SternisheFan writes: Grace Lee Whitney, the actress who played Yeoman Janice Rand on “Star Trek: The Original Series,” reportedly died Friday in her home in Coarsegold, California. No cause of death has been reported. She was 85.
The versatile actress and vocalist was born Mary Ann Chase in Ann Arbor, Michigan in 1930. She was adopted by the Whitney family, and as a teenager, began her career in entertainment as a singer and dancer. She eventually became interested in acting and in 1966, clinched a role as Yeoman Janice Rand, a personal assistant to William Shatner's Captain James T. Kirk in the first season of the original “Star Trek” TV series.
SternisheFan writes: (Reuters) — The Los Angeles Unified School District is seeking a refund from Apple Inc (AAPL.O) over the district's bungled $1.3 billion effort to supply students with iPads, the Los Angeles Times reported on Wednesday.
The district's initiative, launched in 2013, to equip each of its roughly 650,000 students with an iPad or another computer device with curriculum from Pearson Plc (PSON.L), was the largest educational technology project of its kind in the United States.
The project soon ran into difficulties, however, and the technology rollout encountered a series of problems, including students bypassing a security firewall on the iPads, while an independent report found that the built-in curriculum was often incomplete.
The Los Angeles Times said the LAUSD's Board of Education in a closed-door meeting on Tuesday authorized its attorneys to consider potential legal action against Apple and Pearson.
"As you are aware, LAUSD is extremely dissatisfied with the work of Pearson," the district's general counsel, David Holmquist, said in a letter to Apple on Monday, according to the Times. "While Apple and Pearson promised a state-of-the-art technological solution [...] they have yet to deliver it."
Holmquist added that the district was severing ties with both companies for future services on the project, according to the Los Angeles Times.
SternisheFan writes: Gaioz Nigalidze’s rise through the ranks of professional chess began in 2007, the year the first iPhone was released. In hindsight, the timing might not be coincidental.
On Saturday, Nigalidze, the 25-year-old reigning Georgian champion, was competing in the 17th annual Dubai Open Chess Tournament when his opponent spotted something strange.
“Nigalidze would promptly reply to my moves and then literally run to the toilet,” Armenian grandmaster Tigran Petrosian said. “I noticed that he would always visit the same toilet partition, which was strange, since two other partitions weren’t occupied.”
Petrosian complained to the officials. After Nigalidze left the bathroom once more, officials inspected the interior and say they found an iPhone wrapped in toilet paper and hidden behind the toilet.
“When confronted, Nigalidze denied he owned the device,” according to the tournament’s Web site. “But officials opened the smart device and found it was logged into a social networking site under Nigalidze’s account. They also found his game being analyzed in one of the chess applications.”
Nigalidze was expelled from the tournament, which is still ongoing and features more than 70 grandmasters from 43 countries competing for a first-place prize of $12,000. The Georgian’s career is now under a microscope. His two national titles are under suspicion. And under recently tightened rules against cheating, he could be banned for up to 15 years.
But the scandal threatens to spread far beyond the gleaming white Dubai Chess & Culture Club, which is shaped like a giant rook. Nigalidze’s expulsion is a nightmare scenario for chess: proof positive that technologically enabled cheating, rumored about for more than a decade, is now pervasive. Thanks to smart phones, the game of kings is starting to look like the game of crooks.
SternisheFan writes: Prosecutors say they have evidence indicating the former head of computer security for a state lottery association tampered with lottery computers prior to him buying a ticket that won a $14.3 million jackpot, according to a media report.
Eddie Raymond Tipton, 51, may have inserted a thumbdrive into a highly locked-down computer that's supposed to generate the random numbers used to determine lottery winners, The Des Moines Register reported, citing court documents filed by prosecutors. At the time, Tipton was the information security director of the Multi-State Lottery Association, and he was later videotaped purchasing a Hot Lotto ticket that went on to fetch the winning $14.3 million payout.
In court documents filed last week, prosecutors said there is evidence to support the theory Tipton used his privileged position inside the lottery association to enter a locked room that housed the random number generating computers and infect them with software that allowed him to control the winning numbers. The room was enclosed in glass, could only be entered by two people at a time, and was monitored by a video camera. To prevent outside attacks, the computers aren't connected to the Internet. Prosecutors said Tipton entered the so-called draw room on November 20, 2010, ostensibly to change the time on the computers. The cameras on that date recorded only one second per minute rather than running continuously like normal.
"Four of the five individuals who have access to control the camera's settings will testify they did not change the cameras' recording instructions," prosecutors wrote. "The fifth person is defendant. It is a reasonable deduction to infer that defendant tampered with the camera equipment to have an opportunity to insert a thumbdrive into the RNG tower without detection."
SternisheFan writes: NASA will pay $18,000 to anyone prepared to stay in bed for 10 weeks and submit to a gruelling regime of tests for more than three months. The only criteria are the candidates have to be healthy and American citizens.
Scientists will constantly examine the lucky ones, who are selected, for 70 days. The research is being carried out to simulate how effective exercise is on astronauts, who lose cardiovascular, bone and muscle function as a result of living in zero gravity conditions.
The volunteers will be split into those who exercise and those who don’t. The first step will see all those taking part, spend between two and three weeks inside a “bed rest facility.” Here they will be allowed to move around a lead a normal day’s life.
The second stage will see the volunteers transferred to NASA’s Flight Analog Research Unit in Houston, Texas. They will spend 10 weeks lying in bed, with their bodies tilted slightly backwards, with their feet up and their head down.
Movement will be kept to a bare minimum, with the human lab rats only able to go to the toilet in a plastic bedpan, while they will also have to wash while lying down with a hand-held showerhead.
Reading and watching movies will be allowed, as these activates don’t use up much energy. However, the participants could suffer from aching joints, due to lying on one position for such a lengthy period of time.
The idea is to emulate what an astronaut’s body goes through during the weightlessness of space flight.
The third stage will see the participants undertake 14 days of exercise, which will include cycling, squatting and walking. The aim of these “reconditioning activities,” is to see how regular exercise helps the body to get back to normal shape.
Treadmills and weight machines will also be used, while the workouts will vary in intensity everyday.
SternisheFan writes: 26,086 people from 157 countries participated in our 45-question survey. 6,800 identified as full-stack developers, 1,900 as mobile developers, 1,200 as front-end developers, 2 as farmers, and 12,000 as something else.
Code is everywhere, and just about every coder uses Stack Overflow. Every day more coders are finding great jobs on Stack Overflow Careers.
We conducted this survey to help us better understand our community and to help our community better understand itself. For 2 weeks in early February we ran ads for the survey on Stack Overflow, posted it on Meta Stack Overflow, and shared it across social media.
These results are not unbiased. Like the results of any survey, they are skewed by selection bias, language bias, and probably a few other biases. So take this for what it is: the most comprehensive developer survey ever conducted. Or at least the only one that asks devs about tabs vs. spaces.
SternisheFan writes: It happens so quickly you almost don’t believe it: Seth Robertson and Viet Tran ignite a fire, snap on their low-rumbling bass frequency generator and extinguish the flames in seconds. And even after you’ve seen it over and over, it’s still unbelievable.
But the two last-year engineering majors at George Mason University, in Fairfax, Virginia, appear to have invented a way to use sound waves to put out fires. It started as an idea for a research project, and after a year of trial and error and spending about $600 of their own money, they have built a somewhat portable sound generator, amplifier, power source and focusing tube that would seem to have great potential in attacking fires in a variety of situations.
Robertson, 23, and Tran, 28, applied for a provisional patent at the end of November, which gives them a year to do further testing on other flammable chemicals – so far they have put out only fires started with rubbing alcohol – and to continue to refine their device. Although they originally conceived of the device as a way to put out kitchen fires and, perhaps, fires in spacecraft, a local fire department already has asked them to test their bass waves on a structure fire; they think the concept could replace the toxic chemicals involved in fire extinguishers.
But how does it work? The basic concept, Tran said, is that sound waves are also “pressure waves, and they displace some of the oxygen” as they travel through the air. Oxygen, we all recall from high school chemistry, fuels fire. At a certain frequency, the sound waves “separate the oxygen from the fuel. The pressure wave is going back and forth, and that agitates where the air is. That specific space is enough to keep the fire from reigniting.”
SternisheFan writes: Arkansas will be implementing a new law that requires public high schools to offer classes in computer science starting in the 2015-16 school year. Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, who signed the bill, believes it will provide “a workforce that’s sure to attract businesses and jobs” to the state.
$5 million of the governor’s proposed budget will go towards this new program. For the districts incapable of of administering these classes due to lack of space or qualified teachers, the law has provisions for online courses to be offered through Virtual Arkansas.
Although students will not be required to take computer science classes, the governor’s goal is to give students the opportunity if they “want to take it”.
Presently, only one in 10 schools nationwide offer computer science classes. Not only will Arkansas teach these classes in every public high school and charter school serving upper grades, the courses will count towards the state’s math graduation requirement as a further incentive for students .
Training programs for teacher preparation will be available, but with the majority of the infrastructure already primed, the execution of this new law should hopefully be painless and seamless.
SternisheFan writes: Imagine a source of electrical power that uses water for fuel, produces byproducts that are totally safe and releases no air pollution. Then imagine that once it's up and running, it'll be so portable that an entire power plant could fit into the cargo hold of an airplane. Now, imagine that it'll be running in prototype form in five years and operating commercially in ten.
The fusion is powered by a combination of two isotopes of Hydrogen, Deuterium and Tritium, both of which occur in nature and which can be extracted from water. "Our studies show that a 100 MW system would only burn less than 20 kg of fuel in an entire year of operation," a Lockheed Martin spokesperson told eWEEK. "Tritium fuel is continually bred within the reactor wall and fed back into the reactor along with deuterium gas to sustain the reactions." In other words, the fusion reactor creates most of its own fuel as part of its operation. The Deuterium gas is simply a normal hydrogen atom with an extra neutron, creating what is sometimes called "heavy hydrogen." Deuterium can be extracted from the hydrogen obtained from electrolysis of water. This may sound complicated, but it's a process that has been routinely performed in college physics projects. While the fusion reactor does create a radioactive byproduct, it's recycled for use in the reactor itself. There is no radioactive waste problem such as exists with nuclear fission power plants. "The waste footprint is orders of magnitude less than coal plants which require huge landfills to contain the toxic ash and sludge wastes," the spokesperson said in an email. "A typical coal plant generates over 100,000 tons of ash and sludge containing toxic metals and chemicals each year. The first generation of fusion reactors will run on Deuterium-Tritium fuel, but successive generations would use fuels that could eliminate the radioactivity altogether," she said. Currently Lockheed Martin is in the process of testing a magnetic confinement bottle, where the Skunk Works team has apparently made significant progress. In terms of how a fusion reactor would be created, the magnetic bottle is the primary hurdle. If that's accomplished successfully most of the science and engineering is known. However, that doesn't mean that building the prototype fusion reactor is a done deal. Lockheed Martin is looking for industry partners to help develop the Compact Fusion reactor into a real product. The goal is to create a fusion reactor that can generate heat to use in existing power plants, where the reactor would replace existing fossil fuel combustion. This means that existing power generation and distribution infrastructure would be retained, which will dramatically reduce the cost of implementation and dramatically speed up deployment. The existence of cheap, portable power will transform the world in many ways. A statement from the company envisions ships and aircraft with unlimited range, spacecraft that could reduce the travel time to Mars to less than a month. Perhaps most important to the most people, it could bring vast amounts of power to anywhere on earth, providing among other things economical water desalination to developing regions of the globe, which are not only poor, but short of clean water, by removing energy scarcity as an insurmountable problem. If Lockheed Martin can pull this off, and given the reputation of the Skunk Works for routinely doing the impossible, I suspect it will, the results will be transformative. While it doesn't mean free energy, it does mean that the cost of nearly unlimited energy is very low, and with unlimited energy, there's no end to what can be accomplished. To say that the Skunk Works is on the verge of changing the world is an understatement. This development could well define the future.
The powerful cheat for themselves, the powerless cheat for others
The upper class isn't less ethical, just more likely to lie for selfish reasons.
Research has previously shown that upper-class individuals are more likely to behave unethically than lower-class people. But, says David Dubois, lead researcher of a new paper in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, it’s not that simple: both groups behave unethically in different contexts.
Dubois’ research group found that people with higher socioeconomic status (SES) were more likely to behave unethically when the behavior benefitted themselves, while lower-SES people were more likely to be unethical to benefit other individuals. "Many people think of unethical behaviour in terms of selfish behavior—violating moral standards to give yourself an advantage," explains Jared Piazza, who was not involved with the research. "But the researchers here draw a distinction between violating a moral standard like 'it’s wrong to steal' to benefit others, and violating a moral standard to benefit yourself."
This distinction is important, says Dubois. Previous research has only tested unethical behavior that is selfish—it turns out that when unselfish unethical behavior is tested too, lower-SES individuals are just as likely to be unethical......
......There's also a question about what actually counts as wrong in people's minds, Piazza notes. Past research has shown that powerless people think that working for the welfare of others is the highest moral value, while powerful people care more about rules and order. "It may be that powerless individuals are less inclined to view actions that help others as actual transgressions even though a moral rule has been violated," he suggests.
Beyond clarifying these points, there are questions to follow up in the future, Dubois adds. For one, this paper didn’t look at the effect of power or SES on the amount of unethical behavior. That is, the researchers looked at how people would behave in a single test, but not at whether a certain group was more likely to be unethical more of the time. There’s also the possibility that different cultures with different moral codes and ideas about power and responsibility might respond differently.
It could have useful application in persuasion, he adds: communicating with different audiences about ethical behavior could emphasize different consequences, either for the self or for others, to discourage the behavior.
SternisheFan writes: Oddworld creator: Ex-Sony exec “put half the dev community out of business”
Claims that Kutaragi's dev-unfriendly PS2 and PS3 decisions "opened doors" for Xbox.
by Sam Machkovech — Feb 5 2015, 3:30pm EST
LAS VEGAS—The second day of the 2015 DICE Summit opened with two titans from the PlayStation era chatting about the platform's history. Sony Worldwide Studios President Shu Yoshida and Oddworld Inhabitants Creative Director Lorne Lanning faced off and recalled their respective origin stories, including Yoshida's early explosion as producer for the Crash Bandicoot and Gran Turismo series and Lanning's early third-party PS contributions.
Midway through, the conversation came off the rails as the gaming veterans, and board members of the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences, discussed the only time the two men had seriously argued. The board wanted to vote to award a lifetime achievement award to former Sony Worldwide Studios President Ken Kutaragi, Yoshida recalled, but only "one bold member" offered a nay vote.
"I was totally opposed to it!" Lanning said in response at the keynote. "He changed half of the industry, is what you said. I said he put half of the development community out of business!"
Lanning went on to describe the financial challenges of making games for developer-unfriendly platforms like PlayStation 2 and PlayStation 3, particularly in convincing publishers and other funding sources that a game could be completed on time and on budget. "Now you find out, whoa, we have zero ability to predict [time and money costs]," Lanning said. "We have to discover, and we [couldn't get] financing to discover."
That, combined with a changing third-party publisher landscape, forced Lanning to drop his former Sony partnership. "You opened doors for Microsoft!" Lanning said. "Their hook was, 'we’ll build a machine for developers.' They have a brand challenge coming into the business [as a new games company], but they promised to make costs more predictable. We were trying to survive. Microsoft was a way of landing." Lanning reminded the audience that Oddworld: Munch's Odyssee launched day-and-date with the original Xbox "on time and on budget."
“I, I, I hate those teams”...
There’s a systemic problem in the Windows software ecosystem. It’s not just a handful of websites, or a handful of bad programs. Practically every piece of freeware is stuffed with junk. If you try to avoid freeware sites and just Google something like “VLC download,” you’ll be pointed straight at adware-filled junk installers too.
Linux has its problems, and it’s not ideal for anyone. Want to play every single PC game that comes out? You need Windows. Need a specific desktop program that only runs on Windows? Yeah, you need Windows by definition — although you could always run those programs in a virtual machine if you don’t mind the additional complexity.
But Linux is an ideal place to be for freeware-lovers. Do you love downloading programs and testing them out? Seriously, switch to Linux now. Linux Mint is very good, although Ubuntu is definitely popular — and there are lots of other Linux distributions, too.
SternisheFan writes: Kim Dotcom’s encrypted file sharing service has added free end-to-end encrypted voice and video chat through the browser.
MegaChat, which promises to keep video chats secure and private, has been developed by the Mega “Conspiracy Team” and is being described as a “Skype killer” by Dotcom.
“We are releasing #MegaChat beta step by step. Starting with video calling today. Text chat & video conferencing will follow soon,” said Dotcom.
MegaChat does not require software beyond a web browser to operate, unlike many other similar services, although plugins for Google’s Chrome and Firefox are available for “faster loading and added resilience against attacks”.
‘No US-based online service provider can be trusted’ The system allows users to share encrypted files having previously shared a personal decryption key with them.
SternisheFan writes: UFO fans rejoice, the UNITED STATES AIR FORCE has declassified files containing information about UFO sightings, related incident reports and other information reported by its agents and employees.
As noted by the MILITARY TIMES, at least 130,000 pages of declassified UFO reports are now viewable on the web (without any restrictions) — at the site called the Blackvault.com — available to anyone who wants to dig into UFO accounts filed during the 1940s to the late 60s. People can search by keyword, like a city for example, or browse filed incidents by year, or date of the incident’s filing.
These reports were compiled by UFO enthusiast John Greenewald who has spent nearly 20 years filing FOI or Freedom of Information requests for the government to release their “UFO files.”
Of course, skeptics can still argue that these files don’t actually confirm that we’re not alone in the universe, and we’ve been visited in the past by highly intelligent extraterrestrial creatures — but at least researchers can expand their knowledge about how the UFO mania exploded in the 40s especially after the Roswell incident.
AND here’s the most interesting part of this story — these files don’t include any direct information about the 1947 Roswell, New Mexico incident — giving UFOlogists yet another reason to believe that the government is “hiding” something from the public.
One of the 10,000 plus UFO cases documented by the US Air Force include a 1950 incident at Holloman Air Force Base in Alamogordo, New Mexico, an area just several miles away from Roswell.
The said incident involved an agent at the Air Force Office of Special Investigations agent who reported a “star-like craft that shifted from a bright white color to red and green as it moved erratically in several directions.”