Effective: 2015-July to 2015-December
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An Australian spear fisherman captures one of the world's most venomous fish and a deadly snake in the middle of a fight for life. A venomous sea snake was locked in a ferocious battle with a stonefish. From the BBC News report:
Speaking to the BBC, Mr Trippe said he had been diving on a World War Two wreck in Darwin Harbour when he made the unusual find.
Mr Trippe said he drew on his experience of fishing pythons out of his chicken coop when he pulled the wrestling creatures from the water, clutching the snake under its mouth.
"I'm silly but not mad. I knew this was dangerous. I knew if I grabbed it I wouldn't get the bitten," Mr Trippe said.
[...] The venom released from the 13 spines on a stonefish's back can kill a human in two hours if not treated.
The linked article has an amazing picture of each having the other in its jaws.
Oder Aderet reports at Haaretz that the United States considered using nuclear weapons against Afghanistan in response to the September 11 attack according to Michael Steiner, who served as a political advisor to then-German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, as reported in Der Spiegel. "The papers were written," Steiner said when asked whether the U.S. had considered using nuclear weapons in response to the attacks orchestrated by Al-Qaida's Osama bin Laden, in which almost 3,000 people were killed. "They had really played through all possibilities." Steiner added that Schröder feared that the US, which was in a state of shock following the attacks, would overreact. "After Sept. 11, the entire administration positively dug in. We no longer had access to Rice, much less to the president. It wasn't just our experience, but also that of the French and British as well. Of course that made us enormously worried."
Boeing thinks the best way to kill a drone is to zap it with a precision laser, burn a hole in it, and bring it down. So it created a weapon system to do just that. Wednesday morning, the company showed off its Compact Laser Weapon System for media in Albuquerque, New Mexico. It’s a much smaller, significantly more portable version of the High Energy Laser Mobile Demonstrator (HEL MD) Boeing demonstrated last year. This setup looks like an overgrown camera, swiveling around on a tripod.
Instead of a massive laser mounted on a dedicated truck, the compact system is small enough to fit in four suitcase-sized boxes and can be set up by a pair of soldiers or technicians in just a few minutes. The new system is more scalpel than sledgehammer. Its laser, and, especially, the off-the-shelf gimbal (a fancy motor that can aim the laser and camera in any direction) it’s mounted on, make it precise enough to target different parts of a UAV.
Google Inc. said Monday its health-care-research unit agreed to work with European pharmaceutical major Sanofi SA on new ways to monitor and treat diabetes. The companies declined to say how much they are investing in the partnership.
Sanofi is a leading maker of diabetes medication, as well as many other drugs. Google's Life Sciences division is working on small, connected medical devices to continuously collect diabetes-related data, as well as software that learns from the information to find new treatments. Diabetes is expected to affect 592 million people world-wide by 2035, according to the International Diabetes Federation.
Diabetes affects around 382 million people worldwide today, so it is expected to increase by 55% over 20 years. More from Bloomberg:
Google last year agreed to work with Novartis to develop contact lenses that use tiny sensors to read blood-sugar levels from tears. Tests on that product will begin next year, Conrad said. This month, Google also said it would work with DexCom on a bandage-sized sensor connected to the cloud. Sanofi, the maker of Lantus, the world's best-selling insulin, will work on new ways of delivering the hormone, such as Bluetooth-enabled pens that let a physician monitor how much insulin their patient is using, and when.
"That's the system that we're endeavoring to build: smart insulin delivery devices, smart measurement devices, and an interface and an integrating platform that helps physicians and patients see how they're doing," said Conrad, whose division will be renamed in the coming months as a unit of Google's new holding company, Alphabet Inc.
As long as it's not a diabetes cure, that's a very attractive market.
The New York Times reports that several large banks, as well as the Federal Reserve, Bank of England, and the Nasdaq exchange are working on reusing the software ideas from Bitcoin to facilitate high-finance money transfers.
The Bitcoin network, on the other hand, is run by a decentralized network of users who jointly keep track of transactions and update the records in real time, with no single user or company in charge. The records of all transactions are kept on a public ledger — essentially just a big, publicly available spreadsheet — known as the blockchain that is visible to anyone and has, at least so far, proven impossible to tamper with.
Much of the work being done inside banks, and in other industries, is looking at whether the blockchain technology can be used independent of the Bitcoin virtual currency, which was the first thing to be recorded on the blockchain ledger.
This is probably not what anyone involved in Bitcoin had in mind, but open-source software tends to adapt to new applications extremely easily.
Brian Booker writes at Digital Journal that carbon dating suggests that the Koran, or at least portions of it, may actually be older than the prophet Muhammad himself, a finding that if confirmed could rewrite early Islamic history and shed doubt on the "heavenly" origins of the holy text. Scholars believe that a copy Koran held by the Birmingham Library was actually written sometime between
545 AD and 568 [takyon: 568 and 645 AD, with 95.4% accuracy], while the Prophet Mohammad was believed to have been born in 570 AD and to have died in 632 AD. It should be noted, however, that the dating was only conducted on the parchment, rather than the ink, so it is possible that the quran was simply written on old paper. Some scholars believe, however, that Muhammad did not receive the Quran from heaven, as he claimed during his lifetime, but instead collected texts and scripts that fit his political agenda.
"This gives more ground to what have been peripheral views of the Koran's genesis, like that Muhammad and his early followers used a text that was already in existence and shaped it to fit their own political and theological agenda, rather than Muhammad receiving a revelation from heaven," says Keith Small, from the University of Oxford's Bodleian Library. "'It destabilises, to put it mildly, the idea that we can know anything with certainty about how the Koran emerged," says Historian Tom Holland. "and that in turn has implications for the history of Muhammad and the Companions."
If you can't keep your smartphones updated, perhaps the solution to rampant security vulnerabilities is "cognitive computing technology" to block them:
Qualcomm announced that the first main application for its Zeroth neural chip will be a malware behavior analysis feature called "Qualcomm Snapdragon Smart Protect." The feature will be free for OEMs to use, but it will be up to them to enable it on shipping devices. Qualcomm's Zeroth chip uses "cognitive computing technology," which can enable "brain-inspired," on-device intelligence. The chip is meant to bring more natural interaction with devices and anticipate users' needs. Zeroth was designed to think like a biological brain and learn from its experiences in order to improve itself.
For instance, one of the first demos Qualcomm showed back in 2013 was a robot using Zeroth to find only white squares on a floor, but avoid other colored squares. The robot did this not because it was programmed in a certain specific way to reach the white squares, but because it "learned" by itself where the white squares would be. This is the main principle behind a neural processing unit (NPU) such as Zeroth, which is supposed to sit side-by-side a "traditional" CPU in devices.
The most exciting features that such a chip can provide will likely arrive later on, after developers have started using Qualcomm's Zeroth SDK to create innovative new mobile solutions that can improve people's lives. However, Qualcomm has already come up with what could be a solid use-case for Zeroth: malware behavior analysis. Qualcomm can use the brain-like cognitive power of the Zeroth platform to detect "abnormal behavior" on mobile devices, which can include zero-day malware or "transformational malware," about which anti-virus solutions either don't know or the malware was modified to bypass them (in the latter's case).
Related: Mobile World Congress 2015 Roundup
If you're like me and couldn't be arsed to make it up to Seattle this year but still dig you some gaming in general and PAX in particular, gamespot has a couple articles up covering the best cosplay and game related crap to buy there this year. As usual, there were way too many Deadpools.
Mind you, if you're looking for aggressive navels, you won't find them at PAX this year as they were banned. This didn't sit well with some on Twitter, thus the hashtag #PAXNavelPolicy was spawned by the wacky folks of #GamerGate for all your navel needs. Sic Semper Umbilicus.
In an interesting mobile development, Linux.com reports that four new phones are shipping with cyanogen as their base.
After many delays, all four major mobile Linux alternatives to Android have finally arrived on smartphones. Mozilla's Firefox OS was first out of the gate two years ago, followed by Jolla's Sailfish OS, and this year they were joined by the first Ubuntu and Tizen phones. Yet, a fifth open source mobile Linux platform may have already eclipsed them all. The CyanogenMod flavor of Android is rapidly expanding from its role as the most popular alternative mobile phone mod for flashing onto Android phones to being a much sought after pre-installed OS.
This week, a UK-based company called Wileyfox joined a growing number of third-party vendors to tap the commercial Cyanogen OS 12.1 version of the fully open source CyanogenMod with its new Swift and Storm phones. Meanwhile, a Lenovo-backed Chinese startup called ZUK announced plans to ship an international version of its ZUK Z1 phone equipped with the same 12.1 Cyanogen build starting in September. CyanogenMod 12.1 is based on the latest Android 5.1.1 Lollipop platform.
I know it's not exactly a tech-related story but we do have a goodly bunch of people who grew up in the 80s here, so, here it is: Wes Craven died over the weekend.
Master of the modern horror film Wes Craven died on Sunday, his family announced. He was 76 and had battled brain cancer.
Craven, the artist behind “Nightmare on Elm Street,” the “Scream” movie series and many other modern horror masterpieces, remade the genre in contemporary film.
Craven reinvented the youth horror genre in 1984 with the classic “A Nightmare on Elm Street,” a film he wrote and directed that starred a then-unknown Johnny Depp. He conceived and co-wrote “A Nightmare on Elm Street III: Dream Warriors” as well.
Then after an absence of three more sequels, he deconstructed the genre a decade after the original, writing and directing the audacious “Wes Craven‘s New Nightmare,” which was nominated as Best Feature at the 1995 Independent Spirit Awards.
Gives me a sad. Wes Craven movies were some of the very few scary movies that were anything but "meh" to me.
The Linux Homefront Project reports on Lennart Poettering looking to do away with the good old "su" command. From the article, "With this pull request systemd now support a su command functional and can create privileged sessions, that are fully isolated from the original session. Su is a classic UNIX command and used more than 30 years. Why su is bad? Lennart Poettering says:"
Well, there have been long discussions about this, but the problem is that what su is supposed to do is very unclear. On one hand it’s supposed to open a new session and change a number of execution context parameters (uid, gid, env, …), and on the other it’s supposed to inherit a lot concepts from the originating session (tty, cgroup, audit, …). Since this is so weakly defined it’s a really weird mix&match of old and new paramters. To keep this somewhat managable we decided to only switch the absolute minimum over, and that excludes XDG_RUNTIME_DIR, specifically because XDG_RUNTIME_DIR is actually bound to the session/audit runtime and those we do not transition. Instead we simply unset it.
Long story short: su is really a broken concept. It will given you kind of a shell, and it’s fine to use it for that, but it’s not a full login, and shouldn’t be mistaken for one.
I'm guessing that Devuan won't be getting rid of "su."
Most major cities now have their own versions of open streets events that temporarily transform streets into car-free freeways for the day. Some of these have gotten quite expansive: Each Sunday, Bogóta famously closes about 80 miles of streets. But Paris is hoping to best everyone next month by closing a large, contained portion of its urban core to all cars for a day.
La Journeé sans Voiture will be Sunday, September 27 from 11:00 am to 6:00 pm, limiting cars from a substantial area that includes much of the city’s center, around landmarks like the Eiffel Tower, and two major parks. (And, yes, of course, certain exceptions will be made for emergencies.)
Paris may be onto something here--NYC can be at its loveliest after a large snowfall stops all traffic. The concept could also be generalized to other frenetic activities in modern civilization, such as "No TV Day" or "Day Without Social Media."
Shortly after the sale of Minecraft's parent company, Mojang's co-founder Markus Persson had reportedly left the studio in order to pursue other projects. Naturally, before immediately moving on to another enterprise, the man more affectionately known in the gaming community as "Notch" has taken several beats to reap the benefits of his success, outbidding Beyoncé and Jay-Z on a $70 million home, and hosting lavish parties in his newly acquired mansion. However, he's also been afforded plenty of time to reflect on how far he's come, and not surprisingly, it's quite lonely at the top.
Recently, Notch took to his Twitter account to air his grievances with the current situation in which he finds himself. Although Persson's net worth currently rests at $1.33 billion as of writing, the famous game designer has confessed that such prosperity has essentially cursed him in the grand scheme of things, as he's "never felt more isolated". Apparently what John Lennon and Paul McCartney wrote all those years ago is true, and it's that money can't buy love. Taking that into consideration, Notch's Tweets grow increasingly despondent, as seen below.
The problem with getting everything is you run out of reasons to keep trying, and human interaction becomes impossible due to imbalance.— Markus Persson (@notch) August 29, 2015
Hanging out in ibiza with a bunch of friends and partying with famous people, able to do whatever I want, and I've never felt more isolated.— Markus Persson (@notch) August 29, 2015
In sweden, I will sit around and wait for my friends with jobs and families to have time to do shit, watching my reflection in the monitor.— Markus Persson (@notch) August 29, 2015
When we sold the company, the biggest effort went into making sure the employees got taken care of, and they all hate me now.— Markus Persson (@notch) August 29, 2015
Found a great girl, but she's afraid of me and my life style and went with a normal person instead.— Markus Persson (@notch) August 29, 2015
I would Musk and try to save the world, but that just exposes me to the same type of assholes that made me sell minecraft again.— Markus Persson (@notch) August 29, 2015
The Orange County Register reports:
The Orange County District Attorney Public Administrator's Office will auction off a unique horde of vehicles Tuesday [September 1] that belonged to a Buena Park plumber who died apparently without leaving any legal heirs.
The 69 vehicles, ranging from 1930s Ford Model A Roadsters to a 1965 Volkswagen van and an experimental aircraft, belonged to Gerald Willits who died in August 2014 at 76 of coronary artery disease.
[...] The vehicles can be viewed Monday [August 31] from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Public Administrator's Office parking lot at 1300 South Grand Ave. in Santa Ana [California]. The auction will be held in the parking lot Tuesday [September 1] at 10 a.m. Gates will open at 8 a.m. [...] If you can't wait, and want a sneak preview [...], check out our slideshow.
PC World reports on the story of an American teenager who has been sentenced to eleven years in jail and who will have his Internet use monitored by the government for the rest of his life.
His crime was to assume that his Constitutionally-protected Freedom of Speech included posting pro-ISIS messages on Twitter and other social media.
"Today's sentencing demonstrates that those who use social media as a tool to provide support and resources to ISIL will be identified and prosecuted with no less vigilance than those who travel to take up arms with ISIL," said U.S. Attorney Dana Boente...
[Ali Shukri Amin] created the Twitter account @AmreekiWitness in 2014, and used it to provide advice and encouragement to ISIS and its supporters, according to court documents. At one point the account had over 4,000 followers. He also helped other ISIS supporters who sought to travel to Syria to join the group, according to the Justice Department.
The question that Soylentils should ask is, "What groups do I belong to that someone in government might decide are 'terrorist', and am I at risk for speaking out?"
The Canadian government for instance has come within a hair of declaring prominent environmental groups to be terrorists.