An anonymous reader writes "A New Zealand backpacker stripped of all electrical equipment at Auckland airport suggests attending a London talk on cyber-security following the Edward Snowden leaks may be to blame. Samuel Blackman was returning home for Christmas on 11 December from London Heathrow to Auckland via San Francisco when a customs officer at his final destination took the law graduate's two smartphones, iPad, external hard drive and laptop, demanding the passwords for all devices." For a quieter version, see also The New Zealand Herald.
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KentuckyFC writes "During the Cold War, the US and the Soviet Union battled on many fronts to demonstrate their superior technical and scientific achievements. While the race to put a human in space and then on the Moon is famous, a much less well-known battlefront was the unconventional science of parapsychology, or psychotronics as the Soviets called it. Now a new review of unconventional research in the Soviet Union reveals the scale of this work for the first time and the cost: as much as $1 billion. The Soviets had programs studying how "human energy" could influence other objects and how this energy could be generated independently of humans using a device called 'cerpan'. The Soviets also had a mind control program similar to the CIA's infamous MKULTRA project. Interestingly, the Soviets included non-local physics in this work, such as the Aharonov-Bohm effect in which an electromagnetic field can influence a particle confined to region where the field strength is zero. And they built a number of devices that exploited the effect, although research in this area appears to have ended in 2003."
dotarray writes "The world's first professional StarCraft II gamer has been granted a five-year pro athlete visa for the United States, making Kim 'viOLet' Dong Hwan the first of his kind. viOLet was one of the first gamers to apply for the P-1A visa when they were introduced in July. The new paperwork doesn't mean that he can live permanently in the U.S., but it does mean he'll be treated like other (more traditional) athletes, able to easily enter the country temporarily to participate in tournaments."
astroengine writes "A coolant system glitch on the International Space Station has forced several of the orbital outpost's modules offline as astronauts and ground control manage the problem. The crew are not in danger and ground control teams are currently working to see how best to troubleshoot. The issue, that occurred early on Wednesday, focuses on one of the space station's two external ammonia cooling loops, along which the station's electrical systems use to regulate their temperatures. The loop 'automatically shut down when it reached pre-set temperature limits,' said NASA in a statement. It is thought that a flow control valve in the ammonia pump itself may have malfunctioned."
PolygamousRanchKid writes "Thousands of German users that have used a porn website to stream shows have received threatening letters from a local law firm demanding €250 ($344) per certain watched clips, Chip.de reports. Apparently, a Swiss-based firm that owns the content hosted by porn site Redtube has tasked a law firm with collecting fines for each of its shows that was streamed online in the region. The law firm has apparently received a go ahead from a local court, and as many as ten thousand warnings may have been set to users, for porn shows watched in August."
jones_supa writes "Details are shaping up of a plan for a new government-backed high capacity data cable between Germany and Finland, routed through the Baltic Sea. The project to significantly upgrade Finland's international data transfer capacity has long been high on the government's list of priorities. It could improve the country's competitiveness in ICT technologies and digital services. Following a meeting of the cabinet's economic policy committee on Wednesday, Pekka Haavisto, the minister responsible for state ownership steering, told the press that the state will take part in the venture as a partial owner. The estimated cost of the undersea data cable project is around 100 million euros. Haavisto said that roughly one third of the costs could be paid by the state, another third by institutional investors and the remainder by private companies. So far, all data transmission to Finland has taken place via the Øresund Bridge, that is through Denmark and Sweden."
wiredmikey writes "Business for Switzerland's 55 data centers is booming. They benefit from the Swiss reputation for security and stability, and some predict the nation already famous for its super-safe banks will soon also be known as the world's data vault. For example, housed in one of Switzerland's numerous deserted Cold War-era army barracks, one high-tech data center is hidden behind four-ton steel doors built to withstand a nuclear attack — plus biometric scanners and an armed guard. Such tight security is in growing demand in a world shaking from repeated leaks scandals and fears of spies lurking behind every byte."
An anonymous reader writes "The decades-old Rambus litigation against Micron for RDRAM tech finally reached a settlement. RDRAM tech has already been licensed by NVidia and Broadcom and has been used in game consoles such as the Nintendo 64. The preliminary deal is to last 7 years and net $280M for Rambus and Micro to gain access to patent licenses defining the technology."
Lemeowski writes "Honeybees are disappearing at an alarming rate, with a third of U.S. honeybees vanishing last year. Since bees pollinate many fruits and vegetables, the disappearance of honeybees could cause the United States to lose $15 billion worth of crops, and even change the American diet. The honey bee disappearance is called Colony Collapse Disorder, a serious problem of bees abruptly leaving their hives. A new open source effort called the Open Source Beehives project hopes to help by creating "a mesh network of data-generating honey bee colonies for local, national, and international study of the causes and effects of Colony Collapse Disorder." Collaborators have created two beehive designs that can be downloaded for free and milled using a CNC machine, then filled with sensors to track bee colony health."
New submitter Retron writes "The BBC brings news that British retailer Zavvi mistakenly sent out PlayStation Vitas to people who had preordered a game called Tearaway. The company is now threatening legal action against those who have kept theirs despite a request to return them. It's unclear whether the Distance Selling Act protects consumers who have mistakenly been sent an expensive item, and forums such as Eurogamer seem divided on the issue."
sfcrazy writes "Valve Software, creator of Half-Life and Left 4 Dead, has announced that SteamOS will be available for public download on December 13. That's the day when the company will start shipping Steam Machines and Steam Controllers to the 300 selected beta participants. The company said, 'SteamOS will be made available when the prototype hardware ships. It will be downloadable by individual users and commercial OEMs. (But unless you're an intrepid Linux hacker already, we're going to recommend that you wait until later in 2014 to try it out.)"
netbuzz writes "It's been a year since the FCC implemented the CALM Act, a law that prohibits broadcasters from blasting TV commercials at volumes louder than the programming. Whether the ban has worked or not depends on who you ask. The FCC notes that formal complaints about overly loud commercials are on the decline in recent months, but those complaints have totaled more than 20,000 over the past year."
Lev13than writes "Canada Post is phasing out urban home delivery, raising the price of a letter to $1 and cutting 8,000 jobs to cope with dwindling volume and a projected loss of $1B/year by 2020. About 1/3 of Canadian homes currently get mail delivered to their door. Deliveries will remain weekdays-only and business will be unaffected (at least for now). Much like the USPS, Canada Post is mandated to be self-funded, but 5% annual volume declines and rising costs are taking their toll."
doom writes "Charles Stross has announced that there won't be a third book in the Halting State trilogy because reality (in a manner of speaking) has caught up to him too fast The last straw was apparently the news that the NSA planted spies in networked games like WoW. Stross comments: 'At this point, I'm clutching my head. Halting State wasn't intended to be predictive when I started writing it in 2006. Trouble is, about the only parts that haven't happened yet are Scottish Independence and the use of actual quantum computers for cracking public key encryption (and there's a big fat question mark over the latter-- what else are the NSA up to?).'"
New submitter srobert writes "An article at Ars Technica explains how, following stories of NSA leaks, FreeBSD developers will not rely solely on Intel's or Via's chip-based random number generators for /dev/random values. The values will first be seeded through another randomization algorithm known as 'Yarrow.' The changes are effective with the upcoming FreeBSD 10.0 (for which the first of three planned release candidates became available last week)."