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Submission + - Surround-Ultrasound Creates "Anti-Gravity" Forcefield (slashdot.org)

Nerval's Lobster writes: Researchers at the University of Tokyo have published a paper and video describing a technique that is explicitly not an anti-gravity system, and doesn’t pretend to be, but looks very much like one. “The essence of levitation is the countervailing of gravity,” according to the provocative opening of a paper published Dec. 14 on the Cornell University science-publishing site arXiv.org that describes a way to not only raise an object into the air, but maneuver it in three dimensions using only standing waves of ultrasound. Since the mid-1970s, researchers have been able to levitate small objects using focused beams of high-frequency sound that bounce off a flat surface and create a wave of pressure that pushes the object into the air. But they couldn’t cause an object to float, and they couldn’t move it around in any direction other than up or down. The University of Tokyo team led by Yoichi Ochiai built a system that could raise small particles, water droplets and even “small creatures” off a flat surface and zoom them around within an open, cubical area about 21 inches on each side. The system uses four sets of phased arrays – speakers producing focused beams of sound at around 40kHz – to create waves of ultrasonic force on every side of the object rather than just one. The force produced by each of the four ultrasound sources can be changed – and the force on the object manipulated – using the same techniques utilized by older systems. Coordinating the frequencies and force of ultrasound arrays on four sides, however, creates a consistent focal point for the force from each. By keeping frequency changes in sync, the system creates a “bubble” within which the force from all four sources is consistent no matter where within the target area the focus is directed.

Submission + - The UK's Internet Porn Filter and Fighting Censorship Creep (theguardian.com)

An anonymous reader writes: The Guardian takes the UK government's internet porn filter to task by pointing out how absurd the opt-out process is: 'Picture the scene. You're pottering about on the internet, perhaps idly looking up cake recipes, or videos of puppies learning to howl. Then the phone rings. It's your internet service provider. Actually, it's a nice lady in a telesales warehouse somewhere, employed on behalf of your service provider; let's call her Linda. Linda is calling because, thanks to David Cameron's "porn filter", you now have an "unavoidable choice", as one of 20 million British households with a broadband connection, over whether to opt in to view certain content. Linda wants to know – do you want to be able to see hardcore pornography? How about information on illegal drugs? Or gay sex, or abortion? Your call may be recorded for training and monitoring purposes. How about obscene and tasteless material? Would you like to see that? Speak up, Linda can't hear you.' The article also points out how the filter is being used as a tool for private industry to protect their profits. 'The category of "obscene content", for instance, which is blocked even on the lowest setting of BT's opt-in filtering system, covers "sites with information about illegal manipulation of electronic devices [and] distribution of software" – in other words, filesharing and music downloads, debate over which has been going on in parliament for years.'

Submission + - Facebook sued over alleged scanning of users' private messages (latimes.com)

Kentrshal writes: SAN FRANCISCO — Facebook is being sued over allegations it monitors private messages on the social network to surreptitiously gather even more information on its users and share the data with marketers.

According to the lawsuit filed in federal court in San Jose, Facebook scans the contents of private messages including links to other websites "to improve its marketing algorithms and increase its ability to profit from data about Facebook users."

Submission + - Post-NSA Government Still Trusted Over Private Firms (computing.co.uk)

cold fjord writes: Computing reports on a UK survey, "Governments remain the organisations most trusted by the public to handle personal data, despite revelations about surveillance and data collection schemes by the US National Security Agency (NSA), the UK's GCHQ and other governmental organisations around the world. That's according to research by accounting and consultancy firm Ernst & Young, which suggests that more than half of people — 55 per cent — say they're comfortable sharing personal information with central government organisations ... However, consumers are more wary about sharing their data with private companies. Just one-third told Ernst & Young that they're willing to share personal information with financial institutions, while one-quarter are happy to do so when it comes to their energy provider. Only one-fifth of those surveyed said they're comfortable sharing personal data with supermarkets. ... it was web firms that people were most claimed to be wary of sharing information with — fewer than one-in-10 said they were comfortable about sharing data with social networks, such as Facebook or web search engines like Google." — More at IT Pro

Submission + - YouTube goes 4K at CES along with VP9 (muktware.com)

sfcrazy writes: YouTube will demonstrate 4K videos at the upcoming CES. That’s not the best news, the best part of this story is that Google will do it using it’s own open sourced VP9 technology. Google acquired the technology from O2 and open sourced it. Google started offering the codec on royalty free basis to vendors to boost adoption. Google has also learned the hardware partnership game and has already roped in hardware partners to use and showcase VP9 at CES. According to reports LG (the latest Nexus maker), Panasonic and Sony will be demonstrating 4K YouTube using VP9 at the event. Google today announced that all leading hardware vendors will start supporting the royalty-free VP9 codecs. These hardware vendors include major names like ARM, Broadcom, Intel, LG, Marvell, MediaTek, Nvidia, Panasonic, Philips, Qualcomm, RealTek, Samsung, Sigma, Sharp, Sony and Toshiba.

Submission + - In 2014, which private cloud platform will you use? 2

wawannem writes: Lately, I've seen a few sets of predictions related to cloud computing. It seems pretty obvious that OpenStack still maintains a lot of momentum, but other players like Apache CloudStack and Eucalyptus are each innovating as well. I'd like to know how the community feels, will 2014 be the year of OpenStack | Eucalyptus | CloudStack | Other ?

Submission + - First Animation of the World Found In Burnt City In Baluchistan (payvand.com)

Junaid Qadir writes: "An animated piece on an earthen goblet that belongs to 5000 years ago was found in Burnt City in Sistan-Baluchistan province, southeastern Iran. On this ancient piece that can be called the first animation of the world, the artist has portrayed a goat that jumps toward a tree and eats its leaves." And I went on to actually animate it in a gif here.

Submission + - China: The Next Space Superpower (ieee.org)

the_newsbeagle writes: "As 2014 dawns, China has the most active and ambitious space program in the world," says this article. While it's true that the Chinese space agency is just now reaching milestones that the U.S. and Russia reached 40 years ago (its first lunar rover landed in December), the Chinese government's strong support for space exploration means that it's catching up fast. On the agenda for the next decade: A space station to rival the ISS, a new spaceport, new heavy-lift rockets, a global satellite navigation system to rival GPS, and China's first space science satellites.

Submission + - Ask Slashdot: Best app for Android for remote access to Mac or PC? 2

An anonymous reader writes: Hi, I need to get remote access to my home Mac and Windows PC. At home, it's basically for watching TV, whereas at the office, I need it to work on files I am not allowed to take out when leaving.

I know there's a lot of choice out there, but I need something free and reliable. What do you all recommend?

Submission + - Julian Assange Video DMCA'ed Offline During Aussie Election

Pav writes: On the verge of going viral (600,000 views in a week) this video was taken offline during the Australian election. It's a humourous spoof of the various contenders, plus a guest appearance by the real Julian Assange, who breaks into a few bars of "The Voice" by John Farnham, jarringly and an octave too low — apparently this was the cause of the DMCA concern.

Submission + - Building Snow Dens for the Saimaa Seals

jones_supa writes: A project to construct man-made dens for the endangered Saimaa seal will continue after recently receiving EU funding for the next five years. The Saimaa ringed seal is among the most endangered seals in the world, having a current total population of only about 310 in the Saimaa area of Finland. The population is descended from ringed seals that were separated from the rest of their species after the last ice age. This seal, along with the Ladoga seal and the Baikal seal, is one of the few living freshwater seals in the world and Finland is working hard to preserve its tiny population. The University of Eastern Finland and Finland’s Forest Government Organization are leading a group of volunteers to build the right size snow drifts near the water. Finding volunteers has not been a problem as dozens of volunteers participate in den counts each spring, covering the entire Saimaa area. Last winter, a full one-half of the man-made dens were housed by the seals, so the project is considered to be successful.

Submission + - Chromebooks' Success in 2013 is a Gut Punch to Microsoft 3

Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes: Gregg Keizer reports at Computerworld that Chromebooks accounted for 21% of all US commercial notebook sales in 2013 through November, and 10% of all computers and tablets. Both shares were up massively from 2012 when Chromebooks accounted for an almost-invisible two-tenths of one percent of all computer and tablet sales. That’s really rough news news for Microsoft, which is the principal loser of market share against the Chromebooks. Part of the attraction of Chromebooks is their low prices: The systems forgo high-resolution displays, rely on inexpensive graphics chipsets, include paltry amounts of RAM — often just 2GB — and get by with little local storage. And their operating system, Chrome OS, doesn't cost computer makers a dime. "A few years ago, Chromebooks were a bit of a laughing stock. They were underperforming single-purpose laptops that weren’t even good at the only thing they could do that is, surf the web," says Frederic Lardinois. "Over the last year, ChromeOS also went from a one-trick pony to something that’s more like a “real” operating system." Today’s Chromebooks are nothing like the old Cr-48 prototype Google once sent out to bloggers in late 2010. The fact that Microsoft has now started making fun of them just shows that it’s concerned about losing market share in the business world. "Google is doing with its Chrome OS for PCs what it did with Android for smartphones," says Matt Marshall. "No wonder Google is starting to eating Microsoft’s lunch."

Submission + - The universe may be finite and bounded afterall. (johnhartnett.org) 1

An anonymous reader writes: The question is discussed whether the universe is finite or infinite, bounded or unbounded. In modern science it is presumed to unbounded and since the discovery of the accelerating universe, for which the Nobel Prize was awarded in 2011, that it is also infinite. However Hartnett has found that using the cosmology of Moshe Carmeli that the same equations that successfully fit the observational evidence in the cosmos can also be derived from a finite bounded universe. This means our location is space may indeed be special after all. The work was published in the International Journal of Theoretical Physics titled “A valid finite bounded expanding Carmelian universe without dark matter” (Int J Theor Phys (2013) 52:4360–4366).

Submission + - The Archaeology of Beer (theatlantic.com)

cold fjord writes: The Atlantic reports, "Dr. Pat McGovern, a biomolecular archeologist at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology ... explains his process to me. “We always start with infrared spectrometry,” he says. “That gives us an idea of what organic materials are preserved.” From there, it’s on to tandem liquid chromatography–mass spectrometry, sometimes coupled with ion cyclotron resonance, and solid-phase micro-extraction gas chromatography–mass spectrometry. The end result? A beer recipe. Starting with a few porous clay shards or tiny bits of resin-like residue from a bronze cup, McGovern is able to determine what some ancient Norseman or Etruscan or Shang dynast was drinking ... Details will appear in a forthcoming issue of the Danish Journal of Archaeology. But if your curiosity is more immediate ... head to a nearby wine-and-beer store and request a bottle of the most recent Ancient Ale from Dogfish Head. The Delaware-based brewery ... collaborated with McGovern to make ... a brew that was inspired by the residue found on pottery fragments in a 2,700-year-old tomb in Turkey. Dogfish Head has since re-created six other defunct potables ... based on archeological finds in China, Honduras, Peru, Egypt, Italy, and now Scandinavia. Its re-creation of Nordic grog, Kvasir ..."

Submission + - Surge in Online Orders Overwhelms UPS Christmas Deliveries

Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes: Reuters reports that the high volume of online orders of holiday packages overwhelmed shipping and logistics company UPS delaying the arrival of Christmas presents around the globe and sending angry consumers to social media to vent. The company projected 132 million deliveries last week "and obviously we exceeded that," said UPS spokeswoman Natalie Black without disclosing how many packages had been sent. "For now, UPS is really focused on delivering the remaining packages. You might not see trucks, but people are working." Asked why the company underestimated the volume of air packages it would receive, Black noted that previous severe weather in the Dallas area had already created a backlog. Then came "excess holiday volume" during a compressed time frame, since the period between Thanksgiving and Christmas was shorter than usual this year. Amazon.com responded with an email to affected customers offering shipping refunds and $20 gift cards to compensate. Packages shipped via UPS for Amazon.com by Prime customers, who pay $79 a year for two-day shipping, may be eligible for additional refunds. Amazon's stated policy for missed deliveries is to offer a free one-month extension of Prime. Frustrated consumers took to social media, with some complaining that gifts purchased for their children would not arrive in time to make it under the tree by Christmas morning. "A lot of these employees keep saying 'It's the weather' or 'It's some kind of a backlog,'" said Barry Tesh. "Well then why, all the way up until the 23rd, were they offering next-day delivery? That guaranteed delivery was 80% of my decision to buy the gift." However others on social media urged shoppers to be more appreciative of the delivery company's work during the holiday season. "While others take vacation and time off in December, remember we aren't allowed ever to be off in December. Ever," said a 20 year veteran UPS driver on the UPS Facebook page. "So when you see your family and complain that your package is held up, everyone who moves your package is working and doesn't get the Xmas experience you get, Be thankful for that."

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