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Submission + - What Uber drivers in Belgium must do to reach the same standard as taxi-drivers ( 1

An anonymous reader writes: With the conclusion of the first of thirty-odd Belgian prosecutions against Uber drivers flouting the ban on the ride-sharing service in Brussels, the company now faces compliance with the standard that the country sets for its taxi-drivers, in order to reach an agreement to operate there within the legal framework. The approval process is significantly more effortful than Uber's core requirements of a minimum age of 21, a 4-door car no older than 10-15 years (depending on the city), a valid driver's license and a 'great personality and some entrepreneurial spirit' []. Prospective cabbies in Belgium must undergo an eight-week period of training including personality assessment and background checks, followed by a four-month probationary stint with an accredited taxi company, including the need for satisfactory weekly reports from their tutor, before being granted a license to operate a taxi.

Submission + - USBKill Turns Thumb Drives Into Computer Kill Switches

Orome1 writes: A coder has shared with the world a Python script that, when put on an USB thumb drive, turns the device in an effective kill switch for the computer in which it's plugged in. USBkill, as the programmer dubbed it, "waits for a change on your USB ports, then immediately kills your computer." The device would be useful "in case the police comes busting in, or steals your laptop from you when you are at a public library," Hephaestos explained.

Submission + - Biometric Border Control in 2015: Is it Making Our World More Secure? ( 1

m2shahnewaz writes: 2015 seems like a revolutionary year for biometrics and border control. Many countries around the world are starting to realize the importance of implementing biometric identification management technology for more effective and secure border control. Some of them have already began the implementation process and many more are about to follow their footsteps after seeing the benefits that biometrics offers to identify potential terrorists and criminals attempting to gain illegal access at their borders.

Submission + - What your smile says about where you're from (

sciencehabit writes: If you come from a country of immigrants, you’re more likely to crack a friendly smile on the street. That’s the conclusion of a new study, which may explain why Americans beam more than their Chinese and Russian counterparts.The finding has to do with the idea that the more immigrants in a country's past, the more people have had to use other forms of expression (vs. language)--like smiles and frowns--to communicate.

Submission + - Recent Paper Shows Fracking Chemicals in Drinking Water, Industry Attacks It (

eldavojohn writes: A recent paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences turned up 2-Butoxyethanol from samples collected from three households in Pennsylvania. The paper's level headed conclusion is that more conservative well construction techniques should be used to avoid this in the future and that flowback should be better controlled. Rob Jackson, another scientist who reviewed the paper, stressed that the findings were an exception to normal operations. Despite that, the results angered the PR gods of the Marcellus Shale Gas industry and awoke beltway insider mouthpieces to attack the research — after all, what are they paying them for?

Submission + - Did dinosaur-killing asteroid trigger largest lava flows on Earth? (

Taco Cowboy writes: What is known is that dinosaurs were killed off about 66 million years ago when an asteroid slammed into the ocean off Mexico

What is still unknown is the actual process

A team of geophysicists from the University of California, Berkeley think they have the answer

When that asteroid slammed into planet earth it probably rang the Earth like a bell, triggering volcanic eruptions around the globe which in turn contributed to massive scale of devastation everywhere on Earth

The timeline of the most immense eruptions of lava in India which is known as the Deccan Traps fell "uncomfortably close" to when the impact happened

"If you try to explain why the largest impact we know of in the last billion years happened within 100,000 years of these massive lava flows at Deccan ... the chances of that occurring at random are minuscule," said team leader Mark Richards, UC Berkeley professor of earth and planetary science. "It's not a very credible coincidence"

While the Deccan lava flows, which started before the impact but erupted for several hundred thousand years after re-ignition, probably spewed enormous amounts of carbon dioxide and other noxious, climate-modifying gases into the atmosphere

Richards proposed in 1989 that plumes of hot rock, called "plume heads," rise through Earth's mantle every 20-30 million years and generate huge lava flows, called flood basalts, like the Deccan Traps. It struck him as more than coincidence that the last four of the six known mass extinctions of life occurred at the same time as one of these massive eruptions

"Paul Renne's group at Berkeley showed years ago that the Central Atlantic Magmatic Province is associated with the mass extinction at the Triassic/Jurassic boundary 200 million years ago, and the Siberian Traps are associated with the end Permian extinction 250 million years ago, and now we also know that a big volcanic eruption in China called the Emeishan Traps is associated with the end-Guadalupian extinction 260 million years ago," Richards said

"It's inconceivable that the impact could have melted a whole lot of rock away from the impact site itself, but if you had a system that already had magma and you gave it a little extra kick, it could produce a big eruption," said Michael Manga, a professor in the UC Berkeley Department of Earth and Planetary Science

Similarly, Deccan lava from before the impact is chemically different from that after the impact, indicating a faster rise to the surface after the impact, while the pattern of dikes from which the supercharged lava flowed

"There is a profound break in the style of eruptions and the volume and composition of the eruptions," said Paul Renne, a professor in residence in the UC Berkeley Department of Earth and Planetary Science and director of the Berkeley Geochronology Center. "The whole question is, 'Is that discontinuity synchronous with the impact?'

Richards, Renne and graduate student Courtney Sprain, along with Deccan volcanology experts Steven Self and Loyc Vanderkluysen, visited India in April 2014 to obtain lava samples for dating, and noticed that there are pronounced weathering surfaces, or terraces, marking the onset of the huge Wai subgroup flows

Geological evidence suggests that these terraces may signal a period of quiescence in Deccan volcanism prior to the Chicxulub impact. Apparently never before noticed, these terraces are part of the western Ghats, a mountain chain named after the Hindu word for "Steps"

"This was an existing massive volcanic system that had been there probably several million years, and the impact gave this thing a shake and it mobilized a huge amount of magma over a short amount of time," Richards said

"The beauty of this theory is that it is very testable, because it predicts that you should have the impact and the beginning of the extinction, and within 100,000 years or so you should have these massive eruptions coming out, which is about how long it might take for the magma to reach the surface"

Submission + - New findings on whale tongues may lead to insight on human nerve damage

An anonymous reader writes: Researchers from the University of British Columbia have discovered that the largest animals alive – whales – have nerves in their tongues that can double in length and then recoil like a bungee cord. The researchers were studying specimens at a commercial whaling station in Iceland when they stumbled upon the discovery reported Monday in Current Biology. Researchers say it could have important implications for study into human nerve damage. “I had never seen a nerve like that,” said Wayne Vogl, of UBC’s Cellular and Physiological Sciences department.

Comment Fukushima Exploded! (Score 1) 752

Huge blast at Japan nuclear power plant Fukushima just now....

This could be very dangerous needless to say. I suspect that we have the next Chernobyl on our hands.

The Swedish government has asked all citizens to leave Japan as soon as possible.

Comment eBay sells at a great loss (Score 4, Informative) 125

The interesting thing about this deal is that eBay actually bought Skype from the founders for 3.1 billion US dollars. They are now selling for 2 billion which makes you think about the huge loss and the extremely bad deal they made in buying in the first place. When eBay bought Skype it was seen by many as the worst IT business deal, ever!

Researchers Demo BIOS Attack That Survives Disk Wipes 396

suraj.sun writes "A pair of Argentinian researchers have found a way to perform a BIOS level malware attack capable of surviving even a hard-disk wipe. Alfredo Ortega and Anibal Sacco from Core Security Technologies — used the stage at last week's CanSecWest conference to demonstrate methods (PDF) for infecting the BIOS with persistent code that will survive reboots and re-flashing attempts. The technique includes patching the BIOS with a small bit of code that gave them complete control of the machine. The demo ran smoothly on a Windows machine, a PC running OpenBSD and another running VMware Player."

Submission + - Tim Bray on the Future of the Web (

snitch writes: "In this interviewmade during QCon SF 2008,Tim Bray talks about why he is not convinced with the buzz surrounding Rich Internet Applications and shares his ideas on Cloud Computing. He also expresses his opinion regarding the debate REST vs. WS-* and the future directions web technologies will be taking. Tim Bray also addresses the way web technologies are affected by the current economic turmoil and gives his insight into which paradigms he sees going forward in these challenging times."

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