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Software

ForcePhone App Uses Ultrasonic Tone To Create Pressure-Sensitive Batphone (thestack.com) 45

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Stack: Researchers at the University of Michigan have created an app that makes any smartphone pressure-sensitive without additional hardware. The app, called ForcePhone, uses ultrasonic tones in the existing microphone and speaker hardware that respond to pressure for additional functionality for touchscreens. The app emits a high-frequency ultrasound tone from the device's existing microphone, which is inaudible to humans but can be picked up by the phone. That tone is calibrated to change depending on the pressure that the user gives on the screen or on the body of the phone. This gives users an additional way to interact with their device through the app alone. The additional functionality provided by ForcePhone can be used in a number of ways. Squeezing the body of the phone could take a user back a page, for example; or increased pressure on the touchscreen could act as a 'right-click' function, showing additional information on the app in use. Kan Shin, Professor at the University of Michigan, said, "You don't need a special screen or built-in sensors to do this. Now this functionality can be realized on any phone." He added, "We've augmented the user interface without requiring any special built-in sensors. ForcePhone increases the vocabulary between the phone and the user."
Medicine

FDA Approves First Implant Treatment For Opioid Addiction (bloomberg.com) 46

An anonymous reader writes from a report via Bloomberg: The Food and Drug Administration cleared the first implant in the U.S. to treat heroin and opioid painkiller addictions. The product, Probuphine, may be used to treat addicts continuously for six months with the drug buprenorphine, according to a statement from the agency on Thursday. Titan Pharmaceuticals Inc. and partner Braeburn Pharmaceuticals are the two companies behind the implant and plan to bring it to the market just as Congress passed a bill aimed at addressing the opioid crisis. Buprenorphine differs from methadone in that it doesn't require a treatment program. Doctors can prescribe the implant to patients after they take a four-hour training program. The FDA rejected the implant in 2013 because the original dose that the companies proposed was too low to provide effective treatment. The companies decided to maintain the lower dose and attempt to gain approval by restricting use to patients who already were stable on such amounts. Meanwhile, employers are struggling to find workers who can pass a pre-employment drug test.
Crime

FBI Raids Dental Software Researcher Who Found Patient Records On Public Server (dailydot.com) 121

blottsie writes: Yet another security researcher is facing possible prosecution under the CFAA for accessing data on a publicly accessible server. The FBI on Tuesday raided Texas-based dental software security researcher Justin Shafer, who found the protected health records of 22,000 patients stored on an anonymous FTP. "This is a troubling development. I hope the government doesn't think that accessing unsecured files on a public FTP server counts as an unauthorized access under the CFAA," Orin Kerr, a George Washington University law professor and CFAA scholar told the Daily Dot. "If that turns out to be the government's theory -- which we don't know yet, as we only have the warrant so far -- it will be a significant overreach that raises the same issues as were briefed but not resolved in [Andrew 'weev' Auernheimer's] case. I'll be watching this closely." It was also reported this week via The Intercept that a provision snuck into the still-secret text of the Senate's annual intelligence authorization that would give the FBI the ability to demand individuals' email data and possibly web-surfing history from their service providers using those beloved 'National Security Letters' -- without a warrant and in complete secrecy.
Cellphones

Possible Cellphone Link To Cancer Found In Rat Study (nbcnews.com) 102

An anonymous reader quotes a report from NBC News: A giant U.S. study meant to help decide whether cellphones cause cancer is coming back with confusing results. A report on the study, conducted in rats and mice, is not finished yet. But advocates pushing for more research got wind of the partial findings and the U.S. National Toxicology Program has released them early. They suggest that male rats exposed to constant, heavy doses of certain types of cellphone radiation develop brain and heart tumors. But female rats didn't, and even the rats that developed tumors lived longer than rats not exposed to the radiation. The National Toxicology Program, part of the National Institutes of Health, is still analyzing the findings. But John Bucher, associate director of the program, said the initial findings were so significant that the agency decided to release them. A 29-year-old study published earlier this month from Australia reassures us that cellphones are reasonably safe, and do not cause cancer.
Earth

SpaceX Successfully Lands A Falcon 9 Rocket At Sea For The Third Time (theverge.com) 98

An anonymous reader writes: SpaceX has successfully landed the first stage of its Falcon 9 rocket on a drone ship in the Atlantic Ocean for the third time in a row. The Verge reports: "It was the third time in a row the company has landed a rocket booster at sea, and the fourth time overall. The landing occurred a few minutes before the second stage of the Falcon 9 delivered the THAICOM-8 satellite to space, where it will make its way to geostationary geostationary transfer orbit (GTO). GTO is a high-elliptical orbit that is popular for satellites, sitting more than 20,000 miles above the Earth. The 3,100-kilogram satellite will spend 15 years improving television and data signals across Southeast Asia." The company landed its Falcon 9 rocket on a drone ship for the second time earlier this month. UPDATE 5/27/15: Frank249 writes in a comment: "Elon Musk just tweeted: 'Rocket landing speed was close to design max and used up contingency crush core, hence back and forth motion. Prob ok, but some risk of tipping.'" He went on to tweet: "Crush core is aluminum honeycomb for energy absorption in the telescoping actuator. Easy to replace (if Falcon makes it back to port)."
EU

All European Scientific Articles To Be Freely Accessible By 2020 (eu2016.nl) 71

An anonymous reader shares a report on EU2016: All scientific articles in Europe must be freely accessible as of 2020. EU member states want to achieve optimal reuse of research data. They are also looking into a European visa for foreign start-up founders. And, according to the new Innovation Principle, new European legislation must take account of its impact on innovation. These are the main outcomes of the meeting of the Competitiveness Council in Brussels on 27 May. Under the presidency of Netherlands State Secretary for Education, Culture and Science Sander Dekker, the EU ministers responsible for research and innovation decided unanimously to take these significant steps.Many questions remain unanswered. For instance, it is not clear whether the publishers would be forced to make their papers available for free or whether EU will only allow scientists who are happy to abide by the rules to publish papers. We should have more details on this soon.
Transportation

Why Are We Spending Billions and Tons of Fossil Fuel On Search of Lost Planes? 313

Reader Max_W asks: After days of massive search finally, "Report: Signals detected from EgyptAir Flight 804 in Mediterranean"

Why not record GPS/GLONASS track constantly into a text file on say twenty flash USB drives enclosed into orange styrofoam with the serial aircraft number on it? In case of an accident, these waterproof USB flash drives are released outside overboard. Certainly the text file is encrypted.

Such a floating USB flash drive would cost maximum a hundred USD even if equipped with a tiny LED lamp; while an aircraft costs millions, and a search may costs billions let alone thousands of tons of burned fossil fuel.
Earth

Mars Is Coming Out Of An Ice Age (reuters.com) 164

Taco Cowboy quotes a report from Reuters: An analysis of radar images that peered inside the polar ice caps of Mars shows that Earth's neighbor is coming out of an ice age that is part of an ongoing cycle of climate change, scientists said on Thursday. Using images taken by satellites orbiting Mars, the researchers determined that about 20,872 cubic miles (87,000 cubic km) of ice has accumulated at its poles since the end of the ice age, mostly in the northern polar cap. Scientists are keenly interested in piecing together the climate history of Mars, which contains strong evidence that oceans and lakes once pooled on its surface, bolstering the prospects for life. From the perspective of an Earthling, every day on Mars may feel like an ice age. According to NASA, temperatures on Mars may hit a high at noon at the equator in the summer of roughly 70 degrees Fahrenheit (20 degrees Celsius), or a low of about minus-225 degrees Fahrenheit (minus-153 degrees Celsius) at the poles. The Martian ice began its retreat about 370,000 years ago, marking the end of the last ice age, according to the research published in the journal Science
Advertising

Smartphone Surveillance Tech Used To Target Anti-Abortion Ads At Pregnant Women (rewire.news) 249

VoiceOfDoom writes: Rewire reports: "Last year, an enterprising advertising executive based in Boston, Massachusetts, had an idea: Instead of using his sophisticated mobile surveillance techniques to figure out which consumers might be interested in buying shoes, cars, or any of the other products typically advertised online, what if he used the same technology to figure out which women were potentially contemplating abortion, and send them ads on behalf of anti-choice organizations?"

Regardless of one's personal stance on the pro-choice/anti-abortion debate, the unfettered use of tracking and ad-targeting technology which makes this kind of application possible is surely a cause for concern. In Europe, Canada and many other parts of the world, the use of a person's data in this way would be illegal thanks to strict privacy laws. Is it time for the U.S. to consider a similar approach to protect its citizens?
Google has been reportedly tracking users on around 80 percent of all 'Top 1 Million' domains. Facebook is doing something similar. A recent report shows that Facebook uses smartphone microphones to identify the things users are listening to or watching based on the music and TV shows its able to identify. Facebook says the feature must be turned on, and that "it's only active when you're writing a status update."
United States

Antibiotic-Resistant E Coli Reaches The US For The First Time (reuters.com) 198

New submitter maharvey writes: A woman in Pennsylvania has contracted a strain of E Coli that is unaffected by all known legal antibiotics, including the antibiotics of last resort. We have had bacteria that were resistant, but this is the first bacteria that is completely immune. Such bacteria were known in China, but since the woman has not traveled recently it means she contracted it in the wild in the USA. This is a major step toward the terrifying post-antibiotic world.
Social Networks

Study: '50% of Misogynistic Tweets From Women' (bbc.com) 290

An anonymous reader writes: A study performed by researchers behind the Internet campaign "Reclaim," suggests that half of all misogynistic tweets posted on Twitter come from women. The campaign is designed to show the public the impact of hate speech and abuse on social media. They have opened an online forum to discuss ways to make the internet less aggressive, sexist, racist and homophobic. For the study, thinktank Demos counted the number of uses of "slut" and "whore" were used on Twitter to indicate misogyny. They analyzed 1.5 million tweets sent by UK Twitter users over a three-week period and used its own Natural Language Processing tool to filter the tweets in order to determine whether they were used aggressively, conversationally, or for self-identification. Demos found 6,500 unique users being targeted by 10,000 explicitly aggressive and misogynistic tweets. Internationally, they recorded more than 200,000 aggressive tweets using the same terms that were sent to 80,000 people in the same three-week period. It claims it found 50 percent of the abusive tweets to have come from women. BBC also notes a study performed in 2014 from cosmetics firm Dove that found over five million negative tweets were posted about beauty and body image. Four out of five of those tweets were sent by women.
Science

E-Cigs Are Exploding In Vapers' Faces At An Alarming Rate (buzzfeed.com) 360

E-cigs are becoming increasingly popular, but are they safe enough? BuzzFeed News is reporting about accidents where e-cigs have exploded in vapers' faces. The report claims that these incidents are occurring at an alarming rate. From the report (condensed): Across the country, defective e-cigarettes -- the nicotine delivery machines that have taken over every strip mall and sidewalk, seemingly overnight -- are creating hundreds of victims like Cavins (a 63-year-old Orange, California-based family therapist who lost an eye after an e-cig device exploded in his face), people whose lives are suddenly and horrifyingly changed when their devices blow up. They are people like Thomas Boes, whose vape exploded while he was driving outside San Diego and struck him with such force that two of the three teeth he lost lodged in his upper palate; Kenneth Barbero, whose exploding device ripped a hole in his tongue; and Marcus Forzani, a 17-year-old whose left leg was charred from his calf to his thigh after a vape battery exploded in his pocket. An unpublished FDA analysis found 66 reports of e-cigarette overheating, fires, and explosions in 2015 and the first month of 2016, a number the agency calls "an underestimate of actual events."
Network

Tor To Use Distributed RNG To Generate Truly Random Numbers (softpedia.com) 130

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Softpedia: Tor developers have been working on the next iteration of the Tor network and its underbelly, the Onion routing protocol, in order to create a stronger, harder-to-crack anonymous communications system. To advance the project, the developer team schedules brainstorming and planning meetings at regular intervals. The most recent of these meetings took place last week, in Montreal, Canada. In this session, the team tested the next generation of the Tor network working on top of a revamped Onion protocol that uses a new algorithm for generating random numbers, never before seen on the Internet. The Tor Project says it created something it calls "a distributed RNG" (random number generator) that uses two or more computers to create random numbers and then blends their outputs together into a new random number. The end result is something that's almost impossible to crack without knowing which computers from a network contributed to the final random number, and which entropy each one used. Last week, two University of Texas academics have made a breakthrough in random number generation. The work is theoretical, but could lead to a number of advances in cryptography, scientific polling, and the study of various complex environments such as the climate.
AI

Researchers Teaching Robots To Feel and React To Pain (ieee.org) 63

An anonymous reader writes: Researchers from Leibniz University of Hannover in Germany are developing what they call an "artificial robot nervous system" that would allow robots to "feel" pain and react accordingly so they can avoid potential damages to their components. According to IEEE, the system uses a "nervous robot-tissue model that is inspired by the human skin structure" to measure different pain levels and move the robot in a way that prevents damaging interactions. [The model transmits pain information in repetitive spikes if the force exceeds a certain threshold, and the pain controller reacts after classifying the information into light, moderate, or severe pain.] Johannes Kuehn, one of the researchers, argues that in addition to avoiding potential damages to their components, robots will be protecting humans as well, since a growing number of them will be operating in close proximity to human workers. Kuehn, who worked on the project with Professor Sami Haddadin, reasoned that if our biological mechanisms to sense and respond to pain are so effective, why not devise a bio-inspired robot controller that mimics those mechanisms?
The Almighty Buck

Class Action Lawsuit Filed Against Fitbit For 'Highly Inaccurate' Heart Rate Trackers (nbcnews.com) 138

An anonymous reader quotes a report from NBC News: A class action lawsuit against Fitbit may have grown teeth following the release of a new study that claims the company's popular heart rate trackers are "highly inaccurate." Researchers at the California State Polytechnic University, Pomona tested the heart rates of 43 healthy adults with Fitbit's PurePulse heart rate monitors, using the company's Surge watches and Charge HR bands on each wrist. Subjects were then hooked up to a BioHarness device that produced an electrocardiogram (ECG), to record the heart's rhythm against the data being produced by Fitbit's devices. Comparative results from rest and exercise -- including jump rope, treadmills, outdoor jogging and stair climbing -- showed that the Fitbit devices miscalculated heart rates by up to 20 beats per minute on average during more intensive workouts. The study was commissioned by the Lieff Cabraser, the law firm behind the class action suit that is taking aim at three Fitbit models that use the PurePulse heart monitor, including the Fitbit Blaze, Fitbit Charge HR and Fitbit Surge. "What the plaintiffs' attorneys call a 'study' is biased, baseless, and nothing more than an attempt to extract a payout from Fitbit. It lacks scientific rigor and is the product of flawed methodology," Fitbit said in a statement posted by Gizmodo.

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