scibri writes about robots helping neuroscientists dig into the brains of (animal) test subjects. From the article: "Robots designed to perform whole-cell patch-clamping, a difficult but powerful method that allows neuroscientists to access neurons' internal electrical workings, could make the tricky technique commonplace. Scientists from MIT have designed a robot that can record electrical currents in up to 4 neurons in the brains of anesthetized mice (abstract) at once, and they hope to extend it to up to 100 at a time. The robot finds its target on the basis of characteristic changes in the electrical environment near neurons. Then, the device nicks the cell's membrane and seals itself around the tiny hole to access the neuron's contents."
An anonymous reader writes "In 2012, EFF Pioneer Award winners are Hardware Hacker Andrew (bunnie) Huang, Anti-ACTA Activist and La Quadrature du Net cofounder Jérémie Zimmermann, and Groundbreaking Anonymity Group Tor. '"Every year, our Pioneer Awards celebrate those who have made a difference for digital freedom. We are extraordinarily proud of this year's winners and their unflagging dedication to protecting the rights of technology users around the world," said EFF Executive Director Shari Steele. "Whether it's your right to reverse engineer a game console, or to avoid the interference of overbroad IP enforcement, or to block websites or governments from tracking your every online move, these winners are working hard to protect our online freedom."' The 21st edition of the annual EFF Pioneer Awards ceremony will take place September 20 in San Francisco."
redletterdave writes with news of a drone that's helping weather forecasters this hurricane season. From the article: "Hurricane prediction is not always an exact science — back in 2005, Hurricane Rita was projected to hit Houston, but missed the region entirely — but the NOAA (National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration) is already on the case. A few weeks ago today, the agency launched an experimental Wave Glider robot named Alex into the ocean, hoping the unmanned drone can forecast the direction of future storms. The Wave Glider, which is completely powered by the waves and the sun thanks to solar panels and a unique thrust engine, contains a GPS unit, satellite communications systems, and sensors for measuring water temperature, wind speed, and various wave characteristics. With its ability to withstand strong winds and thrashing waters — which are typically prohibitive for humans and even aerial vehicles — and its ability to theoretically drift in the ocean endlessly without refueling, a single Wave Glider could be used to monitor not just one storm, but several hurricanes occurring over an entire seasonal period. The NOAA hopes to soon use more Wave Glider robots like Alex to help determine more accurate hurricane watches and warnings."
DevotedSkeptic writes "Kepler has continued its stellar (pun intended) discovery spree, this time locating multiple planets orbiting a binary star system. This is especially interesting because it proves that more than one planet can form under the stresses of a binary star system. The system is known as a circumbinary planetary system, a mechanism where a planet orbits two stars. Prior to this discovery, having multiple planets in a circumbinary system was unproven. Named Kepler-47, the system consists of a pair of orbiting stars that eclipse each other every 7.5 days. One star is similar in size to our Sol, however it only provides approximately 84% of Sol's light, the other is smaller, measuring one third of the size of Sol and emits less than 1% of Sol's light. Kepler-47b is the closer planet to its two suns, orbiting in 50 Earth days. Kepler-47c is further out and orbits every 303 days, within the Goldilocks zone. 'Unlike our sun, many stars are part of multiple-star systems where two or more stars orbit one another. The question always has been — do they have planets and planetary systems? This Kepler discovery proves that they do,' said William Borucki, Kepler mission principal investigator at NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif. 'In our search for habitable planets, we have found more opportunities for life to exist.'"
cold fjord writes "Is this the end of the world . . . of Warcraft? Maybe for Iranian gamers who are undergoing a forced morale check due to tightening sanctions cutting access to their game of choice. From the article: 'Iranian players of "World of Warcraft" ... have found themselves frozen out by Blizzard Activision Inc., the American company behind the game. Iranian role playing enthusiasts have spent much of the past week peppering Blizzard's message board with complaints about how they weren't able to log on to the service — only to be told recently that U.S. law was to blame. "United States trade restrictions and economic sanction laws prohibit Blizzard from doing business with residents of certain nations, including Iran," the company said in an email sent to players last week...'" Thanks to the sanctions, they can't get refunds either.
Taco Cowboy writes "The recent lost by Samsung in a court battle against Apple apparently does not put a dent to other parties determination to fight Apple, inside and outside of the court system HTC's Chairperson, Ms. Cher Wang, has publicly re-iterated her belief that the $1 billion jury verdict against Samsung in the U.S. 'does not mean the failure of the entire Google Android ecosystem.'"
hypnosec writes "Raynaldo Rivera, aged 20, suspected member of LulzSec, has been arrested for his alleged role in the breach of Sony Pictures Entertainment last year. The first suspect, Cody Kretsinger, has already pleaded guilty and was indicted last September according to the FBI. Rivera, who also goes by names 'neuron,' 'royal,' and 'wildicv', surrendered to authorities and he has been charged with conspiracy and unauthorized impairment of a protected computer. The LulzSec member may be facing 15 years in prison if convicted." On the member who pleaded guilty: "Kretsinger, who pleaded guilty to the same two charges now facing Rivera, is slated to be sentenced on October 25. A federal prosecutor said he would likely receive substantially less than the 15-year maximum prison term carried by those offenses."
An anonymous reader writes "Klint Finley discusses Miguel de Icaza's thoughts on how OS X killed Linux on the desktop: 'de Icaza says the desktop wars were already lost to OS X by the time the latest shakeups started happening. And he thinks the real reason Linux lost is that developers started defecting to OS X because the developers behind the toolkits used to build graphical Linux applications didn’t do a good enough job ensuring backward compatibility between different versions of their APIs. "For many years, we broke people’s code," he says. "OS X did a much better job of ensuring backward compatibility."' This, he says, led developers to use OS X as a desktop for server programming. It didn't help that development was 'shifting to the web,' with the need for native applications on the decline."
An editorial at IGN discusses healthy (and unhealthy) ways to play video games. The author says that while gaming is a perfectly legitimate hobby, it needs to be approached with moderation and an understanding of what you get out of playing. Without understanding your motivations and compulsions, it's quite possible to play video games in a way that's detrimental. From the article: "Games, especially modern ones, revolve around the principle that if you put the time in, you will be rewarded. Many gamers claim to not understand how anyone could put up with grinding in a video game. But grinding is comforting. Grinding tells us that, no matter what, if you keep playing you'll become more powerful. ... The real world does not operate this way. You can 'grind' at a job for 10 years and still be laid off. You can 'grind' at your physical health your whole life but if you switch to an unhealthy lifestyle you will immediately begin losing this progress. ... It's important for gamers to have mastery of their own mind. Are you grinding out a level in World of Warcraft because you're truly enjoying the experience, or are you doing it to replace missing feelings of self-worth that you don't want to confront? Do you revel in your virtual successes to avoid the uncomfortable internal dialogue regarding of your abandoned gym routine? Are you playing games because you're having fun, or because you have an unconfronted fear of failure?
New submitter beltsbear writes "Despite the many people calling it out as a Ponzi scheme from the beginning, Pirateat40 was able to collect millions of dollars worth of Bitcoins from thousands of Bitcoin users. At almost every stage Pirateat40 copied the path of the EVE Online Ponzi scheme except on a much larger scale with a far more liquid take. Now, it has shut down, and investors are wondering where their digital currency went. Quoting: 'He claimed that BS&T was sitting on 500,000 BTC on the day of the shutdown, worth more than $5.6 million USD at today's price of $11.38. "Once my process is released you'll understand more of how coins move around," he told members of the Bitcoin community last week. Pirateat40 initially promised to refund his investors' Bitcoin deposits plus interest within a week, effectively admitting that he did not have the Bitcoins on hand. The fund normally paid out on Mondays, but last Monday and today have passed so far without refunds. BS&T investors are complaining loudly and so-called "pass-through" funds that invested with BS&T are shutting down. As of this writing, BS&T says there is "no ETA on payments."'"
Esther Schindler writes "Ready for a nostalgic trip into the wayback? We had floppy disks long before we had CDs, DVDs, or USB thumb-drives. Here's the evolution of the portable media that changed everything about personal computing. 'The 8-inch drive began to show up in 1971. Since they enabled developers and users to stop using the dreaded paper tape (which were easy to fold, spindle, and mutilate, not to mention to pirate) and the loathed IBM 5081 punch card. Everyone who had ever twisted a some tape or—the horror!—dropped a deck of Hollerith cards was happy to adopt 8-inch drives. Besides, the early single-sided 8-inch floppy could hold the data of up to 3,000 punch cards, or 80K to you.'"
Hugh Pickens writes "Paul Ohm writes in Harvard Business Review that businesses today are building perfect digital dossiers of their customers, massive data stores containing thousands of facts about every member of our society. He says these databases will grow to connect every individual to at least one closely guarded secret. 'This might be a secret about a medical condition, family history, or personal preference. It is a secret that, if revealed, would cause more than embarrassment or shame; it would lead to serious, concrete, devastating harm,' writes Ohm. 'And these companies are combining their data stores, which will give rise to a single, massive database. I call this the Database of Ruin. Once we have created this database, it is unlikely we will ever be able to tear it apart.' Consider the most famous recent example of big data's utility in invading personal privacy: Target's analytics team can determine which shoppers are pregnant, and even predict their delivery dates, by detecting subtle shifts in purchasing habits. 'In the absence of intervention, soon companies will know things about us that we do not even know about ourselves. This is the exciting possibility of Big Data, but for privacy, it is a recipe for disaster.' According to Ohm, if we stick to our current path, the Database of Ruin will become an inevitable fixture of our future landscape, one that will be littered with lives ruined by the exploitation of data assembled for profit. The only way we avoid this is if companies learn to say, 'no' to some of the privacy-invading innovations they're pursuing. 'The lesson is plain: compete vigorously and beat your competitors in every legitimate way, except when it comes to privacy invasion. Too many companies have learned this lesson the hard way, launching invasive new services that have triggered class action lawsuits, Congressional inquiries, and media firestorms.'"
toygeek writes "Before Curiosity, before Opportunity, before Spirit, and before Sojourner, the very first robot to land on Mars was this little guy, way back in December of 1971. Called PrOP-M, the rover was part of the Soviet Union's Mars-3 mission, which had the potential to deploy the first ever mobile scientific instruments onto the Martian surface. Article also contains Russian video on early rovers."
An anonymous reader writes "The evolution of user interface design in software is a long one, and has historically tracked the capabilities of computers of the time. Early computers used batch processing which, is mostly unheard of today, and consequently had minimal human interaction. The late 60s saw the introduction of command line interfaces, which remain popular to this day, mostly with technical users. Arguably, what propelled computer use to what it is today is the introduction of the ubiquitous graphical user interface. Although graphical interfaces have evolved, in principle they have remained largely unchanged. The resurgence of Apple saw the rise of skeuomorphic graphical user interfaces, which are now starting to appear on Linux. Are skeuomorphic designs making technology accessible to the masses, or is it simply a case of an unwillingness to innovate and move forward?"
An anonymous reader writes "The BeOS-compatible Haiku OS operating system has been ported to x86_64. As part of the Google Summer of Code, a student made a 64-bit port of the kernel and user-space and it's now working. However, not all of the BeOS apps and drivers are yet working in 64-bit mode."