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Robotics

Smart Robot Capable of Hunting For Its Own "Food" 191

coondoggie writes "Ok, maybe this is getting a little too close to bringing Terminator-like robots to life. For starters, eco-friendly engine builder Cyclone Power this week inked a contract from Robotic Technologies, Inc. (RTI) to develop what it calls a beta biomass engine system that will be the heart of RTI's Energetically Autonomous Tactical Robot (EATR). The purpose of EATR is to develop and demonstrate an autonomous robotic platform able to perform long-range, long-endurance missions without the need for manual or conventional re-fueling — in other words it needs to 'eat.' According to researchers, the EATR system gets its energy by foraging, or what the firms describe as 'engaging in biologically-inspired, organism-like, energy-harvesting behavior which is the equivalent of eating. It can find, ingest, and extract energy from biomass in the environment as well as use conventional and alternative fuels (such as gasoline, heavy fuel, kerosene, diesel, propane, coal, cooking oil, and solar) when suitable.'" We can only hope they don't team up with the Multi-Robot Pursuit System project to "search for and detect a non-cooperative human."
Real Time Strategy (Games)

Submission + - Dreams Are Virtual Reality Threat Simulation

Time Slows Down writes: "Psychology Today has an interesting story on a new theory of why we dream. Finnish psychologist Antti Revonsuo believes that dreams are a sort of nighttime theater in which our brains screen realistic scenarios simulating emergency situations and providing an arena for safe training. "The primary function of negative dreams is rehearsal for similar real events, so that threat recognition and avoidance happens faster and more automatically in comparable real situations," he says. We have 300 to 1,000 threat dreams per year — one to four per night and just under half are aggressive encounters: physical aggression such as fistfights, and nonphysical aggression such as verbal arguments. Faced with actual life-or-death situations — traffic accidents, terrorist attacks, street assaults — people report entering a mode of calm, rapid response, reacting automatically, almost without thinking. Afterward, they often say the episode felt unreal, as if it were all a dream. "Dreaming is a sensitive system that tries to pay much attention to the threatening cues in our environment," Revonsuo says. "Their function is to protect and prepare us.""
Databases

Submission + - MySQL's Threat to Commercial Databases (cnn.com)

eldavojohn writes: "The odds are high that you've heard of the most popular open source database, MySQL. Financial columnists like CNN/Fortune author David Kirkpatrick are starting to notice it too and recognize it as a serious threat to ... well, every other commercial database out there. Sun CEO Scott McNealy said "If you want to save money, make the default database MySQL. It's free ... if Yahoo and Google can run their entire operations on MySQL, then certainly there's a huge chunk of your operations that could run on it as well." With press like that and the performance to back it up, is MySQL going to ruin commercial databases created by Oracle, IBM & Microsoft?"
Privacy

Submission + - Google tracks you on torrent and porn sites 7

An anonymous reader writes: Think Google can only track you search habits? Think again. This site survey found that 40 of the top100 websites use Google-analytics as their web analysis software. Sites like mininova and youporn included. Google dominates the search engine world and now as a centralized service dominate the none-search website metrics. I am glad they do. I will be immortalized in Google databases as Google scientists of the future analyze my search habits, movies I like to see and types of girls I would like to meet.
The Courts

Submission + - RIAA runs into trouble in Ohio 2

An anonymous reader writes: As the RIAA's war against college music sharers enters its tenth month, college students in Ohio are fighting back. At Ohio State University two John Does are fighting a single subpoena, while at Ohio University one student — who didn't respond to the RIAA's lawsuit for more than eight months — has escaped a default judgment. But Ohio hasn't been a total loss for the RIAA. More than 75 students at both schools have settled for at least $3,000 each and the RIAA's chief spokesman, Jonathan Lamy, is an Ohio U. grad.
Government

Submission + - MD To Tax Computer Services (baltimoresun.com) 2

Mr. C writes: The Maryland Senate added an ammendment to the tax code during a special session which imposes a 6% Service tax on all computer related services and activities effective Jan 1. The Budget and Taxation Committee scrapped the expansion to real property management services and tanning, massage, physical fitness, sauna, or steam bath facilities or services that would have generated an estimated $60 million. They replaced those services with computer services, landscaping and arcades, which will generate an estimated $300 million. The bill is facing some flak in the Senate but it's going largely unnoticed by the public since the new industries that are targeted were given no warning about the language which was inserted Wednesday. amendment (pdf)
Censorship

Submission + - Demonoid is down again! (micahcrowsey.com)

Micahc writes: "Demonoid is down again, with this message: "The CRIA threatened the company renting the servers to us, and because of this it is not possible to keep the site online. Sorry for the inconvenience and thanks for your understanding." They might be down for good!"
Cellphones

Submission + - iPhones found to be toxic (computerworld.com)

FST writes: A Greenpeace inspection of the iPhone found that iPhones contain significantly more (15x) phthalates than the maximum considered to be safe in the United States. FTA: "An analysis done on a disassembled iPhone by an independent lab in the U.K. found toxic brominated compounds and hazardous PVC (polyvinyl chloride) in multiple components of the handsets. Bromine, a chemical used in fire-retardant compounds, was present in more than half of the 18 samples taken, Greenpeace claimed, while toxic phthalates made up 1.5% of the PVC coating of ear bud cables."
It is not clear if the user is required to ingest the phthalates in order to cause damage to him/her self.

Education

Submission + - Grad student suspended after pro-gun-rights e-mail

fredklein writes: A Minnesota university has suspended one of its graduate students who sent two e-mail messages to school officials supporting gun rights.
"Hamline University also said that master's student Troy Scheffler, who owns a firearm, would be barred from campus and must receive a mandatory "mental health evaluation" after he sent an e-mail message arguing that law-abiding students should be able to carry firearms on campus for self-defense."
When informed that suspending him violated the school's freedom of expression policy, the University changed their tune: Now they claim he's being suspended because of "anonymous allegations" they received, and they can't tell him (or the press) what those allegations are, or who his accusers are. With all the talk of 'Big Brother' throwing people into detention centers without knowing the charges, are we overlooking 'Little Brothers' closer to home?

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