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Category Archives: life

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The smart home revolution definitely isn’t happening overnight. Even with a flood ofnew devices and platforms available, most of us are still only inching toward fully automated homes. Still, you can take matters into your own hands and speed up the rate of progress with these DIY smart home systems. 

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as part of an ongoing series investigating the global stolen cellphone trade, reports that Colombian drug cartels have moved into illegal smartphone trafficking as a lucrative source of money. Smuggling operations currently span the Americas — and even extend as far away as Spain and Singapore — driven by high import prices for such handsets as iPhones, Samsung Galaxies, and Blackberries. Cartels have moved into the space mainly because it’s a far safer endeavor than the drug trade. Law enforcement is more likely to operate around narcotics, but many countries don’t have structures in place to stem the flow of illegal phones. As a result, the market has boomed to being worth around $30 million a year. However, the effect on everyday life in Colombia has been severe. Stealing phones often results in violence, to the point that one Colombian newspaper commented that holding a phone in public had become a “death trap.”

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http://feeds.arstechnica.com/~r/arstechnica/index/~3/-xBN-_lBLAQ/story01.htm

The idea that organisms can stably inherit characteristics they acquire during their lifetimes was discarded a long time ago; the fact that it doesn’t seem to happen was a big strike against the pre-Darwinian idea about evolution. But over the last few decades, that idea has been making a bit of a comeback. We’ve identified a few forms of epigenetic inheritance—primarily chemical modifications of DNA—that can be changed during the life of an organism but can still be passed down to its progeny. There’s clear evidence that this sort of inheritance is used in plants, and there are a few hints that it could influence significant traits in animals.Yesterday, Nature Neurosciencepublished a paper that provides the strongest evidence yet that an acquired trait can be passed down for several generations in mice. Animals that were trained to associate a specific smell with pain produced progeny that also were sensitive to the smell—even when their entire role in producing the next generation was limited to being a sperm donor.The paper itself inadvertently indicates just how radical this idea is. Early in its introduction, the authors (Brian Dias and Kerry Ressler) write, “An important, but often ignored, factor that influences adult nervous systems is exposure of parents to salient environmental stimuli before the conception of their offspring.” Well, yes, it has been ignored. But that’s largely because nobody had any evidence that it actually happens.

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You may have been one of the many Facebook users contacted by the company last week about the demise of the “Who can look up your Timeline by name” search setting. The Facebook e-mail announcing the discontinuation of the feature goes on to explain how to limit what information you share on the service. Unfortunately, there’s no longer a way to limit the personal information Facebook shares with everyone, especially third-party app developers.The Facebook Help Center states the following:”Your name, gender, username, user ID (account number), profile picture, cover photo and networks (if you choose to add these) are available to anyone since they are essential to helping you connect with your friends and family.”The Electronic Privacy Information Center has filed a complaint with the US Federal Trade Commission related to Facebook’s privacy changes. EPIC’s complaint indicates that the one-click option to prevent third-party application developers from accessing your personal information is now “nonexistent.”

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After exploring one possible compound I was quite relaxed and sleepily inebriated for an hour or so, then within minutes of taking the antidote I was up giving a lecture with no impairment whatsoever.Nutt says the new as-of-yet-undetailed booze compounds work by more specifically targeting subsystems of the neurotransmitter system that produces the familiar relaxing feeling in response to taking in a few cocktails: “So in theory we can make an alcohol surrogate that makes people feel relaxed and sociable and remove the unwanted effects, such as aggression and addictiveness.”

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The FitnessSHIRT captures several cardio-related metrics and sends them wirelessly to a mobile device or PC.(Credit: Fraunhofer IIS)There’s an old Swedish saying that cyclists often like to paraphrase: There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing. Now, a new smart shirt seems to suggest that, indeed, clothing has the potential to not only affect how we weather the weather, but how we maintain our health, too.The FitnessSHIRT, which was developed at the Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits IIS in Erlangen, Germany, may be available sometime in the next year. It uses conductive textile electrodes integrated into its material to capture cardio activity — including breathing, pulse, and changes in heart rate. The shirt employs an elastic band designed to sense chest movements associated with breathing.

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