MrSeb writes about a really cool project from Microsoft's speech research group. From the article: "Microsoft Research has shown off software that translates your spoken words into another language while preserving the accent, timbre, and intonation of your actual voice. In a demo of the prototype software, Rick Rashid, Microsoft's chief research officer, said a long sentence in English, and then had it translated into Spanish, Italian, and Mandarin. You can definitely hear an edge of digitized 'Microsoft Sam,' but overall it's remarkable how the three translations still sound just like Rashid. The translation requires an hour of training, but after that there's no reason why it couldn't be run in real time on a smartphone, or near-real-time with a cloud backend. Imagine this tech in a two-way setup. You speak into your smartphone, and it comes out in their language. Then, the person you're talking to speaks into your smartphone and their voice comes out in your language." The Techfest 2012 keynote has a demo of the technology around minute 13:00.
wiredmikey writes with a quote from an article at Secury Week: "In order to get a look at what happens when a smartphone is lost, Symantec conducted an experiment, called the Honey Stick Project, where 50 fully-charged mobile devices were loaded with fake personal and corporate data and then dropped in publicly accessible spots in five different cities ...Tracking showed that 96-percent of the devices were accessed once found (PDF), and 70-percent of them were accessed for personal and business related applications and information. Less than half of the people who located the intentionally lost devices attempted to locate the owner. Interestingly enough, only two phones were left unaccounted for; the others were all found."
An anonymous reader writes with an excerpt from an article over at ZD Net: "As expected, Yahoo today filed a patent infringement lawsuit against Facebook. The online giant is claiming the social networking giant infringes on 10 of its patents. Yahoo is hoping to secure some portion of Facebook's revenues moving forward. 'Yahoo! has invested substantial resources in research and development through the years, which has resulted in numerous patented inventions of technology that other companies have licensed,' a Yahoo spokesperson told AllThingsD. 'These technologies are the foundation of our business that engages over 700 million monthly unique visitors and represent the spirit of innovation upon which Yahoo! is built. Unfortunately, the matter with Facebook remains unresolved and we are compelled to seek redress in federal court. We are confident that we will prevail.'"
An anonymous reader tipped us to an interview with Phillip Lee, author of Brewtarget, one of the best pieces of Free brewing software available (it's even in Debian). The interview discusses some of the technical decisions made (why Qt and Cmake?), and mentions a bit of the plans for future development: "The way the database was designed previously really hadn't been changed since the my first code in 2008, and we were running into a brick wall with some of the features we wanted. After we move to SQLite, there will be quite a lot of new features like being able to search through the ingredients in the database and stuff like that. I also plan to add some water chemistry tools for people that like to alter the ions and salts to fit a particular profile." (The last bit about water salt modifications comes as a relief to at least this brewer.)
Hugh Pickens writes "The U.S. Bill of Rights guarantees the accused basic safeguards, including a fair and speedy jury trial, but in this era of mass incarceration — when our nation's prison population has quintupled in a few decades — these rights are, for the overwhelming majority of people hauled into courtrooms across America, theoretical. More than 90 percent of criminal cases are never tried before a jury, in part because the Supreme Court ruled in 1978 that threatening someone with life imprisonment for a minor crime in an effort to induce him to forfeit a jury trial did not violate his Sixth Amendment right to trial. 'The truth is that government officials have deliberately engineered the system to assure that the jury trial system established by the Constitution is seldom used,' says Timothy Lynch, director of the criminal justice project at the libertarian Cato Institute. Now Susan Burton, head of 'A New Way of Life' (PDF), is helping to start a movement to demand restoration of Americans' basic civil and human rights by asking people who have been charged with crimes to reject plea bargains, and press for trial. 'Can we crash the system just by exercising our rights?' Burton says if everyone charged with crimes suddenly exercised his constitutional rights, there would not be enough judges, lawyers or prison cells to deal with the ensuing tsunami of litigation."
jfruh writes "Marten Mickos, ex-head of MySQL, was discussing his new open source cloud initiative with the New York Times when he mentioned in passing that 'Some people in open source think it is immoral to make a profit. I don't.' This has set off some predictable hand-wringing within the movement. While some community members are ideologically opposed to profit-making, that attitude isn't held by a majority, or even a plurality."
ananyo writes "In another victory for crowdsourcing, gamers playing Phylo have beaten a state-of-the-art program at aligning regions of 521 disease-associated genes form different species. The 'multiple sequence alignment problem' refers to the difficulty of aligning roughly similar sequences of DNA in genes common to many species. DNA sequences that are conserved across species may play an important role in the ultimate function of that particular gene. But with thousands of genomes likely to be sequenced in the next few years, sequence alignment will only become more difficult in future. Researchers now report that players of Phylo have produced roughly 350,000 solutions to various multiple sequence alignment problems, beating the accuracy of alignments from a program in roughly 70% of the sequences they manipulated."
derekmead writes "Forget CFLs, hybrid cars, and organic jeans. Buying our way out of climate change — even if it's green consumption — won't get us far. A new paper (PDF), published in Ethics, Policy, and the Environment by NYU bioethics professor S. Matthew Liao, poses an answer: engineer humans to use less. The general plan laid out by Liao is straightforward, ranging from using pharmacological behavior modification to create an aversion to meat in people, to using gene therapy to create smaller, less resource-intensive children. The philosophical and ethical questions, on the other hand, are absurdly complicated. The Atlantic also has a great interview with Liao, in which he talks about gene therapy and making humans hate the taste of meat."
New submitter An dochasac writes "Everyone knows incandescent lights are inefficient little space heaters which happen to convert 5% of their incoming energy to light. Compact Fluorescents (CFLs) are more efficient, but they contain toxic, brain-eating mercury and emit a greenish light. LEDs are also efficient and last longer, but if their blueish 'white' light doesn't mess up your melatonin balance, their price is high enough to wreck your checking account balance and give you the blues. A company called Vu1 has come up with something called Electron Stimulated Luminance (ESL) lights which claim to solve the mercury and price problem with a light based on Cathode Ray Tube (CRT) technology. These lights have the warm color balance of incandescents and are compatible with dimmer switches. The article has further ESL details along with an explanation of why it's still a bad idea to say these are 'trash can safe.'"
kenekaplan writes "Standard CT scanners can generate images of patient's body in less than five minutes today, but the radiation dose can be equal to about 70 chest X-rays. Lower-powered CT scans can be used in non-emergency situations, but it can take more than four days to produce those images. Intel and GE created an algorithm that speeds up a computer's ability to process the low radiation dose scans by 100x, from 100 hours per image to one hour."
Stowie101 writes "Kaleidescape has lost its drawn-out legal battle with the DVD CCA. A judge has issued a permanent injunction that prohibits the sale and support, including product updates, of existing DVD movie servers. 'As part of the injunction, Kaleidescape and its dealers can no longer offer technical support for products that are already in the field, meaning existing servers can receive no updates or repairs.' Kaleidescape has filed an appeal and 'believes that under California law the injunction order should not come into effect unless the California Court of Appeal affirms Judge Monahan's decision.'"
An anonymous reader writes "Researchers at the Vienna University of Technology have managed to perfect 3D printing at the nanoscale. What may look like a grain of sand to the human eye could in fact be a detailed racing car model, a reproduction of a famous church, or London Bridge. The 3D printer relies on a laser beam directed by mirrors through a liquid resin onto a surface. It can print at 5 meters per second, which is a world record, and the end result is only a few hundred nanometers in size. The next hurdle: printing with bio-material so we can start making our own body parts/organs."
eldavojohn writes "The hacktivist group Anonymous has claimed another victim by taking down Islamist sites in Tunisia. Similar to an earlier attack on Turkish government sites, #optunisia has resulted in several government blogs and sites being replaced with 'Payback is a b****, isn't it?' The message lists censorship as the motivation behind this activity. The AFP is reporting that this is also in response to the reintroduction of Salafist laws and the caliphate. An additional Anonymous message read, 'We are not against religion, we are Muslims, but we are defending freedom in our country.' Censorship continues wholesale in Tunisia."
Esther Schindler writes "Plenty of people want to get involved in open source, but don't know where to start. In this article, Andy Lester lists several ways to help out even if you lack confidence in your technical chops. Here are a couple of his suggestions: 'Maintenance of code and the systems surrounding the code often are neglected in the rush to create new features and to fix bugs. Look to these areas as an easy way to get your foot into a project. Most projects have a publicly visible trouble ticket system, linked from the front page of the project’s website and included in the documentation. It’s the primary conduit of communication between the users and the developers. Keeping it current is a great way to help the project. You may need to get special permissions in the ticketing system, which most project leaders will be glad to give you when you say you want to help clean up the tickets.'" What's your favorite low-profile way to contribute?
PerlJedi writes "A few months ago, a Tweet from Randal Schwartz pointed me to a YouTube video about 'Triangle Parties' made by Vi Hart. My nerdiness and my love of math made it my new favorite thing on YouTube. Now, with Pi Day coming up later this week, I thought it would be an appropriate time to point people to another of her YouTube videos: Pi is Wrong. The website she mentions at the end, Tauday, has a full explanation of the benefits of using Tau rather than Pi. Quoting: 'The Tau Manifesto is dedicated to one of the most important numbers in mathematics, perhaps the most important: the circle constant relating the circumference of a circle to its linear dimension. For millennia, the circle has been considered the most perfect of shapes, and the circle constant captures the geometry of the circle in a single number. Of course, the traditional choice for the circle constant is pi — but, as mathematician Bob Palais notes in his delightful article "Pi Is Wrong!", pi is wrong. It's time to set things right.'"