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The Galileo Thermometer Was Not Invented By Galileo
Posted by News Fetcher on September 07 '12 at 12:00 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's turns-out-apple-had-a-patent-all-along department:
New submitter GregLaden writes "The object known as the Galileo Thermometer is a vertical glass tube filled with a liquid in which are suspended a number of weighted glass balls. As the temperature of the liquid changes, so does the density. Since each glass ball is set to float at equilibrium in a sightly different density of the liquid, as the temperature increases, each glass ball sinks to the bottom. It turns out that this thermometer was actually invented by a team of instrument inventors that formed a scientific society who had the impressive motto 'Probando e Reprobando,' which in English means 'testing and retesting.' The Accademia del Cimento operated under the leadership of the Grand Duke Ferdinand II from 1657-1667 in Florence, Italy. According to Peter Loyson, who has written a corrective article for the Journal of Chemical Education, Galileo did invent a temperature measuring device called a thermoscope."

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The Lies Disks and Their Drivers Tell
Posted by News Fetcher on September 07 '12 at 11:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's designed-at-odds department:
davecb writes "Pity the poor filesystem designer: they just want to know when their data is safe, but the disks and drivers try so hard to make I/O 'easy' that it ends up being stupidly hard. Marshall Kirk McKusick writes about the difficulties in making the systems work nicely together: 'In the real world, many of the drives targeted to the desktop market do not implement the NCQ specification. To ensure reliability, the system must either disable the write cache on the disk or issue a cache-flush request after every metadata update, log update (for journaling file systems), or fsync system call. Both of these techniques lead to noticeable performance degradation, so they are often disabled, putting file systems at risk if the power fails. Systems for which both speed and reliability are important should not use ATA disks. Rather, they should use drives that implement Fibre Channel, SCSI, or SATA with support for NCQ.'"

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Cloud Firm MediaFire Flags Malware Samples For DMCA Violation, Bans Researcher
Posted by News Fetcher on September 07 '12 at 11:00 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's guess-we're-learning-this-lesson-the-hard-way department:
chicksdaddy writes "A malicious software researcher finds herself in company with First Lady Michelle Obama and science fiction author Neil Gaiman: booted from the Web by hard-headed copyright protection algorithms, according to the Naked Security blog. Mila Parkour, a researcher who operates the Contagio malware blog, said on Thursday that she was kicked off the cloud based hosting service Mediafire, after three files she hosted there were flagged for copyright violations and ordered removed under the terms of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). The files included two compressed and encrypted malicious PDF files linked to Contagio blog posts from 2010. The firm responsible for filing the DMCA take down notice was Paris-based LeakID, which describes itself as a 'digital agency ...founded by experts from the world of radio, television and Internet.' LeakID markets 'Leaksearch,' an 'ownership tool that will alert you within seconds if your content...is being pirated.' According to Parkour, Mediafire received a notice from LeakID claiming that it was 'acting on behalf of the copyright owners,' though the owners and presumed copyrighted content weren't named."

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Ask Slashdot: How Would You Fix the Linux Desktop?
Posted by News Fetcher on September 07 '12 at 10:15 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's solid-color-rectangles department:
itwbennett writes "Slashdot readers are familiar with the Torvalds/de Icaza slugfest over 'the lack of development in Linux desktop initiatives.' The problem with the Linux desktop boils down to this: We need more applications, and that means making it easier for developers to build them, says Brian Proffitt. 'It's easy to point at solutions like the Linux Standard Base, but that dog won't hunt, possibly because it's not in the commercial vendors' interests to create true cross-distro compatibility. United Linux or a similar consortium probably won't work, for the same reasons,' says Proffitt. So, we put it to the Slashdot community: How would you fix the Linux desktop?"

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Apple Reportedly Planning Streaming Music Service
Posted by News Fetcher on September 07 '12 at 10:00 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's everybody-needs-one-of-those-nowadays department:
Nerval's Lobster writes "Apple plans on taking a big bite of the streaming-music market, according to unnamed sources speaking to The New York Times. Those sources suggested that an Apple streaming-music service would 'probably' center on an app of some kind, and link to iTunes in order to better evaluate the listener's musical interests. In broad strokes, that would make it similar to Spotify, a streaming-music service that also requires an app. Other popular cloud-music hubs, including Pandora and Last.fm, operate primarily as browser-based services. The Wall Street Journal, citing its own unnamed sources, indicated that any Apple streaming service would work on iOS devices such as the iPad, Macs, and 'possibly on PCs running Microsoft Corp.'s Windows operating system.' In keeping with Apple's intense rivalry with Google, one source added, the service would not appear on Android devices."

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The Motivated Rejection of Science
Posted by News Fetcher on September 07 '12 at 09:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's brains-are-bad-at-accepting-their-environments department:
Layzej writes "New research (PDF) to be published in a forthcoming issue of Psychological Science has found that those who subscribed to one or more conspiracy theories or who strongly supported a free market economy were more likely to reject the findings from climate science as well as other sciences. The researchers, led by UWA School of Psychology Professor Stephan Lewandowsky, found that free-market ideology was an overwhelmingly strong determinant of the rejection of climate science. It also predicted the rejection of the link between tobacco and lung cancer and between HIV and AIDS. Conspiratorial thinking was a lesser but still significant determinant of the rejection of all scientific propositions examined, from climate to lung cancer. Curiously, public response to the paper has provided a perfect real-life illustration of the very cognitive processes at the center of the research."

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Mt. Fuji May Be Close To Erupting
Posted by News Fetcher on September 07 '12 at 09:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's must-be-fukushima's-fault department:
SpuriousLogic points out an article at Wired discussing research into pressure levels inside Mt. Fuji's magma chamber, which scientists claim is higher than it was in 1707, the last time it erupted. "The new readings, taken by the National Research Institute for Earth Science and Disaster Prevention, reveal that the pressure is at 1.6 megapascals, nearly 16 times the 0.1 megapascals it takes to trigger an eruption." A series of earthquakes shook the area around Mt. Fuji a little over a decade ago, and a fault line was discovered underneath it. "Since the March 2011 tsunami and the 6.4 magnitude earthquake that followed four days later, Japan has been on tenterhooks, and in May 2012 a professor from Ryukyu University warned that a massive eruption within three years would be likely because of several major factors: steam and gases are being emitted from the crater, water eruptions are occurring nearby, massive holes emitting hot natural gases are appearing in the vicinity." While the rising pressure within the magma chamber is of concern, it is but one factor among many that lead to eruptions.

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Unconventional Adversaries vs. Conventional Wisdom (Video)
Posted by News Fetcher on September 07 '12 at 09:15 AM
By Roblimo from Slashdot's pick-a-hat-color-any-hat-color department:
This presentation was given by Joshua Corman at CodenomiCON 2012 in Las Vegas, an invitation-only security mini-conference sponsored by the pen-testing company Codenomicon that ran concurrently with Black Hat USA 2012. Josh is Director, Security Intelligence, for Akamai, and is one of the instigators of Rugged Software. He sympathizes with Anonymous more than with corporate or government forces that are determined to bring order to everything, including the Internet, on their terms. We have no transcript for this video since we only have permission to embed it, not to alter or add to it. But it's well worth watching, including the accompanying slides. And if Joshua Corman is speaking anywhere near you, it's well worth your time to go see him.

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Texas Opens Fastest US Highway With 85 MPH Limit
Posted by News Fetcher on September 07 '12 at 08:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's germany-chuckles department:
Hugh Pickens writes "Most highways in the U.S. top out at 75 mph, while some highways in rural West Texas and Utah have 80 mph speed limits. All that is about to change as Texas opens a stretch of highway with the highest speed limit in the country, giving eager drivers a chance to rip through a trip between two of the state's largest metropolitan areas at 85 mph for a 41-mile toll road between Austin and San Antonio. While some drivers will want to test their horsepower and radar detectors, others are asking if safety is taking a backseat. A 2009 report in the American Journal of Public Health found that more than 12,500 deaths were attributable to increases in speed limits on all kinds of roads and that rural highways showed a 9.1 percent increase in fatalities on roads where speed limits were raised. 'If you're looking at an 85 mph speed limit, we could possibly see drivers going 95 up to 100 miles per hour,' says Sandra Helin, president of the Southwestern Insurance Information Service. 'When you get to those speeds, your accidents are going to be a lot worse. You're going to have a lot more fatalities.'"

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Windows Phone 8 SDK — By Appointment Only
Posted by News Fetcher on September 07 '12 at 07:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's doctor-will-see-you-now department:
mikejuk writes "Developers worried about the changes that might be waiting for them in the new Windows Phone 8 API are going to have to wait even longer to find out. Microsoft has just announced that the SDK will be available soon, but only to the developers it approves. If you already have a published app, then you can apply to be part of the program. The announcement says, 'But I do want to set your expectations that program access will be limited.' The public SDK will be made available 'later this year,' which is behind the timetable that developers were led to expect. As you can imagine, the developer community, judging by the comment stream, is less than happy. What makes this whole development even stranger is that the announcement was made on the day Nokia previewed a range of WP8 devices. The Nokia launch got most of the publicity, so perhaps the idea was that a little negative news wouldn't be noticed. The real question is: why the limited availability?"

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NASA's Giant Crawler-Transporter Is Getting an Upgrade
Posted by News Fetcher on September 07 '12 at 07:15 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's new-paint-job-and-millions-of-pounds-of-carrying-capacity department:
An anonymous reader sends this excerpt from Transportation Nation:
"Retired space shuttles are being readied for museums, but there's one piece of equipment at the Kennedy Space Center that dates back to before the moon landing and it's not going anywhere. NASA's giant crawler transporter is the only machine with enough muscle to move Apollo rockets and space shuttles out to the launch pad, and after nearly 50 years on the job the agency's decided there's still no better way to transport heavy loads. It's about as wide as a six lane highway, higher than a two story building, with huge caterpillar treads at each of its four corners. ... Crawler two is being upgraded from its current lifting capacity of 12 million pounds — the combined weight of the shuttle and mobile launcher — to 18 million pounds, for NASA’s new heavy lift rocket."

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Judge Approves Settlement In eBook Price-Fixing Case
Posted by News Fetcher on September 07 '12 at 06:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's but-we-love-paying-more-than-for-dead-tree-books department:
An anonymous reader writes "On Thursday a U.S. District Judge approved a settlement between the Department of Justice and three publishers accused to colluding to inflate ebook prices (order). 'The Justice Department had accused Apple and five publishers in April of illegally colluding on prices as part of an effort to fight internet retailer Amazon.com Inc's dominance of e-books. The publishers who agreed to settle are News Corp's HarperCollins Publishers Inc, CBS Corp's Simon & Schuster Inc and Lagardere SCA's Hachette Book Group. Apple; Macmillan, a unit of Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holtzbrinck GmbH; and Pearson Plc's Penguin Group have vowed to fight the Justice Department's lawsuit with a trial due to start on June 3 next year.' The decision came after a lengthy period of public comment. According to the AP, 'The ruling released Thursday cast aside the strident objections of Apple, other book publishers, book sellers and authors who argued the settlement will empower Internet retailing giant Amazon.com Inc. to destroy the "literary ecosystem" with rampant discounting that most competitors can't afford to match. Those worries were repeatedly raised in court filings about the settlement. More than 90 percent of the 868 public comments about the settlement opposed the agreement.'"

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Comments On Code Comments?
Posted by News Fetcher on September 07 '12 at 05:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's ehhh-i'll-add-comments-later department:
theodp writes "It seems like comments are on programmers' minds these days. The problem with comments, as Zachary Voase sees it, is that our editors display comments in such a way as to be ignored by the programmer. And over at Scripting News, Dave Winer shares some comments on comments, noting how outlining features allow programmers to see and hide comments as desired. 'The important thing is that with elision (expand/collapse),' explains Winer, 'comments don't take up visual space so there's no penalty for fully explaining the work. Without this ability there's an impossible tradeoff between comments and the clarity of comment-free code.' Winer also makes the case for providing links in his code to external 'worknotes.' So, what are your thoughts on useful commenting practices or features, either implemented or on your wishlist?"

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Science Wins Over Creationism In South Korea
Posted by News Fetcher on September 07 '12 at 05:00 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's bribed-with-vespene-gas department:
ananyo writes "South Korea's government has urged textbook publishers to ignore calls to remove two examples of evolution from high-school textbooks. The move marks a change of heart for the government, which had earlier forwarded a petition from the 'Society for Textbook Revise' to publishers and told them to make their own minds up about the demands. The petition called for details about the evolution of the horse and of the avian ancestor Archaeopteryx to be removed from the books. In May, news emerged that publishers were planning to drop the offending sections, sparking outrage among some scientists. The resulting furor prompted the government to set up an 11-member panel, led by the Korean Academy of Science and Technology. On 5 September, the panel concluded that Archaeopteryx must be included in Korean science textbooks. And, while accepting that the textbooks' explanation of the evolution of the horse was too simplistic, the panel said the entry should be revised rather than removed or replaced with a different example, such as the evolution of whales."

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DARPA's Robo-Cheetah Is Now Faster Than Usain Bolt
Posted by News Fetcher on September 07 '12 at 04:15 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's greased-lightning department:
pigrabbitbear writes "The Boston Dynamics Cheetah just clocked a 28.3 miles per hour sprint on a treadmill, and it's heading outdoors soon. At that speed, it could edge out the world's fastest man, Usain Bolt, in a dead sprint. (Bolt peaked at 27.78 miles per hour in his world-record-setting 100-meter dash back in 2009.) 'To be fair, keep in mind that the Cheetah robot runs on a treadmill without wind drag and has an off-board power supply that it does not carry,' admitted Boston Dynamics in a press release. 'So Bolt is still the superior athlete.' Nevertheless, the team hopes to drop these implements and have a freestanding speed bot by early next year. They're calling that model the WildCat."

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Open Source Beer Served Cold, With a Heated Licensing Discussion
Posted by News Fetcher on September 07 '12 at 01:45 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's drink-up department:
sethopia writes "Sam Muirhead enjoys a couple of open source beers and delves into their licenses (Creative Commons BY-NC-SA) and the recent CC Non Commercial license controversy. As Sam writes, 'Depending on your point of view, the Non Commercial license is either the methadone that can wean copyright junkies off their all-rights-reserved habit, or it is a gateway drug to the psychedelic and dangerously addictive world of open source and free culture.'"

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Sir Tim Berners-Lee Accuses UK Government of "Draconian Internet Snooping"
Posted by News Fetcher on September 06 '12 at 11:45 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's keep-your-eyes-on-your-own-screen department:
An anonymous reader writes "According to British daily The Telegraph, Sir Tim Berners-Lee has warned that plans to monitor individuals' use of the internet would result in Britain losing its reputation as an upholder of web freedom. The plans, by Home Secretary Theresa May, would force British ISPs and other service providers to keep records of every phone call, email and website visit in Britain. Sir Tim has told the Times: 'In Britain, like in the US, there has been a series of Bills that would give government very strong powers to, for example, collect data. I am worried about that.' Sir Tim has also warned that the UK may wind up slipping down the list of countries with the most Internet freedom, if the proposed data-snooping laws pass parliament. The draft bill extends the type of data that internet service providers must store for at least 12 months. Providers would also be required to keep details of a much wider set of data, including use of social network sites, webmail and voice calls over the internet." Jimmy Wales doesn't seem to be a very big fan of the UK snooping either.

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Arctic Sea Ice Hits Record Low
Posted by News Fetcher on September 06 '12 at 08:30 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's learn-to-swim department:
Titus Andronicus writes "Angela Fritz and Jeff Masters of Weather Underground analyze this year's record ongoing Arctic ice melt. Arctic sea ice extent, area, and volume are all at record lows for the post-1979 satellite era. The ice is expected to continue melting for perhaps another couple of weeks. Extreme sea ice melting might help cause greater numbers of more powerful Arctic storms, help to accelerate the melting of the Greenland ice sheet, and help to accelerate global warming itself, due to the increased absorption of solar energy into the ocean."

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Rare Form of Autism Could Be Curable With Protein Supplements
Posted by News Fetcher on September 06 '12 at 06:15 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's social-eaters department:
ananyo writes "A rare, hereditary form of autism has been found — and it may be treatable with protein supplements. Genome sequencing of six children with autism has revealed mutations in a gene that stops several essential amino acids being depleted. Mice lacking this gene developed neurological problems related to autism that were reversed by dietary changes (abstract). According to Joseph Gleeson, a child neurologist at the University of California, San Diego, who led the study, 'This might represent the first treatable form of autism.' It is possible that some other forms of autism may also be linked to uncommon metabolic disorders — and so treatable through dietary changes, according to the scientists quoted in the piece."

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The Algorithmic Copyright Cops: Streaming Video's Robotic Overlords
Posted by News Fetcher on September 06 '12 at 04:00 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's you-can't-show-that department:
thomst writes "Geeta Dayal of Wired's Threat Level blog posts an interesting report about bot-mediated automatic takedowns of streaming video. He mentions the interruption of Michelle Obama's speech at the DNC, and the blocking of NASA's coverage of Mars rover Curiosity's landing by a Scripps News Service bot, but the story really drills down on the abrupt disappearance of the Hugo Award's live stream of Neil Gaiman's acceptance speech for his Doctor Who script. (Apparently the trigger was a brief clip from the Doctor Who episode itself, despite the fact that it was clearly a case of fair use.) Dayal points the finger at Vobile, whose content-blocking technology was used by Ustream, which hosted the derailed coverage of the Hugos."

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