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Updated: 11 min 45 sec ago

Record-Setting Astronaut Retires from NASA

Sun, 03/04/2016 - 10:46am
Record-setting NASA astronaut Scott Kelly retired from NASA on Friday, after spending more than 520 days in outer space, spread across four space missions -- two space shuttle flights and two recent missions on the orbiting International Space Station. The 52-year-old astronaut's last visit to the space station lasted more than a year, "a profound challenge for all involved," Kelly says, "and it gave me a unique perspective and a lot of time to reflect on what my next step should be on our continued journey to help further our capabilities in space and on Earth." Kelly's time in space started with a 1999 mission on the space shuttle to NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, and he's since spent more time in space than any other American. According to Space.com, NASA and Kelly have both said that his long-duration visits are the first baby steps towards a manned missions to Mars.

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MPAA Opposes Proposed Minnesota Revenge Porn Law, Saying It Limits Speech

Sun, 03/04/2016 - 6:51am
New Minnesota legislation is "attempting to penalize those who post explicit photos or videos of ex-lovers on the Internet without permission," reports the Associated Press. But while 27 states across America have already passed laws against "revenge porn", Hollywood's lobbying arm, the MPAA, argues that Minnesota's bill doesn't specifically require an intent to harass in their definition of the crime, which "could limit the distribution of a wide array of mainstream, Constitutionally protected material, including items of legitimate news, commentary, and historical interest," according to Ars Technica. The MPAA adds that "images of Holocaust victims, or prisoners at Abu Ghraib, or the Pulitzer-Prize winning photograph entitled 'Napalm Girl' -- which shows a young girl running screaming from her village, naked, following a Napalm attack -- could be prohibited under the terms of this legislation." "This is the same MPAA that fiercely supported the Stop Online Piracy Act of 2012," notes Ars Technica, though "many claimed that legislation would also curtail free speech because SOPA could lead to the removal of domains that host infringing material." But the state's ACLU chapter is also opposing Minnesota's bill, according to the Associated Press, pointing out that it doesn't require an offender to be aware that they're invading someone's privacy, and arguing that "We're not doing victims of revenge porn any service by passing a law that can't be upheld in court, that will let people go free."

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Electric Bike Company Lets Users Create Replacement Parts with 3D Printers

Sun, 03/04/2016 - 3:29am
The manufacturers of a new electric bike are sharing 3D-printable files that let users create their own replacement parts and accessories. "We want to help all our customers to personalize and get the most from their electric bikes," the company explains on their web site, "by offering them unique and interesting parts, as well as spares, that they can 3D print at home for free." Powered by a 42V lithium ion battery, the $2,430 Trayser has a range of 60 miles at speeds up to 15.5 miles per hour. 3Ders.org points out that entire bike frames have also been generated using 3D printers.

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Mozilla Co-Founder's Ad-blocking Brave Browser Will Pay You Bitcoin To See Ads

Sun, 03/04/2016 - 1:30am
An anonymous reader writes: Brave, a new privacy and speed focused web browser for Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, and Android, backed by Mozilla co-founder Brendan Eich, will pay its users in bitcoin to watch ads. From a PCWorld article, 'Under this plan, advertisers pay for a certain number of impressions, and Brave aggregates those payments into one sum. Websites that participate in the scheme get 55 percent of the money, weighted by how many impressions are served on their sites. For both users and publishers, Brave deposits the money into individual bitcoin wallets, and both parties must verify their identity to claim the funds. This requires an email and phone number for users, and more stringent identification steps for publishers. Users who don't verify will automatically donate their share of the funds back to the sites they visit most.' It appears Brave's strategy hinges on, among other things, collecting your browsing data to display relevant ads. The aforementioned article also says that users will have an option to block all ads by paying a monthly subscription to Brave. Not sure how many people would want to buy that.

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Oklahoma Video Vigilante Uses Drone To Wage War Against Prostitutes and Johns

Sat, 02/04/2016 - 11:31pm
HughPickens.com writes: Chris Baraniuk writes at BBC that Brian Bates, known in Oklahoma as the "Video Vigilante," is taking credit for Amanda Zolicoffer's conviction on a lewdness charge after being caught on Bates' drone mounted camera in a sex act in a parked vehicle last year. Zolicoffer was sentenced to a year in state prison for the misdemeanor while the case against her alleged client, who was released following arrest in December, is still pending. "I'm sort of known in the Oklahoma City area," says Bates . "For the last 20 years I've used a video camera to document street-level and forced prostitution, and human trafficking." Bates runs a website where he publishes videos of alleged sex workers and their clients. "I am openly referred to as a video vigilante, I don't really shy away from that," says Bates adding that the two individuals were inside a vehicle and the incident occurred away from other members of the public. The drone dropped to within a few feet of the vehicle where it filmed a 75 year old in the front seat of the white pickup truck. The duo separated after Zolicoffer, who was identified by her tattoo saying "Baby Gangster," saw the drone hovering overhead.

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Tech Billionaire Mark Cuban Argues Stock Regulators Hurt the Economy

Sat, 02/04/2016 - 11:30pm
Tech entrepreneur and investor Mark Cuban denounced America's stock-regulating agency on CNBC this week, arguing that they're reducing the number of companies going public with vague rules that are open-ended. "[W]here there's no clarity and no certainty on what to do in response to the SEC, you get people doing nothing or people avoiding going public or doing anything to avoid dealing with the SEC," Cuban said on CNBC. "And that's a real problem for up and coming companies and it's a problem for the economy as well." Mary Jo White, the head of America's SEC, had appeared earlier in the week near Silicon Valley, according to Bloomberg, telling an audience at Stanford Law school to be wary of billion-dollar valuation IPOs and warning that founders and startup advisors preparing for an IPO should watch their internal controls, reporting and certifications. "They are doing what the SEC always does," Cuban complained on CNBC. "100 degrees of gray."

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Amateur Scientist Builds Thermite Grenade Cannon

Sat, 02/04/2016 - 10:47pm
YouTube personality Colin Furze has built a homemade cannon which he's filmed launching grenades filled with thermite, "an especially nasty chemical composition made of metal power and oxide that burns as hot as 2,500 degrees Celsius." Furze once co-hosted Sky1's program Gadget Geeks, and he's since made a new career demonstrating strange science projects on YouTube. Furze's other homemade devices have included a rocket-powered go-kart and a knife that can also toast bread while it's cutting.

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Free Wi-Fi Program in Los Angeles Fails to Provide Free Wi-Fi

Sat, 02/04/2016 - 10:00pm
The Los Angeles Time found no internet connectivity in 24 public locations, despite a three-year, $500,000 grant to provide them with free Wi-Fi service. Investigations both last year and again in March found that none of the 18+ locations checked were able to successfully connect to the internet, prompting a PUC investigation that confirmed only two of the hotspots were working. The grant was part of a $315 million state-wide program using surcharges on utility bills to promote high-quality communication services, though in Los Angeles most of the money for "underserved" areas was being directed to outreach and education. The Wi-Fi company's executive director said maintaining their networks had proved to be difficult, though one economist argued it would've been more productive to give net-access subsidies directly to the poor, a program the FCC recently voted to expand.

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The Music Industry Is Begging the US Government To Change Its Copyright Laws

Sat, 02/04/2016 - 9:10pm
An anonymous reader shares an article on The Verge: Christina Aguilera, Katy Perry, deadmau5, and dozens of other musicians are asking the U.S. government to revamp the Digital Millennium Copyright act (DMCA), the piece of law that governs access to copyrighted work on the internet. Musicians, managers, and "creators" from across the industry co-signed petitions sent to the U.S. Copyright Office arguing that tech companies -- think YouTube and Tumblr, sites with vast reserves of content that infringes on some copyright -- have "grown and generated huge profits" on the backs of material that's illegally hosted. "The growth and support of technology companies should not be at the expense of artists and songwriters," reads the letter signed by Aguilera, Perry, and their peers. "The tech companies who benefit from the DMCA today were not the intended protectorate when it was signed into law two decades ago."

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Security Gaps Found in Massive Visa Database

Sat, 02/04/2016 - 8:20pm
Mike Levine and Justin Fishel, reporting for ABC News: Cyber-defense experts found security gaps in a State Department system that could have allowed hackers to doctor visa applications or pilfer sensitive data from the half-billion records on file, according to several sources familiar with the matter -- though defenders of the agency downplayed the threat and said the vulnerabilities would be difficult to exploit. Briefed to high-level officials across government, the discovery that visa-related records were potentially vulnerable to illicit changes sparked concern because foreign nations are relentlessly looking for ways to plant spies inside the United States, and terrorist groups like ISIS have expressed their desire to exploit the U.S. visa system, sources added.

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UK Pharma Giant GSK Won't Patent Its Drugs in Poorer Countries

Sat, 02/04/2016 - 7:40pm
Glyn Moody, reporting for Ars Technica: The UK pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) has announced that it will not be routinely patenting its drugs around the world. Instead of applying for patents on its medicines in all regions, it will now take into account the economic development of the country before deciding whether to seek monopoly protection there. As a result, a poorer country can encourage local manufacturers to create cheaper generic versions of GSK's products, and thus provide them to a greater number of its population, potentially saving many lives. Specifically, GSK says: "For Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and Low Income Countries (LICs), GSK will not file patents for its medicines, so as to give clarity and confidence to generic companies seeking to manufacture and supply generic versions of GSK medicines in those countries." Might sound weird but, this makes economic sense for GlaxoSmithKline. Applying for and defending a patent could cost a huge chunk of money. Then there are application and overhead expenses when selling a drug to different markets.

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