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Submission + - The race for autonomous cars is over. Silicon Valley lost. (autoblog.com)

schwit1 writes: Up until very recently the talk in Silicon Valley was about how the tech industry was going to broom Detroit into the dustbin of history. Companies such as Apple, Google, and Uber — so the thinking went -were going to out run, out gun, and out innovate the automakers. Today that talk is starting to fade. There's a dawning realization that maybe there's a good reason why the traditional car companies have been around for more than a century.

Last year Apple laid off most of the engineers it hired to design its own car. Google (now Waymo) stopped talking about making its own car. And Uber, despite its sky high market valuation, is still a long, long way from ever making any money, much less making its own autonomous cars.

To paraphrase Elon Musk, Silicon Valley is learning that "Making rockets is hard, but making cars is really hard." People outside of the auto industry tend to have a shallow understanding of how complex the business really is. They think all you have to do is design a car and start making it. But most startups never make it past the concept car stage because the move to mass production proves too daunting.

Submission + - Cellebrite can now unlock iPhone 6 and 6+ (cyberscoop.com)

Patrick O'Neill writes: A year after the battle between the FBI and Apple over unlocking an iPhone 5s, smartphone cracking company Cellebrite announced it can now unlock the iPhone 6 and 6+ for customers at rates ranging from $1,500 to $250,000. The company's newest products also extract and analyze data from a wide range of popular apps including all of the most popular secure messengers around.

Submission + - A.T.F. Filled Secret Bank Account With Millions From Shadowy Cigarette Sales (nytimes.com)

schwit1 writes: “Working from an office suite behind a Burger King in southern Virginia, operatives used a web of shadowy cigarette sales to funnel tens of millions of dollars into a secret bank account. They weren’t known smugglers, but rather agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. The operation, not authorized under Justice Department rules, gave agents an off-the-books way to finance undercover investigations and pay informants without the usual cumbersome paperwork and close oversight, according to court records and people close to the operation.”

Laws and rules are for the little people.

Submission + - Judge Rules Against Forced Fingerprinting

An anonymous reader writes: A federal judge in Chicago has ruled against a government request which would require forced fingerprinting of private citizens in order to open a secure, personal phone or tablet. In the ruling, the judge stated that while fingerprints in and of themselves are not protected, the government’s method of obtaining the fingerprints would violate the Fourth and Fifth amendments. The government’s request was given as part of a search warrant related to a child pornography ring. The court ruled that the government could seize devices, but that it could not compel people physically present at the time of seizure to provide their fingerprints ‘onto the Touch ID sensor of any Apple iPhone, iPad, or other Apple brand device in order to gain access to the contents of any such device.’

Submission + - Scientists have found a way to get every last drop of ketchup out of the bottle (bbc.com)

schwit1 writes: In its manufacture, the container must first be coated on the inside with a rough surface. A very thin layer is then placed over this. And, finally, a liquid is added that fills in any troughs to form a very slippery surface — like an oily floor.

The ketchup hovers on top and just glides out of the bottle.

According to Prof Kripa Varanasi, who developed the slippery surface, the technology is completely safe.

"The cool thing about it is that because the coating is a composite of solid and liquid, it can be tailored to the product. So for food, we make the coating out of food-based materials and so you can actually eat it."

The technology's co-inventor Dr David Smith told me that it could also help reduce waste.

Pretty slick.

Submission + - Not Even IMDb Is Safe From Trolls (theringer.com)

schwit1 writes: At a time when many websites are scrapping their comment sections, the movie database’s decision to shut down its popular, long-running message boards feels especially poignant

On Monday, that message board closed. “After in-depth discussion and examination, we have concluded that IMDb’s message boards are no longer providing a positive, useful experience for the vast majority of our more than 250 million monthly users worldwide,” read a statement published by IMDb founder and CEO Col Needham. All past threads—16 years’ worth of posts—were erased.

Still, throwing in the towel feels especially poignant for a site that dates to the inception of the social internet. Trolling on IMDb isn’t a new phenomenon: In a 2006 profile in The Washington Post, actor Kevin Smith complained about the nastiness he had encountered on the site’s message board, while The New York Times mentioned a politically charged debate over The Kingdom the following year. It’s clear, though, that the trolling had hardened into something else—something systematic.

It’s hard to mistake the recent spate of comment-section closures as anything but recognition that the particular toxicity that has swept over social media seems now to be more than just an election-year phenomenon. Even in the dusty library of an online movie database, the bad of no-holds-barred chatter emphatically outweighs the good.

Submission + - Climate Models Are Warming Earth Two Times Faster Than Reality (dailycaller.com)

schwit1 writes: “So far in the 21st century, the GCMs are warming, on average, about a factor of 2 faster than the observed temperature increase,” Dr. Judith Curry, a former Georgia Tech climate scientist who now runs her own climate forecasting company, wrote in a report for the U.K.-based Global Warming Policy Foundation.

Curry has been one of the foremost critics of climate models, arguing that while they can be useful, there are too many uncertainties and issues to rely on models for public policy decisions.

Curry’s report gives a detailed rundown of why models can be useful for modeling complex climate systems, but also points out that GCMs fail to capture natural variability in the climate.

“The reason for the discrepancy between observations and model simulations in the early 21st century appears to be caused by a combination of inadequate simulations of natural internal variability and oversensitivity of the models to increasing carbon dioxide,” wrote Curry.

Submission + - Cellphones as a fifth-order elaboration of Maxwell's theory (ieee.org)

schwit1 writes: “As I pass the zombielike figures on the street, oblivious to anything but their cellphone screens, I wonder how many of them know that the most fundamental advances enabling their addictions came not from Nokia, Apple, Google, Samsung, or LG. These companies’ innovations are certainly admirable, but they amount only to adding a few fancy upper floors to a magnificent edifice whose foundations were laid by Maxwell 152 years ago and whose structure depends on decades-old advances that made it possible to build electronics devices ever smaller.”

Submission + - Congressional IT Staffers Took $100K from Iraqi Politician

RoccamOccam writes: Three brothers, working as IT staffers for several Democrat congressional representatives took $100,000 from an Iraqi politician while they had administrator-level access to the House of Representatives’ computer network, according to this report based on court documents.

The trio worked for dozens of representatives, including members of the intelligence, foreign affairs and homeland security committees. Those positions likely gave them access to congressional emails and other sensitive documents.

Submission + - You can now transfer money internationally through Facebook (cnn.com)

schwit1 writes:

The money transfer startup TransferWise has launched a new chatbot that enables Facebook (FB, Tech30) users to move funds abroad using the social platform's Messenger service.

The bot can be used to move money between the U.S., Canada, Australia and the European Union. It will also notify users via an alert when their regularly used currencies hit favorable rates.

Facebook users were previously able to transfer money within the U.S., but not between accounts in foreign countries.

Messenger is the creepy front-end of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg's creepy vision of the future.

Submission + - Spike of radioactive Iodine levels is detected in Europe (theaviationist.com)

schwit1 writes: Iodine-131 (131I), a radionuclide of anthropogenic origin, has recently been detected in tiny amounts in the ground-level atmosphere in Europe. The preliminary report states it was first found during week 2 of January 2017 in northern Norway. Iodine-131 was also detected in Finland, Poland, Czech Republic, Germany, France and Spain, until the end of January.

However, no one seems to know the reason behind the released Iodine-131. Along with nuclear power plants, the isotope is also widely used in medicine and its presence in the air could be the effect of several different incidents.

Or, as someone speculates, it could have been the side effect of a test of a new nuclear warhead in Russia: an unlikely (considered the ability to detect nuke tests through satellites and seismic detectors) violation of Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.

Submission + - McDonald's Re-Engineers Straw Using Fibonacci Formula To Let You Enjoy Shamrock (techtimes.com)

schwit1 writes:

According to the company, the straw will have to deliver the chocolate and mint flavor in equal ratio whenever you take a sip. It appears that the traditional straw is incapable of such feat, so JACE and NK Labs were brought in.

"It was a puzzling assignment but one with an ambitious goal," Seth Newburg, principal engineer and managing partner at NK Labs, stated. "From a physics perspective, it's actually quite difficult to deliver a proportional amount of both chocolate and mint flavors with each sip."

The engineers were able to develop the Suction Tube for Reverse Axial Withdrawal (the STRAW), which is claimed to be capable of showcasing the marvel of fluid dynamics. It is a J-shaped affair that was built with the help of the Fibonacci sequence, an integer sequence attributed to the mathematical genius Leonardo Fibonacci.

Don't get too excited McDonalds ordered only 2,000 of the STRAWs. "Mathematics is the language of nature."

Submission + - A massive lake of molten carbon the size of Mexico is discovered under the US (dailymail.co.uk)

schwit1 writes: Situated under western US, 217 miles (350km) beneath the Earth's surface. Scientists used world's largest array of seismic sensors to map area. Melting carbon covers an area of 700,000 sq miles (1.8 million sq km). Upper mantle could contain up to 100 trillion metric tonnes of melted carbon. Its discovery challenges what researchers have assumed about how much carbon is trapped inside the planet.

Submission + - At the End, Obama Administration Gave NSA Broad New Powers (pjmedia.com) 1

Tulsa_Time writes: This story, from the Jan. 12, 2017, edition of the New York Times, was little-remarked upon at the time, but suddenly has taken on far greater significance in light of current events:

In its final days, the Obama administration has expanded the power of the National Security Agency to share globally intercepted personal communications with the government’s 16 other intelligence agencies before applying privacy protections.

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