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Security

Fighting Scams Targeting the Elderly With Old-School Tech 89

Posted by samzenpus
from the going-back dept.
itwbennett writes Sharp is launching a pair of landline phones designed to counter a growing form of fraud in Japan that preys upon the elderly. The 'ore ore' ('it's me, it's me') fraudsters pretend to be grandchildren in an emergency and convince their victims to send money, generally via ATM. Sharp's new phones are designed to alert seniors to the dangers of unknown callers. When potential victims receive that are not registered in the internal memory of Sharp's new phones, their LED bars glow red and the phones go into anti-scam mode. An automated message then tells the caller that the call is being recorded and asks for the caller to state his or her name before the call is answered.
Medicine

The Peculiar Economics of Developing New Antibiotics 243

Posted by samzenpus
from the killing-bugs dept.
HughPickens.com writes Every year at least two million people are infected with bacteria that can't be wiped out with antibiotics but the number of F.D.A.-approved antibiotics has decreased steadily in the past two decades. Now.Ezekiel J. Emanuel writes at the NYT that the problem with the development of new antibiotics is profitability. "There's no profit in it, and therefore the research has dried up, but meanwhile bacterial resistance has increased inexorably and there's still a lot of inappropriate use of antibiotics out there," says Ken Harvey. Unlike drugs for cholesterol or high blood pressure, or insulin for diabetes, which are taken every day for life, antibiotics tend to be given for a short time so profits have to be made on brief usage. "Even though antibiotics are lifesaving, they do not command a premium price in the marketplace," says Emanuel. "As a society we seem willing to pay $100,000 or more for cancer drugs that cure no one and at best add weeks or a few months to life. We are willing to pay tens of thousands of dollars for knee surgery that, at best, improves function but is not lifesaving. So why won't we pay $10,000 for a lifesaving antibiotic?"

Emanuel says that we need to use prize money as an incentive. "What if the United States government — maybe in cooperation with the European Union and Japan — offered a $2 billion prize to the first five companies or academic centers that develop and get regulatory approval for a new class of antibiotics?" Because it costs at least $1 billion to develop a new drug, the prize money could provide a 100 percent return — even before sales. "From the government perspective, such a prize would be highly efficient: no payment for research that fizzles. Researchers win only with an approved product. Even if they generated just one new antibiotic class per year, the $2-billion-per-year payment would be a reasonable investment for a problem that costs the health care system $20 billion per year." Unless payers and governments are willing to provide favorable pricing for such a drug, the big companies are going to focus their R&D investments in areas like cancer, depression, and heart disease where the return-on-investments are much higher.
Google

Google Lunar XPrize Teams Partner For a 2016 SpaceX Moonshot 18

Posted by samzenpus
from the working-together dept.
An anonymous reader writes Two competing teams for the Google Lunar XPrize have announced that they are partnering for a mission to the moon in the second half of 2016. From the article: "The Google Lunar XPrize , a $30 million purse of prizes encouraging private teams to put lunar rovers on the moon, this morning took if not quite a giant leap, then at least a big step. Two of those teams, Pittsburgh-based Astrobotic and Japan-based Hakuto, signed on to share a rocket ride to the moon in late 2016. Hakuto, which developed a pair of rovers to explore the lunar surface, will hitch a ride on Astrobotic's lander, which plans to set down in Lacus Mortis, located in the northeastern portion of the moon. Once on the surface, both teams will deploy their rovers and go exploring. The first to cover 500 meters (around 550 yards) while broadcasting high-definition footage will take home the $20 million grand prize."
Transportation

Japan Now Has More Car Charging Points Than Gas Stations 215

Posted by Soulskill
from the plugging-their-new-toy dept.
An anonymous reader writes: One of the biggest impediments to getting more electric cars on the road is the lack of charging infrastructure. When there's a gas station every other mile and you have to struggle to find a charging station, it's difficult to make a case for convenience and reliability. But this is changing, particularly in smaller, more technologically advanced countries like Japan. Nissan found that there are now about 40,000 charging points in Japan, compared to about 34,000 gas stations. Granted, not all of those charging spots are available to the public — some are in people's homes. But it shows the infrastructure is making real gains. Also, the article suggests an Airbnb-like system may crop up for people to utilize each other's charging stations. It adds, "As charging stations become more common, electric-car support services are also emerging. Open Charge Map, for example, operates an online listing of public charging points worldwide. A mobile app combines the data with GPS technology to guide drivers to the nearest site."
Japan

Cosmic Rays To Reveal the Melted Nuclear Fuel In Fukushima's Reactors 68

Posted by Soulskill
from the using-whatever-tools-are-available dept.
the_newsbeagle writes: Muons, produced when cosmic rays collide with molecules in the atmosphere, are streaming through your body as you read this. The particles pass through most matter unimpeded, however they can interact with heavy elements like uranium and plutonium. That's why engineers at Japan's Fukushima Daiichi power plant are using muon detectors to look for the melted nuclear fuel inside the plant's three melted-down reactors. By determining where muons are being diverted from their paths, the detectors create images of the blobs of fuel. That's necessary because nobody knows exactly where the radioactive gloop ended up during the meltdowns.
Canada

Canada, Japan Cave On Copyright Term Extension In TPP 227

Posted by samzenpus
from the on-second-thought dept.
An anonymous reader writes Last month, there were several Canadian media reports on how the work of Ian Fleming, the creator of James Bond, had entered the public domain. While this was oddly described as a "copyright quirk", it was no quirk. The term of copyright in Canada (alongside TPP countries such as Japan and New Zealand) is presently life of the author plus an additional 50 years, a term that meets the international standard set by the Berne Convention. Those countries now appear to have caved to U.S. pressure as there are reports that they have agreed to extend to life plus 70 years as part of the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
Input Devices

Listnr Wants to be 'Your Listening Assistant' (Video) 45

Posted by Roblimo
from the can-you-hear-me-now? dept.
This Listnr is "a new listening device connected to the cloud" being developed by a team in Japan that's currently running a Kickstarter project looking for $50,000 by March 7. The other Listnr "is a free music service helping people discover the best music from independent artists on Soundcloud and Bandcamp." More accurately, that's what it was, since their last Facebook post was in 2011 and their domain name is now for sale. Today's Listnr -- the listening device one -- claims it is able to tell whether a baby it hears is laughing, crying, gurgling or trying to talk. It is supposed to respond to finger snaps, hand claps, and other audio commands. It has an open API so that you can extend its use however you like. The company, too, is working on new applications for their product. Will there be enough of them, and will they interest enough people, to make this a success? Co-Founder Rie Ehara says, "We wanted to build something using sound to enrich and delight our lives." As of today (Feb. 2), Listnr is slightly less than halfway to its Kickstarter goal, so it's still a coin-toss whether or not Listnr will succeed.
Earth

Nuclear Safety Push To Be Softened After US Objections 224

Posted by samzenpus
from the take-it-easy dept.
mdsolar writes with news that the U.S. objects to a proposal to amend the Convention on Nuclear Safety put forward by Switzerland. The United States looks set to succeed in watering down a proposal for tougher legal standards aimed at boosting global nuclear safety, according to senior diplomats. Diplomatic wrangling will come to a head at a 77-nation meeting in Vienna next month that threatens to expose divisions over required safety standards and the cost of meeting them, four years after the Fukushima disaster in Japan. Switzerland has put forward a proposal to amend the Convention on Nuclear Safety (CNS), arguing stricter standards could help avoid a repeat of Fukushima, where an earthquake and tsunami sparked triple nuclear meltdowns, forced more than 160,000 people to flee nearby towns and contaminated water, food and air.
Japan

Japanese Nobel Laureate Blasts His Country's Treatment of Inventors 191

Posted by Soulskill
from the let-the-makers-make dept.
schwit1 writes: Shuji Nakamura won the 2014 Nobel Prize in Physics (along with two other scientists) for his work inventing blue LEDs. But long ago he abandoned Japan for the U.S. because his country's culture and patent law did not favor him as an inventor. Nakamura has now blasted Japan for considering further legislation that would do more harm to inventors.

"In the early 2000s, Nakamura had a falling out with his employer and, it seemed, all of Japan. Relying on a clause in Japan's patent law, article 35, that assigns patents to individual inventors, he took the unprecedented step of suing his former employer for a share of the profits his invention was generating. He eventually agreed to a court-mediated $8 million settlement, moved to the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) and became an American citizen. During this period he bitterly complained about Japan's treatment of inventors, the country's educational system and its legal procedures. 'The problem is now the Japanese government wants to eliminate patent law article 35 and give all patent rights to the company. If the Japanese government changes the patent law it means basically there would no compensation [for inventors].'"

There is a similar problem with copyright law in the U.S., where changes to the law in the 1970s and 1990s have made it almost impossible for copyrights to ever expire. The changes favor the corporations rather than the individuals who might actually create the work.
Music

How Long Will It Take Streaming To Dominate the Music Business? 169

Posted by samzenpus
from the what-about-cassette-tapes dept.
journovampire writes with this story about the booming music streaming business. "Streaming is on course to make more money for the U.S. music business than downloads and physical sales combined within the next three years. The U.S. appears poised for streaming to become its most valuable music format in either 2016 or 2017, according to MBW forecasts – so long as you include SoundExchange royalties generated by digital radio platforms like Pandora alongside subscription and ad-supported platforms like Spotify. But in the other three biggest recorded music markets in the world – France, Germany and Japan – the public appears more hesitant to allow streaming to take over."
Bitcoin

Fraud, Not Hackers, Took Most of Mt. Gox's Missing Bitcoins 108

Posted by timothy
from the shocked-simply-shocked dept.
itwbennett writes Nearly all of the roughly $370 million in bitcoin that disappeared in the February 2014 collapse of Mt. Gox probably vanished due to fraudulent transactions, with only 1 percent taken by yet-to-be-identified hackers, according to a report in Japan's Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper, citing sources close to a Tokyo police probe. The disclosure follows months of investigations by police and others into the tangled mess surrounding the disappearance of the 650,000 bit coins.
Google

Job Postings Offer Clues to Future of Google Fiber 38

Posted by timothy
from the it's-getting-oh-so-close dept.
New submitter Admiral Jimbob McGif writes Even as a massive firestorm burns uncontrollably threatening to scorch the very foundations of the internet with AT&T indefinitely halting future GigaPower FTTH rollouts due to uncertainty over the future of net neutrality and the Obama administration proposing to regulate the internet under Title 2, highly suggestive jobs were recently added to Google Careers.

These Google Fiber related positions include: "City Manager", "Community Impact Manager" and "Plant Manager" in all potential Google Fiber cities. Perplexing inconsistences abound, such as Portland, Phoenix, San Jose and Atlanta positions being listed as local. Whereas San Antonio, Raleigh, Charlotte, and Nashville are listed as telecommute positions.

One is inclined to speculate as to what these job postings mean despite Google's disclaimer: "Not all cities where we're exploring hiring a team will necessarily become Google Fiber cities." Would Google post jobs as an act of posturing much like AT&T's supposed "Gigabit smoke screen" bluff? Or, should we expect to see these so called Fiber Huts springing up like so many mushrooms after a heavy rain in an additional 9 metro areas?

At the rate Google is going, is it too soon to speculate over Fiber Dojos popping up in Japan?
Transportation

California's Hydrogen Highway Adds Another Station 87

Posted by timothy
from the chicken-meet-egg dept.
plover writes Scientific American notes that a new hydrogen refueling station has been added in Sacramento, bringing the state's total to ten. This was timed to coincide with Toyota's Japan release of their first commercially available fuel cell vehicle, the Mirai. Toyota is scheduled to start selling cars in Northern California next year.
Science

Monochromatic Light As a Species-selective Insecticide 44

Posted by Soulskill
from the not-to-be-taken-lightly dept.
An anonymous reader writes: The harmful effects of ultraviolet light have been long known. But now researchers at Tohoku University in Japan claim that visible blue light is also lethal to many insects, possibly even more so than UV, even at reasonable daylight intensities. Moreover, they report that certain species are more sensitive to specific wavelengths: Given the same intensity (3x10^18 photons/sec/m^2), light in the 440-467nm range was far more lethal to fruit flies than light of longer or shorter wavelengths. The wavelength 417nm was three times as effective at killing mosquito larvae than the shorter 404nm light, contradicting the notion that higher-energy photons always cause more damage. The research has wide implications for modeling the effect of natural and manmade environmental changes on insect populations and for selectively controlling populations of certain species.
PlayStation (Games)

The PlayStation Turns 20 101

Posted by Soulskill
from the and-now-you-feel-old dept.
An anonymous reader writes: The 3rd of December marks an auspicious date in gaming history: 20 years ago today, the very first PlayStation went on sale in Japan. In that time, Sony has successfully muscled its way into the gaming scene, and seen off a few rivals as well. In a new retrospective, a writer looks back at how Sony's console series has changed gaming, from introducing the DVD and the Blu-ray disc to innovations like the second screen PocketStation and the still untapped power of Remote Play and Gaikai game streaming.
Japan

Hayabusa 2 Asteroid Probe Postponed By Weather Until Early December 24

Posted by timothy
from the or-just-whenever dept.
As reported by The Register, Japan's Hayabusa 2 mission to mine (or at least sample) an asteroid, which was to have been launched Saturday, has been delayed by weather, until a time no earlier than Monday, Dec. 1st (and from JAXA's web site, it appears that Dec. 3rd is the current target): If all goes to plan, the space probe will lift off next month and fly out to asteroid 1999JU3 by mid-2018 using ion engines. The craft will orbit the rock before dropping a bomb onto the surface. The resulting blast should leave a hole [in] the asteroid. The probe will then land and dig around in the rubble for material from below the surface using a "sampler horn". The probe will then take off again and head for home carrying its booty, and is due to return in 2020 or slightly later.
Japan

Volcanic Eruption In Japan Disrupts Flights 24

Posted by Soulskill
from the underground-affecting-the-skies dept.
An anonymous reader writes: A volcano in southern Japan erupted today, sending out chunks of magma and a kilometer-high plume of ash. Flights to and from the nearby city of Kumamoto were canceled, and a Japan Airlines spokesman said more could be disrupted if the eruption continues. "Mount Aso, whose huge caldera dominates the southwestern main island of Kyushu, rumbled into life on Tuesday. Meteorologists warned volcanic stones and ash could fall in a one-kilometer radius of the volcano. The eruption is Aso's first in 19 years and comes two months after Mount Ontake in central Nagano killed more than 60 hikers when it erupted without warning."
Supercomputing

Does Being First Still Matter In America? 247

Posted by timothy
from the by-jingo dept.
dcblogs writes At the supercomputing conference, SC14, this week, a U.S. Dept. of Energy offical said the government has set a goal of 2023 as its delivery date for an exascale system. It may be taking a risky path with that amount of lead time because of increasing international competition. There was a time when the U.S. didn't settle for second place. President John F. Kennedy delivered his famous "we choose to go to the moon" speech in 1962, and seven years later a man walked on the moon. The U.S. exascale goal is nine years away. China, Europe and Japan all have major exascale efforts, and the government has already dropped on supercomputing. The European forecast of Hurricane Sandy in 2012 was so far ahead of U.S. models in predicting the storm's path that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration was called before Congress to explain how it happened. It was told by a U.S. official that NOAA wasn't keeping up in computational capability. It's still not keeping up. Cliff Mass, a professor of meteorology at the University of Washington, wrote on his blog last month that the U.S. is "rapidly falling behind leading weather prediction centers around the world" because it has yet to catch up in computational capability to Europe. That criticism followed the $128 million recent purchase a Cray supercomputer by the U.K.'s Met Office, its meteorological agency.
Japan

Japanese Maglev Train Hits 500kph 419

Posted by timothy
from the for-amtrak-that-takes-negligence dept.
An anonymous reader writes Japan has now put 100 passengers on a Maglev train doing over 500kph. That's well over twice as fast as the fastest U.S. train can manage, and that only manages 240kph on small sections of its route. The Japanese Shinkansen is now running over 7 times times as fast as the average U.S. express passenger train. 500kph is moving towards the average speed of an airliner. Add the convenience of no boarding issues, and city-centre to city-centre travel, and the case for trains as mass-transport begins to look stronger.