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Wireless Networking

The Big Hangup At Burning Man Is Cell Phones 167

Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "L. J. Williamson writes in the LA Times that with no running water, no plumbing, and no electrical outlets Burning Man isn't the kind of place to expect full bars on your smartphone and for many of the participants that's a big part of its charm. 'If you want to partake in the true Burning Man experience, you should leave your phone at home,' says Mark Hansen. In past years, the closest cellular towers, designed to serve the nearby towns of Empire (population 206) and Gerlach (population 217), would quickly get overwhelmed each August when Black Rock City (population 50,000 or so) rose from the featureless playa. Although Burning Man attracts a sizable Silicon Valley contingent including tech giants like Jeff Bezos, Larry Page, and Sergey Brin — the feeling of being 'unplugged' has become an integral part of the Burning Man experience. But another part of the event is an intrepid, DIY ethos, and in that spirit, David Burgess, co-creator of OpenBTS, an open-source cellular network software, brought a homemade in 2008, an 'almost comical' setup that created a working cellular network that routed a few hundred calls over a 48-hour period. In each subsequent year, Burgess has improved the system's reach and expects to have about three-quarters of this year's event covered. Burning Man proved an ideal test bed for development of Burgess' system, which he has since made available for use in other areas without cellular networks. 'People who have a lot of experience in international aid say Burning Man is a very good simulation of a well-organized refugee camp,' says Burgess. 'Because there's no infrastructure, it forces us to contend with a lot of problems that our rural customers have to contend with in very remote places.'"
Space

Using Pulsars As GPS For Starships 103

cold fjord writes with an excerpt from Science Codex: "CSIRO scientists have written software that could guide spacecraft to Alpha Centauri ... Dr George Hobbs (CSIRO) and his colleagues study pulsars — small spinning stars that deliver regular 'blips' or 'pulses' of radio waves and, sometimes, X-rays. Usually the astronomers are interested in measuring, very precisely, when the pulsar pulses arrive in the solar system. Slight deviations from the expected arrival times can give clues about the behaviour of a pulsar itself ... 'But we can also work backwards,' said Dr Hobbs. 'We can use information from pulsars to very precisely determine the position of our telescopes.' 'If the telescopes were on board a spacecraft, then we could get the position of the spacecraft.' Observations of at least four pulsars, every seven days, would be required. ... A paper (paywalled) describing in detail how the system would work has been accepted for publication by the journal Advances in Space Research." (Here is a related story from the same source.)
Windows

Windows 8.1 RTM Trickling Out, With Start Menu and Boot-to-Desktop 496

poofmeisterp writes "It's about time. Windows 8.1 will be released to end users in October, and RTM is being released now: 'Windows 8.1, codenamed "Blue," is introducing a number of changes designed to make the new operating system more palatable to current Windows users. Windows 8.1 is adding a Start Button, a boot-straight-to-desktop option; the ability to unpin all Metro apps; built-in tutorials; an improved Windows Store and a host of other consumer- and business-focused features. Microsoft launched its one and only Windows 8.1 consumer preview test build in late June.'"
Cellphones

Ubuntu Edge Draws Nearly $13M, But Falls Short of Indiegogo Goal 125

Nerval's Lobster writes "The crowdfunding campaign to build an Ubuntu-powered smartphone has fallen short of its ambitious goal. Canonical, which works with the open-source community to support Ubuntu worldwide, decided to fund its Ubuntu Edge smartphone via crowdfunding Website Indiegogo. The funding goal was set at $32 million, and at first it looked as if the project had enough momentum to actually succeed: within the first 24 hours of the project's July 22 launch, some $3.45 million had poured in. But that torrent of cash soon slowed to a trickle. In the end, the campaign managed to amass $12,809,906 by its August 21 closing. Nonetheless, Canonical did its best to put a brave face on the situation. 'While we passionately wanted to build the Edge to showcase Ubuntu on phones, the support and attention it received will still be a huge boost as other Ubuntu phones start to arrive in 2014,' the organization wrote in a posting. 'Thousands of you clearly want to own an Ubuntu phone and believe in our vision of convergence, and rest assured you won't have much longer to wait.'" Update: 08/22 16:14 GMT by T : Oops -- headline edited to reflect that the Edge was an Indiegogo project, rather than Kickstarter.
The Courts

Bradley Manning Sentenced To 35 Years 491

An anonymous reader writes with bad, but not unexpected news: "The U.S. soldier convicted of handing a trove of secret government documents to anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks has been sentenced to 35 years in prison. Pte First Class Bradley Manning, 25, was convicted in July of 20 charges against him, including espionage. Last week, he apologized for hurting the U.S. and for 'the unexpected results' of his actions. He will receive credit for three and a half years, but be dishonorably discharged from the U.S. Army."
Censorship

Joining Lavabit Et Al, Groklaw Shuts Down Because of NSA Dragnet 986

An anonymous reader was the first to write with news that Groklaw is shutting down: "There is now no shield from forced exposure. Nothing in that parenthetical thought list is terrorism-related, but no one can feel protected enough from forced exposure any more to say anything the least bit like that to anyone in an email, particularly from the U.S. out or to the U.S. in, but really anywhere. You don't expect a stranger to read your private communications to a friend. And once you know they can, what is there to say? Constricted and distracted. That's it exactly. That's how I feel. So. There we are. The foundation of Groklaw is over. I can't do Groklaw without your input. I was never exaggerating about that when we won awards. It really was a collaborative effort, and there is now no private way, evidently, to collaborate." Why it's a big deal.
Handhelds

Dell Dumps Keyboardless Windows RT Tablets 186

jfruh writes "On Friday, Dell was selling Windows RT tablets for as low as $300. By this morning, the cheapest one on offer was $479. The difference? The only tablets they're selling now come bundled with keyboards, which may indicate that customers are finding even the Metro-focused RT version of Windows 8 too irritating to navigate by touch alone. (If you really want a 10-inch Dell tablet without a keyboard it looks like you can still get one on Amazon, at least for the time being.)"
Biotech

GM Rice Passes Unexpected Benefits To Weeds 208

ananyo writes "A genetic-modification technique used widely to make crops herbicide resistant has been shown to confer advantages on a weedy form of rice, even in the absence of the herbicide. Used in Monsanto's 'Roundup Ready' crops, for example, resistance to the herbicide glyphosate enables farmers to wipe out most weeds from the fields without damaging their crops. A common assumption has been that if such herbicide resistance genes manage to make it into weedy or wild relatives, they would be disadvantageous and plants containing them would die out. But the new study led by Lu Baorong, an ecologist at Fudan University in Shanghai, challenges that view: it shows that a weedy form of the common rice crop, Oryza sativa, gets a significant fitness boost from glyphosate resistance, even when glyphosate is not applied. The transgenic hybrids had higher rates of photosynthesis, grew more shoots and flowers and produced 48 — 125% more seeds per plant than non-transgenic hybrids — in the absence of glyphosate, the weedkiller they were resistant to."
The Almighty Buck

McAfee Regrets "Flawed" Trillion Dollar Cyber Crime Claims 39

Techy77 writes "McAfee's chief technology officer Mike Fey has admitted that he regrets his own company's estimates, which once pinned global losses from cyber crime at more than $1 trillion. From the article: 'A more recent report commissioned by the security company, and released last month, reduced those estimates to as low as $US300 billion globally, but specifically noted the difficulty of determining exactly how much companies, governments and individuals could lose if subject to an attack. “It’s very difficult to put a dollar figure on it,” Mr Fey said. “When you meet an engineer that has spent a good chunk of his life working on some innovation and it’s stolen overnight, you get a good feeling for what [intellectual property] loss means. It is the shift in a moment’s instance from an innovative company set strategically, to loss. It becomes difficult for that company to invest in innovation."'"
Space

New System Propels Satellites Without Propellants 85

cylonlover writes "Astronauts on the International Space Station (ISS) are testing a new propulsion system ... inside the station. While this might seem like the height of recklessness, this particular system doesn't use rockets or propellants. Developed in the University of Maryland's Space Power and Propulsion Laboratory, this new electromagnetic propulsion technology called the Resonant Inductive Near-field Generation System (RINGS) uses magnetic fields to move spacecraft as a way to increase service life and make satellite formation flying more practical."
The Media

Time Reporter "Can't Wait" To Justify Drone Strike On Julian Assange 490

First time accepted submitter Tuck News writes "A reporter for TIME Magazine sparked a Twitter war when he said that he 'can't wait to write a defense of the drone strike that takes out Julian Assange'. Michael Grunwald deleted his tweet after a follower argued that it would only encourage Assange supporters.Grunwald's employer distanced itself from the tweet, saying 'Michael Grunwald posted an offensive tweet from his personal Twitter account that is in no way representative of TIME's views.'"
Movies

The Death of the American Drive-in 236

Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Claire Suddath writes in Businessweek that the number of drive-ins in America has dwindled from over 4,000 in the 1960s to about 360 today. Since Hollywood distributors are expected to stop producing movies in traditional 35 millimeter film by the end of this year and switch entirely to digital, America's last remaining drive-ins — the majority of which are still family-owned and seasonally operated — could soon be gone. 'We have challenges that other movie theaters don't,' says John Vincent, president of United Drive-In Theater Owners Association and the owner of Wellfleet Drive-In in Cape Cod, Mass. 'We have fewer screens and can only show one or two movies a night. Now we have to spend tens of thousands of dollars just to stay in business.' According to Vincent, only 150 drive-ins have converted to digital so far — the other 210 have until the end of the year either to get with the program or go out of business. It may seem silly to fret over the fate of 210 movie theaters whose business model is outdated, even compared with regular movie theaters, but Honda Motor Co. is offering help with a program called 'Project Drive-In.' The car company is planning to give away five digital projectors by the end of the year. Winners will be determined by voting from the public, which can be done online through Sept. 9 at ProjectDriveIn.com. 'Cars and drive-in theaters go hand in hand,' says Alicia Jones, manager of Honda & Acura social marketing, 'and it's our mission to save this slice of Americana that holds such nostalgia for many of us.'"
Medicine

Soda Makes Five-Year-Olds Break Your Stuff, Science Finds 287

Daniel_Stuckey writes "Shakira F. Suglia and co-authors surveyed 2,929 mothers of five-year-olds (PDF) and found that 43 percent of the kids consumed at least one serving of soft drinks per day. About four percent of those children (or 110 of them), drank more than four soft drinks per day, and became 'more than twice as likely to destroy things belonging to others, get into fights, and physically attack people.' In the past, soda and its various strains have been related to depression, irritability, aggression, suicidal thoughts, and delusions of sweepstake-winning grandeur. Of course, this study didn't find out what types of soda the children had consumed."
Government

Feds Target Instructors of Polygraph-Beating Methods 282

schwit1 writes "Federal agents have launched a criminal investigation of instructors who claim they can teach job applicants how to pass lie detector tests as part of the Obama administration's unprecedented crackdown on security violators and leakers. The criminal inquiry, which hasn't been acknowledged publicly, is aimed at discouraging criminals and spies from infiltrating the U.S. government by using the polygraph-beating techniques, which are said to include controlled breathing, muscle tensing, tongue biting and mental arithmetic. So far, authorities have targeted at least two instructors, one of whom has pleaded guilty to federal charges, several people familiar with the investigation told McClatchy. Investigators confiscated business records from the two men, which included the names of as many as 5,000 people who'd sought polygraph-beating advice. U.S. agencies have determined that at least 20 of them applied for government and federal contracting jobs, and at least half of that group was hired, including by the National Security Agency. By attempting to prosecute the instructors, federal officials are adopting a controversial legal stance that sharing such information should be treated as a crime and isn't protected under the First Amendment in some circumstances."
Crime

Criminals Use 3D-Printed Skimming Devices On Sydney ATMs 110

AlbanX writes "A gang of suspected Romanian criminals is using 3D printers and computer-aided design (CAD) to manufacture 'sophisticated' ATM skimming devices to fleece Sydney residents. One Romanian national has been charged by NSW Police. The state police found one gang that had allegedly targeted 15 ATMs across metropolitan Sydney, affecting tens of thousands of people and nabbing around $100,000."

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