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Submission + - Emails reveal battle over employee poaching between Google and Facebook (

colinneagle writes: Apple, Google, and a slew of other high-tech firms are currently embroiled in a class-action lawsuit on allegations that they all adhered to tacit anti-poaching agreements. With that case currently ongoing, we've seen a number of interesting executive emails come to light, including emails showing that Steve Jobs threatened Palm CEO with a full-fledged legal assault if the company kept going after Apple engineers.

The emails include correspondences between Sergey Brin and Marissa Mayer and Facebook's Sheryl Sandberg and Google's Jonathan Rosenberg discussing the threat that Google saw in Facebook hiring its engineers.

The discussion elevates, with Sandberg pointing out the hypocrisy that Google grew to prominence by hiring engineers from major Silicon Valley firms. Rosenberg then hints at the potential for a "deeper relationship" that Google would be willing to reach as long as Facebook stops hiring its engineers, going so far as to tell Sandberg to "fix this problem."

Submission + - Driverless vehicle already in use in Europe (

colinneagle writes: A driverless golf cart-like vehicle has hit the market and is already in use on some college campuses in Europe, including Oxford University. The all-electric Navia looks like a golf cart and, with a maximum speed of 28 miles per hour but a recommended speed of about 12 mph, is typically used as a driverless shuttle service. For those at a location where the shuttles are available, a mobile app allows them to both order a shuttle to pick them up and provide a destination. The Navia reportedly costs $250,000 per unit, which is pretty expensive, especially considering that most organizations that might need it would need to order multiple units.

Submission + - MIT researchers bring Javascript to Google Glass (

colinneagle writes: Earlier this week, Brandyn White, a PhD candidate at the University of Maryland, and Scott Greenberg, a PhD candidate at MIT, led a workshop at the MIT Media Lab to showcase an open source project called WearScript, a Javascript environment that runs on Google Glass. White demonstrated how Glass's UI extends beyond its touchpad, winks, and head movements by adding a homemade eye tracker to Glass as an input device. The camera and controller were dissected from a $25 PC video camera and attached to the Glass frame with a 3D-printed mount. A few modifications were made, such as replacing the obtrusively bright LEDs with infrared LEDs, and a cable was added with a little soldering. The whole process takes about 15 minutes for someone with component soldering skills. With this eye tracker and a few lines of Wearscript, the researchers demonstrated a new interface by playing Super Mario on Google Glass with just eye movements.

Submission + - Is boycotting Mozilla for CEO's anti-gay stance the best approach?

colinneagle writes: Probably not. Bryan Lunduke points out that, if the Open Source world were to boycott products with ties to controversial people in the open source world, it would be short on products it could use. Richard Stallman, for example, has infamously claimed that pedophilia might not be harmful to children. Because of this stance, should we completely boycott the GPL and emacs? No. That'd be silly.

Of course, a boycott of Firefox is a potentially effective way to send a message. However, opening a dialogue with Mozilla and its executives should be the first action. Dialogue at least has the potential to enlighten the company to the civil rights issue at hand, whereas a boycott is likely to elicit a phony apology meant to address the company's business concerns.

In this issue, a complete boycott seems premature to me, at least until we know whether Mozilla or Eich will stand by his previous actions.

Submission + - Small World Discovered Far Beyond Pluto (

astroengine writes: After a decade of searching, astronomers have found a second dwarf-like planet far beyond Pluto and its Kuiper Belt cousins, a presumed no-man’s land that may turn out to be anything but. How Sedna, which was discovered in 2003, and its newly found neighbor, designated 2012 VP 2113 by the Minor Planet Center, came to settle in orbits so far from the sun is a mystery. Sedna comes no closer than about 76 times as far from the sun as Earth, or 76 astronomical units. The most distant leg of its 11,400-year orbit is about 1,000 astronomical units. Newly found VP 2113’s closest approach to the sun is about 80 astronomical units and its greatest distance is 452 astronomical units. The small world is roughly 280 miles (450 kilometers) wide, less than half the estimated diameter of Sedna.

Submission + - Ubuntu phone isn't important enough to demand an open source baseband (

colinneagle writes: Canonical is producing a version of the Ubuntu Linux distribution specifically for smartphones, but Richard Tynan, writing for, recently pointed out that the baseband in Ubuntu-powered phones will remain closed source (and highly proprietary). So, while Ubuntu itself is Open Source, the super-critical firmware on the phones will not be. This creates the immediate practical problem of leaving the information transmitted by your phone open to snooping by organizations that take advantage of issues in the Closed Source firmware.

Some have criticized Canonical for missing an opportunity to push for a fully Open Source smartphone, but in order to fix this problem (and open up the code for this super-critical bit of software), we need companies that have a large amount of clout, in the smartphone market, to make it a priority. Canonical (with Ubuntu) just doesn't have that clout yet. They're just now dipping their toes into the smartphone waters. But you know who does have that clout? Google.

Google has made a point of touting Open Source (at least sometimes), and they are the undisputed king of the smartphone operating system world. And yet I hear no big moves by Google to encourage phone manufacturers to utilize Open Source basebands, such as OsmocomBB. So has Canonical missed an opportunity? No. Not yet. If (some may say "when") Ubuntu gains a critical amount of market share in the phone world, that will be their chance to pressure manufacturers to produce a truly Open Source phone. Until then, Canonical needs to continue to work within the world we have today.

Submission + - In defense of Microsoft's leak investigation (

colinneagle writes: By now, you've probably heard about the former Microsoft employee arrested for spilling trade secrets to a French website, and the impact it has had throughout the underground community that thrived on leaks. How Microsoft was able to get him might be trust-damaging to some, but not to me. Here's what I find stunning — Microsoft caught the guy because he was using MSN Messenger, SkyDrive, and to coordinate the leaks. From that point, Microsoft’s Office of Legal Compliance (OLC) approved content pulls of the blogger’s Hotmail account. Yes, they have permission to do that. You accepted it when you signed up for Hotmail. From there, they found evidence in his SkyDrive and Hotmail accounts. The fact that it took another 18 months to pull the trigger and arrest Kibkalo shows the careful deliberation Microsoft took.

There's a mindset out there that unfashionable companies, those that are OK to dislike, have no right to defend themselves. I've read some amazing things over the weekend regarding Microsoft's actions. They didn't do this on a hunch or a fishing expedition. They had clear evidence that someone internally was leaking intellectual property and every right to find out who it was.

Submission + - He Pressed The Brakes, His Tesla Model S Didn't Stop. Why?

cartechboy writes: When things go wrong with the Tesla Model S electric car, its very loyal--and opinionated--owners usually speak up. And that's just what David Noland has done. An incident in which his Model S didn't stop when he pressed the brake pedal scared him--and got him investigating. He measured pedal spacing on 22 different new cars at dealers--and his analysis suggests that the Tesla pedal setup may be causing what aviation analysts call a "design-induced pilot error". And pedal design, as Toyota just learned to the tune of $1.2 billion, is very important indeed in preventing accidents.

Submission + - A call for rollbacks to previous versions of software (

colinneagle writes: In a blog post, Andy Patrizio laments the trend — made more common in the mobile world — of companies pushing software updates ahead without the ability to roll-back to previous versions in the event that the user simply doesn't like it. iOS 7.1, for example, has reportedly been killing some users' battery power, and users of the iTunes library app TuneUp will remember how the much-maligned version 3.0 effectively killed the company behind it (new owners have since taken over TuneUp and plans to bring back the older version).

The ability to undo a problematic install should be mandatory, but in too many instances it is not. That's because software developers are always operating under the assumption that the latest version is the greatest version, when it may not be. This is especially true in the smartphone and tablet world. There is no rollback to be had for anything in the iOS and Android worlds.

Until the day comes when software developers start releasing perfectly functioning, error-free code, we need the ability to go backwards with all software.

Submission + - How one of the richest countries in the world got debt-ridden (

kentjohansen writes: According to Forbrukslå, Norway is one of the most debt-ridden countries in the world. At first, this might appear as strange, especially as Norway is one of the richest countries in the world. However, there are many financial products available and the banks don't ask too many questions before giving out loans.

Submission + - MIT Scientists Engineer World's First Bionic Plant (

DavidGilbert99 writes: They are capable of absorbing light 30% more effectively than normal plants and could be used to monitor pollution or the distribution of chemical weapons. The bionic plants integrate carbon nanotubes into the leaves of regular plants, and the scientists from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) were able to replicate and improve upon a plant's natural ability to photosynthesise.

Submission + - Embarrassing stories shed light on U.S. officials' technological ignorance (

colinneagle writes: Speaking at the SXSW Conference recently, Dr. Peter W. Singer, director of the Center for 21st Century Security and Intelligence, recalled one U.S. official who was "about to negotiate cybersecurity with China" asking him to explain what the term "ISP" (Internet Service Provider) means. This wasn't the only example of this lack of awareness.

"That’s like going to negotiate with the Soviets and not knowing what ‘ICBM’ means," Dr. Singer said. "And I’ve had similar experiences with officials from the UK, China and Abu Dhabi."

Similarly, Dr. Singer recalled one account in which Janet Napolitano, the Secretary of the U.S. Homeland Security Department from 2009 to 2013, admitted that she didn't use email "because she just didn’t think it was useful."

"A Supreme Court justice also told me ‘I haven’t got round to email yet’ — and this is someone who will get to vote on everything from net neutrality to the NSA negotiations," Dr. Singer said.

Submission + - Microsoft Research project turns walls of a room into display (

colinneagle writes: Microsoft Research has just taken the wraps off SurroundWeb, research prototype to display webpages on multiple projectors to display information on the walls of the room you are in. Microsoft describes SurroundWeb as "a 3D Browser that displays webpages across multiple surfaces in a room, adapt their appearance to objects present in that room, and interact using natural user input."

A Room Skeleton is rendered using the Kinect motion sensor from the Xbox. It scans the room to see what kinds of surfaces are available and what areas are not, such as windows or art on the walls. Next, SurroundWeb learns what projection equipment is available, such as just a monitor, projects, phones, and anything else with a display. The monitor shows the main presentation information while the projector shows additional content "spilling out" of the slide and onto the wall of the room. Phones can be used for interacting with the content and you can use the Kinect's hand-gesture support as well.

Microsoft states rather clearly that it is sensitive to privacy concerns around scanning the room. "From mobile phones, we have learned how dangerous it is to give devices unrestricted access to sensor output ... Similarly, from raw video and depth streams inside a home, it is likely possible to infer economic status, health information, and other sensitive information. Therefore we do not want to expose raw sensor data to webpages," the researchers said in their paper.

Submission + - How to hack an Android smartphone to get broadband, TV for $8 per month

colinneagle writes: It wasn't easy, but Steve Patterson hacked an HTC First smartphone to deliver cheap over-the-air internet for PCs and live TV. He details the process here, which involved switching the SIM card to get on T-Mobile's network, using Aereo for OTA internet and TV, and rooting the First to make it into a Wi-Fi router. While admitting that the process would have been easier with a different, more easily unlock-able smartphone, he did accomplish it.

For those with thousands of television channels and a fondness for exclusive services like HBO and ESPN — which were not available through this method — this approach may not provide enough choice. But for the consumer who regularly looks at his or her cable guide and wonders why hundreds of shows are listed but only a handful are interesting, it's a good way to save some money.

Submission + - Google Glass backlash escalates to violence (

colinneagle writes: A lot of people really don't like Google Glass when they come across it. This week, it turned to violence.

Sarah Slocum, whose LinkedIn profile lists her as a contributing editor at Newsdab, said in a Facebook post that she was assaulted by two women at a San Francisco bar after initially showing other patrons how the device works. The women were reportedly part of a group of bar patrons who were concerned with being recorded by the Glass.

Shortly after Slocum was attacked, a male patron reportedly stole her Google Glass device off her face, and when she chased after him, someone else stole her wallet and cellphone, Slocum explained in a Facebook post.

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