pickens writes: The Washington Post reports that President Obama repeatedly declared the imperative to "win the future," in his State of the Union address comparing the current need for innovation to the 1950s space race against the Soviet Union and calling for more dedication to research and technology as he raised the specter of a rapidly growing China and India, "This is our generation's Sputnik moment." Obama's proposals — some of them left over from last year's State of the Union address — ranged from increasing math and science teacher training to investing more in developing clean-energy technology. "Half a century ago, when the Soviets beat us into space with the launch of a satellite called Sputnik we had no idea how we'd beat them to the moon. The science wasn't even there yet. NASA didn't exist," he said. "But after investing in better research and education, we didn't just surpass the Soviets; we unleashed a wave of innovation that created new industries and millions of new jobs."
Hugh Pickens writes: "Computerworld reports that in testimony before Congress the US Department of Justice renewed its call for legislation mandating Internet Service Providers (ISP) retain customer usage data for up to two years because law enforcement authorities are coming up empty-handed in their efforts to go after online predators and other criminals because of the unavailability of data relating to their online activities. "There is no doubt among public safety officials that the gaps between providers' retention policies and law enforcement agencies' needs, can be extremely harmful to the agencies' investigations" says Jason Weinstein, deputy assistant attorney general at the Justice Department adding that data retention is crucial to fighting Internet crimes, especially online child pornography (PDF). Weinstein admits that a data retention policy raises valid privacy concerns however, such concerns need to be addressed and balanced against the need for law enforcement to have access to the data. "Denying law enforcement that evidence prevents law enforcement from identifying those who victimize others online," concludes Weinstein."
Ponca City writes: "In 1999 a US F-117 Nighthawk was downed by a Serbian anti-aircraft missile during a bombing raid. It was the first time one of the fighters had been hit, and the Pentagon blamed clever tactics and sheer luck. The pilot ejected and was rescued. Now the Guardian reports that pieces of the wrecked US F-117 stealth fighter ended up in the hands of foreign military attaches. "At the time, our intelligence reports told of Chinese agents crisscrossing the region where the F-117 disintegrated, buying up parts of the plane from local farmers," says Admiral Davor Domazet-Loso, Croatia's military chief of staff during the Kosovo war. "We believe the Chinese used those materials to gain an insight into secret stealth technologies... and to reverse-engineer them." Zoran Kusovac says the Serbian regime routinely shared captured western equipment with its Chinese and Russian allies. "The destroyed F-117 topped that wish-list for both the Russians and Chinese," says Kusovac."
Hugh Pickens writes: "The Contra Costa Times reports that executives at MTV are concerned that some scenes from the provocative new show "Skins" may violate child pornography statutes defined by the federal government as any visual depiction of someone under 18 engaged in sexually explicit conduct. "Skins" is an import from Britain, a country that has historically displayed a higher tolerance for TV eroticism and episodes there included simulated masturbation, implied sexual assault, and teenagers disrobing and getting into bed together. The early episodes for MTV, including the third one, are virtually identical to the source material. The Parents Television Council, a TV watchdog group, has labeled "Skins" the "most dangerous program that has ever been foisted on your children" and has asked Congress and the Justice Department to investigate because unlike "Glee" and other TV shows depicting sexually active teenagers, the actors in "Skins" are still teenagers, rather than actors in their 20s. However MTV says the show addresses real-world issues confronting teens in a frank way. "We also have taken numerous steps to alert viewers to the strong subject matter so that they can choose for themselves whether it is appropriate.""
Hugh Pickens writes: "First Facebook and now Wikileaks as the Guardian reports that studio executives have picked up the screen rights to the forthcoming Julian Assange biography "The Most Dangerous Man in the World" by award-winning Australian writer Andrew Fowler. The book details Assange's life from his childhood on Magnetic Island in Queensland, Australia, all the way through to his founding of the whistleblower website in 2006 to publish classified material. Producers Barry Josephson and Michelle Krumm, who have optioned The Most Dangerous Man in the World, say they are planning a "suspenseful drama" in the vein of All the President's Men and with the thrill of a Tom Clancy novel. "As soon as I met Andrew and read a few chapters of his profound book, I knew that – with his incredibly extensive depth of knowledge – it would enable us to bring a thought-provoking thriller to the screen," says Krumm."
Pickens writes: "Network World reports that in the past if you wanted to remove the outer case on your iPhone 4 to replace the battery or a broken screen, you could use a Phillip screwdriver to remove two tiny screws at the base of the phone and then simply slide off the back cover. But now Apple is replacing the outer screw with a mysterious tamper-resistant "pentalobular" screw across its most popular product lines, making it harder for do-it-yourselfers to make repairs. What about existing products in the field? Pentalobular screws might find their way into them, too. "Apple's latest policy will make your blood boil," says Kyle Wiens, CEO of iFixit. "If you take your iPhone 4 into Apple for any kind of service, they will sabotage it by replacing your Phillips screws with the new, tamper-resistant screws. We've spoken with the Apple Store geniuses tasked with carrying out this policy, and they are ashamed of the practice." Of course only Apple authorized service technicians have Pentalobular screwdrivers and they're not allowed to resell them. "Apple sees a huge profit potential," says Wiens. "A hundred dollars per year in incremental revenue on their installed base is a tremendous opportunity.""
Pickens writes: "BBC reports that researchers have created software that gives images an expiration date by tagging them with an encrypted key so that once this date has passed the key stops the images being viewed and copied. Professor Michael Backes, who led development of the X-Pire system, says development work began about 18 months ago as potentially risky patterns of activity on social networks, such as Facebook, showed a pressing need for such a system. "More and more people are publishing private data to the internet and it's clear that some things can go wrong if it stays there too long," says Backes. The X-Pire software creates encrypted copies of images and asks those uploading them to give each one an expiration date. Viewing these images requires the free X-Pire browser add-on. When the viewer encounters an encrypted image it sends off a request for a key to unlock it. This key will only be sent, and the image become viewable, if the expiration date has not been passed."
Pickens writes: "The Guardian reports that It takes 20 months of intense, dangerous training to go into space on the space shuttle with prospective astronauts flying T-34 aeroplanes, scuba diving, achieving weightlessness inside plunging jumbo jets and undergoing survival exercises in the wilderness so it comes as a disappointment and surprise that lead spacewalker Tim Kopra is being put off the mission after breaking his hip after falling off his bicycle. "It was obviously a disappointment for Tim to not be available for this upcoming launch window, but he understands very well that we have to be prepared to fly," says chief astronaut Peggy Whitson. Astronauts training for flight aren't permitted to do certain high-risk activities like sky diving, snow skiing or motorcycle riding, but routine exercise such as cycling isn't restricted. Kopra, who has made one previous journey into space, could rejoin the crew if the Discovery flight is delayed until Nasa's next launch opportunity in April. Discovery's launch has already been on hold since November due to work to repair cracks in its fuel tank. The mission will involve two spacewalks to repair an ammonia pump and perform other work on the space station."
Hugh Pickens writes: "BBC reports that technology that links vehicles into "road trains" that can travel as a semi-autonomous convoy has undergone its first real world tests with trials held on Volvo's test track in Sweden slaving a single car to a truck to test the platooning system and researchers believe platoons of cars could be traveling on Europe's roads within a decade cutting fuel use, boosting safety and may even reducing congestion. SARTRE researchers say that around 80% of accidents on the road are due to human error so using professional lead drivers to take the strain on long journeys could, they say, see road accidents fall. They also predict fuel efficiency could improve by as much as 20% if "vehicle platooning" takes off, with obvious benefits for the environment. A video of the trial shows the test car traveling behind a truck and then handing over control to that leading vehicle with commands to steer, speed up and slow down all coming from the driver of the lead vehicle while the driver of the test car is seen taking his hands off the wheel, reading a newspaper and sipping coffee as the journey proceeds. "An automated system is likely to make it safer as it takes away driver error but it would have to be 100% reliable," says John Franklin "This kind of system would also require a complete change in motoring culture for drivers to hand over control,.""
Hugh Pickens writes: "If you're like most Americans, you probably figure the news about Steve Jobs and Apple doesn't affect you directly, however the WSJ reports that you may not know it, but you are probably a secret Apple stockholder. And maybe a big one. Few stocks are as widely held in regular mutual funds as well as in hedge funds and few affect the performance of so many retirement portfolios. An astonishing 4,100 mutual funds hold stock in Apple compared to just 3,630 for Exxon and J&J and 3,200 for P&G, although the figure for Microsoft is even higher at almost 4,800. So investors are paying attention to Apple as the stock is a major wheelhouse playing an outsized role in many major stock market indexes and investors' portfolios and if Apple stumbles, that could spill over and cause investors to question other stocks. "Apple is a cult stock," says Ken Winans of Winans International. "Cult stocks are always a dangerous animal.""
Hugh Pickens writes: "The Guardian reports that Britain's two biggest record labels, Sony and Universal, plan to beat music piracy by making new singles available for sale on the day they first hit the airwaves hoping the effort will encourage young people to buy songs they can listen to immediately rather than copying from radio broadcasts online. Songs used to receive up to six weeks radio airplay before they were released for sale, a practice known as "setting up" a record. "What we were finding under the old system was the searches for songs on Google or iTunes were peaking two weeks before they actually became available to buy, meaning that the public was bored of — or had already pirated — new singles," says David Joseph. Sony, which will start the "on air, on sale" policy simultaneously with Universal next month, agreed that the old approach was no longer relevant in an age where, according to a spokesman for the music major, "people want instant gratification"."