An anonymous reader writes "The Telegraph reports, 'Hordes of bankrupt French invade Switzerland to get their hands on their "stolen" money — such is the imaginary scenario cooked up by the Swiss military in simulations revealed over the weekend. Carried out in August, the apparently outlandish army exercise was based on the premise of an attack by a financially stricken France split into warring regions, according to Matin Dimanche, the Lausanne-based daily. ... Operation "Duplex-Barbara" went as far as imagining a three-pronged invasion from points near Neufchâtel, Lausanne and Geneva, according to a map published in the Swiss newspaper. Behind the dastardly raid was a paramilitary organization dubbed BLD, the Dijon Free Brigade bent on grabbing back "money that Switzerland had stolen from Saônia". "For its credibility, the Swiss army must work (to ward against) threats of the 21st century," Antoine Vielliard, Hauate-Savoie councilor, told Matin Dimanche. However, Daniel Berger, captain of the Swiss armored brigade, sought to play down the specificity of the threat. "The exercise has strictly nothing to do with France, which we appreciate" he told the Swiss press. ... "French towns were cited to provide soldiers with a real scale," he said. ... Neutral Switzerland has not been invaded since the Napoleonic Wars of the early 19th century. '"
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Frosty Piss writes "Delta Air Lines plans to buy 11,000 Microsoft Surface 2 tablets for its pilots to replace the heavy bundles of books and maps they haul around now. Delta says the Surface tablets will save it $13 million per year in fuel and other costs. Right now, each pilot carries a 38-pound flight bag with manuals and maps. Other airlines, including American and United, have been buying Apple's iPad for that purpose. One reason Delta picked a Microsoft device was that it's easier to give pilots separate sections for company and personal use, said Steve Dickson, Delta's senior vice president for flight operations. Another reason for picking the Surface tablet is that Delta's training software also runs on the same Windows operating system as the tablets, reducing the need to redo that software for another device, Dickson said."
dcblogs writes "The arrival of Obamacare may make it easier for some employees to quit their full-time jobs to launch tech start-ups, work as a freelance consultant, or pursue some other solo career path. Most tech start-up founders are older and need health insurance. 'The average age of people who create a tech start-up is 39, and not 20-something,' said Bruce Bachenheimer, who heads Pace University's Entrepreneurship Lab. Entrepreneurs are willing to take on risks, but health care is not a manageable risk, he said. 'There is a big difference between mortgaging your house on something you can control, and risking going bankrupt by an illness because of something you can't control,' said Bachenheimer. Donna Harris, the co-founder of the 1776 incubation platform in Washington, believes the healthcare law will encourage more start-ups. 'You have to know that there are millions of Americans who might be fantastic and highly successful entrepreneurs who are not pursuing that path because of how healthcare is structured,' said Harris"
cagraham writes "Facebook has started delivering custom weekly reports to select TV networks, detailing the total amount of social interactions related to individual TV episodes.According to the Wall Street Journal, Facebook is using its data analytics to track the amount of times an episode is liked, shared, or mentioned each week. The data is then anonymized and delivered to networks. This comes a week after Twitter announced they were pursuing deals with major networks as well. Facebook may be trying to establish itself as a modern alternative to the traditional Nielsen ratings system, the current benchmark for gauging viewership."
MTorrice writes "A new type of headphone heats up carbon nanotubes to crank out tunes. The tiny speaker doesn't rely on moving parts and instead produces sound through the thermoacoustic effect. When an alternating current passes through the nanotubes, the material heats and cools the air around it; as the air warms, it expands, and as it cools, it contracts. This expansion and contraction creates sound waves. The new nanotube speaker could be manufactured at low cost in the same facilities used to make computer chips, the researchers say." And it exists in the real world: "The Tsinghua researchers integrated these thermoacoustic chips into a pair of earbud headphones and connected them to a computer to play music from videos and sound files. They’ve used the headphones to play music for about a year without significant signs of wear, Yang says. According to him, this is the first thermoacoustic device to be integrated with commercial electronics and used to play music."
schnell writes "The Globe and Mail is running a fascinating in-depth report on how BlackBerry went from the world leader in smartphones to a company on the brink of collapse. It paints a picture of a company with deep engineering talent but hamstrung by arrogance, indecision, slowness to embrace change, and a lack of internal accountability. From the story: '"The problem wasn't that we stopped listening to customers," said one former RIM insider. "We believed we knew better what customers needed long term than they did."'"
vinces99 writes "Chemists soon could be able to use a structured set of instructions to 'program' how DNA molecules interact in a test tube or cell. A team led by the University of Washington has developed a programming language for chemistry that it hopes will streamline efforts to design a network that can guide the behavior of chemical-reaction mixtures in the same way that embedded electronic controllers guide cars, robots and other devices. In medicine, such networks could serve as smart drug deliverers or disease detectors at the cellular level."
First time accepted submitter Hallie Siegel writes "A team of students from ETH Zurich and ZHdK have developed a prototype for a robotic ship inspection unit that is capable of conducting visual inspections of ship ballasts. Ballast inspection – which involves navigating hard-to-reach spots with no line of sight, often in the presence of intense heat, humidity, and hazardous gases – is normally done by human inspectors, and represents a significant cost to ship-owners who must pay for dry-docking and who face lost income when they cannot operate their ships during the inspection period. Because robotic ship inspection can occur while the ship is in operation, it could significantly reduce dry-dock time. The Ship Inspection Robot (SIR), which was developed in conjunction with Alstom Inspection Robotics and which uses magnetic wheels to navigate the I-beams and other awkward obstacles found inside ship ballast, is relatively compact and does not require any cables for power or communication, and thus offers significant mobility improvements over other robotic ship inspection prototypes. Project leaders anticipate that a per unit production cost could be as low as €4K, enabling shipping companies to operate several units in parallel as an additional time-saving measure."
sciencehabit writes "Quantum computers can solve problems far too complex for normal computers, at least in theory. That's why research teams around the globe have strived to build them for decades. But this extraordinary power raises a troubling question: How will we know whether a quantum computer's results are true if there is no way to check them? The answer, scientists now reveal, is that a simple quantum computer—whose results humans can verify—can in turn check the results of other dramatically more powerful quantum machines."
rDouglass writes "After meeting Eunah Choi, a blind pianist from S. Korea (video), and learning about the accessibility problems faced by classical musicians who cannot see, MuseScore is planning to radically increase the number of Braille scores available, to make them easier to find, and affordable to acquire. This effort is an extension to the Open Well-Tempered Clavier project, and will involve the creation of a free web-service that bridges the gap between open source MuseScore and MusicXML-to-Braille libraries. It also involves converting the 50,000 scores on MuseScore.com into Braille, and making the website more accessible to blind and vision impaired visitors."
Sally Wiener Grotta and her husband Daniel wrote some of the first books and articles about digital photography. Sally was an award-winning photographer in film days, and has maintained her reputation in the digital imaging age. In this interview, she talks about how to buy a digital camera -- including the radical idea that most people really don't need to spend more than $200 to take quality photos. (We had some bandwidth problems while doing this remote interview, but the sound is clear so we decided to run it "as is" rather than try to remake the video and lose the original's spontaneity.)
benrothke writes "Of the books that author Pete Loshin has written in the past, a number of them are completely comprised of public domain information that he gathered. Titles such as Big book of Border Gateway Protocol (BGP) RFCs, Big Book of IPsec RFCs, Big Book of Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP) RFCs, and others, are simply bound copies of publicly available information. In two of his latest books, Practical Anonymity: Hiding in Plain Sight Online and Simple Steps to Data Encryption: A Practical Guide to Secure Computing, Loshin doesn't do the wholesale cut and paste like he did from the RFC books, but on the other side, doesn't offer much added information than the reader can get online." Read below for the rest of Ben's review.
cagraham writes "According to consultancy firm Interbrand's latest 'Best Global Brands' report, Apple is now the world's most valuable brand, with an estimated worth of $98.4 billion. Since Interbrand began issuing the report in 2001, Coca-Cola has previously always claimed the top spot, but fell to third place this year, behind both Apple and Google. Tech companies now make up six of the top ten brands, but only 12 of the top 200. The report comes a week after Apple reported record sales numbers, moving 9 million iPhone 5s and 5Cs during their opening weekend."
girlmad writes "The UK government is looking to recruit IT experts for a cyber reserves army, which will help it defend against the threat of cyber warfare. 'This is an exciting opportunity for internet experts in industry to put their skills to good use for the nation, protecting our vital computer systems and capabilities,' said the Ministry of Defence. The reserve unit will cover a range of military cyber tactics, including a strike capability to augment the UK's military prowess."
Nerval's Lobster writes "Now that he's finished dodging law enforcement and experimenting with chemicals, software designer John McAfee (founder of his eponymous antivirus company) has been building something that, if it actually works, could appeal to the paranoid: a device that blocks the government's ability to spy on PCs and mobile devices. The device, known as 'Dcentral,' will reportedly cost around $100 and fit into a pants pocket. In a speech at the San Jose McEnery Convention Center over the weekend, McAfee suggested that the hardware would create private device networks impenetrable to outsiders, even those with the most sophisticated technology. The network's range would be roughly three blocks; McAfee believes that he can have a prototype up and running within six months. Whether or not McAfee manages to get that prototype working on schedule, he's already ramping up to the release of something, having set up a 'Future Tense Central' Website with a countdown clock, a sleek logo, and a set of social-media buttons. McAfee is such an outsized figure ('I've always wandered close to the edge,' he once confessed to an audience) that it's sometimes tempting to take his latest claims with a moon-sized grain of salt—this is the same man, after all, who says he avoided a police manhunt in Belize by dressing up as a drunk German tourist. (And he's unafraid to parody his own Wild Man reputation online.) That aside, he's also an executive with a record of starting a financially successful company, which means that—no matter what else he's done in the intervening years—it's likely that he'll attract a little bit of attention, if not some funding, with his latest endeavor."