jfruh writes "Adscend Media, which has been making up to $20M a year from so-called 'likejacking' spam on Facebook, has reached an agreement with the Attorney General of Washington to stop those activities and pay $100,000 in court costs. Among other nefarious techniques, Adscend would overlay Facebook 'like' buttons with provocative photos to spread links to ads from which Adscend would earn referral fees. Adscend also settled out of court with Facebook for an undisclosed amount."
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itwbennett writes "Peter Smith has done the math on Microsoft's $99 Xbox 360 — 4GB model (no hard drive) and a Kinect sensor. Here's why it's a bad deal: 'You'll be paying $99 + $359.76 in monthly fees, or $458.76 over the course of two years. Compare that with (I'm using prices from Amazon that were accurate as of May 7th, 2012) $287.70 for an Xbox 360 4GB + Kinect bundle, and two 12-month Xbox Live Gold cards at $48.41 each, a total of $384.52. So you're paying almost $75 for the privilege of laying out small cash now.' And then there's the not insignificant matter of early termination fees."
New submitter dandv writes with a story from VentureBeat about another entry in the race to escape national jurisdiction by offshoring work — literally offshoring, that is : "Blueseed is a Silicon Valley company that plans on launching a cruise ship 30 minutes from the coast of California, housing startup entrepreneurs from around the world. These startuppers won't need to bother with U.S. visas, because the ship will be in international waters. They'll have to pay tax to whatever country they're incorporated in, though. So far, 146 startups said they'd like to come to the ship."
udas writes "Two thirds of the world's population, 4 billion people, use cell phones today, and all of them have access to SMS. Groupe Spécial Mobile (GSM), set up in 1982, created the GSM standard, leading to a unified, open, standard-based mobile network. SMS, up to 160 7-bit character messages sent over control channels (when they aren't busy), was part of the original GSM specification itself. The first GSM handsts were approved for sale in May 1992. But it was not until 1996, when pay-as-you-go SIM cards showed up, and the kids got their hands on it, that SMS gained popularity."
Fluffeh writes "The Heartland Institute is a lovely group of folks who take issue with mainstream climate science. They organize an annual get-together of like minded folk and talk trash about environmental change. 'The people who still believe in man-made global warming are mostly on the radical fringe of society.' (That's from a press release!). Recently, when they were tricked by a researcher into sending him a lot of internal documents, they decided to go on the offensive and also get some more media attention. After all, any story is a good story, right? Launching a billboard with the Unabomber on it with the slogan 'I still believe in Global Warming. Do You?' was just the start, with the institute planning Fidel Castro, Charles Manson and possibly even Osama Bin Laden. That's when even their stout backers threatened to walk away, backing started to dry up — and it seems that common sense started to prevail — but only so far as to stop them from making their message too public."
Hugh Pickens writes "How has a 78-ton boulder traveled 130 meters inland from the sea since 1991? Live Science reports that geologists have puzzled for years over the mysterious boulders that litter the desolate coastline of Ireland's Aran Islands that somehow move on their own when no one is looking. The sizes of the boulders in the formations range 'from merely impressive to mind-bogglingly stupendous,' writes geoscientist Rónadh Cox. While some researchers contend that only a tsunami could push these stones, new research finds that plain old ocean waves, with the help of some strong storms, do the job. Some boulders move inland at an average rate of nearly 3 meters per decade, with one rock moving 3.5 meters vertically and 69 meters horizontally in one year. The team compared modern high-altitude photos of the coastline to a set of meticulous maps from 1839 that identified the location of the boulders' ridges — nearly 100 years after the most recent tsunami to hit the region, which struck in 1755. The Aran cliffs rise nearly vertically out of the Atlantic (video), leaving very deep water close to the shore. As waves slam into the sheer cliff, that water is abruptly deflected back out toward the oncoming waves. This backflow may amplify subsequent waves resulting an occasional storm wave that is much larger than one would expect. 'There's a tendency to attribute the movement of large objects to tsunami,' says Cox. 'We're saying hold the phone. Big boulders are getting moved by storm waves.'"
sciencehabit writes "A new study reveals that people who grow up in more rural environments are less likely to develop allergies. The reason may be that environments rich with species harbor more friendly microbes, which colonize our bodies and protect against inflammatory disorders." From the article: "To test whether or not biodiversity does indeed create a shield against such conditions, the team investigated the microbial diversity of 118 teenagers. The study participants, who had lived in the same houses their whole lives, were chosen at random from a 100-by-150-kilometer block in eastern Finland. Some kids lived on rural, isolated farms, while others lived in larger towns. ... surveyed all of the types of plants growing around the adolescents' homes. The participants were part of a separate long-term allergy study, so the researchers took advantage of that data to investigate the connection between biodiversity and allergies. ... Whether there is just something special about Finland's native plants or whether this finding can be applied around the world is still an open question, Hanski says. 'Many research groups worldwide could easily attain these data from their study populations, and then we'd know how general these results might be.'"
taskforce writes "There are good reasons to think web services like Facebook won't be around forever. If Facebook ever were to go down there would be potentially huge costs to its users. We can all take individual steps to protect our data and social network, but is there anything we can do to our economy to mitigate the costs of the failure of these services? The Red Rock looks at the role open source, open standards, consumer cooperatives, and enterprise reform can play. The author concludes that all is not lost, and that there's a lot we can do to reduce both the cost and frequency of failure." His suggestions are pretty radical: "The first is draw up an Open Data Bill and pass it into law. This would (where applicable) mandate the use of open standards by firms, and also mandate that all data held about a user is downloadable by that user, in an open standard. ... The second is to reform the corporate structure of larger companies to include some directors elected by consumers, rather than just shareholders. Not all the directors, like in the Cooperative Group, and not even a majority, but just a small portion of the board — say one third."
New submitter _prime writes "Until recently the mechanism by which cells make proteins in low-oxygen environments has been unknown. As published in Nature (paywall) this week, the discovery of the mechanism by an Ottawa-based team of researchers potentially means it could be 'very easy to kill cancer cells' without harming normal cells because cancer cells leverage the same low-oxygen protein synthesis mechanism even in the presence of normal oxygen levels."
An anonymous reader writes with an excerpt from Phoronix: "Chris Kenyon, the VP of sales and business development for Canonical, just spoke this afternoon at the Ubuntu 12.10 Developer Summit about what Canonical does with OEMs and ODMs. He also tossed out some rather interesting numbers about the adoption of Ubuntu Linux. Namely, Ubuntu will ship on 5% of worldwide PC sales with a number of 18 million units annually."
An anonymous reader writes "The U.S. military is developing its next generation bomber with Chinese anti-access strategy — the ability to stop any enemy force from coming to fight with things like carrier killer missiles — in mind. The new bomber will replace older platforms like the 1950's B-52, the 1970's B-1, and 1990's B-2 stealth bomber. The new bomber will sport some unique qualities. It will have an option to be unmanned, will act similar to a UAV, have better stealth capabilities, will be connected to U.S. intelligence networks to create a 'smart' battlefield environment, and have near unlimited range thanks to in-air refueling."
Fluffeh writes "On Monday, the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles approved Google's license application to test autonomous vehicles on the state's roads. The state had approved such laws back in February, and has now begun issuing licenses based on those regulations. The state previously outlined that companies that want to test such vehicles will need an insurance bond of $1 million and must provide detailed outlines of where they plan to test it and under what conditions. Further, the car must have two people in it at all times, with one behind the wheel who can take control of the vehicle if needed. The Autonomous Review Committee of the Nevada DMV is supervising the first licensing procedure and has now approved corresponding plates to go with it, complete with a red background and infinity symbol."
An opinion piece at Gamasutra takes a look at the recent success of Kickstarter campaigns for video game projects — Double Fine's adventure game and a sequel to Wasteland each raised around $3 million. Hundreds of other projects have sprung up, hoping to replicate that success — but will it last? From the article: "I am convinced that Tim Schafer and his team at Double Fine know how to deliver a game (mostly) on time and (mostly) on budget. Brian Fargo too. Is that true for all 314 of the current Kickstarter projects? What about the projects which get started but never finished? If publishers like LucasArts can cancel games that are almost finished or like Codemasters can pay for a game it never saw, what certainty do pledgers have that the game that they have paid for will ever see the light of day? We are still in the early days of our Kickstarter relationship, the early days of falling in love. Everything our partner does is wonderful. We gloss over the risks, we ignore the downsides, because the glory of falling in love is everything. I think we have about six months left of that period. Towards the end of this year, some Kickstarter projects are going to start slipping. Some will see their teams collapse amidst bicker recriminations. Some pledgers are going to start getting very angry."
Hugh Pickens writes "Dave Lindorff writes in the LA Times that growing numbers of students are discovering their old school is actively blocking them from getting a job or going on to a higher degree by refusing to issue an official transcript. The schools won't send the transcripts to potential employers or graduate admissions office if students are in default on student loans, or in many cases, even if they just fall one or two months behind. It's no accident that they're doing this. It turns out the federal government 'encourages' them to use this draconian tactic, saying that the policy 'has resulted in numerous loan repayments.' It is a strange position for colleges to take, writes Lindorff, since the schools themselves are not owed any money — student loan funds come from private banks or the federal government, and in the case of so-called Stafford loans, schools are not on the hook in any way. They are simply acting as collection agencies, and in fact may get paid for their efforts at collection. 'It's worse than indentured servitude,' says NYU Professor Andrew Ross, who helped organize the Occupy Student Debt movement last fall. 'With indentured servitude, you had to pay in order to work, but then at least you got to work. When universities withhold these transcripts, students who have been indentured by loans are being denied even the ability to work or to finish their education so they can repay their indenture.'"