NASA Confirms the International Space Station is Leaking Coolant

Astronauts on Thursday noticed frozen ammonia flakes leaking from the International Space Station, though NASA said the issue poses no immediate threat to the crew. A lot can—and apparently will—go wrong when you’re thousands of miles from Earth, especially with such complicated systems involved. The coolant, which is used to cool down the ISS’s power systems on its right solar array panels, first began leaking back in 2007. But the issue was finally fixed—or so they thought—back in 2012.

“It is in the same area, but we don’t know whether it’s the same leak,” NASA spokesman Kelly Humphries of the Johnson Space Center in Houston said. Right now the issue hasn’t had a negative affect, but if left unfixed, the station could lose its ability to cool whichever solar array is leaking. Mission Control predicts the leaking loop to shut down within 24 hours should no action be taken. Potential fixes are currently being discussed.

One possible move could be to move the station’s robotic arm over to the station’s port truss. The first leak back in 2007 was traced back to Port 6 truss, NBCNews said. Interestingly, space station commander Chris Hadfield, a Canadian Space Agency astronaut, said the rate of the leak varies “depending on the orientation of the station to the sun.”

While the crew is in no imminent danger, three members—Chris Hadfield, Tom Marschburn and Roman Romanenko—are planned to depart the ISS on Monday, May 13. That leaves only three members onboard to address the problem. However, three new members are expected to launch to the ISS on May 28.

More information will be provided to the crew soon, hopefully pinpointing the leak’s exact origin.


Double Fine’s Broken Age Gets First Trailer

A while back, Double Fine launched a Kickstarter campaign to create a brand new, classicly styled adventure game. That campaign went on to produce record breaking results, and Tim Schafer and his team went to work creating a title.


Minecraft for Xbox 360 Getting Physical Retail Edition

Minecraft has been selling like absolute gangbusters on the Xbox 360. It’s brought in millions for Microsoft, 4J Studios and Mojang.

In it’s current form, though, it’s only available as a digital download. However, that’s going to change at the end of April as Minecraft is getting a physical retail edition.

The news comes by way of PlayXBLA, the official Xbox LIVE Arcade blog. Here’s the skinny on what the retail version is:

This version of “Minecraft: Xbox 360 Edition” will contain all the same features and content included in the current version, as well as the new additions coming soon in the ninth title update to the game.

The post goes on to indicate that the retail version will sell for $19.99, and it will be available in the US on April 30th, 2013.

Whether you’re a collector or you’ve never connected your Xbox 360 to the internet (those people exist, I promise), this version of Minecraft seems pretty neat.


Another iOS 6.1 Passcode Exploit Exposed

Not only have researchers discovered yet another iOS 6.1 passcode exploit, but they’ve found a way to dump a device’s data, too. After the lockscreen is bypassed, researchers say the vulnerable device can be plugged into a computer via USB and access data like voicemails, pictures, contacts, etc. The trick is actually similar to the previous one but, as the video shows, there are a few more hoops to jump through.


AT&T CEO on Botched T-Mobile Deal: “We Didn’t Execute Well”

AT&T tried to acquire T-Mobile in 2011 but the deal was ultimately denied by the FCC and the DoJ. AT&T USA CEO Randall Stepenson recently sat down with the Dean of the University of Colorado law school where he discussed the deal and hinted that, perhaps, it was AT&T’s fault that the government ultimately decided not to approve it.

“I wouldn’t say it was a bad decision,” Stephenson said. “But it was a decision that didn’t go the way I wanted. We didn’t execute well.” Stephenson didn’t dive much deeper than that, but AT&T decided to pull its bid to acquire T-Mobile USA from Deutsche Telekom after it was made pretty clear that the FCC would not approve the deal.

Sprint and several other U.S. carriers were in staunch opposition of the acquisition and feared it would give AT&T too much control over the market, cut jobs and more. AT&T always maintained that it would create jobs and would be good for the U.S wireless market.


TicketMaster Dumps CAPTCHA Verification, When Will Others Follow Suit?


Maybe it’s a small victory, but I’m still cheering nonetheless: TicketMaster has ditched CAPTCHA for an easier verification solution from New York startup Solve Media.

Now, if only others would get a clue.

Developed at Carnegie Mellon University in 2000, CAPTCHA (“completely automated public Turing test to tell computers and humans apart”) has gone on to prominence as one of the most universally despised facets of modern life. While companies need to make sure users logging in or registering for accounts are genuine human-beings and not robots, these crazy symbols or stylized letters are just too clever for their own good. I bet they foil as many, if not more, actual people than the dreaded bots.

“It is generally speaking the one of the most hated pieces of user interaction on the web,” says user experience expert Aaron Young. “The major problem with them is that it’s not unusual for several attempts to be needed…so when people see them again on different websites they have negative expectations.”

Solve Media’s answer to the problem lies in banishing ridiculous phrases like “tormentis harlory” (isn’t that one of Dumbledore’s spells?) and using either more common language, such as “freezing temperatures,” or multiple choice questions, among other factors.

Honestly, anything’s better than guessing at a jumbled cacophony of pseudo-letters forming esoteric or altogether made-up words over and over until the system freezes you out. If it came down to it, I’d rather hook up a USB blood sampling kit to prove my humanity, just to be done with it. Luckily that may not be required, as TicketMaster’s test of Solve’s system is going pretty well.

Overall, TicketMaster users take an average of 14 seconds to pass CAPTCHA verification, but Solve’s system only takes them seven seconds to complete. The company reports higher levels of customer satisfaction, and as far as security goes, the results look positive.

Have you ever come across any crazy CAPTCHAs? Do you stick with it until you get it (or the system locks you out), or move on to a competitor with simpler verification?


AT&T Reportedly Looking to Acquire a European Carrier

AT&T is reportedly on the search to acquire a European carrier based in the Netherlands, Germany or the United Kingdom. The news is courtesy of The Wall Street Journal, which said AT&T’s goal is to enter a new market where it “can upgrade technology and roll out more lucrative pricing strategies.” European carriers are still focused on rolling out 4G LTE, a technology that is now widely available in the United States.

A deal could happen by the end of 2013, andThe Wall Street Journal said Everything Everywhere and Royal KPN NV are currently in AT&T’s scopes.


Sprint Announces 28 New 4G LTE Markets

Sprint announced on Thursday that it will activate 28 new 4G LTE markets in the “coming months.”

The new markets include:

  • Albany, GA
  • Anderson, SC
  • Bay City, MI
  • Branson, MO
  • Bremerton/Silverdale, WA
  • Columbus, GA
  • Columbus, MS
  • Decatur, AL
  • Florence/Muscle Shoals, AL
  • Gadsden, AL
  • Gaffney, SC
  • Gettysburg, PA
  • Glasgow, KY
  • Homosassa Springs, FL
  • Hot Springs, AR
  • Lake City, FL
  • Lake Havasu City/Kingman, AZ
  • Midland, MI
  • Nacogdoches, TX
  • Opelousas/Eunice, LA
  • Oxford, MS
  • Paris, TX
  • Pittsfield, MA
  • Saginaw, MI
  • Spartanburg, SC
  • The Villages, FL
  • Waycross, GA
  • Winona, MN

“During the pre-launch phase, Sprint customers with capable devices may begin to see 4G LTE coverage in these areas and are welcome to use the network even before it officially launches,” the carrier noted on Thursday. Sprint’s 4G LTE network is currently “on its way” to more than 200 markets in the United States.


Instagram Rolls Back Terms To Old Version, Effective January 19

As promised, Instagram has announced that its user agreement will revert to its previous version starting January 19. The move comes after a public outcry last December over revised terms that insinuated user images could be pulled into advertising without consent or compensation.

Truth is, the old terms that are back on deck doesn’t really protect users any better than the revised version. And yet, the photo-sharing company updated its Privacy Policy and Terms of Service in an effort to appease the masses: “Because of the feedback we have heard from you, we are reverting this advertising section to the original version that has been in effect since we launched the service in October 2010.”

Originally, the changes were supposed to go live on January 16, but emails went out today publicizing a January 19th rollout. Instagram blogged a few tentpoles on the new/old version that will be going into effect:

Nothing has changed about your photos’ ownership or who can see them.

Our updated privacy policy helps Instagram function more easily as part of Facebook by being able to share info between the two groups. This means we can do things like fight spam more effectively, detect system and reliability problems more quickly, and build better features for everyone by understanding how Instagram is used.

Our updated terms of service help protect you, and prevent spam and abuse as we grow.

Adds the company: “Going forward, rather than obtain permission from you to introduce possible advertising products we have not yet developed, we are going to take the time to complete our plans, and then come back to our users and explain how we would like for our advertising business to work.”

The timing is interesting. Also this morning, parent company Facebook announced Graph Search, which has kicked up a few privacy concerns of its own. While Instagram data won’t get pulled into the social search mechanism, Mark Zuckerberg says it’s “on the list of things we will one day get to.” Whether it happens or not, the company would do well to remember this P.R. debacle. Facebook has promised to revise its privacy policy to cover Graph Search, so let’s hope it learned a thing or two from all of this — like not using verbiage that freaks people out. There’s simply no faster way to kill public acceptance. Just ask the scores of artists, photographers, journalists and other Instagram users that deleted their accounts.