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Friday, October 30, 2015

The Netflix for Theater: BroadwayHD

BroadwayHD: The Netflix for Theater Performances

Alexandra Gibbs | October 27, 2015

[Blogger's note: Either $14.99 monthly or $169.99 annually.]
When it comes to streaming film and television, the internet's got it covered. But, what about when it comes to Broadway shows?
Enter BroadwayHD; an on-demand internet streaming platform which hopes to bridge the gap between onstage Broadway performances and digital devices.

The streaming service will allow audiences to watch Broadway performances on their TVs, computer or phones. Source:
<more at; related links: (BroadwayHD will let theater fans stream shows online. October 26, 2015) and (BroadwayHD website)>

bioLogic: MIT Creates Self-Transforming Fabric

MIT creates self-transforming fashion dubbed bioLogic (+Video)

Shane McGlaun | October 29, 2015

Scientists at MIT have teamed up with New Balance to weave a new discovery into sportswear. The new discovery has to do with the expansion and contraction of natto cells relative to atmospheric moisture. Natto is a bacteria officially called Bacillus Subtilis natto and is a microorganism that lives inside dry rice stalks.

<more at; related links: (Bio-actuators: bioLogic. 2015) and (MIT Media Lab. Tangible Media Group. bioLogic. 2015)>

Apple Antitrust Decision

Apple Asks U.S. Supreme Court to Toss e-Books Antitrust Decision

Reuters | October 29, 2015

Apple Inc has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn an appellate court decision that found the iPad maker conspired with five publishers to increase e-book prices.
Apple asked the high court on Wednesday to review a June ruling that favored the U.S. Department of Justice, and found the company liable for engaging in a conspiracy that violated federal antitrust laws.

If upheld, the decision would also force Apple to pay consumers $450 million under a 2014 settlement with 33 state attorneys general and consumers that was contingent on the company's civil liability being upheld.

<more at; related links: (Apple asks Supreme Court to overturn decision in ebooks antitrust case. October 29, 2015) and (Apple loses appeal of ebooks case ruling, will pay $450 million in damages. June 30, 015)>

The 3D Printing Ecosystem

Understanding The 3D Printing Ecosystem

Andreas Bastian | October 29, 2015

[...]By shifting our perspective when regarding 3D printing, and viewing it as a system of constituent parts, we can change our understanding of its capabilities. Typically, we break the system into the following components:

  • Design: This largely means what we, the users of the technology, ask it to make for us.
  • Hardware: The machines that actually do the work of the additive processes to make physical things.
  • Materials: These include every type of resin, metal, ceramic, plastic or raw material that are turned into functional objects by 3D printing technology.
  • Software: Converts design data into fabrication data, as well as the software onboard the machines and the software that routes data to the machines.

<more at; related links: (The Coming Ecosystem of 3D Printing. June 19, 2014) and (The 3D Printing Ecosystem. Excitement in Context)>

Design Your Own Raspberry Pi

Now You Can Design Your Own Raspberry Pi

Natasha Lomas | October 28, 2015

Hardware startups building atop the Raspberry Pi microprocessor — of which there are plenty already — can now order custom tweaks to the hardware to better tailor the Pi to fit the needs of their business.
The customization service for volume Pi orders was launched yesterday with Pi manufacturer element14 providing design and manufacturing services to OEMs wanting to tweak Pi to suit the specific needs of their Pi-powered applications.

Customize Raspberry Pi

<more at; related links: (Raspberry Pi offers custom-made, mass-produced boards.. October 27, 2015)
and (Raspberry Pi Customization Service)>

Robot Riding a Bike

Bike-Riding Robot Turns Heads at Tokyo Motor Event (+Video)

Nancy Owano | October 28, 2015

Reports coming in from the Tokyo Motor Show 2015 indicated that one of the scene-stealers at this year's event has been a motorcycle-riding robot from Yamaha fittingly called Motobot.
© Yamaha
A promotional video was also published showing the robot-cycle in action ("I am Yamaha Motobot," the machine in the video said with a boy-like robot voice.)

<more at; related links: (Amazing Bike Riding Robot! Can Cycle, Balance, Steer, and Correct Itself. #DigInfo. Uploaded November 11, 2011) and (‘Created to surpass you’: Humanoid bike-riding robot unveiled (VIDEO). October 29, 2015)>

Wi-Vi: Seeing Through Walls

Wifi Networks Can Now Identify Who You Are Through Walls (+Video)

Jamie Condliffe | October 28, 2015

Who needs a peep hole when a wifi network will do? Researchers from MIT have developed technology that uses wireless signals to see your silhouette through a wall—and it can even tell you apart from other people, too.
The team from MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab are no strangers to using wireless signals to see what’s happening on the other side of a wall. In 2013, they showed off software that could use variations in wifi signal to detect the presence of human motion from the other side of a wall


<more at; related links: (MIT researchers used Wi-Fi to recognize people through walls. It can also distinguish you from other people. October 28, 2015) and (See Through Walls with Wi-Fi! Fadel Adib and Dina Kitabi. [Abstract: Wi-Fi signals are typically information carriers between a transmitter and a receiver. In this paper, we show that Wi-Fi can also
extend our senses, enabling us to see moving objects through walls and behind closed doors. In particular, we can use such signals to identify the number of people in a closed room and their relative locations. We can also identify simple gestures made behind a wall, and combine a sequence of gestures to communicate messages to a wireless receiver without carrying any transmitting device. The paper introduces two main innovations. First, it shows how one can use MIMO interference nulling to eliminate reflections off static objects and focus the receiver on a moving target. Second, it shows how one can track a human by treating the motion of a human body as an antenna array and tracking the resulting RF beam. We demonstrate the validity of our design by building it into USRP software radios and testing it in office buildings.]>

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Major Expansion of Fair Use

Victory for Users: Librarian of Congress Renews and Expands Protections for Fair Uses

Parker Higgins, Mitch Stoltz, Kit Walsh and Croynne McSherry | October 27, 2015

The new rules for exemptions to copyright's DRM-circumvention laws were issued today, and the Librarian of Congress has granted much of what EFF asked for over the course of months of extensive briefs and hearings. The exemptions we requested—ripping DVDs and Blurays for making fair use remixes and analysis; preserving video games and running multiplayer servers after publishers have abandoned them; jailbreaking cell phones, tablets, and other portable computing devices to run third party software; and security research and modification and repairs on cars—have each been accepted, subject to some important caveats.

Fair Use Is Not An Exception to Copyright, It’s Essential to Copyright
Over the past two years, as talk of copyright reform has escalated, we’ve also heard complaints about the supposed expansion of fair use, or "fair use creep.” That kind of talk woefully misunderstands how fair use works.
Fair use provides breathing space in copyright law, making sure that control of the right to copy and distribute doesn’t become control of the right to create and innovate. New technologies and services depend on the creation of multiple copies as a matter of course. At the same time, copyright terms cover works many decades old and copyrighted software appears in more and more devices. Taken together, these developments mean the potential reach of copyright may extend ever further. Fair use makes sure that the rights of the public expand at the same time, so add-on creativity and innovation can continue to thrive. In other words, “fair use creep” is an essential corollary to “copyright creep.”

<more at; related links: (2015 DMCA Rulemaking. Library of Congress 2015 DMCA 1201 Rules. October 28, 2015) and (Fair Use Is Not An Exception to Copyright, It’s Essential to Copyright. January 21, 2015)>

Trimming Liberal Arts Faculty

Liberal Arts Minus Liberal Arts Professors

Colleen Flaherty | October 29, 2015

Many liberal arts institutions across the U.S. are feeling the squeeze of declining enrollments, interest in career-related education and other factors affecting their bottom lines. So some colleges are taking drastic measures in programs cuts. But how much change is too much? Put another way, after program cut upon program cut, at what point does a liberal arts institution cease to be one?

Excerpted from

<more at; related links: (Wartburg Cuts Faculty. October 20, 2015) and (Wartburg Petition>

New Way of Computing

A New Way of Computing

Janet Gillis | October 29, 2015

Researchers from the Univ. of South Florida College of Engineering have proposed a new form of computing that uses circular nanomagnets to solve quadratic optimization problems orders of magnitude faster than that of a conventional computer.
A wide range of application domains can be potentially accelerated through this research such as finding patterns in social media, error-correcting codes to big data and biosciences.

The artist’s portrayal is an illustration of a nanomagnetic coprocessor solving complex optimization problems andhighlights the shape-engineered nanomagnet’s two unique energy minimum states – vortex and single domain. Source: 

<more at; related links: (Non-Boolean computing with nanomagnets for computer vision applications. Sanjukta Bhanja, D. K. Karunaratne, Ravi Panchumarthy, Srinath Rajaram and Sudeep Sarkar. Nature Nanotechnology (2015). doi:10.1038/nnano.2015.245. Published online October 26, 2015 [Abstract: The field of nanomagnetism has recently attracted tremendous attention as it can potentially deliver low-power, high-speed and dense non-volatile memories. It is now possible to engineer the size, shape, spacing, orientation and composition of sub-100 nm magnetic structures. This has spurred the exploration of nanomagnets for unconventional computing paradigms. Here, we harness the energy-minimization nature of nanomagnetic systems to solve the quadratic optimization problems that arise in computer vision applications, which are computationally expensive. By exploiting the magnetization states of nanomagnetic disks as state representations of a vortex and single domain, we develop a magnetic Hamiltonian and implement it in a magnetic system that can identify the salient features of a given image with more than 85% true positive rate. These results show the potential of this alternative computing method to develop a magnetic coprocessor that might solve complex problems in fewer clock cycles than traditional processors.]) and (Research Team has Findings Published in Nature Nanotechnology. Nano-scale magnets could compute complex functions significantly faster than conventional computers. October 26, 2015)>

How Much Do Libraries Pay For eBooks?

Why Do Libraries Pay More Money for e-Books?

Michael Kozlowkski - June 20, 2015

[Blogger's note: Ebook prices have some unexpected surprises, even as on ordinary consumer. I was interested in buying a science book this week, and decided when I saw the $78+ price on Amazon for paper, that I would probably not spend the money. But it turned out that iBooks had an electronic version (with some bonus animations) for $14.99. Clearly the market in ebooks is variable and pricing does not reflect production costs. Since ebooks do not make their way into secondhand bookstores and publishers restrict who can sells the ebook, we are in are more manipulated market for publishing than we have been in the past.]
I can understand the temptation for publishers who are heavily dependent on current bestsellers to up-price e-titles for libraries. When that pricing is tied to a multi-user model, there is certainly justification. With a one-patron-at-a-time model, however, it can be seen as gouging. Many librarians have pointed out to me that tying up so much of the budget on high-priced bestsellers has limited their opportunity to purchase midlist titles, even from the publisher involved. That, to me, seems counterproductive.

Libraries in Canada and the United States have been quite enamored with establishing digital collections. This includes audiobooks e-books, magazines, newspapers and video. 95% of all libraries in these two countries have an e-book collection and the costs are starting to add up. Predatory pricing by major publishers are pricing their e-books almost 500% more than the Kindle edition and libraries have had enough.
The simple truth is that there is no uniform landscape of e-book pricing for libraries. Some publishers only allow for an e-book to be borrowed 26 times before the library has to purchase it again. Others opt for the digital license to expire after a single year. Random House and Hachette charge between 100% and 500% more for an e-book over the Kindle or Nook edition.

<more at; related links: (The Ebook Pricing Wars. A former publisher's perspective.. October 20, 2015) and (Business Musings: Price Wars and Victims. August 5, 2015)>

Mobile Solutions for Providing Technology to Underserved Communities

Can Ed-Tech Inequality be Solved by Roving Buses with Wi-Fi and Loads of Equipment?

Beyond books: Libraries take to the streets with mobile computer labs, Wi-Fi, coaches

Chris Berdik | October 21, 2015

Before retired teacher Estella Pyfrom, 78, would answer questions about her “Brilliant Bus,” a computer-packed rig she drives to take education technology to Florida’s most underserved communities, she made this point: “This is not just a bus. It’s a movement.”
Pyfrom is a long way from her oft-stated dream of a Brilliant Bus in every city. But the movement is real, and it’s rolling. A growing group of leaders from nonprofits, schools and libraries have stared down that infamous “last mile” between the digital haves and have-nots and thought, “Why not drive it?”


<more at; related links: (Estella's Brilliant Bus - 2015 Tech Innovation Bus Ride: Road To #YES WE CODE • June 25 - July 6, 2015 was a success!!!) and (Connect.DC - Digital Inclusion Initiative. Mobile Tech lab)>

The Future of Hard Disk Drives

Is the death of hard disk drives in the enterprise greatly exaggerated?

Core business applications like big data will continue to need HDDs

Desire Athow | October 26, 2015

TechRadar Pro: Let's start with the key question which is the headline of this article – is the death of hard disk drives in the enterprise greatly exaggerated? And if yes, why?
Barbara Murphy: The short answer is yes. Enterprise IT is in a constant evolutionary lifecycle. What was once essential for running mission and business critical applications in the past, no longer applies to the demands of business today. While it is accepted that Flash will have significant penetration on traditional SAN systems, high capacity spinning disks will remain the storage of choice for broad cloud infrastructure.


<more at; related links: (The future of storage: 2015 and beyond. Storage technology develops in two dimensions: how it works and how it's used. 2015 will see major movements in both directions, although these will be evolutionary rather than revolutionary. January 1, 2015) and (How Tablets and Clouds may drive Hard Drive Demand. October 10, 2011)>

Promoting Literacy in Asia

The Man Teaching the World’s Kids to Read

Akram Mohammed | October 26, 2015


John Wood was employed with Microsoft and was enjoying a trek in the Himalayas in 1998, when he observed the lack of books in schools in and around Nepal. A year later, he returned to a school in Annapurna Circuit, Nepal with close to 3,000 books. Shortly after it, Wood decided to quit a prestigious position in Microsoft and decided to dedicate his time and energy towards improving the standards of education in impoverished and backward regions South East Asia and found the Room To Read (RTR) NGO. He discussed future plans of the NGO and how it is working to improve the quality of education, especially among children. Wood is the winner of 2014 World’s Children’s Honorary Award Laureate through the World’s Children’s Prize, the annual educational program for the rights of the child and democracy—often called the Children’s Nobel Prize, apart from several other awards.
Too many kids are being told that they are born at the wrong place at the wrong time. They won’t be educated, and one more generation will have to suffer poverty. Therefore, we involve children from poor backgrounds to augment the education in local government schools.

John Wood and students in the Room To Read program.Source:

<more at; related links: (Room To Read. World Change Starts with Educated Children. [About: We envision a world in which all children can pursue a quality education, reach their full potential and contribute to their community and the world. 
To achieve this goal, we focus on two areas where we believe we can have the greatest impact: literacy and gender equality in education.  We work in collaboration with communities and local governments across Asia and Africa to develop literacy skills and a habit of reading among primary school children, and support girls to complete secondary school with the life skills they’ll need to succeed in school and beyond.]) and (Room To Read)>

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

More Accessible 3D Printing

Making 3-D Printing More Accessible

Penn State University | October 22, 2015

 [...]"Initially, we were interested in creating software and a monitoring mechanism that enabled students to see the progress of a project online, as well as send digital drawings and place them in a queue. 


"The more we got into it, we focused on the plate itself—developing one that prints don't stick to and that turns out multiple parts or units, one after another, without stopping."
In 2015, Paroda and Keenan's 3-D printer plate and software won the Lemelson-MIT "Use It" Undergraduate Team Award, for which they received $10,000. 


<more at; related links: (Mobium Solutions: Solving the woes of 3D printing. October 3, 2015) and (+Video) (Mobium Solutions: The Next Dimension of 3D Printing. Make object after object without ever needing to be at your printer. 2015)>

Jessie: Newest Version of Raspberry Pi Operating System

Raspberry Pi in Education

Latest news from the Raspberrry Pi Foundation Education Team

Raspberry Pi Foundation Education | October 2015 (Issue 11)

You may have heard the exciting news that our favourite Raspberry Pi operating system has been upgraded and now comes jam-packed with extra features, modules and applications. You can find out how this benefits education below. We've also got news about the Weather Station project and some fun Halloween-themed projects from our community. 


<more at; related links: (Raspberry Pi Weather Station for Schools) and (Raspberry Pi updates Raspbian with Jessie Debian build and LibreOffice. September 30, 2015)>

A Library of Classical Sheet Music

A Library of Classical Sheet Music at Your Fingertips (+Video)

A new app gives musicians access to an extensive cloud-based library of classical sheet music on their mobile devices

Reuters | October 15, 2015

[...] Vasary is using a new app called Musica Piano which gives musicians access to a vast cloud-based library of classical sheet music. Developer Ludvig Keonemann says that while classical sheet music is available online for free, his app gives musicians a central database to locate their desired score in seconds. The app also scrolls the music as the pianist plays. Keonemann says it could prove to be a powerful learning tool as well. (SOUNDBITE) (English) PUBLISHER LUDVIG KOENEMANN SHOWING IPAD SCREEN SHOWING VIDEO RECORDING OF PUPIL PLAYING AND SCORE ON ONE PAGE AND SAYING: "So you can see the pupil or whoever playing here and you can see the score running here. We do not want to replace the teacher in the future, we want to give good tools to the teacher, so the teacher could record the video of the pupil and then compare it with professional recordings."

Currently, 25,000 pages of piano repertoire are available within Musica Piano. Eventually, this will be extended to about 1m pages. Source:

<more at; related links: (+Video) (Cloud-based sheet music platform and app launched. October 21, 2015) and (Koenemann website)>


Scientists Study Nomophobia—Fear of Being without a Mobile Phone

A new questionnaire will allow research into a modern phenomenon

Piercarlo Valdesolo | October 27, 2015

[...]This unfortunate incident [not finding phone where you expected it in your pocket] reveals two important aspects of what new research has called “nomophobia” (or, no-mobile-phone-phobia): (1) the feelings of anxiety or distress that some people experience when not having their phone (“I don’t know where my phone is!), and (2) the degree to which we depend on phones to complete basic tasks and to fulfill important needs such as learning, safety and staying connected to information and to others (“I’ll just get my phone to help me”). 


<more at; related links: (Are you suffering from Nomophobia? Find out here! September 5, 2015) and (Why you shouldn’t confuse ‘nomophobia’ with an actual addiction to smartphones. May 19, 2015)>

Archivists and Outdated Technology

Northwestern Archivists Aim to Resurrect Outdated Technology

Grace Wong | October 26, 2015

[...]For years, archivists have combed through papers and books to capture life at a specific point in time or a famous person's work. With digital technology advancing rapidly and devices becoming outdated even quicker, the need to come up with strategies on preserving the nonphysical becomes urgent.

After exhausting other options, library archivists are encouraging the public to empty junk drawers and send in outdated cords through their zombie-themed #UndeadTech campaign. Their hope is to raise awareness about the challenges they face in preserving history and reach out to the public to help them resurrect devices such as Black's.

<more at; related links: (#undeadtech) and (U.S. May Quit Giving Aid for Outdated Technology. March 17, 2014)>

Where Textbooks Have Gone

No More Pencils, No More Books (+Video)

Artificially intelligent software is replacing the textbook—and reshaping American education.

Will Oremus | October 25, 2015

Eighteen students file into a brightly lit classroom. Arrayed around its perimeter are 18 computers. The students take their seats, log in to their machines, and silently begin working. At a desk in the back, the instructor’s screen displays a series of spreadsheets and data visualizations to help her track each student’s progress in real time.

This isn’t a Vulcan finishing school or a scene from some Back to the Future sequel. It’s Sheela Whelan’s pre-algebra class at Westchester Community College in Valhalla, New York.
The students in Whelan’s class are all using the same program, called ALEKS.
<more at; related links: (ALEKS Higher Education. [About: ALEKS Corporation is a leader in the creation of Web-based, artificially intelligent, educational software. ALEKS assessment and learning technologies were originally developed by a team of cognitive scientists and software engineers at the University of California, Irvine, with major funding from the National Science Foundation. ALEKS is founded on groundbreaking research in mathematical cognitive science known as Knowledge Space Theory.  Through adaptive questioning, ALEKS accurately assesses a student's knowledge state and then delivers targeted instruction on the exact topics the student is most ready to learn. ALEKS has been used by millions of students in over 100 different mathematics, science, and business courses at thousands of K-12 schools, colleges, and universities throughout the world.]) and (The Death of Textbooks?
Artificially intelligent software is reshaping traditional teaching materials—but it's unclear what the new technology will take away from the learning experience. March 6, 2015)>

RankBrain and Google Search

Google Turning Its Lucrative Web Search Over to AI Machines
Jack Clark | October 26, 2015
[...]For the past few months, a “very large fraction” of the millions of queries a second that people type into the company’s search engine have been interpreted by an artificial intelligence system, nicknamed RankBrain, said Greg Corrado, a senior research scientist with the company, outlining for the first time the emerging role of AI in search.

RankBrain is the latest use of AI at Google. In June, researchers from the tech giant trained a computer to have conversations before posing a series of questions about technical support, general knowledge and even philosophy. Called the 'conversation model', it used context to predicte the next sentence (illustrated)
RankBrain is the latest use of AI at Google. In June, researchers from the tech giant trained a computer to have conversations before posing a series of questions about technical support, general knowledge and even philosophy. Called the 'conversation model', it used context to predicte the next sentence (illustrated). Source:

<more at (Google uses artificial intelligence to handle searches: RankBrain makes 'educated guesses' about new queries. Google has developed AI called RankBrain to handle obscure queries. Around 15% of its 3.5 billion daily searches have not been seen before. Search algorithms rank sites based on hundreds of different criteria. RankBrain instead makes 'educated guesses' about what words mean and can learn from its mistakes. October 26, 2015) and (Google is using an AI called 'RankBrain' to answer ambiguous questions. October 26, 2015)>

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Undersea Internet Cables

The U.S. Worries Russia Will Cut Undersea Internet Cables During Times of Conflict

Venturebeat | October 25, 2015

The presence of Russian submarines and spy ships near undersea cables carrying most global Internet communications has U.S. officials concerned that Russia could be planning to sever the lines in periods of conflict, the New York Times reported on Sunday.
The Times said there was no evidence of cable cutting but that the concerns reflected increased wariness among U.S. and allied officials over growing Russian military activity around the world.

According to a report in the New York Times, the ships and submarines are aggressively operating around these cables – a move that has a few anxious that the Russians plan to attack those lines. Source:

<more at; related links: (Russian Ships Near Data Cables Are Too Close for U.S. Comfort. October 25, 2015) and (US fears Russian submarines cutting undersea internet cables. October 26, 2015)>

Brain-Machine Interfaces

Scientists Connect Brain to a Basic Tablet—Paralyzed Patient Googles With Ease

Shelly Fan | October 25, 2015

For patient T6, 2014 was a happy year.
That was the year she learned to control a Nexus tablet with her brain waves, and literally took her life quality from 1980s DOS to modern era Android OS.
A brunette lady in her early 50s, patient T6 suffers from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease), which causes progressive motor neuron damage. Mostly paralyzed from the neck down, T6 retains her sharp wit, love for red lipstick and miraculous green thumb. What she didn’t have, until recently, was the ability to communicate with the outside world.

A woman using a brain- computer interface (BCI) at the Hannover Messe industrial trade fair in Germany.  Source:

<more at; related links: (Brain-computer interaction: Transforming our networked future? 2015) and (A Brain-Computer Interface That Works Wirelessly. A wireless transmitter could give paralyzed people a practical way to control TVs, computers, or wheelchairs with their thoughts. January 14, 2015)>

Tighter Scrutiny of Federal Grant Applications

Grant Programs Get Persnickety

Karen Markin | October 21, 2015

To tame a rising tide of grant proposals, federal agencies are becoming sticklers about enforcing their application requirements — stating deadlines in hundredths of seconds and using software to prevent the submission of error-riddled applications.


<more at; related links: (New Rules! Here’s what you need to know about the federal government’s new grant regulations. March 19, 2014) and (Higher Ed Lobby Quietly Joins For-Profit Schools to Roll Back Tighter Rules. Traditional colleges and universities have become unlikely allies of the beleaguered for-profit industry as each group tries to fend off the government’s push for more accountability. May 5, 2015)>

Tech Giants Oppose New EU Laws

Tech Giants Sign Letter Against EU Laws To Hand Huge New Powers To ISPs

Mike Butcher | October 26, 2015

[Blogger's note: Update to this story. European Parliament votes against net neutrality amendments. BBC News. ‎2 hours ago‎. The European Parliament has voted against a set of rules intended to safeguard "net neutrality" in the EU. A series of amendments to a regulation on how internet traffic is managed in Europe were all rejected by MEPs.]
New European legislation which threatens net neutrality is set to go before the EU Parliament Tuesday. The EU is planning new rules it claims will ‘protect’ Net neutrality, but a leading legal expert says it will in fact do the exact opposite.
Stanford Law Professor Barbara van Schewick, also Director of the Stanford Center for Internet and Society, has collated signatures from almost 50 tech giants, startups and investors for an open letter which will be sent to EU legislators today.


<more at; related links: (Letter dated October 25, 2015 [updated version]) and (Final Countdown to Save the Internet)>

Amazon Warehouse Drones Double in Number

Amazon Has Doubled the Number of Robots in its Warehouses to 30,000

Jordan Novet | October 22, 2015

Amazon today provided new information about robots working inside of its facilities. The ecommerce company now has 30,000 Kiva robots working in its fulfillment centers, an executive said during Amazon’s quarterly call with investors today.
That number is up from 15,000 at the end of 2014, said the executive, Phil Hardin, Amazon’s director of investor relations.

<more at; related links: (Amazon beats expectations with $0.17 EPS and revenue of $25.4B. October 22, 2015) and (Army of robots to invade Amazon warehouses. May 22, 2014)>

Films Locked in Vaults

Too Many Classic Films Remain Buried in Studios' Vaults

Michael Hiltzik | October 23, 2015

Will McKinley, a New York film writer, is dying to get his hands on a copy of "Alias Nick Beal," a 1949 film noir starring Ray Milland as a satanic gangster. For classic film blogger Nora Fiore, the Grail might be "The Wild Party" (1929), the first talkie to star 1920's "It" girl Clara Bow, directed by the pioneering female director Dorothy Arzner. Film critic Leonard Maltin says he'd like to score a viewing of "Hotel Haywire," a 1937 screwball comedy written by the great comic director Preston Sturges.

Produced by Paramount Studios, these are all among 700 titles assumed to be nestled in the vaults of Universal Pictures, which inherited Paramount's 1930s and 1940s film archive from its forebear MCA, which acquired the collection in 1958. They're frustratingly near at hand but out of reach of film fans and cinephiles.

<more at; related links: (Paramount Film Releases Full-Length Movies On YouTube. October 7, 2015) and (Warner Archive. Stream Classic TV and hard-to-find movies.)>

Squeezing Light

Scientists Can Now “Squeeze” Light, a Breakthrough That Could Make Computers Millions of Times Faster

Olivia Goldhill | October 25, 2015

Have you ever wondered why we don’t use light to transmit messages? Nothing can travel faster than the speed of light, but while we use light to carry signals along fiber optic cables, we use electrons to process sound and information in our phones and computers. The reason has always been because light particles–photons—are extremely difficult to manipulate, whereas electrons can be manipulated relatively easily.
But now a group of Harvard physicists has taken a major step toward solving that puzzle, and have brought us one step closer to ultra-fast, light-based computers.


<more at; related links: (On-chip zero-index metamaterials. Yang Li, Shota Kita, Philip Muñoz, Orad Reshef, Daryl I. Vulis, Mei Yin, Marko Lončar and Eric Mazur. Nature Photonics (2015). doi:10.1038/nphoton.2015.198. Published online October 19, 2015. [Abstract: Metamaterials with a refractive index of zero exhibit physical properties such as infinite phase velocity and wavelength. However, there is no way to implement these materials on a photonic chip, restricting the investigation and application of zero-index phenomena to simple shapes and small scales. We designed and fabricated an on-chip integrated metamaterial with a refractive index of zero in the optical regime. Light refracts perpendicular to the facets of a prism made of this metamaterial, directly demonstrating that the index of refraction is zero. The metamaterial consists of low-aspect-ratio silicon pillar arrays embedded in a polymer matrix and clad by gold films. This structure can be fabricated using standard planar processes over a large area in arbitrary shapes and can efficiently couple to photonic integrated circuits and other optical elements. This novel on-chip metamaterial platform opens the door to exploring the physics of zero index and its applications in integrated optics.]) and (Squeezed Light.)>

Monday, October 26, 2015

A Good Password

You’ve Been Misled About What Makes a Good Password

Common advice on how to make a strong password is misleading, according to a new study of password-guessing techniques.

Tom Simonite | October 19, 2015

“Password must include upper and lowercase letters, and at least one numeric character.” A common scold dished out by websites or software when you open an account or change a password—and one that new research suggests is misleading.
A study that tested state-of-the-art password-guessing techniques found that requiring numbers and uppercase characters in passwords doesn’t do much to make them stronger. Making a password longer or including symbols was much more effective.


This 11-year-old is selling cryptographically secure passwords for $2 each. Girl makes Diceware passwords, rolled with real dice, written by hand, sent by mail. Source: 

<more at; related links: (Monte Carlo Strength Evaluation: Fast and Reliable Password Checking. Frederico Dell'Amico and Maurizio Fillippone. October 2015. [Summary: Modern password guessing attacks adopt sophisticated probabilistic techniques that allow for orders of magnitude less guesses to succeed compared to brute force. Unfortunately, best practices and password strength evaluators failed to keep up: they are generally based on heuristic rules designed to defend against obsolete brute force attacks. Many passwords can only be guessed with significant effort, and motivated attackers may be willing to invest resources to obtain valuable passwords. However, it is eminently impractical for the defender to simulate expensive attacks against each user to accurately characterize their password strength. This paper proposes a novel method to estimate the number of guesses needed to find a password using modern attacks. The proposed method requires little resources, applies to a wide set of probabilistic models, and is characterised by highly desirable convergence properties. The experiments demonstrate the scalability and generality of the proposal. In particular, the experimental analysis reports evaluations on a wide range of password strengths, and of state-of-the-art attacks on very large datasets, including attacks that would have been prohibitively expensive to handle with existing simulation-based approaches.]) and (This 11-year-old is selling cryptographically secure passwords for $2 each. Girl makes Diceware passwords, rolled with real dice, written by hand, sent by mail. October 25, 2015)>