Phrogman writes "The Conservative government of Steven Harper in Canada has proposed a new bill that would impose a jail term of 10 years for anyone wearing a mask while 'participating in a riot or unlawful assembly.' The conservative backbencher who proposed the bill makes it clear that he intended it to allow police to arrest anyone wearing a mask 'before protests spiral out of control.' Since this is the same government that arrested hundreds of protesters during the G8/G20 summit using a law that didn't actually exist, it raises the question as to how they will define 'unlawful.' The 10-year penalty is more than double the penalty awarded to a person who murdered someone in a fit of 'road-rage' recently."
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New submitter IdleThoughts writes "Sometimes it takes a long time to spark a revolution. Long the ugly duckling of programming languages, iOS' Objective-C passed C# in the 'TIOBE Programming Community Index this month and seems on a trajectory to overtake C++ in the next few. It was invented in the early 1980s by Brad Cox and Tom Love, with the idea of creating 'Software Integrated Circuits' and heavily influenced by Smalltalk — yet another legacy from Xerox PARC, along with desktop GUIs, ethernet and laser printers. It was adopted early on by Steve Jobs' NeXTStep, the grand-daddy of all that is now OS X. It had to wait, however, for the mobile device revolution to have its day, being ideally suited to the limited resources on portable devices. It's still being actively developed by Apple and others, sporting the new automatic reference counting and static analysis in the Clang compiler. It turns out it has supported dynamic patching of code in applications all along. What more surprises does this venerable language have up its sleeve?"
Hugh Pickens writes "BBC reports that as Nevada licenses Google to test its prototype driver-less car on public roads, futurists are postulating what a world of driver-less would cars look like. First, accidents would go down. 'Your automated car isn't sitting around getting distracted, making a phone call, looking at something it shouldn't be looking at or simply not keeping track of things,' says Danny Sullivan. Google's car adheres strictly to the speed limit and follows the rules of the road. 'It doesn't speed, it doesn't cut you off, it doesn't tailgate,' says Tom Jacobs, a spokesman for the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles. Driver-less cars would mean a more productive commute. 'If you truly trust the intelligence of the vehicle, then you get in the vehicle and you do our work while you're traveling,' says engineer Lynne Irwin. They would mean fewer traffic jams. 'Congestion would be something you could tell your grandchildren about, once upon a time.' Driver-less cars could extend car ownership to some groups of people previously unable to own a car, including elderly drivers who feel uncomfortable getting behind the wheel at night, whose eyesight has weakened or whose reaction time has slowed." Another reader points out an article suggesting autonomous cars could eventually spell the end of auto insurance.
sl4shd0rk writes "Apparently the USPS is enacting a ban on the international shipment of all devices containing Lithium Ion batteries. The ban is expected to lift in January of 2013. It seems like this would drive more business away from the already floundering USPS financial situation. The article focuses on the shipment of items out of the U.S., but doesn't mention whether the same ban will apply to purchasing these items on eBay from overseas sources."
An anonymous reader writes with news that the European Space Agency has lost contact with its Envisat environmental satellite mere weeks after celebrating a full decade in orbit. Engineers have spent the last month trying to re-establish contact, and will continue to do so for another two months. "With ten sophisticated sensors, Envisat has observed and monitored Earth’s land, atmosphere, oceans and ice caps during its ten-year lifetime, delivering over a thousand terabytes of data. An estimated 2500 scientific publications so far have been based on this information, furthering our knowledge of the planet." The ESA was hoping Envisat would stay operational for another two years, until Sentinel satellites from the Global Monitoring for Environment and Security initiative became operational.
bonch writes "22 percent of California eighth-graders passed a national science test, ranking California among the worst in the U.S. according to the 2011 National Assessment of Educational Progress. The test measures knowledge in Earth and space sciences, biology, and basic physics. The states that fared worse than California were Mississippi, Alabama, and a tie between the District of Columbia and Hawaii. 'Nationally, 31 percent of eighth-graders who were tested scored proficient or advanced. Both the national and state scores improved slightly over scores from two years ago, the last time the test was administered.'"
Zothecula writes "SpaceX and Bigelow Aerospace have joined forces in an attempt to woo international customers looking to enjoy some extended periods of microgravity. The joint marketing effort will push trips to orbiting Bigelow habitats on SpaceX's Dragon spacecraft using the Falcon launch vehicle. 'Bigelow's BA 330 space module would be designed to provide 330 cubic meters of usable volume, which is about the size of a two-bedroom apartment. The BA 330 could accommodate up to six astronauts, depending on how cozy they plan to get. Two or more BA 330 modules could be connected together in orbit for lease by national space agencies, companies or universities, according to Bigelow Aerospace.'"
An anonymous reader writes "Willow Garage has announced the launch of the Open Source Robotics Foundation. 'It's always been the intention of Willow Garage to create an independent body that can take our initial work in open source robotics and see it grow beyond the confines of a single organization,' said CEO Steve Cousins."
circletimessquare writes "Everyone in the modern world has thrown away at least one thing that was perfectly good except for an easily fixed defect, because it's just easier to buy a new one. In the Netherlands, in the name of social cohesion, and with government and private foundation grants, there is a trend called the Repair Cafe (Dutch). People bring in broken items: a skirt with a hole in it, an iron that no longer steams, and they fix each other's stuff and meet their neighbors. Now that's an idea worth keeping."
Alt-kun writes "This past week has seen a couple of interesting articles about Research In Motion's strategic plans for BlackBerry 10. The Globe and Mail thinks that by pushing HTML5 for app development, they want to make mobile applications platform-neutral, which would let them sell devices purely on the strength of the hardware and OS, rather than on the ecosystem. And the Guelph Mercury notes that they also plan to push BB10 as the basis for a whole range of mobile and embedded devices, not just phones and tablets. One example shown off at the recent developer conference was a Porsche with a BlackBerry entertainment system."
ananyo writes "Evidence is mounting that research is riddled with positive bias. Left unchecked, the problem could erode public trust, argues Dan Sarewitz, a science policy expert, in a comment piece in Nature. The piece cites a number of findings, including a 2005 paper by John Ioannidis that was one of the first to bring the problem to light ('Why Most Published Research Findings Are False'). More recently, researchers at Amgen were able to confirm the results of only six of 53 'landmark studies' in preclinical cancer research (interesting comments on publishing methodology). While the problem has been most evident in biomedical research, Sarewitz argues that systematic error is now prevalent in 'any field that seeks to predict the behavior of complex systems — economics, ecology, environmental science, epidemiology and so on.' 'Nothing will corrode public trust more than a creeping awareness that scientists are unable to live up to the standards that they have set for themselves,' he adds. Do Slashdot readers perceive positive bias to be a problem? And if so, what practical steps can be taken to put things right?"
TheGift73 writes in with this link about IE 9 coming to an Xbox 360 near you. "Microsoft is currently testing a modified version of Internet Explorer 9 on its Xbox 360 console, according to our sources. The Xbox 360 currently includes Bing voice search, but it's limited to media results. Microsoft's new Internet Explorer browser for Xbox will expand on this functionality to open up a full browser for the console. We are told that the browser will let Xbox users surf all parts of the web straight from their living rooms."
CowboyRobot writes "Growing up, many of our teachers used gamification techniques such as a gold star sticker on a test (essentially a badge) or a public display of which students had completed a set of readings (leaderboard). These were intended to motivate students to strive to do better. Now, these techniques are increasingly common in the workplace where the parallel with computer games is more intentional. A report by Gartner predicts that 'by 2015, 50% of organizations that manage innovation processes will gamify those processes.' One example would be assigning badges for submitting work on time, another would be having a leaderboard in an office to show who completed a training module first. The idea of using game mechanics in work or study environments is not new, but its ubiquity is. Educators can discuss how effective gamification is in classrooms, but how useful is it as a motivator in the workplace?"
First time accepted submitter BigVig209 writes "Univ. of MN is cataloging open-access textbooks and enticing faculty to review the texts by offering $500 per review. From the article: 'The project is meant to address two faculty critiques of open-source texts: they are hard to locate and they are of indeterminate quality. By building up a peer-reviewed collection of textbooks, available to instructors anywhere, Minnesota officials hope to provide some of the same quality control that historically has come from publishers of traditional textbooks.'"
Fluffeh writes "A while back, Dutch Telcos started to sing the 'We are losing money due to internet services!' song and floated new plans that would make consumers pay extra for data used by apps that conflicted with their own services — apps like Skype, for example. The politicians stepped in, however, and wrote laws forbidding this. Now, the legislation has finally passed through the Senate and the Netherlands is an officially Net Neutral country, the second in the world — Chile did this a while back."