"'Walking while black' is not a punch line. It is a crime."

Policing has become a form of revenue for tax-strapped municipalities

#Crime

Sun, Aug 2nd, 2015 11:00 by capnasty NEWS

Citing the recent killings by U.S. police officers, Mother Jones' Jack Hitt points out that municipalities strapped for cash have resorted into turning police departments into a mean of generating revenue. Data reveals that law enforcement officers are now fining civilians for the most mundane and obscure of reasons, and more often than not targeting the poor and racial minorities.

"Essentially, these small towns in urban areas have municipal infrastructure that can't be supported by the tax base, and so they ticket everything in sight to keep the town functioning," said William Maurer, a lawyer with the Institute for Justice who has been studying the sudden rise in "nontraffic-related fines."

Take the St. Louis suburb of Pagedale, where, among other Norman Rockwell-worthy features deemed illegal, "you can't have a hedge more than three feet high," Maurer says. "You can't have a basketball hoop or a wading pool in…

111More

Identifying Users on TOR Based on the Subtle Differences in their Typing

#Privacy

Sun, Aug 2nd, 2015 10:00 by capnasty NEWS

According to Ars Technica, security researchers have been able to refine a profiling technique capable of recognizing when the same user is online based solely on their typing nuances. Because of the threat it poses to "anyone who wants to shield their identity online," the researchers have released a Chrome plug-in which is "designed to blunt the threat."

Sandvik said she visited this profiling demo site using a fully updated Tor browser, and the site was able to construct a profile of her unique typing habits. That means Tor-anonymized websites—either because their operators are malicious or are cooperating with law enforcement agencies—can use similar profiling scripts that track people across both public and darkweb destinations. While the Tor browser limits the amount of JavaScript that sites can run, it allowed all the code needed to make the demo profiling app work during Sandvik's experiment. Had JavaScript been disabled…

124More

"China has been feverishly piling sand onto reefs in the South China Sea for the past year, creating seven new islets in the region."

China building islands in the South China Sea

#Politics

Sat, Aug 1st, 2015 11:00 by capnasty NEWS

Aside from the environmental and ecological impact of the project, the construction of seven artificial islands acting as militarised posts "500 miles from the mainland," is turning up the heat on the already-fragile geopolitical situation found in the South China sea.

The speed and scale of China’s island-building spree have alarmed other countries with interests in the region. China announced in June that the creation of islands — moving sediment from the seafloor to a reef — would soon be completed. “The announcement marks a change in diplomatic tone, and indicates that China has reached its scheduled completion on several land reclamation projects and is now moving into the construction phase,” said Mira Rapp-Hooper, director of the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington research group.

So far China has built port facilities, military buildings and an airstrip on the islands.…

147More

37 Million Americans Have Never Been Online

That's 1 in 6 U.S. citizens

#Internet

Fri, Jul 31st, 2015 11:00 by capnasty NEWS

According to The Washington Post, 37 million Americans — the poor, the old, and the uneducated — have never been online. The data reveals that class, race, and income play a significant role on the ability of being online.

Mostly they're poorer, older and undereducated, according to the Pew Research Center's latest figures. Fifteen percent of U.S. adults, or about 37 million people, by the Census Bureau's latest count, don't use the Web. But break it down by race and class, and suddenly the numbers look very bleak: A fifth of black Americans are disconnected. Same goes for the 25 percent of Americans who make less than $30,000 a year and a quarter of all adults who live in rural areas. And among those who've never finished high school, a third never use the Web.

Judging by the number of times personal information has been exposed to hackers,…

137More

"No one has been able to create a laser that beams white light."

Arizona State University creates first white laser

#Technology

Fri, Jul 31st, 2015 10:00 by capnasty NEWS

The Arizona State University (ASU) reports that it has successfully created a white laser, a long-time puzzle for researchers. White lasers, which are more powerful and energy efficient than LEDs, could change the "future of lighting and light-based communication."

The researchers have created a novel nanosheet – a thin layer of semiconductor that measures roughly one-fifth of the thickness of human hair in size with a thickness that is roughly one-thousandth of the thickness of human hair – with three parallel segments, each supporting laser action in one of three elementary colors. The device is capable of lasing in any visible color, completely tunable from red, green to blue, or any color in between. When the total field is collected, a white color emerges.

139More

How Drone Delivery Might Look Like

#Administrative

Thu, Jul 30th, 2015 11:00 by capnasty NEWS

The Washington Post explains the plan by Amazon to achieve 30 minute deliveries using drones. The proposed plan would have specific areas in the sky dedicated to local and express traffic, isolated from regular air traffic.

Kimchi also laid out his thinking on how autonomous drones could safely fly in the same locations as helicopters. Helicopters are much more problematic than planes for drones because of low-altitude flying.

“The helicopter can talk to air traffic control, which can then maybe draw a little rectangle around where they’re flying and then say, ‘Hey this is a new no-fly zone; all drones please get away.’ Because the system is all real time, this will be sent to all drones as an alert,” Kimchi said. “Even if the pilot doesn’t do anything they still have sense-and-avoid. They’ll see the pilot from a long time away and still disperse.”

The above image is…

128More

Lightweight, Affordable, Programmable Robotic Arm

Eva

#Robots

Wed, Jul 29th, 2015 11:00 by capnasty NEWS

Weighing at less than 2.5 kg, the 3D-printed Eva provides an affordable and easily programmable entry-level robotic arm.

Want Eva to do something new, but don't have time or don't know how to program her yet? Just hold Eva and guide her to do what you want her to do once, and she'll take care of the rest.

214More

Car Chase Montage

#Video

Tue, Jul 28th, 2015 11:00 by capnasty NEWS

Showcasing his mad video editing skills, Filmnørdens Hjørne has put together the The Art of the Car Chase, with clips from recent chases and many from classics of yesteryear. Fun, quick, and testosterone driven.

The car chase montage (or supercut, if you will) is not exactly an original concept, but looking for an editing challenge, this one came up.

Editing a car chase is no doubt hard and difficult work. Editing 50 of them together does make it easier depending on how strict your standards of continuity are. I tried to have "sections" of continuity - little scenes, that tell their own little stories, but don't necessarily fit together as such.

The most time consuming part of the process is no doubt finding and preparing the clips. It is also…

198More

I'm Talking to You Son

And he's gonna have a cheeseburger with fries and a coke

#Video

Tue, Jul 28th, 2015 10:00 by capnasty NEWS

The Sheriff Office of St. Landry Parish, in Louisiana, is very upset someone broke into Stelly's Supermarket. He gives a stern talk. He'll have a cheeseburger later.

St. Landry Parish Crime Stoppers is asking for help identifying the burglar who broke into Stelly's Supermarket on July 8 and stole hundreds of dollars in cash.

211More

Netflix Still Makes Money from DVDs

#Companies

Mon, Jul 27th, 2015 11:00 by capnasty NEWS

Albeit its customer base is dwindling, Netflix still makes millions of dollars with its original business model: renting DVDs. Reportedly, access to recently released films not available on its streaming service can be watched via the reliable DVD rental service. And, thanks to automation, the company was able to streamline the return process, requiring just 25 employees to handle everything.

Netflix has 5.3 million DVD subscribers, a significant falloff from its peak of about 20 million in 2010; still, the division continues to churn out hundreds of millions of dollars in profit each year. And behind the scenes, engineers are trying to improve customer service and streamline the labor-intensive process of returning, sorting and shipping millions of DVDs each week.

Netflix has not put a life expectancy on its DVD division. Even as its subscriber count shrinks, the group has kept a core base of customers, particularly in rural…

296More

"Boxed-meal companies grapple each other for control of the American dinner plate."

The rise of the meal-kit

#Food

Sun, Jul 26th, 2015 11:00 by capnasty NEWS

Although some argue that the hype is caused solely by the amount of funding received by these start-ups, the concept of the Meal Kit is picking up speed. The idea is simple: at a cost slightly higher than if you went grocery shopping yourself — but cheaper than eating out — boxed-meal companies send you a box once a week with groceries and recipes, saving you the trouble of figuring out what to buy and what to make.

Enter the meal kit, our partial solution to getting ourselves fed healthily. Every Sunday, we receive a box full of individually wrapped and labeled ingredients for five dinners complete with detailed—and, fortunately for me, idiot-proof—recipes. Just Add Cooking, the service we use, exclusively serves the Boston area and uses largely local produce; it saves us time planning meals and shopping for groceries, an especially gruesome task during winters in Cambridge, Massachusetts.…

320More

"Google's Dave Vos foresees a day when thousands of drones will routinely ply the skies above cities."

Google wants air traffic control systems for drones

#Future

Sat, Jul 25th, 2015 11:00 by capnasty NEWS

Google, together with Amazon, Verizon and many others, have expressed interest in creating an air-traffic control system for drones. Although the goal is to prevent mid-air collisions, whoever figures out a system first will get "a foothold in an emerging multibillion-dollar economy of unmanned flying machines."

Google called competitors and government agencies to its own conference in June to share its vision of air-traffic control. The foundation of any system must be the ability to trust that all participants will reliably identify themselves and their locations, Vos said. The airspace must be open to any drones willing to follow the rules.

Networks of computers on the ground and in the air will set routes that avoid mid-air collisions. Humans will still be in charge, but unlike the current air-traffic system, controllers must rely on computers to make the split-second decisions necessary to keep drone traffic flowing and safe, he…

333More

England's Secret Ghost Trains

Not the one Harry Potter takes

#Travel

Fri, Jul 24th, 2015 11:00 by capnasty NEWS

The BBC brings to attention the ghost trains, limited service trains that run empty servicing closed stations. In some cases, ticket vendors don't even know the trains exist. It turns out there is a financial advantage of running a train at a loss versus the alternative of closing the line. And for the curious, The Ghost Station Hunters provides information on riding these mysterious trains.

That is the crux of why the ghost trains still exist. A more official term is “parliamentary trains”, a name that stems from past years when an Act of Parliament was needed to shut down a line. Many train operators kept running empty trains to avoid the costs and political fallout – and while this law has since changed, the same pressures remain.

Closing down a line is cumbersome. There must first be a transport appraisal analysing the effect of a closure on…

261More

"Do teenagers understand the outdated tech in our icons?"

In Defense of the Floppy Disk

#Data

Thu, Jul 23rd, 2015 11:00 by capnasty NEWS

Albeit it is the belief that no one knows that the floppy disk icon means save, librarian Lis Pardi discovers in her survey — among other things — that students who had never seen one knew what it meant. Also, librarians don't actually sshhh! you.

No one knows that the floppy disk means save. At least, that’s what the campus librarian insisted when she reviewed the website I worked on for her university. I had done research on just this issue, proving college students could identify what the floppy disk meant, but it wasn’t enough. New students are always coming in, she said, much younger than the ones I polled. So I went back and surveyed 526 high schoolers to find out definitively: Do teenagers understand the outdated tech in our icons? The survey says yes. But beyond answering her question,…

463More

"In many ways, modern cars are computer networks on wheels. "

Remotely hacking cars

#Driving

Thu, Jul 23rd, 2015 10:00 by capnasty NEWS

With cars now sporting on-board entertainment systems complete with cellular connectivity, hackers in the United Kingdom and the United States have discovered ways to remotely take over the car's computer and override crucial systems, from steering to braking.

After Miller and Valasek decided to focus on the Jeep Cherokee in 2014, it took them another year of hunting for hackable bugs and reverse-engineering to prove their educated guess. It wasn’t until June that Valasek issued a command from his laptop in Pittsburgh and turned on the windshield wipers of the Jeep in Miller’s St. Louis driveway.

Since then, Miller has scanned Sprint’s network multiple times for vulnerable vehicles and recorded their vehicle identification numbers. Plugging that data into an algorithm sometimes used for tagging and tracking wild animals to estimate their population size, he estimated that there are as many…

482More

"Murchison is already arguably the most happening radio astronomy site in Australia."

The Square Kilometre Array (SKA)

#Space

Sat, Jul 18th, 2015 11:00 by capnasty NEWS

The Guardian looks at the Square Kilometre Array, the world's most powerful radio array located in the most isolated and radio quiet places in the world. These radio telescopes will listen to the very distant noises from the furthest corners of the universe.

The telescope will be perhaps 10,000 times more powerful than any we currently have, and we will need a supercomputer more advanced than anything yet built to analyse the data it produces. Right now we can spot planets circling around distant stars. The SKA will be able to spot the equivalent of an airport radar system on one of those very, very distant planets.

It will also allow us to dig down into the ancient history of our universe, and there’s no knowing what it will find there, or what it will mean for us.

571 More

"It would be quite dangerous for humanity to communicate with a civilization we don’t know anything about."

$100 Million Donation to SETI

#Space

Wed, Jul 22nd, 2015 11:00 by capnasty NEWS

Famous for listening for signals from alien civilisations, SETI had its funding yanked in 1993, turning it into a private venture with very little money. Reportedly, Russian billionaire Yuri Milner will be infusing $100 million over the next decade, allowing the organisation to obtain active telescope time, rather than piggybacking on the research of others, as they have had to do in the past.

The money for Breakthrough Listen, as Mr. Milner calls the effort, is one of the biggest chunks of cash ever proffered for the so far fruitless quest for cosmic companionship known as the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, or SETI. It will allow astronomers to see the kinds of radar used for air traffic control from any of the closest 1,000 stars, and to detect a laser with the power output of a common 100-watt light bulb from the distance of the nearest stars, some…

545 More

How the Electric Car is Going to Take Over the World

#Future

Wed, Jul 15th, 2015 11:00 by capnasty NEWS

Using the sudden dawn of the smartphone era as an example, Y Combinator founder Geoff Ralston opines that the electric car will soon take over the world, reaching a tipping point where everyone will want one. Much like how the iPhone changed everything with its arrival, Geoff believes Tesla's electric cars will equally transform our society.

These predictions are so wrong because they misunderstand the pertinent forcing function. Their assumption is that electric car sales will slowly increase as the technology gets marginally better, and as more and more customers choose to forsake a better product (the gasoline car) for a worse, yet “greener” version. This view of the future is, simply, wrong. The reason electric cars will take over our roads is because consumers will DEMAND them. Electric cars will be better than any alternative, including the loud, inconvenient, gas-powered jalopy. The iPhone demonstrated that smartphones are…

532 More

Generating Electricity from Human Movement to Power Smart Gadgets

#Science

Mon, Jul 20th, 2015 11:00 by capnasty NEWS

While specific body parts produce minuscule amounts of electricity, such as the cochlea, which can potentially be harvested, the amount is insufficient for powering a smartwatch or a smartphone; researchers, however, have been focusing on recycling human movement or the heat generated by the body, producing enough power to charge "a lithium-ion battery in a matter of hours."

In the past few years, researchers have started to exploit a unique property of some materials, known as piezoelectricity, to generate electricity from human movement. Piezoelectric materials spontaneously generate electric charge when exposed to stress (the Greek word piezo means to squeeze or press). These materials are already used in countless industrial applications, and even the humble cigarette lighter (that “click” you hear in the electronic kind is the sound of a piezoelectric crystal being struck). But their next use could be in energy-generating fabrics.

One of the most advanced of…

518 More

Edge of Stability

#Video

Thu, Jul 16th, 2015 11:00 by capnasty NEWS

Shot by photographer Jeff Boyce, this video features a collection of time-lapses ranging from spatial to weather effects taken at very high resolution.

A result of over 70,000 individual high resolution photos and nearly 20,000 miles of driving, "Edge of Stability" highlights some of the most unique, awe-inspiring, and incredibly strange sights on the planet. Recorded entirely over Spring of 2015, scenes include storm chasing adventures across 15 US states, displays of the Milky Way over desert landscapes, and the amazing Aurora Borealis over Canada.

509 More

"Can an educated wannabe bottom-feeder like myself build an electric car capable of a 600 mile round trip using recycled dead laptop batteries?"

The Electric Samba Project

#Travel

Sun, Jul 19th, 2015 10:00 by capnasty NEWS

In this episodic series we follow jehugarcia who shows how he combined a variety of batteries to power his electric Volkswagen Samba bus.

In this long awaited episode, we struggle with internal battles about whether we can claim success as we tackle the 266 miles trip to this years (2015) Buses by Bridge event in Lake Havasu, Arizona earlier in the year. We also take a closer look at some of the activities of this yearly tradition, which include a chili cook-off contest, as well as a corn hole tournament which competition is stiff for every year, and of course the hot air balloons that fill the skies during the weekend.

499 More

"The Internet of Things is going to be a security and privacy disaster."

#Future

Sat, Jul 4th, 2015 10:00 by capnasty NEWS

With more and more devices becoming internet ready, the risk of them being exploited for personal gain by others or for stealing the owner's personal information will become a public concern that needs to be addressed by policy makers.

It’s not just paranoia — it’s more of a business reality. It is a software truism that anything connected to the Internet needs to be patched regularly, or else it becomes vulnerable to vandals. The lack of regular fixes is already a problem with a $500 smartphone; the maker typically loses interest in supporting it and patching it after maybe 18 months. It’s going to be a much bigger problem with a $50 device or a $5 device that lingers in your house for years. Inevitably, bad guys will have their way with them. So somebody far away will be able to turn on your oven when you’re on…

490 More

The Future of the Pneumatic Will be Airless

Airless tires perform as well as conventional ones

#Driving

Sun, Jul 19th, 2015 11:00 by capnasty NEWS

Hankook tires has announced that testing has demonstrated that the Hankook iFlex, an airless tire, performs as well as conventional pneumatics. Reportedly, the new type of tire may be soon ready for consumers.

[...] We’ve ridden on these things for about 130 years now, and while they’ve improved substantially since John Dunlop invented them to keep his kid from getting headaches while riding his bike, it seems that we can still do better. Hankook is trying to make better happen with a consumer-oriented airless tire.

Instead of pressurized air as a shock absorber that can also support the weight of the vehicle, airless tires (also called non-pneumatic tires, or NPTs) use deformable solid materials (usually rubber) to achieve the same effects. [...]

490 More

Google's War on the Homeless

#Google World Domination

Wed, Jun 24th, 2015 11:00 by capnasty NEWS

According to Pando, after opening their new offices in Los Angeles' Skid Row, Google started to aggressively drive the homeless population out of the area using security guards armed with pitbulls and sticks.

At first, Google didn’t seem to mind. The company initially operated only one property — the famous Frank Gehry “Binoculars Building.” Like other Google locations, it is a self-contained ecosystem; an office bio-dome: Delicious food service, snacks, coffee, surfboards, games, a top-of-the-line gym, a climbing wall, a cool roof deck, periodic food truck lunch parties, and an underground gated parking lot. With so much stuff to do inside, Googlers rarely ventured outside and didn’t have to see or interact with the homeless population that was camped out just beyond its walls.

But this live-and-let-live attitude changed after Google leased a second giant property — a series of warehouse compounds that take up almost an entire block…

484 More

The Language With Only 123 Words

Toki Pona, the world’s smallest language

#Languages

Tue, Jul 21st, 2015 10:00 by capnasty NEWS

On The Atlantic, Roc Morin looks at Toki Pona, which at 123 words in total is the world's smallest language. Created by Toronto-based Sonja Lang, the idea is to reduce "symbolic thought to its most basic element," while still managing to easily communicate ideas with "less noise" but "deeper insight."

That metaphorical process is at the heart of Toki Pona, the world’s smallest language. While the Oxford English Dictionary contains a quarter of a million entries, and even Koko the gorilla communicates with over 1,000 gestures in American Sign Language, the total vocabulary of Toki Pona is a mere 123 words. Yet, as the creator Sonja Lang and many other Toki Pona speakers insist, it is enough to express almost any idea. This economy of form is accomplished by reducing symbolic thought to its most basic elements, merging related concepts, and having single words perform multiple functions of…

480 More

"How we make our cars is actually a bigger environmental issue than how we fuel our cars."

Current manufacturing process makes electric vehicles worse for the environment

#Environment

Sun, Jun 28th, 2015 11:00 by capnasty NEWS

According to O'Reilly's Radar, a vehicle's environmental impact is far greater during manufacture than what comes out of its tailpipe. Ironically, a gasoline-powered car has, overall, a far less damaging effect on the environment than the manufacture of an all-electric vehicle. The article suggest switching to a localised dematerialized type of production to reduce the energy requirements for manufacturing.

An 85 kWh electric SUV may not have a tailpipe, but it has an enormous impact on our environment and health. A far greater percentage of a car’s total emissions come from the materials and energy required for manufacturing a car (mining, processing, manufacturing, and disposal of the car ), not the car’s operation. As leading environmental economist and vice chair of the National Academy of Sciences Maureen Cropper notes, “Whether we are talking about a conventional gasoline-powered automobile, an electric vehicle, or a hybrid, most of the damages are…

480 More

Listening to Music as it Travels Away from Earth

lightyear.fm

#Music

Tue, Jul 21st, 2015 11:00 by capnasty NEWS

Inspired by Contact, the website lightyear.fm gives you a chance to travel faster than light and see how far songs have travelled since being broadcast on Earth.

Although Lightyear.fm has radiowaves reaching over 100 lightyears into space, due to the Inverse Square Law of Propagation, any terrestrial radio broadcast would become nothing but background noise just a few light years away from Earth. So take comfort in knowing that all those awesome constellations up there will never hear Rebecca Black.

470 More

"The effects of an impact, even a comet or asteroid of a modest size, would be devastating."

The underfunded agency in charge of protecting earth from asteroids

#Space

Thu, Jul 2nd, 2015 11:00 by capnasty NEWS

On Motherboard, Daniel Oberhaus looks at Spaceguard (official name NEOO, Near Earth Object Observation program), an organization in charge of preventing mass-extinction by asteroid, hampered by lack of funding and organizational bureaucracy.

[...] Traveling at approximately 40,000 mph when it entered Earth’s atmosphere, the meteor burst at an altitude of about 97,000 feet and released about 500 kilotons of energy—roughly 25 times more energy released by the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima.

Not only was the meteor’s arrival something of a surprise to scientists and civilians, it also managed to injure at least 1200 people in the fallout produced by its shockwave.

Such damage must’ve been the result of a pretty huge meteor, right? Not at all—this meteor was only around 20 meters in diameter.

462 More

A 1970 F-16 Outperforms the 1 Trillion Dollars F-35

#War

Sat, Jul 4th, 2015 11:00 by capnasty NEWS

According to War is Boring, war games demonstrated that a 1970-built F-16 is still a better fighter jet than the F-35, now reaching 1 trillion dollars in development costs.

The F-35 jockey tried to target the F-16 with the stealth jet’s 25-millimeter cannon, but the smaller F-16 easily dodged. “Instead of catching the bandit off-guard by rapidly pull aft to achieve lead, the nose rate was slow, allowing him to easily time his jink prior to a gun solution,” the JSF pilot complained.

And when the pilot of the F-16 turned the tables on the F-35, maneuvering to put the stealth plane in his own gunsight, the JSF jockey found he couldn’t maneuver out of the way, owing to a “lack of nose rate.”

461 More

Vertical Turntable

Gramovox's Floating Record

#Music

Sun, Jul 5th, 2015 11:00 by capnasty NEWS

Currently seeking your financial support on Kickstarter, the Floating Record is a vertical turntable, capable of providing the vinyl experience in a greatly reduced amount of space.

At Gramovox our design philosophy is to reimagine vintage audio design with modern technology. In this spirit, we sought to reimagine the record player. We yearned for a visceral vinyl experience that showcased the record as both art and a medium to produce analog sound. The result is a high-performance turntable that plays your records vertically—producing the illusion that it’s floating.

456 More