The Huffington Post reports:
Penn State University said Wednesday that General Electric Co. will give the school up to $10 million to create a new center for natural gas industry research.
Penn State President Eric Barron said in a statement that the center will produce tangible benefits to the industry, to communities that are affected by drilling or related activity, and to consumers.
[...] Charles Whiteman, dean of the Smeal College, said the center opens up "great new opportunities for research" on real-world problems. Whiteman said that over time the project could lead to more efficient drilling and gas distribution, reduced pollution, and even lower prices for consumers. He said Penn State will be able to hire new faculty members for the project and that a couple of dozen teachers plus students will be involved each year.
[...] GE said the money will be donated over the next five years and earmarked for different uses. The company will also have engineers in residence to work with faculty and students.
When Cody Wilson revealed the world’s first fully 3-D printed gun last year, he showed that the “maker” movement has enabled anyone to create a working, lethal firearm with a click in the privacy of his or her garage. Now he’s moved on to a new form of digital DIY gunsmithing. And this time the results aren’t made of plastic.
Wilson’s latest radically libertarian project is a PC-connected milling machine he calls the Ghost Gunner. Like any computer-numerically-controlled (or CNC) mill, the one-foot-cubed black box uses a drill bit mounted on a head that moves in three dimensions to automatically carve digitally-modeled shapes into polymer, wood or aluminum. But this CNC mill, sold by Wilson’s organization known as Defense Distributed for $1,200, is designed to create one object in particular: the component of an AR-15 rifle known as its lower receiver.
That simple chunk of metal has become the epicenter of a gun control firestorm. A lower receiver is the body of the gun that connects its stock, barrel, magazine and other parts. As such, it’s also the rifle’s most regulated element. Mill your own lower receiver at home, however, and you can order the rest of the parts from online gun shops, creating a semi-automatic weapon with no serial number, obtained with no background check, no waiting period or other regulatory hurdles.
The Downtown Project, a privately funded effort to revitalize downtown Las Vegas with an infusion of technology startups, fashionable eateries and other futuristic and high culture businesses, as well as schools and medical centers, has hit a bump in the road. Project founder and lead investor Tony Hsieh quit the project weeks ago, leaving his management team the task of laying off staff. (Hsieh is the CEO of Zappos, which is based in Las Vegas). On Tuesday, 30 percent of the project staff were let go. The local businesses that DTP helped launch remain operational, but many of the non-revenue generating programs that the program sponsored - some led by heavy hitters brought to Vegas by Hsieh - have been axed, while the future of the revitalization roadmap established by Hsieh is now in question.
A recent educational policy change in the UK had children be taught phonics at a young age. Recent statistics (PDF) released by the Department for Education shows that this does appear to be working, although closer analysis shows that there is still a gap based on gender, region and social deprivation.
Teaching children to read with phonics has been a central plank of recent “Govian” education policy. A new set of statistics shows that 74% of children in the first year of primary school now meet the expected level on a phonics screening check, rising to 88% in Year 2 – a marked improvement on two years ago.
But dig down behind the numbers and it’s clear that there are still big disparities in how children perform on phonics tests based on region, gender and whether they qualify for free school meals.
Introduced in 2012, the purpose of the phonics screening check is for teachers to check that young children in Years 1 and 2 can apply a system to “decode” the sounds of words, some of which are “nonsense words” and make no sense in the English language.
Reuter reports on an advanced iOS virus targeting Hong Kong protestors:
Cybersecurity researchers have uncovered a computer virus that spies on Apple Inc's iOS operating system for the iPhone and iPad, and they believe it is targeting pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong.
The malicious software, known as Xsser, is capable of stealing text messages, photos, call logs, passwords and other data from Apple mobile devices, researchers with Lacoon Mobile Security said on Tuesday.
The original post on Lacoon's Web site (which Reuter used) notes:
A link to the Android spyware, disguised as an app to help coordinate Occupy Central protests in Hong Kong, was sent as an anonymous message to Whatsapp users there on Thursday. In its investigation of that spyware, Lacoon uncovered the Xsser mRAT hosted on the same Command and Control (CnC) domain with the project being named Xsser. Though called Xsser, this is not related to an XSS attack.
The Xsser mRAT is itself significant because while there have been other iOS trojans found previously, this is the first and most advanced, fully operational Chinese iOS trojan found to date. Although it shows initial signs of being a targeted attack on Chinese protesters, the full extent of how Xsser mRAT is being used is anyone’s guess. It can cross borders easily, and is possibly being operated by a Chinese-speaking entity to spy on individuals, foreign companies, or even entire governments.
[...]When infected, Xsser mRAT exposes virtually any information on iOS devices including SMS, email, and instant messages, and can also reveal location data, usernames and passwords, call logs and contact information.
In the meantime, Bloomberg says the U.S. Law Enforcement seeks to halt Apple/Google encryption of mobile data, but are not sure how to proceed: appeal to executives or seek congressional legislation.
Looks like the US and Chinese agencies aren't that dissimilar: both sides want the citizens with the pants down and the lubrication applied on their own expense (paid by taxes).
Researchers are closer to unraveling the mystery of how Timothy Ray Brown, the only human cured of HIV, defeated the virus, according to a new study. Although the work doesn't provide a definitive answer, it rules out one possible explanation.
Researchers point to three different factors that could independently or in combination have rid Brown’s body of HIV. The first is the process of conditioning, in which doctors destroyed Brown’s own immune system with chemotherapy and whole body irradiation to prepare him for his bone marrow transplant.
His oncologist, Gero Hütter, who was then with the Free University of Berlin, also took an extra step that he thought might not only cure the leukemia but also help rid Brown’s body of HIV. He found a bone marrow donor who had a rare mutation in a gene that cripples a key receptor on white blood cells the virus uses to establish an infection. (For years, researchers referred to Brown as "the Berlin patient.")
The third possibility is his new immune system attacked remnants of his old one that held HIV-infected cells, a process known as graft versus host disease.
Under current rules, there has been a risk of being sued for breach of copyright if clips of films, TV shows or songs were used without consent.
But the new European Copyright Directive will allow the use of the material so long as it is fair and does not compete with the original version.
The new law will come into effect on 1 October.
Owners of the copyrighted works will only be able to sue if the parody conveys a discriminatory message.
Comedy writer Graham Linehan, who was behind TV shows such as The IT Crowd, Father Ted and Black Books, agreed the rules had been "quite restrictive" in his experience.
"Artists need to be protected, but recently there's been an automated quality to some of the legal challenges. You might do something and you know full well the author of the original work will love the thing your doing and see it as a tribute or friendly nod, but the lawyers - they don't see any of that, they just see something they have to act on.
There seems to be a catch, but I don't know how this catch kicks in:
It would then be down to a judge to decide if the parody is funny.
While parody works by allusive or ironical imitation of other cultural manifestations, does it need to be always funny?
After laying out my longer-term plans for the site two weeks ago, I've sat down, read the feedback, and started looking at writing a response. Under normal circumstances, I generally reply to comments as they're posted, but in this case, a more public and general dialog appears to be necessary. If you haven't read the previous post, I recommend doing so now.
Now, with that introduction out of the way... I have unfortunately been unavailable to write a more detailed response, due to real life issues. So please excuse my only responding to two of the major points brought up. I do wish to have a follow-up to address the remainder, but I can not make a promise as to when that may be.
ScienceMag is running a story that reveals some of the survival and propagation mechanisms of the Anthrax Bacillus in the wild. It turns out the bacterium has a green thumb.
In northwestern Namibia's Etosha National Park, the carcasses of animals that have died of anthrax fertilize patches of grass, making them particularly lush, and attractive to other animals. Of course animals that died from other causes fertilize grass too.
Wendy Turner, a disease and wildlife ecologist at the University of Oslo, noticed that the much greener grass near old Zebra carcasses seemed to attract animals, predominantly Zebras. Since Zebras seem particularly prone to death by Anthrax, she decided to study the effect of the pathogen on vegetation.
The European Space Agency started to crunch the data acquired during the Gravity field and steady-state Ocean Circulation Explorer (GOCE) mission. ESA is able to report now that the loss of Antarctic ice for the duration of the program (Mar 2009 – Nov 2013) is significant enough to produce detectable gravity shifts.
Now, as I'm done with the sensationalism above, let's try to show some perspective:
The GOCE satellite flew at lower altitude (235 km), used ionic propulsion to compensate for the drag and directly measured the g-force using three pairs of ultra-sensitive accelerometers arranged in three dimensions that responded to tiny variations in the 'gravitational tug' of Earth with an accuracy of 1e–5 m/s^2 (that's roughly 1e-6 of the standard g) and a spatial resolution under 100km.
The spatial resolution is fine enough to resolve the loss of ice by catchment basins and offer an insight on the dynamic of the ice loss (sorry, the URL for the animation is broken).
A CDC press release confirms what has already been reported in other sources. The Liberian man became ill four days after arriving in the US, and sought medical help two days later. He was sent home, but returned to hospital two days later and was admitted. Hopefully Ebola's ability to spread through the air remains limited.
Notwithstanding the BBC report, the CDC report states:
The data health officials have seen in the past few decades since Ebola was discovered indicate that it is not spread through casual contact or through the air. Ebola is spread through direct contact with bodily fluids of a sick person or exposure to objects such as needles that have been contaminated. The illness has an average 8-10 day incubation period (although it ranges from 2 to 21 days); CDC recommends monitoring exposed people for symptoms a complete 21 days. People are not contagious after exposure unless they develop symptoms.
According to the project's website, the Internet Census 2012 researchers are crowdfunding next internet-wide research via Bitcoin.
"We are working on a vast and ground-breaking census, this time we hope to do it legally. Please help us make this happen by donating bitcoins to: 1tUCEnTyKzWrTBn1tgruSRkfahGUhxHcq"
Internet Census 2012 was a biggest complete scan of the entire internet with results being publicly available. This included traceroute information, port scanning, service and OS fingerprinting and more.
techcrunch.com reports Windows 10 Technical Preview will be available for download today and the full OS will be available mid-2015. Meanwhile, The Verge has a video of desktop/tablet mode transitions that seem to make the new version of Microsoft's OS quite a bit less annoying than Windows 8 has been for users.
Cnet along with every other tech site are reporting that Microsoft is skipping Windows 9, officially announcing the next major version will be called Windows 10.
Originally codenamed Windows Threshold, the new operating system essentially does away with the tiled "Metro" user interface that Microsoft had attempted to implement across its entire device line, from desktop PCs to Surface tablets and Widows Phone devices. It is such a substantial leap, according to Microsoft's executive VP of operating systems, Terry Myerson, that the company decided it would be best to skip over Windows 9, the widely expected name for the next version.
While early reviews of pre-release candidates did have some pleasant surprises; the major changes seems to be a far more intelligent handling of tablets which have keyboards and mice that can come and go, be folded out of the way, and the OS switches seamlessly from a desktop oriented user interface to a touch oriented one. The Verge has an extensive writeup and a video of this in action.
Some may criticize the name change as desperation, others will simply announce "too little too late". Others trot out allegedly year old April Fools Joke stories that (if not totally tongue in cheek) predicted this name change on April fools day in 2013.
The changes shown seem to address the big issues in the interface previously known as Metro, in a rather well integrated way.
So what say Soylentils: Is this enough? Has Microsoft actually listening to the complaints since Windows 8 was first released? Has their self inflicted gunshot wound to the foot healed? Will this re-start the corporate customers on delayed upgrades? Or will they hold out for 11?
Or, is the best you have to say about it "too little too late"?
Pennsylvania authorities suspect that two men accused of stealing mobile phones were monitoring law enforcement. Local media reported Tuesday that when they were arrested last month, one of the two suspects was carrying a camera-equipped drone that police saw flying over the Upper Saucon Township's police headquarters the day before the arrests.
The accused are Duane Holmes, 44, of North Bergen, and Chaviv Dykes, 20, of Newark. Police said they had $50,000 in mobile phones allegedly stolen from a Verizon Wireless store and other outlets that NJ.com said were lifted "during a string of smash-and-grab burglaries."
raganwald.com has some interesting thoughts on the time it takes to be productive in different programming language (and programming language types), as well as what it means to be productive, in a an essay title "600 Months". It starts with this thought-provoking statement:
“I have personally found that LISP is unbelievably productive if you’re willing to invest in the 600-month learning curve.”-Paul Ford
That's 50 years - nearly the entire history of LISP as a language, and far more time than most of us have available for learning a new language.
What languages took you the longest to feel "fluent" in? What language concepts do you still have trouble grasping?