Amazon Uses Robots To Speed Up Human 'Pickers' In Fulfillment Centers
"The WSJ, combing through Amazon's Q3 earnings report, found that the company is currently using 1,400 robots across three of their fulfillment centers. The machines are made by Kiva Systems (a company acquired by Amazon last year), and help to warehouses more efficient by bringing the product shelves to the workers. The workers then select the right item from the shelf, box it, and place it on the conveyor line, while another shelf is brought. The management software that runs the robots can speed or slow down item pacing, reroute valuable orders to more experienced workers, and redistribute workloads to prevent backlogs."
Firefox Gains Support for VP9 Video Codec
An anonymous reader writes
"With the latest Firefox nightly builds the VP9 video codec is enabled by default. VP9 is a step ahead of the open-source VP8 codec but up to now has only been supported by the Chrome browser. VP9 support will officially appear in Firefox 28."
Chicago Public Schools Promoting Computer Science to Core Subject
"The Chicago Public Schools, the third-largest public school system in the United States, announced a five-year plan today that would add at least one computer science course to every CPS high school, and elevate computer science to a core requirement instead of an elective. CPS announced this through a partnership with code.org, stating that the non-profit would provide free curriculum, professional development, and stipends for teachers."
CyanogenMod Integrates Text Message Encryption
"People are now more concerned regarding their privacy after discovering about efforts made by governments to spy on their communications. The most practical solution to keep messages, emails and calls secure is to use a cryptographic encryption mechanism. However, just like the name of the method, the installation process is complex for most users. To solve this, CyanogenMod will come equipped with built in encryption system for text messages." Whisper System has integrated their
TextSecure protocol into the SMS/MMS provider, so
even third party sms apps benefit. Better yet, it's
Free Software, licensed under the GPLv3+. Support will debut in Cyanogenmod 11, but you can grab a
10.2 nightly build to try it out now.
Life Could Have Evolved 15 Million Years After the Big Bang, Says Cosmologist
"Goldilocks zones are regions around stars that are 'just right' for liquid water and for the chemistry of life as we know it. Now one cosmologist points out that the universe must have been through a Goldilocks epoch, a period in which warm, watery conditions could have existed on almost any planet in the entire cosmos. The key phenomenon here is the cosmic background radiation, the afterglow of the Big Bang which was blazing hot when it first formed. But as the universe expanded, the wavelength of this radiation increased, lowering its energy. Today, it is an icy 3 Kelvin. But somewhere along the way, it must have been between 273 and 300 Kelvin, just right to keep water in liquid form. According to the new calculations, this Goldilocks epoch would have occurred when the universe was about 15 million years old and would have lasted for several million years. And since the first stars had a lifespan of only 3 million years or so, that allows plenty of time for the heavy elements to have formed which are necessary for planet formation and the chemistry of life. Indeed, if live did evolve a this time, it would have predated life on Earth by about 10 billion years."
New Ford Mustang May Have Electronic "Burnout" Button
"Ford has decided to take the burnout into the 21st century for the new 2015 Mustang. The Mustang's new 'electronic' burnout system is intended to enable perfect burnouts every time, much like launch control has made it easier to accelerate quickly from a stop. So think of every new Mustang with a bright red 'burnout' button. While the details on how the burnout control system will work remain secret, it's possible that a combination of the features used in a typical launch control system, including traction and rev-limiting controls, together with a front brake locking system, could enable Ford to pull together existing technology in a completely new way. So far Ford has no comment."
Neural Prosthetic Acts Like "Bridge" Over Damaged Brain Areas
"If you can't fix it, go around it. That's the thinking behind an experimental treatment for traumatic brain injury. Using an implanted microdevice, researchers recorded the electrical signals from a sensory region of a rat's brain, skipped over a damaged brain region that typically processes sensory information, and sent the electric signals on to the premotor cortex. This cyborg mouse could then move normally. What this means is that we're getting better at speaking the brain's language — even if we don't understand it, we can mimic it."
Satanists Propose Monument At Oklahoma State Capitol Next To Ten Commandments
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes
"The Tulsa World reports that in their zeal to tout their faith in the public square, conservatives in Oklahoma may have unwittingly opened the door to a wide range of religious groups, including satanists who are now seeking to put their own statue next to a Ten Commandments monument on the Statehouse steps. The Republican-controlled Legislature in Oklahoma authorized the privately funded Ten Commandments monument in 2009, and it was placed on the Capitol grounds last year despite criticism from legal experts who questioned its constitutionality. But the New York-based Satanic Temple saw an opportunity and notified the state's Capitol Preservation Commission that it wants to donate a monument too. 'We believe that all monuments should be in good taste and consistent with community standards,' Lucien Greaves wrote in letter to state officials. 'Our proposed monument, as an homage to the historic/literary Satan, will certainly abide by these guidelines.' Brady Henderson, legal director for ACLU Oklahoma, said if state officials allow one type of religious expression, they must allow alternative forms of expression, although he said a better solution might be to allow none at all on state property. 'We would prefer to see Oklahoma's government officials work to faithfully serve our communities and improve the lives of Oklahomans instead of erecting granite monuments to show us all how righteous they are,' says Henderson. 'But if the Ten Commandments, with its overtly Christian message, is allowed to stay at the Capitol, the Satanic Temple's proposed monument cannot be rejected because of its different religious viewpoint.'"
EU Warns Nokia Not To Become a Patent Troll
"The vice president of the European Commission's Competition unit has warned Nokia not to become a 'patent troll'. Nokia is in the process of selling its devices business to Microsoft, giving rise to fears that the remaining part of Nokia will make more aggressive use of its patents portfolio. Vice president Joaquin Almunia said that the commission had dismissed the possibility that 'Nokia would be tempted to behave like a patent troll' when it cleared the way for Microsoft to acquire Nokia's devices division – but warned that 'if Nokia were to take illegal advantage of its patents in the future, we will open an antitrust case.' 'I sincerely hope we will not have to,' said Almunia."
The Real Story of Hacking Together the Commodore C128
"Bil Herd was the designer and hardware lead for the Commodore C128. He reminisces about the herculean effort his team took on in order to bring the hardware to market in just five months. At the time the company had the resources to roll their of silicon (that's right, custom chips!) but this also meant that for three of those five months they didn't actually have the integrated circuits the computer was based on."
Mars Rover Curiosity Finds Ancient Lakebed
"The site where NASA's Mars rover Curiosity landed last year contains at least one lake that would have been perfectly suited for colonies of simple, rock-eating microbes found in caves and hydrothermal vents on Earth. Analysis of mudstones in an area known as Yellowknife Bay, located inside the rover's Gale Crater landing site, show that fresh water pooled on the surface for tens of thousands — or even hundreds of thousands — of years. 'The results show that the lake was definitely a habitable environment,' Curiosity lead scientist John Grotzinger, with the California Institute of Technology, told Discovery News. The finding was announced at the American Geophysical Union conference in San Francisco."
Google Doodle Remembers Computing Pioneer Grace Hopper
"Monday's Google Doodle honors computing genius Grace Hopper (remembered as a great pioneer in computing, as well as in women's achievements in science and engineering), on what would have been her 107th birthday, doodling her right where she spent much of her time – at the helm of one of the world's first computers."
Factory-In-a-Day Project Aims To Deploy Work-Ready Robots Within 24 Hours
"Industrial robots have proven useful in reducing production costs in large factories, with major enterprises enlisting their services to execute repetitive tasks. The Factory-in-a-Day project, which kicked off in October, aims to also make robotic technology beneficial to small and medium enterprises (SMEs), by developing adaptable robots that can be integrated with workplace systems within 24 hours."
Interview: Ben Heck Answers Your Questions
A while ago you had the chance to ask gamer and console modder extraordinaire
Ben Heck about his favorite mods, hacks, and what he sees coming in the future. Below you'll find his answers to
NSA Collect Gamers' Chats and Deploy Real-Life Agents Into WoW and Second Life
An anonymous reader writes in with news that some NSA agents were trying to dig up info by joining the horde.
"To the National Security Agency analyst writing a briefing to his superiors, the situation was clear: their current surveillance efforts were lacking something. The agency's impressive arsenal of cable taps and sophisticated hacking attacks was not enough. What it really needed was a horde of undercover Orcs. That vision of spycraft sparked a concerted drive by the NSA and its UK sister agency GCHQ to infiltrate the massive communities playing online games, according to secret documents disclosed by whistleblower Edward Snowden.....The agencies, the documents show, have built mass-collection capabilities against the Xbox Live console network, which has more than 48 million players. Real-life agents have been deployed into virtual realms, from those Orc hordes in World of Warcraft to the human avatars of Second Life. There were attempts, too, to recruit potential informants from the games' tech-friendly users."