Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Business Insider reports that protesters have stopped a bus filled with Apple employees in San Francisco and a Google bus in Oakland. Tech companies like Google, Apple, and Facebook provide free buses that take their employees from San Francisco to their headquarters in the suburbs. Protesters are mad at the tech companies because the wealthy tech employees have driven up the price of housing in San Francisco, which is pricing out some people. The buses also use public transit stops, and some protesters think that's wrong. Between 70 and 100 protesters gathered for the blockade of Apple private tech shuttle to protest evictions in the city of San Francisco. The activists in San Fransisco were from Eviction Free San Francisco, Our Mission No Eviction, Causa Justa /Just Cause. Protesters stood in front of a white shuttle bus holding banners and signs. Some peeked through cardboard signs fashioned in the shape of place markers on Google maps, with "Evicted" written across the front. Meanwhile violence occurred in Oakland, according to reports from IndyBay, as protesters unfurled two giant banners reading "TECHIES: Your World Is Not Welcome Here" and "Fuck off Google" and "a person appeared from behind the bus and quickly smashed the whole of the rear window, making glass rain down on the street. Cold air blew inside the bus and the blockaders with their banners departed." Two weeks ago, protesters stopped a Google bus."
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astroengine writes "Despite the assurances that the holes seen in Mars rover Curiosity's wheels were just a part of the mission, there seems to be increasing concern for the wheels' worsening condition after the one-ton robot rolled over some craggy terrain. In an upcoming drive, rover drivers will monitor the six wheels over some smooth terrain to assess their condition. "We want to take a full inventory of the condition of the wheels," said Jim Erickson, project manager for the NASA Mars Science Laboratory at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. 'Dents and holes were anticipated, but the amount of wear appears to have accelerated in the past month or so.' Although the wheels are designed to sustain significant damage without impairing driving activities, the monitoring of the situation is essential for future planning."
McGruber writes "During her testimony (PDF) at a Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation hearing Wednesday about the data-broker industry, Pam Dixon, executive director of the World Privacy Forum, revealed that the Medbase200 unit of Integrated Business Services Incorporated had been offering a list of 'rape sufferers' on its website, at a cost of $79 for 1,000 names. The company, which sells marketing information to pharmaceutical companies, also offered lists of domestic violence victims, HIV/AIDS patients, and 'peer pressure sufferers.' In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Integrated Business Services Incorporated President Sam Tartamella initially denied that his company maintained or sold databases of rape victims. After the Journal provided him a link to the 'rape sufferers' page, he said he would remove it from Medbase200's website and denied ever having sold such a list. The page was removed later Wednesday."
New submitter blastboy writes "Every day in Britain, a vast system of cameras tracks cars on the road, feeding their movements into a database used by police. And because that data is networked, cops can use it to go back in time — or even predict your movements. But even though there are serious concerns about the technology, and it's regularly been abused by law enforcement, it has now been exported by the Brits and put in place by police departments around the world."
cartechboy writes "Two guys have made a life-sized Lego car that runs on air. That's right, the 256-piston, air-powered Lego working vehicle built with half a million black and yellow Lego pieces can actually be driven up to 18 mph. It was designed and built by 20-year-old Romanian Raul Oaida in 20 months after he and his partner, Australia-based Steve Sammartino raised "tens of thousands" of crowdfunded dollars with their prospectus entitled quite simply: "Super Awesome Micro Project." The car was built in Romania and then moved to Melbourne, Australia (presumably not brick-by-brick.) In the video, the only visible non-Lego components are the gauges, wheel rims, and tires (though the wheels have Lego faces--literally.)"
cartechboy writes "It looks like Elon Musk and Tesla Motors find themselves in another PR war over the cause of a fire involving a Tesla Model S. Authorities in Irvine, CA are currently investigating the reason for a fire in a garage that, yes, contained a Tesla Model S. While the actual cause of the fire remains unknown, Tesla Motors and the Orange County Fire Authority are already publicly disputing possible causes, thought to center around the Tesla charging system. Tesla says the fire was not caused by any part of the car nor its charging system, reports Reuters. For what its worth — we've seen a version of this movie before. In 2011, investigators determined that a garage fire that destroyed a Chevrolet Volt had started away from the car, later spreading to engulf and destroy the car."
SonicSpike writes "2013 may be a turning point for red-light cameras across the United States. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), a non-profit largely funded by auto insurance companies, this year is the first time in nearly two decades that the number of American cities with red-light cameras has fallen — the systems were installed in 509 communities as of November 2013. While a single-year drop may not ultimately mean much, legislators across the country are increasingly agitated about the cameras. Bills are also pending in Florida and Ohio that would ban the devices entirely. A state representative in Iowa has also twice introduced legislation to ban RLCs (he was not successful). Part of this backlash has to do with the (sometimes accurate) perception that RLCs are a moneymaking scheme, pure and simple."
alphadogg writes "Engineers are putting the final touches on a network capable of handling up to 54Tbps of traffic when the Winter Olympics opens on Feb. 7 in the Russian city of Sochi. The two locations where the Olympics will take place — the Olympic village in Sochi and a tight cluster of Alpine venues in the nearby Krasnaya Polyana Mountains — are completely new construction, so this project represents a greenfield environment for Avaya, the company heading up the project. In addition to investing in a telecom infrastructure, Russia is spending billions of dollars to upgrade Sochi's electric power grid, its transportation system and even its sewage treatment facilities."
cartechboy writes "It looks like the old-school windshield wiper is about to be replaced by new technology — but not until 2015. British car-maker McLaren is apparently developing a new window cleaning system that is modeled from fighter jet tech. The company isn't revealing exactly how it will work, but the idea comes from the chief designer simply asking a military source why you don't see wipers on jets as they land. Experts expect McClaren to use constantly active, high-frequency sound waves outside the range of human hearing that will effectively create a force field across a car's windshield to repel water, ice insects and other debris. Similar sound waves are used by dentists to remove plaque from teeth."
SonicSpike writes with news that two U.S. Senators, Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), have proposed legislation to ban cell phone calls while aboard an airplane. This follows a recent announcement from the FAA increasing the range of electronic gadgets travelers can use while flying, and a vote by the FCC to consider allowing phone calls during flight. However, even as those government agencies work to lift regulations on in-flight technology, the Department of Transportation is pondering a in-flight call ban of its own, saying it might not be "fair" to consumers to have to listen to other passengers talk on the phone throughout a long flight. FCC commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel said, "If we move beyond what we do here today and actually update our rules to allow voice calls on planes we can see a future where our quiet time is monetized and seating in the silent section comes at a premium."
cartechboy writes "Autonomous driving is every car manufacturer's immediate R&D project. In car-building terms, even if a new technology isn't due for 10 years — since that's just two full vehicle generations away-- it has to be developed now. So now it is for autonomous car research and testing, and this week Ford revealed a brand new Fusion Hybrid research vehicle built for autonomous R&D with some interesting tech capabilities. Technologies inside the new Fusion Hybrid research vehicle include LIDAR (a light-based range detection), which scans at 2.5 million times per second to create a 3D map of the surrounding environment at a radius of 200 feet. Ford says the research vehicle's sensors are sensitive enough to detect the difference between a small animal and a paper bag even at maximum range. More road-ready differentiations include observation and understanding of pedestrians, cyclists, and plain old stationary objects. Ford is working on this project in cooperation with the University of Michigan."
First time accepted submitter spineas writes "JetBlue is rolling out a new form of inflight Wi-Fi operating from satellites instead of ground-based cell towers. Up to eight times faster than traditional inflight Wi-Fi, it will enable users to stream video whilst in the air, something that is nearly impossible to do with current dial-up speed access in aircraft."
cartechboy writes "How many Nissan Leafs does it take to power an office building? The answer, it turns out, is six. Nissan is the latest Japanese automaker to explore electric "vehicle-to-building" setups, this time with impressive results. The company started testing its latest system at the Nissan Advanced Technology Center in Atsugi City, Japan, during the summer. It found that just six Leafs plugged in to the building's power supply allowed it to cut peak-hour electricity use by 2 percent. Annualized, that's a savings of half a million yen (about $4,800 US) in electricity costs. How it works: The building pulls electricity from the plugged-in vehicles during peak-use hours, when power is most expensive, and then sends the power back to recharge the cars when grid prices fall. Nissan says the system is set up to ensure the cars are fully charged by the end of the workday. (Is this a devious secret way to make sure workers stay until a certain time?) Next up: Why not just do this using batteries--never mind the cars?"
Taco Cowboy writes "The vehicles we drive are getting smarter and smarter, as more and more gadgets are being crammed into them. But as those devices creep into the driving experience, they offer the driver an increasing number of displays to monitor. Thus, drivers are more distracted than ever. At the recent 'Connected Car Expo,' which was held in Los Angeles, panelists discussed how these smart car features can impair driving ability. For example, researchers led by Bruce Mehler at MIT revealed that drivers using voice command interfaces to control in-car navigation systems or USB-connected music devices can end up spending longer with their eyes off the road than those using conventional systems. You'd think being able to operate it by voice alone would be beneficial compared to older radio systems. (Tuning an older radio was used as a baseline task in these tests.) But according to Mehler, problems arise when the system needs clarification of what the driver wants, which often happens while they're trying to feed an address into a navigation system."
Nerval's Lobster writes "Amazon is apparently not alone in its desire to use miniature drones to deliver packages. On the morning of Monday, Dec. 9, employees at the Bonn, Germany headquarters of package-delivery giant DHL challenged Amazon's plan for dominance of the skies by having medicine delivered from a local pharmacy via a mustard-yellow package-carrying helicopter the Germans dubbed 'Paketkopter.' The quad-rotored mini-drone flew a box of medicines from a launching point near the pharmacy, above traffic and across the Rhine River to DHL's headquarters just over a kilometer away. It made the flight in about two minutes, was unloaded quickly and returned to the launch team near the pharmacy. Amazon has owned total mindshare of the still-imaginary drone-based package delivery market since CEO Jeff Bezos gushed about his plans for Amazon PrimeAir during a TV interview last week. The plan generated immediate controversy due to the negative image of drones following heavy use for surveillance and targeted anti-personnel strikes by the U.S. military in Afghanistan and Iraq. Within the United States, the FAA, FTC and a host of consumer-protection groups objected to the possibility that thousands of autonomous drones would be hovering over U.S. cities, potentially invading the privacy and endangering the lives of those who might run afoul of either cameras or rotors."
cartechboy writes "Ford has decided to take the burnout into the 21st century for the new 2015 Mustang. The Mustang's new 'electronic' burnout system is intended to enable perfect burnouts every time, much like launch control has made it easier to accelerate quickly from a stop. So think of every new Mustang with a bright red 'burnout' button. While the details on how the burnout control system will work remain secret, it's possible that a combination of the features used in a typical launch control system, including traction and rev-limiting controls, together with a front brake locking system, could enable Ford to pull together existing technology in a completely new way. So far Ford has no comment."
angry tapir writes "In the race to deliver online shopping purchases faster, drones don't impress eBay's CEO. 'We're not focusing on long-term fantasies, we're focusing on things we can do today,' John Donahue said in an interview. He was reacting to an interview Jeff Bezos, CEO of e-commerce rival Amazon, gave last weekend in which he said Amazon is investigating the use of drones for package delivery."
First time accepted submitter biodata writes "The BBC is reporting that hundreds of UK commercial air flights have been delayed for most of Saturday due to an internal telephone systems problem in the National Air Traffic Control Service, and delays are likely to continue into the evening. A spokesperson said that it was a different software bug from the one which grounded flights in the summer."
Daniel_Stuckey writes "According to new research, drivers, walkers, and bicyclists will generally provide us with more useful directions than transit riders. Published in Urban Planning, 'Going Mental' shows that cognitively active travelers, regardless of commute by foot or car, tend to trump cognitively passive travelers (those who frequent public buses and trains), in perceiving distance. Questioning cognitively active, passive, and mixed travelers about distances from a survey site to LA's city hall, the research demonstrated that the passive bus and subway riders have less of a grip on distance. Actively cognitive travelers, according to the results, were more likely to integrate street names in their directions, and also exhibited a sharper understanding of distances."
cartechboy writes "Does the Tesla Model S suck down power even when the car is switched off? Recently, a tweet to Elon Musk with an article saying so sparked the Tesla CEO's attention. He tweeted that it wasn't right and that he'd look into the situation. Then a few hours later, he tweeted that the issue had to do with a bad 12-volt battery. Turns out Tesla had already called the owner of the affected car and sent a service tech to his house to replace that battery — and also install a newer build of the car's software. Now it appears the 'Vampire Draw' has been slain. The car went from using 4.5 kWh per day while turned off to a mere 1.1 kWh. So, it seems to be solved, but Tesla may either need to fix some software, or start sending a few new 12-volt batteries out to the folks still experiencing the issue."