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Updated: 1 hour 31 min ago

Google Adds Handwriting Input To Android

1 hour 36 min ago
BarbaraHudson writes: The Reg is reporting on the release of Google Handwriting Input for Android smartphones and tablets: "The Chocolate Factory's research arm says handwriting recognition is needed because touchscreen keyboards remain modestly effective and while 'Voice input is an option, but there are situations where it is not feasible, such as in a noisy environment or during a meeting." The Google Research Blog notes that it allows recognition both on-device and in the cloud (by tapping on the cloud icon) in any Android app. It works as advertised on my smartphone, so now I can type, speak, or scribble my searches, texts, etc.

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Incorrectly Built SLS Welding Machine To Be Rebuilt

Fri, 04/17/2015 - 22:42
schwit1 writes A giant welding machine, built for NASA's multi-billion dollar Space Launch System (SLS), has to be taken apart and rebuilt because the contractor failed to reinforce the floor, as required, prior to construction: "Sweden's ESAB Welding & Cutting, which has its North American headquarters in Florence, South Carolina, built the the roughly 50-meter tall Vertical Assembly Center as a subcontractor to SLS contractor Boeing at NASA's Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans. ESAB was supposed to reinforce Michoud's floor before installing the welding tool, but did not, NASA SLS Program Manager Todd May told SpaceNews after an April 15 panel session during the 31st Space Symposium here. As a result, the enormous machine leaned ever so slightly, cocking the rails that guide massive rings used to lift parts of the 8.4-meter-diameter SLS stages The rings wound up 0.06 degrees out of alignment, which may not sound like much, "but when you're talking about something that's 217 feet [66.14 meters] tall, that adds up," May said. Asked why ESAB did not reinforce the foundation as it was supposed to, May said only it was a result of "a miscommunication between two [Boeing] subcontractors and ESAB." It is baffling how everyone at NASA, Boeing, and ESAB could have forgotten to do the reinforcing, even though it was specified in the contract. It also suggests that the quality control in the SLS rocket program has some serious problems.

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Columbia University Doctors Ask For Dr. Mehmet Oz's Dismissal

Fri, 04/17/2015 - 19:45
circletimessquare writes Dr. Mehmet Oz serves as vice chairman of Columbia University Medical Center's department of surgery. He is a respected cardiothoracic surgeon but his television show has been accused of pushing snake oil. Now other doctors at Columbia University want Dr. Oz kicked off the medical school faculty. Dr. Oz has responded on his Facebook account: "I bring the public information that will help them on their path to be their best selves. We provide multiple points of view, including mine which is offered without conflict of interest. That doesn't sit well with certain agendas which distort the facts. For example, I do not claim that GMO foods are dangerous, but believe that they should be labeled like they are in most countries around the world." In their letter, the doctors accuse Dr. Oz of quackery: "Dr. Oz has repeatedly shown disdain for science and for evidence-based medicine, as well as baseless and relentless opposition to the genetic engineering of food crops. Worst of all, he has manifested an egregious lack of integrity by promoting quack treatments and cures in the interest of personal financial gain."

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Drought and Desertification: How Robots Might Help

Fri, 04/17/2015 - 19:44
Hallie Siegel writes Groundwater levels in California's Central Valley are down to historic lows and reservoirs have been depleted following four consecutive years of severe drought in the state. California is set to introduce water rationing in the coming weeks, and though the new rationing rules will focus on urban areas and not farms for the time being, they serve as a warning bell to farmers who will inevitably need to adapt to the effects of climate change on food production. John Payne argues that long term solutions are needed to help make agriculture drought resistant and looks at some of the ways that robotics might help.

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Recon Instruments' Sports-Oriented Smart Glasses Now Shipping

Fri, 04/17/2015 - 18:59
First time accepted submitter krouic writes Earlier this week Recon Instruments started shipping their long-awaited Recon Jet heads up display for sports, to real-life actual consumers.Jet's core features are designed for the cyclist and runner, and allow automatic upload of stats to activity tracking services. They feature an on-board GPS generating real-time performance metrics, an on-board high definition camera for short videos and photos, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and ANT+ for connectivity to 3rd party sensors for heart rate, cadence and power data and smartphone connectivity for caller ID, text messages and music player access and control. Initial review by DCRainmaker.

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John Gruber On Third-party Apple Watch Apps: They Suck and Are Really Slow

Fri, 04/17/2015 - 18:13
An anonymous reader writes During this week's episode of John Gruber's podcast, The Talk Show, Gruber sat down with Joanna Stern of the Wall Street Journal to talk all things Apple Watch. About two hours and 9 minutes into the podcast, both Gruber and Stern began lamenting the poor performance they saw with third-party Apple Watch apps. 'It makes me question whether there should be third party apps for it at all yet,' Gruber noted. The pair also took umbrage with what they perceived to be a poor design choice for the Apple Watch app screen, with both noting that the app icons were far too small to be practical.

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John Hawley Talks About UAV Controls (Video)

Fri, 04/17/2015 - 17:13
John 'Warthog9' Hawley was the boss sysadmin on kernel.org before he jumped to Intel in April, 2014, as an open hardware technical evangelist. He last showed up on Slashdot in June, 2014, with his Dr. Who-inspired Robot K-9. Now he's talking about flight computers for quadcopters, specifically ones based on MinnowBoards. Last month (April 2015) he was speaking at the Embedded Linux Conference + Android Builders Summit. That's where he and Timothy Lord had this conversation about flight controllers for UAVs, which makes it a fitting sequel to yesterday's video, which was also about controlling drones with real-time Linux.

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Gyrocopter Pilot Appears In Court; Judge Bans Him From D.C.

Fri, 04/17/2015 - 16:24
mpicpp writes The Florida mail carrier accused of landing a gyrocopter outside the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday was charged in federal court Thursday and has been barred from returning to the District of Columbia or flying any aircraft, officials said. Douglas Hughes, 61, was charged with violating aircraft registration requirements, a felony, and violating national defense airspace, a misdemeanor. If convicted, he could be sentenced to up to three years in prison for the felony and one year in prison for the airspace violation. U.S. Magistrate Judge Deborah A. Robinson also barred Hughes from the District of Columbia, except for court appearances, and said he must stay away from the Capitol, White House and nearby areas while he is there. He will also have to hand over his passport.

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MakerBot Lays Off 20 Percent of Its Employees

Fri, 04/17/2015 - 15:42
Jason Koebler writes MakerBot fired roughly 20 percent of its staff Friday. Figures from 2014 placed the company's ranks at 500, meaning the cuts could equate to roughly 100 employees. The orders came from new CEO Jonathan Jaglom, Motherboard was told. Employees are apparently being led out of the company's Brooklyn office by security today. "It's about 20 percent of staff," a MakerBot representative, who asked not to be identified because she had not received approval to speak to the press, told Motherboard. "Everyone suspected that something would be coming with the new CEO, and that there would be restructuring coming."

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Exploit For Crashing Minecraft Servers Made Public

Fri, 04/17/2015 - 15:02
An anonymous reader writes "After nearly two years of waiting for Mojang to fix a security vulnerability that can be used to crash Minecraft servers, programmer Ammar Askar has released a proof of concept exploit for the flaw in the hopes that this will force them to do something about it. "Mojang is no longer a small indie company making a little indie game, their software is used by thousands of servers, hundreds of thousands people play on servers running their software at any given time. They have a responsibility to fix and properly work out problems like this," he noted." Here is Askar's own post on the exploit, and his frustration with the response he's gotten to disclosing it to the developers.

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Microsoft Open Technologies Is Closing: Good Or Bad News For Open Source?

Fri, 04/17/2015 - 14:23
BrianFagioli writes When Microsoft Open Technologies was founded as a subsidiary of Microsoft — under Steve Ballmer's reign — many in the open source community hailed it as a major win, and it was. Today, however, the subsidiary is shutting down and being folded into Microsoft. While some will view this as a loss for open source, I disagree; Microsoft has evolved so much under Satya Nadella, that a separate subsidiary is simply no longer needed. Microsoft could easily be the world's biggest vendor of open source software, which is probably one reason some people don't like the term.

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When You're the NFL Commish, Getting E-Medical Record Interoperability's a Cinch

Fri, 04/17/2015 - 13:42
Lucas123 writes: The NFL recently completed the rollout of an electronic medical record (EMR) system and picture archiving & communication system (PACS) that allows mobile access for teams to player's health information at the swipe of a finger — radiological images, GPS tracking information, and detailed health evaluation data back to grade school. But as NFL football players are on the road a lot, often they're not being treated at hospitals or by specialists whose own EMRs are integrated with the NFL's; it's a microcosm of the industry-wide healthcare interoperability issue facing the U.S. today. The NFL, however, found achieving EMR interoperability isn't so much a technological issue as a political one, and if you have publicity on your side, it's not that difficult. NFL CIO Michelle McKenna-Doyle, who led the NFL's EMR rollout, said a call from a team owner to a hospital administrator typically does the trick. Even NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell once made the call to a hospital CEO, "and things started moving in the next couple of days," McKenna-Doyle said. "They're very aware of the publicity."

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Scientists Locate Sunken, Radioactive Aircraft Carrier Off California Coast

Fri, 04/17/2015 - 13:01
HughPickens.com writes: Aaron Kinney reports in the San Jose Mercury News that scientists have captured the first clear images of the USS Independence, a radioactivity-polluted World War II aircraft carrier that rests on the ocean floor 30 miles off the coast of Half Moon Bay. The Independence saw combat at Wake Island and other decisive battles against Japan in 1944 and 1945 and was later blasted with radiation in two South Pacific nuclear tests. Assigned as a target vessel for the Operation Crossroads atomic bomb tests, she was placed within one-half-mile of ground zero and was engulfed in a fireball and heavily damaged during the 1946 nuclear weapons tests at Bikini Atoll. The veteran ship did not sink, however (though her funnels and island were crumpled by the blast), and after taking part in another explosion on 25 July, the highly radioactive hull was later taken to Pearl Harbor and San Francisco for further tests and was finally scuttled off the coast of San Francisco, California, on 29 January 1951. "This ship is an evocative artifact of the dawn of the atomic age, when we began to learn the nature of the genie we'd uncorked from the bottle," says James Delgado. "It speaks to the 'Greatest Generation' — people's fathers, grandfathers, uncles and brothers who served on these ships, who flew off those decks and what they did to turn the tide in the Pacific war." Delgado says he doesn't know how many drums of radioactive material are buried within the ship — perhaps a few hundred. But he is doubtful that they pose any health or environmental risk. The barrels were filled with concrete and sealed in the ship's engine and boiler rooms, which were protected by thick walls of steel. The carrier itself was clearly "hot" when it went down and and it was packed full of fresh fission products and other radiological waste at the time it sank. The Independence was scuttled in what is now the Gulf of the Farallones sanctuary, a haven for wildlife, from white sharks to elephant seals and whales. Despite its history as a dumping ground Richard Charter says the radioactive waste is a relic of a dark age before the enviornmental movement took hold. "It's just one of those things that humans rather stupidly did in the past that we can't retroactively fix.""

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Social Science Journal 'Bans' Use of p-values

Fri, 04/17/2015 - 12:18
sandbagger writes: Editors of Basic and Applied Social Psychology announced in a February editorial that researchers who submit studies for publication would not be allowed to use common statistical methods, including p-values. While p-values are routinely misused in scientific literature, many researchers who understand its proper role are upset about the ban. Biostatistician Steven Goodman said, "This might be a case in which the cure is worse than the disease. The goal should be the intelligent use of statistics. If the journal is going to take away a tool, however misused, they need to substitute it with something more meaningful."

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FBI Accuses Researcher of Hacking Plane, Seizes Equipment

Fri, 04/17/2015 - 11:37
chicksdaddy writes: The Feds are listening, and they really can't take a joke. That's the apparent moral of security researcher Chris Roberts' legal odyssey on Wednesday, which saw him escorted off a plane in Syracuse by two FBI agents and questioned for four hours over a humorous tweet Roberts posted about his ability to hack into the cabin control systems of the Boeing 737 he was flying. Roberts (aka @sidragon1) joked that he could "start playing with EICAS messages," a reference to the Engine Indicating and Crew Alerting System. Roberts was traveling to Syracuse to give a presentation. He said local law enforcement and FBI agents boarded the plane on the tarmac and escorted him off. He was questioned for four hours, with officers alleging they had evidence he had tampered with in-flight systems on an earlier leg of his flight from Colorado to Chicago. Roberts said the agents questioned him about his tweet and whether he tampered with the systems on the United flight -something he denies doing. Roberts had been approached earlier by the Denver office of the FBI which warned him away from further research on airplanes. The FBI was also looking to approach airplane makers Boeing and Airbus and wanted him to rebuild a virtualized environment he built to test airplane vulnerabilities to verify what he was saying. Roberts refused, and the FBI seized his encrypted laptop and storage devices and has yet to return them, he said. The agents said they wished to do a forensic analysis of his laptop. Roberts said he declined to provide that information and requested a warrant to search his equipment. As of Friday, Roberts said he has not received a warrant.

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StarTalk TV Show With Neil DeGrasse Tyson Starts Monday

Fri, 04/17/2015 - 10:55
An anonymous reader writes: Neil DeGrasse Tyson of StarTalk Radio and Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey has a TV show starting on Monday, April 20, at 11 p.m. ET/10 p.m. CT on NatGeo. Based on Dr. Tyson's prominent podcast of the same name, the hour-long, weekly series infuses pop culture with science, while bringing together comedians and celebrities to delve into a wide range of topics. Each week, in a private interview, Dr. Tyson explores all the ways science and technology have influenced the lives and livelihoods of his guests, whatever their background.

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Breakthrough In Artificial Photosynthesis Captures CO2 In Acetate

Fri, 04/17/2015 - 10:12
An anonymous reader writes: Researchers from Berkeley Lab and the U.S. Dept. of Energy have created an artificial photosynthetic process that capture carbon dioxide in acetate, "the most common building block today for biosynthesis." The research has been published in the journal Nano Letters (abstract). "Atmospheric carbon dioxide is now at its highest level in at least three million years, primarily as a result of the burning of fossil fuels. Yet fossil fuels, especially coal, will remain a significant source of energy to meet human needs for the foreseeable future. Technologies for sequestering carbon before it escapes into the atmosphere are being pursued but all require the captured carbon to be stored, a requirement that comes with its own environmental challenges. ... By combining biocompatible light-capturing nanowire arrays with select bacterial populations, the new artificial photosynthesis system offers a win/win situation for the environment: solar-powered green chemistry using sequestered carbon dioxide."

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Scientists Close To Solving the Mystery of Where Dogs Came From

Fri, 04/17/2015 - 09:30
sciencehabit writes: For years researchers have argued over where and when dogs arose. Some say Europe, some say Asia. Some say 15,000 years ago, some say more than 30,000 years ago. Now an unprecedented collaboration of archaeologists and geneticists from around the world is attempting to solve the mystery once and for all. They're analyzing thousands of bones, employing new technologies, and trying to put aside years of bad blood and bruised egos. If the effort succeeds, the former competitors will uncover the history of man's oldest friend — and solve one of the greatest mysteries of domestication.

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LAUSD OKs Girls-Only STEM School, Plans Boys-Only English Language Arts School

Fri, 04/17/2015 - 08:48
theodp writes: Citing statistics that showed a whopping 46 more boys than girls passed the AP Computer Science Exam in 2011-12, the 640,000+ student Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) on Tuesday approved a waiver to enable the District to operate a single-gender, all-girls STEM School called the Girls Academic Leadership Academy (GALA). Students in GALA will follow a six year sequence of computer courses starting in middle school that will culminate in AP Computer Science Principles. "Fewer females take AP courses in math, science, or computer science, and they are not as successful as males in receiving passing scores of 3, 4 or 5," argued the General Waiver Request (PDF, 700+ pages). "An all girls environment is reasonably necessary for the school to improve the self-confidence of girls in their academic abilities, especially in STEM areas where an achievement gap currently exists. GALA's admissions shall also comply with AB 1266 to ensure male students who identify as female are admitted to the school." The school's CS-related Partners include the UCLA Exploring Computer Science Program, as well as Google-bankrolled Girls Who Code, Black Girls Code, and NCWIT. One of the reasons the all-girls STEM school reportedly got the green light is that its backers satisfied federal regulations requiring a "substantially equal school" for excluded male students by submitting a plan for a companion all-boys school that would emphasize English Language Arts, where they often fall short of girls' test scores, rather than GALA's focus on STEM. One suspects the no-fan-of-gender-restricted-public-schools ACLU may call BS on this maneuver.

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Wikileaks Publishes Hacked Sony Emails, Documents

Fri, 04/17/2015 - 08:04
itwbennett writes Wikileaks has published a searchable database of thousands of emails and documents from Sony Pictures Entertainment that were leaked in late 2014 after the studio was attacked by hackers. Some of the 173,132 emails and 30,287 documents contain highly personal information about Sony employees including home addresses, personal phone numbers and social security numbers, a fact which is likely to raise new concerns about the use of stolen information online.

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