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Submission + - Uruguay becomes first country to legalize marijuana trade (reuters.com)

danieloch writes: (Reuters) — Uruguay became the first country to legalize the growing, sale and smoking of marijuana on Tuesday, a pioneering social experiment that will be closely watched by other nations debating drug liberalization.
Other countries have decriminalized marijuana possession and the Netherlands allows its sale in coffee shops, but Uruguay will be the first nation to legalize the whole chain from growing the plant to buying and selling its leaves.
Registered drug users should be able to start buying marijuana over the counter from licensed pharmacies in April.

Submission + - Daring Cruiseship 'Costa Concordia' Salvage Attempt To Go Ahead (bbc.co.uk)

dryriver writes: A daring attempt to pull the shipwrecked Costa Concordia upright will go ahead on Monday, Italian officials have confirmed. The Civil Protection agency said the sea and weather conditions were right for the salvage attempt. Engineers have never tried to move such a huge ship so close to land. Thirty-two people died when the cruise ship hit rocks off the Tuscan island of Giglio in January 2012. It has been lying on its side ever since. Five people have already been convicted of manslaughter over the disaster, and the ship's captain, Francesco Schettino, is currently on trial accused of manslaughter and abandoning ship. The salvage operation is due to begin at 06:00 (04:00 GMT) on Monday, and it is being described as one of the largest and most daunting ever attempted. The head of the operation, Nick Sloane, told AFP news agency that it was now or never for the Costa Concordia, because the hull was gradually weakening and might not survive another winter. Engineers will try to roll the ship up using cables and the weight of water contained in huge metal boxes welded to the ship's sides — a process called parbuckling. This procedure must be done very slowly to prevent further damage to the hull, which has spent more than 18 months partially submerged in 50ft of water and fully exposed to the elements. The salvage project has so far cost more than 600m euros ($800m; £500m) and could cost a lot more by the time the operation is complete.

Submission + - Help the OED Find a Lost Book

imlepid writes: The Oxford English Dictionary is currently undergoing a complete overhaul which includes a reexamination of the 300,000+ entries and citations for those entries. Understandably for a work witch is over 150 years old, some of the sources have become hard to find. One such example is a book titled "Meanderings of Memory" by Nightlark, which is cited 49 times in the OED, including for some rare words. The OED's editorial team has appealed to the public, 'Have you seen a copy of this book?'

Submission + - How would an astronaut falling into a black hole meet their end? (nature.com)

ananyo writes: According to the accepted account, an astronaut falling into a black hole would be ripped apart, and his remnants crushed as they plunged into the black hole’s infinitely dense core. Calculations by Joseph Polchinski, a string theorist at the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics in Santa Barbara, California, though point to a different end: quantum effects turn the event horizon into a seething maelstrom of particles and anyone who fell in would hit a wall of fire and be burned to a crisp in an instant. There's one problem with the firewall theory. If Polchinski is right, then either general relativity or quantum mechanics is wrong and his work has triggered a mini-crisis in theoretical physics.
Encryption

Submission + - How secure is VOIP from my internet provider?

Wandering_Burr writes: I recently added VOIP to my TWC bundle as it is actually slightly cheaper than not having it. They provided an Arris modem and told me to hook my phone up to it.

What I haven't been able to find is if/how they encrypt the data between the Arris and their network. Skype is transparent about their encryption, but is it safe enough to use TWC (or 8x8, AT&T U-Verse) or others to call my bank and do business without having to worry there might be an eavesdropper?

Submission + - Eve Online Players Rename Universe To Commemorate Dead Player (themittani.com)

An anonymous reader writes: Sean Smith, Known as Vile Rat in Eve Online was killed in an attack on the US Consulate In Benghazi. While most news agencies lead with the death of the US Ambassador in the same incident the Eve Online community has rallied around Vile Rat. In the game he was a Director and Diplomat for Goonswarm Alliance, and a former member of the Council For Stellar Management. Hundreds of outposts, Starbases and Spaceships are being renamed in rememberance of Vile Rat. Even enemies of goonswarm's current campaign are honoring the passing of this hugely popular player.
Google

Submission + - Ex-Google employees embark on mission to stop Google from tracking users (bgr.com)

zacharye writes: “Don’t be evil” is an unofficial motto first uttered by a Google executive during a meeting years ago, and while it started as a playful slogan Google used to jab at its rivals, the three little words have come back to haunt the company on countless occasions. The press and users alike often resurrect the credo when discussing the company’s mission to collect as much information about its users as possible, thus allowing it to target advertising more effectively for its clients. Not all Googlers are on board with this mission, however. In an effort to help users protect their privacy, two former Google employees have created a company with the aim of stopping Google and other sites from tracking users...
Facebook

Submission + - Facebook: Legal Action Against Employers Asking For Your Password

An anonymous reader writes: Facebook today weighed in on the issue of employers asking current and prospective employees for their Facebook passwords. The company noted that doing so undermines the privacy expectations and the security of both the user and the user's friends, as well as potentially exposes the employer to legal liability. The company is looking to draft new laws as well as take legal action against employers.
Your Rights Online

Submission + - News Corp Pays Out For Hacking (abc.net.au)

SandmanWAIX writes: "Rupert Murdoch's media empire has made huge payouts to 37 phone-hacking victims, including actor Jude Law, singer Danii Minogue, and former British deputy prime minister John Prescott, their lawyers said."
Huge is a relative term isn't it?

Transportation

Submission + - What to Do with a 1,000 Foot Wrecked Cruise Ship?

Hugh Pickens writes writes: "What do you do with a 1,000-foot wreck that's full of fuel and half-submerged on a rocky ledge in the middle of an Italian marine sanctuary? Remove it. Very carefully. Stuck on a rocky shoal off the Tuscan island of Giglio, leaving the wreck where it is probably isn't an option but removing a massive ship that's run hard aground and incurred major damage to the hull involves logistical and environmental issues that are just as large. First there's the fuel. A half a million gallons of fuel could wreak havoc on the marine ecosystem — the ship is smack in the middle of the Pelagos Sanctuary for Mediterranean Marine Mammals. Engineers may need to go in from the side using a special drill to cut through the fuel tanks in a process called hot tapping. "You fasten a flange with a valve on it, you drill through, access the tank, pull the drill back out, close the valve, and then attach a pumping apparatus to that," says Tim Beaver, president of the American Salvage Association. "It's a difficult task, but it's doable." Then if it's determined that the Costa Concordia can be saved, engineers could try to refloat the ship and tug it back to dry dock for refurbishing. The job will likely require "a combination of barges equipped with winches and cranes" to pull the cruise liner off its side then once the Concordia is off the rocks, "they are going to have to fight to keep it afloat, just like you would a battle-damaged ship." Another alternative is to cut the vessel into smaller, manageable parts using a giant cutting wire coated with a material as hard as diamonds called a cheese wire in a method was used to dismember the 55,000-ton Norwegian-flagged MV Tricolor. Regardless of how the Concordia is removed, it's going to be a difficult, expensive and drawn-out process. "I don't see it taking much less than a year, and I think it could take longer," says Bob Umbdenstock, director of planning at Resolve Marine Group."
Science

Submission + - Faster-than-Fast Fourier transform

CanEHdian writes: MIT news reports on research done resulting in a Faster-than-fast Fourier Transform algorithm, the Nearly Optimal Sparse Fourier Transform, which also has practical applications:

At the Association for Computing Machinery's Symposium on Discrete Algorithms (SODA) this week, a group of MIT researchers will present a new algorithm that, in a large range of practically important cases, improves on the fast Fourier transform. Under some circumstances, the improvement can be dramatic — a tenfold increase in speed. The new algorithm could be particularly useful for image compression, enabling, say, smartphones to wirelessly transmit large video files without draining their batteries or consuming their monthly bandwidth allotments.

Paper will be available on arXiv.

Idle

Submission + - Walmart Puts Out Call To Inventors (latimes.com)

An anonymous reader writes: Walmart is holding the inventor's equivalent to "American Idol" calling for product submissions that will be offered for sale in Walmart stores. Feel that that back scratcher you received a patent for hasn't garnered the attention you feel it deserves? This could be your big chance at fame and fortune.

Submission + - IBM tracks pork chops from pig to plate (computerworld.com)

dcblogs writes: IBM is deploying technology in China that allows meat suppliers to track a single pig all the way from farm animal to pork chop. Pigs are initially identified with a barcoded ear tag. This identification is then put on bins used to track the various pig parts as they pass through the slaughterhouse, processing plant, distribution center and finally to the clear plastic-wrapped package in a grocer's case. If a consumer buys three pork chops in a package, "you know that these three pieces of pork chop came from pig number 123," said Paul Chang, who leads global strategy for emerging technologies at IBM. The goal is to control disease outbreaks, but theoretically this technology could allow a grocer to put a picture on the store package of the pig you are eating.

Submission + - Denver must prove red-light cameras improve safety (denverpost.com)

An anonymous reader writes: An audit of accidents at Denver intersections where red light cameras were installed versus increasing the length of the yellow light shows little difference in the results. In a case of putting the public ahead of the corporation, the Denver auditor is recommending cancelling the red light camera program unless the city can prove a public-safety benefit.

Submission + - Microsoft slams Google over HTML5 video decision (networkworld.com) 2

jbrodkin writes: Microsoft is accusing Google of some heavy-handed tactics in the battle over HTML5 video standards. In an attempt at humor, a clearly peeved Microsoft official wrote "An Open Letter from the President of the United States of Google," which likens Google's adoption of WebM instead of H.264 to an attempt to force a new language on the entire world. Internet Explorer 9, of course, supports the H.264 codec, while Google and Mozilla are backing WebM. The hyperlinks in Microsoft's blog post lead readers to data indicating that two-thirds of Web videos are using H.264, with about another 25% using Flash VP6. However, the data, from Encoding.com, was released before the launch of WebM last May. One pundit predicts the battle will lead to yet another "years-long standards format war."

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