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Google

Google Says It Mistakenly Collected Wi-Fi Data While Mapping 215

Even if Google says there's nothing to worry about, newviewmedia.com writes, the company "said it would stop collecting Wi-Fi network data from its StreetView cars, after an internal investigation it conducted found it was accidentally collecting data about websites people were visiting over the hotspots. From the WSJ article: 'It's now clear that we have been mistakenly collecting samples of payload data from open [i.e. non-password-protected] Wi-Fi networks, even though we never used that data in any Google products.'"
Image

The Parking Meter Turns 75 Today Screenshot-sm 126

nj_peeps writes "75 years ago Carl Magee filed a patent application for what would become one of the most hated inventions in history: the parking meter. From the article: 'Magee's brainwave was to install a device that had a coin acceptor and a dial to engage a timing mechanism. A visible pointer and flag indicated the expiration of the paid period, meaning you either had to move, put in more money, or face the wrath of the local constabulary. The design continued largely unchanged for more than 40 years.'"
Science

Using Infrared Cameras To Find Tastiness of Beef 108

JoshuaInNippon writes "Might we one day be able to use our cell phone cameras to pick out the best piece of meat on display at the market? Some Japanese researchers seem to hope so. A team of scientists is using infrared camera technology to try and determine the tastiest slices of high-grade Japanese beef. The researchers believe that the levels of Oleic acid found within the beef strongly affect the beef's tenderness, smell, and overall taste. The infrared camera can be tuned to pick out the Oleic acid levels through a whole slab, a process that would be impossible to do with the human eye. While the accuracy is still relatively low — a taste test this month resulted in only 60% of participants preferring beef that was believed to have had a higher level of Oleic acid — the researchers hope to fine tune the process for market testing by next year."
Robotics

Evolving Robots Learn To Prey On Each Other 115

quaith writes "Dario Floreano and Laurent Keller report in PLoS ONE how their robots were able to rapidly evolve complex behaviors such as collision-free movement, homing, predator versus prey strategies, cooperation, and even altruism. A hundred generations of selection controlled by a simple neural network were sufficient to allow robots to evolve these behaviors. Their robots initially exhibited completely uncoordinated behavior, but as they evolved, the robots were able to orientate, escape predators, and even cooperate. The authors point out that this confirms a proposal by Alan Turing who suggested in the 1950s that building machines capable of adaptation and learning would be too difficult for a human designer and could instead be done using an evolutionary process. The robots aren't yet ready to compete in Robot Wars, but they're still pretty impressive."
Education

Ocean-Crossing Dragonflies Discovered 95

grrlscientist writes "While living and working as a marine biologist in Maldives, Charles Anderson noticed sudden explosions of dragonflies at certain times of year. He explains how he carefully tracked the path of a plain, little dragonfly called the Globe Skimmer, Pantala flavescens, only to discover that it had the longest migratory journey of any insect in the world."
Security

FTC Worries About Consumers, Cloud Data, and Privacy 175

pcause writes "Ars Techina has a nice article about the FTC's concern that consumers don't understand the implications of storing their data in the cloud. From the article: 'Data is now sitting on servers outside of your control, where it can be accessed far more easily by Google itself, hackers, and law enforcement than it ever could if kept within the device. Once data passes over the network, it gets much easier to access in realtime; once it is stored on a remote server, it gets much easier to access at any time. And those are just the phone settings. Google also has access to search history data, anything stored in Google Docs or Spreadsheets, complete schedules stored in Google Calendar, and recent Maps searches. Combine them all, and companies like Google become one-stop shops for authorities looking for personal information.' Do you think the average consumer even has a clue about this issue?"
Power

Massive Solar Updraft Towers Planned For Arizona 572

MikeChino writes "Australia-based EnviroMission Ltd recently announced plans to build two solar updraft towers that span hundreds of acres in La Paz County, Arizona. Solar updraft technology sounds promising enough: generate hot air with a giant greenhouse, channel the air into a chimney-like device, and let the warm wind turn a wind turbine to produce energy. The scale of the devices would be staggering — each plant would consist of a 2,400 foot chimney over a greenhouse measuring four square miles. The Southern California Public Power Authority has approved EnviroMission as a provider, although there’s still plenty of work to be done before the $750 million, 200 megawatt project can begin."
Earth

Minnesota Introduces World's First Carbon Tariff 303

hollywoodb writes "The first carbon tax to reduce the greenhouse gases from imports comes not between two nations, but between two states. Minnesota has passed a measure to stop carbon at its border with North Dakota. To encourage the switch to clean, renewable energy, Minnesota plans to add a carbon fee of between $4 and $34 per ton of carbon dioxide emissions to the cost of coal-fired electricity, to begin in 2012 ... Minnesota has been generally pushing for cleaner power within its borders, but the utility companies that operate in MN have, over the past decades, sited a lot of coal power plants on the relatively cheap and open land of North Dakota, which is preparing a legal battle against Minnesota over the tariff."
Graphics

Microsoft Wants To Participate In SVG Development 292

rossendryv writes "After many years of fighting against the standard, Microsoft announced they are joining the WC3's SVG working group to help with the development of SVG. 'We recognize that vector graphics are an important component of the next-generation Web platform,' said Patrick Dengler, senior program manager on Microsoft's Internet Explorer team in a blog post."
Space

Giant Black Hole At Milky Way's Core Stays Slim 61

thomst writes "A team of researchers from Harvard and MIT announced at the 215th meeting of the American Astronomical Society a new theoretical model of how the super-massive black hole at the center of the Milky Way consumes gas from surrounding star clusters, based on a million seconds of observation by the orbital Chandra X-ray telescope. Astronomers had previously believed that the object, known as Sagittarius A* (pronounced 'Sagittarius A-Star') consumed only around one percent of the gases it stripped from the star clusters around it, but the new model reduces its consumption to 0.01 percent (i.e. — two orders of magnitude). Physorg.com's uncredited reporter gets the story right, while space.com's Andrea Thomspon clearly doesn't understand the mechanism behind the phenomenon (essentially, thermal conduction from the extremely-hot accretion disk heats the surrounding gas, causing it to expand, and thus move away from Sagittarius A*'s gravity well)."
Apple

How Apple Orchestrates Controlled Leaks, and Why 195

Lanxon writes "'I was a Senior Marketing Manager at Apple and I was instructed to do some controlled leaks,' confesses John Martellaro. Monday's article at the Wall Street Journal, which provided confirmation of an Apple tablet device, had all the earmarks of a controlled leak. Here's how Apple does it. Often Apple has a need to let information out, unofficially. The company has been doing that for years, and it helps preserve Apple's consistent, official reputation for never talking about unreleased products. The way it works is that a senior exec will come in and say, 'We need to release this specific information. John, do you have a trusted friend at a major outlet? If so, call him/her and have a conversation. Idly mention this information and suggest that if it were published, that would be nice. No e-mails!'"
Security

Alleged Ponzi Mastermind Hacked In Antigua 51

krebsonsecurity writes "Criminal hackers apparently involved in break-ins at several US financial institutions also appear to have dug up dirt on Robert Allen Stanford, a man slated to go on trial this month for his alleged part in an $8 billion Ponzi scheme. Quoting: 'In early 2008, while federal investigators were busy investigating disgraced financier Robert Allen Stanford for his part in an alleged $8 billion fraudulent investment scheme, Eastern European hackers were quietly hoovering up tens of thousands customer financial records from the Bank of Antigua, an institution formerly owned by the Stanford Group.'"
Space

Astronomers Detect the Earliest Galaxies 127

FiReaNGeL writes "Astronomers, using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, have uncovered a primordial population of compact and ultra-blue galaxies that have never been seen before. They are from 13 billion years ago, just 600 to 800 million years after the Big Bang. These newly found objects are crucial to understanding the evolutionary link between the birth of the first stars, the formation of the first galaxies, and the sequence of evolutionary events that resulted in the assembly of our Milky Way and the other 'mature' elliptical and majestic spiral galaxies in today's universe."
Image

Living In Tokyo's Capsule Hotels Screenshot-sm 269

afabbro writes "Capsule Hotel Shinjuku 510 once offered a night’s refuge to salarymen who had missed the last train home. Now with Japan enduring its worst recession since World War II, it is becoming an affordable option for people with nowhere else to go. The Hotel 510’s capsules are only 6 1/2 feet long by 5 feet wide. Guests must keep possessions, like shirts and shaving cream, in lockers outside of the capsules. Atsushi Nakanishi, jobless since Christmas says, 'It’s just a place to crawl into and sleep. You get used to it.'”

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