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Japan

Submission + - Japan Is Going to Restart Its Nuclear Power Plants, But Don't Freak Out About It (vice.com)

pigrabbitbear writes: "Areva, the French nuclear fuel company, helps supply Japan with a lot of its juice. And Areva's chief executive says that Japan is going to restart up to six reactors by the end of the year. Eventually, it's going to power up at least two thirds of them. Japan's prime minister Shinzo Abe has been a little cagey, but he recently told the press that yes, despite the upcoming March 11th anniversary of the Fukushima crisis, the nuke plants are coming back online.

Bloomberg Businessweek reports that "half a dozen reactors may restart by the end of this year in addition to the two that resumed operations in 2012." Luc Oursel, the Areva CEO, said at a press conference that “I think two-thirds of reactors will restart” within several years. This is probably a good thing:

First, consider Japan's alternative: loads of coal, oil, and gas power. Japan has been importing fossil fuels to make up for the lost supply; burning all of the above pumps out climate change-causing greenhouse gas emissions. Currently, Japan is entertaining plans to build 12.5 gigawatts worth of coal-fired power. That would be a disaster in climate terms. Eventually, solar and wind could feasibly pick up the slack, but it takes years to build out that kind of infrastructure."

Submission + - Computer History Museum announces Hall of Fellows Class of 2013 (networkworld.com)

alphadogg writes: The Computer History Museum on Monday announced its Class of 2013 includes Ed Catmull, a computer scientist and Pixar co-founder, along with two PC pioneers: Harry Huskey (creator of the G15, called by some the first PC) and Robert W. Taylor (leader at ARPA & Xerox PARC). These accomplished technology industry professionals will be inducted into the museum's Hall of Fellows http://www.computerhistory.org/fellowawards/current/ on April 27 in Mountain View. While their names might not be household ones, they join a roster of technology bigwigs from Web creator Tim Berners-Lee to Internet pioneer Vinton Cerf and Ethernet inventor Bob Metcalfe.

Submission + - A White House Petition for fairness with ISP deceptive pricing practices (whitehouse.gov)

yayoubetcha writes: Another White House petition... This one, I signed. It is a proposal for a simple and prominent table of an ISPs pricing on their website. Too often the prices are designed to get a subscriber signed up for a low price for a few months then it expires and they are paying a high rate. The proposal is for a food-like "Nutritional Information" "label" for an ISPs pricing that clearly shows regular rates, special pricing, and bandwidth limits.

My mother uses email and surfs the web occasionally, and of course updates to her Windows OS. That's about it. She was paying $60 a month for 20Gbps service for two years before I called Century Link to get it reduce to 7Gbps and $40/month — still too much for her needs, but she is saving a little.

Submission + - How to deal with service providers that make it purposely hard to leave?

DrHappyAngry writes: After calling Tmobile to look at getting out of my contract for unnacceptable service throughout Downtown Seattle, I found that they require a snail mail letter or fax. They also require a copy of ID or utility bill showing my address, which would not even show the locations that are problematic, such as my office. The service quality is at the point where most buildings in the core of a major city are not even able to be serviced by their network. How do you deal with a provider that is out to make it as impossible to leave as they can? Asides from posting this to /. how else can they be publicly shamed? I was very upset when they told me this, and in fact told them "This isn't 1980, nobody uses that anymore, and this is for the sole purpose of making it more difficult to terminate the contract."

Submission + - White House urges reversal of ban on cell-phone unlocking (networkworld.com)

netbuzz writes: "In a dramatic call for action directly prompted by 114,000 signatures on a “We the People” petition, the Obama Administration moments ago urged the reversal of a federal regulatory decision that had rendered the act of unlocking a cell phone illegal. From the reply: “The White House agrees with the 114,000+ of you who believe that consumers should be able to unlock their cell phones without risking criminal or other penalties. In fact, we believe the same principle should also apply to tablets, which are increasingly similar to smart phones. And if you have paid for your mobile device, and aren't bound by a service agreement or other obligation, you should be able to use it on another network. It's common sense, crucial for protecting consumer choice, and important for ensuring we continue to have the vibrant, competitive wireless market that delivers innovative products and solid service to meet consumers' needs.” Statements from the FCC and Library of Congress indicate that they back the administration’s position."
Robotics

Submission + - Ohio Man Charged With Shooting Robot (singularityhub.com)

kkleiner writes: "In what is sure to be only the beginning of human vs. robot confrontations, a surveillance robot belonging to the police was recently shot after a six-hour standoff with a 62-year-old heavily inebriated man. Shortly afterward, police entered the home and used an electronic stun device to subdue the man. After being issued a search warrant, authorities found a number of firearms within the residence, including two AK47 rifles and a 75-round ammunition drum, which is illegal in Ohio. Incidents between citizens and police robots will surely be on the rise as more bots are brought into service."
Space

Submission + - The Swiss Plan on Clearing Space Junk with a Giant Claw (vice.com)

pigrabbitbear writes: "There are about 19,000 pieces of space debris larger than 5 cm currently being tracked by NASA—debris that multiplies when other debris collides. There's now way around it: eventually we're going to have to clean up the floating mess. Which is exactly what a new Swiss uber-satellite intends to do.

Called CleanSpace One, the monster has been dubbed the "janitor satellite." It's been designed to match a defunct satellite's orbital plane, grip it with a giant mechanical claw, and pull it back down into the Earth's atmosphere. Both satellites would then burn up upon reentry.

The Swiss scientists hope to launch CleanSpace One on its trial mission in under five years. The first target is the Swisscube, Switzerland's first working satellite, which was put into orbit in 2009, and completed its imaging mission in 2011. Even though the first CleanSpace One will disintegrate upon re-entry, the Swiss are planning a whole family of space janitors. Eventually, they may be able to dispose more than one satellite at a time."

Medicine

Submission + - The Gameification of Medicine: How Video Games Are Sharpening Surgical Skills (vice.com)

pigrabbitbear writes: "Move over, Dr. Mario? Turns out budding surgeons are playing games to develop a steady hand. To wit: A group of post-graduate medical students in Rome who participated in a recent month-long program using the Nintendo Wii went on to earn higher scores in surgical simulators relating to laparoscopic, or keyhole, surgery compared to students who did not use the Wii."
Government

Submission + - Why Won't Congress Talk About 3D-Printed Guns? (vice.com)

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.

The AR-15 also happens to be the same gun that a band of renegades known as Defense Distributed have been 3D-printing down in Texas for the past few months. Last week, we learned that DEFCAD, the Defense Distributed-made database of files you feed into a 3D printer to make various gun components, is starting to get some real traction.

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.""

Government

Submission + - A New Hampshire Bill Would Ban Aerial Photography, Unless You're the Government (vice.com)

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."

The Internet

Submission + - Farmers In England Are Growing Their Own Internet Because They Have To (vice.com)

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?

Grow their own, naturally.

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."

Android

Submission + - Google's Rumored Music Streaming Service Could Give Spotify The Chills (vice.com)

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.""
Earth

Submission + - Global Warming Will Make the World Too Hot to Get Any Work Done (vice.com)

pigrabbitbear writes: "It’s a good thing that robots are stealing our jobs, because in about thirty-five years, nobody in their right mind is going to want to do them.

Scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration just published a report in Nature Climate Change that details how a warming climate impacts the way we work, and the results are pretty clear—we do less of it. NOAA discovered that over the last 60 years, the hotter, wetter climate has decreased human labor capacity by 10%. And it projects that by 2050, that number will double."

Cellphones

Submission + - Wikipedia Will Soon Be Available Via Text Messages (vice.com)

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."

Robotics

Submission + - Robots, Apparently, Are Botching Surgeries All Over the Place (vice.com) 1

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."

That's the opening salve from the medical malpractice lawyers who run the slick fear factory of a website, BadRobotSurgery.com. According to the doctor-lawyers behind it—doctor-lawyers like Francois Blaudeau, MD, JD, FACHE, FCLM—“thousands of people have suffered severe and critical complications at the hands of surgical robots.” In fact, “robotic surgery has been linked to many serious injuries and severe complications, including death.”"

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