pigrabbitbear writes: "The Senate Judiciary Committee opened its doors this week for an emotional hearing about gun violence, gun control and, specifically, a ban on 157 different types of assault rifles. What exactly an assault rifle is has been a source of debate, but the proposed ban defines them as having having "military-style" features like detachable magazines, pistol grips, and even the capacity to be used as grenade or rocket launchers.
Introduced by Sen. Diane Feinstein in the days after the Newtown massacre, the ban is especially controversial, because it includes America's favorite rifle: the AR-15. That's one of the guns that Adam Lanza used when he killed 20 first graders and six adults in Sandy Hook Elementary School.
According to Defense Distributed, the website is getting about 3,000 unique visitors a day. That's not exactly Facebook-sized traffic, but it is about as big as eBay India. And DEFCAD is sort of like eBay, in a way. It's one big store that lets people upload and download files for 3D printing guns. So far about a quarter of a million files have been downloaded. "Obviously, there’s an interest in what we’re doing," Defense Distributed founder Cody Wilson told Venturebeat. "Enthusiasts want these files.""
pigrabbitbear writes: "Everywhere you look these days, there's someone taking a picture, whether it be some buffoon Instagramming the sidewalk or Google's airplanes. Plus, now we've got these newfangled drone things, which are shockingly good at capturing images from the air, and which are now well within the reach of citizens and governments alike. Neal Kurk, a Republican member of New Hampshire's House of Representatives knows that those drones present a growing privacy concern, and in response has introduced a bill that would ban all aerial photography in the state. That is, unless you're working for the government.
The bill, HB 619-FN (PDF), is blessedly short, and I suggest reading the whole thing for yourself. But here's the key opening paragraphs, courtesy PetaPixel:
IV-a. A person is guilty of a class A misdemeanor if such person knowingly creates or assists in creating an image of the exterior of any residential dwelling in this state where such image is created by or with the assistance of a satellite, drone, or any device that is not supported by the ground. This prohibition shall not apply where the image does not reveal forms identifiable as human beings or man-made objects.
Paragraphs I [and], II and IV-a shall not be construed to impair or limit any otherwise lawful activities of law enforcement personnel, nor are [they] intended to limit employees of governmental agencies or other entities, public or private, who, in the course and scope of their employment and supported by articulable suspicion, attempt to capture any type of visual image, sound recording, or other physical impression of a person during an investigation, surveillance, or monitoring of conduct to obtain evidence of suspected illegal activity."
pigrabbitbear writes: "Look outside of your window: if you see miles of farmland, chances are you have terrible internet service. That’s because major telecommunications companies don’t think it’s worth the investment to bring high-speed broadband to sparsely populated areas. But like most businesses, farms increasingly depend on the internet to pay bills, monitor the market and communicate with partners. In the face of a sluggish connection, what's a group of farmers to do?
That’s what the people of Lancashire, England, are doing. Last year, a coalition of local farmers and others from the northwestern British county began asking local landowners if they could use their land to begin laying a brand-new community-owned high-speed network, sparing them the expense of tearing up roads. Then, armed with shovels and backhoes, the group, called Broadband for the Rural North, or B4RN (it's pronounced "barn"), began digging the first of what will be approximately 180,000 meters of trenches and filling them with fiber-optic cable, all on its own."
pigrabbitbear writes: "Would you be willing to let Google take over more of your life? Google thinks so: It's rumored to be creating a subscription-based streaming service that would undoubtedly give Spotify a run for its money. The details are sparse right now, but an anonymous source told Bloomberg that "negotiations are under way with major record labels to license their music.""
pigrabbitbear writes: "Even as we all love to debate the scholarly merits of Wikipedia, there's no denying that it's an immensely powerful research and learning tool. That goes doubly so in poor nations, where access to education materials can be limited to nonexistent.
To that end, Wikimedia started the Wikipedia Zero project, which aims to partner with mobile service providers to bring Wikipedia to poor regions free of charge. It's a killer strategy, because while computer and internet access is still fleeting for much of the world, cell phones are far more ubiquitous. Wikimedia claims that four mobile partnerships signed since 2012 brings free Wiki service to 330 million cell subscribers in 35 countries, a huge boon for folks whose phones have web capability but who can't afford data charges."
pigrabbitbear writes: ""We are committed to helping victims of robot surgery receive the medical care and compensation they deserve As both a lawyer and a licensed medical doctor, Dr. Francois Blaudeau has made it his mission to fight for the victims of traumatic complications as a result of botched robot surgery."
pigrabbitbear writes: "What can we tell about a person from his or her face? Quite a bit, it seems. Psychological experiments since the turn of the millennium have indicated we do a good job judging people's sexual orientation, reproductive fitness, criminal proclivities, and even whether they're Mormon or not, all based on their faces. A new study suggests there’s another trait we can add to the list: a man’s willingness to express racist beliefs.
There’s an obvious irony to a study that says we can tell if a man will act bigoted based on the shape of his face. But the logic underpinning the study, conducted by researchers at the University of Delaware and soon to be published in the journal Psychological Science, is a circuitous and unexpected one, and makes a persuasive case."
pigrabbitbear writes: "It's the most modern lament in retail: Brick-and-mortar shopping has gone the way of the dodo as everyone buys their junk online. But for the once-booming online gambling market, salvation may require a reversal of that trend. For one online gaming giant, buying a casino in Atlantic City is the first step to bring Internet poker back to the US.
In 2006, playing online poker for real cash was deemed illegal. While that didn't stop more serious players from playing, especially once the big hosts started funneling cash offshore, the FBI and DoJ's crackdown on April 15, 2011 did. The big trio of online poker–PokerStars, Full Tilt, and Absolute Poker–were all shut down, domains seized, and executives arrested on charges related to fraud, money laundering, and illegal gambling. While PokerStars and others continued operations in foreign, legal markets, the U.S. poker craze pretty much collapsed.
That doesn't mean the lucrative market has gone away. Now, the Rational Group, which owns both PokerStars and Full Tilt, may be hinting at a workaround: the company is looking to buy a struggling casino in Atlantic City. Rational faces a rather large mess of regulatory hurdles, but if it does end up acquiring the Atlantic Club Casino Hotel, it would have a huge foothold in New Jersey's young market for internet gambling."
pigrabbitbear writes: "While the world waits for an asteroid large enough to destroy a city to graze the orbits of our television satellites, citizens of Central Russia were greeted early Friday morning by a more mortality-shaking kind of astronomical event: a giant meteorite exploding across the atmosphere in a spectacular fireball, brighter than the still-rising sun, blowing out windows and injuring as many as 400 people.
‘‘A serious meteor fell,’’ Sergey Galitskiy, the billionaire CEO of OAO Magnit, Russia’s biggest food retailer, wrote on Twitter. ‘‘At our hypermarket in Emanzhelinsk, windows were blown out, the roof shook, there was a strong shock wave.’’
According to state-sponsored radio station The Voice of Russia, the meteor was allegedly intercepted by a missile salvo fired from an air defense facility at Urzhumka village near Chelyabinsk, "at an altitude of 20 kilometers." "Witnesses reported a sudden change in atmospheric pressure upon the impact that made their ears pop. The space object hit the ground with a tremendous crash that resembled thunder and earthquake, damaging houses in Chelyabinsk and cutting off communications, witnesses say."
Inside Defense reports that the Army’s Long Endurance Multi-Intelligence Vehicle (LEMV) has been terminated for cost and schedule-related reasons:
The reason likely has to do with the program being behind schedule and over budget... LEMV's fate — particularly its intended deployment to Afghanistan — has been in question since earlier last year. The window to send the airship to the battlefield is closing as U.S. troops prepare for a withdrawal in 2014. The airship was once scheduled to deploy to Afghanistan in December 2011.
And now it’s been deflated. Just after it had logged its first successful test-float, too."
pigrabbitbear writes: "Noah Kaplan is here to get his penis scanned. He gestures wildly, his bathrobe peeking open as he rapidly recounts why he's doing this, going on and off the record about his sexual preferences. I can barely keep up. We’re in a room at the Eventi Hotel in Chelsea, where Kaplan is sitting in front of an impressive camera that can scan in three dimensions and create a virtual model of any object. Today, that camera is going to be used to scan Kaplan’s penis from several angles. Experts will then composite those scans into one image that will be printed out using a 3D printer, resulting in an exact, three-dimensional replica of the 26-year-old's, erm, member. This is the very beginning of the 3D-printed sex toy-industry, though you can scarcely call it an industry yet."
pigrabbitbear writes: "Obama's first State of the Union Address since his reelection was largely and predictably dedicated to nearsighted deficit talk and weary calls to overcome Congressional dysfunction. But amidst the boilerplate—and the comparatively impassioned calls for action on gun control and, to a lesser extent, climate change—Obama snuck in some radical, forward-looking ideas. Some are downright utopian. SOTUs are notorious for being lofty wish-lists, so consider these proposals as Obama's wildest political fantasies.
1. Transform Declining Towns into 3D Printing Hubs
2. Spend Money on Science Like We're in a Space Race
3. Use Oil and Gas Money to Fund Cleantech Research
4. Amp Up Wind Power
5. Go All-In On Solar
6. Build High Speed Rail to Attract Foreign Investment
7. Get Self-Healing Power Grids
8. Acheive Universal Preschool
9. Turn High Schools Into High Tech Incubators
10. Peg the Minimum Wage to the Cost of Living
Of course, Obama had plenty of backwards and incoherent ideas, too—ramping up oil drilling while trying to fight climate change, signing a cyber-security executive order that somehow promotes both "information-sharing" and privacy, and referring to his "transparent" war on terror without mentioning drones, for instance. But this is a difficult time for the U.S. and for Washington, and even as he pointed out huge challenges, Obama did his job as President tonight, pointing at America's opportunities, and the kind of changes that, you know, you want to believe in."
pigrabbitbear writes: "Complex, socially-tiered societies require complex communication. So perhaps it’s unsurprising that eusocial animals like ants are also incredibly communicative—more so than we previously understood, according to a new study in Current Biology. Many ants begin communicating acoustically from a very young age, in fact, in such a way that scientists suggest may be very important to their survival.
As explained in an article by Carrie Arnold at ScienceNow, scientists believed until only recently that ants communicated only through pheromones, leaving, for example, scent trails behind them for other ants to follow—hence the phenomenon of single-file marching ants. (They can also, newer research suggests, use magnetic and vibrational landmarks to guide themselves around.)"
pigrabbitbear writes: "If you're going to listen to anybody about the future of Apple products, you should listen to the dude that used to build them. Bruce Tognazzini worked at Apple for 14 years, where "he designed Apple’s first human interface and wrote eight editions of the Apple Human Interface Guidelines," according to his website. Now, he's a blogger (of course) and a consultant (oh God) and a performer (what?) and an "expert witness" (usually not a good sign) and a pilot and, like, six other things. He also invented the viewfinder that you probably have you your digital camera. You get it. This guy's accomplished, an original Apple guy and probably comes equipped with a monster-sized ego. Nevertheless, when he talks about Apple products, I'm actually inclined to believe him.
A lot of the fanboys mentioned above are kind of obsessed with this iWatch idea. It's a good idea! The rumors that've been floating around cyber space include everything from a watch that's a glorified iPod Nano to a watch that comes with a built-in projector. Tognazzini blogged about his own ideas about this so-called iWatch project this week. In addition to his Apple insider knowledge—which is admittedly out-of-date since he hasn't worked there in two decades—it seems like he's actually talked to some current Apple employees about this. This is all to say that even if his ideas don't make it into the iWatch, they could end up in another smartwatch. Some of them are a little creepy.
Smartwatches actually already exist. There's the Pebble smartwatch, a Kickstarter phenomenon that just started shipping. Something called the Cookoo, something else called the Martianthat you can talk to. Tognazzini says they all stink, basically. The real "killer applications" of a smartwatch should and would change the world. The first thing he mentions is straight out of a spy movie. In effect, it could work like a personal identification chip that you wear on your wrist."