Submission + - Porcupines Can Be Fearsome Killers (

sciencehabit writes: With needle-sharp quills, some longer than the average human forearm, porcupines sport one of nature’s most frightening defenses against predators. But a new study shows they can be fearsome killers as well. Researchers in Italy have found that the rodents can slay dogs, foxes, and even badgers. They identified four defenses that the animals employed, in order of increasing aggression: quill erection, tail rattling, stamping and growling, and backwards or sideways attacks. The porcupines never used the latter two in one-on-one encounters, but rather as last resorts when an individual was outnumbered, or if multiple porcupines were present and more likely to inflict serious damage. In one such case, two porcupines ran backwards, forcing a dog into their den, where they fatally impaled it with their quills. Other porcupines killed four other predators, two badgers and two foxes, over the study period; such deaths have never been previously recorded in scientific literature, the team reports.

Submission + - How Silicon Valley Helped the NSA

theodp writes: The U.S. tech giants’ pledge to up their privacy game in the wake of reports that all-your-data-belong-to-the-NSA rings a little hollow to Abraham Newman, who reminds us that such protections run counter to the business model and public policy agenda that tech companies have pursued for decades. "For years," writes Newman, "U.S. information technology (IT) firms have actively backed weak privacy rules that let them collect massive amounts of personal data. The strategy enabled the companies to work their way into every corner of consumers’ lives and gave them a competitive edge internationally. Those same policies, however, have come back to haunt IT firms. Lax rules created fertile ground for NSA snooping. In the wake of the surveillance scandals, as consumer confidence plummets, technology companies’ economic futures are threatened.

Submission + - Modern Microsoft Word Does Not Reliably Read Earlier Formats: A 1989 Print Test ( writes: Prompted by a fabulous rant by Charlie Stross named Why Microsoft Word must Die, Peter Hansteen dug out from his archives the simplest possible 1989-vintage Microsoft Word .DOC document, and has the data to prove that newer versions or Microsoft Word do in fact not reliably read files from earlier versions. Case in point: An ASCII table print test generated and saved as .DOC in 1989.

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