Submission + - When Google got flu wrong (

ananyo writes: "When influenza hit early and hard in the United States this year, it quietly claimed an unacknowledged victim: one of the cutting-edge techniques being used to monitor the outbreak. A comparison with traditional surveillance data showed that Google Flu Trends, which estimates prevalence from flu-related Internet searches, had drastically overestimated peak flu levels. The glitch is no more than a temporary setback for a promising strategy, experts say, and Google is sure to refine its algorithms. But with flu-tracking techniques based on mining of web data and on social media taking off, Nature looks at how these potentially cheaper, faster methods measure up against traditional epidemiological surveillance networks."

Submission + - Evil, almost full Vim implementation in Emacs, reaches 1.0 version (

karijes writes: Evil is a new Emacs major mode intended to implement full Vim emulation for Emacs editor and it reached first stable release. Evil implements many Vim features and has support for plugins, so there is port for rails.vim, NERDCommenter and mapleader among others. Details about this release you can find on mailing list.

Submission + - Killing Your Sexual Desires for Academic and Intellectual Pursuits? 6

An anonymous reader writes: In the past few months, I have been applying to a multitude of graduate schools. Recently, I was accepted into a Ph.D. in computer science program at a fairly prestigious and demanding institution. Like most Slashdot readers, I have always been an exceptional student throughout high school and my undergraduate studies. However, as a heterosexual male individual, there has always been a persistent desire to associate myself with females in an effort to find love, have sex, and to be in a relationship. I have learned the hard way that this is often a colossal distraction from one's schooling and I would like to train myself to become more apathetic to such desires in preparation for the difficult but intellectually awarding years of graduate school that lay ahead. So, fellow Slashdot users, I ask you a rather odd but serious question on none other than Valentine's Day: How do you kill your sexual desires to enable you to focus more on academic and intellectual goals?

Submission + - Collaborative LaTeX editor with Preview in your web browser ( 1

Celarent Darii writes: Slashdot readers have undoubtably heard of Google Docs and the many other online word processing solutions that run in the browser. However, as a long-time user of TeX and LaTeX, these solutions are not my favorite way of doing things. Wouldn't it be nice to TeX something in your browser? Well, look no further, there is now a Online collaborative LaTeX editor with integrated rapid preview. Some fantastic features: quasi-instant preview, automatic versioning of source, easy collaboration and you can even upload files and pictures. Download your project later when you get home. Are you a TeX guru with some masterpieces? Might I suggest uploading them? For the beginner: you can start here.

Full disclosure: I am not affiliated with the site in anyway, just a fan. Hope exposure on Slashdot gets the word out on this great resource, which is very useful while travelling!


Submission + - Inventing the Chromebook - First Version was Based on Firefox (

Andy Prough writes: Former Google engineer Jeff Nelson has written a fascinating blog post about how he created "Google OS", the forerunner to Chrome OS. Last August, he finally received a patent for it, but his work began in 2006, and the first versions of the OS were built on Firefox and a "bare-bones Linux distribution" that could execute any Linux program. In fact, when he first started writing the OS, Chrome itself did not exist, and the whole purpose for his work was to create a system that loaded fully — and only — into system RAM. This purpose grew out of his frustration with wait times as he wrote webapps for Google, and found himself waiting 30-45 seconds just to restart a web browser. By moving the entire OS to RAM, he was able to cut the Firefox restart time from 45 seconds to 1 second, and found similar speed increases for other mundane tasks. He built himself a "Chromebook" and used it as his primary development box for over a year. The fact that his boss and Google management originally had no interest in his project makes this story all the better. This blog post is a very interesting read, as it discusses the beginnings of the range of Google webapps that were ultimately created to "replace any and all functionality normally found on a desktop".

Submission + - What is the best programming language for a 12-year-old to learn? 3

wintersynth writes: My friend is sending his 12-year-old to a tech summer camp and wants to know the best language for him to learn. It looks like Java and Python are the main options, both applied to game programming. There are also classes using the Lego Mindstorm scripting language, and Scratch. Slashdotters, I assume you've run into this question before, and I could use the help. Programming tools have changed a lot since I was learning SmartBASIC on a Coleco Adam as a kid. I want to recommend something that will be powerful enough to show him the unlimited possibilities in programming, but easy enough to maintain his interest and not discourage him. What do you teach your kids? What has been effective?

Submission + - Lawmakers Say CFAA Is Too Hard On Hackers (

GovTechGuy writes: "A number of lawmakers are using the death of Internet activist Aaron Swartz to speak out against the Justice Department's handling of the case, and application of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. The controversy surrounding the Swartz case could finally give activists the momentum they need to halt the steady increase in penalties for even minor computer crimes."
United States

Submission + - Pentagon' Distinguished Warefare Medal: for cyber attacks and drone wars (

bios10h writes: "The Boston Globe writes that the Pentagon is create a new medal. "[The] troops who launch the drone strikes and direct the cyberattacks that can kill or disable an enemy may never set foot in the combat zone. Now their battlefield contributions may be recognized with the first new combat-related medal to be created in decades." A medal for hackers?"

Submission + - Do Not Track ineffective and dangerous, says researcher (

Seeteufel writes: Nadim Kobeissi, security researcher, describes the Do Not Track standard of the W3C as dangerous.

In fact, Google’s search engine, as well as Microsoft’s (Bing), both ignore the Do Not Track header even though both companies helped implement this feature into their web browsers. Yahoo Search also ignored Do Not Track requests. Some websites will politely inform you, however, of the fact that your Do Not Track request has been ignored, and explain that this has been done in order to preserve their advertising revenue. But not all websites, by a long shot, do this.

The revalations come as Congress and European legislators consider to tighten privacy standards amidth massive advertiser lobbying. "Do not track" received strong support from the European Commission.


Submission + - Gut Bacteria Conspired in Melamine Poisonings (

sciencehabit writes: In 2008, nearly 300,000 infants in China got sick from milk formula tainted with melamine, a plastics additive that was used illegally to bulk up the formula's apparent protein content. Now, a study in rats implicates bacteria living in the gut as unwitting accomplices in this mass poisoning. The bacteria convert some melamine to cyanuric acid, whichwas present in high concentrations in fatal kidney stones. The work helps clarify how melamine toxicity arises and also drives home the key role that gut bacteria play in human health.

Submission + - Punkbuster Service Goes Down, Hundreds of Online Game Servers Affected (

MojoKid writes: "PunkBuster, the anti-cheating service implemented in hundreds of online games, is down. As of the time of writing, the official PunkBuster website is up and down, after having been completely down for the past couple of hours. On Twitter, there are numerous reports of gamers who've been unable to play online in the most popular PunkBuster-backed title of the moment, Battlefield 3. EA has gone as far as to post an interim fix. Applying the fix is a simple matter of extracting an archive and then overwriting a couple of files inside of your Battlefield 3 install folder. While EA has little power over PunkBuster's ability to get things 100% functional again, this issue does highlight the fact that third-party solutions are not always the way to go."

Submission + - Monsanto takes home $23m from small farmers (

An anonymous reader writes: Seed giant Monsanto has won more than $23 million from hundreds of small farmers accused of replanting the company’s genetically engineered seeds. Now, another case is looming – and it could set a landmark precedent for the future of seed ownership.

Submission + - Source code for Photoshop 1.0 (

gbooch writes: "With the permission of Adobe Systems, the Computer History Museum has made available the source code for Photoshop version 1.0.1, comprising about 128,000 lines code within 179 files, most of which is in Pascal, the remainder in 68000 assembly language.

This the kind of code I aspire to write.

The Computer History Museum has earlier made available the source code to MacPaint (which you'll find here"


Submission + - Tesla, Ford, Amazon Hint at Cloudy Future for Cars (

Nerval's Lobster writes: "The automobile, once the most analog of technologies, is rapidly becoming a smartphone on wheels: Amazon announced Feb. 13 that Ford SYNC Applink-equipped vehicles will include the Amazon Cloud Player, allowing drivers to access their music libraries via voice command or dashboard controls. Ford isn’t the only automotive company seeking to integrate cloud computing into the driving experience. Tesla Motors’ Model S electric sedan boasts a 17-inch capacitive touch-screen in place of the usual dashboard buttons and dials. And who could forget Google's self-driving car? This isn't a future everybody wants—there are more than a few wannabe Steve McQueens who won’t feel complete unless they can stomp on a pedal connected to an internal-combustion engine, flick a physical dashboard knob to the radio station of their choice, and peel out their driveway in a cloud of burning rubber. But as the latest technology migrates into automobiles, it could well be the future we’re going to receive."

Submission + - Ask slashdot: spreadsheet with decent programming language?

slartibartfastatp writes: "Spreadsheets are very flexible tools for data analysis and transformations, the obvious options being MS Excel and LibreOffice. However, I found increasingly infuriating to deal with the VBA--dialect functions or (even worse) its translated versions. Is there any spreadsheet that allows usage of a decent programming language in its formulae? I found PySpread intriguing, but still very beta (judging from its latest release version 0.2.3). Perl or even javascript would be better options than =AVERAGE(). The slashdot community knows any viable alternatives ?"

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