eldavojohn writes "A new study has found that game characters tend not to reflect cultural diversity. According to the paper from researchers across four universities (PDF): 'A large-scale content analysis of characters in video games was employed to answer questions about their representations of gender, race and age in comparison to the US population. The sample included 150 games from a year across nine platforms, with the results weighted according to game sales. ... The results show a systematic over-representation of males, white and adults and a systematic under-representation of females, Hispanics, Native Americans, children and the elderly.' The researchers also note that games 'function as crucial gatekeepers for interest in science, technology, engineering and math,' and that without these groups represented properly, 'it may place underrepresented groups behind the curve.'"
mcgrew writes "New Scientist is reporting that creativity may be linked to schizophrenia via a common gene. Szabolcs Kéri, a researcher at Semmelweis University in Budapest, Hungary, carried a study of creative people. 'Kéri examined a gene involved in brain development called neuregulin 1, which previous studies have linked to a slightly increased risk of schizophrenia. Moreover, a single DNA letter mutation that affects how much of the neuregulin 1 protein is made in the brain has been linked to psychosis, poor memory and sensitivity to criticism. About 50 per cent of healthy Europeans have one copy of this mutation, while 15 per cent possess two copies. People with two copies of the neuregulin 1 mutation — about 12 per cent of the study participants — tended to score notably higher on these measures of creativity, compared with other volunteers with one or no copy of the mutation. Those with one copy were also judged to be more creative, on average, than volunteers without the mutation.' They hypothesize that people with this gene with high IQs are creative, while those with lower IQs are simply prone to the hallucinations that characterize the disease."
It should also be noted that the Justice Department jobs are career positions and not political appointments (except when Alberto Gonzales is in charge). That means the people working this case today are most likely the same people who were working the case before Obama took office. I'd attribute any actions in the case to inertia at this point.
Tragic plane crash just before he was supposed to testify about it. After several other instances of plane trouble.
Toren Altair writes with this excerpt from a story at The Space Fellowship: "NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Spirit communicated via the Mars Odyssey orbiter today right at the time when ground controllers had told it to, prompting shouts of 'She's talking!' among the rover team at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. 'This means Spirit has not gone into a fault condition and is still being controlled by sequences we send from the ground,' said John Callas of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., project manager for Spirit and its twin, Opportunity."
narramissic writes "Back in March 2001, a hacker named Josh Buchbinder (a.k.a Sir Dystic) published code showing how an attack on a flaw in Microsoft's SMB (Server Message Block) service worked. Or maybe the flaw was first disclosed at Defcon 2000, by Veracode Chief Scientist Christien Rioux (a.k.a. Dildog). It was so long ago, memory is dim. Either way, it has taken Microsoft an unusually long time to fix. Now, a mere seven and a half years later, Microsoft has released a patch. 'I've been holding my breath since 2001 for this patch,' said Shavlik Technologies CTO Eric Schultze, in an e-mailed statement. Buchbinder's attack, called a SMB relay attack, 'showed how easy it was to take control of a remote machine without knowing the password,' he said."
oahazmatt writes "Some time ago my wife was having severe issues on her laptop. (A Dell Inspiron, if that helps.) I eventually found the cause to be McAfee, which took about an hour to remove fully. I installed AVG on her system to replace McAfee, but we have since found that AVG is causing problems with her laptop's connection to our wireless network. She's not thrilled about a wired connection as the router is on the other end of the house. We're looking for some good, open-source or free personal editions of anti-virus software. So, who on Slashdot trusts what?" When school required a Windows laptop, I used Clam AV, and the machine seemed to do as well as most classmates'. What have you found that works?
Roland Piquepaille writes "Researchers at the University of Maryland are developing a robot able to detect and destroy breast cancer cells in a single session. After a tumor is located on an MRI, the robot will perform a biopsy of the breast while the patient is inside the scanner. 'If the biopsy displays cancerous cells, the robot will then insert a probe into the breast until it reaches the tumor. The probe will then burn the cancer cells until they are destroyed.' This looks great, but the researchers have only built a prototype. After they refine this robot, they'll need to go through clinical trials and obtain FDA approval. So this is not a robot that will appear on the medical market before several years."
not nearly as panic inducing as I first thought, although I'm sure my program management is going to get all bent out of shape about it anyway. Bad news if you Apache with WL though.
Penguinisto writes "According to a somewhat jaw-dropping story in The Register, it appears that Microsoft has performed a trifecta of geek-scaring feats: They have joined the Apache Software Foundation as a Platinum member(at $100K USD a year), submitted LGPL-licensed patches for ADOdb, and have pledged to expand their Open Specifications Promise by adding to the list more than 100 protocols for interoperability between its Windows Server and the Windows client. While I sincerely doubt they'll release Vista under a GPL license anytime soon, this is certainly an unexpected series of moves on their part, and could possibly lead to more OSS (as opposed to 'Shared Source') interactivity between what is arguably Linux' greatest adversary and the Open Source community." (We mentioned the announced support for the Apache Foundation earlier today, as well.)
Ant writes "Variety reports on a recent study that says TV viewership's median age is outside the 18-49 years demographic: "The broadcast networks have grown older than ever — if they were a person, they wouldn't even be a part of TV's target demo anymore." These totals exclude DVR users, and apparently the oldest since they started tracking it. Of course you know what the means ... TV is for old people! The internet has confirmed it.
Bob Loblaw writes "I ran across a huge stash of floppies at our office, and after some discussion, it became clear that rather than throw them away, we should build a gun that fires floppies. I had just bought a welder so this was a challenging first project. After about a month of work in my garage at night the DataStorm was born. It was constructed of scrap metal, a kid's bike, a weed-eater motor, and an electric screwdriver. The most difficult task ended up being how to add spin to the disk without significantly reducing its velocity. After a week and a half of trying different options, a stack of zip ties was found to work best. Since we had so much time in it we elected to shoot an infomercial showcasing the device, and had to learn to shoot & edit video as we went. It was basically an office joke that spiraled out of control. My wife is not amused. At all. I hope you like it."
siddster notes an account up at Wired of research indicating that brain scanners can see your decisions before you make them. "In a study published Sunday in Nature Neuroscience, researchers using brain scanners could predict people's decisions seven seconds before the test subjects were even aware of making them... Caveats remain, holding open the door for free will... The experiment may not reflect the mental dynamics of other, more complicated decisions... Also, the predictions were not completely accurate. Maybe free will enters at the last moment, allowing a person to override an unpalatable subconscious decision."
opencity writes "The Register reports that the (perhaps inevitable) robot rebellion has been avoided ... for now. 'Ground-crawling US war robots armed with machine guns, deployed to fight in Iraq last year, reportedly turned on their fleshy masters almost at once. The rebellious machine warriors have been retired from combat pending upgrades.' Gizmodo also has a good photo."
Rob O'Neill writes "A Kiwi open source developer is working on a self-replicating 3D printer, RepRap, to be made available under the GNU license. 'The 3D printer works by building components up in layers of plastic, mainly polylactic acid (PLA), which is a bio-degradable polymer made from lactic acid. The technology already exists, but commercial machines are very expensive. They also can't copy themselves, and they can't be manipulated by users, says Vik Olliver. RepRap has a different idea. The team, which is spread over New Zealand, the UK and the US, develops and gives away the designs for its much cheaper machine, which also has self-copying capabilities. It wants to make the machine available to anybody — including small communities in the developing world, as well as people in the developed world, says Olliver. Accordingly, the RepRap machine is distributed, at no cost, under the GNU (General Public License).'"