00_NOP writes "'Universal Credit' — the plan to consolidate all Britain's welfare payments into one — is the world's biggest 'agile' software development project. It is now close to collapse, the British government admitted yesterday. The failure, if and when it comes, could cost billions and have dire social consequences. 'Some steps have been taken to try to rescue the project. The back end – the benefits calculation – has reportedly been shifted to a "waterfall" development process – which offers some assurances that the government at least takes its fiduciary duties seriously as it should mean no code will be deployed that has not been finished. The front end – the bit used by humans – is still meant to be “agile” – which makes some sense, but where is the testing? Agile is supposed to be about openness between developer and client and we – the taxpayers – are the clients: why can’t we see what our money is paying for?'"
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New submitter kwyjibo87 writes "The World Health Organization (WHO) publicly expressed dismay yesterday concerning news that intellectual property claims were hindering research on a deadly new emerging virus. Novel coronavirus (nCoV), a member of the same viral genus as the causative agent of SARS, has claimed the lives of 22 people (out of 44 reported infected) and left both researchers and health officials scrambling to develop effective diagnostic tests in addition to possible medications and vaccines against nCoV. Now, however, claims of intellectual property on the new virus are hindering research on nCoV according to the WHO, delaying advancements on tools to prevent further spread of the infection. Stories of intellectual property rights in science hindering advancements in research, particularly in clinical applications, are nothing new; the U.S. Supreme Court recently heard arguments on the validity of patents on the BRCA1/2 genes and has yet to issue a decision. The issue of sharing scientific information in order to promote faster research on emerging pathogens is not limited to intellectual property — a recent article in the journal Nature highlighted a case where Chinese researchers risked having their research scooped after uploading viral sequences to a public database designed aid global scientific collaboration."
phrackthat writes "A UC Berkeley group, in a bid to drive down the costs of 3-D printing, has been focusing on more natural materials such as salt, wood, ceramics and concrete (the last two, while not naturally occurring, are made of naturally occurring components). The use of these materials create new avenues for architecture, such as printing buildings. Professor Ronald Rael, the head of the project, stated that these materials and the designs they enable will require new IP protections — 'This is going to require some IP protection for designs, so if you design architecture in the computer, you're protected, just as music and movies are.' I wonder if he's ever heard of design patents?"
photonic writes "The BBC is reporting on a possible collision between Ecuador's first satellite (a small cubesat) and debris from an upper stage of an old Russian rocket. If confirmed, this might be the third case in recent years, after a high-speed collision of an Iridium satellite with a dead Russian satellite in 2009 and a collision earlier this year between a Russian laser reflector (which can be tracked very accurately) and a tiny piece of a debris from a Chinese weather satellite that was destroyed in a missile test."
OpenShift, says Wikipedia, "is a cloud computing platform as a service product from Red Hat. A version for private cloud is named OpenShift Enterprise. The software that runs the service is open-sourced under the name OpenShift Origin, and is available on GitHub." This is a video interview in which Diane Mueller Explains OpenShift in depth. You may want to watch this OpenStack demo video as well.
Kiera Wilmot, the Florida high school student who was expelled from her school after an unauthorized science experiment was misperceived as a weapon (at least for purposes of arrest and charging), won't be going to jail. She will, though, be going to Space Camp, thanks to a crowdfunding campaign started by author and former NASA engineer Homer Hickham. All charges against her have been dropped.
In the past few days, several readers have submitted word of a paper published on Arxiv allegedly confirming the efficacy of Andrea Rossi's "E-Cat," a device Rossi says transmutes nickel into copper, producing cheap energy in the process. (Mentioned before on Slashdot.) Ethan Siegel of ScienceBlogs takes a skeptical look at the buzz surrounding this paper, and asks some seemingly obvious questions, pointing out various ways in which the cold-fusion / cheap-energy claims could be either confirmed or debunked. First time accepted submitter CdXiminez writes with a capsule of Siegel's points: "What would it take to convince a reasonable observer that you've got a controlled nuclear reaction going on here? Things not shown in the earlier report: Show that nuclear transmutation has in fact taken place; Start the device operating by whatever means you want, then disconnect all external power to it, and allow it to run; Place a gamma-ray detector around the device; Accurately monitor the power drawn from all sources to the device at all times, while also monitoring the energy output from the device at all times."
zrbyte writes "One-time pads are the holy grail of cryptography — they are impossible to crack, even in principle. However, the ability to copy electronic code makes one-time pads vulnerable to hackers. Now engineers at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, have found a way around this to create a system of cryptography that is invulnerable to electronic attack. Their solution is based on a special kind of one-time pad that generates a random key through the complexity of its physical structure, namely shining a light through a diffusive glass plate."
psykocrime writes "The crazy kids at Fogbeam Labs have a new blog post positing that there is a trend towards advanced projects in NLP, Information Retrieval, Big Data and the Semantic Web moving to the Apache Software Foundation. Considering that Apache UIMA is a key component of IBM Watson, is it wrong to believe that the organization behind Hadoop, OpenNLP, Jena, Stanbol, Mahout and Lucene will ultimately be the home of a real 'Star Trek Computer'? Quoting: 'When we talk about how the Star Trek computer had “access to all the data in the known Universe”, what we really mean is that it had access to something like the Semantic Web and the Linked Data cloud. Jena provides a programmatic environment for RDF, RDFS and OWL, SPARQL and includes a rule-based inference engine. ... In addition to supporting the natural language interface with the system, OpenNLP is a powerful library for extracting meaning (semantics) from unstructured data - specifically textual data in an unstructured (or semi structured) format. An example of unstructured data would be the blog post, an article in the New York Times, or a Wikipedia article. OpenNLP combined with Jena and other technologies, allows “The computer” to “read” the Web, extracting meaningful data and saving valid assertions for later use.'" Speaking of the Star Trek computer, I'm continually disappointed that neither Siri nor Google Now can talk to me in Majel Barrett's voice.
Wired reports on a cluster of mini-satellites that will soon be launched into orbit that will assist U.S. special forces personnel during manhunts. "SOCOM is putting eight miniature communications satellites, each about the size of a water jug, on top of the Minotaur rocket that's getting ready to launch from Wallops Island, Virginia. They’ll sit more than 300 miles above the earth and provide a new way for the beacons to call back to their masters." When special forces are able to tag their target, the target can be tracked and located through the use of satellites and cell towers, but coverage is poor in many areas of the world. The satellites going up in September will help to fill in some gaps. "This array of configurable 'cubesats' is designed to stay aloft for three years or more. Yes, it will serve as further research project. But 'operators are going to use it,' Richardson promised an industry conference in Tampa last week."
necro81 writes "Although its Tevatron particle accelerator has gone dark, Fermi Laboratory outside Chicago is still doing physics. A new experiment, called muon g-2 will investigate quantum mechanical behavior of the electron's heavier sibling: the muon. Fermi needs a large ring chamber to store the muons it produces and investigates, and it just so happens that Brookhaven National Laboratory outside NYC has one to spare. But how do you transport a delicate, 15-m diameter, 600-ton superconducting magnet halfway across the country? Very carefully."
Nerval's Lobster writes "Location is everything when choosing the site of a data center. Firms such as Microsoft and Google and Facebook spend a lot of time looking into the costs of land, power, regulation and taxes before placing their respective data centers in a particular place. Sometimes, that local tax bill comes into play in a big way. Just ask the National Security Agency which learned it faces a multimillion-dollar annual state tax on the power consumed by its new data center in Camp Williams, south of Salt Lake City. The Salt Lake Tribune obtained a series of email exchanges between the feds and the state, with the NSA protesting a $2.4 million tax on its annual power expenditure, pegged at about $40 million. Harvey Davis, director of installations and logistics for the NSA, sent a letter (subsequently quoted by the newspaper) to state officials that made the logistics argument: 'Long-term stability in the utility rates was a major factor in Utah being selected as our site for our $1.5bn construction at Camp Williams. HP325 [the new law] runs counter to what we expected.'" This would be the data center William Binney et al claim is logging almost all domestic communication.
Techmeology writes "In response to declining utility of CALEA mandated wiretapping backdoors due to more widespread use of cryptography, the FBI is considering a revamped version that would mandate wiretapping facilities in end users' computers and software. Critics have argued that this would be bad for security (PDF), as such systems must be more complex and thus harder to secure. CALEA has also enabled criminals to wiretap conversations by hacking the infrastructure used by the authorities. I wonder how this could ever be implemented in FOSS."
Blug_fred writes "For the second edition, today is the time to celebrate Culture Freedom Day. While not as popular as HFD or SFD, celebrating Free Culture involves finding Free Culture artists, inviting them to your place and having them perform, display or talk about what their creation(s). Of course you can always simply project a couple of Free Culture movies and launch a discussion about their business models. Either way you can find all the happening for today here on the map and we sincerely hope there will be something of interest near you."
J.J. Abrams’ 2009 reboot of Star Trek was wildly successful. It raked in hundreds of millions at the box office, and revitalized the Star Trek franchise, which had languished for 7 years without a new film and 4 years without a TV presence (after 18 consecutive years of new shows). It also did something no Trek movie had done before; it made Star Trek ‘cool’ in the public consciousness. Combined, those factors ensured Abrams would get another turn at the helm of a Trek movie, and sooner rather than later. With today's release of Star Trek: Into Darkness, that trend is very likely to continue. It's a movie with all the same strengths and weaknesses of its predecessor, and if it worked before, it'll work again. Read on for our review.
mask.of.sanity writes with news of the jail sentences for three members of LulzSec. From the article: "Three members of the hacktivist group LulzSec have been sentenced to a total of six years in prison. Ryan Ackroyd, Jake Davis and Mustafa al-Bassam were charged with attacks on the Serious Organised Crime Agency, Sony, Nintendo, 20th Century Fox and governments and police forces in a 50-day spree in the summer of 2011. Davis was sentenced to 24 months in a young offender's institution and he will serve half of the sentence. Al-Bassam received a 20-month sentence, suspended for two years and 300 hours unpaid work. Ackroyd was given a 30-month sentence; he will serve half. Cleary also pleaded guilty to possession of child abuse images following a second arrest on October 4, 2012. He will be sentenced at separate hearing." The Guardian has a short article on the remaining loose ends in the story of LulzSec.
Linus Torvalds, Jon 'maddog' Hall, and many other names closely associated with Linux are also closely associated with beer. (Ed. note: I have personally watched them associate with beer, and may have even joined them.) It comes as no surprise, therefore, when Linux advocate and LinuxAutomation.org founder Kurt Forsberg talks about using Linux to control his beer brewing. Kurt is a strong believer in Linux Automation who talks about home thermostats, sprinklers, and many other application, "anything you can automate..." but, he adds, "we spend all our time brewing beer so we haven't explored many of those yet." He says this with a big smile, of course. And if you want to keep up with Linux Automation on Faceboook, go ahead; like everyone + dog they have a Facebook page.
ananyo writes "D-Wave, the small company that sells the world's only commercial quantum computer, has just bagged an impressive new customer: a collaboration between Google, NASA and the non-profit Universities Space Research Association. The three organizations have joined forces to install a D-Wave Two, the computer company's latest model, in a facility launched by the collaboration — the Quantum Artificial Intelligence Lab at NASA's Ames Research Center. The lab will explore areas such as machine learning — useful for functions such as language translation, image searches and voice-command recognition. The Google-led collaboration is only the second customer to buy computer from D-Wave — Lockheed Martin was the first."
New submitter Wisdom writes "1bir (1 Block Interactive Raycaster) is a simple ray casting engine implemented only in 254 bytes to run on a stock, unexpanded Commodore 64. The name comes from the fact that on a C64 floppy disk, 1 block is equivalent to 254 bytes stored on a disk sector. In 254 bytes, 1bir sets up the screen for drawing, creates sine and cosine tables for 256 brads based on a simple approximation, casts rays into a 2D map that lives inside the C64 KERNAL ROM, renders the screen in coordination with KERNAL, evaluates 8-way joystick input and detects collision against walls. The ray casting core employs a brute force algorithm to determine visible walls, while the mapping portion supports both open-ended (infinitely looped) and traditional, closed maps. The source code in 6502 assembly is available, with extensive comments. A YouTube video showcases 1bir in a detailed manner with both kind of maps and more information, while a Vimeo video presents a shorter demonstration."
MTorrice writes "A low-cost chemical process can turn hemp fiber into carbon nanomaterials. Researchers used the materials to make devices called supercapacitors that provide quick bursts of electrical energy. Supercapacitors made with the hemp nanosheets put out more power than commercial devices can." According to one of the authors, "Hemp bast is a nanocomposite made up of layers of lignin, hemicellulose, and crystalline cellulose ... If you process it the right way, it separates into nanosheets similar to graphene." Perhaps the process could be applied to related plants (hops?) too.