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NASA's Plan To Clean Up Space Program Launch Site Contamination
Posted by News Fetcher on August 01 '11 at 12:45 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's lots-of-paper-towels department:
Elliot Chang tips a story about plans from NASA and the US Air Force to clean up the areas around the Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, which have been contaminated with decades worth of carcinogenic chemicals from launching Shuttles, the Apollo moon missions, and other rockets. The KSC cleanup is expected to take 30 years, and will cost an estimated $96 million.
"By far, the most common contaminant is a chlorinated solvent called trichloroethylene, or 'trike,' and its breakdown products — substances known to cause birth defects and cancer and reaching concentrations thousands of times higher than federal drinking water standards allow. ... Kennedy's sandy, alkaline soils are thought to neutralize most metals and other contaminants before they become a problem up the food chain. But trike dies hard. And workers kept pouring it into the ground in the early years of the shuttle program, thinking it would evaporate."

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The Next Firefox UI
Posted by News Fetcher on August 01 '11 at 12:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's let-the-arguing-commence department:
An anonymous reader writes "Mozilla has been constructing a new user interface for Firefox, and the layout seems to be revealed in new mockups that show the integrated Home Tab app and the streamlining of tabs and browsing buttons."

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Massachusetts Lottery Broken
Posted by News Fetcher on August 01 '11 at 11:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's math-nerds-win-again department:
wiredog sends in a story about how knowledge of lottery rules and statistics has allowed opportunistic players in Massachusetts to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on tickets while being assured of a massive payoff. Quoting:
"Because of a quirk in the rules, when the jackpot reaches roughly $2 million and no one wins, payoffs for smaller prizes swell dramatically, which statisticians say practically assures a profit to anyone who buys at least $100,000 worth of tickets. During these brief periods — 'rolldown weeks' in gambling parlance — a tiny group of savvy bettors, among them highly trained computer scientists from MIT and Northeastern University, virtually take over the game. ... Srivastava calculated that a gambler who bought 200,000 Cash WinFall tickets during four rolldown weeks in a year would win enough to cover the $1.6 million investment and earn a profit of $240,000 to $1.4 million — without ever winning the jackpot."

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Prosecuted For Critical Twittering
Posted by News Fetcher on August 01 '11 at 10:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's tweets-are-for-jailbirds department:
lee1 writes "The Electronic Frontier Foundation is trying to urge a federal court (PDF) to block what they claim is the unconstitutional use of the federal anti-stalking law to prosecute a man for posting criticism of a public figure to Twitter. The law was originally targeted against crossing state lines for the purpose of stalking, but was modified in 2005 to make the 'intentional infliction of emotional distress' by the use of 'any interactive computer service' a crime. The prosecution's theory in this case is that using Twitter to criticize a public figure can be a criminal act if the person's feelings are hurt."

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3D Printing and the Replicator Economy
Posted by News Fetcher on August 01 '11 at 10:00 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's can't-wait-for-claims-of-replicated-copyright-infringement department:
An anonymous reader writes "'Tea. Earl Grey. Hot,' is a command familiar to every Trek fan as representing everyday use of replicator technology. While its use on the show is simply sci-fi wizardry, the beginnings of that technology is now making it into homes, and could spark an industrial revolution. 'New 3D printing and other so-called additive manufacturing technologies are based on methods that industries developed over the past quarter century to rapidly create prototypes of mechanical parts for testing. But as these methods become increasingly sophisticated, demand is rising to use them to manufacture finished products, not only in factories but also at a boutique, one-off level for individuals. ... Already, 3D printing has been used to make tools and artworks, custom-fitted prosthetics for amputees, components for aviation and medical instruments, solid medical models of bones and organs based on MRI scans, paper-based photovoltaic cells, and the body panels for a lightweight hybrid automobile.'"

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WiFi 802.22 Can Cover 12,000 Square Miles
Posted by News Fetcher on August 01 '11 at 09:15 AM
By CmdrTaco from Slashdot's thats-a-lotta-sq department:
tekgoblin writes "IEEE has just announced a new Wireless standard, 802.22, that can cover up to 12,000 square miles. The standard is actually for Wireless Regional Area Networks (or WRAN) which uses the white spaces left in the TV frequency spectrum."

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Review: Cowboys & Aliens
Posted by News Fetcher on August 01 '11 at 08:30 AM
By CmdrTaco from Slashdot's i-really-should-expense-the-babysitter department:
The name pretty much sums it up: There are cowboys. There are aliens. And Iron Man
Director Jon Favreau has blown a pretty penny trying to make the whole thing work, getting
the sexiest woman alive from Maxim a few years back, as well as a James Bond and a Han
Solo to convince you to come to the theater and watch 6-shooters take on the little green
men. Spoilers may exist below, but I promise to keep the review mostly lacking substance:
just like the movie.

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Archaeologist May Have Found the First Protractor
Posted by News Fetcher on August 01 '11 at 08:00 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's where's-the-compass? department:
If physicist Amelia Sparavigna is correct, in addition to frogs, lice, and locusts, Egyptian schoolchildren were also plagued with useless geometry instruments in their new notebooks at the beginning of every school year. A mysterious object was found in the architect Kha's tomb in 1906 and its function has remained the subject of debate ever since. Sparavigna is certain the object is actually the world's first protractor. From the article: "The key, she says, lies in the numbers encoded in the object's ornate decoration,(Pdf) which resembles a compass rose with 16 evenly spaced petals surrounded by a circular zigzag with 36 corners."

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How Face Recognition Can Uncover SSNs
Posted by News Fetcher on August 01 '11 at 08:00 AM
By CmdrTaco from Slashdot's oh-thats-just-fine department:
nonprofiteer writes "Building on previous work showing that social security numbers are not random, CMU researchers ran experiments in which they predicted students' social security numbers after taking a photo of them with a cheap webcam. Using off-the-shelf facial recognition technology and data-mining publicly available Facebook photos and profile information, they were able to come up with the social security numbers of several of the students. (More impressive, as they note that 60% of the students were foreign, and had no SSNs, leaving them a pool of less than 50)."

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Google Running 900,000 Servers
Posted by News Fetcher on August 01 '11 at 07:15 AM
By CmdrTaco from Slashdot's yeah-but-how-many-cores-chris department:
1sockchuck writes "How many servers is Google using? The company won't say, but a new report places the number at about 900,000. The estimate is based on data Google shared with researcher Jonathan Koomey, for a new report on data center power use. The data updates a 2007 report to Congress, and includes a surprise: data centers are using less energy that projected, largely due to the impact of the recession (buying fewer servers) and virtualization."

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Blizzard Reveals Diablo 3 (Real Money) Auction House
Posted by News Fetcher on August 01 '11 at 06:30 AM
By CmdrTaco from Slashdot's this-just-got-real department:
trawg writes "At a special event at Blizzard HQ in California, gaming press were treated to the first look at the Diablo 3 auction house — featuring real-world money transactions across different regions allowing you to buy and sell items with real money. There'll be a listing fee and a sales fee for auctions, and while they're not talking dollar numbers just yet, Blizzard assure gamers that they're not looking to pinch pennies."

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Chrome Extension Helps Find Noisy Tabs
Posted by News Fetcher on August 01 '11 at 05:45 AM
By CmdrTaco from Slashdot's where-have-you-been-all-my-life department:
mutetab writes "I recently wrote a Chrome extension called MuteTab that helps you narrow down which tab is making a sound by detecting which tabs contain plugins, HTML5 audio/video, and Java applets. It also gives you a right click menu that will mute tabs (via Javascript APIs when available, otherwise hiding them like FlashBlock does) and can automatically mute background tabs. Be sure to read the FAQ writeup to learn about some ways we can improve detecting which tab has sound and mute it." This really seems like stuff that should be a built in browser preference: like maybe an option to only allow audio out of the visible tab.

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Detroit Maker Faire Was Kinda Awesome
Posted by News Fetcher on August 01 '11 at 05:15 AM
By CmdrTaco from Slashdot's worth-an-afternoon department:
I was excited to have a chance to go to the Detroit Maker Faire this year. I've always wanted to
attend such a thing, but the stars never aligned. I saw an entire tent filled with DIY 3D Printers
making strange objects including the coolest polyhedral dice ever. Utilikilts held in place with suspenders! Haberdashery! Quilting! Blacksmithing! Books! A Cupcake Car! Gomp! Beer! Remote control turtles!
A giant hay bailer! Numerous strange pedal powered forms of locomotion, and an entire
garrison of Star Wars costumes... Besides, it's not often you have the opportunity to witness a giant steel dragon blow fireballs in a parking lot. I've shared a giant collection of photos if you want to see these things and more for a taste of the inspiring insanity I can't wait for next year... and between now and then I have some projects to tackle.

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Debt Deal Reached
Posted by News Fetcher on August 01 '11 at 04:15 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's problem-solved? department:
Global markets are on the rise in response to a deal between President Obama and congressional Republicans on the debt. The deal would cut more than $2 trillion from federal spending over a decade. However, most economists think this isn't enough and does not remove the threat that the nation's AAA credit rating could be downgraded.

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What Do I Do About My Ex-Employer Stealing My Free Code?
Posted by News Fetcher on August 01 '11 at 01:15 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's get-a-meeting-with-the-bobs department:
An anonymous reader writes "I recently found out that the company I used to work for is removing all the open source licenses (GPL and MIT) from my work, distributing it as proprietary software and taking all the credit despite the fact that they contributed nothing to it. They are even renaming it something really silly. What should I do?"

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Computer Marries Texas Couple
Posted by News Fetcher on July 31 '11 at 10:15 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's robotic-minister-overlords department:
cultiv8 writes "When Miguel Hanson and his fiancee, Diana Wesley, got married on Saturday, a computer program Hanson wrote served as the minister. During the wedding, held in the Houston home of Hanson's parents, the couple stood before a 30-inch monitor in the backyard. In a robotic voice, the computer greeted the guests, and told how the couple met."

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UK Police Charge Suspected Anonymous Spokesman
Posted by News Fetcher on July 31 '11 at 07:15 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's not-so-anonymous department:
An anonymous reader writes "Scotland Yard has tonight charged 18-year-old Jake Davis, who was arrested in the Shetland Islands last week, with five offenses including unauthorized computer access and conspiracy to carry out a DDoS (distributed denial-of-service) attack against the SOCA (Serious Organized Crime Agency) website. When announcing his arrest on Wednesday, police said that they believed Davis used the online nickname 'Topiary' and acted as the spokesperson for the Anonymous and LulzSec hacking groups. Topiary's final twitter message said 'You can't arrest an idea' just before his arrest."

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Radio Energy Harvested With Inkjet-Printed Antenna
Posted by News Fetcher on July 31 '11 at 04:15 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's catching-the-waves department:
judgecorp writes "Everlasting green energy for RF tags and other low-power devices could be possible as scientists have harvested energy from ambient radio waves using cheap antennas printed by an ordinary inkjet. The scientists, from Georgia Tech, started at 100MHz but have now produced systems which scavenge power at up to 60GHz, allowing them to draw power from most of today's major radio technologies."

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Volunteer Towns Sought For Nuclear Waste
Posted by News Fetcher on July 31 '11 at 02:45 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's not-all-at-once department:
Hugh Pickens writes "Brian Wingfield writes in Bloomberg that the Blue Ribbon Commission on America's Nuclear Future has sent a draft report to Energy Secretary Steven Chu recommending that US communities should be encouraged to vie for becoming a federal nuclear-waste site as a way to end a decades-long dilemma over disposing of spent radioactive fuel and says this 'consent-based' approach will help cut costs and end delays caused when the federal government picks a site over the objections of local residents, 'This means encouraging communities to volunteer (PDF) to be considered to host a new nuclear-waste management facility,' says the commission. Chu named the panelists after Obama canceled plans to build a permanent repository at Nevada's Yucca Mountain after the Yucca site was opposed by politicians from the state. 'The United States has traveled nearly 25 years down the current path only to come to a point where continuing to rely on the same approach seems destined to bring further controversy, litigation, and protracted delay,' says the report. The Blue Ribbon Commission cited as a 'success' the US Waste Isolation Pilot Plant near Carlsbad, New Mexico, which has accepted and disposed of some defense-related nuclear waste for more than a decade demonstrating that that 'nuclear wastes can be transported safely over long distances and placed securely in a deep, mined repository.' With the right incentives, 'there will be a great deal of support' for a waste site near the New Mexico facility, says former Senator Pete Domenici."

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Galaxy Tab 10.1 Vs. iPad 2 Review
Posted by News Fetcher on July 31 '11 at 01:00 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's head-to-head department:
DeviceGuru writes "DeviceGuru's 10-inch tablet smackdown pits Samsung's Galaxy Tab 10.1 against Apple's iPad 2. At price parity the iPad 2 is probably a better bet for the average user since it's a more stable, near-perfect device with a rich assortment of apps for nearly every possible function you'd like to perform on a tablet, reasons the post. However, with the Samsung tablet's cost of goods rumored to be around $215 versus $260 for the iPad 2 for comparable models, Samsung could drop its 10-inch tablet's price to $425 and pose a serious challenge to Apple's device. But will they...?"

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