The Astrobiology Sky Is Falling

first_imgRocco Mancinelli (Principal Investigator, SETI Institute) made an impassioned plea on Space.com for continued funding of astrobiology projects, calling threatened funding cuts a “national disaster” if not reversed.  And what is astrobiology?  He defined it as “the study of the origin, evolution, distribution, and future of life in the universe.”  His reasons for keeping astrobiology a national priority: trying to understand the origin of life, searching for the extent of life beyond the earth, determining whether Mars will be a safe habitat for humans some day, and advancing the human urge to explore.  Funding cuts would leave thousands of scientists on a limb, discourage a whole generation of young scientists, and cause the USA to lose its leadership in the world, he argued.    For a science born in 1996, its funding record is impressive.  Mancinelli revealed, “NASA essentially developed astrobiology as a whole new interdisciplinary scientific field from scratch.  It now has thousands of researchers, many international affiliates, multiple peer reviewed journals and is growing” (emphasis added).  He continued, “ Even NSF [the National Science Foundation] has been amazed by what NASA’s astrobiology program has accomplished.”  What tangible results other than searching, speculating and writing reports, however, he left unsaid (see 01/28/2005).  Clearly, no one has yet found life in outer space, and what has been found about life is more and more complexity.  Mancinelli also did not specify what kind of space science and engineering would not have gone on without the astrobiology label.  Ironically, the very Mars meteorite that launched astrobiology is now largely believed to be dead (11/15/2003).The smart money is on intelligent design.  The next generation of bright, enthusiastic researchers knows that nanotechnology, biomimetics, genetic engineering and information-based research is where it’s at (e.g., 11/19/2005, 10/29/2005).  Sorry, astrobiology; hope you enjoyed your little philosophical fling on company time (01/07/2005).  Don’t let us stop you.  You can continue all you want – on your own euro.(Visited 7 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

Is This Nintendo Knock-Off The Worst iPhone App Ever?

first_imgnick statt Its full title is Super Monster Bros By Adventure Time Pocket Free Games, and it just may be the worst iPhone app ever. Dug up by an excellent IGN series ‘”iPhone Garbage,” the free app is a side-scrolling game that not only blatantly rips off Nintendo with slightly altered Pokémon character designs, but it also employs an aggressive in-app purchase system that spams users constantly with offers at prices up to $100! It’s a iPhone rip-off tactic only marginally less offensiver than the ever-popular screenshot scam.For instance, if you want to use a character other than the default, which is basically a duplicate of Charmander from the original Pokémon games, you need to cough up anywhere from $4.99 for the caveman to a whopping $99.99 for the Charizard look-alike. Then when you’re actually playing the game, you’re bombarded with offers for other purchases, like $1 to buy more firepower for your character or 20 extra lives for $10. Then there are the full-screen ads for other apps that randomly pop up on-screen in the middle of the game. Not surprisingly, the gameplay is beyond terrible. There doesn’t seem to be any point outside of scamming people into paying for ridiculous add-ons. The biggest mystery is how this travesty got through Apple’s App Store approval process despite apparently infringing on copyrighted Nintendo material and an all-around exploitive design. The games are also available on Google’s less-restrictive Google Play market for Android. What To Watch Out ForReviews are certainly a great way to keep others from downloading a terrible app; the first three reviews that show up are titled, respectively, “This should be criminal..,” “This app is offensive,” and “This should be illegal.”  So you may wonder who gets fooled by this nonsense, but how about those unlucky parents with kids who know their Apple ID passwords. All it takes is clicking the Buy button and entering your password, and this game could end up costing some family hundreds of dollars.In fact, the Top 10 in-app purchases list in the App Store indicates that the number-one item purchased by players is the “Role NO.1 and Unlock All” feature – for an absurd $99.99. So who is the mastermind behind this ingenious money-making machine? That would be a developer by the name of Mario Casas, designer of such other gems as Adventure Games Super Monster Bros Plus and Super Squirrel Bros by Mario Casas Games. They all share similar designs and the same in-app purchasing system.  How To Report Bad Apps to AppleThe App Store has long wrestled with a proliferation of scam apps. IGN’s iPhone Garbage series exposes a dark corner of the App Store where games like Krazy Kong (a Donkey Kong rip-off) and Legend of Zenda (a Zelda rip-off) somehow found a home. Apple seems to take an after-the-fact approach to rooting them out, as outlined here by iMore’s Rene Ritchie:Apple’s approach seems to be that of YouTube – approve any app that meets technical criteria and then respond to publicity or legal takedown demands from copyright holders when and if they come in. It’s one of the smartest, safest approaches, legally, for Apple. They certainly don’t want to take on the responsibility of pre-emptively moderating intellectual property, and then have their necks on the lawsuit line when something slips through and the rights holders sue both the offending party and Apple.So how do you report a bad app like Super Monster Bros By Adventure Time Pocket Free Games?  If you dropped a bundle on this game’s purchases, Apple devotes a Web page to reporting issues with purchases. If you managed to hold on to your cash but still want to report the app, the best way is to go through iTunes Support. Be warned, though, Apple hasn’t shown much inclination to substantially overhaul its review process to catch these specific types of tricks. So as long as these kinds of exploitive apps can make their creators easy money, they’ll keep showing up.  Update: The game, as well as all other titles from the same developer, are no longer available in the U.S. App Store. It’s not clear whether or not they are still available in other countries, but we will update with that information as soon as we can.  Tags:#App Store#Apple#games#iOS#iPhone#play Related Posts Why IoT Apps are Eating Device Interfacescenter_img Role of Mobile App Analytics In-App Engagement What it Takes to Build a Highly Secure FinTech … The Rise and Rise of Mobile Payment Technologylast_img read more

Saving on Cell Phones – Part 2

first_imgBy Carol ChurchIn Part 1 of this series, we went over special considerations for military families regarding cell phone service and questions families should ask themselves when considering switching to a less costly option. In this part, we’ll review some of the many budget services out there. Be aware that these deals can and will change.TingTing is a pay-as-you-go model that adjusts to your actual usage. If you are disciplined (or very budget-minded!) you can even pay as little as $12 per month for a line with minimal voice and texting and no data. More typically, an example family with 4 lines using 500 minutes, 1000 texts, and 3 GB of data in a month would pay $68. (You can add lines for $6/each to the basic Ting plan.) It’s a good choice for families who are able to be somewhat conservative with their minutes, texts, and especially data, in exchange for the advantage of low cost. You do have to bring your own phone (which you can buy used or new—most, but not all, phones are supported) with this plan. Ting uses the Sprint and T-Mobile networks (you choose), so coverage is okay but not the best possible. Ting is known for good customer service.Republic WirelessIf you’re willing to go with a limited stable of 9 (decent quality) Android phones, Republic Wireless offers a very competitive pricing, starting at $20/month for unlimited talk and text plus 1 GB data. You have to get a separate plan for each phone when you use Republic, but this isn’t necessarily a reason for families to avoid the plan. An example family of 4 would have to pay a minimum of $80 month, but for that, they would get unlimited talk and text plus 4 GB of data. You can also upgrade or downgrade your plan by the month to add more or less data as needed. Republic keeps you on Wi-Fi wherever possible for savings, which may result in a slight decrease in call quality. Like Ting, Republic uses the Sprint and T-Mobile networks.US MobileWith a starter plan of 100 minutes/100 texts/100 MB at just $9, this can be a very cheap plan, but this is usage level is likely unrealistic for many. There is also no family plan here either, so each person has to decide on his or her own plan. A more reasonable plan offering 250 minutes, 500 texts, and 1 GB of data per person would ring in at $25 per person. Multiplied by 4, for an example family, this is $100—too much to pay for what you get. This plan would probably mostly be good for people able to maintain low usage who want a very low-cost service. You need to bring your own phone, and US Mobile uses the T Mobile network.Google FiGoogle Fi is another no-contract service with some unique angles. The basic package is $20/month, which gives you unlimited calling and texting. (You can add family members at a cost of $15/month each.) You are then charged $10 per GB of data, with one different feature being that you are refunded (that is, the amount goes back to your account) for every “piece” of a GB you do not use. It’s hard to assign a price to a “example” family of 4 here due to the refund aspect, but for unlimited talk and text and assuming 1GB of data each with no refund, a family of 4 would pay $105 per month. This is a bit high, but the international calling and the improved network coverage may make it worth it for some.Fi’s SIM card allows you to use coverage from Sprint, T-Mobile, and US Cellular, giving better coverage than other resellers that rely on one network. Like Republic, it also relies on Wi-Fi whenever possible, which may result in decreased call quality. A major advantage to GoogleFi for military families is that the service works seamlessly in over 135 different countries (you’ll need to check their website for rates, but they appear reasonable). This alone may make this service the right choice for some.One potential big disadvantage to GoogleFi is that you are very limited on phone type. Right now, there are just 3 choices.Mint SIMMint’s special angle is that it gives you a discount for buying service in advance, allowing them to offer good deals like $12/month for unlimited talk and text plus 2 GB of 4G LTE and unlimited speed-throttled data (if you pay for 3 months upfront). Although they call themselves “no contract,” this does sound a bit like a contract. Mint uses the T-Mobile network and requires you to bring your own unlocked phone. International roaming is also an option with the plan. If you’re willing to take a chance on a newer service and commit, this looks like a good deal, but it might be wise to take a look at its customer service record.CricketCricket uses the AT&T network. Like other budget plans, you bring your own phone, but unlike some of these options, you have many choices, including the iPhone. Plans start at $30 per line for unlimited talk and text and 1 GB of high-speed data. Cricket provides discounts for family plans, so our example family of 4 could get unlimited talk and text and 5 GB of data to share (plus additional slower data that is unlimited) for $80/month: a good deal. This could be an excellent plan for heavy users who want a lot of phone choice but who also want to bring their costs down somewhat.lev dolgachov/PhotospinThe “Big 4”We’re not reviewing the traditional “big 4” (Sprint, Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile) here since most customers are familiar with or will “find” their plans on their own. Their deals also change frequently. In general, you can expect to pay $120-$200 per month for a family of 4 for unlimited talk and text and various larger quantities of data (4 GB-10GB+, to unlimited). These plans, though more expensive than the other options here, will be the best choice for some families.Families should definitely ask about discounts with these major players; at time of writing, all 4 offered 15% discounts to at least some military members on at least some plans. Proof of service (military ID) is necessary. Be aware, however, that this may well not be the best option, and that service members have complained about discounts not applying, applying only on “Cadillac” plans, or not being worth it.This monthly bill is one that can creep up in amount over time without us really focusing on how much it’s costing us. However (along with other recurring costs like cable, utilities, groceries, and so on), it can be an excellent place to find savings—as long families understand the tradeoffs they’re making. These less expensive options will be worth considering for some who want to cut their budgets and increase savings and decrease debt.last_img read more

Officer who probed Sohrabuddin case seeks voluntary retirement

first_imgGujarat-cadre IPS officer Rajnish Rai, who had probed the Sohrabuddin fake encounter case and arrested three senior police officers — Rajkumar Pandian, D.G. Vanjara and Dinesh M.N. in 2007 — has reportedly sought voluntary retirement from service.The 1992-batch IPS officer is currently on central deputation and is posted in Chittoor, Andhra Pradesh, at the Counter Insurgency and Anti-Terrorism School of the CRPF. According to sources, Mr. Rai has written to the Gujarat government seeking premature retirement from service. The State government has received his application but is yet to forward it to the Centre.He is the second IPS officer to opt for retirement after Rahul Sharma, who had probed the 2002 Gujarat riots cases. Both these officers were at loggerheads with the State BJP government owing to their investigations into the Sohrabuddin case and 2002 riots cases.Transferred frequentlyIn 2014, Mr. Rai was sent on central deputation as Chief Vigilance Officer to Uranium Corporation of India at Jaduguda, Jharkhand, where he had exposed alleged corruption and financial irregularities. He was then transferred to Assam as IG, CRPF. There also he had in a report alleged that two operatives of the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (S) were gunned down in a staged shooting by the Army, the Assam Police, the Sashastra Seema Bal and the CRPF in Chirang district. Following his report, the Home Ministry had set up a panel to probe the allegations of extrajudicial killings.last_img read more

Federer edges Youzhny in 5 sets at US Open; Nadal needs 4

first_imgBiggest Pogo service provider padlocked for tax evasion NATO’s aging eye in the sky to get a last overhaul A couple of seeded men departed, too: No. 7 Grigor Dimitrov and No. 15 Tomas Berdych, the 2010 Wimbledon runner-up.The No. 3-seeded Federer won five consecutive U.S. Open championships from 2004-08 and also was the runner-up twice, including two years ago. But he missed last year’s tournament while taking off the second half of the season to let his back and surgically repaired left knee fully heal.That back, an off-and-on issue for years, flared up again while Federer was losing in the final of the Montreal Masters in August. He didn’t get to fully work on returns or serves, in particular, as the U.S. Open approached. That lack of training and the resulting lack of timing — rather than pain from his back — is what Federer said caused him problems Tuesday night in the first round against 19-year-old American Frances Tiafoe and again against Youzhny, a former top-10 player who reached the 2006 and 2010 U.S. Open semifinals but is now ranked 101st.“I’m pretty confident that I’m only going to get better from here. That’s a good thing,” Federer said. “Because I’ve played a lot, I definitely found some rhythm now.”He did falter repeatedly Thursday, though.Federer let a lead slip away in the second set and got broken while serving for it at 5-4.“He helped me to come back,” Youzhny said.Federer stumbled again while serving for the fourth set at 5-3, but responded to a break there by breaking right back.Still, Federer’s unforced errors continued to mount in the fifth set — 11 in the first four games alone, including a badly shanked forehand on his first break point at 2-1, a netted backhand on his second, and a long forehand to let Youzhny hold there. Eventually, Federer nosed ahead, aided by the considerable dip in the 35-year-old Youzhny’s level of play.While Federer played his first-round match Tuesday under the roof in Ashe, Youzhny’s opener was postponed until Wednesday because of rain, and he blamed that for his fatigue. His legs started cramping late in the third set Thursday and then reached other parts of his body, even his fingers, by the end. That made it hard to move forward or to jump normally while serving. Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. “He’s also a real man who plays tennis,” Youzhny noted. “He’s not a god.”Well, OK, that’s true. But remember: Federer did not drop a single set en route to his record eighth Wimbledon championship in July. And that he is 37-3 with five titles, including two at majors to raise his record total to 19.Second on that list, with 15, is No. 1-seeded Rafael Nadal, who trailed by a set and a break before figuring things out and beating 121st-ranked Taro Daniel of Japan 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 in Ashe at night. That followed 20th-seeded American CoCo Vandeweghe’s 7-6 (6), 6-2 victory over Ons Jabeur of Tunisia under the lights.What already was a wide-open women’s bracket became more so when 2004 U.S. Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova was upset by 116th-ranked Kurumi Nara of Japan 6-3, 3-6, 6-3. The No. 8-seeded Kuznetsova’s exit means five of the top eight women are already gone.Two other seeded women lost to Americans in the afternoon: Shelby Rogers edged No. 25 Daria Gavrilova 7-6 (6), 4-6, 7-6 (5) in a tournament-record 3 hours, 33 minutes, and Jennifer Brady eliminated No. 23 Barbora Strycova 6-1, 6-1.ADVERTISEMENT Promoters: Pacquiao-Horn rematch won’t happen this year Trump signs bills in support of Hong Kong protesters Hotel says PH coach apologized for ‘kikiam for breakfast’ claim LATEST STORIES Rafael Nadal, of Spain, reacts after winning a point against Taro Daniel, of Japan, during the U.S. Open tennis tournament, Thursday, Aug. 31, 2017, in New York. (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)NEW YORK — A bad back prevented Roger Federer from getting ready for the U.S. Open the way he prefers to prepare for a Grand Slam tournament. And it’s showed so far.Federer blamed a lack of proper practice after making an uncharacteristic 68 unforced errors and being forced to go five sets again before coming back to edge a cramping Mikhail Youzhny 1-6, 7-6 (3), 6-4, 4-6, 6-2 on Thursday in Arthur Ashe Stadium.ADVERTISEMENT Ethel Booba on hotel’s clarification that ‘kikiam’ is ‘chicken sausage’: ‘Kung di pa pansinin, baka isipin nila ok lang’ Robredo should’ve resigned as drug czar after lack of trust issue – Panelo Lacson: SEA Games fund put in foundation like ‘Napoles case’ Celebrity chef Gary Rhodes dies at 59 with wife by his side It is the first time the 36-year-old Federer has played five-setters in both the first and second rounds at a major tournament.“I knew I was going to maybe struggle early on. Maybe I struggled more than I would have liked to. But I’m still in the draw, which gives me a chance. I still believe I’m going to pick up my game and become just more consistent because I’m not playing all that bad,” Federer said. “It’s just that I’m going a bit up and down in waves throughout the match.”FEATURED STORIESSPORTSSEA Games: Biñan football stadium stands out in preparedness, completionSPORTSPrivate companies step in to help SEA Games hostingSPORTSBoxers Pacquiao, Petecio torchbearers for SEA Games openingGiven that Federer entered the day with a 16-0 career record against Youzhny and a 16-0 mark in the U.S. Open’s second round, one might have thought that their match would be a mismatch.Think again. At 1-all in the deciding set, Youzhny collapsed to the court, grabbing at his right leg after whiffing on an attempted swat at Federer’s lob. Youzhny stayed down for a few moments, then grimaced and limped around for the rest of that game.Afterward, Youzhny chuckled at the mention of having lost all 17 matches against Federer, even leaning back in his chair and joking about how he would have completed the upset if Grand Slam rules were different: “I beat him in three sets now — but we played five sets. But come on, if we played three sets, I already beat him!”Federer, naturally, preferred to look at matters from a different perspective.“I find my way,” he said. “I don’t panic.”Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss PLAY LIST 02:49Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games01:44Philippines marks anniversary of massacre with calls for justice01:19Fire erupts in Barangay Tatalon in Quezon City01:07Trump talks impeachment while meeting NCAA athletes02:49World-class track facilities installed at NCC for SEA Games MOST READ View commentslast_img read more