New Findings On Whale Tongues May Lead To Insight On Human Nerve Damage
An anonymous reader writes with this story about the discovery of stretchy nerves in whales.
Researchers from the University of British Columbia have discovered that the largest animals alive – whales – have nerves in their tongues that can double in length and then recoil like a bungee cord. The researchers were studying specimens at a commercial whaling station in Iceland when they stumbled upon the discovery reported Monday in Current Biology. Researchers say it could have important implications for study into human nerve damage. "I had never seen a nerve like that," said Wayne Vogl, of UBC's Cellular and Physiological Sciences department.
Cisco Names Veteran Robbins To Succeed Chambers as CEO
After 20 years as Cisco's CEO, John Chambers will step down this summer. The search for a replacement took a committee 16 months, and they selected Chuck Robbins, who was previously responsible for the company's global sales and partner team. From the article: "Wall Street analysts said a change was expected and could signal a refocusing of Cisco, which acquired dozens of companies under Chambers but has failed to make great headway outside its core networking business."
Single Verizon IP Address Used For Hundreds of Windows 7 Activations
An anonymous reader writes:
A presumed pirate with an unusually large appetite for activating Windows 7 has incurred the wrath of Microsoft. In a lawsuit filed in a Washington court, Microsoft said that it logged hundreds of suspicious product activations from a single Verizon IP address and is now seeking damages. Who he, she or they are behind address 18.104.22.168 is unknown at this point, but according to Microsoft they're responsible for some serious Windows pirating. "As part of its cyberforensic methods, Microsoft analyzes product key activation data voluntarily provided by users when they activate Microsoft software, including the IP address from which a given product key is activated," the lawsuit reads. The company says that its forensic tools allow the company to analyze billions of activations of software and identify patterns "that make it more likely than not" that an IP address associated with activations is one through which pirated software is being activated.
Singapore's Prime Minister Shares His C++ Sudoku Solver Code
Several weeks ago, during a speech at the Founders Forum Smart Nation Singapore Reception, Singapore's prime minister Lee Hsien Loong said that he used to enjoy programming, and that the last program he wrote was a Sudoku solver in C++. To back that up, earlier today he announced (on Facebook and Twitter) that his code is available to download. He wrote on Facebook that he wrote the program 'several years ago' and that the code does 'a backtrack search, choosing the next cell to guess which minimises the fanout.'
Maritime Cybersecurity Firm: 37% of Microsoft Servers On Ships Are Vulnerable
A report from maritime cybersecurity firm CyberKeel claims that spot checks at 50 different maritime sites revealed that 37% of the servers running Microsoft were still vulnerable because they had not been patched. But what's most interesting is what happens when hackers can breach security in shipping environments, including one case in which "drug gangs were able to smuggle entire container loads of cocaine through Antwerp, one of Belgium's largest ports, after its hackers breached the port's IT network," said Rear Adm. Marshall Lytle, assistant commandant responsible for USCG Cyber Command.
Internet Customers Surpass Cable Subscribers At Comcast
mpicpp notes that for the first time, the country's largest cable provider has more internet subscribers than cable subscribers.
The Internet is taking over television. That shift is occurring at Comcast, where the number of people who subscribe to the company's Internet service surpassed its total video subscribers for the first time during the second quarter this year. Announced in an earnings call on Monday, the development signals a major turning point in the technological evolution sweeping across the media business, as the Internet becomes the gateway for information and entertainment. Comcast, the country's largest cable operator, abandoned its $45 billion takeover of Time Warner Cable last month after the deal drew regulatory scrutiny regarding concerns that the combined company would have too much control over the Internet. Comcast is already the country's largest broadband provider, with more than 22 million high-speed Internet customers. Brian L. Roberts, Comcast's chief executive, said in the call that the company was disappointed about the collapse of the deal but had moved on. He said that Comcast's top priorities now were to advance its existing business and improve its poorly rated customer service.
Researchers Detect Android Apps That Connect to User Tracking and Ad Sites
An anonymous reader writes:
A group of European researchers has developed software that tracks the URLs to which cellphone apps connect. After downloading 2,000+ free apps from Google Play, they indexed all the sites those apps connected to, and compared them to a list of known advertising and user tracking sites. "In total, the apps connect to a mind-boggling 250,000 different URLs across almost 2,000 top level domains. And while most attempt to connect to just a handful of ad and tracking sites, some are much more prolific. Vigneri and co give as an example "Music Volume Eq," an app designed to control volume, a task that does not require a connection to any external urls. And yet the app makes many connections. 'We find the app Music Volume EQ connects to almost 2,000 distinct URLs,' they say. [Another major offender] is an app called Eurosport Player which connects to 810 different user tracking sites." The researchers plan to publish their software for users to try out on Google Play soon.
No, NASA Did Not Accidentally Invent Warp Drive
As Slashdot has previously reported, NASA Spaceflight has claimed to have vetted the EM Drive in a vacuum, and found there is still an anomalous thrust/acceleration on the order of 50 microNewtons for the device. While some are claiming this means things like warp drive and 70-day-trips-to-Mars are right on the horizon, it's important to view this from a scientist's point of view. Here's what it will take to turn this from a speculative claim into a robust one.
Apple Watch's Hidden Diagnostic Port To Allow Battery Straps, Innovative Add-Ons
Apple's Watch launched two weeks ago to some unbelievable hype and coverage in the press. However, it appears one feature flew under the radar and Apple actually had just one more trick up its sleeve. You see, on one side of the watch face is a hidden door that exposes a 6-pin port. It's assumed that this could be used for diagnostic purposes, but with an Apple Watch in hand, a company by the name of Reserve Strap was able to verify that it could also be used for charging. This seems pretty huge and strange at the same time: why would Apple keep such a thing quiet, when the Apple Watch's battery-life isn't what most people would consider impressive? Even more interesting is the fact that Apple didn't make use of this port to release its own charging straps — watch straps that carry a charge themselves. Apple's lack of transparency here doesn't much matter, though, as the aforementioned Reserve Strap is planning to get such a product to market as soon as possible. The company says about its first offering: "The Reserve Strap will come in White, Gray and Black and will fit both the 38mm and 42mm case sizes. The first batch of straps will be shipped in the Fall.
House Panel Holds Hearing On "Politically Driven Science" - Without Scientists
Representative Louie Gohmert (R–TX) is worried that scientists employed by the U.S. government have been running roughshod over the rights of Americans in pursuit of their personal political goals. So this week Gohmert, the chair of the oversight and investigations subpanel of the U.S. House of Representatives' Natural Resources Committee, held a hearing to explore "the consequences of politically driven science." Notably absent, however, were any scientists, including those alleged to have gone astray.
China Takes Its Already Strict Internet Regulations One Step Further
DaveS7 writes with this story about new regulations from the Chinese government designed to further crack down on online media.
Chinese authorities have released a new set of regulations for online media, raising concerns about tightening control over freedom of expression by the Communist regime. Contained in the ordinance, released on April 28 by the Cyberspace Administration of China, is a clause saying that persons responsible for managing flagged sites will be summoned by state personnel in case of violations. Internet censorship in China is mostly managed by individual websites, which are encouraged to toe the Party line before the Party steps in to rectify things for them. The new ordinance increases the number of conditions that, if met by online media, result in automatic state intervention.
Microsoft Office 2016 Public Preview Released
Back in March, Microsoft made Office 2016, the next release of the company's leading office suite, available to IT professionals to test and submit feedback on. At Microsoft's Ignite conference, CEO Satya Nadella announced that the public preview of Office 2016 has now been released as well. Office 2016 comes with a range of new features that build upon Office 2013. There is far more integration with cloud, allowing a user to access documents anywhere, and Outlook now syncs with OneDrive when sending large files. So called Smart Applications extend the functionality of Office, including Tell Me, a new search tool, and Clutter, which unclutters your inbox based on machine learning. Anyone can start testing the free Office 2016 Preview right now. Just as they have done with Windows 10, Microsoft is receiving open feedback on the product.
Recruiters Use 'Digital Native' As Code For 'No Old Folks'
Companies are trying to get around Equal Employment Opportunity Commission restrictions on age-discriminatory language (like "recent college graduate") by saying that they want "digital natives." So far, no one has complained to the EEOC, but that could change. "Since the 1990s dotcom boom, many employers have openly sought to hire young, tech savvy talent, believing that was necessary to succeed in the new digital economy. At the same time, age discrimination complaints have spiraled upward, according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, with 15,785 claims filed in 1997 compared to 20,588 filed in 2014.
Out of the 121 charges filed last year by the EEOC for alleged discriminatory advertising, 111 of them claimed the job postings discriminated against older applicants. The EEOC has said that using phrases like 'college student,' 'recent college graduate,' or 'young blood' violate the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1966. That federal law protects individuals who are 40 years of age or older from employment discrimination based on age."
Accessibility In Linux Is Good (But Could Be Much Better)
An anonymous reader sends this report from opensource.com:
GNU/Linux distributions provide great advantages over proprietary alternatives for people with disabilities. All the accessibility tools included in Linux are open source, meaning their code is readily available if you want to examine or improve it, and cost nothing. Hardware devices, of course, are still going to cost money. Additionally, accessibility software on other platforms generally contain licensing constraints on the user. ... When it comes to accessibility, Linux is not without issues. ... The number of developers who specifically work on accessibility tools is quite small. For example, there is only one Orca developer, two AT-SPI developers, and a single GTK developer. ... Developers who do not depend on assistive technologies tend to forget—or don't know—that a disabled person might want to use their application, read their web page, and so on. ... The problem is not necessarily that developers do not care. Rather, it's is that accessibility is highly specialized and requires someone with knowledge in the area, regardless of platform.
Why Scientists Love 'Lord of the Rings'
Julie Beck writes in The Atlantic that though science and fantasy seem to be polar opposites, a Venn diagram of "scientists" and "Lord of the Rings fans" have a large overlap which could (lovingly!) be labeled "nerds." Several animal species have been named after characters from the books, including wasps, crocodiles, and even a dinosaur named after Sauron, "Given Tolkien's passion for nomenclature, his coinage, over decades, of enormous numbers of euphonious names—not to mention scientists' fondness for Tolkien—it is perhaps inevitable that Tolkien has been accorded formal taxonomic commemoration like no other author," writes Henry Gee. Other disciplines aren't left out of the fun—there's a geologically interesting region in Australia called the "Mordor Alkaline Igneous Complex," a pair of asteroids named "Tolkien" and "Bilbo," and a crater on Mercury also named "Tolkien."
"It has been documented that Middle-Earth caught the attention of students and practitioners of science from the early days of Tolkien fandom. For example, in the 1960s, the Tolkien Society members were said to mainly consist of 'students, teachers, scientists, or psychologists,'" writes Kristine Larsen, an astronomy professor at Central Connecticut State University, in her paper "SAURON, Mount Doom, and Elvish Moths: The Influence of Tolkien on Modern Science." "When you have scientists who are fans of pop culture, they're going to see the science in it," says Larson. "It's just such an intricate universe. It's so geeky. You can delve into it. There's the languages of it, the geography of it, and the lineages. It's very detail oriented, and scientists in general like things that have depth and detail." Larson has also written papers on using Tolkien as a teaching tool, and discusses with her astronomy students, for example, the likelihood that the heavenly body Borgil, which appears in the first book of the trilogy, can be identified as the star Aldebaran. "I use this as a hook to get students interested in science," says Larson. "I'm also interested in recovering all the science that Tolkien quietly wove into Middle Earth because there's science in there that the casual reader has not recognized."