This Message Will Self-Destruct: CIA and Homeland Security Seek To Officially Destroy Thousands Of Emails

When you delete your emails, it's likely just to remove clutter, liberating your inbox from constant coupons, ads, e-pleas, etc.  But when the CIA and Homeland Security want to delete emails, considerably more eyebrows are raised.

According to, two of our most totally-not-shady Big Brother organizations want to delete all of their emails that are seven years or older, as well as the emails of all CIA employees who have been retired for 3 years.  A plan of action was shown to the National Records and Archives Administration (NARA) that indicated this intent, with only 22 top officials' correspondence to survive the digital culling.

History now seems to be written by the digital winners.
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For two organizations who thrive on intelligence (one where it's in the very title of the company), this seems like a bad idea.  Numerous senators, including Dianne Fenstien (D-CA), are actively opposing this plan, fearing the expunging of evidence.

The motion was made by the CIA as part of an effort to help streamline its email collection for better management, a mission that NARA had asked of all government agencies to figure out a plan for.  Homeland Security's excuse was that it would free up valuable server space ($50 a terabyte per month) and that deletion could also possibly thwart the intended intelligence-gathering of Einstein, their government-website traffic-tracker.

They can stash endless info on regular citizens, but heaven forbid their own emails get retained.
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While this would be a win for private privacy, the overarching scope of government intel is something that people don't want to be able to simply vanish like so many extraordinary renditions before it.

Lee Tien of the Electronic Frontier Foundation told Gizmodo, "It's kind of sad. I want to applaud the government for choosing to discard unnecessary data about people. But we have good reason to question the government's reasons because of what we've learned about what we've NOT been told."

If you think the government shouldn't be doing the modern equivalent of shredding countless files and burning the confetti, you can tell NARA right here.

Uh...thanks but no thanks.
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Next Glass: This Scientifically-Accurate Alcohol-Selection App Knows You Like Your Bartender

Sure, you have a spectacular and discerning palate for craft beers and wine, but how can you tell if a beverage is good BEFORE you've even tried it?  Now, thanks to a new app that uses science to decide, you can get reviews of your booze before you even crack the bottle.

Next Glass is good news; use to choose your booze.
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According to the NY Daily News, the Next Glass app operates like a Pandora of libations, guessing which drinks you'd like after you upload photos of your preferences (both for and against.)  Using a "Genome Cellar" that has been developed by running tens of thousands of beverages through a mass spectrometer to determine their exact chemical composition, the app is able to project its findings by cross-referencing your prefs with their flavor profiles.

Trace Smith, Next Glass's COO, told the Huffington Post, "Each bottle that we run through the mass-spec, we get over 20,000 individual chemical attributes. We're looking at each of these bottles at a molecular level...We see the data of what they do and don't like, and based on that info, we see what other bottles they'll like."

One simply has to upload an image of a pondered-on drink's label, and a scored "review" from Next Glass will pop up, determining your compatibility.  You can also check out what your friends have been sipping on (and cheer or make fun of them for it appropriately) as well as post your own whiskey-steeped thoughts, or read reviews from other revelers.

Next Glass is free on iOS and Android platforms.  Cheers!

They put 30,000 bottles of booze through this, just so you can tell if it tastes good.  Give Next Glass a shot.
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New "Smart Lock" Lets You Phone Into Your Home

Sometimes it's the little developments that make all the difference.  In the course of your daily routine, how many times have your keys factored into making things difficult or, if you forgot them, downright unaccessible?  Now, a new type of lock enables you (and others that you choose) to have easier access without worrying about your keyring.

According to, the August is a new "smart lock" that uses computer code as its key.  The code can be changed as often as you like for security, or shared for sociability.  If you're away on business and still need to let the dog walker in, you can text them the unlock-code, and then have it auto-destruct after a desired time.

All prospective thieves see is a shiny silver stop sign.
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August co-founder and CEO Jason Johnson feels he is filling an important niche.  He explained, "The past two years I've been working on this, if there is a phrase I've heard more than anything, it's 'I hate keys.'"

Despite the lack of launch date, the August Smart Lock will retail for $199, and the compatible software will be free for consumers (although the company does plan to charge for business use of its program.)  It is compatible with iOS (and soon Android) devices via Bluetooth, and the development team has claimed it will eventually also be operable via your other Bluetooth-enabled devices.

It may take some time for the concept of a hackable (rather than pickable) lock to catch on, but as homes go further into everyday technological territory, it could become an attractive option.  Just remember to keep your phone charged, or you're sleeping on the porch.

Seriously, charge your phone.  Bowser doesn't like to snuggle.
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Sky-High Five: New App Lets You Say Hi To An Astronaut

If you're a fan of the astro-adventurers who make their living by working on the International Space Station, a.k.a. possibly humanity's greatest collaborative scientific achievement, you've probably at some point wondered how they were doing up there.  Maybe it's because you feel a connection to their self-imposed earthly exile, maybe it's because you think they might be looking down over your city at the moment, maybe you just read a lot of our Space Station Sunday articles and feel a faraway friendship with these folks.  Whatever your motivation, the new Friends In Space app lets you chat with one of the human stars of space.

According to, the app was developed by Italian company Accurat and provides a host of spacewatching options.  You can track past, present, and future orbits of the ISS, chat with other stargazers, check out audio and video from the ISS, and see the astronauts' daily schedules.  But the coolest part is the connectivity:  when the ISS passes over your region, the app will alert you, and you can send a hello up to Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti.

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The idea was created when Accurat co-founder Giorgia Lupi was interacting on Twitter with Cristoforetti, who is currently serving as Italy's first female space station astronaut.  Cristoforetti, who has nearly 84,000 Twitter followers, agreed a social network for space might be a fun idea.  Lupi said, “She liked the idea of doing something that wasn’t scientific...something that reminded people on Earth that there is a human up there talking to them.”

Even though the astronauts can technically see all of us, it's nice for them to be reminded that we're still here supporting them.  And who knows what sort of fascinating posts may show up on this new space-based social media?  With lots of data available for fans and the whole world at the astronauts' hands, it will be interesting to see the daily grind from someone who is outside your normal social orbit.

They totally should have called it "Spacebook" though.
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Green Hydrogen Replaces Liquid Gold: First Sustainable Refueling Station Now Operational

With fossil fuels falling out of favor as a preferred power source, it's time for green energy to get a chance to shine.  Now, a refueling station in England has become the first source of solar-derived hydrogen power, readily available to fuel your vehicle.

According to, the 15MW solar electric plant in Swindon now powers an industrial electrolyser that is able to use the power of the sun to separate hydrogen molecules from water.  This is then stored for use by hydrogen-powered vehicles.  Hydrogen can be produced at a rate of around 3kg per hour or up to 200kg per day, with 135kg in possible storage.

The first element might prove to be the best one.  A hydrogen-powered micro-cab fills up in Swindon.
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Some 15 additional hydrogen refueling stations are set to become permanent fixtures in England, with shopping giant Sainsbury's even adding an onsite pump at one of their popular locations in Hendon, North London.  The Swindon site will be first the major marketability test, however.

Nick Rolf of gas supplier BOC explained, “We want to know the lowest cost and what the price of hydrogen will be at the pump. We've got an idea of what it will be, but this will validate that and stress test the concept. If it doesn't stack up commercially no one will want to buy the next one.”

But if it DOES stack up commercially, the oil barons will soon be looking to the skies...

Get hy all the time...
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Space Station Sunday: New Faces In Space

Good evening, space fans!  Today the crew of Expedition 42/43 set off from Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazahkstan, bound for the ISS.  The launch, carried out at 21:01 GMT (16:01 EST), was a success.

A fine day for some rocketry (there wasn't too much snow!)
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According to, the spacecraft will travel for 6 hours to reach the ISS.  Aboard are NASA astronaut Terry Virts, Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti, and Russian cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov, who will all spend the next 169 days circling the earth.

The arrival of Cristoforetti will make it the second time in ISS history that two women (the other being Russia's Yelena Serova) have been aboard for long-duration mission.  As reported by ABC News, Cristoforetti has previously served as a captain and fighter pilot in the Italian Air Force.  Regarding her new mission, she is focused on only the matters at hand, saying, "Space is what I do for work, and that's what I think about it: It's my work."

She may be focused on work, but she's inadvertantly making flight suits part of the hot new Italian fall fashion.
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As for the others in this line of work, Cristoferetti is in distinguished company.  According to wikipedia, her crewmate Anton Shkaplerov is a colonel in the Russian air force.  He has served as a senior pilot instructor and Instructor of General Parachute Training, completing over 300 jumps.  He has also served as the Russian Space Agency's Director of Operations at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, and has previously worked aboard the ISS as a flight engineer during Expedition 29/30.

Not only are his skydiving credentials impressive, he's also good at sky-lurking, having conducted a spacewalk during his last ISS mission.
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Rounding out the new crew is NASA astronaut Terry Virts, who hails from Maryland.  A colonel in the United States Air Force, Virts is a distinguished experimental test pilot with over 3,000 hours spent in more than 40 different types of aircraft.  His piloting expertise isn't limited to earth, as he was also the pilot of the Space Shuttle during STS-130 (which notably helped deliver the much-beloved, multi-windowed Cupola module of the ISS.)  Prior to this mission, Virts had been serving as CAPCOM in Houston, communicating with the ISS from the ground.

The unflappable Colonel Virts shakes off some final training in a vestibular chair, designed to practice for the effects of the mission.
(Image courtesy @AstroTerry.)

The new crew will chart their mission progress through their respective social media outlets, including @AstroSamantha (Cristoferetti), @AntonAstrey (Skhaplerov), and @AstroTerry (Virts.)

Meanwhile, up in orbit, business continued as usual.  According to, Commander Barry "Butch" Wilmore spent time working on an experiment that analyzed plant root growth in micro-gravity, as well as replacing hardware on the Combustion Integrated Rack (where all the cool set-things-on-fire-in-space experiments occur.)

Astronauts Yelena Serova and Alexander Samokutyaev kept busy with installing new gas detection hardware, cleaning vents, and venting gas from an onboard air conditioner.  They also worked with a chemistry experiment that will be used educationally with Russian schoolchildren.  Other routine maintenance and scientific tasks were tended to on schedule.

Speaking of schedule, the new crew are expected to arrive at the ISS at around 10pm EST this evening, and you can watch it live on  Hatch opening coverage begins at 11pm.  We'll have more details from the mission next Sunday, when we'll see how the crew has adjusted to their new floating this space!

If you are reading this prior to 10pm EST on 11.23.14, these three people are currently hurtling through space.
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Nothing But Net, Now ON The Net: New ShotTracker App Assesses & Shares Your B-Ball Skills

Think you've got game, but have no way to scientifically quantify it?  Now, you too can assess your skills like the pros with a new wristband that catches all your basketball glory (or goof-ups.)

The ShotTracker system, according to, is comprised of three elements:  one wrist-mounted sensor, one net-mounted sensor, and a mobile app that allows the sensors to share information via Bluetooth and concretely calculate whether you scored a shot or fell short.

Shot stats ASAP.  Let the future aid your freethrows.
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The system includes a wristband and a compression sleeve for wearing the diminutive wrist sensor at your preferred level of comfort.  For $150, it will ship in early December, well in time for any Xmas-party shootouts.  The durable devices are waterproof and weatherproof, and if you feel like waiting for version 2.0 in mid-2015, it will be also able to calculate your exact location on the court.

ShotTracker includes a sharing program where you can compare dunks and drops with other users, and also a list of workouts so you can bring your game up to shareable snuff.  Coaches can also add their own workout plans, to perfect players even outside of practice.

Whether you're trying to make the team or just trying to tell if your old skills are still on point, the ShotTracker has a little something for every kind of hoop dreamer.  As the ShotTracker website rightly explains, "You can't improve what you don't measure."

It's like having these guys in your smartphone!
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