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User Journal

Journal Journal: in which i am a noob all over again 17

I haven't posted a journal here in almost three years, because I couldn't find the button to start a new entry. ...yeah, it turns out that it's at the bottom of the page.

So... hi, Slashdot. I used to be really active here, but now I mostly lurk and read. I've missed you.


Quantum Physics For Everybody 145

fiziko writes in with a self-described "blatant self-promotion" of a worthwhile service for those wishing to go beyond Khan Academy physics: namely Bureau 42's Summer School. "As those who subscribe to the 'Sci-Fi News' slashbox may know, Bureau 42 has launched its first Summer School. This year we're doing a nine-part series (every Monday in July and August) taking readers from high school physics to graduate level physics, with no particular mathematical background required. Follow the link for part 1."

Comment Re:Wash your hands! (Score 1) 374

This is good advice, and gives me an opportunity to speak to the community at large: some of us who go to cons and are in a position to shake tons of hands politely decline. It's not because we're being dicks, it's because we know it's a good way to substantially decrease our chances of catching and spreading any germs.

Comment Oh, cruel irony (Score 2, Interesting) 374

I played the PAX Pandemic game, where the Enforcers handed out stickers to attendees that read [Carrier] [Infected] or [Immune] (There was also a [Patient Zero].

I got the [Immune] sticker, and by the time I got home on Monday, it was clear that I had the flu. I've had a fever between 100 and 104 all week that finally broke last night, but I'm going to the doctor today because I think whatever I had settled into my lungs. I'll tell him about the H1N1 outbreak and get tested if he wants to run the test, but at this point I think it's safe to assume that I was [Immune] to the Pig Plague, but definitely [Infected] with the damn PAX pox.

Even though it's been a week of misery, it was entirely worth it, and I don't regret going to PAX for a single second.


The Milky Way's Black Hole Is Not So Quiescent 152

esocid writes in with a followup to the recent discussion about the possibility that our galaxy's central black hole could reignite. "Using NASA, Japanese, and European X-ray satellites, a team of Japanese astronomers has discovered that Sagittarius A* let loose a powerful flare three centuries before the time at which we are observing it (i.e., 26,000 years in the past). X-ray pulses emanating from just outside the black hole take 300 years to traverse the distance between the central black hole and a large cloud known as Sagittarius B2, so the cloud responds to events that occurred 300 years earlier. 'By observing how this cloud lit up and faded over 10 years, we could trace back the black hole's activity 300 years ago,' says team member Katsuji Koyama of Kyoto University. 'The black hole was a million times brighter three centuries ago.'"
The Internet

Higher-Resolution YouTube Videos Currently In Testing 214

jason writes "YouTube has never really been known for streaming videos at a high resolution, but it appears that they are taking early steps at providing higher quality videos. The project was announced last year by the site's co-founder Steve Chen, and now appears to be in the earliest stages of deployment. By adding a parameter onto the end of a video's URL you're able to watch it in a higher quality (in terms of audio and video) that is actually quite noticeable. Not all videos have been converted at this point, but they do have millions upon millions of videos that they need to do."

More Spacecraft Velocity Anomalies 339

ZonkerWilliam recommends a bulletin from the American Institute of Physics, which discusses a study noting that recent spacecraft, such as NEAR, appear to display velocity anomalies much like those seen in Pioneer 10 (which were observed beginning ten years ago). The anomalies amount to up to 13 mm/sec., with a measurement accuracy of 0.1 mm/sec. Quoting: "A new look at the trajectories for various spacecraft as they fly past the Earth finds in each case a tiny amount of surplus velocity. For craft that pursue a path mostly symmetrical with respect to the equator, the effect is minimal. For craft that pursue a more unsymmetrical path, the effect is larger."

Antidepressants Work No Better Than a Placebo 674

Matthew Whalley writes "Researchers got hold of published and unpublished data from drug companies regarding the effectiveness of the most common antidepressant drugs. Previously, when meta-analyses have been conducted on only the published data, the drugs were shown to have a clinically significant effect. However, when the unpublished data is taken into account the difference between the effects of drug and placebo becomes clinically meaningless — just a 1 or 2 point difference on a 30-point depression rating scale — except for the most severely depressed patients. Doctors do not recommend that patients come off antidepressant drugs without support, but this study is likely to lead to a rethink regarding how the drugs are licensed and prescribed."

NASA Awards Space Cargo Grant 43

pha7boy writes "NASA has made a recent award of 171 million dollars to Orbital Sciences Corp. of Virginia in order to aid the company in developing a feasible space cargo delivery service. 'The US space agency intends to hold an open competition in the years ahead for actual space station cargo-delivery contracts, but Orbital of Dulles, VA, is one of two companies receiving financial help from NASA to develop their proposed systems. The other is Space Exploration Technologies of El Segundo, CA.'"

UK ISPs To Face Piracy Deadline 287

superbrose notes that despite lots of legal difficulties regarding Internet privacy, the UK government is going ahead with plans to punish ISPs for allowing their customers to download illegal music and films. The claim is that there is "rampant piracy" in Britain with more than 6 million broadband users downloading files illegally every year. "The government will on Friday tell internet service providers they will be hit with legal sanctions from April next year unless they take concrete steps to curb illegal downloads of music and films. Britain would be one of the first countries in the world to impose such sanctions. Service providers say what the government wants them to do would be like asking the Royal Mail to monitor the contents of every envelope posted."

Comment John Scalzi on why it won't work (Score 1) 370

John Scalzi wrote a hilarious exchange on his blog the sums up perfectly why this idea is made of fail:

Sony BMG spokesperson: We're pleased to announce we are the final major music corporation to release electronic tracks without that pesky DRM! All you have to do is leave your house, go to a selected retail outlet, buy a special card there, go back to your house, scratch off the back of the card to find a code, go to our special MusicPass Web site, enter said code, and download one the 37 titles we have available, from Celine Dion to the Backstreet Boys!

Kid #1: Or, in the time it takes me to jump through all those hoops, I could just download all 37 of those albums off of Pirate Bay.

Kid #2: Or, I could just scratch off the back at the store, record the pin number, go home and download the album through a Tor connection, so you can't trace my IP number.

Kid #1: Also, what's with this first slate of artists? Celine Dion? Backstreet Boys? Kenny Chesney? Barry Manilow? Are you high?
There's much more, but I didn't want to jack his entire post.

Submission + - The Google Phone is a Reality.

MrCrassic writes: "It appears that Google is initiating talks with well-known PDA/smartphone manufacturer HTC to make the Google phone a reality. With impressive tech specs and an already impressive concept underway , could Google be the next company to make a mark in the wireless device industry? From the main article:

However, a recent report by CrunchGear states that its own sources at mobile handset provider HTC have tipped the site off to multiple gPhone handsets being prepped for launch in the first quarter of 2008 and that the handsets will be coming out of Taiwan. There will supposedly be over 20 different handsets to choose from — some with GPS — and they will carry special versions of Google Maps, Google Calendar, Gmail, and VoIP-enabled Google Talk. Speaking of software, Google is rumored to be developing its own operating system for the gPhone. According to reports by Engadget, the OS has been in development since 2005 after Google's acquisition of a mobile software company called Android. The Android team has since developed a Linux-based mobile OS while at Google — a detail that is corroborated by the CrunchGear report — which of course comes with tight Google integration. Both sites appear to agree that their sources indicate Google isn't currently looking to develop the hardware... for now.

Unix is the worst operating system; except for all others. -- Berry Kercheval