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Ars Checks Out CyanogenMod's New Installer 143

Ars Technica runs through the pretty and simple (but Windows-only) installer that is one of the first big fruits of the newly commercialized CyanogenMod project, and finds it very worthwhile. However, and despite being far easier for ordinary mortals than the error-prone process of the old way to put on CyanogenMod, it's not perfect: reviewer Ron Amadeo ran into troubles using it on his Nexus 4, and cautions: "If CyanogenMod Inc. really wants to lower the barrier to entry, they next thing they need is a way for users to just as easily go back to the setup they had before installing CyanogenMod. Currently, the installer is a one-way street. If the user decides CyanogenMod isn't for them and wants to go back, they're stuck. Even worse, they could run into the situation I did, where CyanogenMod installs but everything is broken. I've done this enough that I know how to go back to stock, but for a novice, they would have been abandoned with a broken phone."

Skydiving Accident Leaves Security Guru Cedric 'Sid' Blancher Dead At 37 332

An anonymous reader points out The Register's report that Wi-Fi security expert Cédric 'Sid' Blancher has died as the result of a skydiving accident. "Among other things, the 37-year-old Blancher was a sought-after speaker on WiFi security, and in 2005 published a Python-based WiFi traffic injection tool called Wifitap. In 2006, while working for the EADS Corporate Research centre, he also put together a paper on how to exploit Skype to act as a botnet." Some of Blancher's skydiving videos are posted to Vimeo; clearly, it's something he was passionate about.

Tremors Mean Antarctic Volcanism May Be Heating Up 132

The L.A. Times reports on the discovery of seismic events (nearly 1400 tremors were recorded by researchers in 2010-2011) which seem to indicate the presence of volcanic activity 15 to 20 miles beneath the surface of western Antarctica. According to the article, "The area of activity lies close to the youngest in a chain of volcanoes that formed over several million years, and the characteristics and depth of the seismic events are consistent with those found in volcanic areas of Alaska’a Aleutian Islands, the Pacific Northwest, Hawaii and Mt. Pinatubo in the Philippines, the study concludes." Volcanism isn't a new discovery (Mt. Waesche, a volcanic mountain, is the believed origin of some ash mentioned in the article), but the newly detected seismic activity may be a harbinger for local melting from below of the Antarctic ice sheet, and possibly have long-term effects on the flow patterns of the overlying ice.

NJ Gamblers May Be Locked Out By Flaws In Virtual Fence 88

According to an Associated Press story (as carried by the Washington Post), regulations meant to selectively allow some forms of internet gambling to take place within New Jersey (with a cut to the state, of course) are being enforced by means of "virtual fences" that fall short of the state's borders. An excerpt: "'Unfortunately for some people, there may not be sufficient verification that they are in New Jersey — even if they are — and they’ll be denied,' said David Rebuck, director of the state Division of Gaming Enforcement. 'It’s an unavoidable consequence.'" For some values of unavoidable, maybe.

How MOOC Faculty Exploit People's Desire To Learn 115

RichDiesal writes "Just as businesses try to make something off of massively online open courses (MOOCs), so do the faculty running them. But instead of seeking money, MOOC faculty seek something far more valuable: a cheap source of data for social science research. Unfortunately, the rights of research participants are sometimes ignored in MOOCs, and successful completion of courses are sometimes held hostage in exchange for mandatory participation in research, as in this case study of a Coursera MOOC. Such behavior is not tolerated in "real" college courses, so why is it tolerated in MOOCs taught by the same faculty?"

Raspberry Pi Hits the 2 Million Mark 246

The Raspberry Pi project that we've been fans of for quite a while now has hit a new milestone: Today, they announced that as of the last week in October, the project has sold more than two million boards. Raspberry Pi is anything but alone in the tiny, hackable computer world (all kinds of other options, from Arduino to the x86-based Minnowboard, are out there, and all have their selling points), but the low price, open-source emphasis, and focus on education have all helped the Pi catch on. If yours is one of these 2 million, what are you using it for? (And if you favor some other small system for your own experiments, what factors matter?)

Rigging Up Baby 117

theodp writes "Over at Fast Company, Rebecca Greenfield explores the rise of extreme baby monitoring. 'In the imminent future,' writes Greenfield, 'any curious parent with an iPhone will have access to helpful analytics, thanks to the rise of wearable gadgets for babies. Following the success of self-trackers for grown-ups, like Jawbone and Fitbit, companies like Sproutling, Owlet, and Mimo want to quantify your infants.' Devices connect to a baby via boot, anklet, or onesie, and record heart rate, breathing patterns, temperature, body position, and the ambient conditions of the room. While the breathing and sleeping alerts will calm a lot of parents, Greenfield reports the real holy grail is the data garnered from tracking, which some companies plan to share with researchers. 'We're creating the largest data set of infant health data,' says Owlet co-founder Jordan Monroe."
PlayStation (Games)

Blue Light of Death Plagues PlayStation 4 309

jones_supa writes "A classic game console freezing problem seems to affect the newest generation too. It has been found out that a bunch of Sony PlayStation 4s suffer of a problem which has been christened 'Blue Light of Death'. When a PS4 is turned on with a press of the power button, the light that runs along the side of the console should first pulse blue and then switch to white. At this point the console turns on the picture signal to the display device. Those who have a unit with the glitch are instead finding that their PS4 pulses blue, never goes to white and never outputs an image. We do not have accurate statistics of how widespread the issue is, but reports are popping up in Amazon reviews, Twitter, YouTube and other websites. PlayStation support is still in midst of investigating the issue, but has already posted a bunch of magic tricks you can try to get the console past the initial startup stage."

12-Lead Clinical ECG Design Open Sourced; Supports Tablets, Too 134

New submitter isza writes "MobilECG is probably the first open source clinical-grade electrocardiograph with simultaneous 12-lead recording and Android support. It has been designed to meet all the relevant medical standards (ISO 60601-1, etc.). Manufacturing cost @ 1000 pieces: ~$110. I had worked at a medical device company designing clinical electrocardiographs for three years. Fed up with the unreasonably high price, cumbersome design, and dishonest distribution practices of clinical ECG machines, I started working on a high-quality ECG that is different. After a couple of failed attempts to get funding for the expensive certification process and completely running out of funds, I decided to publish everything under a license that allows others to finalize and manufacture it or reuse parts of it in other projects." From the project page linked: "The software is licensed under WTFPL, the hardware under CERN OHL 1.2," and a few words of disclaimer: "Note: the design is functional but unfinished, it needs additional work before it can be certified. There are also some known bugs in it. Most of the software is unimplemented." Conventional crowdfunding may have fallen short, but Isza has proposed an interesting bargain for working on the project again himself: that will happen if he raises via donation half the amount of his original $22,000 investment.
The Internet

Time For a Warrant Canary Metatag? 332

An anonymous reader writes "With the advent of national security letters and all the NSA issues of late perhaps the web needs to implement a warrant 'warrant canary' metatag. Something like this: <meta name="canary" content="2013-11-17" />. With this it would be possible to build into browsers or browser extensions a means of alerting users when a company has in fact received such a secret warrant. (Similar to the actions taken by Apple recently.) The advantage the metatag approach would have its that it would not require the user to search out a report by the company in question but would show the information upon loading of the page. Once the canary metatag was not found or when the date of the canary grows older than a given date a warning could be raised. Several others have proposed similar approaches including Conor Friedersdorf in The Atlantic and Cory Doctorow's Dead Man's Switch." What problems do you see with this approach?

Comet ISON Nears Date With Sun 45

riverat1 writes "Now visible in the morning sky, comet ISON will swing around the Sun on November 28. ISON will pass 730,000 km above the surface of the Sun at closest approach (Mercury's perihelion distance is 46 million km). If it survives its near brush with the Sun it could provide a spectacular sky show from December into January. This NASA timeline shows that ISON will be the most observed comet ever as instruments ranging from a balloon carried telescope to the Hubble Space Telescope to the STEREO satellites will be brought into play. Lowell Observatory astronomer Matthew Knight lays out three possibilities for ISON: spontaneous disintegration before it gets to the Sun (less than 1% chance); disintegration as it rounds the Sun; or survival. If it survives, its closest approach to Earth will be on December 26 at about 1/3 of an AU."

Your Phone Number Is Going To Get a Reputation Score 136

Jah-Wren Ryel writes "Yes, there's yet another company out there with an inscrutable system making decisions about you that will affect the kinds of services you're offered. Based out of L.A.'s 'Silicon Beach,' Telesign helps companies verify that a mobile number belongs to a user (sending those oh-so-familiar 'verify that you received this code' texts) and takes care of the mobile part of two-factor authenticating or password changes. Among their over 300 clients are nine of the ten largest websites. Now Telesign wants to leverage the data — and billions of phone numbers — it deals with daily to provide a new service: a PhoneID Score, a reputation-based score for every number in the world that looks at the metadata Telesign has on those numbers to weed out the burner phones from the high-quality ones."

Scientists Propose Satellite Early Warning System For Forest Fires 91

Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "As firefighters emerge from another record wildfire season in the Western United States, Robert Sanders reports at the UC Berkeley News Center that scientists have designed a satellite using state-of-the-art sensors, that could view the Western US almost continuously, snapping pictures of the ground every few seconds searching for small hot spots (12 m2) that could be newly ignited wildfires. Firefighting resources could then be directed to these spots in hopes of preventing the fires from growing out of control and threatening lives and property. "If we had information on the location of fires when they were smaller, then we could take appropriate actions quicker and more easily, including preparing for evacuation," says fire expert Scott Stephens. Fire detection today is much like it was 200 years ago, relying primarily on spotters in fire towers or on the ground and on reports from members of the public. This information is augmented by aerial reconnaissance and lightning detectors that steer firefighters to ground strikes, which are one of the most common wildfire sparks. But satellite technology, remote sensing and computing have advanced to the stage where it's now possible to orbit a geostationary satellite that can reliably distinguish small, but spreading, wildfires with few false alarms. Carl Pennypacker estimates that the satellite, which could be built and operated by the federal government, would cost several hundred million dollars – a fraction of the nation's $2.5 billion yearly firefighting budget. "With a satellite like this, we will have a good chance of seeing something from orbit before it becomes an Oakland fire," says Pennypacker. "It could pay for itself in one firefighting season.""

Fukushima Disaster Leads Japan To Backpedal On Emissions Pledge 274

mdsolar writes with this excerpt from the New York Times: "Japan took a major step back on Friday from earlier pledges to slash its greenhouse gas emissions, saying a shutdown of its nuclear power plants in the wake of the Fukushima disaster had made previous targets unattainable. The announcement cast a shadow over international talks underway in Warsaw aimed at fashioning a new global pact to address the threats of a changing climate. Under its new goal, Japan, one of the world's top polluters, would still seek to reduce its current emissions. But it would release 3 percent more greenhouse gases in 2020 than it did in 1990, rather than the 6 percent cut it originally promised or the 25 percent reduction it promised two years before the 2011 nuclear disaster."

Getting the Dirt On Ancient Life With Coprolites 51

the_newsbeagle writes "Paleoscatologist Karen Chin knows you can learn a lot about ancient ecosystems by studying coprolites — fossilized feces. She has studied dino droppings from herbivores, and identified the types of plants those dinosaurs ate. She has identified T. rex turds, and found evidence that prehistoric dung beetles made use of those king-sized dino patties. This profile of Chin goes through her greatest hits, then focuses on her latest work, which sheds light on the reemergence of life after the K-Pg extinction event that brought down the dinosaurs... but left some surprising creatures unscathed."

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