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Japan to Fire Off Emails in Event of Incoming Missile
March 31, 2014
Starting April 1, Japan's Fire and Disaster Management Agency will send email alerts to residents' phones should North Korea start lobbing missiles. The messages would be sent using the nation's already-functional J-Alert, a free system designed to notify people about earthquakes and tsunamis. The missile-warning service is aimed specifically at those who use NTT Docomo, KDDI au and Softbank Mobile devices.
Facebook Internet Project: The Skies Have It
March 31, 2014
Facebook last week announced more detailed plans to bring affordable Internet access to every person on the planet. Mark Zuckerberg, the company's chief executive, revealed some fresh details about the work Facebook's Connectivity Lab is carrying out to build drones, satellites and lasers geared to providing connectivity for everyone as part of the Internet.org initiative.
Nvidia's ECS: Some Amazing Little Companies to Watch
March 31, 2014
Nvidia's Emerging Companies Summit, a place to check out some of the firms that could become the next breakout company, didn't disappoint this year. Among the highlights: A firm that could redefine advertising connected to Web pictures and videos; a company that could put your entire desktop and gaming experience in the cloud; and one that could help you actually hear that TV you see at a bar.
Apple Patent Addresses Texting-Walking Risk
March 28, 2014
Texting and walking can be dangerous, but Apple could be aiming to make it less so, judging from a patent awarded Thursday by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Apple has found an innovative way to use an electronic communication device's camera to continuously capture and present video images as background within a text-messaging session, suggests its Transparent Texting patent application.
There's a New Kid on the Solar System Block
March 28, 2014
Astronomers this week reported what they believe to be the most-distant member of our solar system discovered so far. 2012 VP113, a probable dwarf planet that was found to lie beyond the known edge of the solar system, was discovered by Chadwick Trujillo, an astronomer at the Gemini Observatory in Hawaii, and Scott Sheppard, an astronomer at the Carnegie Institution for Science.
US Judge: Free Speech Protects Baidu's Beijing-OK'd Results
March 28, 2014
A Manhattan judge ruled that a Chinese search engine's practice of restricting free speech is, wouldn't you know it, protected by free speech. Chinese Internet company Baidu won the dismissal of a U.S. lawsuit filed by activists who objected to its, shall we say, selective search results, which adhere to the government's notoriously limited view of what is and isn't acceptable.
Candy Crush Fails to Melt Wall St.'s Heart
March 27, 2014
Investors didn't share the same excitement for King Digital Entertainment stock as Candy Crush fans do for the mobile game, sending King shares down nearly 16 percent in Wednesday's disappointing first day of trading. It slipped a further couple of percentage points on Thursday. King's stock debuted at $22.50, but dropped 15.6 percent to close at $19 -- this year's worst first day drop for an IPO.
Bitcoin Fans Rejoice in IRS Ruling
March 27, 2014
The U.S. will tax bitcoin and other virtual currencies as property, the IRS said Tuesday. Virtual currency will be treated as property for U.S. federal tax purposes, and transactions in virtual currency will be subject to general tax principles. Taxpayers who receive virtual currency as payment for goods or services must calculate that payment at the currency's fair market value in U.S. dollars.
Microsoft Launches Public Cloud in China
March 27, 2014
Microsoft is now offering general availability of its Azure cloud service in China, becoming the first multinational company to provide public cloud services in the Middle Kingdom. Microsoft is partnering with 21Vianet, a Chinese data center services provider, a marriage that likely helped appease Beijing officials. Until now, all major cloud providers in China have been Chinese.
Bioprinting, Part 2 - The Ethical Conundrum
March 27, 2014
Nearly 120,000 people in the United States are on the waiting list for an organ transplant that may save their lives, according to the American Transplant Foundation. "In the short term, we need many more people to register to be a potential organ donor," said Jordan Miller, assistant professor of bioengineering at Rice University.
Is Google Thwarting Android-x86 Development?
March 26, 2014
Has Google been spreading FUD to discourage computer makers from using an Android OS retooled to run on legacy computers? The maintainer of the Android-x86 Project has suggested that the Justice Department should investigate whether Google has been interfering with adoption of the open source code his community is developing. The FOSS development world is hardly free of rivalry and power plays.
Facebook Makes Unreal Acquisition
March 26, 2014
Facebook has agreed to acquire Oculus VR, maker of the Oculus Rift virtual reality gaming hardware. Facebook will pay around $2 billion for the company. That figure includes $400 million in cash and 23.1 million shares of Facebook common stock, valued at $1.6 billion based on recent average trading price. There is a provision for an additional $300 million earnout based on performance.
Rocket the Vote! NASA Asks People to Vote on New Space Threads
March 26, 2014
NASA is asking people to vote on their favorite design for the outer shell of the new Z-2 spacesuit. While the Z-2 models may descend from their Apollo 13-style ancestors, there are some decidedly 21st Century twists. The "Biomimicry" design, for example, has a reptilian flare; "Trends in Society" has a more everyday look -- at least, as far as spacesuits go.
Bioprinting, Part 1: The Promise and the Pitfalls
March 26, 2014
It's long been the dream of humans to be able to regenerate body parts. Scientists have been researching this possibility for years, but the subject is complex, and they are just beginning to get to a glimmer of understanding as to what's required. "There are different layers of complexity in developing tissue-engineered products," said Charlie Whelan, a consultant at Frost & Sullivan.
Disney Snaps Up Maker to Court Millennials
March 26, 2014
Disney this week announced it would acquire Maker Studios, a provider of short-form videos, for at least $500 million -- a number that could go up if Maker meets performance targets. Maker's videos account for more than 5.5 billion monthly views on YouTube -- it has 380 million subscribers. Among its more than 55,000 YouTube channels are the popular Epic Rap Battles of History.
Obama, Legislators Tackle Bulk Surveillance Issue
March 25, 2014
The political frenzy over the NSAy's collection of Americans' bulk telephone metadata is escalating, with both the White House and the U.S. House of Representatives' Intelligence Committee announcing plans to introduce legislation to regulate the practice. The White House's proposal reportedly would require phone companies to store the data and provide it under a court order.
China Seeks Answers About NSA/Huawei Report
March 25, 2014
China's government is asking the U.S. to explain itself -- and to knock it off with all the cyberespionage -- following reports that the National Security Agency has had its way with Chinese telecom giant Huawei. The NSA reportedly penetrated Huawei servers to monitor communications among company executives, and to gain access to the dealings of Huawei customers.
LG Sheds Light on Internet of Things
March 25, 2014
LG Electronics on Monday unveiled a light bulb designed to illuminate consumers lives in a more intelligent way. The Smart Lamp can be controlled by an iOS or Android device over Bluetooth or WiFi. The 10W LED bulb is 80 percent more energy-efficient than other incandescent bulbs, LG claimed, and will last for up to 10 years when used for around five hours per day.
Rumor vs. Reality in Silicon Valley, Part 1
March 25, 2014
Like most small, inbred communities, Silicon Valley encourages and thrives on gossip, even when it's of little substance. In popular-speak, Valley gossip has a "low signal to noise ratio," but the rumor mill is vibrantly alive despite that shortcoming -- partly due to venture capitalists, whose efforts parallel the day-to-day business of technology.
Apple, Comcast Wade Into Streaming Content Talks
March 24, 2014
Apple and Comcast reportedly are discussing a streaming-TV service that will go through an Apple set-top box. Apple apparently wants the service to be treated as a managed service, meaning it will run on cabling separate from that used for public Internet access. "I seriously doubt Comcast will agree to a deal, said Mukul Krishna, digital media senior global director at Frost & Sullivan.

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