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Maybe the Aliens Are Addicted To Computer Games
Posted by News Fetcher on April 15 '10 at 02:15 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's gotta-do-one-more-daily deptartment:
Hugh Pickens writes "Geoffrey Miller has an interesting hypothesis in Seed Magazine that explains Fermi's Paradox — why 40 years of intensive searching for extraterrestrial intelligence have yielded nothing: no radio signals, no credible spacecraft sightings, no close encounters of any kind. All the aliens are busy playing computer games. The aliens 'forget to send radio signals or colonize space because they're too busy with runaway consumerism and virtual-reality narcissism,' writes Miller. He says the fundamental problem is that an evolved mind must pay attention to indirect cues of biological fitness, rather than tracking fitness itself, and that although evolution favors brains that tend to maximize fitness (as measured by numbers of great-grandkids), no brain has capacity enough to do so under every possible circumstance. 'The result is that we don't seek reproductive success directly; we seek tasty foods that have tended to promote survival, and luscious mates who have tended to produce bright, healthy babies. The modern result? Fast food and pornography,' writes Miller. 'Once they turn inwards to chase their shiny pennies of pleasure, they lose the cosmic plot.' Miller adds that most bright alien species probably go extinct gradually, allocating more time and resources to their pleasures, and less to their children, until they eventually die out." Who here doesn't think a TNG-style Holodeck would lead to the downfall of our civilization?

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Twitter To Add Places And User Streams
Posted by News Fetcher on April 15 '10 at 12:15 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's tweet-the-day-away deptartment:
adeelarshad82 writes "Twitter has announced at the Chirp conference that its roadmap will include locations and user streams. Twitter will maintain and curate its own database of locations, such as hotels and restaurants, and make the database open to developers. Moreover, the API for user streams, a technical name for real-time data that will be for desktop apps only, will be available to users within the next few days. Through this API developers will be able to take virtually all Twitter data and make it available to desktop apps in real time. Twitter used its first Chirp conference to assuage the fears of some of its developer base, who are worried about whether they will be left out in the cold following the establishment of an 'official' BlackBerry app and the acquisition of the Tweetie mobile app. Judging from the announcements at Chirp and a recent post which might indicate death to third party services like TweetDeck, it's safe to say that Twitter wants to push developers to start building services that leverage Twitter instead of just filling holes."

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Testing the Safety of Tasers On Meth-Addled Sheep
Posted by News Fetcher on April 14 '10 at 11:15 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's thank-you-science deptartment:
Funded in part by Taser International, a recent study was done to learn the effects of being tasered while on methamphetamines. Since someone would probably complain about researchers going around and tasering meth addicts, they used sheep instead. From the article: "The less-lethal device of choice was the Taser X26, a standard law enforcement tool which can fire at suspects from a distance of 35 feet. Researchers shocked sixteen anesthetized sheep after dosing the animals with an IV drip of methamphetamine hydrochloride. Some of the smaller sheep weighing less than 70.5 pounds suffered exacerbated heart symptoms related to meth use. But neither the smaller nor larger sheep showed signs of the ventricular fibrillation condition, a highly abnormal heart rhythm that can become fatal."

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Testing the Safety of Tasers On Meth-Addled Sheep
Posted by News Fetcher on April 14 '10 at 10:30 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's thank-you-science deptartment:
Funded in part by Taser International, a recent study was done to learn the effects of being tasered while on methamphetamines. Since someone would probably complain about researchers going around and tasering meth addicts, they used sheep instead. From the article: "The less-lethal device of choice was the Taser X26, a standard law enforcement tool which can fire at suspects from a distance of 35 feet. Researchers shocked sixteen anesthetized sheep after dosing the animals with an IV drip of methamphetamine hydrochloride. Some of the smaller sheep weighing less than 70.5 pounds suffered exacerbated heart symptoms related to meth use. But neither the smaller nor larger sheep showed signs of the ventricular fibrillation condition, a highly abnormal heart rhythm that can become fatal."

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Data Centers Push Back On US Efficiency Rules
Posted by News Fetcher on April 14 '10 at 09:15 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's rules-are-made-to-be-fought-in-court-for-years deptartment:
alphadogg writes "Data center executives from Google and other large companies are pushing back against new efficiency requirements proposed by a prominent standards group, saying they are too 'prescriptive' and don't leave them room to innovate. 'This standard defines the energy efficiency for most types of buildings in America and is often incorporated into building codes across the country,' Urs Hoelzle, Google senior vice president for operations, wrote in a post on the Google blog. Data centers are among the fastest-growing users of energy, and setting efficiency standards for them is a welcome step, he said. But he called the requirements 'too prescriptive.' Instead of setting efficiency targets and letting engineers decide how they can best meet them, the amendments specify types of cooling systems that companies should use."

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New Europe-wide Radio Telescope To Look For ET
Posted by News Fetcher on April 14 '10 at 07:30 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's phone-011-then-home deptartment:
astroengine writes "A new radio telescope is under construction, consisting of 44 stations (each consisting of several antennae) spread across Europe. The pan-European Low Frequency Array (or LOFAR) is half built and already returning unprecedented observations of cosmic radio sources. The best thing is, when it's complete, SETI will be able to use the array to seek out transmitting extraterrestrial civilizations in these untapped low radio frequencies."

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Heavy US Demand Delays iPad's Worldwide Release
Posted by News Fetcher on April 14 '10 at 07:00 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's supply-and-too-much-demand deptartment:
Dave Knott writes "The international launch of the iPad has been delayed until late May, a one month setback from the original launch window of late April. Citing Apple's press release: 'Although we have delivered more than 500,000 iPads during its first week, demand is far higher than we predicted and will likely continue to exceed our supply over the next several weeks as more people see and touch an iPad. We have also taken a large number of pre-orders for iPad 3G models for delivery by the end of April.' International pricing will be announced on May 10, at which time international pre-orders are expected to begin."

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Military Asserts Right To Respond To Cyberattacks
Posted by News Fetcher on April 14 '10 at 05:00 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's protect-ya-neck deptartment:
Hugh Pickens writes "AP reports that National Security Agency director Lt. Gen. Keith Alexander says the US should counter computer-based attacks swiftly and strongly and act to thwart or disable a threat even when the attacker's identity is unknown. 'Even with the clear understanding that we could experience damage to our infrastructure, we must be prepared to fight through in the worst case scenario,' wrote Alexander in a 32-page Senate questionnaire he answered in preparation for a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on his nomination to head Cyber Command. Alexander offered a limited but rare description of offensive US cyber activities, saying the U.S. has 'responded to threats, intrusions and even attacks against us in cyberspace,' and has conducted exercises and war games adding that it is unclear whether or not those actions have deterred criminals, terrorists or nations."

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Girl Claims Price Scanner Gave Her Tourette's Syndrome
Posted by News Fetcher on April 14 '10 at 04:15 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's it's-$4.99-you-f*#@ing-co^&%#@!er deptartment:
Attorneys for 12-year-old Dominica Juliano claim that she was burned and developed psychological problems after a store clerk aimed a hand-held price scanner at her face. Store attorneys say their scanners uses a harmless LED light and that the girl had serious health problems before she was scanned. From the article: "Dominica Juliano was 12 when she and her grandmother entered the Country Fair store in Erie in June 2004. A clerk allegedly called the girl 'grumpy' before flashing his hand-held bar code scanner over her face and telling her to smile. Attorneys for Ms. Juliano and her guardian say the girl was sensitive to light and burned, and later developed post-traumatic stress and Tourette's syndrome."

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DNA Cancer Codes Cracked By International Effort
Posted by News Fetcher on April 14 '10 at 03:45 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's world-wide-tumor deptartment:
Enigma23 writes "As reported on news.com.au, scientists from the International Cancer Genome Consortium of 12 institutes around the world will today release the first DNA profiles of some of the most prevalent types of tumors. While the story asserts that "A new era of cancer treatment has dawned" I'm a bit more skeptical, given that gene therapy and immunotherapy are still very much in their infancy at the current time."

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Lightworks Video Editor To Go Open Source
Posted by News Fetcher on April 14 '10 at 02:30 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's retreat-to-the-beowulf-cluster-for-rendering deptartment:
Art3x writes "EditShare will release its video editor as open source this summer. Lightworks handles high-definition media, DPX, and RED, shares projects with Final Cut Pro and Avid, and was recently used by Academy-award-winning editor Thelma Schoonmaker on Shutter Island. Introduced in in 1989 and bought by EditShare last year, it 'has come from over one million hours of software development,' says EditShare's James Richings. But he says releasing the source will 'generate concepts and capabilities never seen before. I expect that the Lightworks Open Source initiative will transform not only the technology, but also the opinions on what a professional editing tool can achieve.'" From the press release's description, it sounds like the "open source" phase will follow a period of free-as-in-beer downloading.

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The iPad vs. Microsoft's "Jupiter" Devices
Posted by News Fetcher on April 14 '10 at 01:45 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's that-was-then-this-is-jobs deptartment:
harrymcc writes "A dozen years ago, Microsoft convinced major manufacturers to put Windows CE inside devices that looked like undersized touchscreen personal computers. The platform was code-named 'Jupiter' and shipped as Handheld PC Pro, and it flopped — it turned out that people wanted full-strength notebooks. But in retrospect, it was a clear antecedent of what Apple is doing — much more successfully — with the iPad."

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How Many Hours a Week Can You Program?
Posted by News Fetcher on April 14 '10 at 01:00 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's please-answer-in-earth-hours deptartment:
An anonymous reader writes "How many hours a week should a full-time programmer program? Trying to program anywhere near 40 wears me out. On a good week, I can do 20. Often, it is around 10 or 15. I'm talking about your programming session at the console, typing — including, of course, stopping and thinking for a minute, but not meetings, reading programming books, notes, specifications, etc., which by comparison feel like lunch breaks. I rarely get called to meetings (which is good) but that means to keep my brain from overheating I spend several hours a week surfing the web (usually reading tech news but also a few stops on Facebook, email, etc). I should add that I am interrupted a few times per day. Me and another guy maintain an intranet site of a couple dozen web apps for an I.T. department, so we work on a few different things: phone calls, bug fixes, feature adds, as well as writing new web apps from the ground up, all in a days' work. And I know that wears a person out more than if they had just one project to work on. I wonder if programming is like mental sprinting, not walking, so you can only do it in bursts. Am I normal or stealing?"

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Thailand Cracks Down On Twitter, Facebook, Etc.
Posted by News Fetcher on April 14 '10 at 12:45 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's and-everybody-loves-the-king deptartment:
An anonymous reader writes "The ongoing poitical turmoil in Thailand has inspired the country's Ministry of Information, Computers, and Telecommunications to issue a stern warning that all users of the Internet in Thailand must 'use the internet in the right way or with appropriate purpose and avoid disseminating information that could create misunderstanding or instigate violent actions among the public', that 'all popular websites and social networks such as facebook, twitter, hi5 and my space [sic] will be under thorough watch,' and that 'Violators will be prosecuted by law with no compromise.' Thailand has draconian anti-lèse majesté laws which are routinely abused in order to settle political scores and silence dissent, and recently implemented a so-called 'Computer Crimes Act' which appears to be almost solely focused on thoughtcrimes and censorship, rather than dealing with, you know, actual crime. Several Web forums have recently been shut down, their operators charged because they failed to delete 'harmful posts' quickly enough to suit the Thai authorities."

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A Crowdsourcing Project To Make Predictions More Precise
Posted by News Fetcher on April 14 '10 at 12:15 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's what-think-ye? deptartment:
databuff writes "Predictions are critical to modern life. Police predict where and when crimes are most likely to take place, banks predict which loan applicants are most likely to default, and hotels forecast seasonal demand to set room rates. A new project called Kaggle facilitates better predictions by providing a platform for forecasting competitions. The platform allows organizations to post their data and have it scrutinized by the world's best statisticians. It will offer a robust rating system, so it's easy to identify those with a proven track record. Organizations can choose either to follow the experts, or to follow the consensus of the crowd — which, according to New Yorker columnist James Surowiecki, is likely to be more accurate than the vast majority of individual predictions. The power of a pool of predictions was demonstrated by the Netflix Prize, a $1m data-prediction competition, which was won by a team of teams that combined 700 models. Kaggle's first competition is underway, and it is accessing the 'wisdom of crowds' to predict the winner of this May's Eurovision Song Contest." Understandably, participation requires registration.

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Genetic Disorder Removes Racial Bias and Social Fear
Posted by News Fetcher on April 14 '10 at 11:45 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's all-you-need-is-love-and-different-genes deptartment:
People who suffer from a rare genetic disorder called Williams Syndrome have a complete lack of social fear. They experience no anxiety or concerns about meeting new people or being put into any social situation, and a new study by Andreia Santos suggests that they also don't have any racial bias. From the article: "Typically, children start overtly gravitating towards their own ethnic groups from the tender age of three. Groups of people from all over the globe and all sorts of cultures show these biases. Even autistic children, who can have severe difficulties with social relationships, show signs of racial stereotypes. But Santos says that the Williams syndrome kids are the first group of humans devoid of such racial bias, although, as we’ll see, not everyone agrees."

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Library of Congress To Archive All Public Tweets
Posted by News Fetcher on April 14 '10 at 11:30 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's he-ain't-heavy-he's-less-than-140-chars deptartment:
After the recent announcement that Groklaw will be archived at the Library of Congress, mjn writes with word that the push to archive more digital content continues: "The US Library of Congress announced a deal with Twitter to archive all public tweets, dating back to Twitter's inception in March 2006. More details at their blog. No word yet on precisely what will be done with the collection, but besides entering your friends' important updates on the quality of breakfast into the permanent archival record, the deal may improve access for researchers wanting to analyze and mine Twitter's giant database."

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AdvancED Flash On Devices
Posted by News Fetcher on April 14 '10 at 10:45 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's read-all-about-it deptartment:
chuckbatfuturewaredc writes "Flash's ubiquity is in its presence on the vast majority of PC desktops, laptops and netbooks. It is also in a surprising, and growing, percentage of mobile devices. Software developers who want to tap this rapidly expanding market face many challenges that have not existed in the PC world for quite some time. This book is virtually encyclopedic in its review of the pitfalls and dangers for mobile development and how they can be avoided, even for the iPhone. It provides rich information detail on how to address mobile software development now, along with a preview of how it can be done easier when what is in the oven finishes baking." Keep reading for the rest of chuckbatfuturewaredc's review.

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Canadian Judge Orders Disclosure of Anonymous Posters
Posted by News Fetcher on April 14 '10 at 10:15 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's or-you'll-get-a-mountie's-hoofprint deptartment:
debrain writes "The Globe and Mail is reporting that Google and a newspaper called The Coast must disclose all information they have about the identity of individuals who posted anonymous comments online about top firefighters in Halifax. The story in question is titled 'Black firefighters file human rights complaint,' and there are some heated opinions in the comments."

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NASA To a Send Humanoid Robot On Shuttle's Final Mission
Posted by News Fetcher on April 14 '10 at 10:00 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's why-can't-they-send-them-all deptartment:
coondoggie writes "Perhaps taking a page from a Star Wars script, NASA said today it will send its newest humanoid robot known as Robonaut2 — or R2 — capable of using the same tools as humans letting them work closely with people into space on board the space shuttle's final mission."

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