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Hardware

Submission + - Auto Makers Announce Electric Car Charging Standard (motorward.com)

Overly Critical Guy writes: Auto makers are launching a universal EV charger that charges an electric vehicle in 15 to 20 minutes. The standard, called Combined Charging System, has been approved by the Society of Automative Engineers and ACEA, the European association of vehicle manufacturers, as the standard for fast-charging electric vehicles.

Submission + - Google releases key part of Street View pipeline (blogspot.com)

drom writes: Google released a key part of their Street View pipeline as open source today: Ceres Solver. It's a large-scale nonlinear least squares minimizer. What does that mean? It's a way to fit a model (like expected position of a car) to data (like GPS positions or accelerometers). The library is completely general and works for many problems. It offers state of the art performance for bundle adjustment problems typical in 3D reconstruction, among others.
Science

Submission + - 'Huge' water resource exists under Africa (bbc.co.uk) 2

gambit3 writes: Scientists say the notoriously dry continent of Africa is sitting on a vast reservoir of groundwater. They argue that the total volume of water in aquifers underground is 100 times the amount found on the surface.
Across Africa more than 300 million people are said not to have access to safe drinking water.
Freshwater rivers and lakes are subject to seasonal floods and droughts that can limit their availability for people and for agriculture. At present only 5% of arable land is irrigated.

Science

Submission + - Eating meat helped early humans reproduce (latimes.com) 1

PolygamousRanchKid writes: If early humans had been vegans we might all still be living in caves, Swedish researchers suggested in an article Thursday. When a mother eats meat, her breast-fed child's brain grows faster and she is able to wean the child at an earlier age, allowing her to have more children faster, the article explains. "Eating meat enabled the breast-feeding periods and thereby the time between births to be shortened," said psychologist Elia Psouni of Lund University in Sweden. "This must have had a crucial impact on human evolution."

She notes, however, that the results say nothing about what humans today should or should not eat.

Submission + - World's sixth launch of nuclear ICBM led by a woman (rediff.com)

TeriMaKiChooth writes: "Yesterday, India became the sixth country after the five nuclear powers to successfully launch a 5000 km nuclear capable Intercontinental ballistic missile.
It made major news headline. However few people outside India noticed that it was headed by a woman. Very few women in the world have been successful in the field of ballistic missile technology.
Here is her wikipedia entry — http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tessy_Thomas"

Submission + - Survey finds no hint of dark matter near Solar System--no hint of a clue, either (nature.com)

Eponymous Hero writes: Does dark matter exist or doesn't it? It seems these results don't shed as much light as we'd hoped.

"Moni Bidin says he’s not sure whether dark matter exists or not. But he says that his team’s survey is the most comprehensive of its type ever done, and the puzzling results must be reckoned with. 'We don’t have a good comprehension of what is going on,' he says."

This has the smell of a Neutrinogate scandal, but at least we've been warned about the shoulder shrugging.

"As an example, Newberg notes that the researchers assumed that the group of stars they examined were smoothly distributed above and below the plane of the Milky Way. But if the distribution turns out to be lumpier, as is the case for stars in the outer parts of the galaxy, then the resulting calculations of dark matter density could be incorrect.

Flynn agrees that there are a number of ways that the method employed by Moni Bidin and his co-authors 'could get it wrong.'"

The Almighty Buck

Submission + - Technology Makes It Harder to Save Money

Hugh Pickens writes writes: "LiveScience reports that a survey conducted for the American Institute of CPAs reveals that while more than half of US adults believe technology has made it easier to spend money, just 3 percent think it has made it easier to save. The research found that Americans who subscribe to digital services spend an average of $166 each month for cable TV, home Internet access, mobile phone service and digital subscriptions, such as satellite radio and streaming video — the equivalent of 17 percent of their monthly rent or mortgage payment. and those who download songs, apps and other products spend an additional $38 per month. "Our gadgets and connections can bring benefits like mobility and efficiency,” says Jordan Amin. “But they can also bring financial challenges, like taking money that could go to savings, for instance, or contributing to credit card debt." If facing a financial crunch, Americans would rather change what they eat than give up their cell phones, downloads or digital TV services. Asked to choose the one action they would most likely take in tight time, 41 percent said they would cut back on eating out, 20 percent said they would cut off cable TV, 8 percent said they would end cell phone service and 8 percent said they would stop downloading songs and digital products."

Submission + - Slingshot drone fleet targets US heartland (foxnews.com)

KDN writes: "UAV's in the US: http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2012/04/20/slingshot-drone-fleet-targets-us-heartland/

When I read this I couldn't help thinking of Wild E Coyote chasing the Road Runner: The UAVs are launched like a slingshot using a 100-foot bungee cord: The pilot ties the bungee to a stake in the ground, gets the proper tension and hooks the bungee to the aircraft before lofting it into the skies "

Submission + - Computer game designed to treat depression as effective as traditional treatment (news24.com)

sirlark writes: Researchers at the University of Auckland tested an interactive 3D fantasy game called Sparx on a 94 youngsters diagnosed with depression whose average age was 15 and a half. Sparx invites a user to take on a series of seven challenges over four to seven weeks in which an avatar has to learn to deal with anger and hurt feelings and swap negative thoughts for helpful ones. Used for three months, Sparx was at least as effective as face-to-face conventional counselling, according to several depression rating scales. In addition, 44% of the Sparx group who carried out at least four of the seven challenges recovered completely. In the conventional treatment group, only 26% recovered fully.

One has to wonder if it Sparx specifically, or gaming in general that provides the most benefit. Given that most of the symptoms of depression relate to a feeling of being unable to influence one's environment (powerlessness, helplessness, ennui, etc) and games are specifically designed to make one feel powerful but challenged (if they hit the sweet spot).

Games

Submission + - Rob Heinsoo and Jonathan Tweet Announce 13th Age RPG (prweb.com)

Quizro writes: Rob Heinsoo, lead designer on Dungeons & Dragons fourth edition, and Jonathan Tweet, lead designer on D&D's third edition, are collaborating on a new tabletop roleplaying game that mixes an old school approach with indie design. 13th Age is currently in early playtest and will be published August 2012 by Pelgrane Press, which is giving them complete freedom as designers to make the game.
Facebook

Submission + - How Fortune 500 Companies Profit From Scammers (itworld.com)

jfruh writes: "Privacy blogger Dan Tynan has gone where angels fear to tread, friending an obvious scammer on Facebook and finding out where the links "she" tries to get you to post on your wall go. They go to an array of websites that set off every alarm in Dan's anti-virus software, but it's worth noting that the conduit that gets you there is a Web survey about Taco Bell hosted by Q Interactive, a "respectable" lead generation firm that does business with a lot of huge American companies."
Google

Submission + - Federal Appeals Court Revives Rosetta Stone Suit vs Google (reuters.com)

suraj.sun writes: A federal appeals court on Monday revived the bulk of language-software maker Rosetta Stone's trademark infringement lawsuit against Google. In a lawsuit filed in 2009, Rosetta Stone accused Google of committing trademark infringement by selling the language-software maker's trademarks to third-party advertisers for use as search keywords. "A reasonable trier of fact could find that Google intended to cause confusion in that it acted with the knowledge that confusion was very likely to result from its use of the marks," Chief Judge William Traxler wrote for the three-judge panel. The opinion is the first appellate decision to address whether Google's sale of other companies' trademarks for sponsored links could give rise to liability for trademark infringement. The appeals court also reinstated Rosetta Stone's trademark dilution claims.

Reuters: http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/04/09/net-us-rosetta-stone-google-idUSBRE8380ND20120409

Science

Submission + - The tiny, lethal weapon that viruses use to kill bacteria (phys.org)

rainbo writes: "An excerpt reads: Grouped together under the unassuming name phi-92, a family of bacteriophage viruses has perfected its specialty: they attack salmonella and coliform bacteria. The centerpiece of their arsenal is a needle-like tip that pierces its victim’s membrane. EPFL scientists have measured this miniscule weapon; at a single nanometer, it’s roughly 20 times the diameter of a helium atom. This discovery, published in Structure, a Cell Press journal, will allow researchers to better understand the attack strategy used by bacteriophages, which are being intensively studied for their therapeutic potential."
Music

Submission + - 24/192 Music Downloads ...and why they make no sense (xiph.org)

milbournosphere writes: Here's an interesting article going into some reasoning as to why 24bit/192kHz mixes are unnecessary. The article goes into some of the science behind the idea. A very good, rather technical, read. From TFA:

Articles last month revealed that musician Neil Young and Apple's Steve Jobs discussed offering digital music downloads of 'uncompromised studio quality'. Much of the press and user commentary was particularly enthusiastic about the prospect of uncompressed 24 bit 192kHz downloads. 24/192 featured prominently in my own conversations with Mr. Young's group several months ago. Unfortunately, there is no point to distributing music in 24-bit/192kHz format. Its playback fidelity is slightly inferior to 16/44.1 or 16/48, and it takes up 6 times the space. There are a few real problems with the audio quality and 'experience' of digitally distributed music today. 24/192 solves none of them. While everyone fixates on 24/192 as a magic bullet, we're not going to see any actual improvement.


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