tiedyejeremy writes "As covered by the Crosscut Blog, the Governor of Oregon, Ted Kulongoski, is proposing a change in the funding of the Oregonian transportation system that drops gasoline taxes and, by way of GPS tracking, taxes the number of miles driven, to the tune of 1.2 cents per mile. The reason for the proposed change is that lower fuel consumption via fuel efficiency will leave the system underfunded. The concerns involve government tracking of the movements of vehicles within the state, though this has been denied by ODOT official, James Whitty. I'm wondering how this affects people using the Interstate System and private roads, and if the outputs can or will be used by law enforcement to check alibis."
ubermiester writes "The New York Times reports on research to develop autonomous battlefield robots that would 'behave more ethically in the battlefield than humans.' The researchers claim that these real-life terminators 'can be designed without an instinct for self-preservation and, as a result, no tendency to lash out in fear. They can be built without anger or recklessness ... and they can be made invulnerable to ... "scenario fulfillment," which causes people to absorb new information more easily if it agrees with their pre-existing ideas.' Based on a recent report stating that 'fewer than half of soldiers and marines serving in Iraq said that noncombatants should be treated with dignity and respect, and 17 percent said all civilians should be treated as insurgents,' this might not be all that dumb an idea."
Pickens writes "University of Pennsylvania biologists have discovered a mutation in fruit flies aptly named the 'couch potato' gene that allows them to simply chill out — entering a mild state of quasi-hibernation known as diapause, when winter arrives. 'It's not like they're bears sleeping in a cave,' says Paul Schmidt. 'They just look like they're a little bit more sluggish.' The couch potato gene, first discovered in the early 1990s, got its nickname because flies with mutations in the gene became really sluggish and behaved abnormally. Little is known about the underlying evolutionary genetic architecture, but in diapause, the slacking off is far less severe. The flies' bodily functions slow down, and they are better able to tolerate stress. The fruit fly gene may have implications for human health, as it can help biologists study the function of the nervous system and diseases such as epilepsy, refuting a recent statement by a political candidate that fruit fly research has 'little or nothing to do with the public good.'"
theodp writes "Is Google preparing to launch its own Navy? In its just-published application for a patent on the Water-Based Data Center, Google envisions a world where 'computing centers are located on a ship or ships, which are then anchored in a water body from which energy from natural motion of the water may be captured, and turned into electricity and/or pumping power for cooling pumps to carry heat away from computers in the data center.' And you thought The Onion was joking when it reported on Google's Fleet of Naval Warships!"
CHAMELEON_D_H writes "For some time now, I've been working on a short, geek/nerd oriented animation. It's nearing completion, and I'm starting to look for a method to share it with anyone willing to spare a minute. There are dozens of video sharing and streaming sites out there, making my choice very difficult. Looking for the best possible video and audio quality, while still having vast OS and browser compatibility leaves me dumbfounded. Having a download link would be a great bonus. Youtube is the default and most common choice, but has mediocre video quality and resolution. DivX Web Player has astounding quality, but requires users to download DivX's plugin and forces me to find hosting or purchase more bandwidth, as they no longer serve videos via stage6. Do Slashdotters have any experience with sharing or uploading videos? Problems you've encountered? What do your eyes say about different streaming video sites?"
Google maps and gmail work much faster. What other websites have you all noticed work much more quickly with chrome?
javipas writes "The Compact Disc was created 26 years ago, but apparently it is as healthy as 15 years ago, when computing versions of this format (CD-ROM, CD-R, CD-RW) made the market explode. Nowadays CD has been replaced in some segments, but not on the music industry, that continues to support it massively. The shy return of vinyl and the absence of real competitors make CD's future very bright, so it seems this birthday will not be by any means the last one we celebrate. Happy birthday!"
Oxen writes: Can you enjoy the benefits of exercise without the pain of exertion? The answer may one day be yes — just take a pill that tricks the muscles into thinking they have been working out furiously. Researchers at the Salk Institute report they have found two drugs that do wonders for the athletic endurance of couch potato mice. One drug, known as Aicar, increased the mice's endurance on a treadmill by 44 percent after just four weeks of treatment. Aicar works by mimicking a by-product of energy metabolism, signalling the cell that it has burned off energy and needs to generate more. The drug is "pretty much pharmacological exercise," Dr. Evans said.
D. J. Keenan notes that the cover story of the current issue of National Journal reports in depth on China's cyber-aggression against US targets in the government, military, and business. We have discussed China's actions on numerous occasions over the years. The news in this report is the suggestion that Chinese cyber-attackers may have been involved in major power outages in the US. "Computer hackers in China, including those working on behalf of the Chinese government and military, have penetrated deeply into the information systems of US companies and government agencies, stolen proprietary information from American executives in advance of their business meetings in China, and, in a few cases, gained access to electric power plants in the United States, possibly triggering two recent and widespread blackouts in Florida and the Northeast, according to US government officials and computer-security experts..."
Japan is reportedly toying with the idea of educating and licensing "sommeliers" to help potential buyers wade through the vast sea of options available for a new cellphone purchase. "Japan's communication ministry is looking to the private sector to manage the potential nightmare exam and certification process, with children's online safety highlighted as an important part of the plan. Mobile sommelier sounds like a pretty sweet title, we can totally feel how an HTC TyTN II might be paired with an earthy unlimited plan followed by the soft nutty finish of a 200-minute a month daytime calling package."
g-san writes "Some Mac users are having problems with the latest 10.4.11 update, yours truly included. The problem seems to be caused by the presence of a Boot Camp partition and renders the Mac unable to reboot after the update fails. Note the Geniuses at the Apple stores are recommending a full disk wipe; but data can be recovered via Firewire." MacNN has a note up that if you fall victim to this "known issue" and need to reformat the disk, you can't reinstall Boot Camp because it is no longer available to OS X 10.4 Tiger users.
Microsoft is not directly mentioning Vista demand while they brag about how much money they made last quarter, because sales fell. "[Microsoft] shipped approximately 28 million copies of Vista in the latest quarter ended September, or 9.3 million copies per month. Though the Windows developer pointed to 27 percent growth in business licenses and noted that many home users were buying the more lucrative Vista Home Premium or Ultimate editions, the rate represents a decline from the 10 million per month reported early in summer."
swordgeek writes "Comet 17P/Holmes, a relatively obscure and (until a few days ago) dim object, has suddenly flared to be literally a million times brighter, going from magnitude 18 to 2.8. It is just outside of the constellation Perseus, which puts it high in the sky and ideal for viewing at this time of year. The comet still appears starlike even in binoculars but should grow to several arcminutes across over the next few nights. The comet is now readily visible to the naked eye. This is a completely unexpected once-in-a-lifetime event, so get out your finest optics (even if it's just your eyes) and go comet watching!"
NewsCloud writes "Eight days after Google CEO Eric Schmidt told Zeitgeist conference attendees that social networks account for an 'enormous proportion [of Internet usage]...it's a very real phenomenon,' Google News has launched its own Facebook application. Says Google News: 'This experimental application enables users to create custom sections or select from a set of pre-defined topics, then browse and share stories with their friends on Facebook. We are trying a couple things differently with this application, and it is still in beta, but we think that it adds value to the Facebook experience and to users' overall news experience.' Check out Google News on Facebook (requires registration) — or view screenshots."
USB EVDO writes "The online encyclopedia is set to trial two systems aimed at boosting readers' confidence in its accuracy. Over the past few years, a series of measures aimed at reducing the threat of vandalism and boosting public confidence in Wikipedia have been developed. Last month a project designed independently of Wikipedia, called WikiScanner, allowed people to work out what the motivations behind certain entries might be by revealing which people or organizations the contributions were made by. Meanwhile the Wikimedia Foundation, the non-profit that oversees the online encyclopedia, now says it is poised to trial a host of new trust-based capabilities."