Daily Archives: October 5, 2016

How Ants Survive the Winter

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Coin-op horses from stores set free in Alberta landscape


A herd of vintage, coin-operated horses has been released into the southern Alberta landscape.

The kiddie rides, which stood outside Woolworths, Woodward’s, Kresge’s and Kmart between the 1950s and 1980s, have been transformed into an interactive outdoor installation near the town of Millarville, Alta.

Helios is the culmination of a three-year “backbreaking” project by Calgary artist Lisa Brawn, who restored the mechanical horses after a decade of neglect.

“They had wasp nests in them and all the wiring was chewed by mice, the motors were seized, all the paint was blistered and all the leather on the saddles was rotten. So it was a disaster.”

Nothing that some major rewiring and a whack of sandblasting couldn’t fix.

After removing more than 60 years worth of paint from the horses, Brawn covered them in silver leaf which makes them glisten in the sun.

continue http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/coin-operated-horses-lisa-brawn-1.3789670

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Utah Cops: You Can’t Just Shoot Clowns

1086740-13-20161005053120Law is the same as for non-clowns

(Newser) – With the recent spate of clown sightings, clown hoaxes, and assorted weirdness sweeping the US, police in a Utah town have felt it necessary to clarify the law on shooting them. “Can I shoot or take action against someone that is dressed up like a clown?” is “not a simple yes or no question. It has a lot of variables to it,” the Orem Police Department says in a Facebook post. The department says people are welcome to call the cops about clown sightings, but there isn’t a great deal they can do if the clown is “just standing there not chasing anyone around.” But clowns chasing kids to scare them should “plan on facing some criminal charges.” But as Fox 13 puts it, “No, you can’t just shoot someone dressed as a clown because they are dressed as a clown.”

continue http://www.newser.com/story/232081/utah-cops-you-cant-just-shoot-clowns.html

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Stupid Design Patent of the Month: Rectangles on a Screen

On October 11, 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments in the long-running Apple-Samsung litigation. The issue is whether Apple, by virtue of having its designed patents infringed by Samsung, is entitled to all of Samsung’s profits made from the infringing phones (regardless of how much that design contributed to the value of the phone).

This case—in which EFF submitted an amicus brief arguing the award of Samsung’s total profit is improper—is important for many reasons. But one reason stands out: it is trivially easy to get a design patent on trivial designs and, unless the Supreme Court changes the law, that can lead to anything-but-trivial awards in court.

This month’s stupid patent, a design patent, shows just how broken the current system of design patents is. Design patents, unlike the utility patents we usually feature, consist only of a single claim followed by pictures. It is generally the pictures that inform the public as to what is claimed. Importantly, in a design patent only the features drawn in solid lines are claimed. Anything in dotted lines is generally not part of the claim.

U.S. Patent D767,583, issued on September 27, 2016, is a patent on a design for a “display screen portion with graphical user interface.” Here, the claim is to “the ornamental design for a display screen portion with graphical user interface, as shown and described.” As most design patent owners do, the patent also makes clear that “the broken line showing of the display screen in the figure forms no part of the claimed design.” Below is the sole picture from the patent showing the patented design:

continue https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2016/09/stupid-design-patent-month-rectangles-screen

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Unprecedented and Unlawful: The NSA’s “Upstream” Surveillance

The FISA Amendments Act of 2008 (FAA) — the statute the government uses to engage in warrantless surveillance of Americans’ international communications — is scheduled to expire in December 2017. In anticipation of the coming legislative debate over reauthorization, Congress has already begun to hold hearings. While Congress must address many problems with the government’s use of this law to surveil and investigate Americans, the government’s use of “Upstream” surveillance to search Internet traffic deserves special attention. Indeed, Congress has never engaged in a meaningful public debate about Upstream surveillance — but it should.

First disclosed as part of the Snowden revelations, Upstream surveillance involves the NSA’s bulk interception and searching of Americans’ international Internet communications — including emails, chats, and web-browsing traffic —  as their communications travel the spine of the Internet between sender and receiver. If you send emails to friends abroad, message family members overseas, or browse websites hosted outside of the United States, the NSA has almost certainly searched through the contents of your communications — and it has done so without a warrant.

The executive branch contends that Upstream surveillance was authorized by the FAA; however, as others have noted, neither the text of the statute nor the legislative history support that claim. Moreover, as former Assistant Attorney General for National Security David Kris recently explained, Upstream raises “challenging” legal questions about the suspicionless searching of Americans’ Internet communications — questions that Congress must address before reauthorizing the FAA.

continue https://www.justsecurity.org/33044/unprecedented-unlawful-nsas-upstream-surveillance/

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What Is Memcached? Why Web Developers Love It?


Want to develop a high-performance large-scale web application? You may probably get benefitted with Memcached distributed caching solution.

Memcached is a popular distribute caching system. It is developed using PHP but available to use in all popular languages including Java, Python, and Ruby.

It was developed by Brad Fitzpatrick in 2003 and has been heavily used in PHP applications after that.

Memcached is very simple to use. It can store a key value pair in memory for fast retrieval. The Memcached API offers methods to manipulate and fetch data easily. Serious Memcache users may also want to check out these books on Memcached.

This article provides a very high-level overview of Memcached system and its benefits.

continue http://www.fromdev.com/2016/09/what-is-memcached.html

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Six billion plastic bags can’t be wrong – so what do we tax next?

Once, my family’s kitchen cupboard would have contained dozens of plastic bags. But today – a year after the introduction of England’s 5p plastic bag charge – I count just six (three secondhand ones, given to us by other people, one corner-shop bag and two small bags supplied with meat and fish).

England’s plastic bag charge was a long time coming – long after Ireland, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales – and critics predicted its exemptions for small stores and paper bags would diminish its effectiveness. A year ago, Andy Cummins, campaigns director of Surfers Against Sewage, predicted that England’s charge would reduce use of plastic bags, but not as effectively as in Scotland, Wales (down 78%) and Northern Ireland (down 81%).

In fact, in the first six months of the charge, the number of single-use plastic bags handed out by the seven biggest supermarkets fell by more than 85% from 7.6bn a year in 2014 to 600m. In that period, the levy raised more than £29m for charities and community groups. A study by Cardiff University found that more than nine out of 10 people often or always carry their own bags, up from seven out of 10 before the 5p charge came into effect.

Six billion fewer plastic bags in six months: Cummins is happy to be proved half-wrong. “It’s a fantastic success,” he says. “The vast majority have adapted their behaviour without a check in their stride. There will be a phenomenal net benefit for the environment from 6bn fewer bags.”

continue https://www.theguardian.com/environment/shortcuts/2016/oct/03/six-billion-plastic-bags-cant-be-wrong-so-what-do-we-tax-next

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Secure Passwords Can Be Sent Through Your Body, Instead Of Air

160927134838_1_540x360Sending a password or secret code over airborne radio waves like WiFi or Bluetooth means anyone can eavesdrop, making those transmissions vulnerable to hackers who can attempt to break the encrypted code.

Now, University of Washington computer scientists and electrical engineers have devised a way to send secure passwords through the human body — using benign, low-frequency transmissions generated by fingerprint sensors and touchpads on consumer devices.

“Fingerprint sensors have so far been used as an input device. What is cool is that we’ve shown for the first time that fingerprint sensors can be re-purposed to send out information that is confined to the body,” said senior author Shyam Gollakota, UW assistant professor of computer science and engineering.

These “on-body” transmissions offer a more secure way to transmit authenticating information between devices that touch parts of your body — such as a smart door lock or wearable medical device — and a phone or device that confirms your identity by asking you to type in a password.

This new technique, which leverages the signals already generated by fingerprint sensors on smartphones and laptop touchpads to transmit data in new ways, is described in a paper presented in September at the 2016 Association for Computing Machinery’s International Joint Conference on Pervasive and Ubiquitous Computing (UbiComp 2016) in Germany.

continue https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/09/160927134838.htm

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Man asks cops if they found his briefcase full of cocaine

SEATTLE — A man was arrested Sunday after asking police if they had found his misplaced briefcase.

It was full of cocaine.

Seattle police say the 19-year-old stopped to pet someone’s dog but left his briefcase behind. The dog’s owner grabbed it and handed it over to an officer who was directing traffic outside CenturyLink Field Sunday.

The officer opened it in hopes of locating the owner. Inside, he found four large bags and 27 smaller bags full of cocaine — 154 grams in all. It also contained the man’s ID card, cell phone, a scale, 50 diazepam pills, and a small amount of marijuana.

Not long after that, the owner stopped back at CenturyLink and asked officers if they had found a briefcase. Police say the man claimed it had important paperwork he needed right away.

He was arrested and booked into the King County Jail for possession of narcotics with intent to distribute.

source  http://www.king5.com/news/crime/man-asks-cops-if-they-found-his-briefcase-full-of-cocaine/326290503

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Japan will soon be accepting utility bill payments in Bitcoin

Japan yet again lives up to its reputation as a technology innovator as local digital currency firm Coincheck has announced a new service that will allow users to pay their utility bills in Bitcoin.

The new payment option is the first of its kind in Japan and will be available from November onwards.

As part of the deal, Coincheck customers will get a chance to save money for going digital – up to six percent for “heavy users”. Saved funds will be automatically paid out and stored in the user’s personal Coincheck wallet.

To get the project off the ground, the company has partnered up with Marubeni Power Retail Corporation that operates numerous power plants in central Japan and over other countries.

continue http://thenextweb.com/finance/2016/09/26/bitcoin-japan-utility-bills/

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