "While the rest of the world continues to see men dominating, the technology industry seems set to change that. I investigate how Sheryl Sandberg, Marissa Mayer, Meg Whitman and Joanna Shields are paving the way for the rest of the business community. From the article: 'A glance at the male/female split of world leaders (178/17), Fortune 500 CEOs (96 percent/four percent) and FTSE 100 board seats (85 percent/15 percent) reveals there is a huge imbalance between the sexes, but in technology change is underway - and Sandberg is at the very forefront of it. Along with Meg Whitman, Marissa Mayer and Joanna Shields of HP, Yahoo and London's Tech City respectively, Sandberg represents a shift in what was not so long ago an all-male industry.'"
Hardware

Video SXSW: Imagine a Practical, Low-Cost Circuit Board Assembly System (Video) 60

SXSW Create is one of a handful of sub-shows at SXSW which don't require an expensive badge — it's maker-oriented and small, and a few blocks from the slicker parts of the convention. (The local ATX Hackerspace was there showing off robots and giving out soldering lessons and blinkies, without a single corporate pitch.) Under the same tent, I met with Jeff McAlvay, co-creator of Board Forge, which Jeff hopes will make small-run circuit board creation as easy and accessible as small-scale 3-D printing has become in the last few years. ("Think MakerBot for electronics.") The prototype hardware McAlvay had on hand looks -- in fact, is a 3-D printer, albeit one lower-slung than the ones that make plastic doo-dads. That's because the Board Forge's specialized task of assembling circuit boards requires only limited vertical movement. It's using the open-source OpenCV computer vision software and a tiny camera mounted on a movable head to accomplish the specialized task of selecting and placing components onto the boards. The tiny electronic components are lined up in strips on one side of the device, where that smart head can grab them for placement. The brains of the operation include an Arduino-family processor for basic controls, and a Raspberry Pi for the higher-level functions like computer vision. The projected cost for one of these machines — about $2000 — should put instant-gratification machine-aided circuit creation in reach of schools and serious hobbyists, but there's plenty of work before it's set for sale to the public; look for a Kickstarter project in the next few months.
Google

Google Doodle Celebrates Birthday of Douglas Adams 104

mikejuk writes "Today's Google Doodle celebrates the fact that today would have been Douglas Adam's 61st birthday. For any fans of Adam's Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy this isn't to be missed. The interactive doodle takes us aboard the Heart of Gold spaceship where the towel — the essential travel item for any intergalactic voyager sits on the console besides the, also very necessary cup of tea, which is also a reference to a Dirk Gently novel, The Long Dark Teatime of the Soul. There are lots more tributes hidden including Marvin — the real one not the one in the film, a Babel Fish and more. Have fun exploring but make sure you click on the search symbol to find out more about Douglas Adams and his work."
Businesses

The Hypocrisy In Silicon Valley's Big Talk On Innovation 208

glowend writes "James Temple writes in the San Francisco Chronicle: 'In the fall of 2011, Max Levchin took the stage at a TechCrunch conference to lament the sad state of U.S. innovation. "Technology innovation in this country is somewhere between dire straits and dead," said the PayPal co-founder, later adding: "The solution is actually very simple: You have to aim almost ridiculously high." But for all the funding announcements, product launches, media attention and wealth creation, most of Silicon Valley doesn't concern itself with aiming "almost ridiculously high." It concerns itself primarily with getting people to click on ads or buy slightly better gadgets than the ones they got last year.' I feel like this may be true as more money and MBA types invade the Silicon Valley. There's a lot of 'me-too' startups with some of the best and brightest figuring out ways to sell me stuff rather the working on flying cars."
Space

Astronomers Discover Third-Closest Star System To Earth 151

The Bad Astronomer writes "Astronomers have found the third-closest star system to the Earth: called WISE 1049-5319, it's a binary brown dwarf system just 6.5 light years away. Brown dwarfs are faint, low mass objects 13 — 75 times the mass of Jupiter, and are so dim they are very difficult to detect. These newly-found nearby objects were seen in observations from 1978 but went unnoticed at the time, but since that date the large apparent motion of the binary made their proximity obvious. Only two star systems are closer: Alpha Centauri (4.3 light years) and Barnard's star (6 light years)."
Politics

SXSW: Nate Silver Discusses Data Bias, the Strangeness of Fame 136

Nerval's Lobster writes "Nate Silver feels a little odd about his fame. That's not to say that he hasn't worked to get to his enviable position. Thanks to his savvy with predictive models, and the huge readership platform provided by The New York Times hosting his FiveThirtyEight blog, he managed to forecast the most recent presidential election results in all 50 states. His accuracy transformed him into a rare breed: a statistician with a household name. But onstage at this year's SXSW conference, Silver termed his fame 'strange' and 'out of proportion,' and described his model as little more than averaging the state and national polls, spiced a bit with his algorithms. "It bothered me that this was such a big deal," he told the audience. In politics, he added, most of the statistical analysis being conducted simply isn't good, which lets someone like him stand out; same as in baseball, where he made his start in predictive modeling. In fields with better analytics, the competition for someone like him would be much fiercer. He also talked about, despite a flood of data (and the tools to analyze it) in the modern world, we still face huge problems when it comes to actually understanding and using that data. 'You have a gap between what we think we know and what we really know,' he said. 'We tend to be oversensitive to random fluctuations in the data and mistake the fluctuations for real relationships.'"

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