Daniel_Stuckey writes "From an article announcing the sites' decision to do away with comments: 'It wasn't a decision we made lightly. As the news arm of a 141-year-old science and technology magazine, we are as committed to fostering lively, intellectual debate as we are to spreading the word of science far and wide. The problem is when trolls and spambots overwhelm the former, diminishing our ability to do the latter. ... even a fractious minority wields enough power to skew a reader's perception of a story, recent research suggests. ... A politically motivated, decades-long war on expertise has eroded the popular consensus on a wide variety of scientifically validated topics. Everything, from evolution to the origins of climate change, is mistakenly up for grabs again. Scientific certainty is just another thing for two people to "debate" on television. And because comments sections tend to be a grotesque reflection of the media culture surrounding them, the cynical work of undermining bedrock scientific doctrine is now being done beneath our own stories, within a website devoted to championing science.'" This comes alongside news that Google is trying to clean up YouTube comments by adding integration with Google+. "You’ll see posts at the top of the list from the video’s creator, popular personalities, engaged discussions about the video, and people in your Google+ Circles."
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cartechboy writes "State and national car dealer groups have been battling Tesla Motors for years, trying to stop them from selling its electric cars directly to buyers. Most of the time, the dealers work behind the scenes to change state laws and and force Tesla to conduct its sales through 'independently-owned third parties' which are... well, car dealers. But in California, Tesla's operations are legal, so that tactic won't work. So dealers there are taking an interesting new tack — complaining to the DMV about Tesla's website."
sciencehabit writes "Few features of child-rearing occupy as much parental brain space as sleep, and with it the timeless question: Is my child getting enough? Despite the craving among many parents for more sleep in their offspring (and, by extension, themselves), the purpose that sleep serves in young kids remains something of a mystery—especially when it comes to daytime naps. Do they help children retain information, as overnight sleep has been found to do in adults? A new study provides the first evidence that daytime sleep is in fact critical for effective learning in young children."
glowend writes "On 24 September 1993, computer users were introduced to Myst. Grantland takes a look at the game's legacy, two decades on. Quoting: 'Twenty years ago, people talked about Myst the same way they talked about The Sopranos during its first season: as one of those rare works that irrevocably changed its medium. It certainly felt like nothing in gaming would or could be the same after it. Yes, Myst went on to sell more than 6 million copies and was declared a game-changer (so to speak), widely credited with launching the era of CD-ROM gaming. It launched an equally critically adored and commercially successful sequel, and eventually four more installments. Fans and critics alike held their breath in anticipation of the tidal wave of exploratory, open-ended gaming that was supposed to follow, waiting to be drowned in a sea of new worlds. And then, nothing.' Why didn't Myst have a larger impact?"
dryriver sends this news from the BBC: "Boeing has revealed that it has retrofitted retired fighter jets to turn them into drones. It said that one of the Lockheed Martin F-16s made a first flight with an empty cockpit last week. Two U.S. Air Force pilots controlled the plane from the ground as it flew from a Florida base to the Gulf of Mexico (video). Boeing suggested that the innovation could ultimately be used to help train pilots, providing an adversary they could practise firing on. The jet — which had previously sat mothballed at an Arizona site for 15 years — flew at an altitude of 40,000ft (12.2km) and a speed of Mach 1.47 (1,119mph/1,800km/h). It carried out a series of maneuvers including a barrel roll and a 'split S' — a move in which the aircraft turns upside down before making a half loop so that it flies the right-way-up in the opposite direction. This can be used in combat to evade missile lock-ons. Boeing said the unmanned F-16 was followed by two chase planes to ensure it stayed in sight, and also contained equipment that would have allowed it to self-destruct if necessary. The firm added that the flight attained 7Gs of acceleration but was capable of carrying out maneuvers at 9Gs — something that might cause physical problems for a pilot. 'It flew great, everything worked great, [it] made a beautiful landing — probably one of the best landings I've ever seen,' said Paul Cejas, the project's chief engineer."
New York governor Andrew Cuomo has announced a new plan to cut down on texting while driving: 'texting zones' along state highways. Existing parking areas, rest stops, and Park-n-Ride facilities will be designated as places for drivers to pull off the road and send text messages. There will be 91 locations to start, along with a few hundred signs to notify drivers. Cuomo said, "With this new effort, we are sending a clear message to drivers that there is no excuse to take your hands off the wheel and eyes off the road because your text can wait until the next Texting Zone." This follows a 365% increase in tickets issued for distracted driving this summer, compared to last summer. The increase comes in part from New York state police using unmarked SUVs with "platforms higher than an average vehicle, allowing officers greater ability to see into other vehicles and detect individuals in the process of sending text messages."
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Danny Sullivan reports that in the past month, Google has quietly made a change aimed at encrypting all search activity to provide 'extra protection' for searchers, and possibly to block NSA spying activity. In October 2011, Google began encrypting searches for anyone who was logged into Google. The reason given was privacy. Now, Google has flipped on encryption for people who aren't even signed-in. In June, Google was accused of cooperating with the NSA to give the agency instant and direct access to its search data through the PRISM spying program, something the company has strongly denied. 'I suspect the increased encryption is related to Google's NSA-pushback,' writes Sullivan. 'It may also help ease pressure Google's feeling from tiny players like Duck Duck Go making a "secure search" growth pitch to the media.'"
chicksdaddy writes "In an important move, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has released final guidance to mobile application developers that are creating medical applications to run on mobile devices. Some applications, it said, will be treated with the same scrutiny as traditional medical devices. The agency said on Monday that, while it doesn't see the need to vet 'the majority of mobile apps,' because they pose 'minimal risk to consumers,' it will exercise oversight of mobile medical applications that are accessories to regulated medical devices, or that transform a mobile device into a regulated medical device. In those cases, the FDA said that mobile applications will be assessed 'using the same regulatory standards and risk-based approach that the agency applies to other medical device.' The line between a mere 'app' and a 'medical device' is fuzzy. The FDA said it will look to the 'intended use of a mobile app' when determining whether it meets the definition of a medical 'device.' The Agency may study the labeling or advertising claims used to market it, or statements by the device maker and its representatives. In general, 'when the intended use of a mobile app is for the diagnosis of disease or other conditions, or the cure, mitigation, treatment or prevention of disease, or it is intended to affect the structure of any function of the body of man, the mobile app is a device.'"
On September 9, The Internet Society issued a position paper in which it said the group "...is alarmed by continuing reports alleging systematic United States government efforts to circumvent Internet security mechanisms," and went on to say, "The Internet Society President and CEO, Lynn St. Amour, said, 'If true, these reports describe government programmes that undermine the technical foundations of the Internet and are a fundamental threat to the Internet’s economic, innovative, and social potential. Any systematic, state-level attack on Internet security and privacy is a rejection of the global, collaborative fabric that has enabled the Internet's growth to extend beyond the interests of any one country.'" Those are tough words from an international organization that usually spends its time bringing the Internet to people in out-of-the-way villages and sponsoring the Internet Engineering Task Force. You can join the Internet Society for as little as $0 per year, and possibly help beat back some of the U.S. government eavesdropping and encryption circumvention efforts. And if you can make it to San Francisco on October 2, you can attend a (free) Internet Society discussion. Meanwhile, today's Slashdot interviewee is Paul Brigner, the Internet Society Regional Bureau Director for North America, who talks about the Internet Society in general, as well as the group's reaction to the U.S. government's online surveillance.
sl4shd0rk writes "Nvidia, perhaps inspired by the infamous Torvalds Salute, has decided to do something about its crummy image with Open Source developers. The company has begun to release public documentation on certain aspects of its GPUs. Reactions from developers have been mixed; much of what's already been released wasn't a big mystery, but Nvidia says more is coming and they will also provide guidance in needed areas as well. Linus said, 'I'm cautiously optimistic that this is a real shift in how Nvidia perceives Linux. The actual docs released so far are fairly limited, and in themselves they wouldn't be a big thing, but if Nvidia really does follow up and start opening up more, that would certainly be great. They've already been much better in the ARM SoC space than they were on the more traditional GPU side, and I really hope that some day I can just apologize for ever giving them the finger.'"
Deathspawner writes "Grand Theft Auto V has shown itself to be potential GOTY material, and has even managed to break a sales record already. But aside from that, the game has also become one of the most adult-oriented games ever released, with torture, drug use and sex prevalent not long after beginning the game. You'd expect this gameplay to deter most parents from picking the game up for their young children — but not so. An anonymous editorial at Kotaku written by a video game store employee says that out of the ~1,000 copies sold in the first week, at least 10% of them went to parents accompanied by a child. Clearly, this could be interpreted as a problem. Techgage adds that this is one of the biggest problems facing gaming today. With one breath, many parents criticize video games for being so violent, and with the next, they're saying 'thanks' at the counter after picking up these very games for their kids. While ESRB ratings and other warnings about violent games for kids have good reason to exist, many parents still ignore them, aren't aware to them, or simply don't care about their warnings."
First time accepted submitter jeremyp writes "Ordnance Survey intern Joseph Braybrook has created a Minecraft World based upon accurate terrain mapping data of Great Britain. The world accurately represents the whole of Great Britain and surrounding islands (but excludes Northern Ireland and the Channel Islands). It maps 224,000 square kilometres of Great Britain and contains 22 billion blocks. Graham Dunlop (Ordnance Survey Innovation Lab Manager) says: 'We think we may have created the largest Minecraft world ever built based on real-world data.' The map can be downloaded from the Ordnance Survey."
hackingbear writes "Beijing has made the landmark decision to lift a ban on internet access within the Shanghai Free-trade Zone to foreign websites considered politically sensitive by the Chinese government, including Facebook, Twitter and newspaper website The New York Times. The new free trade zone would also welcome bids from foreign telecommunications companies for licenses to provide internet services within the new special economic zone to compete with the state-owned China Mobile, China Telecom and China Unicom; the big three telcos didn't raise complaints as they knew it was a decision endorsed by top Chinese leaders including Premier Li Keqiang, who is keen to make the free-trade zone a key proving ground for significant financial and economic reforms, the sources added. The decision to lift the bans, for now, only applies to the Zone and not elsewhere in China. 'In order to welcome foreign companies to invest and to let foreigners live and work happily in the free-trade zone, we must think about how we can make them feel like at home. If they can't get onto Facebook or read The New York Times, they may naturally wonder how special the free-trade zone is compared with the rest of China,' said one of the government sources who declined to be named due to the highly sensitive nature of the matter."
An anonymous reader writes with word that two of the more intriguing memes of recent times have been outed as elaborate performance art. Bizarre Twitter-centric entities @Horse_ebooks and Pronunciation Book aren't really inexplicable, it turns out: "[These feeds] have been running for the past several years, both have the hallmarks of automation, chugging along anonymously and churning out disjointed bits of text in a very spam-like fashion, but neither is as it appears." The Escapist has a bit more, now that the horse is out of the bag.
Nerval's Lobster writes "Never mind that sales of the original Surface totaled a pitiful $853 million in its first few months of release, or that the tablet failed to make Microsoft an up-and-coming player (or any kind of player, really) in the mobile-device wars: Microsoft's now rolling out Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2, which feature upgraded specs and accessories but no radical adjustments to the first generation. Why would Microsoft pour good money after bad? The answer could be outgoing Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, who late last year released a memo suggesting that Microsoft was evolving into a 'devices and services' company. 'There will be times when we build specific devices for specific purposes, as we have chosen to do with Xbox and the recently announced Microsoft Surface,' he wrote. 'In all our work with partners and on our own devices, we will focus relentlessly on delivering delightful, seamless experiences across hardware, software and services.' That meant Surface (then on the cusp of release) was clearly a harbinger of the company's future direction — and canceling the project after the first generation would have been a stinging refutation of Ballmer's strategy. By spending the money and resources on a second device generation, Microsoft manages to save a little bit of face, albeit at considerable cost. But imagine the hilarity that'll ensue if this second generation goes down in a huge ball of flames like the first."