colinneagle (2544914) writes "Jos Creese, CIO of the Hampshire County Council, told Britain's 'Computing' publication that part of the reason is that most staff are already familiar with Microsoft products and that Microsoft has been flexible and more helpful. 'Microsoft has been flexible and helpful in the way we apply their products to improve the operation of our frontline services, and this helps to de-risk ongoing cost,' he told the publication. 'The point is that the true cost is in the total cost of ownership and exploitation, not just the license cost.' Creese went on to say he didn't have a particular bias about open source over Microsoft, but proprietary solutions from Microsoft or any other commercial software vendor 'need to justify themselves and to work doubly hard to have flexible business models to help us further our aims.'"
Hugh Pickens DOT Com (2995471) writes "Walk into any university lecture hall and you're likely to see row upon row of students sitting behind glowing laptop screens. Laptops in class have been controversial, due mostly to the many opportunities for distraction that they provide (online shopping, browsing Reddit, or playing solitaire, just to name a few). But few studies have examined how effective laptops are for the students who diligently take notes. Now Robinson Meyer writes at The Atlantic that a new study finds that people remember lectures better when they've taken handwritten notes, rather than typed ones. The research suggests that even when laptops are used solely to take notes, they may still be impairing learning because their use results in shallower processing. 'Our new findings suggest that even when laptops are used as intended — and not for buying things on Amazon during class — they may still be harming academic performance,' says psychological scientist Pam Mueller of Princeton University, lead author of the study. Laptop note takers' tendency to transcribe lectures verbatim rather than processing information and reframing it in their own words is detrimental to learning. If you can type quickly enough, word-for-word transcription is possible, whereas writing by hand usually rules out capturing every word. 'We don't write longhand as fast as we type these days, but people who were typing just tended to transcribe large parts of lecture content verbatim,' says Mueller. 'The people who were taking notes on the laptops don't have to be judicious in what they write down.'"
Jason Koebler (3528235) writes "A Redditor got more than he bargained for in the mail today: He was accidentally mailed parts to a $350,000 environment and wildlife monitoring drone owned by the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration. 'We sent a set of about eight boxes for this one aircraft system, and one was misdelivered by UPS. We're working with UPS to find it,' the federal agency says."
Lucas123 (935744) writes "Sony has warned investors that it expects to take a hit on expected earnings (PDF), due in part to the fact that demand for Blu-ray Disc media is contracting faster than anticipated. In two weeks, Sony will announce its financial results. The company expects to post a net loss. Sony's warning is in line with other industry indicators, such as a report released earlier this year by Generator Research showed revenue from DVD and Blu-ray sales will likely decrease by 38% over the next four years. By comparison, online movie revenue is expected to grow 260% from $3.5 billion this year to $12.7 billion in 2018, the report states. Paul Gray, director of TV Electronics & Europe TV Research at market research firm DisplaySearch, said consumers are now accustomed to the instant availability of online media, and 'the idea of buying a physical copy seems quaint if you're under 25.'" Especially when those copies come with awful DRM.
sciencehabit (1205606) writes news that the EyeWire project from MIT has yielded some exciting results. "You open the overstuffed kitchen cabinet and a drinking glass tumbles out. With a ninjalike reflex, you snatch it before it shatters on the floor, as if the movement of the object were being tracked before the information even reached your brain. According to one idea of how the circuitry of the eye processes visual data, that is literally what happens. Now, a deep anatomical study of a mouse retina — carried out by 120,000 members of the public — is bringing scientists a step closer to confirming the hypothesis." The paper (paywalled), and a gallery of screenshots of the game.
Lasrick (2629253) writes "With the news that a multinational consortium is to the halfway point in constructing a huge stainless steel hangar that will sit over the ruined site of the Chernobyl nuclear reactor, Dan Drollette looks in the archives of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists and compares notes on the sarcophagus that was built 25 years ago, and the one that is being built now. 'No one really knows what went into the "concrete cube;" even the amount of concrete claimed to have been used is suspect, as it would form a volume larger than the sarcophagus, wrote nuclear engineer and author Alexander R. Sich in his 11-page article, "Truth was an early casualty."' Let's hope this new sarcophagus lasts longer."
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "Seen from above, the jagged rocks strewn about the Chincha Valley desert in Peru seem inconspicuous. But stand in the desert itself and these rocks form lines that stretch toward the horizon. Researchers have found that these lines were probably ancient signposts for the Paracas culture more than 2000 years ago, guiding people across the desert to gathering places for the winter solstice."
randomErr (172078) writes "The US Department of Defense is investigating whether Bitcoin and other virtual currencies are a potential terrorist threat. The Combating Terrorism Technical Support Office (CTTSO), a division within DOD that identifies and develops counter terrorism abilities and investigates irregular warfare and evolving threats, has listed Bitcoin among its topics for research and mission critical analysis related to terrorism."
cartechboy (2660665) writes "Do you still use a metal key to start your vehicle? We already knew this was old tech at this point, but now it might fully be killed off. In the wake of General Motors' 'Switchgate' fiasco, we've heard the CEO tell a Congressional committee that the recall may force GM to ditch ignition keys altogether in favor of push-button systems. If this became a reality, it would end decades of complaints from customers. Bloomberg approximates at least 18,000 complaints have been filed since NHTSA was formed in 1970, peaking at more than 2,000 in the year 2000. Those complaints resulted in roughly 21 million vehicles being recalled. The push-button ignition isn't perfect, but we know electrical trumps mechanical more often than not. Are you ready for an era where the ignition key doesn't exist?"
crookedvulture (1866146) writes "AMD just revealed that it has two all-new CPU cores in the works. One will be compatible with the 64-bit ARMv8 instruction set, while the other is meant as an x86 replacement for the Bulldozer architecture and its descendants. Both cores have been designed from the ground up by a team led by Jim Keller, the lead architect behind AMD's K8 architecture. Keller worked at Apple on the A4 and A4 before returning to AMD in 2012. The first chips based on the new AMD cores are due in 2016."
First time accepted submitter ericnishio (3641743) writes "Extending Bootstrap is a concise, step by step manual that introduces some of the best practices on how to customize Twitter Bootstrap for your projects. As the title suggests, you will be learning how to extract the good parts of Bootstrap to create a fully customized package. But be advised: the book is not for beginners." Read below for ericnishio's review.
Daniel_Stuckey (2647775) writes "How risky is it to use the words "bomb," "plague," or "gun" online? That was a question we posed, tongue in cheek, with a web toy we built last year called Hello NSA. It offers users suggested tweets that use words that drawn from a list of watchwords that analysts at the Dept. of Homeland Security are instructed to search for on social media. "Stop holding my love hostage," one of the tweets read. "My emotions are like a tornado of fundamentalist wildfire." It was silly, but it was also imagined as an absurdist response to the absurdist ways that dragnet surveillance of the public and non-public Internet jars with our ideas of freedom of speech and privacy. And yet, after reading the mounting pile of NSA PowerPoints, are all of us as comfortable as we used to be Googling for a word like "anthrax," even if we were simply looking up our favorite thrash metal band? Maybe not. According to a new study of Google search trends, searches for terms deemed to be sensitive to government or privacy concerns have dropped "significantly" in the months since Edward Snowden's revelations in July."
An anonymous reader writes "The Mozilla Foundation is filing a petition asking the FCC to declare that ISPs are common carriers, with a twist. 'The FCC doesn't have to reclassify the Internet access ISPs offer consumers as a telecommunications service subject to common carrier regulations under Title II of the Communications Act, Mozilla says. Instead, the FCC should target the service ISPs offer to edge providers like Netflix and Dropbox, who need to send their bits over ISP networks to reach their customers. Classifying the ISP/edge provider relationship as a common carrier service will be a little cleaner since the FCC wouldn't have to undo several decade-old orders that classified broadband as an "information" service rather than telecommunications, Mozilla argues.'" Here's the Mozilla blog post and the 13-page petition.
First time accepted submitter SaraLast (3619459) writes in with news about Santa Barbara considering the restart of its desalination plant. "This seaside city thought it had the perfect solution the last time California withered in a severe drought more than two decades ago: Tap the ocean to turn salty seawater to fresh water. The $34 million desalination plant was fired up for only three months and mothballed after a miracle soaking of rain. As the state again grapples with historic dryness, the city nicknamed the "American Riviera" has its eye on restarting the idled facility to hedge against current and future droughts. "We were so close to running out of water during the last drought. It was frightening," said Joshua Haggmark, interim water resources manager. "Desalination wasn't a crazy idea back then." Removing salt from ocean water is not a far-out idea, but it's no quick drought-relief option. It takes years of planning and overcoming red tape to launch a project. Santa Barbara is uniquely positioned with a desalination plant in storage. But getting it humming again won't be as simple as flipping a switch."
samzenpus (5) writes "Stewart Brand trained as a biologist at Stanford, was associated with Ken Kesey and the "Merry Pranksters", and served as an Infantry officer in the U.S. Army. His books include Whole Earth Discipline: The Rise of Ecopragmatism, The Clock of the Long Now, How Buildings Learn, and The Media Lab. He is the founder/editor of the Whole Earth Catalog, the co-founder of The Long Now Foundation, The WELL, and the Global Business Network. His latest project, Revive & Restore, may be his most ambitious yet. Revive and Restore aims to bring back extinct species and provide genetic rescue for endangered species that are spiraling down with inbreeding problems. Mr. Brand has agreed to answer any questions you may have but please limit yourself to one question per post."
An anonymous reader writes "Unsurprisingly, Oculus VR has denied claims that John Carmack stole technology when he left Zenimax. From the article: 'Oculus VR just sent across an email outlining in seven points what it views as ZeniMax's specious claims about Doom-creator John Carmack and Oculus' virtual reality technology. Last week, ZeniMax accused Oculus VR Chief Technology Officer (and former id Software Doom mastermind) John Carmack of taking "proprietary technology and know-how" with him when he departed the Rockville, Maryland-based Elder Scrolls and Dishonored publisher for a job with Oculus.'"
An anonymous reader writes "Addressing the audience at the Freedom Online Coalition Conference, Secretary of State John Kerry defended NSA snooping actions saying: 'Let me be clear – as in the physical space, cyber security cannot come at the expense of cyber privacy. And we all know this is a difficult challenge. But I am serious when I tell you that we are committed to discussing it in an absolutely inclusive and transparent manner, both at home and abroad. As President Obama has made clear, just because we can do something doesn't mean that we should do it. And that's why he ordered a thorough review of all our signals intelligence practices. And that's why he then, after examining it and debating it and openly engaging in a conversation about it, which is unlike most countries on the planet, he announced a set of concrete and meaningful reforms, including on electronic surveillance, in a world where we know there are terrorists and others who are seeking to do injury to all of us. And finally, transparency – the principles governing such activities need to be understood so that free people can debate them and play their part in shaping these choices. And we believe these principles can positively help us to distinguish the legitimate practices of states governed by the rule of law from the legitimate practices of states that actually use surveillance to repress their people. And while I expect you to hold the United States to the standards that I've outlined, I also hope that you won't let the world forget the places where those who hold their government to standards go to jail rather than win prizes.' He added: 'This debate is about two very different visions: one vision that respects freedom and another that denies it. All of you at the Freedom Online Coalition are on the right side of this debate, and now we need to make sure that all of us together wind up on the right side of history."
rye (208438) writes "Montana is positioning itself as the next hub for big data and cyber security. With companies like Symantec and IBM investing heavily in high-tech development, the opening of University of Montana's new Cyber Innovation Laboratory, and statewide competitions such as this weekend's Montana Cyber Triathlon (which had the coolest trophy ever), the momentum is strong. Cheap labor, cheap space and the Northern Tier backbone (with stretches over 600 miles across the width of Montana) are all contributing to the new tech growth. Even Congress is jumping on the bandwagon: Montana Rep. Steve Daines, a member of the House Subcommittee on Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection and Security, recently said 'Technology has removed geography as a constant.'"
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "Near the beginning, the universe was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep. That's because until about a billion years after the big bang, there were no galaxies or stars to illuminate the heavens, which were then filled primarily with neutral hydrogen gas. But a rare ultra–high-energy stellar explosion called a gamma ray burst has offered a new glimpse into this obscure period—the so-called cosmic dark ages—and may help nail down precisely when it ended. A new study of the explosion's afterglow suggests that such neutral hydrogen abounded a billion years after the big bang, so the dark ages weren't quite over then."
Hugh Pickens DOT Com (2995471) writes "Evan Halper writes in the LA Times that with efforts to reduce carbon emissions lagging, researchers, backed by millions of dollars from the federal government, are looking for ways to protect key industries from the impact of climate change by racing to develop new breeds of farm animals that can stand up to the hazards of global warming. ""We are dealing with the challenge of difficult weather conditions at the same time we have to massively increase food production" to accommodate larger populations and a growing demand for meat, says Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. For example a team of researchers is trying to map the genetic code of bizarre-looking African naked-neck chickens to see if their ability to withstand heat can be bred into flocks of US broilers. "The game is changing since the climate is changing," says Carl Schmidt. "We have to start now to anticipate what changes we have to make in order to feed 9 billion people," citing global-population estimates for 2050." (More below.)
An anonymous reader writes "Valve Software has sponsored some interesting improvements developed by LunarG for the Mesa OpenGL library on Linux for deferred and threaded GLSL shader compilation. What these changes mean for users of the open-source Linux graphics drivers when running their favorite games is that OpenGL games now load a lot faster. As an example, the time from starting Dota 2 until the time actually being within the game is reduced by about 20 seconds on an Intel system. While Direct3D has offered similar functionality for a while, OpenGL has not, which has given it a bad reputation with regard to game load times until all shaders are compiled and cached — fortunately it's now addressed for OpenGL if using the Mesa Linux graphics drivers on a supported game."
Some exciting news, as reported by the Wall Street Journal, might make you glad that human blood is a renewable resource: "Giving old mice blood from young ones makes them smarter and improves such functions as exercise capacity, according to reports from two research teams that point to new ways to study and potentially treat diseases of aging. In one study, researchers at Stanford University and the University of California, San Francisco found that blood transfusions from young mice reversed cognitive effects of aging, improving the old mice's memory and learning ability. The report was published Sunday in the journal Nature Medicine. Two other reports appearing in Science from researchers at Harvard University found that exposing old mice to a protein present at high levels in the blood of young mice and people improved both brain and exercise capability. An earlier report by some of the same researchers linked injections of the protein to reversal of the effects of aging on the heart. ... What isn't known from all this research, said Buck Institute's Dr. [Brian] Kennedy, is whether young blood might also increase the life span of mice and, if so, what such implications for humans might be."