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Submission + - The FBI Has Its Own Surveillance Air Force (

CambodiaSam writes: The FBI is operating a “small air force” of planes equipped with video and cellphone surveillance technology (known as stingrays), according to a report released Tuesday by The Associated Press.

Submission + - Liquid metal capsules used to make self-healing el (

MrSeb writes: "A crack team of engineers at the University of Illinois has developed an electronic circuit that autonomously self-heals when its metal wires are broken. This self-healing system restores conductivity within “mere microseconds,” which is apparently fast enough that operation can continue without interruption. The self-healing mechanism is delightfully simple: The engineers place a bunch of 10-micron (0.01mm) microcapsules along the length of a circuit. The microcapsules are full of liquid metal, a gallium-indium alloy, and if the circuit underneath cracks, so do the microcapsules (90% of the time, anyway — the tech isn’t perfect yet!). The liquid metal oozes into the circuit board, restoring up to 99% conductivity, and everything continues as normal. This even works with multi-layer printed circuit boards (PCBs), such the motherboard in your computer, too. There’s no word on whether this same technology could one day be used by Terminators to self-heal shotgun blasts to the face, but it certainly sounds quite similar. The immediate use-cases are in extreme environments (aerospace), and batteries (which can't be taken apart to fix), but long term we might one day buy motherboards with these self-healing microcapsules built in."
The Military

Submission + - Troops in Afghanistan Supplied by Robot Helicopter

Hugh Pickens writes writes: "Pakistan is still blockading NATO war supplies passing through the port of Karachi in response to last month’s killing of 24 Pakistani soldiers by an alliance air strike. But inside Afghanistan, supply lines are about to get a lot safer for NATO’s logisticians as an unmanned helicopter just delivered a sling-load of beans, bullets, and band-aids to Marines at an undisclosed base in Afghanistan marking the first time a drone has been used to resupply a unit at war. The 2.5-ton, GPS-guided K-MAX can heft 3.5 tons of cargo about 250 miles up and over the rugged and mountainous terrain of Afghanistan across which NATO troops are scattered and can fly around the clock. "Most of the [K-MAX] missions will be conducted at night and at higher altitudes,” says Marine Capt. Caleb Joiner, a K-MAX operator. “This will allow us to keep out of small-arms range.” K-MAX will soon be joined in Afghanistan by Lockheed’s robo jeep that can carry a half a ton of supplies for up to 125 miles after being delivered to the field in a CH-47 or CH-53 helo."
Classic Games (Games)

Pac-Man's Ghost Behavior Algorithms 194

An anonymous reader writes "This article has a very interesting description of the algorithms behind the ghosts in Pac-Man. I had no idea about most of this information, but that's probably because it's difficult to study the ghosts when I die every 30 seconds. Quoting: 'The ghosts are always in one of three possible modes: Chase, Scatter, or Frightened. The "normal" mode with the ghosts pursuing Pac-Man is Chase, and this is the one that they spend most of their time in. While in Chase mode, all of the ghosts use Pac-Man's position as a factor in selecting their target tile, though it is more significant to some ghosts than others. In Scatter mode, each ghost has a fixed target tile, each of which is located just outside a different corner of the maze. This causes the four ghosts to disperse to the corners whenever they are in this mode. Frightened mode is unique because the ghosts do not have a specific target tile while in this mode. Instead, they pseudorandomly decide which turns to make at every intersection.'"

TSA Pats Down 3-Year-Old 1135

3-year-old Mandy Simon started crying when her teddy bear had to go through the X-ray machine at airport security in Chattanooga, Tenn. She was so upset that she refused to go calmly through the metal detector, setting it off twice. Agents then informed her parents that she "must be hand-searched." The subsequent TSA employee pat down of the screaming child was captured by her father, who happens to be a reporter, on his cell phone. The video have left some questioning why better procedures for children aren't in place. I, for one, feel much safer knowing the TSA is protecting us from impressionable minds warped by too much Dora the Explorer.

Pirates as a Marketplace 214

John Riccitiello, the CEO of Electronic Arts, made some revealing comments in an interview with Kotaku about how the company's attitudes are shifting with regard to software piracy. Quoting: "Some of the people buying this DLC are not people who bought the game in a new shrink-wrapped box. That could be seen as a dark cloud, a mass of gamers who play a game without contributing a penny to EA. But around that cloud Riccitiello identified a silver lining: 'There's a sizable pirate market and a sizable second sale market and we want to try to generate revenue in that marketplace,' he said, pointing to DLC as a way to do it. The EA boss would prefer people bought their games, of course. 'I don't think anybody should pirate anything,' he said. 'I believe in the artistry of the people who build [the games industry.] I profoundly believe that. And when you steal from us, you steal from them. Having said that, there's a lot of people who do.' So encourage those pirates to pay for something, he figures. Riccitiello explained that EA's download services aren't perfect at distinguishing between used copies of games and pirated copies. As a result, he suggested, EA sells DLC to both communities of gamers. And that's how a pirate can turn into a paying customer."
The Military

Submission + - SPAM: 15-ton bomb would become the Father Of All Bombs

coondoggie writes: "Now this is one big bomb. Published reports today say the Pentagon is rattling swords in the direction of North Korea and Iran by speeding the development a 20-foot, 30,000lb bomb known as Massive Ordnance Penetrator (MOP) meant to annihilate underground bunkers and other hardened (re: long range missile or underground nuke development) sites. The Defense Threat Reduction Agency which has overseen the development of this monster since 2007, says it is designed to be carried aboard B-2 and B-52 bombers and deployed at high altitudes where it would strike the ground at speeds well beyond 2X the speed of sound to penetrate the below ground target. [spam URL stripped]"
Link to Original Source

Submission + - Korean 'Journalists' Booted From Defcon (

CWmike writes: "Four South Korean journalists were booted from Defcon this week after show organizers decided their story didn't quite add up. They believe that one member of the group was a legitimate journalist, but that the other three were on some sort of intelligence-gathering expedition. Hackers who the group interviewed at the show said that their questions seemed inappropriate, organizers said. The journalists attended one day of Defcon's Black Hat sister conference before being ejected on Friday. How do you spot them? One of the show's senior organizers, who goes by the name "Priest," said "There's a certain body type you find with people who are in that type of work [such as military]," he said. "Broad shoulders, narrow waist, not very tall. I'm looking at these guys, going, 'You're in far, far too good shape to be press.'" And he said government employees posing as press often move very quickly to technical questions, rarely showing any interest in the motivation behind the research. They get "very technical very quickly," Priest said. "They're much more interested in what the latest is and what the greatest is and how they can use it.""
Classic Games (Games)

Submission + - Unknown Atari 2600 Game Found at Flea Market ( 2

VonGuard writes: "I was at the flea market in Oakland, yesterday, when a pile of EPROMs caught my eye. When I got them home, I found that they were actually prototypes for Colecovision games. A few were unpublished or saw limited print runs like Video Hustler (billiards). Others were fully released, like WarGames. But the crowning jewel is what look to be a number of chips with various revisions of Cabbage Patch Kids Adventures in the Park for Atari 2600. This game was never released, and has never been seen. It was a port of the version for Colecovision, and this lot of chips also included the Coleco version. So, now I have to find someone who can dump EPROMs gently onto a PC so we can play this never-before seen game, which is almost certainly awful."

Submission + - Roadable Aircraft to Fly This Year

Centurion5 writes: A while back an article asked Where Are the Flying Cars? Well, a group of MIT grads are trying to make that dream come true. The company, Terrafugia, is hoping to fly their "Roadable Aircraft,The Transition® later this year and start delivering them for a mere $148,000 sometime in 2009. It will feature a Rotax 912 engine which will allow it to burn automobile gas. While on the ground a snowmobile type transmission will uncouple the propeller and provide speeds expected to reach 85mph. In "Aircraft Mode" it can carry 550 pounds and will meet the Light Sport Aircraft certification and require a Sport Pilot certification from the FAA. Good Luck

Submission + - Cell phones inhibit sleep (

Technical Writing Geek writes: "Using a mobile phone before going to bed could stop you getting a decent night's sleep, research suggests. The study, funded by mobile phone companies, suggests radiation from the handset can cause insomnia, headaches and confusion. It may also cut our amount of deep sleep — interfering with the body's ability to refresh itself. The study was carried out by Sweden's Karolinska Institute and Wayne State University in the US. Funded by the Mobile Manufacturers Forum, the scientists studied 35 men and 36 women aged between 18 and 45. Some were exposed to radiation equivalent to that received when using a mobile phone, others were placed in the same conditions, but given only "sham" exposure. Those exposed to radiation took longer to enter the first of the deeper stages of sleep, and spent less time in the deepest one."


Submission + - Sony previews 'faster-than-USB' wireless solution

An anonymous reader writes: As if the Blu-ray announcement wasn't enough to put Sony on the map, reports of a wireless transfer system developed by Sony, which is theoretically faster than USB. TransferJet, as Sony is calling it, "has a pretty high sustained throughput of up to 375Mbps, which is fast enough not only to transfer still images, but also to stream high-definition video and audio without hiccups. The maximum theoretical transfer speed is 560Mbps, which knocks USB's 480Mbps into a cocked hat." Apparently, when the user places the camera within 30mm of the PC, the system recognises that you want to establish a connection, and the rest is history. There are no passwords to worry about, no searching for a wireless network, and no manual pairing.

Submission + - Sony's DRM-free tracks come with a price (

edmicman writes: "Leave it to Sony to mess up DRM-free music downloads. According to Infoworld:

The tracks will be offered in MP3 format, without DRM (digital rights management), from Jan. 15 in the U.S. and from late January in Canada.

The move is far from the all-digital service offered by its rivals, though. To obtain the Sony-BMG tracks, would-be listeners will first have to go to a retail store to buy a Platinum MusicPass, a card containing a secret code, for a suggested retail price of $12.99. Once they have scratched off the card's covering to expose the code, they will be able to download one of just 37 albums available through the service, including Britney Spears' "Blackout" and Barry Manilow's "The Greatest Songs of the Seventies."

What is the point of DRM-free tracks if you still have to go to a retail store to buy them?"


EA/BioWare Deal Finalized, Nets EA Ten Franchises 79

Gamasutra notes that the announced deal, where Electronic Arts was to purchase BioWare/Pandemic, has now been formalized. This arrangement will fold ten new franchises into the EA family, from the just-released Mass Effect all the way back to BioWare's classic titles. "EA Games president Frank Gibeau will oversee both studios within his organization, and BioWare's Ray Muzyka and Greg Zeschuk have each been named as vice presidents of EA and co-general managers of BioWare. Similarly, Pandemic's Andrew Goldman and Josh Resnick have each been named vice presidents of EA and co-general managers of Pandemic, while Greg Borrud has been named vice president of EA and chief production officer of Pandemic Studios. "
United States

Submission + - Electoral Compass for 2008 Presidential Elections (

mrvan writes: "The Electoral Compass was launched today by political scientists from the Free University Amsterdam in cooperation with the Wall Street Journal. On this voting aid website, you can fill in your position on a number of issues and compare it with that of the various candidates. Most importantly, at the end you can compare the differences per issue and see the debate transcripts or newspaper articles that contain the issue position of the candidate. An interesting point is that the researchers did not ask the candidates for their position, which carries a risk of getting optimized or manipulative answers. Instead, they coded the statements of the candidates found in the media and debates. More information about this compass and similar efforts for the last Dutch general elections can be found here."

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C'est magnifique, mais ce n'est pas l'Informatique. -- Bosquet [on seeing the IBM 4341]