wiredmikey writes "Wireless Internet routers used in homes and offices could be knitted together to provide a communications system for emergency responders if the mobile phone network fails, German scientists reported on Monday. In many countries, routers are so commonplace that they could be used by police and fire departments if cell towers and networks are down or overwhelmed by people caught up in an emergency, they say. This rich density means that an emergency network could piggyback on nearby routers, giving first responders access to the Internet and contact with their headquarters. The researchers suggest that routers incorporate an emergency 'switch' that responders can activate to set up a backup network, thus giving them a voice and data link through the Internet. This could be done quite easily without impeding users or intruding on their privacy, the study argues. Many routers already have a 'guest' mode, meaning a supplementary channel that allows visitors to use a home's Wi-Fi." This is a cool angle on mesh networking — reminds me of the emergency response capabilities of ham radio; if it sounds intriguing, remember that even sparse networks can make use of this kind of networking with the right antennas. Related: even without touching the hardware on your router, you can do some meshing around with Byzantium.
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hypnosec writes "Charlie Shrem, co-founder of BitInstant LLC, has confirmed that a BitCoin-funded international debit/credit card should be available very soon. Giving a time frame of 6-8 weeks, Shrem said over an IRC chat session that the card will function like any other credit or debit card, and that it can be used at places where MasterCard is being accepted. Shrem has also said that the initial 1000-odd cards will be given for free and subsequent cards will carry a charge of around $10. Any transaction that is carried out through the card [will incur a] 1% BitCoin transfer fee on top of the $1.50 ATM withdrawal fee."
Nerval's Lobster writes with a piece at SlashCloud that says "Amazon is expanding its reach into the low-cost, high-durability archival storage market with the newly announced Glacier. While Glacier allows companies to transfer their data-archiving duties to the cloud — a potentially money-saving boon for many a budget-squeezed organization—the service comes with some caveats. Its cost structure and slow speed of data retrieval make it best suited for data that needs to be accessed infrequently, such as years-old legal records and research data. If that sounds quite a bit like Amazon Simple Storage Service, otherwise known as Amazon S3, you'd be correct. Both Amazon S3 and Glacier have been designed to store and retrieve data from anywhere with a Web connection. However, Amazon S3 — 'designed to make Web-scale computing easier for developers,' according to the company — is meant for rapid data retrieval; contrast that with a Glacier data-retrieval request (referred to as a 'job'), where it can take between 3 and 5 hours before it's ready for downloading."
eldavojohn writes "On August 15th, sendoff ceremonies were held at Ball Aerospace (subcontractor to Northrop Grumman) for the 18 gold-coated, ultrasmooth, 4.2-foot (1.3 meters) hexagonal beryllium primary mirror segments that will comprise the 21.3-foot (6.5 m) primary mirror of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST). Over 90% of the back material was taken out of these mirrors to make them light enough so that 18 could be launched into space where they must operate at minus 400 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 240 degrees Celsius). The mirrors will be adjusted by computer controlled actuators that are vital to JWST producing high-quality sharp images. The tennis court sized JWST will reside at L2 and is hyped to allow us to see 'back to the beginning of time.' NASA has provided a video of the computer animated metamorphosis with many more videos at the JWST site."
An anonymous reader writes "The Australian government has been running an inquiry into why technology is so much more expensive to buy down under than in the U.S. In response to the price difference, many consumers are turning to the Internet to buy tech that is imported through unofficial channels at cheaper prices from the U.S. Not to miss out on sales, some retailers are starting to set up special websites that sell this way too. The so-called 'grey market' can save you cash, but could it cost you more in the long run? This article looks at some of the potential problems for people buying technology this way." A companion article examines some of the nitty-gritty of price differences between Australia and the U.S., including the observation that entry-level salaries skew higher in Australia.
kkleiner writes with this snippet: "Just as Google's self-driving Prius goes for distance, recently passing 300,000 miles, Stanford's self-driving Audi TTS instead has the need for speed. The Audi, known as Shelley, sped around the Thunderhill Raceway track north of Sacramento topping 120 miles per hour on straightaways. The less than two and a half minutes it took to complete the 3-mile course is comparable to times achieved by professional drivers." Now if only Montana could take a cue from Nevada's rules for self-driving cars, and bring back "reasonable and prudent" speed regulation, driving out west could get a lot more exciting.
An anonymous reader writes with this excerpt from Geek.com: "Microsoft has never really acknowledged or supported those among us who choose to build their own PCs. Windows licensing is usually offered in three forms: full retail product license, retail upgrade license, and OEM license. If you want to build your own machine at the moment, Microsoft expects you to buy a full retail copy of Windows. With Windows 8 that all changes and Microsoft has decided to actively support individuals who want to build their own machines or run Windows 8 as a virtual machine. That support comes in the form of a new license option called the Personal Use License for System Builder (PULSB). With PULSB, Microsoft is dumping the full retail license used in previous versions. Instead it is offering a version of Windows 8 to be installed as the main operating system on a single system meant for personal use, or in a virtual machine running on an existing PC (running any legal OS such as Windows 7, Mac OS X, or your favorite flavor of Linux)."
puddingebola writes "Jurors in the Apple v. Samsung case will receive a 100 page 'instructions to the jury' document. They will also receive a multi-page form with numerous questions to come to a verdict. From the article: 'The document, which both sides have yet to agree on, is still in its draft stage. In Samsung's case, it's 33 questions long, and stretched across 17 pages. For Apple, it's 23 questions spread over nine pages.' Perhaps this is standard in patent trials? Perhaps road sobriety tests will soon include hopping on one foot while juggling?" As usual, Groklaw has the juicy details on the battle over writing the jury instructions.
ananyo writes about improvement to Mexico's healthcare system. From the article: "A revamp of Mexico's beleaguered health-care system is proving to be a runaway success and offers a model for other nations seeking to reform their own systems, according to a review published this week in The Lancet (abstract). The key to the scheme's success is the way in which it has modified its reforms in response to scientific assessments of their effectiveness, the authors say. Launched in a law in 2003, the Mexican scheme was designed to sort out widespread inefficiencies and inconsistencies in the country's health-care system. Some 50 million Mexicans — nearly half the country's population — who previously were not covered by health insurance are now enrolled, leading the scheme's architects to claim that the country has near-universal health-care coverage. As well as the increased coverage, the scheme has seen the number of conditions treated under Mexican public health insurance nearly quintuple. Admittedly, the former health minister Julio Frenk, now dean of the Harvard School of Public Health, is a co-author on the paper."
First time accepted submitter presroi writes "Al Jazeera is reporting on the current state of plans by the German government to amend the national copyright law. The so-called 'Leistungsschutzrecht' (neighboring right) for publishers is introducing the right for press publishers to demand financial compensation if a company such as Google wants to link to their web site. Since the New York Times reported on this issue in March this year, two draft bills have been released by the Minister of Justice and have triggered strong criticism from the entire political spectrum in Germany, companies and activist bloggers.(Full disclosure: I am being quoted by Al Jazeera in this article)"
Dangerous_Minds writes "The New Zealand, Australian, and Canadian Green Parties have released a joint statement on the secretive Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement (TPP). Among the concerns are the secretive nature of the talks and 'could hinder access to safe, affordable medicines, weaken local content rules for media, stifle high-tech innovation, and even restrict the ability of future governments to legislate for the good of public health and the environment.' ZeroPaid also notes that the statement is starting to appear in New Zealand and Australian media."
techfun89 writes with an update on OnLive shutting down. From the article: "The restructured OnLive has issued an press release and FAQ to attempt to clear up any rumors and misinformation on the companies recent changes. OnLive is emphasizing that the streaming game service will go on uninterrupted and the 'Newly formed company' will continue to use the OnLive name. The press release also outlines the Assignment for the Benefit of Creditors (ABC) process OnLive used to settle debts and that an affiliate of Lauder Partners, a technology investment firm, was the new OnLive's first investor. The firm talked about the necessity of laying off its staff, stating that 'neither OnLive, Inc. shares nor OnLive staff could transfer under this type of transaction,' and confirming that nearly half of the previous staff had been offered positions at the new company. The new firm mentions that this acquisition holds hope for the future 'of transforming the OnLive vision into reality.' This effectively means that OnLive was essentially bought out by OnLive, or rather, more specifically, one of their original investors in the company who backed the startup back in 2009."
crookedvulture writes "Next year, Synaptics's ForcePad will bring pressure sensitivity to touchpads. It can track five fingers independently, each with up to a kilogram of effective force in precise 15-gram increments. This look at Synaptics' next-gen input tech goes hands-on with with ForcePad, among other new PC inputs. The ultra-slim ThinTouch keyboard, recently acquired through the purchase of Pacinian, combines secretive switches with a side order of capacitive touch. And then there's the latest in touchscreens, the ClearPad Series 4, which purportedly cuts tracking latency by 70%. That's captured on high-speed camera at 240 frames per second."
colinneagle writes with news of a marine turned conspiracy theorist who was detained for psychological evaluation after posting rants on Facebook. He has since been ordered to remain in a mental facility for at least 30 days. From the article: "There are conspiracy theorists who believe 9/11 was an inside job. I don't really follow that news, but can people be arrested after saying so online, exercising their First Amendment right to Freedom of Speech? On August 16, the FBI, Secret Service and the Chesterfield Police arrested a decorated former U.S. Marine for 'airing his critical views of the U.S. government on Facebook.' On Facebook, Raub talked about the Illuminati, a shadow organization in which 'some of the leaders were involved with the bombing of the twin towers' and the 'great amount of evil perpetrated by the American Government.' He said people may think he was going crazy, but a 'civil war,' the 'Revolution' is coming. 'I'm starting the Revolution. I'm done waiting.' On July 24, he said he was at a 'great crossroads. As if a storm of destiny is about to pick me up and take me to fight a great battle.' On August 9 he talked about severing heads and told the generals he was coming for them. On August 13, he wrote, 'Sharpen up my axe; I'm here to sever heads.' On August 14, Raub wrote, 'The Revolution will come for me. Men will be at my door soon to pick me up to lead it.'" I suspect being a former marine and threatening to decapitate military officials might have had something to do with this (communicating specific threats?). But then again, his Facebook page was reportedly private, and according to the AP newswire: "The big concern, Whitehead said, is whether government officials are monitoring citizens' private Facebook pages and detaining people with whom they disagree."
gbrumfiel writes "The Curiosity rover will soon start rolling, and when it does, it will be running on gas from a Russian weapons plant. Slate has the story of how the plutonium-238 that powers the rover came from Mayak, a Soviet-era bomb factory. Mayak made the fuel through reprocessing, a chemical process used to make nuclear warheads that also polluted the surrounding environment. After the cold war ended, the Russians sold the spare Pu-238 to NASA, which put some of it into Curiosity. Now, the Russian supply is running low and NASA hopes to restart Pu-238 production on U.S. soil (They're planning on making less of a mess this time)." One interesting way of dealing with nuclear waste: reprocess fuel a few times, extracting Pu-238 and friends (those pesky "have to keep waste sealed forever to prevent hyper-squirrels in the year 3,001,000 from being irradiated" elements) and launching an army of deep space probes. But then there's the waste stream from reprocessing...