morcego writes "Brazil's National Traffic Council (CNT) published Friday a resolution that institutes the National System of Automatic Vehicle Identification (Siniav). According to the Q&A published (Google translation from Portuguese), only 'visible and public' information will be available (vehicle year or fabrication, make, model, combustible, engine power and license plate number), without any personal information about the owner or registration data. This system will be mandatory for all vehicles (cars, trucks, motorcycles, etc) and should cost vehicle owners approximately R$5 (less than US$3)."
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New submitter rabok writes "If a Microsoft job posting can be believed, we are set to get a new Xbox on store shelves by March 2014 at the latest. Regardless of when it does eventually arrive, it seems an image claiming to be the output of a Kinect 2 has hit the web by a user on twitter. Kinect 2 is expected to be much more accurate — even able to see individual fingers, read lips, and gauge moods. This image seems to back up that improvement in both depth perception and the ability to distinguish individual fingers."
crookedvulture writes "Most PCs have audio integrated right on the motherboard. There's much to be gained from upgrading to a discrete sound card, though. This look at a couple of sub-$50 sound cards from Asus explores what can be found at the budget end of the spectrum. In blind listening tests, both cards produced better sound than an integrated solution. They also offered superior signal quality, but neither had an impact on gaming performance. The days of hardware-accelerated game audio seem to be behind us, with developers handling positional audio processing in software."
New submitter ottdmk writes "You may recall this recent Slashdot story about Mformation being awarded 147.2 million dollars in a patent suit against RIM. Well, it appears a California appeals judge has disagreed with that verdict. As part of the ruling, if Mformation successfully appeals, the matter will go to a new trial instead of the jury award being restored."
tripleevenfall writes "The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports that Minneapolis police used automated scanning technology to log location data for over 800,000 license plates in June alone, with 4.9 million scans having taken place this year. The data includes the date, time, and location where the plate was seen. Worse, it appears this data is compiled and stored for up to a year and is disclosed to anyone who asks for it."
An anonymous reader writes "The Wayland-usage in Ubuntu 12.10 via setting it up as a system video compositor has been delayed to at least Ubuntu 13.04. Developers made progress on running Ubuntu on Wayland (there are experimental packages available), but they need more time to complete their work and ready Wayland. For those wanting to try out Wayland on Linux, there is a specialty Wayland LiveCD."
An article at the NY Times looks at research into the "nocebo" effect. Named after the placebo effect, it's the term for when patient expectations do harm, rather than good. "When a patient anticipates a pill’s possible side effects, he can suffer them even if the pill is fake." The article describes several instances of patients getting the placebo in a drug trial, but reporting the expected side effects of the drug, rather than the benefits or nothing at all. Quoting: "Consider the number of people in medical trials who, though receiving placebos, stop participating because of side effects. We found that 11 percent of people in fibromyalgia drug trials who were taking fake medication dropped out of the studies because of side effects like dizziness or nausea. Other researchers reported that the discontinuation rates because of side effects in placebo groups in migraine or tension drug trials were as much as 5 percent. Discontinuation rates in trials for statins ranged from 4 percent to 26 percent. ... In one remarkable case, a participant in an antidepressant drug trial was given placebo tablets — and then swallowed 26 of them in a suicide attempt. Even though the tablets were harmless, the participant's blood pressure dropped perilously low."
New submitter jolle sends word that stable builds for CyanogenMod 9 rolled out to their servers last night, supporting a wide range of devices. Downloads here. From their announcement: "[This] release is for the majority of our ICS supported devices, the stragglers will catch up, and we will leave the door open for merging in additional devices from maintainers, external and internal. The team itself, will focus solely on Jelly Bean and maintenance of the CM 7 codebase. Many have wondered why we bothered to finish CM 9 when we are already active in CM 10 development. To that, our answer is: we don't like to leave things incomplete. There is no profit gained from what we do, so the satisfaction of completing a goal is our only reward. This release also serves as a release suitable for the masses, especially those who won't have 100% functioning releases of CM 10 immediately or are averse to anything branded as 'preview', 'alpha', 'beta' or 'nightly.'"
mikejuk writes "WebRTC is a way to allow browsers to get in touch with one another using audio or video data without the help of a server. Google has been something of a pioneer in this area, and submitted a suggested technology for the standard. Mozilla has gone along with it, making it all look good. Microsoft, on the other hand, just seemed to be standing on the sidelines, watching what was happening. However, Microsoft now has a product that needs something like WebRTC; namely, Skype. It has been working on a web-based version of Skype and this has focused the collective mind on the problems of browser-to-browser communication. It now agrees that a standard is needed, just not the one Google and Mozilla are behind. Microsoft has submitted its own proposals for CU-RTC-Web or Customizable, Ubiquitous Real Time Communication over the Web, to the W3C. It may well be that Microsoft's alternative has features that make it superior, but a single standard is preferable to a better non-standard. Given Microsoft's need to make Skype work in the browser, it seems likely that, should its proposal not be accepted as the standard, it will press on regardless, thus splitting the development environment. Both Google and Mozilla have already put a lot of work into WebRTC, and there are partial implementations in Firefox, Chrome and Opera."
New submitter turp182 writes to remind us that the Perseid meteor shower will be visible this weekend (Aug. 11-13). Astronomers are anticipating the Perseid shower being the best of the year, forecasting rates as high as 100 meteors per hour. They'll be visible through the night, but viewing will be at its best in the hours before dawn. NASA points out that this shower will be particularly interesting thanks to appearances from Venus, Jupiter, and the crescent moon. "On August 11th, a 33% crescent Moon will glide by Jupiter, temporarily forming a bright pair directly above brilliant Venus. Red-giant star Aldebaran will be there, too, adding a splash of color to the gathering. On August 12th, the narrowing 24% crescent Moon will drop down between Jupiter and Venus. Together they make a bright 3-point line in the sky, frequently bisected by shooting stars. On August 13th, with the shower just beginning to wane, the planets put on their best show yet: The 17% crescent moon will pass less than 3 degrees from Venus as Jupiter hovers overhead. Sky watchers say there's nothing prettier than a close encounter between the slender crescent Moon and Venus--nothing, that is, except for the crescent Moon, Venus and a flurry of Perseids."
An anonymous reader sends word of a change Google will be making to its search algorithms. Beginning next week, the company will penalize the search rankings of websites who are the target of many copyright infringement notices from rightsholders. Quoting The Verge: "Google says the move is designed to 'help users find legitimate, quality sources of content more easily' — meaning that it's trying to direct people who search for movies, TV shows, and music to sites like Hulu and Spotify, not torrent sites or data lockers like the infamous MegaUpload. It's a clear concession to the movie and music industries, who have long complained that Google facilitates piracy — and Google needs to curry favor with media companies as it tries to build an ecosystem around Google Play. Google says it feels confident making the change because because its existing copyright infringement reporting system generates a massive amount of data about which sites are most frequently reported — the company received and processed over 4.3 million URL removal requests in the past 30 days alone, more than all of 2009 combined. Importantly, Google says the search tweaks will not remove sites from search results entirely, just rank them lower in listings."
An anonymous reader writes "I know most people use backup services in the cloud now, off-site, but does anyone have good ideas on how to best protect data without it leaving the site? I'm a photographer and, I shoot 32GB to 64GB in a couple of hours. I've accumulated about 8TB of images over the past decade and just can't imagine paying to host them somewhere off-site. I don't make enough money as it is. Currently I just redundantly back them up to hard drives in different rooms of my house, but that's a total crapshoot — if there's a fire, I'd be out of luck. Does anyone keep a hard disk or NAS inside a fireproof safe? In a bunker in the cellar? In the detached garage? It's so much data that even doing routine backups bogs the system down for days. I'd love suggestions, especially from gamers or videographers who have TBs of data they need to back up, on what options there are with a limited budget to maximize protection."
donniebaseball23 writes "Sony Computer Entertainment America boss Jack Tretton has come out swinging to defend the lackluster response the games industry has seen with the PS Vita. He deemed the sales level for the portable as 'acceptable' so far, and he brushed off any notion that social and free-to-play games are putting huge pressure on the portable and dedicated consoles market. 'I think the opportunity to be in the console business is greater than ever before,' he said. '[Social and free-to-play] is a business I think a lot of companies are learning is difficult to sustain for the long term. It's an adjunct or it's an add-on, but it's not where gaming is headed. It's an additive diversion. There's a place for social and freemium, but it's not going to replace the business models that are out there.'" The company is having a hard time getting third-party developers interested in the Vita platform.
derekmead writes "Meshworm is a toughened, robotic earthworm that can crawl virtually silently at a speed of about 5 millimeters per second. DARPA wants to send it into battle. Believe it or not, the Pentagon's been working on building a robotic earthworm for a while. They tried putting one together with gears. They tried with air-powered and pneumatic pumps, but the results were bulky and untenable. Then, researchers at Harvard, MIT and Seoul National University in Korea put their heads together and designed an 'artificial muscle.' It's essentially a polymer mesh that's wrapped with nickel and titanium wire designed to stretch and contract with heat. When an electric current is applied, the mesh mimics the circular muscle system of an earthworm to scoot forward."
An anonymous reader writes "This week, Google was given approval of a network OS patent that it applied for back in 2009. The design of the OS is built for 'providing an operating system over a network to a local device' to provision new versions of operating systems onto hardware devices. Filed in March 2009, the idea for Chrome OS was protected by Google early in the development process of the OS, but it was hardly new and unique, given the general description of its features in the patent itself. It is the best sign yet that Google is working toward seamless hardware and software experiences."