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Updated: 9 hours 22 min ago

Are Habitable Exoplanets Bad News For Humanity?

Thu, 04/24/2014 - 1:48pm
An anonymous reader writes "The discovery of Kepler-186f last week has dusted off an interesting theory regarding the fate of humanity and the link between that fate and the possibility of life on other planets. Known as the The Great Filter, this theory attempts to answer the Fermi Paradox (why we haven't found other complex life forms anywhere in our vast galaxy) by introducing the idea of an evolutionary bottleneck which would make the emergence of a life form capable of interstellar colonization statistically rare. As scientists gear up to search for life on Kepler-186f, some people are wondering if humanity has already gone through The Great Filter and miraculously survived or if it's still on our horizon and may lead to our extinction."

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New White House Petition For Net Neutrality

Thu, 04/24/2014 - 1:09pm
Bob9113 (14996) writes "On the heels of yesterday's FCC bombshell, there is a new petition on the White House petition site titled, 'Maintain true net neutrality to protect the freedom of information in the United States.' The body reads: 'True net neutrality means the free exchange of information between people and organizations. Information is key to a society's well being. One of the most effective tactics of an invading military is to inhibit the flow of information in a population; this includes which information is shared and by who. Today we see this war being waged on American citizens. Recently the FCC has moved to redefine "net neutrality" to mean that corporations and organizations can pay to have their information heard, or worse, the message of their competitors silenced. We as a nation must settle for nothing less than complete neutrality in our communication channels. This is not a request, but a demand by the citizens of this nation. No bandwidth modifications of information based on content or its source.'"

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Google Plus Now Minus Chief Vic Gundotra

Thu, 04/24/2014 - 12:30pm
JG0LD (2616363) writes "Vic Gundotra, the man behind Google Plus and one of Google's most prominent executives, announced today that he will leave the company 'effective immediately.' Gundotra made the announcement, appropriately enough, in a lengthy Google Plus post, praising his co-workers and saying that he is 'excited about what's next.' However, he did not further outline his future plans, saying that 'this isn't the day to talk about that.'"

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Verizon and New Jersey Agree 4G Service Equivalent to Broadband Internet

Thu, 04/24/2014 - 11:48am
An anonymous reader writes with news that Verizon and New Jersey regulators have reached a deal releasing Verizon from their obligation to have brought 45Mbps broadband to all NJ residents by 2010. Instead, 4G wireless service is considered sufficient. From the article: "2010 came and went and a number of rural parts of the state are still living with dial-up or subpar DSL. And even though the original deal was made in the days of modems and CompuServe, its crafters had the foresight to define broadband as 45Mbps, which is actually higher than many Verizon broadband customers receive today. ... In spite of that, and the thousands of legitimate complaints from actual New Jersey residents, the BPU voted unanimously yesterday to approve a deal with Verizon ... According to the Bergen Record, Verizon will no longer be obligated to provide broadband to residents if they have access to broadband service from cable TV providers or wireless 4G service. ... Residents who happen to live in areas not served by cable or wireless broadband can petition Verizon for service, but can only get broadband if at least 35 people in a single census tract each agree to sign contracts for a minimum of one year and pay $100 deposits."

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Consumers Not Impressed With 3D Printing

Thu, 04/24/2014 - 11:07am
Lucas123 (935744) writes "Putting a 3D printer beside the coffee maker in every home, as some manufacturers hope will happen someday, is a long ways from reality as consumers today still don't understand how the technology will benefit them, according to a new study. The study, by Juniper Research, states that part of the problem is that killer applications with the appropriate eco-system of software, apps and materials have yet to be identified and communicated to potential users. And, even though HP has announced its intention to enter the 3D printing space (possibly this fall) a massive, mainstream corporation isn't likely to change the market."

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New Shape Born From Rubber Bands

Thu, 04/24/2014 - 10:30am
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "Physicists playing with rubber bands have discovered a new shape. In an attempt to create a spring that replicates the light-bending properties of cuttlefish ink sacs, a team of researchers suspended two rubber strips of different lengths. Connecting the bottoms of the two strips to a cup of water, the shorter band stretched to the same length as the longer one. After gluing the two stretched strips together, the researchers gradually drained the water from the cup. As the bands retracted and twisted from the reduced strain, the researchers were shocked to see the formation of a hemihelix with multiple rainbow-shaped boundaries called perversions. The team hopes their work inspires nanodevices and molecules that twist and transform from flat strips into predetermined 3D shapes on demand." There are several videos attached to the original paper, and all can be viewed without flash.

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Astronomers Discover Pair of Black Holes In Inactive Galaxy

Thu, 04/24/2014 - 9:46am
William Robinson (875390) writes "The Astronomers at XMM-Newton have detected a pair of supermassive black holes at the center of an inactive galaxy. Most massive galaxies in the Universe are thought to harbor at least one supermassive black hole at their center. And a pair of black holes is indication of strong possibility that the galaxies have merged. Finding black holes in quiescent galaxies is difficult because there are no gas clouds feeding the black holes, so the cores of these galaxies are truly dark. It can be only detected by this 'tidal disruption event'."

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Brazil Approves Internet Bill of Rights

Thu, 04/24/2014 - 9:06am
First time accepted submitter Dr.Potato (247646) writes "After more than three years being discussed, Brazil's Internet Bill of Rights was approved on April 22nd (and in Portuguese). It was rushed through the senate in order that president Dilma Roussef could sign it during the meeting on internet governance that occurs in São Paulo this week. In the bill of rights, among other things, net neutrality was maintained, providers will not be legally responsible for content published by users (but are forced to take it down when legally requested) and internet providers are obliged to keep records of users' access for six months and can't pass this responsibility to other companies." Brazilian internet users may continue to have the right to be surveilled on social media, too.

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DC Revolving Door: Ex-FCC Commissioner Is Now Head CTIA Lobbyist

Thu, 04/24/2014 - 8:25am
jfruh (300774) writes "Up until three years ago, Meredith Attwell Baker was an Obama-appointed FCC commissioner. Now she's the newly minted CEO of the CTIA, the nation's largest lobbying group for the mobile phone industry. How can we expect regulators to keep a careful watch over industries when high-paying jobs in those industries await them after retirement? One of the most damning sentences in that article: 'More than 80 percent of FCC commissioners since 1980 have gone on to work for companies or groups in the industries they used to regulate.'"

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Lumina: PC-BSD's Own Desktop Environment

Thu, 04/24/2014 - 7:44am
jones_supa (887896) writes "The PC-BSD project is developing a new open source (BSD license) desktop environment from scratch. The name of the project is Lumina and it will be based around the Qt toolkit. The ultimate goal is to replace KDE as the default desktop of PC-BSD. Lumina aims to be lightweight, stable, fast-running, and FreeDesktop.org/XDG compliant. Most of the Lumina work is being done by PC-BSD's Ken Moore. Even though Lumina is still in its early stages, it can be built and run successfully, and an alpha version can already be obtained from PC-BSD's ports/package repositories."

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DIY Wearable Pi With Near-Eye Video Glasses

Thu, 04/24/2014 - 6:53am
coop0030 (263345) writes "Noe & Pedro Ruiz at Adafruit have created a pair of open source near-eye video glasses combined with a Raspberry Pi. Their 3D Printed design turns a pair of 'private display glasses' into a "google glass"-like form factor. It easily clips to your prescription glasses, and can display any kind of device with Composite Video like a Raspberry Pi. They have a video demonstrating the glasses, a tutorial on how to build them, along with the 3d files required to print it out."

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Anonymous' Airchat Aim: Communication Without Need For Phone Or Internet

Thu, 04/24/2014 - 6:11am
concertina226 (2447056) writes "Online hacktivist collective Anonymous has announced that it is working on a new tool called Airchat which could allow people to communicate without the need for a phone or an internet connection — using radio waves instead. Anonymous, the amorphous group best known for attacking high profile targets like Sony and the CIA in recent years, said on the project's Github page: 'Airchat is a free communication tool [that] doesn't need internet infrastructure [or] a cell phone network. Instead it relies on any available radio link or device capable of transmitting audio.' Despite the Airchat system being highly involved and too complex for most people in its current form, Anonymous says it has so far used it to play interactive chess games with people at 180 miles away; share pictures and even established encrypted low bandwidth digital voice chats. In order to get Airchat to work, you will need to have a handheld radio transceiver, a laptop running either Windows, Mac OS X or Linux, and be able to install and run several pieces of complex software." And to cleanse yourself of the ads with autoplaying sound, you can visit the GitHub page itself.

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Previously Unknown Warhol Works Recovered From '80s Amiga Disks

Thu, 04/24/2014 - 5:29am
First time accepted submitter mooterSkooter (1132489) writes "Magnetic Imaging tools were used to recover a dozen images produced by Andy Warhol on his Amiga computer. I would've just stuck the disks in and tried to copy it myself." Read more about it from the Frank Ratchye Studio for Creative Inquiry, which says "The impetus for the investigation came when [artist Cory] Arcangel, a self-described “Warhol fanatic and lifelong computer nerd,” learned about Warhol’s Amiga experiments from the YouTube video of the 1985 Commodore Amiga product launch. Acting on a hunch, and with the support of CMOA curator Tina Kukielski, Arcangel approached the AWM in December 2011 regarding the possibility of restoring the Amiga hardware in the museum’s possession, and cataloging any files on its associated diskettes. In April 2012, he contacted Golan Levin, a CMU art professor and director of the FRSCI, a laboratory that supports “atypical, anti-disciplinary and inter-institutional” arts research. Offering a grant to support the investigation, Levin connected Cory with the CMU Computer Club, a student organization that had gained renown for its expertise in “retrocomputing,” or the restoration of vintage computers."

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Microsoft, Google, Others Join To Fund Open Source Infrastructure Upgrades

Thu, 04/24/2014 - 4:48am
wiredmikey (1824622) writes "Technology giants including Microsoft, Google, Intel, and Cisco are banding together to support and fund open source projects that make up critical elements of global information infrastructure. The new Core Infrastructure Initiative brings technology companies together to identify and fund open source projects that are widely used in core computing and Internet functions, The Linux Foundation announced today. Formed primarily as the industry's response to the Heartbleed crisis, the OpenSSL library will be the initiative's first project. Other open source projects will follow. The funds will be administered by the Linux Foundation and a steering group comprised of the founding members, key open source developers, and other industry stakeholders. Anyone interested in joining the initiative, or donating to the fund can visit the Core Infrastructure Initiative site."

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iPad Fever Is Officially Cooling

Thu, 04/24/2014 - 4:05am
Hugh Pickens DOT Com (2995471) writes "Christina Bonnington reports that the public is not gobbling up iPads like they used to. Analysts had projected iPad sales would reach 19.7 million but Apple sold 16.35 million iPads, a drop of roughly 16.4 percent since last year. 'For many, the iPad they have is good enough–unlike a phone, with significant new features like Touch ID, or a better camera, the iPad's improvements over the past few years have been more subtle,' writes Bonnington. 'The latest iterations feature a better Retina display, a slimmer design, and faster processing. Improvements, yes, but enough to justify a near thousand dollar purchase? Others seem to be finding that their smartphone can do the job that their tablet used to do just as well, especially on those larger screened phablets.' While the continued success of the iPad may be up in the air, another formerly popular member of Apple's product line is definitely on its way to the grave. The iPod, once Apple's crown jewel, posted a sales drop of 51 percent since last year. Only 2.76 million units were sold, a far cry from its heyday of almost 23 million back in 2008. 'Apple's past growth has been driven mostly by entering entirely new product categories, like it did when it introduced the iPod in 2001, the iPhone in 2007, and the iPad in 2010,' says Andrew Cunningham. 'The most persistent rumors involve TV (whether a new Apple TV set-top box or an entire television set) and wearable computing devices (the perennially imminent "iWatch"), but calls for larger and cheaper iPhones also continue.'"

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Australian Law Enforcement Pushes Against Encryption, Advocates Data Retention

Thu, 04/24/2014 - 1:29am
angry tapir (1463043) writes "Australia is in the middle of a parliamentary inquiry examining telecommunications interception laws. Law enforcement organisations are using this to resurrect the idea of a scheme for mandatory data retention by telcos and ISPs. In addition, an Australian law enforcement body is pushing for rules that would force telcos help with decryption of communications."

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NASA Chief Tells the Critics of Exploration Plan: "Get Over It"

Wed, 04/23/2014 - 11:05pm
mknewman (557587) writes "For years, critics have been taking shots at NASA's plans to corral a near-Earth asteroid before moving on to Mars — and now NASA's chief has a message for those critics: 'Get over it, to be blunt.' NASA Administrator Charles Bolden defended the space agency's 20-year timeline for sending astronauts to the Red Planet on Tuesday, during the opening session of this year's Humans 2 Mars Summit at George Washington University in the nation's capital."

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"Going Up" At 45 Mph: Hitachi To Deliver World's Fastest Elevator

Wed, 04/23/2014 - 8:36pm
Zothecula (1870348) writes "Hitachi has announced that it's installing the world's fastest ultra-high-speed elevators in the Guangzhou CTF Finance Centre skyscraper in Guangzhou, China. Making up two out of a total of 95 elevators in the building, Hitachi says the new lifts use a range of technologies to produce record-breaking speeds of 1,200 m/min while still meeting the necessary standards of safety and comfort."

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Band Releases Album As Linux Kernel Module

Wed, 04/23/2014 - 6:08pm
netbuzz (955038) writes "A band called netcat is generating buzz in software circles by releasing its debut album as a Linux kernel module (among other more typical formats.) 'Are you ever listening to an album, and thinking "man, this sounds good, but I wish it crossed from user-space to kernel-space more often!" We got you covered,' the band says on its Facebook page. 'Our album is now fully playable as a loadable Linux kernel module.'"

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WhatsApp Is Well On Its Way To A Billion Users

Wed, 04/23/2014 - 4:52pm
redletterdave (2493036) writes "In just two months since Facebook dropped $19 billion to buy WhatsApp, the five-year-old mobile messaging app on Tuesday announced its its active user base has grown to more than half a billion people. This is not the first time that an app has seen a major pop in users after it was acquired by Facebook: When Facebook bought Instagram in April 2012, the service boasted some 30 million users. In one month after the deal, Instagram gained 20 million new users. By July, Instagram grew to 80 million active users. WhatsApp seems to be having a similar growth spurt, gaining roughly 25 million users each month since the Facebook deal was announced."

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