The Bad Astronomer writes "A recent hearing of the Congressional Committee on Oversight and Government Reform became a bully pulpit for antivaccination rhetoric when Representatives Dan Burton (R-Ind.) and Dennis Kucinich (D-Oh.) made speeches connecting vaccines to autism — a connection that medical experts have shown does not exist. Although there were actual medical researchers there as witnesses, they were mostly berated by the Congressmen on the panel. Vaccines are one of the most successful medical advancements in human history, having saved hundreds of millions of lives, and after copious studies have been shown to have no connection with autism. Despite this, a vocal antivax lobby exists, including, clearly, members of Congress. In part this is why preventable and potentially fatal diseases like pertussis and measles are once again on the rise."
MrSeb writes "In its continuing mission to build a 'Wiki Weapon,' Defense Distributed has 3D printed the lower receiver of an AR-15 and tested it to failure. The printed part only survives the firing of six shots, but for a first attempt that's quite impressive. And hey, it's a plastic gun. Slashdot first covered 3D-printed guns back in July. The Defense Distributed group sprung up soon after, with the purpose of creating an open-source gun — a Wiki Weapon — that can be downloaded from the internet and printed out. The Defense Distributed manifesto mainly quotes a bunch of historical figures who supported the right to bear arms. DefDist (its nickname) is seeking a gun manufacturing license from the ATF, but so far the feds haven't responded. Unperturbed, DefDist started down the road by renting an advanced 3D printing machine from Stratasys — but when the company found out what its machine was being used for, it was repossessed. DefDist has now obtained a 3D printer from Objet, which seemingly has a more libertarian mindset. The group then downloaded HaveBlue's original AR-15 lower receiver from Thingiverse, printed it out on the Objet printer using ABS-like Digital Material, screwed it into an AR-57 upper receiver, loaded up some FN 5.7x28mm ammo, and headed to the range. The DefDist team will now make various modifications to HaveBlue's design, such as making it more rugged and improving the trigger guard, and then upload the new design to Thingiverse." Sensible ammo choice; 5.7x28mm produces less recoil than the AR-15's conventional 5.56mm. I wonder how many of the upper's components, too, can one day be readily replaced with home-printable parts — for AR-15 style rifles, the upper assembly is where the gun's barrel lives, while the lower assembly (the part printed and tested here) is the legally controlled part of the firearm.
Nerval's Lobster writes "Facebook is letting users vote on changes to its Data Use Policy and Statement of Rights and Responsibilities (Facebook users can vote via this link). The company will also host a live Webcast to answer questions at 9:30 AM PST. One section of Facebook's revamped policies insists that the network can share information with its family of companies. This apparently applies to Instagram, the photo-sharing service acquired by Facebook earlier this year. Under the terms of the provision, Facebook can store 'Instagram's server logs and administrative records in a way that is more efficient than maintaining totally separate storage systems.' Facebook is also clarifying its language surrounding affiliates, as well. As long as Facebook continues to exist in its current form, these debates over its privacy rules will almost certainly continue to crop up on a semi-regular basis. The challenge for Facebook executives is how to best maintain that delicate dance between their need for revenue, advertising firms' desire for effective marketing campaigns, and users' rights to privacy. They run a corporation — but at moments, it also starts to resemble a messy democracy."
MojoKid writes with Hot Hardware's summary of what it takes to run the newest Crysis: "We've been tracking Crysis 3 for a while, from the trailer a few months ago to the recent alpha multiplayer preview. The game is available for preorder and it will launch in February. Crytek has now listed the minimum system requirements for Crysis 3 and they're as follows: Windows Vista, Windows 7 or Windows 8, DirectX 11 graphics card with 1GB Video RAM, Dual core CPU, 2GB Memory (3GB on Vista). Those aren't particularly stringent parameters by any means, but as we all know, 'minimum requirements' rarely are. Crytek suggests upgrading to a quad-core CPU, 4GB of RAM, with examples of CPU/GPU combinations that include Intel Core i5-750/NVIDIA GTX 560 and AMD Phenom II X4 805/AMD Radeon HD5870."
oyenamit writes "When was the last time you actually read and understood the EULA before installing a software? Never? You are not in a club of one. Unless you are a legal eagle, it would be almost impossible to fully understand what you are agreeing to. Consider this: The Adobe Flash installer has a EULA that is 3500 words long. Adobe claims that the software is downloaded eight million times a day. If each person takes 10 minutes to read (and understand!) the entire text, they would consume over 1,522 years in just one day. If we put that into man-hours: an 8hr day, 240 working days in a year, that becomes 6944 years in a day. Turn that into a 50-year working life and that's 138 lifetimes a day! The Register deconstructs the text that we all blindly agree to by clicking the 'I have read and understood the...' checkbox." Also, never operate a GPS device in a moving vehicle.
sciencehabit writes "Despite long experience with the ways of the world, older people are especially vulnerable to fraud. According to the Federal Trade Commission, up to 80% of scam victims are over 65. One explanation may lie in a brain region that serves as a built-in crook detector. Called the anterior insula, this structure — which fires up in response to the face of an unsavory character — is less active in older people, possibly making them less cagey than younger folks, a new study finds."
AmiMoJo writes "The Iranian military says it has captured an unmanned U.S. drone aircraft in its airspace over Gulf waters. The Revolutionary Guards said they had brought down a ScanEagle — one of the smaller, less sophisticated drones employed by the Americans. The U.S. said it was looking into the reports." (The U.S. response so far, also reported by Reuters and others, seems to be "We're not missing any drones.")
jfruh writes "A bipartisan group of U.S. Senators are working hard to make it legal for U.S. states to collect sales tax on any sales made to their residents, even if the sellers live elsewhere. They tried to add an amendment making the change to an unrelated defense appropriations bill, but the attempt was defeated. They have vowed to try again."
Hugh Pickens writes "Sarah Harris writes that roadkill may not be glamorous, but wildlife ecologist Danielle Garneau says dead critters carry lots of valuable information providing an opportunity to learn about wildlife and pinpoint migratory patterns, invasive species, and predatory patterns. 'We're looking at a fine scale at patterns of animal movement — maybe we can pick up migratory patterns, maybe we can see a phenology change,' says Garneau. 'And also, in the long term, if many of these animals are threatened or they're in a decline, the hope would be that we could share this information with people who could make changes.' Garneau turns students out into the world to find dead animals, document them and collect the data using a smartphone app RoadkillGarneau and she has already received data from across New York, as well as Vermont, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Florida and Colorado. Participants take photos of the road kill, and the app uploads them through EpiCollect, which pinpoints the find on the map. Participants can then update the data to include any descriptors of the animal such as its species; sex; how long the dead animal had been there; if and when it was removed; the weather conditions; and any predators around it. 'People talk a lot about technology cutting us off from nature,' says Garneau. 'But I found that with the road kill project, it's the opposite. You really engage with the world around you — even if it is a smelly skunk decaying on the side of the road.'"
An anonymous reader writes "CNN reports that a Mexico City court has ordered Yahoo to pay $2.7 billion to Worldwide Directories and Ideas Interactivas. The classified directory publisher sued Yahoo, claiming various losses and breaches involving 'contracts related to a yellow pages listings service.' Yahoo announced its intention to appeal but is saying little else about the case."
GabriellaKat writes "Via El Reg: 'Apple is trying to patent wireless charging, claiming its magnetic resonance tech is new and that it can do it better than anyone else. This would be cool if its assertions were true. Apple's application, numbered 20120303980, makes much of its ability to charge a device over the air at a distance of up to a meter, rather than requiring close proximity. The Alliance For Wireless Power, which also touts long-range juicing, will no doubt be comparing Apple's designs to its own blueprints.'"
An anonymous reader writes "Orphaned works legislation promises to open older forgotten works to new uses and audiences. Groups like ASMP think it's inevitable. But it comes with the risk of defanging protection for current work when the creator cannot be located. Photographer Mark Meyer wonders if orphaned works legislation also needs language to compel organizations like Facebook to stop their practice of stripping metadata from user content in order to keep new work from becoming orphans to begin with. Should we have laws to make stripping metadata illegal?" The author notes that excessive copyright terms may be to blame; if that's the case why lobby for Orphaned Works legislation? On a related note, Rick Falkvinge asks if we should revisit the purpose of the copyright monopoly.
hypnosec writes "Microsoft is trying to make up for below expected earnings following Windows 8's and Surface RT's lack luster adoption rates by increasing the prices of its products between 8 and 400 per cent. Trying to make more out of its enterprise customers who are tied under its Software Assurance payment model, Microsoft has increased user CALs pricing 15 per cent; SharePoint 2013 pricing by 38 per cent; Lync Server 2013 pricing by 400 per cent; and Project 2013 Server CAL by 21 per cent."
mphall21 writes "Voyager 1 is nearing the edge of the 'magnetic highway' of our solar system and scientists believe this is the final area the space probe must cross before entering interstellar space. The Voyager team infers this region is still inside of our heliosphere because the direction of the magnetic field has not changed. The direction of this field is expected to change when Voyager goes into interstellar space. 'Although Voyager 1 still is inside the sun's environment, we now can taste what it's like on the outside because the particles are zipping in and out on this magnetic highway,' said Edward Stone, Voyager project scientist based at the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena. 'We believe this is the last leg of our journey to interstellar space. Our best guess is it's likely just a few months to a couple years away. The new region isn't what we expected, but we've come to expect the unexpected from Voyager.' Moving at 10.5 miles per second, the space probe is the most distant man-made object from Earth. The space craft has been in operation for 35 years and receives regular commands and transmits data back to the Deep Space Network."
An anonymous reader writes with news that, as predicted, the iPad only newspaper The Daily failed. From the article: "The goal of The Daily was to provide a modern spin on the news cycle by delivering world news draped in a multimedia experience. In other words, The Daily devoted a lot of resources towards adding photos, video, and touch controls to news stories that would otherwise be static. ... It was announced today that The Daily will be closing up shop on December 15 after failing to rake in the dough."