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Updated: 9 min 42 sec ago

There Were Mega-Tsunamis On Mars

Fri, 20/05/2016 - 12:30am
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Popular Mechanics: Today, a team of scientists has announced the first discovery of extraterrestrial tsunamis. A team of astronomers and geologists led by J. Alexis Rodriguez at the Planetary Science Institute in Tucson, Arizona has uncovered evidence of massive tsunamis on Mars billions of years ago. As Rodriguez reports, two separate mega-tsunamis tore across the red planet around 3.4 billion years ago, a time when Mars was a mere 1.1 billion years old and nearby Earth was just cradling its first microbial lifeforms. The two tsunamis created 150-foot-high shore-break waves on average, and some absolutely monster waves up to 400 feet tall. Rodriguez and his colleagues outline their tsunami findings today in the journal Scientific Reports. From the report: "Rodriquez and his colleagues stumbled across evidence of these tsunamis while scouring over images of Mars' relatively flat northern planes. Two regions called Chryse Planitia and Arabia Terra. Using detailed infrared maps rendered by the thermal camera on the 15-year-old Mars Odyssey orbiter, the scientists identified the high water marks of the tsunamis -- features that look a lot like ancient ocean coastlines." Within the last year alone, scientists have spotted the signs of flowing water on Mars, recently discovering how water flows on the red planet. NASA has detected atomic oxygen in the atmosphere of the planet, too.

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Superjet Technology Nears Reality After Successful Australia Test

Thu, 19/05/2016 - 11:50pm
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Yahoo: A two-hour flight from Sydney to London is a step closer to reality after the latest successful test Wednesday of hypersonic technology in the Australian desert. A joint US-Australian military research team is running a series of 10 trials at the world's largest land testing range, Woomera in South Australia, and at Norway's Andoya Rocket Range. Hypersonic flight involves traveling at more than five times the speed of sound (Mach 5). Scientists involved in the program -- called Hypersonic International Flight Research Experimentation (HIFiRE) -- are developing an engine that can fly at Mach 7, Michael Smart of the University of Queensland told AFP. He added that the scramjet was a supersonic combustion engine that uses oxygen from the atmosphere for fuel, making it lighter and faster than fuel-carrying rockets. The experimental rocket in the trial on Wednesday reached an altitude of 278 kilometers and a target speed of Mach 7.5, Australia's defense department said. The first test of the rocket was conducted in 2009. The next test is scheduled for 2017 with the project expected to be completed in 2018. It's only a matter of time before such high-speed transportation technology is implemented into our infrastructure. Last week, Hyperloop One conducted a successful test of its high speed transportation technology in the desert outside Las Vegas.

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Google Patents Self-Driving Car That Glues Pedestrians To The Hood In A Crash

Thu, 19/05/2016 - 11:10pm
An anonymous reader quotes a report from CNN: Google just got a patent for a special kind of coating on self-driving cars that could help prevent pedestrian injuries. The company wants to coat autonomous vehicles with a sticky substance so that if they hit a pedestrian, the person would be glued to the car instead of flying off. "[The pedestrian] is not thrown from the vehicle, thereby preventing a secondary impact between the pedestrian and the road surface or other object," says the patent, granted on Tuesday. Google explains that an "adhesive layer" would be placed on the hood, front bumper and front side panels of a car. A thin coating would protect it until an impact occurred. Google is paying Arizona residents $20 per hour to test its self-driving vehicles.

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TeslaCrypt Ransomware Maker Shuts Down, Releases Master Key

Thu, 19/05/2016 - 10:25pm
An anonymous reader writes: The TeslaCrypt ransomware makers have officially closed down shop and apologized for all the damage they have caused in the past. TeslaCrypt upset a lot of gamers as it would locate and encrypt video games on your Windows PC. With the recent decision to shut down, anti-ransomware researchers have been able to create a fool-proof decryption app called TeslaDecoder (Link is a direct download). Now, many of the hard drives rendered useless by the malware are available to use, and almost every file can be accessed using the unlock system. "TeslaCrypt's website was on the Tor network and now consists of a master key and an apology," writes TechCrunch.

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Google Chrome To Disallow Backspace As a 'Back' Button

Thu, 19/05/2016 - 9:40pm
An anonymous reader writes: Google Chrome is going to stop people from accidentally deleting everything they've been doing. A future version of the app will stop the backspace button from also functioning as a "back" button. The change has already been rolled out in some experimental versions of the app, and has upset some users. Developers have said that the feature is only being partly enabled for now, in case there is "sufficient outcry" and it needs to be rolled back. People regularly press the button thinking that they're deleting a word from a form, developers said, but then find that they weren't actually typing into that form and so accidentally go back, losing everything they've done.

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Humanoid 'Pepper' Robot Needs US Android Programmers

Thu, 19/05/2016 - 9:00pm
An anonymous reader quotes a report from USA Today: Japan-based SoftBank Robotics announced Wednesday at Google I/O, the company's annual developer's conference, that it is opening a new Pepper-focused outpost in San Francisco and unveiling an Android SDK, or software development kit, in the hopes of enticing programmers to write code for the robot. Asked if SoftBank will roll out at SDK for iOS developers, Carlin says he wouldn't rule anything out but "for the moment Android is the pervasive language." Pepper is a white hard-plastic robot with humanoid features such as large eyes and arms as well as a display screen for a chest. The robot is said to be able to read human emotions by processing visual and vocal inputs through its various microphones and cameras. Its purpose is to be "much more than a robot, he is a genuine humanoid companion created to communicate with you in the most natural and intuitive way," according to the company's website. Pepper already has been deployed commercially in Japan, where it is used to greet customers at 140 SoftBank Mobile stores as well as help take orders at fast food eateries and discuss car model details at dealerships. Carlin says programmers working on Pepper-related tech will get access to "a best in class developer portal" that includes a developer forum, links to robotics workshops, access to SoftBank's engineering team and scientific details about Pepper. Google CEO Sundar Pichai announced the Tensor Processing Unit (TPU) at Google I/O, which the company claims advances machine learning capability by a factor of three generations.

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The Average Age For a Child Getting Their First Smartphone Is Now 10.3 Years

Thu, 19/05/2016 - 8:20pm
An anonymous reader writes: A TechCrunch article, citing a report on Influence Central, states that the average age for a child getting their smartphone is now 10.3 years. The report adds that 64% of kids have access to the Internet via their own laptop or tablet, compared to just 42% in 2012. Also, 39% of kids get a social media account at 11.4 years, and 11% get a social media account when they were younger than 10.

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Men Are Sabotaging The Online Reviews Of TV Shows Aimed At Women

Thu, 19/05/2016 - 7:30pm
FiveThirtyEight has an interesting article today which accuses men of sabotaging the online reviews of TV shows aimed at women. The publication cites an example of "Sex and the City", a show which apparently won plenty of awards and ran for many years on TV, getting hammered by males on IMDb. Compared to women, who amounted to 60% of the people who rated the show with an average of 8.1, men gave it a 5.8 rating. It's not an isolated case, FiveThirtyEight says, citing several other instances where the male audience has downvoted shows aimed at women audience. From the article: The shows with the largest proportion of male raters are mostly sports, video game web series, science fiction and cartoons. The programs with the highest proportion of female voters are -- at least the American ones -- mostly from The CW and Freeform, the new name of the network previously called ABC Family. This list is pretty hilarious. Beyond the top 25, shown in the table above, male-dominated shows of note include: "Blue Mountain State" (92 percent male), "Batman: Beyond" (91 percent), "Batman: The Animated Series" (90 percent), "The Shield" (90 percent), "Ballers" (90 percent), "Justice League" (90 percent), and "The League" (88 percent). "Star Trek: Enterprise" is the most male-heavy of the various official live-action Trek enterprises, while "Battlestar Galactica" still managed to grab 15 percent of its ratings from women, which is somewhat shocking. For women, other skewed programming includes "Private Practice" (71 percent female), "Gossip Girl" and "Gilmore Girls" (67 percent each), "Grey's Anatomy" (60 percent), "Scandal" (60 percent), and "One Tree Hill" (59 percent).

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Google Play Store and Over a Million Android Apps Coming To Chromebooks

Thu, 19/05/2016 - 6:50pm
It's official: the Google Play Store is coming to Chrome OS. The company announced on Thursday that it is bringing more than 1.5 million Android apps to Chromebooks. Google adds that zero efforts are required from developers' end for their Android apps to function on Chrome OS. Users will also be able to see notifications and have in-line replies on the desktop. Users on developer channel builds of Chrome OS will get an option to use Google Play and Android apps starting early next month. Regular users on select Chromebook models will have this feature in September. Ars Technica has tons of more details about it. The Verge says Android apps are just what Chromebooks needed.

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Don't Use Google Allo

Thu, 19/05/2016 - 6:10pm
At its developer conference on Wednesday, Google announced Allo, a chatbot-enabled messaging app. The app offers a range of interesting features such as the ability to quickly doodle on an image and get prompt responses. Additionally, it is the "first Google" product to offer end-to-end encryption, though that is not turned on by default. If you're concerned about privacy, you will probably still want to avoid Allo, says the publication. From the report: Allo's big innovation is "Google Assistant," a Siri competitor that will give personalized suggestions and answers to your questions on Allo as well as on the newly announced Google Home, which is a competitor to Amazon's Echo. On Allo, Google Assistant will learn how you talk to certain friends and offer suggested replies to make responding easier. Let that sink in for a moment: The selling point of this app is that Google will read your messages, for your convenience. Google would be insane to not offer some version of end-to-end encryption in a chat app in 2016, when all of its biggest competitors have it enabled by default. Allo uses the Signal Protocol for its encryption, which is good. But as with all other Google products, Allo will work much better if you let Google into your life. Google is banking on the idea that you won't want to enable Incognito Mode, and thus won't enable encryption.Edward Snowden also chimed in on the matter. He said, "Google's decision to disable end-to-end encryption by default in its new Allo chat app is dangerous, and makes it unsafe. Avoid it for now."

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Computers and Warrants: Some Senators Oppose Justice Plan

Thu, 19/05/2016 - 5:25pm
A group of bipartisan senators introduced a bill on Thursday that blocks a pending judicial rule change allowing U.S judges to issue search warrants for remote access to computers in any jurisdiction, even overseas. Associated Press reports: Justice Department officials say that requirement is not practical in complex computer crime cases where investigators don't know the physical location of the device they want to search. In instances when cybercriminals operate on networks that conceal their identity and location, the government wants to ensure that any magistrate in a judicial district where a crime may have occurred can sign off on a search warrant that gives investigators remote access to the computer. The Obama administration says that authority is especially critical in cases involving botnets, which are networks of computers infected with a virus that spill across those districts. As it now stands, federal officials say, they might have to apply for nearly identical warrants in 94 different courthouses to disrupt a botnet.The U.S. Justice Department has pushed for the rule change since 2013. It has assumed it as a "procedural tweak" needed to modernize the criminal code to pursue sophisticated 21st century criminals, reports Reuters. Congress has until Dec 1 to vote to reject, amend or postpone the changes to Rule 41 of the federal rules of criminal procedure. If lawmakers fail to act, the change will automatically take effect, a scenario seen as likely given the short timeline. ZDNet has more details.

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Robin Hood Hacker Donates $11,000 of Stolen Bitcoin to Help Fight ISIS

Thu, 19/05/2016 - 4:45pm
An anonymous reader writes: A Kurdish region of Syria that borders territory held by the Islamic State militant group (ISIS) has received an $11,000 donation in allegedly stolen bitcoin from a vigilante hacker. (paywalled, alternate source) The pseudonymous Phineas Fisher donated 25 bitcoins to a crowdfunding campaign set up by members of the Rojava region's economic committee, described by Fisher as "one of the most inspiring revolutionary projects in the world." Fisher claims that the bitcoin donation, recorded publicly on the blockchain ledger and listed on the crowdfunding campaign page, came from hacking into a bank. "The money did come from robbing a bank," Fisher said. "Bank robbing is more viable than ever, it's just done differently these days."Phisher adds: "Unfortunately, our world is backwards. You get rich by doing bad things and go to jail for doing good."

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Federal Judge Says Internet Archive's Wayback Machine A Perfectly Legitimate Source Of Evidence

Thu, 19/05/2016 - 4:05pm
Tim Cushing, reporting for TechDirt (condensed): Those of us who dwell on the internet already know the Internet Archive's "Wayback Machine" is a useful source of evidence. So, it's heartening to see a federal judge arrive at the same conclusion, as Stephen Bykowski of the Trademark and Copyright Law blog reports.From the report: The potential uses of the Wayback Machine in IP litigation are powerful and diverse. Historical versions of an opposing party's website could contain useful admissions or, in the case of patent disputes, invalidating prior art. Date-stamped websites can also contain proof of past infringing use of copyrighted or trademarked content.From TechDirt: The defendant tried to argue that the Internet Archive's pages weren't admissible because the Wayback Machine doesn't capture everything on the page or update every page from a website on the same date. The judge, after receiving testimony from an Internet Archive employee, disagreed. He found the site to a credible source of preserved evidence -- not just because it captures (for the most part) sites as they were on relevant dates but, more importantly, it does nothing to alter the purity of the preserved evidence.

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Chromebooks Outsell Macs For the First Time In the US

Thu, 19/05/2016 - 3:20pm
An anonymous reader shares a report on The Verge: Google's low-cost Chromebooks outsold Apple's range of Macs for the first time in the U.S. recently. IDC analyst Linn Huang confirmed the milestone to The Verge. "Chrome OS overtook Mac OS in the US in terms of shipments for the first time in 1Q16," says Huang. "Chromebooks are still largely a US K-12 story." IDC estimates Apple's U.S. Mac shipments to be around 1.76 million in the latest quarter, meaning Dell, HP, and Lenovo sold nearly 2 million Chromebooks in Q1 combined. Chromebooks have been extremely popular in US schools, and it's clear from IDC's comments the demand is driving US shipments. Outside of the US, it's still unclear exactly how well Google's low-cost laptops are doing. Most data from market research firms like IDC and Gartner focuses solely on Google's wins in the US.

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Theranos Withdraws Two Years of Blood Test Results

Thu, 19/05/2016 - 2:40pm
Reader Major Blud writes: Theranos, the company valued at $9 billion that promised to revolutionize the way blood testing is done, has just announced that it has withdrawn all of the test done using its Edison machine performed in 2014 and 2015. The company recently come under fire from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services for the inaccuracy and unreliability of the machine, and threatened to revoke the company's license as well as ban CEO and founder Elizabeth Holmes, and its president and COO, Sunny Balwani, from blood testing.

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Filmmakers Ask 'Pirate' to Take Polygraph, Backtrack When He Agrees

Thu, 19/05/2016 - 2:00pm
The makers of Dallas Buyers Club (a 2014 movie, which won three Academy awards) are going to great lengths to crackdown on BitTorrent pirates. According to a report on piracy news blog TorrentFreak, the filmmakers challenged an accused pirate to submit a polygraph test to prove that he didn't download a copyright infringing copy of their movie. The accused pirate, California resident Michael Amhari, insists that he did not download any pirated copy of the Dallas Buyers Club and agreed to take the polygraph test. Upon hearing this, the filmmakers, who had imposed a $100,000 fine on Amhari, retracted the offer. "When plaintiff's counsel then agreed to take such a test with the proviso that defense costs and attorney fees be covered, plaintiff then refused to pay costs and revoked his offer to conduct a polygraph," said Amhari's counsel Clay Renick. TorrentFreak reports: "After receiving exculpatory evidence and the sworn declaration of defendant, Mr. Davis then refused to file a dismissal and proceeded to demand that defendant appear in the action or he would file a default." The defendant's counsel added: âoeThis behavior is galling and it should not be permitted by the court.â Because of these dubious tactics the court should set aside the default that was entered earlier this month. According to Renick, Dallas Buyer's Club has nothing more than an IP-address to back up their infringement claims, which is not enough to prove guilt.

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Android Wear 2.0 Gets A Keyboard, Standalone Apps, Activity Recognition, New UI

Thu, 19/05/2016 - 1:00pm
An anonymous reader writes: Google unveiled the biggest update to Android Wear yet at Google I/O -- Android Wear version 2.0. Google VP of Engineering for Android Wear David Singleton said the new version represents a "holistic pass across the design of the whole system" and focuses on providing users more glanceable information, improved messaging tools (including support for keyboards, handwriting recognition and smart replies), as well as new fitness and wellness features. The design features improved Material Design aesthetics with an emphasis on color. By default, the navigation drawer is always at the top of the screen and notifications themselves will always show up at the bottom. Android Wear 2.0 features standalone apps that communicate directly over the Internet via Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, or cellular. Apps are no longer exclusively relying on a tethered phone or cloud syncing. There's a Complications API, which allows developers to pass raw data to watch faces. Wear 2.0 adds two new input methods: a swipe-style keyboard for typing and a handwriting recognition mode to sketch letters on your watch's screen to spell out messages. There have also been various Google Fit-related improvements to make Android Wear watches better fitness trackers. Android Wear 2.0 is available today as a developer preview, with the finished product being released this fall.

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PornHub's 'Bangfit' Program Uses Sexy Exercise To Build Muscle

Thu, 19/05/2016 - 10:00am
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Mashable: A new program created by PornHub called "BangFit" features 'sexercises' that allow players to build and tone muscle. Instead of forcing people to go the gym, Bangfit users simply practice sexual exercises, otherwise known as actual sex. Finally, you can gyrate and hump your way to the body of your dreams. BangFit users follow along with videos as they execute positions like the "squat and thrust" and "missionary press." Players can sync their phones to the workout in order to track their progress and measure the amount of calories burned. While the concept sounds simply gimmicky, BangFit says they designed the app using real science and professionals in the field. PornHub is also retailing an adjustable band that keeps your smartphone closer to to your body, making it easier for the gyroscope to track your movements (judge your performance?). Anytime you complete a level, PornHub congratulates you on your success with a phrase like, "You're the gymanastiest," which is simultaneously rewarding and disgusting. You can watch the retro NSFW introduction video here.

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EgyptAir Flight 804 Missing

Thu, 19/05/2016 - 7:00am
dark.nebulae writes: An EgyptAir flight disappeared on it's way from Paris to Egypt resulting in loss of 56 passengers and 10 crew members. The plane was flying at 37,000 feet when it vanished shortly after entering Egyptian airspace. It was suppose to land in Cairo at 3:15 a.m. Thursday after leaving Paris' Charles de Gaulle Airport at 11:09 p.m. local time. CNN's aviation correspondent Richard Quest said, "Planes just do not fall out of the sky for no reason, particularly at 37,000 feet." He said the plane vanished while cruising -- the safest part of the journey. We'll update the story as more details emerge.

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Pfizer Blocks The Use Of Its Drugs In Executions

Thu, 19/05/2016 - 3:30am
HughPickens.com writes: Erik Eckholm reports in the NYT that the pharmaceutical giant Pfizer has announced that it has imposed sweeping controls on the distribution of its products to ensure that none are used in lethal injections, a step that closes off the last remaining open-market source of drugs used in executions. "Pfizer makes its products to enhance and save the lives of the patients we serve," the company says, and "strongly objects to the use of its products as lethal injections for capital punishment." "With Pfizer's announcement, all F.D.A.-approved manufacturers of any potential execution drug have now blocked their sale for this purpose," says Maya Foa. "Executing states must now go underground if they want to get hold of medicines for use in lethal injection." The mounting difficulty in obtaining lethal drugs has already caused states to furtively scramble for supplies. Some states have used straw buyers or tried to import drugs from abroad that are not approved by the Food and Drug Administration, only to see them seized by federal agents. Other states have experimented with new drug combinations, sometimes with disastrous results, such as the prolonged execution of Joseph Wood in Arizona in 2014, using the sedative midazolam. A few states have adopted the electric chair, firing squad or gas chamber as an alternative if lethal drugs are not available. Since Utah chooses to have a death penalty, "we have to have a means of carrying it out," said State Representative Paul Ray as he argued last year for authorization of the firing squad.

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