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Submission + - The 'New' Mac Pro Is a Failure (macobserver.com)

An anonymous reader writes: The "new" Mac Pro ("trashcan Mac") is a joke; for real pros, it's a plain and simple failure. In fact, a lot of professional Mac users are still clutching to their aluminum tower "classic" Mac Pros ("cMP"). The latest 2010/2012 cMP models are particularly coveted. And for good reason. Those machines are just better than the trashcan Mac. Right now, a cMP simply spanks the trashcan Mac's performance.

In this poll http://forums.macrumors.com/th... running in the Mac Rumors Mac Pro forum, as of this writing, 58 percent think the trashcan Mac Pro is a failure—which is astonishing in such a traditionally fanboy/pro-Apple forum. The thread is filled with discord and choice comments like this:

You are right. I know for sure that Apple are losing professional audio users. Composers mainly I believe, but possibly also ProTools users. Because many people are questioning Apple's commitment to pro computers because of the nMP... Many people are jumping from Mac/Logic to PC/Cubase these days.—Simon R.

Is it a giant mistake for Apple to not understand it is alienating its most core group of users?

Submission + - MIT used lobbying, influence to restore nuclear fusion dream

An anonymous reader writes: 'In the end, it is about picking a winner and a parochial effort to direct money to MIT,' said Steve Ellis, vice president of Taxpayers for Common Sense, a Washington-based watchdog group. 'It’s certainly a case of lawmakers bucking the president and putting their thumb on the scale for a particular project.' MIT enlisted the support of a wealthy Democratic donor from Concord and the help of an influential Washington think-tank co-founded by John Kerry. These efforts were backed by lobbyists, including a former congressman from Massachusetts, with connections to the right lawmakers on the right committees. The cast also included an alliance of universities, industry and national labs, all invested in the fusion dream. 'It’s ground-breaking research that could lead an energy revolution,' [Senator Elizabeth] Warren said. 'This was not about politics. This was about good science.' The revival of MIT’s project, whatever its merits, clearly demonstrated what the combination of old-fashioned Washington horse-trading and new-fangled power — both nuclear and political — can do.

Submission + - Slashdot Beta Woes 16

s.petry writes: What is a Slashdot and why the Beta might destroy it?

Slashdot has been around, well, a very long time. Longer than any of it's competators, but not as long as IIRC. Slashdot was a very much one of the first true social media web sites.

On Slashdot, you could create a handle or ID. Something personal, but not too personal, unless you wanted it to be. But it was not required either. We know each other by our handles, we have watched each other grow as people. We may have even taken pot shots at each other in threads. Unless of course you are anonymous, but often we can guess who that really is.

One of Slashdot's first motto's was "News for Nerds" that Matters. I have no idea when that was removed. I have not always scoured the boards here daily, life can get too busy for that. That excuses my ignorance in a way. I guess someone thought it politically incorrect, but most of us "Nerds" enjoyed it. We are proud of who we are, and what we know. Often we use that pride and knowledge to make someone else look bad. That is how we get our digs in, and we enjoy that part of us too. We don't punch people, we belittle them. It's who we are!

What made Slashdot unique were a few things. What you will note here is "who" has been responsible for the success of Slashdot. Hint, it has never been a just the company taking care of the servers and software.

— First, the user base submitted stories that "they" thought mattered. It was not a corporate feed. Sure, stories were submitted about companies. The latest break through from AMD and Intel, various stories regarding the graphic card wars, my compiler is better than your compiler, and yes your scripting language stinks! Microsoft IIS has brought us all a few laughs and lots of flame wars to boot. Still, we not only read about the products but get to my second point.

— User comments. This is the primary why we have been coming here for as long as we have, many of us for decades. We provide alternative opinions or back what was given in the article. This aspect not only makes the "News" interesting, but often leads to other news and information sharing. It's not always positive, but this is the nature of allowing commentary. It also brings out the third point.

— Moderation. Moderation has been done by the community for a very long time. It took lots of trial and error to get a working system. As with any public system it's imperfect, but it's been successful. People can choose to view poorly modded comments, but don't have to. As with posting anonymous versus with our own handle it's an option that allows us to personalize the way we see and read what's on the site. And as a reward for submitting something worth reading, you might get a mod point of your own to use as a reward for someone else.

Why we dislike Beta and what is being pushed, and why this will result in the end of an era if it becomes forced on the community.

1. Bulky graphics. We get that Dice and Slashdot need revenue. I have Karma good enough to disable advertisements, but have never kept this setting on. I realize that Slashdot/Dice make money with this. That said, the ads sit away from my news and out of the way. I can get there if I want it (but nobody has ever gotten a penny from me clicking an ad... nobody!), but it's not forced into my face or news feed.

2. Low text area. I like having enough on my screen to keep me busy without constant scrolling. Slashdot currently has the correct ratio of text to screen. This ratio has never been complained about, yet Beta reduces the usable text area by at least 1/2 and no option for changing the behavior. I hate reading Slashdot on mobile devices because I can't stand scrolling constantly.

3. JavaScript. We all know the risks of JS, and many of us disable it. We also have an option of reading in Lync or non-standard browsers that many of us toy with for both personal and professional reasons. This flexibility is gone in Beta, and we are forced to allow JS to run. If you don't know the risks of allowing JS to run, you probably don't read much on Slashdot. Those that allow JS do so accepting the risk (which is admittedly low on a well known site).

4. Ordering/Sorting/Referencing. Each entry currently gets tagged with a unique thread ID. This allows linking to the exact post in a thread, not just the top of the thread. In Beta this is gone. It could be that the site decided to simply hide the post ID or it was removed. Either way, going to specific posts is something that is used very commonly by the community.

5. Eye candy. Most of us are not here for "eye candy" and many have allergic reactions to eye candy. Slashdot has a good mix currently. It's not as simple as the site starting with a r-e-d-i-t, which is good. That site has a reputation that keeps many of us away, and their format matches my attitude of them (s-i-m-p-l-e-t-o-n). At the same time, it's not like watching some other "news" sites with so much scrolling crap I can't read an article without getting a headache. The wasted space in beta for big bulky borders, sure smells like eye candy. Nothing buzzes or scrolls yet, but we can sense what's coming in a patch later.

The thing is, the community cares about Slashdot. We come here because we care. We submit stories because of that, we vote because of that, we moderate because of that, and we comment because of that. At the same time we realize that without the community Slashdot loses most of its value. We respect that we don't host the servers, backup the databases, or patch the servers. Slashdot/Dice provide the services needed for Slashdot.

It's a give give relationship, and we each get something in return. Slashdot gets tons of Search hits and lots of web traffic. We get a place to learn, teach, and occasionally vent.

Look, if you want to change default color scheme or make pre-made palettes for us to choose from, we would probably be okay with that. If you want to take away our ability to block ads by Karma, or move the ads to the left side of my browser window, I would be okay with those things too.

If you want to make drastic changes to how the site works, this is a different story all together. The reason so many are against Beta is that it breaks some of the fundamental parts of what makes Slashdot work.

User input until recently has not been acknowledged. The acknowledgment we have received is not from the people that are making the decision to push Beta live. We told people Beta was broken, what it lacked, and we were rather surprised to get a warning that Beta would be live despite what we told people. People are already making plans to leave, which means that Slashdot could fade away very soon.

Whether this was the goal for Dice or not remains to be seen. If it is, it's been nice knowing you but I won't be back. A partnership only works when there is mutual respect between the parties. A word of caution, us Nerds have good memories and lots of knowledge. The loss of Slashdot impacts all of Dice holdings, not just Slashdot. I boycott everything a company holds, not just the product group that did me wrong.

If that was not the goal of Dice, you should quickly begin communicating with the user base. What are the plans are to fix what Beta has broken? Why is Beta being pushed live with things broken? A "Sorry we have not been communicating!", and perhaps even a "Thank you" to the user base for helping make Slashdot a success for so many years.

4-Billion-Pixel Panorama View From Curiosity Rover 101

SternisheFan points out that there is a great new panorama made from shots from the Curiosity Rover. "Sweep your gaze around Gale Crater on Mars, where NASA's Curiosity rover is currently exploring, with this 4-billion-pixel panorama stitched together from 295 images. ...The entire image stretches 90,000 by 45,000 pixels and uses pictures taken by the rover's two MastCams. The best way to enjoy it is to go into fullscreen mode and slowly soak up the scenery — from the distant high edges of the crater to the enormous and looming Mount Sharp, the rover's eventual destination."

Submission + - Will 787 battery redesign work? (forbes.com)

" rel="nofollow">SternisheFan writes: "The Wall Street Journal's Peter Cohan reports on MIT's Don Sadoway's recomendations:

When he looked at photographs of the 787s lithium-ion battery, he saw that it is actually eight notebook sized batteries all packed next to each other in a closed box. This means that only the batteries on the ends have any hope of venting the heat they generate. The other six batteries just heat each other up since they can’t release their heat outside the box.

Sadoway did not have access to investigators’ details, however, based on what he saw, he urged Boeing to create vents within the box so the batteries could dissipate heat.

He also argued that Boeing should put temperature sensors on each of the eight batteries and implement a “system of forced airflow” inside the box to help assure that the temperature of each battery would stay below a threshold level.

Sadoway estimated that these changes to the design of the lithium-ion battery would add to its cost. Instead of $1,000 per battery, the cost might rise to $2,000. But that cost would be “peanuts” compared to the $207 million retail price of the 787.

And reports out Thursday suggest that Boeing engineers are thinking about a redesign of the 787s lithium-ion batteries that appear to reflect Sadoway’s ideas.

For example, The Wall Street Journal reports that Boeing is “looking at increasing the separation between cells in the lithium-ion batteries to reduce the potential hazards from heat or fire spreading within the batteries and adding enhanced heat-sensors.”

These ideas are consistent with Sadoway’s approach. For example, physically separating each of the cells would make it easier to vent the heat that each one generates. And the idea of enhanced heat sensors could mean that Boeing could implement a battery control system that would sense if the cells’ temperature was rising above a threshold level and take action to stop the batteries for burning up.

The Journal also reports that Boeing is also “considering ways to keep cells more rigid, preventing them from shifting under certain conditions and interfering with electronics.”

And a report from Thursday’s New York Times suggests that Boeing is working on working “more solid containment cases and better venting mechanisms in the event of overheating.” This sounds like an improvement. However, unless Boeing can stop the problem of thermal runaway – a chemical reaction in which a rising temperature causes progressively hotter temperatures — the 787s will not be safe.

But the Times reports that Boeing has a Plan B — tasking engineers to use more conventional batteries in case regulators banned the lithium-ion ones. And the alternatives they consider should include the one that Sadoway recommended — a safer, but less powerful Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMH) battery.

Sadoway reckoned that this NiMH battery would have to be 50% heavier — perhaps 37 more pounds — representing 0.01% of the 787s 502,500 pound weight in order to deliver sufficient current to the 787.

As Sadoway suggested, using a new battery would require Boeing to order Thales, the French company that makes the 787s electrical system part of which controls the lithium-ion battery, to develop a new control system that would work for the NiMH battery. Sadoway thinks that could take a year to design, build, test, and make safe to fly. Based on Sadoway’s insights on the 787 battery, perhaps he should be heading up the team that is working on this problem.

However, it is easier to solve the technical problem of how to power the 787 than it is to change the actions and culture of Boeing — the company that managed to convince regulators and customers that its flawed lithium-ion batteries made the 787 safe to fly."

Submission + - Alexander Graham Bell recordings recovered after 1 (csmonitor.com)

DSS11Q13 writes: Housed in the Smithsonian Institute for more than a century, new technology which uses light and a 3D camera has allowed scientists to recover Alexander Graham Bell's recordings from the 1880s which were thought to be unplayable. The recordings feature recitations of Shakespeare and "Mary Had a Little Lamb," among others.

Submission + - Cold Fusion claims are back! This time from Italy. (nextbigfuture.com)

intangible writes: Here we go again... a couple scientists in Italy (scam artists?) are claiming to have accomplished Cold Fusion and will be showing off their work on Jan 15.
I hope I'm wrong about the "scam" part, but we'll see soon enough (unless they prevent all outside evaluations, hide their implementation, and prevent replication by third parties as is customary with all good investor money grabs).

The Internet

Submission + - Is Mobile The New Desktop?

An anonymous reader writes: Using the Web 2.0 Expo as a jumping-off point, InfoWeek blogger Alex Wolfe argues that Mobile Is The New Desktop. (Perhaps more provocatively, he also claims that "The Home Page Is Dead," and "social networks like Facebook and MySpace arethe media companies of the future." On mobility, he quotes Web 2.0 speaker Brian Fling, who sees the iPhone as a new medium, as significant as radio, television, and the Internet itself have been. Soon, many phones (including Google/Android) will be iPhone-like. As for the home page dying, Wolfe claims apps built with the OpenSocial API will be the way content will be delivered. He writes: "The new go-to destination of users won't be home pages but instead will be Web apps. Users will access content — news, blogs, video — and interact with your (their) communities via apps, hopefully apps that you develop and sell ads around." Do you agree with this, and are you developing OpenSocial apps?

Submission + - Coding Around UAC's Security Limitations (neosmart.net)

Mariam writes: Free software developers from the non-profit NeoSmart Technologies have published a report detailing their experience with coding around Windows Vista's UAC limitations, including the steps they took to make their software perform system actions without requiring admin approval or UAC elevation. Their conculsion? That Windows Vista's improved security model is nothing more than a series of obstactles designed to give the impression of an improved security architecture, while in reality only making it more difficult for honest ISVs to publish working code and not actually providing any true protection from malware authors.

Perhaps most importantly though, is the fact that Windows Vista's newly-implemented security limitations are artificial at best, easy to code around, and only there to give the impression of security. Any program that UAC blocks from starting up "for good security reasons" can be coded to work around these limitations with (relative) ease. The "architectural redesign" of Vista's security framework isn't so much a rebuilt system as much as it is a makeover, intended to give the false impression of a more secure OS.

Feed Science Daily: Software Wrapper For Smarter, Networked Homes (sciencedaily.com)

Homes today are filled with increasing numbers of high-tech gadgets, from smart phones and PCs to state-of-the-art TV and audio systems, many of them with built-in networking capabilities. Combined, these devices could form the building blocks of the smart homes of the future, but only if they can be made to work together intelligently. Although the idea of creating intelligent networked home environments as a way to make life easier, safer and more enjoyable has been around for some time, the technology has yet to catch up with the vision. Home automation systems have become more commonplace and consumer electronics have more networking capability, but no one has, so far, gotten all the high-tech and not so high-tech gadgetry cluttering modern homes to work together in an intelligent way. It is not yet common for fridges to talk to your TV to warn that the door has been left open or for heating systems to turn on when you return home, for example.

I have a theory that it's impossible to prove anything, but I can't prove it.