New submitter Jetra wrote with word that the House of Representatives failed to vote on the "fiscal cliff" deal before midnight, technically sending the U.S. over the fiscal cliff. The White House and Senate, however, reached an agreement at the last minute to allow for some tax increases, and a House vote approving it is expected in the next day or two: "The agreement came together after negotiators cleared two final hurdles involving the estate tax and automatic spending cuts set to hit the Pentagon and other federal agencies later this week. Republicans gave ground on the spending cuts, known as the sequester, by agreeing to a two-month delay paid for in part with fresh tax revenue, a condition they had resisted. White House officials yielded to GOP wishes on how to handle estate taxes, aides said." The battle over required spending cuts has predictably been delayed for another day, making the deal far from complete.
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ezabi writes "After announcing a 43 million USD license agreement with Microsoft, the Egyptian government was faced with a protest from FOSS enthusiasts staging a protest before the cabinet. Later, representatives from the community had a meeting with the minister of communications and information technology. Such a meeting led to the ministry issuing a press release (in Arabic) stating its commitment to gradually move to open source (Google Translate to English) as a strategic option for future projects. It's worth mentioning that all governmental websites used in the elections and constitution referendum were all based on open source solutions."
skade88 writes "What does the Slashdot community do to celebrate New Years Eve? Does your city do something cool and unique to celebrate? Do you celebrate with fireworks in front of your house, or in your favorite MMO (WoW, Minecraft, etc.)?"
MarkWhittington writes "With the National Research Council report that concluded that President Obama's plan for a mission to an asteroid has no support, either inside NASA or anywhere else, the space agency faces a decision point in 2013. The NRC suggested that the administration, Congress, NASA, and other stakeholders in space exploration come to a consensus behind a new goal. But the space agency's problems run deep, caused by a lack of direction, a lack of leadership, and a lack of funding."
An anonymous reader writes "EFnet member Fionn 'Fudge' Kelleher reported several vulnerabilities in the IRC daemons charybdis, ircd-ratbox, and other derivative IRCds. The vulnerability was subsequently used to bring down large portions of the EFnet IRC network." By crafting a particular message, you can cause the IRC daemon to call strlen(NULL) and game over, core dumped.
An anonymous reader writes "Pandas have long been the face of conservation efforts by environmental activists, but a recent finding may boost even further the need for pandas to evade extinction. Researchers have discovered a powerful antibody in panda blood that could serve as the next frontier in the fight against increasingly prevalent superbugs. The compound is called cathelicin-AM. Discovered when researchers analyzed the creatures' DNA, it has been found to kill fungus and bacteria. It is believed that the antibiotic is released to protect the animal from infections in the wild and, in studies, it has been found to kill both standard and drug-resistant strains of microbes and fungi. The compound also worked extremely quickly, killing off strains of bacteria in just an hour, while conventional antibiotics needed six."
timothy writes "For the last few years, I've been using Android tablets for various of the reasons that most casual tablet owners do: as a handy playback device for movies and music, a surprisingly decent interface for reading books, a good-enough camera for many purposes, and a communications terminal for instant messaging and video chat. I started out with a Motorola Xoom, which I still use around the house or as a music player in the car, but only started actually carrying a tablet very often when I got a Nexus 7. And while I have some high praise for the Nexus 7, its limitations are frustrating, too. I'll be more excited about a tablet when I can find one with (simultaneously) more of the features I want in one. So here's my wish list (not exhaustive) for the ideal tablet of the future, consisting only of features that are either currently available in some relevant form (such as in existing tablets), or should be in the foreseeable near future; I'll be on the lookout at CES for whatever choices come closest to this dream." Read below to see what's on Timothy's wish list.
SternisheFan writes "Nobel winner Dr. Rita Levi-Montalcini, who discovered chemical tools that the body uses to direct cell growth and build nerves, has died. She was 103. From the article: 'Dr. Rita Levi-Montalcini, a Nobel Prize-winning neurologist who discovered critical chemical tools that the body uses to direct cell growth and build nerve networks, opening the way for the study of how those processes can go wrong in diseases like dementia and cancer, died on Sunday at her home in Rome. She was 103. Her death was announced by Mayor Gianni Alemanno of Rome. "I don't use these words easily, but her work revolutionized the study of neural development, from how we think about it to how we intervene," said Dr. Gerald D. Fishbach, a neuroscientist and professor emeritus at Columbia. Scientists had virtually no idea how embryo cells built a latticework of intricate connections to other cells when Dr. Levi-Montalcini began studying chicken embryos in the bedroom of her house in Turin, Italy, during World War II. After years of obsessive study, much of it at Washington University in St. Louis with Dr. Viktor Hamburger, she found a protein that, when released by cells, attracted nerve growth from nearby developing cells.'"
Voline writes "Digitimes reports that Asus and Acer will not be producing netbooks in 2013, signaling the end of a product category that Asus began five years ago with its Eee PC. The Guardian looks at the rise and fall of the netbook and posits some reasons for its end. Reasons include: manufacturers shifting from Linux to Windows, causing an increase in price that brought netbooks into competition with full-on laptops that offered better specs for not much more money; the global recession beginning in 2008; and the introduction of the iPad and Android tablets."
First time accepted submitter cathyreisenwitz writes "The New York Times' Bits blog has a great piece on the FAA's inconvenient, outdated and unhelpful rules regarding electronic devices on planes: 'Dealing with the F.A.A. on this topic is like arguing with a stubborn teenager. The agency has no proof that electronic devices can harm a plane's avionics, but it still perpetuates such claims, spreading irrational fear among millions of fliers.' The rules illustrate why we shouldn't let the government regulate the internet: Government regulations are nearly always outdated and too cautious."
Researcher Patrick Lin says that with the development of a wide range of technologies including: drugs, special nutrition, gene therapy and robotic implants, the military needs to plan for a future where soldiers have "mutant powers.” From the article: "If we don’t, we could find ourselves in big trouble down the road. Among the nightmare scenarios: Botched enhancements could harm the very soldiers they’re meant to help and spawn pricey lawsuits. Tweaked troopers could run afoul of international law, potentially sparking a diplomatic crisis every time the U.S. deploys troops overseas. And poorly planned enhancements could provoke disproportionate responses by America’s enemies, resulting in a potentially devastating arms race (PDF)."
skade88 writes "Launched in 1997, Cassini has taken over 300,000 pictures of Saturn since it started orbiting the planet and the mission is due to run through 2017. NASA has released some new photos including: Saturn's rings, clouds, Saturn's moon Janus, and the shadow of another one of Saturn's moons Mimas."
Nerval's Lobster writes "Google tried to extend its influence to televisions, an effort that largely crashed and burned. Apple executives call Apple TV a 'hobby,' although it's been long-rumored that their company has a television set in the works. And Microsoft's made a muscular attempt to conquer the living room with the Xbox, which now does a lot more than just video games. If current rumors prove correct, you can soon add Intel to that list of IT giants with an eye on televisions. According to TechCrunch and SlashGear, the chip manufacturer is prepping to unveil a first-generation television system of some sort at next month's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. TechCrunch suggests that Intel will debut the system on a city-by-city basis, similar to what Google's doing with Google Fiber, in order to maintain 'more flexibility in negotiating licensing with reluctant content providers.' (The publication's information comes from the ever-popular unnamed sources.) In essence, Intel is proposing a set-top box paired with a subscription service, which would provide a mixture of traditional programming alongside streaming content."
Zothecula writes "If robots are going to be part of our everyday lives, they'll need to fit into our homes rather than the factory floor. Few people would be comfortable living with a metal spider on tank treads, so the University of Zurich's Artificial Intelligence Laboratory is building a robot toddler called 'Roboy.' Using 'soft robotics' technology that mimics the human body, the 1.2 meter (3 ft, 11 in) tall humanoid robot is part of an effort to make robots that people are more comfortable with in day-to-day situations."
Hugh Pickens writes "BBC reports that U.S. energy companies are racing to install wind turbines before a federal tax credit expires at the end of this year which could be lost as Congress struggles with new legislation to avoid the 'fiscal cliff.' 'There's a lot of rushing right now to get projects completed by the end of the year,' says Rob Gramlich, senior vice president at the American Wind Energy Association. 'There's a good chance we could get this extension, it is very hard to predict, but the industry is not making bets on the Congress getting it done,' Even if there is an extension there is likely to be a significant curtailment of wind installations in 2013. From 1999 to 2004, Congress allowed the wind energy production tax credit to expire three times, each time retroactively extending it several months after the expiration deadline had passed, but wind energy companies say they need longer time frames to negotiate deals to sell the power they generate. 'Even if the tax credit is extended, our new construction plans likely will be ramped back substantially in 2013 compared with the last few years,' says Paul Copleman. 'So much time has passed without certainty that a normal one-year extension would not be a game-changer for our 2013 build plans.'"