AmiMoJo writes: Is your favorite TV show always getting cancelled? Did you love Crystal Pepsi? Were you an early adopter of the Zune? If you answered yes to these questions, researchers say you might be a "Harbinger of Failure." In a study published in the Journal of Marketing Research, researchers identified a group of consumers whose preferences can predict products that will fail. “Certain customers systematically purchase new products that prove unsuccessful,” wrote the study authors. “Their early adoption of a new product is a strong signal that a product will fail.”
New submitter PJ6 writes: Three students attending the Isaac Newton Academy in the UK won the Healthcare Category of the Teen Tech Awards, for their idea to use antibodies to create color-changing condoms to recognize STDs. They say the material, which is still in the concept stage, will turn green for chlamydia, yellow for herpes, purple for HPV, and blue for syphilis. The BBC reports: "The boys said they still have to test the science and feasibility of their idea. They want to work with a university on the science and say they've already been contacted by a condom company which is interested in working with them on developing the concept further."
bigwophh writes: A study published in the journal Computers in Human Behavior suggests that watching videos of cats may be good for your health. The study pinged nearly 7,000 people and asked them how viewing cat videos affected their moods. Of those surveyed, over a third (36 percent) described themselves as a "cat person" and nearly two-thirds (60 percent) said they have an affinity for both dogs and cats. Survey subjects noted less tendencies towards feeling anxious, sad, or annoyed after watching cat videos, including times when they viewed the videos while at work or trying to study. They also reported feeling more energetic and more positive afterwards. There may have been some guilt from putting off work or studying to watch Internet videos, but the amusement they got from seeing the antics of cats more than made up for it.
Nerval's Lobster writes: If you ever wanted a glimpse into what dooms startups, look no further than autopsy.io, a website that lists the reasons why many newborn tech firms imploded. The website offers entrepreneurs the ability to self-explain why their startup didn't quite make it; in a bid to separate real-life stories from entertaining fictions, the application form asks for a link to a blog post or medium article "that tells the story of the failure," along with the founder(s) Twitter handle and Crunchbase or Angel.co profile. Some of the reasons listed for failure are maddeningly opaque, such as UniSport's "for a number of reasons" or PlayCafe's "we didn't reach enough users." Others are bleakly hilarious; as the founders of Zillionears, self-billed as a "creative pre-sale platform for musicians," confessed: "People really didn't really LIKE anything about our product." If you're thinking of launching your own company, or you work for a wet-behind-the-ears startup, it's worth scanning the list to see if any of these potential crises are brewing in your setup.
wired_parrot writes: An Egyptian repairman found unexpected fame when typing google into Google within Egypt turned up his name instead. The unassuming repairman managed to unexpectedly outrank Google in search results, a finding that surprised even him, who was unaware of his high search ranking when contacted.
schwit1 writes with news that former FIFA Vice President Jack Warner has evidently not heard of The Onion. In a video on his Facebook page, Warner holds up a printout of an Onion story titled “FIFA Frantically Announces 2015 Summer World Cup In United States” and says: “Then I look to see that Fifa has frantically announced, 2015, this year [...] the World Cup, beginning May 27. If FIFA is so bad, why is it that the USA wants to keep the Fifa World Cup?” The next World Cup is not due to be held until 2018 and there have been no games in the U.S.. Warner is facing extradition to the U.S. on corruption charges. Time further reports: Even Sunday wasn't easy, when Warner needed two attempts to get his message across by telling followers that the latest accusations against him stem largely from the U.S. being upset that it did not win the rights to host the 2022 World Cup — which went to Qatar. In an eight-minute Facebook video, which was quickly deleted after numerous news reports picked up on the gaffe, Warner held up a printout of a fictitious story from The Onion bearing the headline: "FIFA Frantically Announces 2015 Summer World Cup In United States." The fake story was published on Wednesday, hours after Warner was indicted in the U.S. and arrested and briefly jailed in Trinidad. Warner asked why the story was "two days before the FIFA election" when Sepp Blatter was re-elected as president.
m.alessandrini writes: In response to a ban of food imported from the European Union, an Italian grocery in Russia hired an ad agency to create a billboard with a camera and facial recognition software, that's able to change to a different ad when it recognizes the uniform of Russian cops. Gizmodo reports: "With the aid of a camera and facial recognition software, the technology was slightly tweaked to instead recognize the official symbols and logos on the uniforms worn by Russian police. And as they approached the billboard featuring the advertisement for Don Giulio Salumeria’s imported Italian goods, it would automatically change to an ad for a Matryoshka doll shop instead."
ErnieKey writes: A youth club in Germany, called Toolbox Bodensee, has created an unusual musical organ. It is constructed of 49 floppy disk drives all of which combine to play quite a unique sound. It has the ability to be played manually or act as a playback device. If you have a bunch of old floppy drives and want to assemble your own organ, the 3D print files are available for free download on Thingiverse.
An anonymous reader writes: Scotland Yard was worried that fans of shows like the X Files and Star Trek might run amok during the Millennium according to secret files. The file, called UFO New Religious Movements (NRMs) And The Millennium, reveals that anti-terrorism experts were also concerned about the brain-washing effect of Dark Skies, Roswell, Millennium and The Lawnmower Man on viewers. According to the Telegraph: "The secret briefing note was obtained from the Met under the Freedom of Information Act by Sheffield-based British X-Files expert Dr Dave Clarke while researching a new book, How UFOs Conquered the World. Dr Clarke, who teaches investigative journalism at Sheffield Hallam University, said: 'The documents show the police and security services were concerned about the export of some new religious movements concerning UFOs and aliens from the USA in the aftermath of the mass suicide by followers of the Heaven's Gate.'"
An anonymous reader writes: A New Zealand-based company called Touchpoint Group has unveiled the world's angriest robot, which is designed to help train call center employees in the art of dealing with frustrated customers. The project, named Radiant, will involve one of Australia's biggest banks, which is providing researchers with recordings of real-life interactions with customers. Once finished Radiant will simulate hundreds of millions of angry customer interactions, helping companies better understand what triggers heated calls.
Limekiller42 writes: Lawyers for the Phi Sigma Sigma sorority have filed suit in Seattle's King County Superior Court against an unidentified person for "publicizing the sorority's secret handshake, robe colors and other practices." The well-written article is by Levi Pulkkinen of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and states that the sorority is seeking a restraining order and financial compensation for damages.
New submitter Bo'Bob'O writes: The BBC reports that the scientists at the Parkes and Bleien Radio Observatories in New South Wales, Australia, have tracked down earth-based signals that had been eluding observation for 17 years. These signals, which came to be called Perytons "occurred only during office hours and predominantly on weekdays." The source, as it turned out, was located right inside the antenna's tower where impatient scientists had been opening the kitchen microwave door before its cycle had finished. As the linked paper concludes, this, and a worn magnetron caused a condition that allowed the microwaves to emit a burst of frequencies not expected by the scientists, only compounding the original mystery.
mpicpp writes with this ABC News story about how a Pizza Hut app may have saved a woman's life. "A Florida mother held hostage by her boyfriend used the Pizza Hut app to notify police she needed help, authorities said. Cheryl Treadway, 25, was allegedly being held at knife point in her home by Ethan Nickerson, 26, in Avon Park on Monday, the Highlands County Sheriff's Office told ABC News today. 'She was held hostage by him all day,' Public Information Officer Nell Hays said. Nickerson took away Treadway's phone, police said, but she was eventually able to persuade him to let her order a pizza using her Pizza Hut app. 'She told him, "The kids are hungry. Let's order a pizza. Let's get them some food,"' Hays said, noting that's when Treadway was able to sneak in a written message through the delivery. Along with her order of a small, classic pepperoni pizza, she wrote: 'Please help. Get 911 to me,' according to police. She also wrote: '911hostage help!'"
An anonymous reader points out that Stephen Hawking recently gave some advice for One Direction fans. What is the cosmological effect of singer Zayn Malik leaving the best-selling boy band One Direction and consequently disappointing millions of teenage girls around the world? The advice of British cosmologist Stephen Hawking to heartbroken fans is to follow theoretical physics, because Malik may well still be a member of the pop group in another universe. The physicist took a break from speaking about his work as one of the world's leading scientists to answer the question from one upset fan during a talk at Sydney Opera House at the weekend. 'Finally a question about something important,' Hawking, who appeared via hologram, said to loud laughs from the audience. 'My advice to any heartbroken young girl is to pay attention to the study of theoretical physics because, one day, there may well be proof of multiple universes. It would not be beyond the realms of possibility that somewhere outside of our own universe lies another, different universe and, in that universe, Zayn is still in One Direction.'"
An anonymous reader writes with good news for people looking for an old cure for an old problem. Trying to ease a bad hangover? Wearing a necklace made from the leaves of a shrub called Alexandrian laurel would do the job, according to a newly translated Egyptian papyrus. The "drunken headache cure" appears in a 1,900-year-old text written in Greek and was discovered during the ongoing effort to translate more than half a million scraps of papyrus known as the Oxyrhynchus Papyri. Housed at Oxford University's Sackler Library, the enormous collection of texts contains lost gospels, works by Sophocles and other Greek authors, public and personal records and medical treatises dating from the first century AD to the sixth century A.D.
HughPickens.com writes Lee Hutchinson writes at Ars Technica that platform loyalty is a powerful thing, as two roommates in Tulsa, Oklahoma stabbed each other with broken beer bottles in a debate over the relative merits of Android versus iPhones. Tulsa police were called to Evergreen Apartments at 1 a.m after a woman found a man covered in blood, stumbling around the parking lot and found that two roommates had been drinking and arguing over their mobile phones. The two men broke beer bottles and stabbed each other with them and one of the men smashed a bottle over the back of the other man's head. "In over 35 years as a cop, this is one of the oddest reasons I've seen for assault," says Maj. Rod Hummel. According to Channel 8 News, police had no comment when asked which phone was in fact better.
alphadogg writes Three MIT grads this week are celebrating the 10th anniversary of their clever SCIgen program, which randomly generates computer science papers realistic enough to get accepted by sketchy technical conferences and publishers, with a brand new tool designed to poke even more fun at such outfits. Just a bit late for April Fool's Day, the new SCIpher program from the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab alums enables users to hide messages inside randomly-generated calls for papers from phony conferences whose names are so ridiculous that they sound legit. An MIT spokesman says the new tool is really just a way for geeky friends to mess with each other, whereas SCIgen pointed out major flaws in the worlds of scientific journals and conferences.
Bruce66423 writes "A German schoolboy has taken exam preparation to ingenious new levels by making a freedom of information request to see the questions in his forthcoming Abitur tests, the equivalent of A-levels in the UK." and SATS in the USA. The media attention from his FoI request has already garnered him an offer of work from another transparency-related organization, the research website Correctiv. “If I have time before university starts I’ll definitely do it,” he said.
An anonymous reader writes Want to divorce your husband or wife but can't give them the papers in person? Just use Facebook. No, apparently this isn't a late April Fools' joke. The New York Daily News reports Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Matthew Cooper has allowed 26-year-old Ellanora Baidoo to serve her husband Victor Sena Blood-Dzraku divorce papers via a Facebook message. In fact, Baidoo won't even be the one sending the message. Her lawyer has been granted permission to message Blood-Dzraku using her account. "This transmittal shall be repeated by plaintiff's attorney to defendant once a week for three consecutive weeks or until acknowledged," the ruling states.
First time accepted submitter DrTJ writes Today is Pi day. This year is a bit more extraordinary as it is 3/14/15 (in American date format). To celebrate, USA Today has posted a number of videos of kids reciting Pi, one of them to 8,784 digits. The Washington Post highlights the story of a couple who decided to make it their special day. "Donahue, 33, a Legal Aid attorney, fell for Karmel’s geeky side as soon as they met. On a beach vacation with her friends in 2012, a psychic told her, 'You are about to meet your soulmate.' Three days later, she walked into Kostume Karaoke night at Solly’s Tavern along the U Street corridor and saw a man onstage croaking out the Backstreet Boys’s 'I Want It That Way.' By the end of the night, he would be serenading her with Cake’s 'The Distance' — the song the DJ will play when they cut the pie."