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+ - IS Militia Holding Hostages in Sydney CBD Cafe->

Submitted by MrKaos
MrKaos writes: At the time of posting an unknown number of IS militia are holding hostages in a Sydney CBD cafe using shotguns (carrying firearms is illegal in Australia). The Martin Place cafe is in the center of the city and opposite the offices of the Reserve Bank of Australia and a major television news network.
The streets surrounding the area have been closed down for a block around the buildings, local businesses have been evacuated and rail services have been closed down. Airspace above the CBD is still open and operating, though carriers are avoiding it at this time.
The hostage situation is in progress and negotiators are attempting to ascertain the militia groups demands.

Link to Original Source

+ - Gore Vidal, 1925-2012->

Submitted by MrKaos
MrKaos writes: Gore Vidal was a significant presence in the American political landscape and though he was often controversial his love of American history was undeniable. A great voice for democracy in it's truest form his often acerbic criticism of the country he undeniably loved stemmed from disappointment watching it's long decline.

This iconic American died yesterday aged 86.

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+ - Today is Binary

Submitted by MrKaos
MrKaos writes: Like last year, it's a year with binary dates. I missed the binary days in 2010 because I was too busy to pick up on something so insignificant that won't happen for another ninety years. Yesterday is binary and new years day was. I count six more "binary" days throughout the year. Of course there are a whole lot of interesting dates during the first 12 years of the 21st century that have made corny release dates for movies like 02/02/02 and the 03/04/05 but because of the the way months and days are positioned in dates around the world it's only the binary days that happen on the *same* day around the world even if they work out to be a different decimal value. I find it interesting just because of how they are arranged but maybe there are some maths geeks who can actually make it interesting.

If you plan on popping the question to a significant other you might want to do it on 11/11/11 which translates to the ascii character "?"

+ - Church of Scientology - 'rife with shocking crime'->

Submitted by MrKaos
MrKaos writes: An Australian Politician, Independent Senator Nick Xenophon, has used parliamentary privilege to launch a scathing attack on the Church of Scientology. Under parliamentary privilege the senator is protected from legal responses from Scientology and has called for and inquiry into the tax free status of 'a cult rife with shocking crime'. Fighting intense pain from recent back surgery the senator joked 'Nurses actually found a spine in a politician' and is also a strong opponent of Internet filtering and censorship. Despite partisan moves to block the inquiry he has called for a vote on the inquiry in February. The Times has a full transcript of the allegations of a Senator who appears to have spent some time exploring COS's activities.
Link to Original Source

+ - New Small Quiet Concorde plans

Submitted by MrKaos
MrKaos writes: Designed by Skunkworks and dubbed the QSST by Supersonic Aerospace International a new super sonic passenger liner appear to have made it past the design phase and into the development phase. It's certainly an attractive aircraft with an interesting design said to be 100 times quieter than Concorde and able to fly at speeds of around Mach 1.8 whilst producing less emissions.

If this smaller version can be flown for longer at supersonic speeds over populated areas it may be able to overcome the biggest problems Concorde had, the sonic booms it produced that restricted it's supersonic flight.

+ - What if Sergey Korolyov had lived?

Submitted by MrKaos
MrKaos writes: The Space Race that culminated with the Apollo moon landings was driven by the vision of Wernher von Braun on the U.S side and Sergey Korolyov on the Soviet side. Despite both being in the center of a maelstrom of two immense political machines both men were absolutely dedicated to bringing the space age into reality.

Korolyov put Sputnik 1 into orbit and thus began the space race. The Soyuz rocket family and spacecraft, designed and built under his guidance put the first man into space and continues to serve carrying crew and equipment to the International Space Station. His existence was a state secret that was not revealed until his death from cancer in 1966. It was a tragic loss to both sides as he injected vitality into the space race that ultimately meant the U.S could cut-back space spending.

At the time of his death Korolyov was working on a new project N1 moon rocket which was attempting to implement so advanced propulsion concepts. Given the man's drive, charisma and ability there is every chance he would have succeeded, even if the U.S ultimately got to the moon first.

Recent navel gazing in New Scientist about the Apollo program was interesting. But as an impetus, what if Soviet's were able to complete their moon plans and forced the U.S into spending more on space? What would our space programs look like now?

+ - Star Trek 1

Submitted by MrKaos
MrKaos writes: I just watched the new Star Trek movie and not only was it visually spectacular, the story was woven in a creative way. J.J. Abrams appears to have successfully 'rebooted' the story, leaving scope for new stories in a way Trek fans should appreciate. Abrams really has given viewers a sense of the sheer size of Federation Star Ships from within and blends the technology in a believable way. Characters are explored, where they came from and how they became who they are in a way that builds on the original stories instead of just throwing away story elements that other Star Trek movies have been known to do. There are a few hat tips to the original series, which people unfamiliar with Trek don't have to know to appreciate the movie. You can knitpick if you want to spoil it for yourself but, as someone who has watched Star Trek from when it first aired, I think Abrams has done a fine job. I'll be seeing it again. So get a ticket, leave your expectations at the door, have fun and enjoy Star Trek. Which is what Star Trek is about.

+ - Star Trek premier gets standing ovation

Submitted by MrKaos
MrKaos writes: Proving that Science Fiction can be great entertainment, J.J. Abrams appears to impressed Star Trek fans at the World premier of "Star Trek", who gave the film a five minute standing ovation at the Opera House in Sydney today. Meanwhile flummoxed fans at the Alamo Drafthouse theater in Austin, Texas, deceived into thinking they were seeing a special extended version of Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan, were pleasantly surprised when a disguised Leonard Nimoy greeted them and announced they would be seeing the new film in it's entirety.

ILM's influence on the film is reported as visually stunning and lucky Australian fans are scheduled to see the movie first as it opens a day before the American release.

+ - 2008, 10th Warmest year on record.

Submitted by MrKaos
MrKaos writes: Whilst cooler than recent years the World Meteorological Organization has listed 2008 the 10th Warmest year on record since records began and a UK Met Office press release titled Global temperature 2008: Another top-ten year. Just in case this horse hasn't been flogged enough looking back just one year the NOAA listed 2007 a Top Ten Warm Year for U.S. and Globe and Science daily citing (in 2007) Top 11 Warmest Years On Record Have All Been In Last 13 Years. Time to sell the beach side house yet?

+ - Mining a wealth of your data

Submitted by MrKaos
MrKaos writes: An interesting new scientist article about reviews a book 'The Numerati' about the extent and state of data mining and provides some interesting insights. From the article

Data is big business for the numerati. US firm Acxiom keeps shopping and lifestyle data on some 200 million Americans. They know how much we paid for our house, what magazines we subscribe to, which books we buy and what vacations we take. The company purchases just about every bit of data about us that can be bought, and then sells selections of it to anyone out to target us in, say, political campaigns.

How do you know who knows and if they need to know what they know? Now where is my tinfoil hat!


+ - Lehman Brothers files for bankruptcy

Submitted by MrKaos
MrKaos writes: 150 year old American investment banking giant Lehman Brothers has filed for bankruptcy. The bank is so large that it's loss is causing gold prices to go up and several agencies are reporting on it's demise and the effect on financial markets around the world. Meanwhile Alan Greenspan describes the current banking crisis as 'possibly the worst in a century — including the 1929 Wall Street Crash.'

Not exactly news for nerds but pretty hard to ignore.
Data Storage

+ - Western Digital working on 20,000 rpm drive

Submitted by MrKaos
MrKaos writes: Western digital seems to be preparing itself for the onslaught of SSD drives affecting it's market by developing a 20,000 rpm hard drive. Similar to the Velociraptor line of drives, the new drives seem to be offering lower capacity as a trade off for higher seek and write times. Looks like the battle lines are drawn for a new series of development in the mass storage front.

+ - Open Source losing ground with charities->

Submitted by MrKaos
MrKaos writes: Following recent discussions about Creative Capitalism, Open Source and Charities I found that Open source could do a lot better addressing the needs of charities who do not have the budget to afford the skills of I.T Professionals capable of implementing and maintaining the Open Source solutions that they really need. Is this a job for the various Linux User Groups out there, or is there a better way?

So come on slashdotters, they want our help, they need our help, how can we help?

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Don't panic.