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Submission + - Robotics research lab Willow Garage shutting down? (willowgarage.com)

moglito writes: Willow Garage is/was acknowledge by many to be one of the best places for robotics research these days. Besides developing the PR2 it made itself a name for creating the open-source Robot Operating System ROS. But know it seems to be shutting down:
'Scott Hassan, founder of both Willow Garage and Suitable Technologies, said, "I am excited to bring together the teams of Willow Garage and Suitable Technologies to provide the most advanced remote presence technology to people around the world."

Willow Garage will continue to support customers of its PR2 personal robotics platform and sell its remaining stock of PR2 systems. Interest in PR2 systems or support should continue to be directed to Willow Garage through its portal at www.willowgarage.com.'

NASA

Software Glitch Means Loss of NASA's Deep Impact Comet Probe 65

Taco Cowboy writes "'NASA is calling off attempts to find its Deep Impact comet probe after a suspected software glitch shut down radio communications in August, officials said on Friday.' Last month, engineers lost contact with Deep Impact and unsuccessfully tried to regain communications. The cause of the failure was unknown, but NASA suspects the spacecraft lost control, causing its antenna and solar panels to be pointed in the wrong direction. NASA had hoped Deep Impact would play a key role in observations of the approaching Comet ISON, a suspected first-time visitor to the inner solar system that was discovered in September 2012 by two Russian astronomers. The comet is heading toward a close encounter with the sun in November, a brush that it may not survive." Deep Impact has had a pretty good run, though: from its original mission to launch a copper slug at a comet (hence the name), to looking for Earth-sized planets.
Google

Google May Replace Cookies With Unique AdIDs 147

markjhood2003 writes "According to a story published in USA Today, an anonymous source at Google familiar with the plan has revealed that Google is developing an anonymous identifier for advertising tracking, replacing the function of third party cookies currently used by most major advertisers. The new AdID supposedly gives consumers more privacy and control over their web browsing, but the ad industry is worried about putting more power in the hands of large technology companies. Sounds like the idea could have some promise, but at this point the proposal is not public so we will probably have to wait until Google reaches out to the industry, government and consumers to provide the details."

Submission + - How long can the ISS Last? (cbsnews.com) 2

R3d M3rcury writes: NASA and Boeing, along with other nations, are studying the feasibility of keeping the International Space Station in orbit until 2020 and possibly until 2028--the 30 year anniversary of the launch of the first module.
Cloud

Amazon "Unlaunches" & Postpones $100,000 Civic Apps Contest For AWS 17

reifman writes "In an unusual move, Amazon abruptly pulled the plug on its $100,000 Civic Apps contest for AWS, redirecting contestants to the AWS government site. All entrants through October 15th were to receive a $50 AWS credit. Amazon AWS PR says they, '...accidentally pushed this out early, but please stay tuned for more information on this program later this year.' The contest site, rules (pdf) and FAQ (pdf) of the apparently still upcoming contest can be read from the google cache. Contest prize winners would have had to 'spend' their AWS credits by December 2014."

Submission + - NASA's Deep Impact comet probe is lost due to software glitch (torontosun.com)

Taco Cowboy writes: NASA has lost contact with its Deep Impact comet probe spacecraft, and the reason is software glitch

The spacecraft was launched in January 2005 for a close-up study of Comet Tempel-1

NASA is calling off attempts to find its Deep Impact comet probe after a suspected software glitch shut down radio communications in August, officials said on Friday.

Last month, engineers lost contact with Deep Impact and unsuccessfully tried to regain communications. The cause of the failure was unknown, but NASA suspects the spacecraft lost control, causing its antenna and solar panels to be pointed in the wrong direction

According to BBC Worldservice the spacecraft's software "ran out of digits"

After a month of fruitless attempts to find the probe, NASA on Friday announced it was formally ending the mission

NASA had hoped Deep Impact would play a key role in observations of the approaching Comet ISON, a suspected first-time visitor to the inner solar system that was discovered in September 2012 by two Russian astronomers

The comet is heading toward a close encounter with the sun in November, a brush that it may not survive

More information can be had from

http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/wireStory/nasa-declares-end-deep-impact-comet-mission-20318464

http://www.firstpost.com/world/nasa-gives-up-on-lost-comet-probe-1124107.html

http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-205_162-57603941/nasa-declares-comet-buster-lost-in-space/

http://www.torontosun.com/2013/09/20/nasa-gives-up-on-deep-impact-comet-probe


Submission + - RSA warns developers not to use RSA products (cryptographyengineering.com)

rroman writes: RSA has recommended developers not to use Dual_EC_DRBG random number generator (RNG), which has been known to be weak and slow since 2006. The funny thing is, that even though this has been known for so long, it is the default RNG in BSafe cryptographic toolkit, which is product of RSA.
Government

USAF Almost Nuked North Carolina In 1961 – Declassified Document 586

Freshly Exhumed sends in a story about how close the United States came to accidentally attacking itself with nuclear weapons just a few days after John F. Kennedy took office. "A secret document, published in declassified form for the first time by the Guardian today, reveals that the U.S. Air Force came dramatically close to detonating an atom bomb over North Carolina that would have been 260 times more powerful than the device that devastated Hiroshima. The document, obtained by the investigative journalist Eric Schlosser under the Freedom of Information Act, gives the first conclusive evidence that the US was narrowly spared a disaster of monumental proportions when two Mark 39 hydrogen bombs were accidentally dropped over Goldsboro, North Carolina on 23 January 1961. The bombs fell to earth after a B-52 bomber broke up in mid-air, and one of the devices behaved precisely as a nuclear weapon was designed to behave in warfare: its parachute opened, its trigger mechanisms engaged, and only one low-voltage switch prevented untold carnage."

Submission + - A C++ library that brings legacy Fortran codes to supercomputers (libgeodecomp.org)

gentryx writes: In scientific computing a huge pile of code is still written in Fortran. One reason for this is that codes often evolve over the course of decades and rewriting them from scratch is both risky and costly. While OpenMP and OpenACC are readily available for Fortran, only few tools support authors in porting their codes to MPI clusters, let alone supercomputers. A recent blog post details how LibGeoDecomp (Library for Geometric Decompostition codes), albeit written in C++, can be used to port such codes to state-of-the-art HPC systems. Source code modification is required, but mostly limited to restructuring into a new pattern of subroutines.

Submission + - Never underestimate the bandwidth of a Suburban filled with MicroSD cards? (blogspot.com)

toygeek writes: If you've been in IT long enough, you're bound to have heard the phrase "Never underestimate the bandwidth of a station wagon filled with backup tapes." These days moving data has become so much easier; We've surpassed baud rates and are into Gbps fiber on the backbones, and even in some homes. So, what's the modern equivalent to this, and what does it take to make the OC fiber connections cringe? Follow along as we theoretically stuff MicroSD cards into Chevy Suburban and see what happens, and take sneakernet to a whole new level.

Submission + - Amazon "Unlaunches" & Postpones $100,000 Civic Apps Contest for AWS (jeffreifman.com)

reifman writes: In an unusual move, Amazon abruptly pulled the plug on its $100,000 Civic Apps contest for AWS, redirecting contestants to the AWS government site. All entrants through October 15th were to receive a $50 AWS credit. Amazon AWS PR says they, '...accidentally pushed this out early, but please stay tuned for more information on this program later this year.' The contest site, rules (pdf) and FAQ (pdf) of the apparently still upcoming contest can be read from the google cache. Contest prize winners would have had to 'spend' their AWS credits by December 2014.
Cellphones

Conflict Minerals and Cell Phones 136

Presto Vivace sends in this story at Slate: "If you are reading this on a smartphone, then you are probably holding in your palm the conflict minerals that have sent the biggest manufacturing trade group in the U.S. into a court battle with the Securities and Exchange Commission. At stake in this battle between the National Association of Manufacturers and the government is whether consumers will know the potentially blood-soaked origins of the products they use every day and who gets to craft rules for multinational corporations—Congress or the business itself. ... These minerals are tantalum (used in cellphones, DVD players, laptops, hard drives, and gaming devices), tungsten, tin, and gold, if they are mined in the Democratic Republic of Congo and surrounding countries including Rwanda, where the mineral trade has fueled bloody conflicts. The rule requiring disclosure of conflict minerals will go into effect in 2014. Congress included it in Dodd-Frank out of concern for what is known as the “resource curse”—the phenomenon wherein poor counties with the greatest natural resources end up with the most corrupt and repressive governments. The money earned from selling the natural resources props up these harsh regimes and funds violence against their citizens and neighbors."
The Military

US Killer Robot Policy: Full Speed Ahead 202

Lasrick writes "Princeton's Mark Gubrud has an excellent piece on the United States killer robot policy. In 2012, without much fanfare, the U.S. announced the world's first openly declared national policy for killer robots. That policy has been widely misperceived as one of caution, according to Gubrud: 'A careful reading of the directive finds that it lists some broad and imprecise criteria and requires senior officials to certify that these criteria have been met if systems are intended to target and kill people by machine decision alone. But it fully supports developing, testing, and using the technology, without delay. Far from applying the brakes, the policy in effect overrides longstanding resistance within the military, establishes a framework for managing legal, ethical, and technical concerns, and signals to developers and vendors that the Pentagon is serious about autonomous weapons.'"
Intel

Intel Rolls Out Raspberry Pi Competitor 214

Rambo Tribble writes "As detailed by Ars Technica, Intel has introduced the Minnowboard, an SBC touted as more powerful and more open than the Raspberry Pi. At $199, it is also more expensive. Using an Atom processor, the new SBC boasts more capacity and x86-compatibility. 'It's notable that the MinnowBoard is an open hardware platform, a distinction that Arduino and BeagleBone can claim but Raspberry Pi cannot. Users could create their own MinnowBoards by buying the items on the bill of materials—all the design information is published, and CircuitCo chose components that can be purchased individually rather than in the bulk quantities hardware manufacturers are accustomed to, Anders said. Users can also buy a pre-made MinnowBoard and make customizations or create their own accessory boards to expand its capability. And being an open hardware platform means that the source code of (almost) all the software required to run the platform is open.'" Update: 09/20 22:31 GMT by T : Look soon for a video introduction to the MinnowBoard, and — hopefully not too long from now — a visit to their Dallas-area production facility.

Submission + - Turning A Smart Phone Into A Microscope (acs.org)

MTorrice writes: By attaching a lightweight, inexpensive device to the back of a smart phone, scientists can convert the phone into a sensitive fluorescence microscope. The attachment allows the phone’s camera to take pictures of single nanoparticles and viruses, possibly providing a portable diagnostic tool for health care workers in developing countries. For example, doctors in remote regions could use the technique to measure HIV viral loads in patients’ blood samples, allowing the doctors to easily monitor disease progression and determine the best course of treatment.

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