New submitter SessionExpired writes "Five 9th graders from Denmark have shown that garden cress won't germinate when placed near a router (Google Translation of Danish original). Article text is in Danish, but the pictures illustrate their results. The exact mechanism is still unknown (Danish original), but experts have shown interest in reproducing the experiment."
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Today eight members of the U.S. Congress have sent a letter to Google's Larry Page, asking him to address a number of privacy concerns about Google Glass. In the letter (PDF), they brought up the company's notorious Street View data collection incident, and asked how the company was planning to avoid a similar privacy breach with Glass. They also ask how Google is going to build Glass to protect the privacy of non-users who may not want their every public move to be recorded. Further, they ask about the security of recordings once they are made: "Will Google Glass have the capacity to store any data on the device itself? If so, will Google Glass implement some sort of user authentication system to safeguard stored data? If not, why not?" Google has until July 14th to respond.
Nerval's Lobster writes "At this week's Google I/O in San Francisco, Google CEO Larry Page stood onstage and took unscripted questions from an auditorium of conference attendees. That's an unusual move for any chief executive, the sort of thing that risks giving their PR people a heart attack. But Page wasn't up there to offer insights into strategy or drop hints about upcoming products: he wanted to talk about how negativity in the tech industry stood in the way of innovation. 'Despite the faster change we have in the industry, we're still moving slow relative to the opportunities that we have,' he said. 'And some of that, I think, has to do with the negativity. Every story I read about Google, it's us versus some other company or some stupid thing.' Being negative, he added, is not how the tech industry makes progress. But minutes later, Page couldn't resist swiping at Oracle and Microsoft. And Google's battles are just one small element in the circular firing squad that comprises most of the tech industry: Apple versus Google versus Samsung versus Microsoft versus Oracle versus Salesforce versus lots of little startups. Those battles won't fade away anytime soon, because corporations have one goal: profit. And so long as other rivals' technological innovations or marketplace maneuvers stand in the way of that profit, the lawsuits and the CEO sniping will continue. The part of Page's talk that centered on peace and love played well to the audience at Google I/O; but it's easier to argue that the true mode of the tech industry, at its core, is Darwinian competition. Do you agree?"
alancronin sends this excerpt from ZDNet: "... the trend that brutally undercut BlackBerry phones during the past five years — the 'bring your own device' movement — is now driving significant sales of BlackBerry Enterprise Service (BES), the company's backend software. 'Our customers have been asking, "Can you just take what you've done on BlackBerry and put it on iOS and Android?"' said Pete Devenyi, BlackBerry's SVP of Enterprise Software. ... Secure Work Space will be an app in the Apple App Store and Google Play, pending approval from Apple and Google, respectively. It will include secure email, calendar, contacts, tasks, and document editing. It won't allow data leakage including copy and paste between Secure Work Space and the rest of the device. IT will be able to remotely wipe everything in the Secure Work Space without affecting any of the other apps or data on the person's device, in a BYOD scenario."
dp619 writes "The tactic of patenting open source software to guard against patent trolls and the weaponization of corporate patent portfolios is gaining momentum in the FOSS community. Organizations including the Open Innovation Network, Google and Red Hat have built defensive patent portfolios (the latter two are defending their product lines). This approach has limitations. Penn State law professor Clark Asay writes in an Outercurve Foundation blog examining the trend, 'Patenting FOSS may help in some cases, but the nature of FOSS development itself may mean that patenting some collaboratively developed inventions is inherently more difficult, if not impossible, in many others. Consequently, strategies for mitigating patent risk that rely on FOSS communities patenting their technologies include inherent limitations. It's not entirely clear how best to reform patent law in order to better reconcile it with alternative models of innovation. But in the meantime, FOSS still presents certain advantages that, while dimmed by the prospect of patent suits, remain significant.'"
jfruh writes "Larry Page revealed that he'd been suffering from a vocal cord ailment that impaired his ability to speak for more than a year. The positive feedback he got from opening up about it inspired him to tell attendees at Google I/O that we should all be less uptight about keeping our medical records private. As far as Page is concerned, pretty much the only legitimate reason for worry on this score is fear of being denied health insurance. 'Maybe we should change the rules around insurance so that they have to insure people,' he said."
Nerval's Lobster writes "But at this year's Google I/O conference in San Francisco, Google announced that it has a plan to make Google Plus users more engaged, courtesy of new features backed by a handful of data-analytics tricks. Google Plus postings now feature Google-generated hashtags that, when clicked, direct the user to related content from across their network. From a backend-infrastructure perspective, that sort of thing leans heavily on Google's semantic analysis and the ability to make the right connections between various pieces of data. Google Plus will also automatically highlight certain photos out of dozens or even hundreds of shots. Say you went on vacation to India and took some photos of your significant other in front of the Taj Mahal; Google Plus will leverage its database of information to recognize that as a prominent landmark and pluck those photos out of the pile as 'special.' In the words of that posting on the Google+ Blog: 'Your darkroom is now a Google data center.' Are all these nifty, analytics-intensive features enough to change the larger fortunes of Google Plus? That's the big question. Google has a handsome-looking platform, one that performs certain activities with a high degree of polish and zip—but is that enough to counter Facebook?"
Via Phoronix comes news that Ubuntu is revisiting replacing Firefox with Chromium as the default browser. Reasons include that Chromium is the basis of Ubuntu Touch and their new web apps platform, and using a single browser for all versions of Ubuntu would simplify maintenance. From the article: "Expressed shortcomings of switching to Google's Chromium open-source web-browser is that data migration from Firefox isn't too obvious, extensions don't migrate between browsers, Chromium isn't supported on all architectures (e.g. PowerPC), the browser doesn't work with the Orca screen reader and doesn't integrate well for accessibility reasons, there is no native PDF plug-in, and Chromium is said to have worse performance under memory pressure. There were also some concerns expressed about differences with WebApps in Chromium. ... It looks like the switch to Chromium will happen in the name of a better user experience for the desktop with Chrome/Chromium now arguably surpassing Firefox in its features and performance while pushing Chromium as the default leads to a more consistent experience across Ubuntu form factors from phones/tablets to the desktop." The Ubuntu community will have their input solicited as the next step. The Ubuntu Developer Summit session has notes and a full video of today's discussion.
First time accepted submitter Stratus311 writes "An article from The Verge shows a video leaked from Microsoft that parodies Google's Chrome ad. From the article: 'Microsoft and Google have been locked in a war of words over a YouTube Windows Phone app, but in the midst of the arguments a new Scroogled ad has emerged. Designed to be an internal-only video, a copy has somehow managed to find its way onto the web right in the middle of Google's I/O developer conference.'" "Somehow" leaked.
New submitter edanto writes "A young Irish man wrongly accused of jumping from a taxi without paying the fare has secured a judgement from an Irish court ordering the video removed from the entire Internet. Experts from Google, Youtube, Facebook, and others must tell the court in two weeks if this is technically possible. The thing is, the video is accurate, it is only a comment that wrongly identified Eoin McKeogh as the fare-jumper in the video that is inaccurate. It's not clear if the judge has made any orders about the comment."
Newegg's policy of not backing down from patent trolls, even ones as large as Alcatel-Lucent, continues to result in victory. Earlier this year, Overstock and Newegg successfully defended themselves with a jury invalidating Alcatel-Lucent's main patent used to force companies as large as Amazon to settle. Naturally, Alcatel-Lucent appealed, but the appeals court quickly ruled in favor of Newegg and Overstock.com. From Ars: "Federal Circuit judges typically take months, and occasionally years, to review the patent appeals that come before them. Briefs in this case were submitted last year, and oral arguments were held last Friday, May 10. The three-judge panel upheld Newegg's win (PDF), without comment — in just three days. ... Alcatel-Lucent dropped the case over its other two patents, desperate to get back the '131 patent that Newegg and Overstock had killed at trial. 'If they had been able to revive this patent, the litigation machine would have continued on,' Reines told Reuters after the win."
theodp writes "In 'The Design That Conquered Google,' The New Yorker's Matt Buchanan reports that 'cards' — modeled after real cards — are set to become one of the dominant ways in which Google presents certain types of information to users. The power of a card as a visual-organization metaphor according to Matias Duarte (lead designer of Android), is that 'it makes very clear the atomic unity of things; it's still flexible while creating a kind of regularity.' Hey, maybe that Bill Atkinson was really on to something with that dadgum HyperCard software of his back in the '80s!"
ananyo writes "D-Wave, the small company that sells the world's only commercial quantum computer, has just bagged an impressive new customer: a collaboration between Google, NASA and the non-profit Universities Space Research Association. The three organizations have joined forces to install a D-Wave Two, the computer company's latest model, in a facility launched by the collaboration — the Quantum Artificial Intelligence Lab at NASA's Ames Research Center. The lab will explore areas such as machine learning — useful for functions such as language translation, image searches and voice-command recognition. The Google-led collaboration is only the second customer to buy computer from D-Wave — Lockheed Martin was the first."
First time accepted submitter exomondo writes "Google has given Microsoft until May 22nd to pull their Windows Phone 8 YouTube app from the marketplace and disable it on customer devices. It not only includes a built-in ad blocker but also allows users to download videos and doesn't impose device-specific streaming restrictions outlined in the YouTube Terms Of Service. A Microsoft spokesperson said in part: 'YouTube is consistently one of the top apps downloaded by smartphone users on all platforms, but Google has refused to work with us to develop an app on par with other platforms. Since we updated the YouTube app to ensure our mutual customers a similar YouTube experience, ratings and feedback have been overwhelmingly positive. We'd be more than happy to include advertising but need Google to provide us access to the necessary APIs. In light of Larry Page's comments today calling for more interoperability and less negativity, we look forward to solving this matter together for our mutual customers.'"
CowboyRobot writes "At the recent 2013 Open Networking Summit, Google Distinguished Engineer Amin Vahdat presented 'SDN@Google: Why and How', in which he described Google's 'B4' SDN network, one of the few actual implementations of software-defined networking. Google has deployed sets of Network Controller Servers (NCSs) alongside the switches, which run an OpenFlow agent with a 'thin level of control with all of the real smarts running on a set of controllers on an external server but still co-located.' By using SDN, Google hopes to increase efficiency and reduce cost. Unlike computation and storage, which benefit from an economy of scale, Google's network is getting much more expensive each year."
Nerval's Lobster writes "The United States with its H-1B controversy isn't the only country going through that sort of immigration upheaval. As the cult of entrepreneurship spirals upward in Europe, the intricate vagaries of immigration policy on the continent are being newly scrutinized by our company-building classes. Freshly venture-backed European Internet companies want talent, and they are going to remarkable lengths to get it — but not always legally. Milo Yiannopoulos talked to whole bunch of entrepreneurs and investors in Europe about the fudges, shortcuts, workarounds and, in some cases, 'strategic decision-making' are — just about — getting their companies the talent they need. For example, one well-known Parisian venture capitalist told Milo that he knows of 'at least nine' startups in France employing developers illegally, keeping them off the books not only to avoid France's notoriously onerous labor laws but also because it would have been impossible, or simply too expensive, to import them officially."
Google's I/O annual conference is ramping up at San Francisco's Moscone Center. Last year, in the conference keynote, the company took its biggest-yet dive into hardware when it introduced the Nexus 7 tablet, Google Glass, and the ill-fated Nexus Q. The secret is out on Glass, of course: this year, there's a pavilion inside the conference center where I'm sure they'll be showing off applications for it. (Quite a few of the people in the endless lines here are wearing their own, too.) Anticipating the announcements at I/O is practically its own industry, but it's easy to guess that there will be announcements from all the major pots in which Google has its many thousands of (tapping) fingers. Android, search, Chrome, mapping, and all the other ways in which the behemoth of Mountain View is watching what you do. You can watch the keynote talk (talks, really) streamed online from the main conference link above, but this story will be updated with highlights of the announcements, as well with stories that readers contribute. Update: 05/15 16:22 GMT by T : Updates below. Update: 05/15 19:02 GMT by T :Update details: Notes (ongoing) added below on maps, gaming, the Play store, Google+, and more. And, notable, Larry Page is (at this writing) on stage, with an unannounced Q & A session.
theodp writes "Last summer, unspecified voice problems caused Google CEO Larry Page to miss Google's Annual Shareholder Meeting, the I/O conference, and a quarterly earnings call. Now, Page has come forward and revealed that he suffers from partial paralysis of each of his vocal chords, an 'extremely rare' condition. Not unlike what Sergey Brin and his wife are doing with Parkinson's research, Page and his wife will be funding and overseeing 'a significant research program' led by Dr. Steven Zeitels of Harvard Medical School."
itwbennett writes "We've all had a chuckle over Google's autocomplete results for various search queries. But one German businessman had a less funny experience when he searched for his name on Google.de: The autocomplete suggested search terms where his name was tied with 'Scientology' and 'fraud' (in German, of course). This was back in 2010. In 2012, a German court ruled that the autocomplete terms did not infringe the plaintiff's privacy. Now, a year later, the Federal Court of Justice in Karlsruhe has overturned that ruling and ordered that Google remove offensive search suggestions when notified."
kkleiner writes "The first NeuroGaming Conference and Expo took place at the beginning of May to showcase the convergent technologies that are paving the way toward gaming with your mind. Tech news has been dominated with stories about Google Glass and the Oculus Rift, which was on display for attendees to test out. Other technologies that utilize EEG are opening up possibilities of a controller-free gaming experience into virtual realities with unlimited potential. 'Deeper questions surrounding the morality of neurogames will be sure to stir debate. As virtual reality technology inches closer to lifelike resolution, should gamers simulate themselves as characters engaged in acts of violence or criminal activity? It’s unpredictable what these games could uncover about the user as neurogames gain insight into a users’ psyche and how they respond to stimuli at a subconscious level. For instance, a game could uncover how its user particularly enjoys shooting at civilians in gameplay. Games might even become expert at diagnosing psychiatric disorders. As computers become exponentially more powerful, game resolution could fully mimic our ever-present reality.'"