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Boot up: fusion sceptics, Lollipop webview, Snapsaved talks, Lenovo/BB?

Boot Up: Fusion Sceptics, Lollipop Webview, Snapsaved Talks, Lenovo/BB?
Plus how bad user interfaces really can kill people, the tiny CNC product, the site that reaches more US desktop users than Facebook, and more
JET's fusion reactor
JET’s fusion reactor, where physicists reacreate conditions inside the sun. Lockheed wants a smaller one. Photograph: Efda-Jet

Lockheed Martin’s claims on fusion energy meet with skepticism >> MIT Technology Review

David Talbot:

many scientists are unconvinced. Ian Hutchinson, a professor of nuclear science and engineering at MIT and one of the principal investigators at the MIT fusion research reactor, says the type of confinement described by Lockheed had long been studied without much success.

Hutchinson says he was only able to comment on what Lockheed has released—some pictures, diagrams, and commentary, which can be found here. “Based on that, as far as I can tell, they aren’t paying attention to the basic physics of magnetic-confinement fusion energy. And so I’m highly skeptical that they have anything interesting to offer,” he says. “It seems purely speculative, as if someone has drawn a cartoon and said they are going to fly to Mars with it.”

Hutchinson adds: “Of course we’d be delighted if a real breakthrough were possible, but when someone who shows no evidence of understanding the issues makes a bald claim that they will just make a small device and therefore it will be quicker [to develop], we say, ‘Why do they think they can do that?’ And when they have no answers, we are highly skeptical.”

Lockheed joins a number of other companies working on smaller and cheaper types of fusion reactors.

In Lollipop, WebView is unbundled from Android and free to auto-update from Google Play >> Android Police

Cody Toombs:

Not all of the changes to Android 5.0 Lollipop are meant to be seen by regular users, but that doesn’t make them any less important. One of the core components of the operating system is about to break free from the shackles of firmware updates and join the Play Store and Google Play services in receiving automatic updates directly from Google. As of Android 5.0, the WebView component will be a distinct apk, allowing it to be upgraded separately from the OS. Not only will this ensure important security updates find their way to our devices, but it will also make new features and APIs available to developers of applications that rely on WebView.

Good move for security. Now just needs Lollipop to reach all the devices running old versions of WebView.

A look behind the Snapchat photo leak claims >> NYTimes.com

Mike Isaac spoke to three people who claim to have been behind Snapsaved.com:

They said they built the site in October 2013 after they were hired by someone they met on BlackHatWorld.com, an online message board where users trade tips and swindles to make money off search engines using practices that are typically rejected by companies like Google.

This person, whom the men would not identify but said was based in Hong Kong, owned the Snapsaved.com domain listing or Internet address. The men tried to contact this man after the hack, but he did not respond to them.

Snapsaved acted as a sort of online middleman between Snapchat and individual users. After a person entered a Snapchat handle and password, any photos or images sent to friends were saved to Snapsaved’s server. Over the past year, the men said they had collected about 13 gigabytes of photos and data from more than 260,000 users.…

The men said they decided to talk because they wanted to make it clear that it was their site that was hacked — not Snapchat. And they also wanted to make clear that they did not intend to collect child pornography.

But six months ago, that is what happened. The men said they found images of child pornography uploaded to the Snapsaved.com server. They said they were able to trace the Internet addresses of the users sharing those photos to Sweden and Norway and sent that material to child protective services in those countries.

Phone hackers dial and redial to steal billions >> NYTimes.com

Bob Foreman’s architecture firm ran up a $166,000 phone bill in a single weekend last March. But neither Mr. Foreman nor anyone else at his seven-person company was in the office at the time.

“I thought: ‘This is crazy. It must be a mistake,’ ” Mr. Foreman said.

It wasn’t. Hackers had broken into the phone network of the company, Foreman Seeley Fountain Architecture, and routed $166,000 worth of calls from the firm to premium-rate telephone numbers in Gambia, Somalia and the Maldives.

Yes, dial-through fraud is still around. Oh, here’s a story from almost exactly 19 years ago – to the day – about the exact same problem.

On the design of toasterfridges >> getwired.com

Wes Miller:

The younger people that follow me on Twitter or read this blog may not get all of these examples, but hopefully will get several. Consider all of the following devices (that actually existed).

TV/VCR combination
TV/DVD combination
Stand mixers with pasta-making attachments
Smart televisions
Swiss Army Knife

Each of these devices has something in common. Absent a better name to apply to it, I will call that property toasterfridgality. Sure. “Toasterfridge” was a slam that Tim Cook came up with to describe Microsoft’s Surface devices. But regardless of the semi-derogatory term, the point is, I believe, valid.

Each of the devices above compromises the integrity with which it performs one or more roles in order to try and perform two or more roles. The same is true of Microsoft’s Surface and Surface Pro line.

His point is much broader than the Surface, though, taking in USB ports on mobile devices, the Padfone ,and more.

BlackBerry shares up after unconfirmed report on possible Lenovo bid >> Reuters

BlackBerry shares rose more than 3% [to $10] on Monday after a news website said Chinese computer maker Lenovo Group might offer to buy the Canadian technology company.

Benzinga.com, citing an unnamed source familiar with the matter, said an offer worth $15 a share could come as early as this week.

Lenovo and BlackBerry said their companies did not comment on rumors and speculation.

Rumors of a Lenovo bid for BlackBerry have swirled many times over the last two years. Senior Lenovo executives at different times have indicated an interest in BlackBerry as a means to strengthen their own handset business.

Lenovo got approval to buy IBM’s PC and server businesses, but BlackBerry’s would be a different matter altogether in regulatory terms. It could be fun to watch it smooshing together American mobile icon Motorola and Canadian mobile icon BlackBerry, though.

How bad UX killed Jenny >> Medium

Jonathan Shariat:

Jenny, as we will call her because the patient’s name was never shared, was a little girl who had previously been in the hospital ward for cancer for four years and was discharged. Then a while later she relapsed and had to be given a very strong chemo treatment medicine. This medicine is so strong and so toxic that it requires pre-hydration and post-hydration for three days with I.V. fluid. However, after the medicine was administered, three nurses were attending to the charting software to enter in everything required of them and make the appropriate orders, missed a very critical piece of information. Jenny was supposed to be given 3 days of I.V. hydration. But the three nurses, with over 10 years experience, were too distracted trying to figure out the software they were using, they completely missed it.

When the morning nurse came in the next day, she had died of toxicity and dehydration. For two shifts, she had missed her hydration and all because the three, very good nurses, were stuck trying to figure this out…

The screenshot he posts is indeed a nightmare of user-hostility. Worth remembering: poor interface design can be literally lethal.

Piccolo, the tiny CNC-bot >> Piccolo

Piccolo is a pocket sized open source CNC-bot. Using laser-cutting, off-the-shelf hardware and Arduino, you can make your own simple 3 axis robot. Attach a brush or pen to make a quick drawing robot, or extend Piccolo with sensors, custom toolheads, or by using multiple Piccolos together. Experiment with 2D or 3D digital fabrication at a small scale!

Taboola reaches more US desktop users than Facebook >> Inc.com

Most people know Taboola as the content recommendation engine behind sites such as The Huffington Post and Time magazine. But now Taboola is making some news of its own, reaching more US desktop users in September than Facebook, Outbrain, and Google Sites like YouTube, according to comScore.

ComScore only indexed reach in terms of impressions–how many people saw links powered by Taboola, not how many clicked through. Still Taboola’s 86.2% reach is impressive for the seven-year-old company, which got its start recommending videos online. “I think what it says is there may be a new advertising category called personalization,” says chief executive and founder Adam Singolda. “People have been talking about it, and now that comScore is putting this report out there, it’s real.”

Taboola – as you might not know – is the company responsible for those “10 Tricks Gmail Users Don’t Know” panels that appear below many stories on news sites.

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