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Ask Slashdot: Easiest Linux Distro For a Newbie 622

anymooseposter writes "My mom is taking a computer class at the local Community College. she asks: 'I need to download a Linux OS and try it out for class. The assignment is to use an OS different from what you normally use. Well, since I use Windows and OS X, the assignment suggests Linux. But, my question is, what is the easiest version based on Linux for me to put on CD and try? I saw several on the web. Any thoughts off the top of your head?' What Linux Disto would be easiest to set up without having to resort to dual booting and/or driver issues?"

Human Eye Protein Senses Earth's Magnetism 103

chrb pointed out a story at BBC News about the discovery of a light-sensitive protein in the human eye that acts like a "compass" in a magnetic field. The molecule at the center of the study is called cryptochrome and is found in every animal on Earth. If removed from the eyes of flies, the flies lost the ability to respond to a magnetic field. From the article: "Despite much controversy, no conclusive evidence exists that humans can sense the Earth's magnetic field, and the find may revive interest in the idea. Although humans, like migratory birds, are known to have cryptochrome in their eyes, the idea of human magnetoreception has remained largely unexplored since pioneering experiments by Robin Baker of the University of Manchester in the 1980s."

Hotel Tracks Towels With RFID Chips Screenshot-sm 173

nonprofiteer writes "An unnamed hotel is now putting RFID tags in their towels: 'The Honolulu hotel (the hotels have asked to remain anonymous, just to keep you guessing) says it was taking a bath to the tune of 4,000 pool towels per month, a number that it has reduced to just 750 (a savings of $16,000 per month). And that's just at the pool.' It's unclear what they do if the towel flies to the Midwest."
GNU is Not Unix

Free Software To Save Us From Social Networks 249

Glyn Moody writes "Here's a problem for free software: most social networks are built using it, yet through their constant monitoring of users they do little to promote freedom. Eben Moglen, General Counsel of the Free Software Foundation for 13 years, and the legal brains behind several versions of the GNU GPL, thinks that the free software world needs to fix this with a major new hardware+software project. 'The most attractive hardware is the ultra-small, ARM-based, plug it into the wall, wall-wart server. [Such] an object can be sold to people at a very low one-time price, and brought home and plugged into an electrical outlet and plugged into a wall jack for the Ethernet, and you're done. It comes up, it gets configured through your Web browser on whatever machine you want to have in the apartment with it, and it goes and fetches all your social networking data from all the social networking applications, closing all your accounts. It backs itself up in an encrypted way to your friends' plugs, so that everybody is secure in the way that would be best for them, by having their friends holding the secure version of their data.' Could such a plan work, or is it simply too late to get people to give up their Facebook accounts for something that gives them more freedom?"

Comment Re:stopped playing because valve keeps nerfing (Score 1) 231

I recently gave up on L4D because Valve has broken the ability to play Versus mode on advanced difficulty

IIRC, wasn't that changed while the game was still in beta? Personally, I think that it's better this way anyway, because in Versus mode the main challenge is supposed to be the Special Infected (controlled by players) anyway, not the Horde. If you want a tougher Versus game, a tight-knit team of opponents should suffice.

They brought Advanced Versus back after they broke it the first time, it broke most recently with the update that gave us Survival mode. It's not just the quantity of commons, but increased damage from everything, including FF and fire, that made it more challenging.

Melee cooldown also pissed me off quite a bit, it's gotta be off for Advanced.

It makes it so you can't just melee-spam your way through a mob of horde. As a player I agree it's annoying, but it's annoying in the same way that being out of breath while you're running is annoying. I can see why they did it; it makes it so you have to shoot your way through a mob, or even better for the Teamplay aspect of the game, get teammates to kill the Horde that's mobbing you at the moment.

Agreed, for normal difficulty, which is all valve seems to care about.

And while I'm ranting, the lobby system sucks.

It doesn't work perfectly, but I can see why they wanted it that way; you can either join a random game with random strangers, or you can find a group of friends to play with. Left 4 Dead isn't the type of game where you want a traditional game-server model, which is best for Deathmatch and CTF, or similar styles derived from those. Instead, you want everyone to start at the same time, like in an RTS. A lobby is the best model for that.

I like the idea, but it's really really buggy.

Comment stopped playing because valve keeps nerfing (Score 2, Interesting) 231

I recently gave up on L4D because Valve has broken the ability to play Versus mode on advanced difficulty (With our own dedicated server, not one of their public ones). Normal difficulty just isn't very much fun. They have to fix this in L4D before I would even *consider* buying L4D2. Melee cooldown also pissed me off quite a bit, it's gotta be off for Advanced. And while I'm ranting, the lobby system sucks.

Comment a/v for linux (Score 5, Funny) 98

For instance, it clarifies that all operating systems associated with card processing have to run antivirus software, while many had thought this was only about Microsoft Windows.

great, now I have to run ClamAV on all my fully-patched and secured dedicated web servers that don't store CC data anyway. I thought about writing my own AV program:
echo "scanning for viruses..."
sleep 10
echo "no viruses found."
exit 0


Submission + - Nokia Takes Third Swing at Internet Tablet

DeviceGuru writes: It looks like Nokia is intent on knocking the ball out of the park with its Linux-powered Internet tablets. Today, the company unveiled the N810, its third attempt at hitting a home run with the concept. The new model adds a slide-out hardware keyboard, and also a built-in GPS receiver and FM transmitter (for in-car listening), among a number of other enhancements (such as a faster CPU and more memory). At this point, the device is positioned as an email and browsing tool, a social networking aid, a GPS, a VoIP phone, and a multimedia player (and streamer, thanks to built-in WiFi). But are the fans jumping out of their seats at this latest swing from mobile phone heavy-hitter Nokia?

What we anticipate seldom occurs; what we least expect generally happens. -- Bengamin Disraeli