Nexus 4′s Android 4.4 KitKat OTA download links now available

Nexus 4

For those of you who just can't stand waiting for the Nexus 4 Android 4.4 KitKat update to roll out over the air — but who also don't have an unlocked bootloader, here's your quick path to updating.

XDA's got the manual install URLs for the update, which you can apply through adb sideload in recovery. And what's more is that there's an update path for phones still on Jelly Bean — and one as well for first factory image (KRT16O) that was made available but recently replaced by a new version (KRT16S).

Here are the links:

Source: XDA-Developers


    







Source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/androidcentral/~3/MjpISCT1Ek0/story01.htm
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Sony’s Mark Cerny: Game developers have been calling for the PS4 since 2008 (video)

According to the PlayStation 4′s Lead Architect Mark Cerny, his team’s biggest breakthrough wasn’t in raw hardware power; it was something much more basic: conversation. At this week’s New York City review event for the next-generation game console, Cerny detailed the six-year journey to creating the PS4, and the surprisingly low-tech revelation that could be the biggest difference between the new system and the PlayStation 3, which was notoriously difficult to program for.

“It looks so obvious in retrospect. Our big breakthrough, what is it? We talked to some people who made games about what sort of hardware they’d like to make their games on,” he said. “But that isn’t the way that hardware was developed!”

Cerny said this is a tradition dating back to the days of yore with the Atari 2600, where the hardware team itself would come up with a system without any input from the people who would actually be using it to make games. “They would basically never interact with the software team. They would make documentation and hand it off to developer support, and developer support would take it from there,” he said.

“It was clear that we could do it a bit better.”

While he’s been working on PlayStation hardware ever since he fast-talked Sony’s third-party liaisons out of an SDK in 1994, Cerny had come into the PS3′s design phase after the powerful, but difficult-to-use Cell processor had been already implemented. By that time, the team had moved on to figuring out its plan for the system’s graphics.

“It wasn’t until I was a major contributor to the console side that I got to see how the team worked. What I thought is I’d be able to learn all about the hardware and take that info back to the States and we’d have better games as a result,” he said. History would prove otherwise. “So the PS3 comes out and it has a weak launch lineup, of course, due to the hardware being rather difficult to use,” he said. That planted the seeds for change with the PS4.

“If you look at the user experience and the social aspects, that has accelerated (sic),” but the underlying console hardware has reached a point of stability, Cerny said. That constancy, coupled with the general evolution of video games themselves, has gotten us to the point where “it makes sense to have that kind of process” to work directly with developers during the system’s design phase.

He’d begun doing postmortems on PS3 hardware in 2007, deducing what did and didn’t work. This played into figuring out what the PS4 would look like in terms of components. “I just started thinking there was a better way,” he said. However, creating a console doesn’t take six years. According to Cerny, it takes four. Still, he refers to that lead up as an “amazingly long amount of time” spent talking with vendors and deciding the general road map for where he wanted to take the PS4 in terms of using off-the-shelf components versus customized parts. “There was all sorts of tech out there that could be used,” he said.

Sony didn’t bring in the developers until 2008, and Cerny said he spoke with around 30 teams about what they’d want in the next PlayStation — plenty of which were outside of Sony Computer Entertainment’s internal studios. It wasn’t until 2010 that he’d synthesized those conversations into a hardware spec that the tech giant began executing on during that year.

We’re on the eve of discovering how Sony’s grand experiment will begin to play out, but if Cerny is anything other than confident, he’s hiding it well.

“The games business and the games community [have] all evolved to the point where we can be collaborative, where it really makes sense to have those conversations because we have the ability to execute on them,” he said. “We’ve learned enough about how all of this works.”

We apologize for the audio quality; we did our best to reduce the background noise, but this video was taken at a rather noisy event.

Source: http://www.engadget.com/2013/11/13/playstation-4-interview-launch-ps4/?ncid=rss_truncated
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China to ease 1-child policy, abolish labor camps

In this photo taken Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2013, a child is watched over on the streets of Beijing, China. China announced a loosening of family planning rules that limit many couples to a single child in the first substantial change to the unpopular policy in nearly three decades, as leaders seek to address a rapidly aging population. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

In this photo taken Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2013, a child is watched over on the streets of Beijing, China. China announced a loosening of family planning rules that limit many couples to a single child in the first substantial change to the unpopular policy in nearly three decades, as leaders seek to address a rapidly aging population. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

In this photo taken Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2013, a child rest in a stroller on the streets of Beijing, China. China announced a loosening of family planning rules that limit many couples to a single child in the first substantial change to the unpopular policy in nearly three decades, as leaders seek to address a rapidly aging population. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

FILE – In this Jan. 10, 2013 photo, parents play with their children at a kid’s play area in a shopping mall in Beijing. China will loosen its decades-old one-child policy and abolish a much-criticized labor camp system, its ruling Communist Party said Friday, Nov. 15, 2013. The official Xinhua News Agency said the party announced the changes in a policy document following a key, four-day meeting of party leaders that ended Tuesday in Beijing. (AP Photo/Alexander F. Yuan, File)

In this photo released by China’s Xinhua news agency, Chinese President Xi Jinping, center, and other Communist Party top leaders raise their hands to vote in the third plenary session of the 18th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, in Beijing Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2013. China’s leaders finished a closely watched policy meeting Tuesday with a promise to give market forces a bigger role in the country’s state-dominated economy but failed to produce dramatic reforms to overhaul a worn-out growth model. They are, from left, Executive Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli, Liu Yunsha, Vice Premier Zhang Dejiang, Xi, Premier Li Keqiang, Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference chairman Yu Zhengsheng and Chinese Communist Party Politburo Standing Committee member Wang Qishan. (AP Photo/Xinhua, Lan Hongguang) NO SALES

Chart compares data on population by country.; 2c x 4 inches; 96.3 mm x 101 mm;

(AP) — China’s leaders announced Friday the first significant easing of its one-child policy in nearly 30 years and moved to abolish its labor camp system — addressing deeply unpopular programs at a time when the Communist Party feels increasingly alienated from the public.

Beijing also pledged to open state-dominated industries wider to private competition and ease limits on foreign investment in e-commerce and other businesses in a sweeping reform plan aimed at rejuvenating a slowing economy.

The extent of the long-debated changes to the family planning rules and the labor camp system surprised some analysts. They were contained in a policy document issued after a four-day meeting of party leaders one year after Xi Jinping took the country’s helm.

“It shows the extent to which Xi is leading the agenda. It shows this generation of leaders is able to make decisions,” said Dali Yang, a China expert at the University of Chicago. “This is someone who’s much more decisive, who has the power, and who has been able to maneuver to make the decisions.”

Far from sweeping away all family planning rules, the party is now providing a new, limited exemption: It said families in which at least one parent was an only child would be allowed to have a second child. Previously, both parents had to be an only child to qualify for this exemption. Rural couples also are allowed two children if their first-born child is a girl, an exemption allowed in 1984 as part of the last substantive changes to the policy.

Beijing says the policy, which was introduced in 1980 and is widely disliked, has helped China by slowing population growth and easing the strain on water and other limited resources. But the abrupt fall in the birth rate is pushing up average age of the population of 1.3 billion people.

Demographers have argued that this has created a looming crisis by limiting the size of the young labor pool that must support the large baby boom generation as it retires.

“It’s great. Finally the Chinese government is officially acknowledging the demographic challenges it is facing,” said Cai Yong, an assistant professor of sociology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

“Although this is, relatively speaking, a small step, I think it’s a positive step in the right direction and hope that this will be a transition to a more relaxed policy and eventual return of reproductive freedom to the Chinese people,” Cai said.

The government credits the one-child policy introduced in 1980 with preventing hundreds of millions of births and helping lift countless families out of poverty. But the strict limits have led to forced abortions and sterilizations by local officials, even though such measures are illegal. Couples who flout the rules face hefty fines, seizure of their property and loss of their jobs.

The update on birth limits was one sentence long, with details on implementation left to the country’s family planning commission. It was unclear what might happen to children born in violation of rules, whose existence have been concealed and thus lack access to services.

Cai said some experts estimate the policy change might result in 1 million to 2 million extra births in the first few years. But he said the figure might be significantly lower because of growing acceptance of small families.

Last year, a government think tank urged China’s leaders to start phasing out the policy and allow two children for every family by 2015, saying the country had paid a “huge political and social cost.”

The China Development Research Foundation said the policy had resulted in social conflict and high administrative costs, and led indirectly to a long-term gender imbalance because of illegal abortions of female fetuses and the infanticide of baby girls by parents who cling to a traditional preference for a son.

The party also announced it would abolish a labor camp system that allowed police to lock up government critics and other defendants for up to four years without trial. It confirmed a development that had been reportedly announced by the top law enforcement official earlier this year but was later retracted.

Also known as “re-education through labor,” the system was established to punish early critics of the Communist Party but has been used by local officials to deal with people challenging their authority on issues including land rights and corruption.

Pu Zhiqiang, a prominent Beijing lawyer who has represented several former labor camp detainees in seeking compensation, welcomed the abolition of the extra-legal system.

“There have been many methods used recently by this government that are against the rule of law, and do not respect human rights, or freedom of speech,” Pu said. “But by abolishing the labor camps … it makes it much harder for the police to put these people they clamp down on into labor camps.”

“This is progress,” Pu said.

Earlier this year, state broadcaster CCTV said China has 310 labor camps holding about 310,000 prisoners and employing 100,000 staff, although some estimates range higher.

The party report also promised to improve the judicial system and help farmers become city residents. It also elaborated on the party’s previous announcement that it would set up a national security commission.

___

Associated Press reporters Didi Tang, Isolda Morillo and Ian Mader contributed to this report.

Associated PressSource: http://hosted2.ap.org/APDEFAULT/cae69a7523db45408eeb2b3a98c0c9c5/Article_2013-11-15-China-Politics/id-c4250c671e244edda920b7ae552eaea5
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ANALYSIS: Why Is ’60 Minutes’ So Tight-Lipped In Its Benghazi Apology?

How did TV’s most storied newsmagazine make such a huge mistake? And why won’t they explain exactly what happened?

Those are the questions left unanswered days after 60 Minutes correspondent Lara Logan and CBS News Chairman Jeff Fager retracted an Oct. 27 story about the terrorist attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya, that featured a suspect source: government contractor Dylan Davies.

Davies, who wrote a book under a pseudonym with a harrowing account of rushing to the scene, reportedly told a different story about that night to the FBI. When The New York Times unearthed the discrepancy last week, Logan, Fager and CBS News took back a story they had defended strenuously until then.

I don’t know the answer to the first question, about how 60 Minutes, after spending what Logan said was a year looking into the attack at Benghazi, could have missed an incident report which contradicted Davies’ stories or details of his FBI interview. Or how they could have forgotten to note Davies’ book on the subject was published by Threshold Editions, an imprint specializing in conservative-oriented nonfiction that is owned by a subsidiary of CBS Corp. (Threshold has since withdrawn the book, The Embassy House: The Explosive Eyewitness Account of the Libyan Embassy Siege by the Soldier Who Was There.)

But I suspect the answer to the second question — why Sunday’s 77-second apology on 60 Minutes included no details on how they made the mistake — can be found in a single word:

Memogate.

That’s the shorthand reference to a 2004 story then-CBS News anchor Dan Rather reported on the short-lived spin-off 60 Minutes Wednesday that was critical of President George W. Bush’s stint in the National Guard during the Vietnam War in the early ’70s.

The story came, in part, from memos supposedly written by Bush’s Guard commander at the time; after the story aired, several document experts concluded their authenticity could not be verified.

CBS News, under extreme pressure from conservative critics who already distrusted Rather, commissioned an independent report on how the mistake happened, which turned out to be highly critical of the reporting process.

When the dust cleared, the producer of the piece was fired, three other executives resigned and 60 Minutes Wednesday was cancelled. Not long afterward, both CBS News President Andrew Heyward and Rather were out the door. The anchor eventually sued the network over how he was treated, and it took years for CBS News to recover its footing.

Small wonder executives there might not want to risk a repeat by talking too much about how they made the Benghazi mistake.

Liberal critics haven’t yet taken on 60 Minutes with the same intensity that conservatives pursued Rather over Memogate, which may explain why Fager and the network have issued such limited apologies. Since Fager also serves as executive producer of 60 Minutes, it would be tougher for him to discipline others and exempt himself in this case.

Some have noted that Logan gave a passionate speech last year calling for America to “exact revenge” for the killings — not exactly the kind of detached judgment you might expect from an investigative reporter.

Still, the tight-lipped approach is not uncommon. Some other news outlets haven’t detailed why they made major errors in their reporting on other big stories, such as the search for the Boston Marathon bombers and the mass shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newton, Conn.

Much as some media critics might think such explanations help clear the air, Memogate may provide a more chilling lesson:

Perhaps the most effective way TV news outlets keep credibility with viewers after a big mistake is to just get past it as soon as possible.

Eric Deggans joined NPR this fall as its new TV critic. He has been a journalist for 23 years and a TV critic for 15. Subject him to enough tough questions, and he’ll admit he can’t stop watching Law & Order: SVU and old Everybody Loves Raymond reruns.

Source: http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2013/11/13/244985789/analysis-why-is-60-minutes-so-tight-lipped-in-its-benghazi-apology?ft=1&f=1001
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FCC will get you to tell it how fast your mobile broadband is

Remember when the FCC said that it’d be studying the best way to monitor mobile broadband speeds? A year (and a new chairman) later and it’s finally come to a conclusion: an Android app. According to the Wall Street Journal, the commission will launch FCC Speed Test next Thursday, with the aim of getting users to test their speeds in order to crowdsource accurate data nationwide. We’re excited to see if the truth stands up to the advertising, but we do wonder if Tom Wheeler couldn’t have just nicely asked Ookla for a peek at its Speedtest.net database.

Source: http://www.engadget.com/2013/11/10/fcc-broadband-speed-test-app-launch-crowdsourcing/?ncid=rss_truncated
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It’s like a party in the atmosphere!

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Contact: Laura Niles
Laura.E.Niles@nasa.gov
281-244-7069
NASA/Johnson Space Center



Ever attend a wild party with flashing lights and loud music that snowballs into a dazzling moment worth remembering? That’s something like how scientists describe the chain reactions in our atmosphere that lead to lightning. In September, researchers began using the International Space Station as a platform to study the mysterious cosmic catalyst and consequence of lightning, which may actually have origins more explosive than you might guess.

The Space Test Program-Houston 4-FireStation (STP-H4-FireStation) investigation, also simply known as FireStation, will orbit the Earth for a year attached to the outside of the space station. FireStation is sponsored by NASA and the National Science Foundation in partnership with the U.S. Department of Defense and its Space Test Program. This instrument collects data as it flies over thunderstorms, taking aim at the exciting energy exhibit to help scientists answer burning questions involving the relationship between lightning and gamma rays.

“Somewhere in the atmosphere momentarily there’s just an incredible amount of energy release and what happens in that region is something of a witch’s brew,” said Doug Rowland, principal investigator for FireStation at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. “You get antimatter created in the Earth’s atmosphere during this interaction, you get energetic neutrons that basically you never see in the quiet atmosphere, that you only associate with nuclear reactions, that are happening in our atmosphere whenever these things go off. That’s one of the first fundamental science reasons [to study this phenomenon]it’s part of our planet; we don’t understand it; we want to understand it.”

During the “atmospheric party” of a thunderstorm, clouds charge as ice crystals rub together. This dance separates them by electrical charge and weight, leading to a sudden and dramatic release of lightning. While we know this is the source of the dazzling display, scientists still don’t fully understand what initiates the process. A prevailing theory is a chain reaction called a seeded avalanche breakdown, which is where an outside energy source sets off a few energetic-free electrons within the Earth’s electron field. “The idea is that you get a cosmic ray coming in that has a million electron volts of energy and it can serve to trigger another breakdown mechanism that generates gamma rays,” said Rowland.



Seen as terrestrial gamma ray flashes (TGFs), these events are shorton the line of milliseconds, like a lightning flashbursts of gamma rays (ionizing radiation) from the Earth’s atmosphere. With a typical energy level of 1/40th of an electron volt, it is not intuitive to think of the planet as the origin of these quick flashes that have as much as 100 million electron volts. “I always thought this was a really weird idea,” said Rowland, “that your local weather, that your lightning depends on a cosmic ray that’s traveled for 150 thousand light years or a million light years from some exploding star that just set off your lightning stroke over your head.”

FireStation is capable of measuring these lightning and gamma ray flash events simultaneously to determine if TGFs are indeed generated by the electric fields during thunderstorms. The goal is to better understand the fundamental connection between the two natural phenomena. Researchers want to know what kinds of lighting produce gamma ray flashes and delve into the mechanisms of how this process takes place.

Putting FireStation on the space station allows for simultaneous readings and higher data collection than possible with the related CubeSat mission, called Firefly. Hitching a ride aboard station enables ground telemetry communications of 500 kilobits per secondfaster than most mobile phones connect to the Internetvs. the 300 bits per second possible with Firefly, which is a constraint similar to a slow modem from the 1980s. This means FireStation will be able to collect and transmit complete datasets for analysis. “On FireStation we get every single event, every single gamma ray that hits our detector, and we can sort them out on the ground using ground-based computers, so that’s a huge help,” said Rowland.

Without the specific instrument and the platform of the space station, this could have been a “chicken or the egg” type scenario. “We are measuring lightning flasheswhich has been done beforeand we are measuring gamma ray flasheswhich has been done beforebut we are doing it on the same platform, so that we can see for the same event the lighting and the gamma rays it produces,” said Rowland. “You can imagine a case where if you don’t know exactly where the events and the signals were traveling at different speeds, you might reverse the cause and effect. So having it in the same platform is new and very helpful.”

As the space station orbits the Earth and encounters a thunderstorm, FireStation collects data. This starts with the radio signals from a distance as the station approaches a storm that is still thousands of miles away. As the instrument gets closer to the storm, a gamma ray detector will capture evidence of TGFs. “We’ll start to pick up individual lightning flashes,” said Rowland, “and then maybe once in awhile we’ll see one of these TGF events lined up with a radio emission and an optical emission all close together within milliseconds of each other. We’ll say that’s a gamma ray flash event and study those.”

The FireStation instrument is made up of three components: a set of two radio wave antennas, a collection of nine photo detectors and a gamma ray detector. The two antennasa rabbit ear antenna and a magnetic loop antennameasure lightning by picking up the specific audio frequencies produced by the electromagnetic fields vibrating. This can sound something like bacon frying or similar to a whistle, depending on the type of lightning, which falls within a few kilohertz range. The gamma ray detector uses a special transparent crystal that illuminates when in contact with gamma rays. The photo detectors pick up the generated light signals as evidence of possible TGFs for researchers.

“We really want to be able to say that lightning happens 60 times a second all over the world and yet the gamma ray flashes are observed at a space of something like a few times an hour, if you globally integrate the known measurements and extrapolate the known measurement,” said Rowland. “So what is it about those lightning flashes that is unusual or special?”

With a bass system of thunder and a radiant show of lightning, an atmospheric party is the ultimate “see and be seen” event to study. While FireStation is a fundamental science mission, lightning research as a whole stands to help people on the ground in more ways than one. “There’s lots of interest in lightning research in general,” said Rowland. “If you can predict under what conditions lightning is more common or more frequent or more hazardous, you can better design your lighting protection systems and you can better design your power grid to handle lighting.”

###

Jessica Nimon

International Space Station Program Science Office

NASA’s Johnson Space Center



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6-Nov-2013

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Contact: Laura Niles
Laura.E.Niles@nasa.gov
281-244-7069
NASA/Johnson Space Center



Ever attend a wild party with flashing lights and loud music that snowballs into a dazzling moment worth remembering? That’s something like how scientists describe the chain reactions in our atmosphere that lead to lightning. In September, researchers began using the International Space Station as a platform to study the mysterious cosmic catalyst and consequence of lightning, which may actually have origins more explosive than you might guess.

The Space Test Program-Houston 4-FireStation (STP-H4-FireStation) investigation, also simply known as FireStation, will orbit the Earth for a year attached to the outside of the space station. FireStation is sponsored by NASA and the National Science Foundation in partnership with the U.S. Department of Defense and its Space Test Program. This instrument collects data as it flies over thunderstorms, taking aim at the exciting energy exhibit to help scientists answer burning questions involving the relationship between lightning and gamma rays.

“Somewhere in the atmosphere momentarily there’s just an incredible amount of energy release and what happens in that region is something of a witch’s brew,” said Doug Rowland, principal investigator for FireStation at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. “You get antimatter created in the Earth’s atmosphere during this interaction, you get energetic neutrons that basically you never see in the quiet atmosphere, that you only associate with nuclear reactions, that are happening in our atmosphere whenever these things go off. That’s one of the first fundamental science reasons [to study this phenomenon]it’s part of our planet; we don’t understand it; we want to understand it.”

During the “atmospheric party” of a thunderstorm, clouds charge as ice crystals rub together. This dance separates them by electrical charge and weight, leading to a sudden and dramatic release of lightning. While we know this is the source of the dazzling display, scientists still don’t fully understand what initiates the process. A prevailing theory is a chain reaction called a seeded avalanche breakdown, which is where an outside energy source sets off a few energetic-free electrons within the Earth’s electron field. “The idea is that you get a cosmic ray coming in that has a million electron volts of energy and it can serve to trigger another breakdown mechanism that generates gamma rays,” said Rowland.



Seen as terrestrial gamma ray flashes (TGFs), these events are shorton the line of milliseconds, like a lightning flashbursts of gamma rays (ionizing radiation) from the Earth’s atmosphere. With a typical energy level of 1/40th of an electron volt, it is not intuitive to think of the planet as the origin of these quick flashes that have as much as 100 million electron volts. “I always thought this was a really weird idea,” said Rowland, “that your local weather, that your lightning depends on a cosmic ray that’s traveled for 150 thousand light years or a million light years from some exploding star that just set off your lightning stroke over your head.”

FireStation is capable of measuring these lightning and gamma ray flash events simultaneously to determine if TGFs are indeed generated by the electric fields during thunderstorms. The goal is to better understand the fundamental connection between the two natural phenomena. Researchers want to know what kinds of lighting produce gamma ray flashes and delve into the mechanisms of how this process takes place.

Putting FireStation on the space station allows for simultaneous readings and higher data collection than possible with the related CubeSat mission, called Firefly. Hitching a ride aboard station enables ground telemetry communications of 500 kilobits per secondfaster than most mobile phones connect to the Internetvs. the 300 bits per second possible with Firefly, which is a constraint similar to a slow modem from the 1980s. This means FireStation will be able to collect and transmit complete datasets for analysis. “On FireStation we get every single event, every single gamma ray that hits our detector, and we can sort them out on the ground using ground-based computers, so that’s a huge help,” said Rowland.

Without the specific instrument and the platform of the space station, this could have been a “chicken or the egg” type scenario. “We are measuring lightning flasheswhich has been done beforeand we are measuring gamma ray flasheswhich has been done beforebut we are doing it on the same platform, so that we can see for the same event the lighting and the gamma rays it produces,” said Rowland. “You can imagine a case where if you don’t know exactly where the events and the signals were traveling at different speeds, you might reverse the cause and effect. So having it in the same platform is new and very helpful.”

As the space station orbits the Earth and encounters a thunderstorm, FireStation collects data. This starts with the radio signals from a distance as the station approaches a storm that is still thousands of miles away. As the instrument gets closer to the storm, a gamma ray detector will capture evidence of TGFs. “We’ll start to pick up individual lightning flashes,” said Rowland, “and then maybe once in awhile we’ll see one of these TGF events lined up with a radio emission and an optical emission all close together within milliseconds of each other. We’ll say that’s a gamma ray flash event and study those.”

The FireStation instrument is made up of three components: a set of two radio wave antennas, a collection of nine photo detectors and a gamma ray detector. The two antennasa rabbit ear antenna and a magnetic loop antennameasure lightning by picking up the specific audio frequencies produced by the electromagnetic fields vibrating. This can sound something like bacon frying or similar to a whistle, depending on the type of lightning, which falls within a few kilohertz range. The gamma ray detector uses a special transparent crystal that illuminates when in contact with gamma rays. The photo detectors pick up the generated light signals as evidence of possible TGFs for researchers.

“We really want to be able to say that lightning happens 60 times a second all over the world and yet the gamma ray flashes are observed at a space of something like a few times an hour, if you globally integrate the known measurements and extrapolate the known measurement,” said Rowland. “So what is it about those lightning flashes that is unusual or special?”

With a bass system of thunder and a radiant show of lightning, an atmospheric party is the ultimate “see and be seen” event to study. While FireStation is a fundamental science mission, lightning research as a whole stands to help people on the ground in more ways than one. “There’s lots of interest in lightning research in general,” said Rowland. “If you can predict under what conditions lightning is more common or more frequent or more hazardous, you can better design your lighting protection systems and you can better design your power grid to handle lighting.”

###

Jessica Nimon

International Space Station Program Science Office

NASA’s Johnson Space Center



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AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert! system.


Source: http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2013-11/nsc-ila110613.php
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Don’t King Me

Magnus Carlsen and Viswanathan Anand
India’s Viswanathan Anand (R) plays against Norway’s Magnus Carlsen during the Norway Chess 2013 Blitz on May 9, 2013. While Anand is a great player, he’s definitely the underdog.

Photo silhouette by Slate. Photo by Kent Skibstadt/AFP/Getty Images

Starting this week, challenger Magnus Carlsen will face champion Viswanathan Anand in a best-of-12 match in the latter’s hometown of Chennai, India, with the winner to wear the crown of World Chess Champion. The event has the feel of a coronation; even at the age of 22, the Norwegian Carlsen is already spoken of in the same breath as Paul Morphy, Jose Raoul Capablanca, Bobby Fischer, and Garry Kasparov, generally considered the very best of those who’ve played the royal game.

To illustrate his dominance with one statistic: The gap in points between Carlsen and Armenia’s Levon Aronian, the No. 2 player in the world, in the current World Chess Federation ratings is greater than the gap between Aronian and the world’s No. 19 player. Only a very few have dominated the game like this, so while Anand is a great player and a fine human being, he’s definitely the underdog in Chennai.

Even though Carlsen is the world’s best active chess player, he should not be trying to unseat Anand in a winner-take-all event. Chess has had a world champion since 1886, but this one-off, mano-a-mano event is now an anachronism, one that’s more harmful than helpful to the game. It’s time for the World Chess Federation (FIDE) to shelve it. With Carlsen looking likely to become chess’s new king, now is the perfect time to make a switch—and I know just the system to fix the game’s current championship woes.

Before we get to solving chess’s problems, it’s necessary to walk through how it got stuck in such an untenable position. The first person with the nerve and talent to credibly label himself World Chess Champion was a fellow from Prague named Wilhelm Steinitz. Before Steinitz, chess had been mostly a romantic game where the swashbuckling ideal was to sacrifice a boxful of pieces to chase the opponent’s king around the board, finally checkmating him so beautifully that centuries hence, students would marvel at your derring-do. Lovely as it was, Steinitz—who ruled the game starting in the 1870s—turned that notion on its head, accepting his hell-bent opponents’ proffered pieces and living to tell the tale through calm, rational defense. He wasn’t anyone’s favorite player, but he got things done.  

For the next 60 years, the World Championship title was like a boxing belt: You had to beat the current holder to get it. This wasn’t a great system, since a champ could hold out for pretty ridiculous conditions, like a guaranteed rematch if he lost and retaining the title in case of a drawn match. Champs could also choose their opponents to a large extent, ducking dangerous contenders when at all possible. Consider Alexander Alekhine, world champion for almost 20 years from the 1920s to 1940s, who preferred beating up on his old punching bag Efim Bogolyubov to facing more credible opponents.

An unchewed piece of steak did what Bogolyubov could not. When Alekhine choked to death in 1946, FIDE sensed its moment and stepped in to standardize the World Championship process. They first held a tournament among the world’s top eight players, which was won by a Soviet electrical engineer named Mikhail Botvinnik, who was proclaimed world champion. Future world title matches would be held every three years, the challengers decided by a series of zonal tournaments, followed by a knockout round of head-to-head matches from those tournaments’ winners. 

The new system was certainly an improvement on the haphazard decades that preceded it, but it had its own flaws. The three-year cycle was criticized as being too long, most vociferously by Bobby Fischer, who had been the best player in the world for seven years before getting his title shot in 1972. Match specialists—players who draw a large percentage of their games, rarely beating anybody but even more rarely losing—were favored over tournament specialists who racked up large numbers of both wins and losses. For example, retrograde rating analysis (FIDE didn’t launch its rating system until 1970) shows that although Tigran Petrosian was world champion from 1963 to 1969, he was the highest-rated player in the world for less than a year of that span, and at times was ranked as low as 10th. That’s because Petrosian was a middling (for a world champion) tournament player but a brick wall in matches: Drawing him was easy, but beating him was extremely tough.

In 1993, the chess world flew into chaos: World champion Garry Kasparov and his challenger, England’s Nigel Short, told FIDE to go fly a kite. They found funding and played for the title under the auspices of their own, newly formed organization. Embarrassingly, FIDE was then forced to stage its own world championship match between two other players, both of whom Short had just trounced en route to facing Kasparov.



Washington (AFP) – The United States has said in some cases its surveillance program has gone too far, an unprecedented admission in its tense row with Europe over US spying against allies.

After 10 days of scandal with key European allies, a statement Thursday by Secretary of State John Kerry was the first to explicitly acknowledge overstepping by US intelligence.

Kerry justified the surveillance in broad terms, citing the September 11, 2001 terror attacks in the United States, as well as attacks in London, Madrid and elsewhere to argue that the US and other countries have had to come together to fight “extremism in the world that is hell-bent and determined to try to kill people and blow people up and attack governments.”

He said US intelligence has since 2001 averted attacks with intercepts of communications. But he acknowledged, without going into specifics, that at times it has been too much.

Kerry also sought to give assurances that such steps, which have roiled close allies like Germany, would not be repeated.

“I assure you, innocent people are not being abused in this process, but there’s an effort to try to gather information,” Kerry told a London conference via video link. “And yes, in some cases, it has reached too far inappropriately.”

“And the president, our president, is determined to try to clarify and make clear for people, and is now doing a thorough review in order that nobody will have the sense of abuse,” he said.

Kerry added that what Washington was trying to do was, in a “random way,” find ways of determining if there were threats that needed responding to.

“And in some cases, I acknowledge to you, as has the president, that some of these actions have reached too far, and we are going to make sure that does not happen in the future,” he said.

Recent allegations and reports of widespread spying by the US National Security Agency have sparked a major rift in trans-Atlantic ties.

This week German Chancellor Angela Merkel angrily confronted President Barack Obama with allegations that the NSA was snooping on her phone, saying it would amount to a “breach of trust.”

A German intelligence delegation and a separate group of EU lawmakers were in the US capital Wednesday to confront their American allies about the alleged bugging.

Kerry’s remarks — released in a State Department transcript — came in response to a question addressed to both him and British Foreign Secretary William Hague about government surveillance.

Kerry spent a good portion of his answer justifying the collection of data as necessary due to the threat of terrorism and suggested Washington was not alone in doing so.

“Many, many, many parts of the world have been subject to these terrorist attacks,” he said.

“And in response to them, the United States and others came together — others, I emphasize to you — and realized that we’re dealing in a new world where people are willing to blow themselves up.”

He added: “We have actually prevented airplanes from going down, buildings from being blown up, and people from being assassinated because we’ve been able to learn ahead of time of the plans.”

Kerry also lashed out at some of the reporting about alleged spying, sparked by leaks from fugitive former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, wanted by Washington on espionage charges.

“Just the other day… there was news in the papers of 70 million people being listened to. No, they weren’t. It didn’t happen,” Kerry said.

“There’s an enormous amount of exaggeration in this reporting from some reporters out there.”

US intelligence chiefs have said these reports are based on a misinterpretation of an NSA slide leaked to the media by Snowden.

Rather than siphoning off the records of tens of millions of calls in Europe, as the slide seems to suggest, they argue that the data was in many cases gathered and shared by European agencies.

Still, fresh US spy allegations keep cropping around the world on a near daily basis.

Indonesia summoned the Australian ambassador in Jakarta Friday over a “totally unacceptable” report that his embassy was among diplomatic posts in Asia being used in a vast American surveillance operation.

The Sydney Morning Herald newspaper, amplifying an earlier report by the German magazine Der Spiegel, said earlier this week that a top-secret map leaked by Snowden showed 90 US surveillance facilities at diplomatic missions worldwide.

The paper also reported that Australian embassies in Asia were being used as part of the US-led spying network.

On Wednesday, meanwhile, a report in the Washington Post alleged that NSA technicians had tapped into Yahoo and Google data centers around the world, winning access to vast amounts of private data.

The report said a program dubbed MUSCULAR, operated with the NSA’s British counterpart GCHQ, can intercept data directly from the fiber-optic cables used by the US Internet giants.

Source: http://news.yahoo.com/kerry-says-cases-us-spying-reached-too-far-020926694.html
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Red ink runs at Sony again, cuts profit forecast

A man walks by a discount electronics shop displaying Panasonic products in Tokyo Thursday, Oct. 31, 2013. Panasonic said its quarterly profit improved to 63.3 billion yen ($644 million) from a 698.6 billion yen loss the year before. Panasonic, like Sony, has benefited from weaker yen. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)

A man walks by a discount electronics shop displaying Panasonic products in Tokyo Thursday, Oct. 31, 2013. Panasonic said its quarterly profit improved to 63.3 billion yen ($644 million) from a 698.6 billion yen loss the year before. Panasonic, like Sony, has benefited from weaker yen. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)

A man stands by a huge advertisement board of Panasonic at a train station in Tokyo Thursday, Oct. 31, 2013. Panasonic said its quarterly profit improved to 63.3 billion yen ($644 million) from a 698.6 billion yen loss the year before. Panasonic, like Sony, has benefited from weaker yen. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)

(AP) — The “White House Down” flop added to earnings woes at Sony Corp. in the latest quarter, dragging the entertainment and electronics giant to a 19.3 billion yen ($196 million) loss.

The action movie’s lackluster box office, especially compared with last year’s releases of “21 Jump Street” and “The Amazing Spider Man,” contributed to a 17.8 billion yen ($181 million) operating loss for Sony’s pictures division, the company said Thursday.

The company slashed its profit forecast for the fiscal year ending in March to 30 billion yen from 50 billion yen, reflecting deep-seated problems in its electronics business, televisions in particular, and the disappointing performance at Sony Pictures.

“White House Down” starred Jamie Foxx as President of the United States and Channing Tatum as a Capitol police officer who ends up as the president’s impromptu bodyguard while touring the executive residence with his daughter just as a band of rogue former soldiers and government employees attack. Milder in its violence, it appeared to suffer from comparisons with “Olympus Has Fallen,” a slightly earlier release featuring a former North Korean terrorist who takes the president hostage.

Sony’s sales for the July-September quarter rose 10.6 percent from a year earlier to 1.78 trillion yen ($18.1 billion), thanks mainly to the favorable impact of the yen’s decline against the U.S. dollar. Adjusted for the 20 percent drop in the value of the yen, revenue fell 9 percent.

The company’s sales of digital cameras and video cameras fell while its television, music and smartphone businesses improved. Sales of its Xperia Z smartphone helped and are expected to remain strong, the company said.

Although sales of televisions and personal computers improved slightly from earlier in the year, they were lower than the same quarter of 2012.

“The electronics business is declining beyond expectations” due to shrinking sales of televisions and other audio-visual equipment, along with slowing growth in major emerging markets such as China, the company said in its presentation.

“Sony expects its business environment to continue to be severe in the second half of the fiscal year,” it said.

Sony said it is striving to improve profitability at its troubled television division by focusing on sales of higher cost products such as its 4K LCD TVs.

The company, which has suffered declining fortunes for several years, is also gearing up for the launch of its PlayStation 4 game machine.

But it still faces fierce competition from Apple Inc’s iPad and iPhone as well as from powerful South Korean rival Samsung Electronics Co.

Sony sank to record losses for the fiscal year ended March 2012, reporting the worst result in the company’s six decade history.

Still, its loss for April to September narrowed to 15.8 billion yen ($161 million) from 40 billion yen in the first half of the previous fiscal year.

Rival Panasonic, meanwhile, said its quarterly profit improved to 63.3 billion yen ($644 million) from a 698.6 billion yen loss the year before.

Panasonic, like Sony, has benefited from weaker yen. While its domestic sales fell 4 percent, sales overseas climbed 11 percent. Total revenue of 1.88 trillion yen ($19.1 billion) was up 3 percent from a year earlier after taking a hit from the sale of Sanyo businesses carried out in the current fiscal year.

Panasonic raised its sales forecast to 7.4 trillion yen ($75.3 billion) and doubled its profit forecast for the fiscal year to 100 billion yen ($1 billion).

Associated PressSource: http://hosted2.ap.org/APDEFAULT/495d344a0d10421e9baa8ee77029cfbd/Article_2013-10-31-Japan-Earns-Sony/id-bc6751b9c6eb49a5a6b78c1d9f721663
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Burn $20 Off The Fitbit Force, External Power, SanDisk Ultra [Deals]

Burn $20 Off The Fitbit Force, External Power, SanDisk Ultra [Deals]

The much-anticipated, much-loved Fitbit Force will be out on November 7th, which also happens to be my birthday, and you can take a cool $20 off by pre-ordering from RadioShack. You’ll need code RMNOCT13 to get the deal. Feel the burn.

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Source: http://feeds.gawker.com/~r/gizmodo/full/~3/liVX7efiaIc/burn-20-off-the-fitbit-force-external-power-sandisk-1454121422
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