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Electronics In Flight — Danger Or Distraction? 532

another similar writes "IEEE Spectrum has a blog post revisiting the debate on whether electronic devices pose a risk to flight avionics spurred by a NY Post article about Arianna Huffington's refusal to power down her Blackberry during takeoff. The post points out the EU's removal of their own ban on cell phone use in 2007 and the likelihood of significant non-compliance daily in the US — and curiously, planes haven't been falling from the sky at a similar rate. While the potential exists for there to be a problem, it would appear the risk is low. Ever bent the rules? Is an app for landing commercial jets somewhere in our future?"

Using Technology To Enforce Good Behavior 249

Ismellpoop writes "With the new year upon us and resolutions being made to change unwanted behavior, many tools are now available to help people stay in line, such as a GPS-enabled app that locks down texting once a car gets rolling and a program that cuts off credit-card spending. Another device monitors your workout and offers real-time voice feedback. Have we entered an era in which electronics serve as mother, cop and coach because we can't manage our own desires?"

Stargate Universe Cancelled 762

Torino writes "SGU has finally been cancelled, with the remaining 10 episodes to air in Spring. Apparently, the cast wasn't told ahead of time, and some of them learned of the cancellation via Twitter. SGU has had its share of problems, even spawning a community of people who dislike the show. Can it be saved via fan support, given the steadily declining viewership numbers? Do you think the show had the potential to improve?"
The Internet

Web Bugs the New Norm For Businesses? 108

An anonymous reader writes "What ever happened to the good old days, when underhanded email practices were only used by shady email marketing companies and spammers? Today, it seems, the mainstream corporate world has begun to employ the same tactics as spammers to track their customers' email. Jonathan Zdziarski noted in a blog entry that AT&T is using web bugs to track email sent to customers. Could this be used for nefarious purposes?"

Big Brother In the School Cafeteria? 425

AustinSlacker writes "An Iowa school district's lunch program asks children as young as 5 years old to memorize a four-digit PIN code so it can monitor what they eat in the school cafeteria - prompting some parents to claim it's an unhealthy case of 'Big Brother.' An over reaction by parents or an unnecessary invasion of privacy?"

Radiohead Helps Fans Make Crowd-Sourced Live Show DVD 103

Kilrah_il writes "After having a go with a Name-Your-Price album and an open-source video, Radiohead is again breaking new ground, this time with a fan-based initiative. A group of fans went to one of the band's shows in Prague, each shooting the show from a different angle. By editing it all together and adding audio from the original masters provided by the band, they have created a video of the show that is 'Strictly not for sale — By the fans for the fans,' adding, 'Please share and enjoy.' Can this be the future of live show videos?"

Apple Patents Remotely Disabling Jailbroken Phones 381

An anonymous reader writes "Apple yesterday applied for a patent to allow remotely disabling electronic devices when 'unauthorized usage' is detected. The patent application covers using the camera to take pictures of the unauthorized user and using GPS to determine location, and it involves ascertaining whether the phone has been hacked or jailbroken, using those as criteria for detecting 'suspicious behavior.' The patent would allow the carrier or any other 'authorized' party to disable or restrict the functionality of the device. Is this Apple's latest tool to thwart jailbreaking?"
Social Networks

Sifting Authorities From Celebrities On Twitter 86

holy_calamity writes "Celebrities like Britney Spears may be the 'most followed' on Twitter, but new service PeerIndex mines the content of tweets and tracks the spread of links and phrases to reveal the hidden experts in specific areas, from cloud computing to venture capital. The authorities the site finds for a given subject often have only a few hundred followers, but the content of their tweets is known to spread widely. Could data mining tools like this be the future for people or businesses looking for new collaborators, advisers and influencers?"

IEEE Looks At Kevin Costner's Oil Cleanup Machines 289

richardkelleher writes "IEEE Spectrum takes a look at the machines developed by a company funded by Kevin Costner that are supposed to extract the oil from the Gulf waters. Is it possible that in the years since the Exxon Valdez, that Kevin Costner is the only one who has invested money into the technology of oil spill cleanup?"

Google Acquires Metaweb 63

eldavojohn writes "A startup called Metaweb (looks like an ontological, entity-based approach to Web 2.0 tagging) has been acquired by Google. You can find out what they're about from a super marketing fluff video they put together. The neat thing about Metaweb is that the database of entities it has is free. Will Google be able to make Metaweb work on their omniscient scale, or was this just Google making sure a startup doesn't become yet another player in search?"

NetApp Threatens Sellers of Appliances Running ZFS 231

eldavojohn writes "ZFS is licensed under the CDDL and is considered to be open source, but NetApp is sending threatening legal letters to startups who look to offer ZFS on NAS appliances. This assault on Coraid has a few people worried about the future of ZFS as NetApp rears its ugly head yet again. The CEO of Coraid replied to NetApp's demands, saying, 'We made the decision to suspend shipment after receiving a legal threat letter from NetApp Inc., suggesting that the open-source ZFS file system planned for inclusion with our EtherDrive Z-Series infringes NetApp patents.' Will NetApp effectively destroy any future ZFS might have enjoyed?"

Congress Mulls China's Networked Authoritarianism 156

eldavojohn writes "Rebecca MacKinnon tipped her hand about her congressional statements on China and how much Americans are invested in China's censorship, delivered today at a hearing on 'China's Information Control Practices and the Implications for the United States.' In an attempt to describe what China is pioneering, she coins the term 'networked authoritarianism.' Of most concern was Baidu, which has two Americans on its board of directors (out of five) as well as a lot of funding from American investors and mutual funds. From her testimony (PDF): 'As I have described in my testimony, the Chinese government has transferred much of the cost of censorship to the private sector. The American investment community has so far been willing to fund Chinese innovation in censorship technologies and systems without complaint or objection. Under such circumstances, Chinese industry leaders have little incentive and less encouragement to resist government demands that often contradict even China's own laws and constitution.' Is Congress genuinely concerned or are they just curious how they can make 'networked authoritarianism' work for them?"

Wikileaks Founder Advised To Avoid American Gov't 632

eldavojohn writes "Media darling Julian Assange, founder of Wikileaks, has been told by his lawyers to avoid the United States on the grounds that the US military would like to ask him a few questions about his source of the Collateral Murder video. Assange claims to be holding yet more video (of a US attack on a village that allegedly killed 140 civilians in May of 2009), as well as a quarter million sensitive cables relating to the current foreign war operations from the US State Department. Assange surfaced for the cameras in Brussels while speaking about the need for the freedom of information. Can he build a high enough profile to protect himself from danger?"

Why Engineers Don't Like Twitter 460

PabloSandoval48 writes, "A recent EE Times survey of 285 engineers found that 85% don't use Twitter. More than half indicated that the statement 'I don't really care what you had for breakfast' best sums up their feelings about it." Reader mattnyc99 notes a related article in which the authors analyzed the content of tweets during a recent World Cup game, finding 76% of them to be useless. "Out of 1,000 tweets with the #worldcup hashtag during the game, only 16 percent were legitimate news and 7.6 percent were deemed 'legitimate conversation' — which leaves 6 percent spam, 24 percent self-promotion, about 17 percent re-tweets, and a whopping 29 percent of useless observation (like this). Is the mainstream media making too big a deal out of the avalanche of World Cup tweets, or is the world literally flooding the zone?"

The Rise of Nanofoods 369

separsons writes "Researchers are altering foods at the nanoscale level, changing their tiny molecular structures to enhance certain properties. (New Scientist has a more detailed look.) For example, one group of scientists found a way to hide water within individual droplets of oil, making low-fat mayonnaise taste like the real thing. The process can make spices spicier, potato chips healthier, and make diet food taste just like full-calorie snacks. Nanotech can even help combat global malnutrition. But the process is certainly controversial, and food manufacturers are being tight-lipped about exactly what nanofoods they're working on. So can nanotech create a healthier world, or is it just frightening Franken-food?"

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