Greenland's Fastest Glacier Sets New Speed Record
"The latest observations of Jakobshavn Glacier show that Greenland's largest glacier is moving ice from land into the ocean at a speed that appears to be the fastest ever recorded. Researchers from the University of Washington and the German Space Agency measured the speed of the glacier in 2012 and 2013. The results were published Feb. 3 in The Cryosphere, an open access journal of the European Geosciences Union. Jakobshavn Glacier, which is widely believed to be the glacier that produced the large iceberg that sank the Titanic in 1912, drains the Greenland ice sheet into a deep-ocean fjord on the west coast of the island. This speedup of Jakobshavn means that the glacier is adding more and more ice to the ocean, contributing to sea-level rise. 'We are now seeing summer speeds more than four times what they were in the 1990s, on a glacier which at that time was believed to be one of the fastest, if not the fastest, glacier in Greenland,' said lead author Ian Joughin, a glaciologist at the UW's Polar Science Center. The new observations show that in summer of 2012 the glacier reached a record speed of more than 10 miles (17 km) per year, or more than 150 feet (46 m) per day. These appear to be the fastest flow rates recorded for any glacier or ice stream in Greenland or Antarctica, researchers said."
India To Build World's Largest Solar Plant
"India has pledged to build the world's most powerful solar plant. With a nominal capacity of 4,000 megawatts, comparable to that of four full-size nuclear reactors, the 'ultra mega' project will be more than ten times larger than any other solar project built so far, and it will spread over 77 square kilometres of land — greater than the island of Manhattan. Six state-owned companies have formed a joint venture to execute the project, which they say can be completed in seven years at a projected cost of US$4.4 billion. The proposed location is near Sambhar Salt Lake in the northern state of Rajasthan."
John Carmack Left id Software Because He Couldn't Do VR Work There
An anonymous reader writes
John Carmack left id Software last year, more than 20 years after he founded the company. There was a lot of speculation as to why, and now an interview at USA Today provides an explanation. Carmack had become Chief Technical Officer for Oculus VR a few months prior, and he was excited about bringing virtual reality gaming into the mainstream. Unfortunately, he couldn't get id Software's parent company, Zenimax, onboard. He'd hoped they would 'allow games he worked on to appear on the Oculus Rift headset. Had the deal been consummated, Wolfenstein: The New Order — an upcoming sequel to Wolfenstein 3D, an early id release — could have been part of the Oculus' tech demonstration that earned raves and awards at the recent Consumer Electronic Show.' Carmack said, 'But they couldn't come together on that which made me really sad. It was just unfortunate. When it became clear that I wasn't going to have the opportunity to do any work on VR while at id software, I decided to not renew my contract.'"
UK Council To Send Obese People 'Motivational' Texts Telling Them To Use Stairs
"Stoke-on-Trent City Council is sending texts to obese people in the area to help motivate them to lose weight. Examples of the texts sent include 'aim to eat a variety of fruit and vegetables each day,' 'aim to eat regular meals and keep a check on snacks and drinks' and 'maybe walk to the shops or use the stairs more often.' Over 100,000 people in the region are overweight or obese, the council said, and the texts are for those who are aged at least 18, have a body mass index of 25 or over and who have proactively signed up to receive the motivational messages."
Silk Road Founder Indicted In New York
An anonymous reader sends this report from Wired:
"Federal authorities today announced a Grand Jury indictment against Ross Ulbricht, the alleged founder and owner of the underground drug emporium Silk Road. The indictment (PDF), in New York, includes one count for narcotics conspiracy, one count of running a criminal enterprise, one count of conspiracy to commit computer hacking and one count of money laundering, according to the indictment. It's the second indictment for the the 29-year-old, who was arrested last October in San Francisco. Ulbricht was previously charged in New York at the time of his arrest, but authorities had until December to obtain an indictment against him based on new evidence seized. They sought an extension of that time and announced the indictment today. Ulbricht had been previously indicted in Maryland on charges of conspiring to have a former administrator of Silk Road murdered in exchange for $80,000."
Getting Young Women Interested In Open Source
New submitter Jason Baker writes
"It seems like a perennial question: 'How do we get more women involved in tech?' The open source community, like any other part of the technology industry, is grappling with finding solutions that are more than just talking the talk of diversity, but actually make some demonstrable difference in the numbers. While there have been numerous success stories, the gender gap is still rampant. The answer, at least to one freelance entrepreneur, is providing strong role models of women using open source to have fun and make money. But is that enough to make a difference?"
How Voter Shortsightedness Skews Elections
"'Are you better off than you were 4 years ago?' Ronald Reagan's famous question in the U.S. presidential election of 1980 is generally a good yardstick for picking a candidate, or at least for judging a leader's economic policies. But few voters follow it. Instead, they are swayed by economic swings in the months leading up to the election, often ignoring the larger trends. Why are we so shortsighted? A psychological study of voting behavior suggests an answer and points to a simple fix. ... Healy and Lenz challenged their subjects to evaluate hypothetical governments based on slightly varying information. For example, some received information expressed as yearly income while others received the same information expressed as a yearly growth rate. The same information in a plot of steadily increasing average personal income over 3 years—$32,400, $33,100, $33,800—can also be expressed as a steadily decreasing rate of growth—3%, 2.3%, 2.1%. That did the trick. Just changing the units of the data was enough to cure voter fickleness. When economic trends were expressed as yearly income rather than rates of change, the subjects made accurate judgments. But if the same information was expressed as a change over time—the bias reappeared."
Audience Jeers Contestant Who Uses Game Theory To Win At 'Jeopardy'
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes
"USA Today reports that Arthur Chu, an insurance compliance analyst and aspiring actor, has won $102,800 in four Jeopardy! appearances using a strategy — jumping around the board instead of running categories straight down, betting odd amounts on Daily Doubles and doing a final wager to tie — that has fans calling him a 'villain' and 'smug.' It's Arthur's in-game strategy of searching for the Daily Double that has made him such a target. Typically, contestants choose a single category and progressively move from the lowest amount up to the highest, giving viewers an easy-to-understand escalation of difficulty. But Arthur has his sights solely set on finding those hidden Daily Doubles, which are usually located on the three highest-paying rungs in the categories (the category itself is random). That means, rather than building up in difficulty, he begins at the most difficult questions. Once the two most difficult questions have been taken off the board in one column, he quickly jumps to another category. It's a grating experience for the viewer, who isn't given enough to time to get in a rhythm or fully comprehend the new subject area. 'The more unpredictable you are, the more you put your opponents off-balance, the longer you can keep an initial advantage,' says Chu. 'It greatly increases your chance of winning the game if you can pull it off, and I saw no reason not to do it.' Another contra-intuitive move Chu has made is playing for a tie rather than to win in 'Final Jeopardy' because that allows you advance to the next round which is the most important thing, not the amount of money you win in one game. 'In terms of influence on the game,Arthur looks like a trendsetter of things to come,' says Eric Levenson. 'Hopefully that has more to do with his game theory than with his aggressive button-pressing.'"
Kansas Delays Municipal Broadband Ban
Mokurai writes with an update to a story from
last week about legislation in Kansas that would have banned most municipal broadband, including the expansion of Google Fiber. Now, after the public backlash that erupted online,
government officials have postponed the legislation's hearings, putting it on hold indefinitely. From the article:
"Senate Bill 304 would prohibit cities and counties from building public broadband networks. The Commerce Committee, which [Sen. Julia Lynn] chairs, was scheduled to have a hearing Tuesday, but Lynn released a statement that hearings have been postponed indefinitely. 'Based on the concerns I heard last week, I visited with industry representatives and they have agreed to spend some time gathering input before we move forward with a public hearing,' Lynn said in a statement. 'We'll revisit the topic when some of these initial concerns have been addressed.' Lynn elaborated while exiting a Senate Judiciary hearing. The senator said she has instructed 'the parties' involved with the bill to address the public’s concerns. The bill was introduced by John Federico, a cable industry lobbyist."
Asus Announces Small Form Factor 'Chromebox' PCs
"Asus stepped out this morning with something new for the Chrome OS powered hardware crowd, called a "Chromebox" small form factor PC. Just as Google has been evangelizing with its Chromebook notebook initiative, the pitch for these Chromebox systems is that they're capable of doing everything you need to do in today's connected world. While not everyone will totally agree with that marketing pitch — gaming, 3D modeling, and a host of specialized tasks are better suited for a PC with higher specs — there's certainly a market for these types of devices. They're low cost, fairly well equipped, and able to handle a wide variety of daily computing chores. There are two SKUs being released in the U.S. The first starts at $179 and sports an Intel Celeron 2955U processor, and the second features an Intel Core i3 4010U CPU (no mention of price just yet), both of which are based on Intel's 4th generation Haswell CPU architecture. Beyond the processor, these fan-less boxes come with two SO-DIMM memory slots with 2GB or 4GB of DDR3-1600 RAM, a 16GB SSD, a GbE LAN port, 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, 2-in-1 memory card reader, four USB 3.0 ports, HDMI output, a DisplayPort, an audio jack, and a Kensington Lock. ASUS also includes a VESA mount kit with each Chromebox, and Google tosses in 100GB of Google Drive space free for two years."
US Democrats Introduce Bill To Restore Net Neutrality
New submitter litehacksaur111 writes
"Lawmakers are introducing the Open Internet Preservation Act (PDF) which aims to restore net neutrality rules enforced by the FCC before being struck down by the DC appeals court. Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) said, 'The Internet is an engine of economic growth because it has always been an open platform for competition and innovation. Our bill very simply ensures that consumers can continue to access the content and applications of their choosing online.' Unfortunately, it looks unlikely the bill will make it through Congress. 'Republicans are almost entirely united in opposition to the Internet rules, meaning the bill is unlikely to ever receive a vote in the GOP-controlled House.'"
Firefox 27 Released: TLS 1.2 Support, SPDY 3.1, SocialAPI Improvements
Will Microsoft IIS Overtake Apache?
First time accepted submitter jcdr writes
"February's 2014 Web Server Survey by Netcraft shows a massive increase [in the share of] Microsoft's web server since 2013. Microsoft's market share is now only 5.4 percentage points lower than Apache's, which is the closest it has ever been. If recent trends continue, Microsoft could overtake Apache within the next few months, ending Apache's 17+ year reign as the most common web server."
Watch Bill Nye and Ken Ham Clash Over Creationism Live
New submitter Max McDaniel writes to point out this
live stream of the debate between Bill Nye and Ken Ham concerning the viability of creationism in a scientific age taking place at the Creation Museum in Petersburg, Ky (of which Ham is the founder). Note: the presentation is scheduled for 7 p.m. Eastern; the live feed is likely to remain less interesting until then.
Government To Require Vehicle-to-vehicle Communication
An anonymous reader writes
"For decades, the focus of auto safety has primarily been on surviving the traumatic impact of crashes through features like air bags and seat belts. But now the focus has shifted to avoiding crashes by developing technology to make future vehicles 'smart' enough to detect and respond to threats, such as an oncoming vehicle. The technology, known as 'vehicle-to-vehicle,' or "V2V," lets cars 'talk' to each other and exchange safety data, such as speed and position. If a nearby car abruptly changes lanes and moves into another car's blind spot, the car would be alerted. Federal transportation officials did not announce when the new regulations would go into effect but said they hope to propose the new V2V rules before President Barack Obama leaves office in January 2017." Combine this with
remote kill-switches or pulse guns, Amber-alert scrolling signs, proliferating cameras,
automatic plate recognition and
unstoppable text messages from on high for some not-so-distant driving dystopia.
Who's Writing Linux These Days?
cold fjord writes
"IEEE Spectrum reports, "About once a year, the Linux Foundation analyzes the online repository that holds the source code of the kernel, or core, of the Linux operating system. As well as tracking the increasing complexity of the ever-evolving kernel over a series of releases from versions 3.0 to 3.10, the report also reveals who is contributing code, and the dominant role corporations now play in what began as an all-volunteer project in 1991. While volunteer contributors still represent a plurality among developers, over 80 percent of code is contributed by people who are paid for their work. ""
Why Games Should Be In the Public Domain
"Rock, Paper, Shotgun writer John Walker shook a hornet's nest by suggesting old videogames should enter the public domain during GOG's Time Machine sale. George Broussard of Duke Nukem fame took to Twitter, saying the author should be fired. In response to these comments RPS commissioned an editorial arguing why games and other media should enter the public domain much more rapidly than at present. 'I would no more steal a car than I would tolerate a company telling me that they had the exclusive rights to the idea of cars themselves.' says Walker, paraphrasing a notorious anti-piracy ad (video). 'However, there are things I'm very happy to "steal," like knowledge, inspiration, or good ideas...It was until incredibly recently that amongst such things as knowledge, inspiration and good ideas were the likes of literature and music.'"
AMD Open-Sources Video Encode Engine
An anonymous reader writes
"AMD's latest feature added to their open-source Radeon DRM graphics driver is VCE video encoding via a large code drop that happened this morning. A patched kernel and Mesa will now allow the Radeon driver with their latest-generation hardware to provide low-latency H.264 video encoding on the GPU rather than CPU. The support is still being tuned and it only supports the VCE2 engine but the patches can be found on the mailing list until they land in the trunk in the coming months."
Satya Nadella Named Microsoft CEO
Nerval's Lobster writes
"As widely expected after last week's rumors, Satya Nadella has been named the new CEO of Microsoft. Nadella is Microsoft's third CEO, after co-founder Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer. He's been with the company for more than twenty years, eventually becoming executive vice president of its Cloud and Enterprise division; Nadella and his team were responsible for the creation of 'Cloud OS,' the platform that powers Microsoft's large-scale cloud services such as SkyDrive, Azure, and Office 365. Under his guidance, Microsoft's revenue from cloud services has grown by several billion dollars over the past few years. In his email to employees, Nadella said that he was 'humbled' by his appointment, and that he had asked Bill Gates to act as a close adviser in the months and years ahead." He devoted much of the rest of the email
"to explaining his philosophy of technology, and how that will ultimately influence his leadership. 'The opportunity ahead will require us to reimagine a lot of what we have done in the past for a mobile and cloud-first world, and do new things,' he added. 'We are the only ones who can harness the power of software and deliver it through devices and services that truly empower every individual and every organization.' A lot of tech companies would disagree the assertion that Microsoft is the 'only' company capable of merging hardware and software into forms that businesses and consumers find appealing, but Nadella must do his best to reassert his company's position as a technology leader. Nadella indicated near the end of his email that he would follow through on the 'One Microsoft' strategy formulated under Ballmer, which includes a massive reorganization currently underway." Reader rjmarvin notes that "Nadella will take over as CEO immediately, allowing Steve Ballmer to retire early," and reader SmartAboutThings says that "John Thompson, a lead independent director for the Board of Directors,
will take over the role of Chairman of the Board of Directors that Gates held."
Now Published: Study Showing Pirate Bay Blockade Has No Effect
First time accepted submitter Neelix21 writes
"Last week a Dutch court decided that the blockade of the Pirate Bay website was ineffective and disproportionate. The academic study that measured this effect has now been published: 'This paper studies the effectiveness of this approach towards online copyright enforcement, using both a consumer survey and a newly developed non-infringing technology for BitTorrent monitoring. While a small group of respondents download less from illegal sources or claim to have stopped doing so, no impact is found on the percentage of the Dutch population downloading from illegal sources.' The torrent monitoring technique also shows that if you are downloading a public torrent, anyone can find out." Happily, the linked paper is not paywalled.
NZ Govt May Gut Privacy Laws For US Citizens and Ex-Pats
Master Moose writes with an excerpt from stuff.co.nz indicating that New Zealand's government
"wants to override privacy laws to supply the U.S. Government with private details about Americans living in New Zealand. As part of a global tax-dodging crackdown, the U.S. is forcing banks and other financial institutions to hand over the private financial details of U.S. 'persons' and companies based overseas. From July this year, Kiwi banks and insurers will be required to provide U.S. tax authorities with American customers' contact details, bank account numbers and transaction history. The move comes amid continuing criticism of New Zealand's participation in Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement talks, aimed at securing a wider-reaching free trade deal with the U.S. and other countries. Critics say the secretive talks could restrict New Zealand's ability to make its own laws on everything from the environment to employment."
Layoffs At Now-Private Dell May Hit Over 15,000 Staffers
"Curious why Michael Dell was so eager to take the company he founded private? So he could do stuff like this without attracting too much attention. According to the Channel Register, the recently LBOed company is 'starting the expected huge layoff program this week, claiming numbers will be north of 15,000.' Of course, with a private sponsor in charge of the recently public company, the only thing that matters now is maximizing cash flows in an environment of falling PC sales, a commoditisation of the server market and a perceived need to better serve enterprises with their ever-increasing mobile and cloud-focused IT requirements — things that do not bode well for Dell's EBITDA — and the result is perhaps the largest axing round in the company's history. But at least the shareholders cashed out while they could."
Adobe's New Ebook DRM Will Leave Existing Users Out In the Cold Come July
Nate the greatest writes
"Whether it's EA and SimCity, the Sony rootkit scandal, or Ubisoft, we've all read numerous stories about companies using DRM in stupid ways that harm their customers, and now we can add Adobe to the list. Adobe has just announced a new timeline for adoption of their recently launched 'hardened' DRM, and it's going to take your breath away. In a video posted to Youtube, Adobe reps have stated that Adobe expects all of their ebook partners to start adopting the new DRM in March. This is the same DRM that was launched only a few weeks ago and is already causing problems, but that hasn't stopped Adobe. They also expect all the stores that use Adobe's DRM to sell ebooks (as well as the ebook app and ebook reader developers) to have fully adopted the new ebook DRM by July 2014. That's when Adobe plans to end support for the old DRM (which everyone is using now). Given the dozens and dozens of different ebook readers released over the past few years, including models from companies that have gone under, this is going to present a significant problem for a lot of readers. Few, if any, will be updated in time to meet Adobe's deadline, and that's going to leave many readers unable to buy DRMed ebooks."
Microsoft's IE Is the Most Targeted Application By Security Researchers
"Though Microsoft hasn't yet patched its Internet Explorer web browser in 2014, it did patch IE at least once every month in 2013. According to HP's 2013 Cyber Risk Report, more researchers tried to sell IE vulnerabilities than any other product vulnerability. 'IE is the most prevalent browser on the systems that attackers want to compromise' said Jacob West, CTO of HP's Enterprise Security Group."
Many Lasers Become One In Lockheed Martin's 30 kW Laser Weapon
"In another step forward for laser weapons that brings to mind the Death Star's superlaser, Lockheed Martin has demonstrated a 30-kilowatt fiber laser produced by combining many lasers into a single beam of light. According to the company, this is the highest power laser yet that was still able to maintain beam quality and electrical efficiency, paving the way for a laser weapon system suitable, if not for a Death Star, for a wide range of air, land, and sea military platforms."
EU Commission: Corruption Across EU Costs €120 Billion
cold fjord writes with news that the EU has completed its first report on corruption in member states, and the results aren't looking too good. From the article:
"'The extent of corruption in Europe is 'breathtaking' and it costs the EU economy at least 120bn euros (£99bn) annually, the European Commission says. EU Home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malmstroem has presented a full report on the problem. She said the true cost of corruption was 'probably much higher' than € 120bn. Three-quarters of Europeans surveyed for the Commission study said that corruption was widespread, and more than half said the level had increased. 'The extent of the problem in Europe is breathtaking, although Sweden is among the countries with the least problems,' Ms Malmstroem wrote in Sweden's Goeteborgs-Posten daily. The cost to the EU economy is equivalent to the bloc's annual budget. For the report the Commission studied corruption in all 28 EU member states. The Commission says it is the first time it has done such a survey. "