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The Internet

US Spy Agencies See Bloggers as Journalists 77

Posted by Zonk
from the at-least-somebody-cares dept.
Sniper223 writes with a link to ABC's Blotter blog. That site observes that at least in the realm of US intelligence gathering, the 'are bloggers journalists' question is already decided. "Despite the rap that bloggers simply 'bloviate' and 'don't try to find things out,' as conservative newspaper columnist Robert Novak once sniffed, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the National Security Agency (NSA) have altered policies to indicate they're taking blogs seriously, and a growing number of public offices are actively reaching out to the blogosphere. The CIA recently updated its policies on Freedom of Information Act requests to allow bloggers to qualify for special treatment once reserved for old-school reporters. And last August, the NSA issued a directive to its employees to report leaks of classified information to the media — "including blogs," the order said."
Movies

Jack Valenti, Dead at 85 650

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the man-behind-the-ratings dept.
saforrest writes "Jack Valenti, a man whose influence in both Washington and Hollywood was profound, died today at age 85. He first became famous as special assistant to Lyndon Johnson: he can even be seen in the famous photo aboard Air Force One. In 1966, he quit this job to become president of the MPAA, from 1966 to 2004."
Space

The Hundred Million Mile Pipe Organ 76

Posted by kdawson
from the louder-than-yours dept.
jd writes "Scientists have announced that the gigantic coils of plasma in the solar atmosphere, known as coronal loops, actually carry sound waves much like a pipe organ. Micro-flares on the surface of the sun create powerful blasts of charged particles, which are then guided through the coronal loops, creating the standing waves. Sheffield University is hosting movies and audio recordings of the sun's performance."
Space

NASA Can't Pay for Killer Asteroid Hunt 398

Posted by Hemos
from the anyone-raid-the-coffee-fund-money dept.
CGISecurity.com writes "NASA officials say the space agency is capable of finding nearly all the asteroids that might pose a devastating hit to Earth, but there isn't enough money to pay for the task so it won't get done. 'We know what to do, we just don't have the money,' said Simon 'Pete' Worden, director of NASA's Ames Research Center." But hey, it's just the potential end of the world, so nothing much to worry about there.
Biotech

Cancer Drug Found; Scientist Annoyed 349

Posted by kdawson
from the serendipity dept.
sporkme writes "A scientist was frustrated when the compound she was working with (called PPAR-gamma) destroyed her sample of cancer cells. Further research revealed that the substance was surprisingly well suited as a cancer treatment. Lab test results on mice resulted in the destruction of colon tumors without making the mice sick." Quoting: "'I made a calculation error and used a lot more than I should have. And my cells died,' Schaefer said. A colleague overheard her complaining. 'The co-author on my paper said, "Did I hear you say you killed some cancer?" I said "Oh," and took a closer look.' ... [They found that the compound killed] 'pretty much every epithelial tumor cell lines we have seen.'" Update: 02/15 17:27 GMT by KD : As reader CorporalKlinger pointed out, PPAR-gamma is a cellular receptor, not a compound; and this news is not particularly new.
Science

MIT Labs Moves Ahead In Synthesizing Spider Silk 135

Posted by Zonk
from the spiderweave-cap-of-the-bear dept.
icepick72 writes in with a link to an ExtremeTech article on new methods for creating synthetic spider silk. This material, like lycra in many ways, has a number of unique properties. The MIT lab that created it is being monitored by military elements, keenly interested in applications of this material to front-line technologies. From the article: "The secret of spider silk's combined strength and flexibility, according to scientists, has to do with the arrangement of the nano-crystalline reinforcement of the silk as it is being produced--in other words, the way these tiny crystals are oriented towards (and adhere to) the stretchy protein. Emulating this process in a synthetic polymer, the MIT team focused on reinforcing solutions of commercial rubbery substance known as polyurethane elastomer with nano-sized clay platelets instead of simply heating and mixing the molten plastics with reinforcing agents."
Christmas Cheer

America's Worst Christmas Parties 406

Posted by Zonk
from the corporate-scrooges dept.
Ant writes "Slate Magazine asked its readers to submit reports of horrible office Christmas parties, gifts, and bonuses. Of nearly 200 submissions, they've chosen quite a few tales for The Corporate Scrooge Contest Results ... and they're not pretty. From the article: 'A contract consultant sends word that the company to which he is currently assigned recently sent out an e-mail to some 2,000-odd consultants. The company would give away two $100 gift cards--to two of the brave souls who would commit to work 80 hours between Dec. 18 and Dec. 31. As our correspondent noted: "Hey, if you work Christmas, we'll put you in a pool of 2,000 other folks to maybe win a hundred bucks."'"
Google

Google Deprecates SOAP API 240

Posted by kdawson
from the washed-up dept.
Michi writes "Brady Forrest at O'Reilly Radar reports that Google has deprecated their SOAP API; they aren't giving out any new SOAP Search API keys. Nelson Minar (the original author of the Google SOAP API) argues that this move is motivated by business reasons rather than technical ones. Does this mark the beginning of the end for SOAP or for ubiquitous middleware in general?" Forrest's post quotes developer Paul Bausch: "This is such a bad move because the Google API was the canonical example of how web services work. Not only is Google Hacks based on this API, but hundreds of other books and online examples use the Google API to show how to incorporate content from another site into a 3rd party application."

DARPA Funds Remote Control Sharks 137

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the sunday-morning-new-baby dept.
An anonymous reader writes "From Undersea Spies: Turning Sharks into Robotic Sentries "It seems like science fiction, but the U.S. military would like to use sharks as underwater spies. The folks at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), who dream up the future of weapons and military systems, envision squads of sharks prowling the oceans with sensors that could transmit evidence of explosives or other threats.""

Jon Katz To Be Played By Jeff Bridges 207

Posted by kdawson
from the going-to-the-dogs dept.
Robotech_Master writes, "Long-time Slashdot veterans will remember Jon Katz, the editorial writer whose Slashdot articles invariably generated heated controversy. It appears he may have the last laugh; how many of the Slashdot posters who ridiculed him went on to be played by Jeff Bridges in a movie? From the article: 'In his new book, "A Good Dog: The Story of Orson," Katz chronicles the life and death of the lovable but troubled border collie that transformed his life. It continues the story begun in Katz's last book, "A Dog Year," now being made into a movie starring Jeff Bridges as Katz.' Katz critics may get a chuckle out of the plot synopsis for the film: 'A man having a mid-life crisis has his life turned upside down when he takes in a border collie crazier than he is.'" The film should be released in late 2007.

Draconian Anti-Piracy Law Looms Over Australia 436

Posted by kdawson
from the we-are-all-criminals-now dept.
ccozan writes to tell us of a law being rushed through the Australian legislature that would criminalize great swaths of the citizenry. The Internet Industry Association of Australia is posting warning scenarios spelling out how far-reaching this law would be. From the release: "A family who holds a birthday picnic in a place of public entertainment (for example, the grounds of a zoo) and sings 'Happy Birthday' in a manner that can be heard by others, risks an infringement notice carrying a fine of up to $1,320. If they make a video recording of the event, they risk a further fine for the possession of a device for the purpose of making an infringing copy of a song... The US Free Trade Agreement does not require Australia to go down this path, and neither US nor European law contain such far-reaching measures. We are at a total loss to understand how this policy has developed, who is behind it and why there is such haste in enacting it into law — with little if any public debate."

Opening Zune Sales Flaccid 451

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the meager-beginnings dept.
An anonymous reader writes "As 'Black Friday' approaches and consumers line up for the Playstation 3 it looks like Zune has become an afterthought. Despite months of hype, opening Zune sales are only so-so. While Zune did reach the top 10 on Amazon's Top 25 list for electronic product sales on its first day, it quickly fell below the top 15 and continues to drop. Six separate iPod models now outsell it as well as SanDisk's e250 player. In-store sales are not much better."

Variety Declares VHS Dead 339

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the dearly-beloved dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Variety has written an obituary for the VHS format only 3 years after it was surpassed in popularity by the DVD." While VHS is hardly the format of choice these days, there are still many, many home movies and other favorite recordings and commercial releases floating around in VHS. How long until VHS players themselves go the way of the 8-track player?

The Lameness of Warcraft 354

Posted by Zonk
from the snort dept.
Slate is running an article lamenting the fact that, despite World of Warcraft's popularity, it is a deeply flawed game. Author Chris Dahlen makes the statement that Blizzard's MMOG should take its cues from single-player RPGs by offering further customization, morality based choices, and dynamic events. From the article: "Blizzard has written new storylines before. Last winter, it challenged players to team up and fuel a worldwide war effort. As a payoff, it unlocked new territory. This was a good example of letting the users drive a story, but Warcraft needs more of them. New wars should break out, cities should rise and fall, and all hell should break loose at least once a month--and the players should be the ones to make it happen. After all, in a world that never changes, you can never make your mark." I want to be snarky and point out that this guy obviously has no idea how these games are designed, but I think he pretty much nails what every MMOG player really wants out of a game. Now, if only it were feasible within the bounds of money, time, and talent.

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