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Submission Summary: 0 pending, 49 declined, 24 accepted (73 total, 32.88% accepted)

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Submission + - Drug-test the Rich - Not the Poor - to Qualify for Tax Benefits (theguardian.com)

Press2ToContinue writes: "The (tax) benefits we give to poor people are so limited compared to what we give to the top 1%” of taxpayers, Congresswoman Gwen Moore says, “It’s a drop in the bucket.” Many states implement drug-testing programs to qualify for benefit programs so that states feel they are not wasting the value they dole out.

However, seven states who implemented drug testing for tax benefit program recipients spent $1m on drug testing from the inception of their programs through 2014. But the average rate of drug use among those recipients has been far below the national average – around 1% overall, compared with 9.4% in the general population – meaning there’s been little cost savings from the drug testing program. Why? “Probably because they can’t afford it,” say Moore.

“We might really save some money by drug-testing folks on Wall Street, who might have a little cocaine before they get their deal done,” she said, and proposes a bill requiring tests for returns with itemized deductions of more than $150,000.

“We spend $81bn on everything – everything – that you could consider a poverty program,” she explained. But just by taxing capital gains at a lower rate than other income, a bit of the tax code far more likely to benefit the rich than the poor, “that’s a $93bn expenditure. Just capital gains,” she added. Why not drug-test the rich to ensure they won't waste their tax benefits?

She is “sick and tired of the criminalization of poverty”. And, she added: “We’re not going to get rid of the federal deficit by cutting poor people off Snap. But if we are going to drug-test people to reduce the deficit, let’s start on the other end of the income spectrum.”

Submission + - Four newly discovered elements receive names - your chance to change them (theverge.com)

Press2ToContinue writes: The proposed names for recently discovered superheavy elements are:

Nihonium and symbol Nh, for the element 113
Moscovium and symbol Mc, for the element 115
Tennessine and symbol Ts, for the element 117
Oganesson and symbol Og, for the element 118

This isn't finalized. Not sure I even like some of these, and maybe you feel the same way. Above are the proposed names that will substitute for the current placeholders (e.g., ununpentium, ununseptium). Nilhonium, Moscovium, and Tennesine are all named for places; Oganessen is named for the Russian physicist Yuri Oganessian.

But we have until November to lobby for other names. Here's a chance to go down in history and name an element on the periodic table. How about naming one Elementy McElementface?

Submission + - I've Seen the Drone Future and It's Filled with Performance Art

Press2ToContinue writes: When Intel CEO Brian Krzanich asked marketing director of perceptual computing Anil Nanduri what he would do with 100 flying drones, Nanduri being a director of course passed that on to someone else, and laid that labor in the lap of a group of artists at Ars Electronica Futurelab in Linz, Austria.

And the team responded by creating an outdoor flying drone light show syncopated to a live orchestra. Of course.

Judging from the drone performance beginning at video marker 3:40, this concept might not be actually be as entertaining as it sounds, or at least maybe not Intel's rendition, but Intel is not Disney. And in January, Disney filed for FAA approval to add drones to live shows at parks, calling them Flixels.

According to the application, ‘Flixels are to accompany entertainment at the Walt Disney World and Disneyland Resorts, including during each resort’s nightly Fireworks Spectaculars. Deployed from a monitored platform designated as the launch/land area in restricted access areas of each resort, Flixels will be “magically” incorporated into Disney story elements that engage and inspire children and their families."

The future is nigh, and it's filled with flying syncopated robots.

Submission + - Why Stack Overflow Doesn't Care About Ad Blockers

Press2ToContinue writes: Forging a bold step in the right direction, Stack Overflow announced today that they don't care if you use an ad blocker when you visit their site.

"The truth is: we don’t care if our users use ad blockers on Stack Overflow. More accurately: we hope that they won’t, but we understand that some people just don’t like ads. Our belief is that if someone doesn’t like them, and they won’t click on them, any impressions served to them will only annoy them-- plus, serving ads to people who won’t click on them harms campaign performance."

"Publishers can’t win by forcing ads — especially low-quality ads — in people’s faces. Think scantily-clad women selling flight deals, weight-loss supplement promos or wacky waving inflatable arm-flailing tube-men promoting car dealerships."


It's possible that this declaration by SO might help to clarify to advertisers that it is the overabundance of low quality ads that practically force the public to seek out ad blockers. But seriously, what is the likelihood of that?

Submission + - Are roads safer with no central white lines?

Press2ToContinue writes: White lines along the center of roads have been removed in parts of the UK, with some experts saying it encourages motorists to slow down. So is it the beginning of the end for the central road marking?

You are driving along the road when the dotted white line that has been your companion — separating your car from oncoming traffic — suddenly disappears.

One theory is that you will slow down, making the road safer.

What could possibly go wrong?

Submission + - Android malware defeats two-factor authentication (thestack.com)

Press2ToContinue writes: A malware program previously discovered by Symantec, called Android.Bankosy, intercepted one-time passwords commonly used as a second layer of protection in online financial transactions. But this week, Symantec reported a new functionality in the updated version of Android.Bankosy, which can intercept one-time passwords delivered by voice calls.

Once installed on a device, Android.Bankosy creates a back door that opens communication with a command and control server. Once the command and control server has user identification information – the first factor in two-factor authorization – it can set up unconditional call forwarding. Then it can initiate a financial transaction and the call with the one-time password goes straight to the third party. According to the Symantec security blog, “the back door also has support for disabling and enabling silent mode in addition to locking the device, so that the victim is not alerted during an incoming call.”

Is it time for 3-factor authentication? Probably not the right direction? Where do we go now?

Submission + - Lenovo and Google to Dance the Tango

Press2ToContinue writes: Google and Lenovo announced plans Thursday night in Las Vegas for the first Project Tango phone to be released this summer for less than $500.

Project Tango is Google’s vision to bring augmented reality to phones by enabling devices to be able to sense where they are and what is around them. During the announcement, Google’s Johnny Lee demonstrated measuring a room using a prototype Project Tango tablet and then shopping at Lowes for furniture that would fit it.

Submission + - German Carpenter Attaches On/Off switch to His Testicles, Controls Sperm 1

Press2ToContinue writes: A German carpenter has invented a valve which he claims will revolutionize contraception, by allowing a man to turn the flow of sperm from his testicles on and off at the flick of a switch. It (the switch, of course) is nearly an inch long and weighs less than a tenth of an ounce. It is surgically implanted on the vas deferens, the tube that carries sperm from the testicles, in a half-hour operation, and controlled by a switch beneath the skin of the scrotum.

So far Bimek is the only man who has the switches implanted, one for each testicle. I wonder what other switches we will see implanted into humans in the future?

Submission + - Wait - Windows 10 and Office 365 In your Car's Dashboard?

Press2ToContinue writes: Microsoft is bringing Windows 10 and Office 365 to your car's dashboard. and working on in-dash productivity.

Microsoft announced partnerships with Volvo, Nissan, IAV, and Harman at CES on Tuesday, tying each to its various apps or services. Though perhaps slightly less well known, the partnerships Microsoft struck with IAV and Harman were the most significant. In the case of IAV, for example, the component maker said it would actually work with Microsoft to stream Windows 10 to the car using the recent Continuum feature.

“In the near future, the car will be connected to the Internet, as well as to other cars, your mobile phone and your home computer,” Peggy Johnson, executive vice president of business development for Microsoft, said in a blog post. “The car becomes a companion and an assistant to your digital life. And so our strategy is to be the ultimate platform for all intelligent cars.”

Submission + - Gene Roddenberry's Diskettes Recovered

Press2ToContinue writes: When Gene Roddenberry's computer died, it took with it the only method of accessing some 200 floppy disks of his unpublished work. To make matters worse, about 30 of the disks were damaged, with deep gouges in the magnetic surface. So what was actually on the disks? Lost episodes of Star Trek? The secret script for a new show? Or as Popular Science once speculated, a patent for a transporter?

Unfortunately, we still don't know.

Submission + - What do you think of a Single, Universal Phone Charger Standard? (vice.com)

Press2ToContinue writes: Apple’s Lightning cable cartel be damned: Switzerland is moving forward with a plan for a single, universal phone charger across the country, standardizing phone chargers across the board. While the exact standard hasn’t been mentioned yet, it wouldn’t be hard to guess the standard: Micro USB, used across phone platforms, most especially Android, which has a gigantic chunk of the cell phone market worldwide.

The likely loser? Apple, which has relied on proprietary chargers since introducing the iPhone in 2007. While many companies have tried releasing generic cables, Apple often relies on DRM software to ensure that it’s an Apple certified cable, charging $19 a piece for the Lightning charger used by the iPhone 5 and 6 and similar models.

What do you think, are government-mandated standards for chargers a good idea? Despite the success of the standard household 3-prong electrical plug, doesn't this hamper progress?

Submission + - Meet the Scientist Who Injected Himself with 3.5 Million-Year-Old Bacteria (vice.com)

Press2ToContinue writes: Anatoli Brouchkov is a soft-spoken guy with silver hair, and when he lets out a reserved chuckle, his eyes light up like he was belly laughing. If you met him on the street, you’d never guess that he once injected himself with a 3.5 million-year-old strain of bacteria, just to see what would happen.

According to Brouchkov, Bacillus F has a mechanism that has enabled it to survive for so long beneath the ice, and that the same mechanism could be used to extend human life, too—perhaps, one day, forever. In tests, Brouchkov says the bacteria allowed female mice to reproduce at ages far older than typical mice. Fruit flies, he told the Siberian Times, also experienced a “positive impact” from exposure to the bacteria.

Submission + - Pre-crime arrives in the UK with a crowdsourced watch list (arstechnica.com)

Press2ToContinue writes: The film Minority Report, people are rounded up by the Precrime police agency before they actually commit the crime. In the movie this pre-crime information is provided by "pre-cognition" savants floating in a goopy nutrient bath who can apparently see the future. Replace those gibbering pre-cog mutants with Facewatch. It's a system that lets retailers, publicans, and retailers share private video footage with the police and each other. It is integrated with real-time face recognition systems, such as NEC's NeoFace. Where previously a member of staff had to keep an eye out for people on the crowdsourced Facewatch watch list, now the system can automatically tell you if someone on the watch list has just entered the premises. A member of staff can then keep an eye on that person, or ask them politely (or not) to leave.

Submission + - Animations in UI Design: For, Against, or Just Another /. Toxic Waste Zone?

Press2ToContinue writes: Google made it big limiting advertisements using strict guidelines: only simple text ads were allowed.Google's home page adhered to a similar concept: no distractions, nothing moving. It simply said "Google." The rise of the world's biggest brand was based on this premise of a simple, unmoving, unanimated theme.

How soon we forget. Now Google's page is always animated. The more they grow, the more they feel it is acceptable that user experience elements move, and more and more distractions are now acceptable, even pre-pending video ads at the beginning of videos, and animating Gmail sign-in boxes as they glide into place. But clearly, as evinced by the popularity of Adblock, distractions are annoying and unwelcome, Adblock is now so popular that makes a fortune accepting Google's payments to let distractions through, while users desperately search for ways to disable all possible animations. Somehow, it seems counterproductive to what we consider "good" UI design.

In fact, and depending entirely on who you consult, it seems that there can be no limit to the the idea that animation only ever makes the user experience richer. If it doesn't move in some way, it can be improved by movement. And this is the inherent, conflicting unquestioned assumption in the current state of UI design: movement is good. But where is the line between helpful movement and distractions? And is it the same for everyone?

Again, this is at odds with the anti-trend precepts that made Google popular, and at odds with the hate that we spew for animations and distractions on web pages, and especially for the videos that start playing when we land on a page.

But I ask you, seriously, as web and UI designers, in your head, where is that line between good UI design, and distracting, pointless movement? Does a line even exist? When it comes to UI design, is the sky the limit, and is it OK for everything to be animated at the whim of the designer, because they can utter incantations that justify their new, more animated, design?

Does anyone even think that UI animations, and animations in advertising, may both be simply manifestations of our innate desire to catch people's attention? Animations are the trend, but would anyone really miss them if they went away? Or worse, are some users actually distracted and impeded by them, but we don't want to know because it's less fun to design a static UI?

I can think of a dozen ways to design a UI with more efficient and accurate inputs than swipes, gestures, and carousels with artificially-induced momentum. Vista and Windows 8 failed miserably. Could it be that the commonality was that their core concept revolved around the assumption that users crave skeuomorphic movement? Will there come a time when someone says, these are all simply subclasses of the now-faded skeuomorphism fad of early UI design, the faux marble bitmaps and the cheesy animated gifs of the early web?

And could they, in some cases, actually be harmful enough that even though we think they are cool, we should always provide a way to switch them off?

And is the worst-case scenario, that we are simply wasting development time, and slowing down the user interface without really adding any value, time that could be better spent because what users really want is better performance, and real functionality?

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