Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive
Wired magazine has been around now for 20 years. Kevin Kelly decided to commemorate the magazine's immersion in tech culture, and in particular the thriving entrepreneurial scene located in Wired's own neighborhood of SoMa in San Francisco, with a photo essay documenting and celebrating some of the startups that are active in that neighborhood now (like Scribd, Reddit, and BitTorrent) noting that some of the companies are led by people who were just three when the magazine was founded.
Earlier this month, an article raised the question of who owns the giant data center being built in Altoona, Iowa. Today, the Des Moines Register has an answer, gleaned from "legislative sources." The giant facility, estimated to cost $1.5 billion when construction is complete, is to house a data center for Facebook. The article lists various attributes the site has to make it attractive for all that data, including access to transportation, extensive network infrastructure, and relatively low risk from natural disasters.
hypnosec writes "Authorities in Japan are presumably worried about their inability to tackle cybercrime and, in a bid to stem one of the sources of anonymous traffic, the National Police Agency (NPA) is asking ISPs to block Tor. The recommendation comes from the special panel formed by the NPA after a hacker going by the name Demon Killer was found to regularly use Tor to anonymize his online activities, like posting of death threats on public message boards."
After high winds (up to 140mph) delayed yesterday's scheduled launch (itself a re-do because of a cabling problem), Orbital Science's Antares rocket has made it to space. This launch was a test run, but Antares is intended to launch supplies to the ISS. Space.com reports: "The third try was the charm for the private Antares rocket, which launched into space from a new pad at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility, its twin engines roaring to life at 5 p.m. EDT (2100 GMT) to carry a mock cargo ship out over the Atlantic Ocean and into orbit. The successful liftoff came after two delays caused by a minor mechanical glitch and bad weather." Congratulations to all involved.
hessian writes with a story at Wired (excerpt below) about a project from Drew Endy of the International Open Facility Advancing Biotechnology, or BIOFAB, to standardize a programming language connecting genetic information from DNA to the cell components that DNA can create. "The BIOFAB project is still in the early stages. Endy and the team are creating the most basic of building blocks — the 'grammar' for the language. Their latest achievement, recently reported in the journal Science, has been to create a way of controlling and amplifying the signals sent from the genome to the cell. Endy compares this process to an old fashioned telegraph. 'If you want to send a telegraph from San Francisco to Los Angeles, the signals would get degraded along the wire,' he says. "At some point, you have to have a relay system that would detect the signals before they completely went to noise and then amplify them back up to keep sending them along their way.""
An anonymous reader writes "What do you get mugged in Central London and the local police are too incompetent to find a mugger even with his address and photograph? You may not be able to get to the laptop, but you still own the photos and data on it, so you set up the NSFW Plumpergeddon blog which gives details of the subsequent 'owner's' 'Brick House Butts' fetishes. Now of course later the IT media might get interested and offer an interview with a promise to let him review the article and keep his name secret. luckily our hero is not so innocent and demonstrates the value of using a false name on the internet as well as planting your own monitoring software on your laptop."
kkleiner writes "Willow Garage spinoff IPI has developed a visual system for its line of robotic arms that enable the machines to perceive a specific object in the midst of random ones. On-site videos show the 'sensing' robots analyzing stacks of random boxes, selecting certain ones, and tossing them to a human handler. The software is also used in an automated box unloader that requires no human supervision."
New submitter JoeyRox writes "On 3/22 the Senate approved a non-binding proposal to allow states to tax online sales to residents outside their state. That vote was a trial balloon to gauge the support for the Marketplace Fairness Act. This week Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid filed a cloture to allow the law to be voted on for real this time. The vote may occur as soon as tomorrow. eBay is attempting to rally Americans against the bill via a massive email campaign."
First time accepted submitter thejezus writes "A spy cabinet has been exposed on a public road in The Hague, the Netherlands (Google translate here). The cabinet was disguised as telecom-cabinet and was detected by the maintenance crew of Ziggo (a triple-play provider) because it was not listed as a property of the company. Upon opening, it was revealed the cabinet contained a camera and UMTS equipment. Later that day, the cabinet disappeared. 1984 much?"
Shipud writes "E.O. Wilson is the renowned father of sociobiology, a professor (emeritus) at Harvard, two time pulitzer prize winner, and a popularizer of science. In a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, Wilson provides controversial advice to aspiring young scientists. Wilson claims that math literacy is not essential, and that scientific models in biology, intuitively generated, can later be formalized by a specialized statistician. One blogger calls out Wilson on his article, arguing that knowing mathematics is essential to generating models, and that lacking what Darwin called the "extra sense" is essentially limiting to any scientist."
The BBC reports that two Twitter accounts belonging to CBS news have been suspended after they were compromised on Saturday afternoon. From the article: "Fake messages appearing on the @60Minutes account criticised US support for 'terrorist' rebels in Syria and others accused Barack Obama of trying to 'take away your guns.' A group calling itself the Syrian Electronic Army claimed to have been responsible for hijacking the accounts."
theodp writes "In his latest essay, Rudolf Winestock argues that the movement to replace the mainframe has re-invented the mainframe, as well as the reason why people wanted to get rid of mainframes in the first place. 'The modern server farm looks like those first computer rooms,' Winestock writes. 'Row after row of metal frames (excuse me—racks) bearing computer modules in a room that's packed with cables and extra ventilation ducts. Just like mainframes. Server farms have multiple redundant CPUs, memory, disks, and network connections. Just like mainframes. The rooms that house these server farms are typically not open even to many people in the same organization, but only to dedicated operations teams. Just like mainframes.' And with terabytes of data sitting in servers begging to be monetized by business and scrutinized by government, Winestock warns that the New Boss is worse than the Old Boss. So, what does this mean for the future of fully functional, general purpose, standalone computers? 'Offline computer use frustrates the march of progress,' says Winestock. 'If offline use becomes uncommon, then the great and the good will ask: "What are [you] hiding? Are you making kiddie porn? Laundering money? Spreading hate? Do you want the terrorists to win?"'"
An anonymous reader writes with a link to a recent post on Red Hat senior interaction designer Máirín Duffy's blog with an illuminating look at Red Hat's design process, and how things like graphic elements, widget behavior, and bootup time are taken into account. It starts: "So I have this thing on my desk at Red Hat that basically defines a simple design process. (Yes, it also uses the word 'ideate' and yes, it sounds funny but it is a real word apparently!) While the mailing list thread on the topic at this point is high-volume and a bit chaotic, there is a lot of useful information and suggestions in there that I think could be pulled into a design process and sorted out. So I took 3 hours (yes, 3 hours) this morning to wade through the thread and attempt to do this."