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Showing posts from September, 2014

Hong Kong democracy protesters flock to new messaging app

Hong Kong democracy protesters flock to new messaging app
AFP
5 hours ago

A social messaging app that allows users to contact each other even if a mobile phone network is overloaded or switched off has become a hit among tens of thousands of Hong Kong protesters.

Student leaders called on followers over the weekend to download FireChat, which allows phones to communicate even when the Internet is down, after rumours swept their camp that the city's beleaguered authorities might turn off the cell network.

Tens of thousands have occupied major thoroughfares in the semi-autonomous southern Chinese city and have refused to move until China grants genuine democracy.

So far the cellphone network has not been deliberately switched off. But protesters quickly found that the app often worked much better than rivals within the huge crowds that have paralysed parts of the city and often overloaded the network.

"I know it can connect with people around me without using the Internet,"…

FBI blasts Apple, Google for locking police out of phones

FBI blasts Apple, Google for locking police out of phones
By Craig Timberg and Greg Miller September 25 at 8:17 PM
FBI Director James B. Comey sharply criticized Apple and Google on Thursday for developing forms of smartphone encryption so secure that law enforcement officials cannot easily gain access to information stored on the devices — even when they have valid search warrants.
His comments were the most forceful yet from a top government official but echo a chorus of denunciation from law enforcement officials nationwide. Police have said that the ability to search photos, messages and Web histories on smartphones is essential to solving a range of serious crimes, including murder, child pornography and attempted terrorist attacks.
“There will come a day when it will matter a great deal to the lives of people . . . that we will be able to gain access” to such devices, Comey told reporters in a briefing. “I want to have that conversation [with companies responsible] before that …

FBI blasts Apple, Google for locking police out of phones

FBI blasts Apple, Google for locking police out of phones
By Craig Timberg and Greg Miller September 25 at 8:17 PM
FBI Director James B. Comey sharply criticized Apple and Google on Thursday for developing forms of smartphone encryption so secure that law enforcement officials cannot easily gain access to information stored on the devices — even when they have valid search warrants.
His comments were the most forceful yet from a top government official but echo a chorus of denunciation from law enforcement officials nationwide. Police have said that the ability to search photos, messages and Web histories on smartphones is essential to solving a range of serious crimes, including murder, child pornography and attempted terrorist attacks.
“There will come a day when it will matter a great deal to the lives of people . . . that we will be able to gain access” to such devices, Comey told reporters in a briefing. “I want to have that conversation [with companies responsible] before that …
Multi-tasking makes your brain smaller: Grey matter shrinks if we do too much at once
    People who multitask with multiple media devices have less grey matter     Grey matter is the part of the brain that processes information     Older studies found multitasking on media devices led to poor attention     Also linked to emotional problems such as depression and anxiety     Training the brain through learning can increase density of grey matter
By Fiona Macrae for the Daily Mail
Published: 17:21 GMT, 24 September 2014 | Updated: 11:39 GMT, 25 September 2014
If you are sending a text, watching the TV or listening to the radio, you may want to stop and give this your full attention.
Multi-tasking shrinks the brain, research suggests.
A study found that men and women who frequently used several types of technology at the same time had less grey matter in a key part of the brain.
People who text and surf the internet while watching TV have less grey matter in their brains compared to p…

New Level of Smartphone Encryption Alarms Law Enforcement

New Level of Smartphone Encryption Alarms Law Enforcement Moves by Apple and Google Are Latest Fallout From Snowden's Disclosures
By DEVLIN BARRETT And DANNY YADRON CONNECT Updated Sept. 22, 2014 7:42 p.m. ET
Moves by Apple Inc.and Google Inc. to put some smartphone data out of the reach of police and the courts are raising alarms inside U.S. law-enforcement agencies, current and former officials say.
Several officials in Washington said they were bracing for a confrontation with Silicon Valley on the issue, the latest fallout from the revelations by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden about government surveillance.
Last week, Apple announced that its new operating system for phones would prevent law enforcement from retrieving data stored on a locked phone, such as photos, videos and contacts. A day later, Google reiterated that the next version of its Android mobile-operating system this fall would make it similarly difficult for police or Google to extrac…

Robots That Learn Through Repetition, Not Programming

Robots That Learn Through Repetition, Not Programming
A startup says getting a robot to do things should be less about writing code and more like animal training.
By Tom Simonite on September 22, 2014
Making it easier to give robots intelligent behavior could make them cheaper and more widely used.
In an onstage demonstration this week, Todd Hylton of Brain Corporation used gestures to train a wheeled robot to come when he beckoned to it.
Eugene Izhikevich thinks you shouldn’t have to write code in order to teach robots new tricks. “It should be more like training a dog,” he says. “Instead of programming, you show it consistent examples of desired behavior.”
Izhikevich’s startup, Brain Corporation, based in San Diego, has developed an operating system for robots called BrainOS to make that possible. To teach a robot running the software to pick up trash, for example, you would use a remote control to repeatedly guide its gripper to perform that task. After just minutes of repetition,…

Lens-less camera, costing pennies, brings vision to the Internet of Things

Lens-less camera, costing pennies, brings vision to the Internet of Things
By Patrick Thibodeau Computerworld | Sep 18, 2014 12:25 PM PT
There's a type of camera technology emerging with a view of the world similar to what a honey bee sees. The images appear blurry and hazy, but if you're a bee, good enough for finding flowers and people to sting.
It could also be perfect for the Internet of Things by making it cheap to add vision capability to just about anything.
This is Rambus' first proof-of-concept device. Researchers took an off-the-shelf camera development kit, removed the cover glass protecting the photodiodes, and replaced it with a 4 mm-x-5.5 mm glass chip with diffraction gratings on it.
That's the idea put forth by Rambus, a company that designs technologies and then licenses them, for its lens-less sensor. The sensor captures light and relies on computation to shape the data into an image that's good enough to tell whether someone is in a room or a d…

Apple just lost the global smartphone war to Google.

Apple just lost the global smartphone war to Google.
Sep 19 2014 By Curt Prins
Much has been reported about Apple’s biggest volume day to date — selling 4 million iPhone 6’s in 24 hours worldwide this past Friday. It’s a tremendous achievement for any company.
Less has been said on how Google will sell 2 million smartphones by year's end in one country alone — and how it will beat Apple in the process.
Google launched a smartphone that can’t be bought in the US, in a country where most Americans can’t find on a map and at a profit margin that made Wall Street boil.
It’s the Android One, it was just released in India, and it’s proof that Google gets the global smartphone game.
The iPhone 6’s markets are saturated; the Android One’s markets are not.
Many pundits classify Apple as an “aspirational” brand--they make products that more people want than can afford. It's a great position for any company to be in, but the cachet can come at a cost: arrogance.
For the last decade, Ap…

Scientists create shape-shifting metal...

Liquid metal could be used to create morphing electronics
By Colin Jeffrey
September 21, 2014
Who could forget the scene in Terminator 2: Judgement Day where the shape-shifting T-1000 reassembles itself from thousands of blobs of molten metal? Researchers from North Carolina State University (NCSU) have taken the first steps to such science fiction becoming reality by developing a way to control the surface tension of liquid metals with the application of very low voltages. This may offer opportunities in a new field of morphing electronic circuits, self-healing electronics, or – one day – maybe even self-assembling terminator-style robots.
The liquid metal used by the researchers was an alloy of gallium and indium. Gallium is liquid just above room temperature at about 29° C (84° F), while Indium has a much higher melting point at around 156° C (312° F), yet when mixed together, they form an alloy that is liquid at room temperature. In other words, a eutectic alloy – one that is com…

Child Pornography Case Spurs Debate on Military’s Role in Law Enforcement

Child Pornography Case Spurs Debate on Military’s Role in Law Enforcement By ERIK ECKHOLM and RICHARD A. OPPEL Jr. SEPT. 21, 2014
In a field office near Brunswick, Ga., a federal agent working as an undercover cybersleuth signed on to a large file-sharing network sometimes used by traders in child pornography.
Using a law-enforcement computer program called RoundUp, the agent, Stephen D. Logan, scanned computer activity by the network’s members in the state of Washington. He located a computer offering illegal photos and videos, and downloaded three files as evidence.
Local police took it from there, obtaining a warrant based on the distant search. The owner of the computer was convicted of possessing and distributing child pornography, and is now serving an 18-year sentence at a federal prison in Texas.
Had Mr. Logan worked for the F.B.I., his work on the case might have seemed routine. But Mr. Logan worked for the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, and his mission that day in Ap…

NYT: Paying Till It Hurts: Surprise Out of Network Bills From "Assistant" Surgeon

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Paying Till It Hurts: Surprise Bills
After Surgery, Surprise $117,000 Medical Bill From Doctor He Didn’t Know
By ELISABETH ROSENTHAL SEPT. 20, 2014 Peter Drier was billed by an assistant surgeon he did not know was on his case.
Before his three-hour neck surgery for herniated disks in December, Peter Drier, 37, signed a pile of consent forms. A bank technology manager who had researched his insurance coverage, Mr. Drier was prepared when the bills started arriving: $56,000 from Lenox Hill Hospital in Manhattan, $4,300 from the anesthesiologist and even $133,000 from his orthopedist, who he knew would accept a fraction of that fee.
He was blindsided, though, by a bill of about $117,000 from an “assistant surgeon,” a Queens-based neurosurgeon whom Mr. Drier did not recall meeting.
“I thought I understood the risks,” Mr. Drier, who lives in New York City, said later. “But this was just so wrong — I had no choice and no negotiating power.”
In operating rooms and on hospital wards acros…