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+ - IBM to invest $3 Billion for Semiconductor Research->

Submitted by Taco Cowboy
Taco Cowboy (5327) writes "A few decades ago the news of IBM investing billions in research did not even raise an eyelid, because that was what IBM did, and what IBM was good at

However, IBM has changed so much that nowadays when IBM wanting to invest $ 3 Billion in semiconductor research it hits the news headlines everywhere, from Bloomberg ( ) to WSJ ( ) to CNET ( )

Is what happening to IBM a reflection of what is happening to the American technological front ?"

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Comment: I don't understand (Score 1) 586

by Taco Cowboy (#47414563) Attached to: Normal Humans Effectively Excluded From Developing Software

Having read his rant I gotta admit that I do not understand what that guy is trying to say

I mean, ever since Ada Lovelace and Charles Babbage labor over the first software / software combination, each and every follow-up of similar devices had been utilized by a very limited group of people who --

1. Have the interest to learn how the device works

2. Have the intelligence to understand

3. Have the time to do it

Of course, there is another type of 'computer' - the Abacus invented by the Chinese - but that device, unlike the Babbage machine and whatever followup devices it had inspired, - was kinda self-limiting

+ - Rebounding Whale Population may be good for Ocean Ecosystems->

Submitted by Taco Cowboy
Taco Cowboy (5327) writes "There has been an intense debate on whether the rebounding of whale population benefits or detrimental to ecosystems of the ocean

A new study has concluded that the rebounding populations of baleen and sperm whales may be boosting marine food webs around the world

First, the new study notes that krill populations — a ubiquitous crustacean in the Southern Ocean — had remained constant or even declined after great whales experienced big declines

The authors of the study reason that the whales might have helped providing nutrients critical to krill and other species low on the food web. For instance, the mammals release massive "fecal plumes" and urine streams that fertilize surface waters with nitrogen and iron, the authors note, and help enhance productivity by mixing up the top layers of the ocean when diving

Another underappreciated contribution to marine ecosystems, the authors report online today in Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, is the bounty of organic material the animals provide to deep-sea ecosystems when they die. A so-called whale fall of a 40-ton gray whale provides a boost of carbon to the seafloor community equivalent to more than 2000 years of normal detritus and nutrient cycling"

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+ - It's all in the ***NAME***->

Submitted by Taco Cowboy
Taco Cowboy (5327) writes "The name "ISIS" was originally used by a mobile payment company backed by AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, and others, which takes advantage of near-field communication chips in smartphones that allows people to consumate transactions by tapping mobile devices on sensor-enabled pads at shops

However, the same name " ISIS " which has recently gained worldwide notoriety came from an Islamic Terrorist Group which has published a lot of head cutting videos online

The CEO of the mobile payment company, Mr. Michael Abbott, has decided that his company should distance itself from the barbarians and will drop its "ISIS" brand very soon

On an open memo Mr. Abbott has written ( ) Mr. Abbott acknowledged that changing brand is never an easy exercise, but in the case of his company, it unfortunately has become a _must_"

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+ - The AI is taking over->

Submitted by Taco Cowboy
Taco Cowboy (5327) writes "No, this is not a scifi flick, but real life

The subway system in Hong Kong has one of the best uptime, 99.9%, which beats London's tube or NYC's sub hands down

In an average week as many as 10,000 people would be carrying out 2,600 engineering works across the system — from grinding down rough rails to replacing tracks to checking for damages

While human workers might be the one carrying out the work, the one deciding which task is to be worked on, however, isn't a human being at all.

Each and every engineering task to be worked on and the scheduling of all those tasks is being handled by an algorithm, aka, Artificial Intelligence

Andy Chan of Hong Kong's City University, who designed the AI system, says, "Before AI, they would have a planning session with experts from five or six different areas. It was pretty chaotic. Now they just reveal the plan on a huge screen."

Chan's AI program works with a simulated model of the entire system to find the best schedule for necessary engineering works. From its omniscient view it can see chances to combine work and share resources that no human could

However, in order to provide an added layer of security, the schedule generated by the AI is still subject to human approval — Urgent, unexpected repairs can be added manually, and the system would reschedules less important tasks

It also checks the maintenance it plans for compliance with local regulations. Chan's team encoded into machine readable language 200 rules that the engineers must follow when working at night, such as keeping noise below a certain level in residential areas

The main difference between normal software and Hong Kong's AI is that it contains human knowledge that takes years to acquire through experience, says Chan. "We asked the experts what they consider when making a decision, then formulated that into rules – we basically extracted expertise from different areas about engineering works," he says"

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Comment: Plastic is not _only_ plastic (Score 5, Informative) 304

by Taco Cowboy (#47355845) Attached to: Ninety-Nine Percent of the Ocean's Plastic Is Missing

To most of you guys "plastic is plastic", that's all to it

But the truth is plastic is _more_ than mere plastic --- it is a combination of many types of chemicals, all mixed together to achieve the characteristics of the plastic that it needs to have

To see it another way, a plastic is like a steak. It is definitely _not_ only a piece of beef, but also the sauce (which itself is made of the starchy gravy - which can be broken up to other more basic components, - the flavoring [salt, sugar, spices, and so on]), plus the added chemicals, such as the aromatics (which is largely benzene group) that were formed when that beef was put over the fire

Same thing with plastics - it is not only the acrylic resins, but we also need to account for additives such as the plasticizers, color, elastomers, and so on, plus other chemicals that were produced as a by-product of the mixing of all those chemicals over a "heated process"

When we can eat steaks, the different bacteria inside our guts dissolve different ingredients from the steak that we have eaten

Bacteria are not like human beings - they do not have other bacteria in their guts !

Most often a type of bacterium may be able to digest a type of ingredient within a type of plastic, and that is all to it, which means, the other chemicals inside the plastic are still left intact, not dissolved, not digested, not broken down

Comment: Modding (Score 1) 58

by Taco Cowboy (#47331105) Attached to: The Military Is About To Get New Augmented Reality Spy Glasses

As stated by TFA:

They look like the lovechild of Google Glass and the Oculus Rift, providing more information to the wearer than the small window on Google's much-maligned headset but not obstructing vision like the Oculus Rift. ( Admittedly, for spy glasses, they lack a certain subtlety )

If the military can do something like that, so can we

After all, this is what modding is all about

Comment: Re:Please explain (Score 3, Informative) 74

by Taco Cowboy (#47331079) Attached to: Trio of Big Black Holes Spotted In Galaxy Smashup

The article states

If the two black holes composing the newfound pair are equally distant from Earth, they're just 450 light-years apart and orbit each other every 4 million years

Can someone explain, or is this a typo? Do they not know if they're the same distance?

I ain't a space scientist, and I hope that what I say is correct --- please correct me if I am wrong --- what TFA is saying is, Black Hole 1 (Point A) and Black hole 2 (Point B) are spinning with each others and we are at a fixed reference point (Point C)

In other words, Point A, Point B and Point C make up a triangle, with Point A and Point B spinning with each other.

What TFA suggests is that when Black Hole 1 (Point A) and Black Hole 2 (Point B) happens to link to the fixed reference point (Point C) in which the distance of AC = BC , the distance of AB = 450 Light Years

As I have said, I ain't a space scientist, if I am incorrect, please correct me, thank you !

+ - IRS Commissioner got grilled in Congress->

Submitted by Taco Cowboy
Taco Cowboy (5327) writes "

" You are the Internal Revenue Service. You can reach into the lives of hard-working taxpayers, and with a phone call, an email, or a letter, you can turn their lives upside-down. You ask taxpayers to hang on to seven years of their personal tax information in case they are ever audited, and you can't keep six months' worth of employee emails? "

Those were the words of Republican Congress Representative Paul Ryan to IRS Commissioner John Koskinen

As the Republican Congress Representatives were trying to get the truth out from Mr. Koskinen, the Democrats were lining up busily defending him

With the Democrats' backing, Mr. Koskinen of IRS got much embolden and accused the Republicans of releasing inaccurate, interim information"

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+ - Americans More Distracted Behind The Wheel Than Europeans->

Submitted by Taco Cowboy
Taco Cowboy (5327) writes "Either the Europeans have lied, or the Americans were bragging

U.S. drivers are much more likely than Europeans to drive while distracted, federal health officials report Thursday

Nearly 69 percent of Americans who drive say that they talked on their cell phones while driving at least once in the previous month, according to a survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

That's a lot higher than what was reported by Europeans in another survey. Only 21 percent of British drivers reported chatting on their cell phones while behind the wheel, for example. In Germany and France it was about 40 percent

The same goes for reading or sending texts or emails. About a third of U.S. drivers said they did that. And that's about double what it was in Spain and Great Britain

Health officials say that's a big problem because driving while distracted causes fatal car accidents. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, 3,331 Americans were killed in crashes involving a distracted driver in 2011, compared to 3,267 in 2010

"The cell phone can be a fatal distraction for those who use it while they drive," CDC Director Thomas Frieden said in a statement. "Driving and dialing or texting don't mix. If you are driving, pull over to safe place and stop before you use your phone"


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+ - Meningitis in Princeton->

Submitted by Taco Cowboy
Taco Cowboy (5327) writes "There had already been seven (7) Meningitis cases in the Princeton University since March, and what makes these cases special is that local (meaning, USA) vaccine is useless against it

That prompted the CDC (Center of Disease Control and Prevention) to issue an EMERGENCY IMPORT of Meningitis vaccine from Europe

"Government health officials," reports NBC News, "said Friday they have agreed to import Bexsero, a vaccine licensed only in Europe and Australia that protects against Meningitis B, a strain not covered by the shots recommended for college students in the U.S."

Here are some info from the CDC's Webpage about Meningitis —

— "Bacterial meningitis is usually severe. While most people with meningitis recover, it can cause serious complications, such as brain damage, hearing loss, or learning disabilities"

— "In the United States, about 4,100 cases of bacterial meningitis, including 500 deaths, occurred each year between 2003–2007"

— "Fortunately, most of the bacteria that cause meningitis are not as contagious as diseases like the common cold or the flu. Also, the bacteria are not spread by casual contact or by simply breathing the air where a person with meningitis has been"

— "Sometimes the bacteria that cause meningitis spread to other people. This usually happens when there is close or long contact with a sick person in the same household or daycare center, or if they had direct contact with a patient's oral secretions (such as a boyfriend or girlfriend)"

— "Meningitis infection may show up in a person by a sudden onset of fever, headache, and stiff neck. It will often have other symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, increased sensitivity to light [and] altered mental status (confusion)"


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+ - Online Advertising of the Mujahideen Kind-> 1

Submitted by Taco Cowboy
Taco Cowboy (5327) writes "As ISIL's push into Iraq has been making headline news, and as picture/video of their slaughter of thousands of Iraqi prisoners have gone viral, a recruiting video has also making its online debut, starring three Britons and two Australians

Nasser Muthana, 20, with the nom du guerre of Abu Muthanna al Yemeni, along with Abu Dujana al Hindi and Abu Bara al Hindi are the three Britons are the stars of the Mujahidden recruitment video, appealing all their brothers to "fight for Allah. Sacrifice for Allah"

"Are you willing to sacrifice this for the sake of Allah? Definitely, if you sacrifice something for Allah, Allah will give you 700 times more than this "

Addressing to those who are scared of being killed, the Briton Abu Dujana al Hindi said

"What prevents you from obtaining martyrdom? You are going to die anyway"

This 13-minute video has shocked the British Prime Minister David Cameron so much that he has directed his Home Office to work with internet companies to stop terrorist messages from being broadcast


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+ - Unexpected Behavior at the Nucleus of Supermassive Black Hole->

Submitted by Taco Cowboy
Taco Cowboy (5327) writes "An international team of astronomers, using data from several NASA and European Space Agency (ESA) space observatories, has discovered unexpected behavior from the supermassive black hole at the heart of the galaxy NGC 5548, located 244.6 million light-years from Earth. This behavior may provide new insights into how supermassive black holes interact with their host galaxies

A stream of gas flowing rapidly outward from the galaxy's supermassive black hole, blocking 90 percent of its emitted X-rays

The discovery was made during an intensive observing campaign that also included data from NASA's Swift spacecraft, Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) and Chandra X-ray Observatory, as well as ESA's X-ray Multi-Mirror Mission (XMM-Newton) and Integral gamma-ray observatory (INTEGRAL)

Supermassive black holes in the nuclei of active galaxies, such as NGC 5548, expel large amounts of matter through powerful winds of ionized gas. For instance, the persistent wind of NGC 5548 reaches velocities exceeding 621 miles (approximately 1,000 kilometers) a second

A new wind has arisen, much stronger and faster than the persistent wind. These new winds reach speeds of up to 3,107 miles (5,000 kilometers) per second, but is much closer to the nucleus than the persistent wind

The new gas outflow blocks 90 percent of the low-energy X-rays that come from very close to the black hole, and it obscures up to a third of the region that emits the ultraviolet radiation at a few light-days distance from the black hole

Researchers also deduced that in more luminous quasars, the winds may be strong enough to blow off gas that otherwise would have become "food" for the black hole, thereby regulating both the growth of the black hole and that of its host galaxy"
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+ - Why is there no net neutrality in mobile ?->

Submitted by Taco Cowboy
Taco Cowboy (5327) writes "The net neutrality issue has become a very hot topic recently, but curiously on the mobile scene, the net neutrality rules were absent

Why ?

Simply because the wireless companies have successfully convinced regulators four years ago to keep mobile networks mostly free of net neutrality rules

Now that Federal Communications Commission officials are looking into whether wireless networks should remain exempt from net neutrality rules the mobile carriers have lobbied hard to foil FCC's latest attempt

Wireless is different it is dependent on finite spectrum,” Meredith Attwell Baker, the new head of CTIA, the wireless industry’s lobbying arm, told reporters Tuesday

Baker previously served as the top lobbyist for Comcast’s NBCUniversal division, joining the company after serving as an FCC commissioner

On the other side of the spectrum, net neutrality advocates are hoping to convince regulators to include wireless networks more fully under any new proposed rules. They are pushing for the FCC to re-regulate broadband Internet under a section of the law (called Title II), which was written with old phone networks in mind

The FCC will be taking public comments about what it should do about new net neutrality rules through the end of July

You can comment by emailing to or go to to file a Consumer Informal Complaint


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