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+ - 175 Most Citizens of the Star Wars Galaxy are Functionally Illiterate->

Submitted by iluvcapra
iluvcapra (782887) writes "Ryan Britt at Tor.com makes a bit of analysis that I think we'd have some fun with, in agreement or otherwise:

Not once in any Star Wars movie does someone pick up a book or newspaper, magazine, literary journal, or chapbook handmade by an aspiring Jawa poet. [...]As early as the 1990s-era expanded Star Wars books and comic books, we’re introduced to ancient Jedi “texts” called holocrons, which are basically talking holographic video recordings. Just how long has the Star Wars universe been reliant on fancy technology to transfer information as opposed to the written word? Is it possible that a good number of people in Star Wars are completely illiterate?

Read the whole thing,"
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+ - 198 Tomb of Maya Holy Snake Lord Found in Guatemala

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "Archaeologists have discovered a seventh century tomb of a Maya queen in Guatemala. The tomb belongs to the Maya Holy Snake Lord, Lady K'abel, one of the most powerful queens in her kingdom during the Classic Maya civilization. A team of archaeologists led by David Freidel, co-director of the expedition from the Washington University in St. Louis, found the tomb during an excavation of the royal Maya city of El Perú-Waka' in northwestern Petén, Guatemala, based on artifacts suggesting that a higher-ranked queen is buried there."
AI

+ - 320 Google Puts Souped-up Neural Networks to Work->

Submitted by holy_calamity
holy_calamity (872269) writes "A machine learning breakthrough from Google researchers that grabbed headlines this summer is now being put to work improving the company's products. The company revealed in June that it had built neural networks that run on 16,000 processors simultaneously, enough power that they could learn to recognize cats just by watching YouTube. Those neural nets have now made Google's speech recognition for US English 25 percent better, and are set to be used in other products, such as image search."
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+ - 345 Hiring Smokers – Banned In South Florida City-> 3

Submitted by Penurious Penguin
Penurious Penguin (2687307) writes "On October 2, City Commissioners of Delray Beach finalized a policy which prohibits agencies from hiring employees who use tobacco products. Delray Beach isn't alone though; other Florida cities such as Hollywood and Hallandale Beach, require prospective employees to sign affidavits declaring themselves tobacco-free for 12 months prior to the date of application. Throughout the states, both government and businesses are moving to ban tobacco-use beyond working hours. Many medical facilities, e.g. hospitals, have already, or intend to implement similar policy. In some more-aggressive environments referred to as nicotine-free, employee urine-samples can be taken and tested for any presence of nicotine, not excluding that from gum or patches. Employees testing positive can be terminated.

The primary rationale behind these policies has been frugality, citing greater insurance-costs for smokers, and the savings implied by eliminating them from the workforce. In some less aggressive situations, persistent smokers are imposed a "Tobacco User Surcharge" of $20 per paycheck and offered waived co-payments for smoking-cessation drugs.

Efforts to cut expenses and encourage better health seem perfectly normal. Policy prohibiting activities otherwise legal, but unbefitting a workplace environment also seem normal. However, employers or government defining employee's domestic lifestyles is a relatively new concept, especially when nothing illegal is involved. It would be difficult, if not impossible to argue that smoking is without consequences; but is breeching the boundaries of the household inconsequential?

Times do change, and adaptation is often a necessary burden. But have they changed so much that we'd now postpone the Manhattan project for 12 months because Oppenheimer had toked his pipe? Would we confine our vision to the Milky Way or snub the 1373 Cincinnati because Hubble smoked his? Would we shun relativity, or shelve the works of Tolkien because he and C. S. Lewis had done the same? If so, then where will it stop? Will we soon scan employees for signs of excessive sugar, trans-fats and cholesterol? Will we have authenticated and logged aerobics classes? I, for one, welcome answers from our new salubrious overlords."

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Wireless Networking

+ - 215 Don't sweat 802.11ac Wi-Fi - because 802.11ad will knock your socks off ->

Submitted by alphadogg
alphadogg (971356) writes "While the Wi-Fi world is rightly abuzz over the rapidly approaching large-scale deployment of the new 802.11ac standard, experts at an Interop NY panel said this week that the 802.11ad standard is likely to be even more transformative. "802.11ac is an extension for pure mainstream Wi-Fi," said Sean Coffey, Realtek's director of standards and business development. "It's evolutionary. ... You're not going to see dramatically new use cases." By contrast, 802.11ad adds 60GHz connectivity to the previously used 2.4GHz and 5GHz frequencies, potentially providing multi-gigabit connection speeds and dramatically broadening the number of applications for which wireless can be used."
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Networking

+ - 165 The Coming Internet Video Crash->

Submitted by
snydeq
snydeq writes "First, it was data caps on cellular, and now caps on wired broadband — welcome to the end of the rich Internet, writes Galen Gruman. 'People are still getting used to the notion that unlimited data plans are dead and gone for their smartphones. The option wasn't even offered for tablets. Now, we're beginning to see the eradication of the unlimited data plan in our broadband lines, such as cable and DSL connections. It's a dangerous trend that will threaten the budding Internet-based video business — whether from Netflix, Hulu, iTunes, Windows Store, or Google Play — then jeopardize Internet services of all sorts. It's a complex issue, and though the villains are obvious — the telecom carriers and cable providers — the solutions are not. The result will be a metered Internet that discourages use of the services so valuable for work and play.'"
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Education

+ - 174 Why is This NYC School Teacher Livestreaming From the Rubber Room? -> 1

Submitted by
pigrabbitbear
pigrabbitbear writes "Francesco Portelos is a NYC teacher who, after having raised questions about budgeting at I.S. 49 Berta A. Dreyfus (a Staten Island school he’s been suspended from), is now taking viewers inside a rubber room he’s been stationed at. If you’re unfamiliar with the term, Steven Brill published a lengthy account of NYC’s teacher reassignment centers in The New Yorker a few years ago, but the term refers to offices used by teachers that have been put on administrative leave from the classroom for one reason or another."
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Science

+ - 187 Unusual New Species of Dinosaur Identified->

Submitted by cervesaebraciator
cervesaebraciator (2352888) writes "A new species of heterodontosaur, called Pegomastax, has been identified. Paul Sereno, a University of Chicago paleontologist, published a description of this species in a recent issue of ZooKeys. Although this diminutive (60 cm or less) species was herbivorous, it also possessed a set of sharp, stabbing canines in its parrot-shaped beak. Dr. Sereno holds that these canines where likely "for nipping and defending themselves, not for eating meat.” Perhaps the most imaginatively intriguing aspect of all, the body of the Pegomastix might have been covered in porcupine-like quills, making for perhaps the least attractive dinosaur of all time. You can almost hear Dieter Stark screaming 'Helvetes jävlar!'"
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Science

+ - 209 French Company Hopes to Disrupt Sanitation with Worm-Powered Toilet

Submitted by derekmead
derekmead (2466858) writes "Billions worldwide still don't have access to proper sanitation, and those of that do still require a ton of water and electricity to keep waste flowing. A French company is offering one solution: Use turd-eating worms to compost waste right at the source.

Ecosphere Technologies has developed an outhouse that, rather than relying on chemicals like a port-a-john, relies on about a pound of red wiggler worms. A new installation in Quebec uses imported worms, placed inside of a mixture of dung and straw underneath to toilet, to devour feces delivered to them by a conveyor belt system. (When someone uses the toilet, pee filters through sand to wash away, while a pedal allows the user to transport their poo to the worm space.)

The whole system uses no water or electricity, and a series of passive vents allegedly keeps the toilet smelling great. The company claims it can be used 10,000 times without servicing, which is far better than what a port-a-potty can boast, although with a current price tag of $40k for the worm system, port-a-potties are still a lot cheaper."
Open Source

+ - 144 Open-source Raspberry Pi WebIDE alpha released->

Submitted by
ptorrone
ptorrone writes "Adafruit, the NYC based open-source hardware company led by Ladyada released their Open-source Raspberry Pi WebIDE alpha today. It's goal is to be "The easiest way to develop code on your Raspberry Pi". To get up and running head on over to learn.adafruit.com/webideand follow the installation and setup instructions. It uses Bitbucket, and any code changes you make will be synced to your Bitbucket account. Adafruit chose Bitbucket over Github because they offer free secure accounts, which is very important for a Web-based IDE."
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Facebook

+ - 185 The Computer Science Behind Facebook's 1 Billion Users->

Submitted by pacopico
pacopico (802691) writes "Much has been made about Facebook hitting 1 billion users. But Businessweek has the inside story detailing how the site actually copes with this many people and the software Facebook has invented that pushes the limits of computer science. The story quotes database guru Mike Stonebraker saying, "I think Facebook has the hardest information technology problem on the planet." To keep Facebooking moving fast, Mark Zuckerberg apparently institued a program called Boot Camp in which engineers spend six-weeks learning every bit of Facebook's code."
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Security

+ - 152 Cybercrime Gang Recruiting Botmasters for Large-Scale Attacks on American Banks->

Submitted by Trailrunner7
Trailrunner7 (1100399) writes "A slew of major American banks, some already stressed by a stream of DDoS attacks carried out over the past 10 days, may soon have to brace themselves for a large-scale coordinated attack bent on pulling off fraudulent wire transfers.

RSA’s FraudAction research team has been monitoring underground chatter and has put together various clues to deduce that a cybercrime gang is actively recruiting up to 100 botmasters to participate in a complicated man-in-the-middle hijacking scam using a variant of the proprietary Gozi Trojan.

This is the first time a private cybercrime organization has recruited outsiders to participate in a financially motivated attack, said Mor Ahuvia, cybercrime communications specialist for RSA FraudAction. The attackers are promising their recruits a cut of the profits, and are requiring an initial investment in hardware and training in how to deploy the Gozi Prinimalka Trojan, Ahuvia added. Also, the gang will only share executable files with their partners, and will not give up the Trojan’s compilers, keeping the recruits dependent on the gang for updates"

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Security

+ - 157 Boston Airport Replacing X-ray Body Scanners->

Submitted by OverTheGeicoE
OverTheGeicoE (1743174) writes "Boston's Logan International Airport is in the process of replacing its X-ray body scanners with millimeter-wave ones. According to TFA, nine of the new scanners have been installed already, and ultimately 27 of these scanners will replace the 17 X-ray backscatter scanners that were installed in March of 2010. Perhaps this will help TSA workers avoid being part of a cancer cluster. Some speculate that TSA will ultimately eliminate all of its X-ray body scanners."
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Biotech

+ - 152 Lab-made eggs produce healthy mice->

Submitted by
ananyo
ananyo writes "Japanese researchers have coaxed mouse stem cells into becoming viable eggs that produce healthy offspring. Last year, the same team successfully used mouse stem cells to make functional sperm (other groups have produced sperm cells in vitro).
The researchers used a cocktail of growth factors to transform stem cells into egg precursors. When they added these egg precursor cells to embryonic ovary tissue that did not contain sex cells, the mixture spontaneously formed ovary-like structures, which they then grafted onto natural ovaries in female mice. After four weeks, the stem-cell-derived cells had matured into oocytes. The team removed the oocytes from the ovaries, fertilized them and transplanted the embryos into foster mothers. The offspring that were produced grew up to be fertile themselves."

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Censorship

+ - 151 Google Says It Won't 'Manually' Review YouTube Vids for Infringement-> 1

Submitted by thomst
thomst (1640045) writes "David Kravets of Wired's Threat Level blog reports that Google has clarified its change in policy on automatic takedowns of YouTube videos for copyright infringement. On Wednesday, Thabet Alfishawi, rights management product manager for YouTube, said in a blog post that Google had "improved the algorithms that identify potentially invalid claims. We stop these claims from automatically affecting user videos and place them in a queue to be manually reviewed.” In its clarification, Google now says that videos flagged by its Content ID algorithm will be placed in a queue for "content owners" to review, if they decide to do so. In other words, the "manual review" is entirely optional, and the review, if any, will be done by the "content owner", rather than by Google itself — all of which begs the classic question, "Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?""
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Space

+ - 217 Boeing proposes using gas clouds to bring down orbital debris-> 1

Submitted by cylonlover
cylonlover (1921924) writes "Boeing has filed a patent for a method of disposing of dead satellites and other debris orbiting the earth by hitting them with a puff of gas. The method, which is still at the conceptual stage, is designed to slow down satellites, forcing them to re-enter the atmosphere without sending up more space junk that itself will need disposing of. The idea is to send a small satellite into orbit containing a gas generator. This generator can be a tank of cryogenic gas, such as xenon or krypton, or a device designed to vaporize a heavy metal or some relatively heavy elements like fluorine, chlorine, bromine, or iodine. This gas would be released as a cloud in the same orbit as the debris, but traveling in the opposite direction."
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+ - 149 Electric cars could be a threat to the environment-> 3

Submitted by another random user
another random user (2645241) writes "Electric cars might pollute much more than petrol or diesel-powered cars, according to new research. The Norwegian University of Science and Technology study found greenhouse gas emissions rose dramatically if coal was used to produce the electricity. Electric car factories also emitted more toxic waste than conventional car factories, their report in the Journal of Industrial Energy said.

"The global warming potential from electric vehicle production is about twice that of conventional vehicles."

In addition, producing batteries and electric motors requires a lot of toxic minerals such as nickel, copper and aluminium. Hence, the acidification impact is much greater than that of conventional car production.

In regions where fossil fuels are the main sources of power, electric cars offer no benefits and may even cause more harm, the report said.

"It is counterproductive to promote electric vehicles in regions where electricity is primarily produced from lignite, coal or even heavy oil combustion.""

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