Thursday, 31 July

15:00

The Rover by Drew Magary [Boing Boing]

Drew Magary lead us on a wild chase, that doesn't end well, when The Rover crashes to earth. This Kindle Single is a fast paced adventure that had me to wondering what I'd do if an alien robot landed in my backyard.

Read the rest

Dinosaurs that led to birds were shrinking for millions of years [Ars Technica]

Davide Bonnadonna

We tend to think of feathers as one of the defining features of birds. But in recent years, it's become apparent that the lineage of dinosaurs that gave rise to birds (the Theropods) had feathers millions of years before anything remotely bird-like existed. Just last week, feathers were also found on a dinosaur outside the theropod lineage, raising questions about what made the theropods special (aside from, well, all sorts of cool dinosaur species).

Previous attempts to detect any global trends in bird-like traits among the theropods haven't come up with anything definitive. But today, scientists are releasing a new computer analysis of thousands of traits from theropod dinosaur fossils. The results show that the lineage that gave rise to birds has been getting smaller for 50 million years, and it underwent a huge burst of adding novel anatomical features. Both of these revelations are in sharp contrast to the rest of the theropod lineage.

The first theropods appear in the fossil record after the Triassic-Jurassic mass extinction event. During the early part of their history, they were notable for two things: being rather large and rather static. Some groups appeared in the fossil record 180 million years ago, persisting right up to the mass extinction event that ended the non-avian dinosaurs. And one of the earliest groups to split off the lineage that led to birds were the Megalosaurids—which, as their name implies, were rather large.

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CIA boss apologizes for snooping on Senate computers [Ars Technica]

The head of the Central Intelligence Agency has apologized to leaders of the Senate Intelligence Committee after determining that his officers improperly accessed computers that were supposed to be available only to committee investigators, according to multiple reports on Thursday.

The mea culpa from CIA Director John O. Brennan was in sharp contrast to a defiant statement he made in March. After US Senator Dianne Feinstein accused the agency of breaching long-recognized separations between employees of the legislative and executive branches, Brennan maintained that there had been no inappropriate monitoring of Senate staffers' computer activity.

"When the facts come out on this, I think a lot of people who are claiming that there has been this tremendous sort of spying and monitoring and hacking will be proved wrong," he said at the time.

Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Air Force wants weapons faster, cheaper as it sees writing on wall [Ars Technica]

The F-35 program and the F-22 before it, coupled with budget sequestration, have put the Air Force into a strategic tailspin.
US Navy

Yesterday, US Air Force leadership released a document called “America’s Air Force: A Call to the Future,” a 30-year plan focused on “strategic agility” according to its authors. Created by the Office of the Secretary of the Air Force and advisors to the Air Force Chief of Staff, the strategy document calls for the Air Force to focus on the ability to quickly adapt to the changing world by using incremental, agile weapons system development instead of budget-busting major programs that aim for giant leaps in capability.

That doesn’t mean that the Air Force is abandoning its present path right away. The more than $1 trillion acquisition of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter—the most expensive fighter aircraft development program in history—continues unabated. But the Air Force, which slashed the size of its force and much of its capability to fund the F-35 and the F-22 Raptor, is now realizing that it has run hard up against a fundamental law of defense procurement: Augustine’s sixteenth law.

The Ferengi rules of defense acquisition

In 1983, Norman Augustine, former CEO and president of Lockheed Martin, published a book through the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics entitled Augustine’s Laws. The “laws” in the book were a collection of observations and aphorisms about business in general with insights on aerospace and the defense industry in particular. Many were tongue-in-cheek jabs (Law XI states, “If the Earth could be made to rotate twice as fast, managers would get twice as much done…If the Earth could be made to rotate 20 times as fast, everyone else would get twice as much done since all the managers would fly off”).

Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Updated Qi 1.2 standard makes wireless charging more wireless [Ars Technica]

The Qi-compatible Nexus 5 on the Nexus Wireless Charger. New chargers will be able to increase the space between the device and the pad.
Andrew Cunningham

The Wireless Power Consortium's Qi wireless charging standard is wireless in that the phone is not physically plugged into anything, but it still requires your device and the wireless charging pad to be touching each other to work. Today, the WPC announced (PDF) that version 1.2 of the Qi standard will add support for resonant charging, making it possible for your phone to be charged when near a Qi pad rather than directly on top of it.

A small image showing Qi 1.2 in action.

It's a minor enough change that current Qi 1.1 receivers will be able to take advantage of it with no extra hardware, but it opens up a few different possibilities for companies that want to build Qi support into their products. The WPC says that Qi chargers can now be embedded within tables and desks rather than placed on the surface, making them less obtrusive. "New low power transmitter designs" will make it easier to build Qi chargers into cars, and a single Qi 1.2 transmitter will be able to charge multiple Qi devices simultaneously. Qi can also now supply up to 2,000 watts of power to household appliances (the release specifically mentions "kitchen applications").

Current Qi devices will be able to draw power from these new transmitters at distances of up to 30 mm (around 1.2 inches), while devices with purpose-build Qi 1.2 receivers increase the distance to 45 mm (about 1.8 inches). Engadget reports that the resonant version of Qi is roughly 70 to 80 percent efficient, while the old inductive version is around 85 percent efficient, and Qi 1.1 and 1.2 transmitters and receivers will be able to interoperate, so inductive charging pads like the Nexus Wireless Charger will still be able to charge Qi 1.2 phones. Just know that resonant charging will require a Qi 1.2 transmitter.

Read 1 remaining paragraphs | Comments

The Quest review: Reality game of thrones [Ars Technica]

Shondo, the reality series' MMA fighter, adds a lot of excitement and energy to a medieval-obsessed show whose lore and fictional world don't always keep up.
ABC

The Quest, ABC’s latest reality TV series, debuts on Thursday with a shameless plea to lovers of fantasy and other self-identifying geeks. The show asks its 12 contestants to fake like medieval knights—which they do thanks to activities like living in a castle, wielding spears, bowing to a queen, and meeting creepy witches in the woods.

But for the producers who dumped real people into a Tolkien-obsessed world, that’s not enough. These “paladins” apparently all have a greater purpose beyond a cash prize or D-list celebrity status. Contestants don’t take long to reveal the massive chips on their shoulders, many of them recalling a younger life when they didn’t fit in, when they wore headgear and giant glasses, or when they hid with books or video games.

So only now, wearing leather armor and clutching the broken shards of the ancient “Sunspear,” do they see a path to confidence and redemption. The quotes come flowing while the dozen players take their first steps toward the show’s world of Everrealm: “It was my fate to embark on this journey,” one says, while another goes a little further: “I want to show the little kid I used to be, who was so shy and so quiet, that he doesn’t always have to be that way.”

Read 15 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Fantasy footballers and coaches rejoice—NFL players to wear RFID tags [Ars Technica]

The surveillance society, it seems, is broadening at NFL stadiums.

Facial-recognition technology already tracks fans at some venues. But now, with its upcoming season just around the corner, the NFL is installing radio frequency identification (RFID) chips in players' shoulder pads to track all of their on-field movements in real time.

The NFL announced Thursday that it is partnering with Zebra Technologies, the company that already supplies RFID chips for applications from "automotive assembly lines to dairy cows' milk production." For the football nerd, it's a bonanza of sorts, possibly changing fantasy football and morning-after box scores forever. Zebra said the technology, known as "Next Gen Stats," will track player acceleration rates, top speed, length of runs, and even how much separation a ball carrier got from a defender. It's not just a Pandora's box of stats for fans and broadcasters, as coaches can immediately employ the data to decide what plays to run or how to defend them.

Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

African Cocoa Farmers Tasting Chocolate for the First Time – Priceless [INHABITAT]

chocolate, african, africa, farmers, farming, ivory, coast, cocoa, Cocoa farmers taste chocolate for the first time, Ivory Coast chocolate, African cocoa bean farmers, video of first chocolate bar

It is a sad fact and indicator of the inequality of our society that many of those who put in the labor may never taste its fruits. A group of cocoa bean farmers in Africa’s Ivory Coast recently had the opportunity to do just that when they tasted the chocolate made with their beans for the first time. A correspondent from Metropolis TV visited the farmers and gave them their first-ever chocolate bar – hit the jump to see a video of their reaction.

chocolate, african, africa, farmers, farming, ivory, coast, cocoa, Cocoa farmers taste chocolate for the first time, Ivory Coast chocolate, African cocoa bean farmers, video of first chocolate bar

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CIA: Sorry for spying on Senate panel [CNN.com - Top Stories]

CIA Director John Brennan apologized to the Senate Intelligence Committee and admitted the agency spied on computers used by its staffers.

House GOP halts immigration vote [CNN.com - Top Stories]

On the last day before summer recess, dysfunction reigned in Congress.

'Big Bang Theory' stalls [CNN.com - Top Stories]

Brace yourselves, "Big Bang Theory" fans: Production on the CBS comedy has been put on pause.

Gaza is 'proxy war' for entire Mideast [CNN.com - Top Stories]

The conflict raging in Gaza is different this time.

PHP Finally Getting a Formal Specification [Slashdot]

itwbennett (1594911) writes "Despite becoming one of the most widely used programming languages on the Web, PHP didn't have a formal specification — until now. Facebook engineer and PHP core contributor Sara Golemon announced the initiative at OSCON earlier this month, and an initial draft of the specification was posted Wednesday on GitHub."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








Fotopedia Is Shutting Down; Data Avallable Until August 10 [Slashdot]

New submitter Randall Booth writes Fotopedia has sent notice to its users that it is shutting down. 'We are sorry to announce that Fotopedia is shutting down. As of August 10, 2014, Fotopedia.com will close and our iOS applications will cease to function. Our community of passionate photographers, curators and storytellers has made this a wonderful journey, and we'd like to thank you for your hard work and your contributions. We truly believe in the concept of storytelling but don't think there is a suitable business in it yet. If you submitted photos and stories to Fotopedia, your data will be available to download until August 10, 2014. After this date, all photos and data will be permanently deleted from our servers."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








Kentucky Buoys Noah's Ark Park With Millions In New Tax Breaks [News]

The Christian theme park, featuring a 510-foot-long replica of the ark, is getting $18 million in new incentives from the state's tourism board.

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Flight Delays In China Leave Travelers Feeling Squeezed [News]

Air traffic snarls at some of eastern China's busiest airports have stranded thousands of travelers and highlighted the increasing competition for airspace between military and civilian flights.

» E-Mail This

'Africa Is Champion': Reporting From A Changing Continent [News]

Tell Me More has been dedicated to covering stories from Africa. Host Michel Martin speaks to NPR's Africa correspondent Ofeibea Quist-Arcton about reporting on the changing continent.

» E-Mail This

Hospitals Fight Proposed Changes In The Training Of Doctors [News]

The Institute of Medicine this week urged Congress to allocate to community clinics more of the $15 billion it spends annually on training new doctors. But hospitals say that's the wrong prescription.

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You can play every Game Boy Advance game on your iPhone right now [The Verge - All Posts]

The original Game Boy turns 25 today, but short of owning an original device or buying the games again on limited selection of the 3DS eShop, your best bet for re-living Super Mario Land or Pokémon Red is to use emulators. The portable nature of the games and the relatively low hardware requirements needed to emulate Nintendo’s handhelds have made them a perfect fit for modern day smartphones. While Android users have a variety of choices for emulation, the legally gray area of emulators has kept any apps from making it to Apple’s App Store, leaving apps like gpSPhone and GBA.emu limited only to jailbroken iOS devices.

GBA4iOS, from developer Riley Testut, is different. Using a loophole in Apple’s app installation systems, this...

Continue reading…

Hulu now lets you watch free TV shows and movies on Android [The Verge - All Posts]

Hulu is finally starting to let viewers watch TV shows on their phones and tablets without paying for a subscription. Beginning on Android today, just about everything that you can currently watch for free on Hulu's website can now be watched for free on mobile devices. Hulu says that there are some exceptions to what you can watch, but it doesn't say what those are and makes it sound as though it isn't much. The changes come alongside an update to its Android app, which is now available in the Google Play Store.

Until now, Hulu has put strict walls around where it lets viewers watch TV shows and movies. If you weren't a subscriber, you were limited to the desktop when it came to watching a full episode — meaning that you had to...

Continue reading…

Windows Phone will soon render websites a lot more like an iPhone [The Verge - All Posts]

Microsoft has tried to push standards with its mobile Internet Explorer browser, but unfortunately the wider web largely develops specifically for the webkit rendering engine and the iPhone. That’s left a lot of mobile websites not rendering properly in Internet Explorer mobile, and a frustrating user experience. Twitter and a number of Google web sites do not render correctly in Windows Phone, but Microsoft thinks it has an answer. With the upcoming Windows Phone 8.1 Update 1, Microsoft is tweaking its mobile browser to better support sites that were designed for an iPhone. The approach means Microsoft is adding non-standard web platform features, but the result is a much better experience for Windows Phone users.

Some of the changes...

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We are all Glassholes now [The Verge - All Posts]

2013 was the year of the Glasshole — the year that technology made one of its most violent entries into our personal lives at bars, restaurants, workplaces, and homes. Public backlash stemmed from concerns about Glass’ clandestine camera, and about fears of being documented publicly without consent. But really, Glass isn’t much different from the cameras we already use. It’s just the most obvious manifestation of our obsession with documentation, the most logical scapegoat for a much larger...

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French company Iliad wants to buy T-Mobile and ruin Sprint's grand plan [The Verge - All Posts]

We may soon see a bidding war for T-Mobile. French telecom company Iliad has put in a $15 billion, all-cash bid for the company that would give it a controlling stake of 56.6 percent. The news throws a huge wrench into the months-long narrative that Sprint is preparing to buy its smaller competitor. T-Mobile parent Deutsche Telekom and Sprint have already reached a tentative agreement that would ultimately combine the third and fourth place US carriers, according to previous reports. But Iliad gives T-Mobile another path in taking the fight to its rivals. The Wall Street Journal first reported Iliad's interest in T-Mobile on Thursday afternoon.

Continue reading…

14:00

One cop in Seattle issues 80% of city's marijuana tickets [Boing Boing]

An internal investigation revealed that the officer "flipped a coin when contemplating which subject to cite," and that he called Washington's legal marijuana law "silly." Read the rest

Scientists track the origins of a ship buried under the World Trade Center [Boing Boing]

hyg2h7y0s08frsqi0egv

In 2010, construction crews found the hull of a very old ship, buried at the site of the World Trade Center towers. Using dendrochronology, scientists now know how old the ship is and what city it was made in.

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Watch Sen. Whitehouse, a badass, totally own Sen. Inhofe, a climate change denier, on climate change [Boing Boing]

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) totally owns Senator Jim Inhofe (R-OK) for blocking a resolution that would have formally acknowledged the fact that climate change is real, and that carbon pollution is causing it. Read the rest

The business of denim repair [Boing Boing]

PJ Vogt: "most jeans, if they fail, fail in the crotch."

The CIA lied: agency admits it hacked Senate computers to snoop on torture investigations [Boing Boing]

CIA Director John Brennan.


CIA Director John Brennan.

After months of lying to lawmakers and the American public, the CIA today finally admitted it hacked into the Senate staffers' computers to monitor their investigations of the intelligence agency's post-9/11 programs of harsh interrogation (we prefer to just call it torture) and a global network of secret prisons.

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