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We've improved Slashdot's video section; now you can view our video interviews, product close-ups and site visits with all the usual Slashdot options to comment, share, etc. No more walled garden! It's a work in progress -- we hope you'll check it out (Learn more about the recent updates).

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Moon

NASA Ends Plan To Put Man Back On Moon 460

Posted by timothy
from the tax-dollars-for-earthlings dept.
An anonymous reader writes with this excerpt from The Times Online: "NASA has begun to wind down construction of the rockets and spacecraft that were to have taken astronauts back to the Moon — effectively dismantling the US human spaceflight programme despite a congressional ban on its doing so. Legislators have accused President Obama's administration of contriving to slip the termination of the Constellation programme through the back door to avoid a battle on Capitol Hill."
The Internet

Target.com's Aggressive SEO Tactic Spams Google 241

Posted by kdawson
from the wide-of-the-mark dept.
eldavojohn writes "Greg Niland is blogging about target.com's aggressive near-spam search engine optimization, and is more than a little critical not only of how this affects the most popular search engine, but also why it will probably persist. If you want an example, search for 'Exercise Bike Clearance' and click the first link."
GNU is Not Unix

How Can I Contribute To Open Source? 332

Posted by kdawson
from the in-kind dept.
rtobyr writes "I work for a state government agency. That means we can't donate money, because it's a 'gift of public funds.' I had the idea to put up a Web page stating that we 'use the following free software to save tax dollars,' as a way to help spread the word about open source software, but management calls this an 'endorsement.' A mirror server is a no-go as well. I'm certainly not a talented enough programmer to help with development. I've donated $10 here and there out of my own pocket, but I'm hoping you Slashdotters have some creative ideas about how my organization could give something back to the teams that create free software we benefit so much from."
Opera

Opera 10.5 Pre-Alpha Is Out, and It's Fast 274

Posted by kdawson
from the fat-lady-has-not-sung dept.
sgunhouse writes to let us know that, following a leaked internal build over the weekend, Opera Software has now released their official 10.5 pre-alpha. There are no Linux versions yet. And an anonymous reader adds, "Opera's 10.5 pre-alpha includes the Carakan JavaScript Engine. Benchmarks now show that Opera is competitive with Chrome, beating it in Sunspider and other tests. Safari, Firefox, and IE are all behind. This is still pre-alpha, so further speed gains should be expected."
Music

Facebook Campaign Decides UK Christmas Music Charts 362

Posted by kdawson
from the rage-against-the-commercialization dept.
uglyduckling writes "A grassroots Facebook campaign has pushed the 1990s Rage Against the Machine song 'Killing in the Name Of' to the top of the British music charts for Christmas. The campaign was planned to prevent the X-Factor winner from charting Christmas number one, as has been the case for the past four years. It was supposedly a kick against the commercialism of Christmas and commercial dominance in the music scene, although Rage and the X-Factor winner Joe McElderry were actually signed to the same label. Despite this minor detail, it's interesting to note that this is the first song to reach the number one spot through downloads alone in the UK, and is a testament to the organizational power of social networking sites like Facebook. The Facebook group also asked for donations to charity, and has raised £70,000 for the homeless charity Shelter."
Image

Holy See Declares a "Unique Copyright" On the Pope 447

Posted by kdawson
from the vatican-rag dept.
An anonymous reader sends in news of what must be some kind of record in overreaching intellectual property claims: the Vatican has declared that the name, image, and any symbols of the Pope are for exclusive use of the Holy See. They may have a point if, as the declaration hints, some have used "ecclesiastical or pontifical symbols and logos to attribute credibility and authority to initiatives" unrelated to the Vatican. But how much room will they allow for fair use? Will high school newspapers have to remove the Papal Coat of Arms from their Vatican news columns? The royalty schedule was not released, so it's not clear how much Slashdot will have to pay to run this story (or if there will be a penalty for the accompanying pagan idol).
Firefox

Firefox 3.5 Now the Most Popular Browser Worldwide 422

Posted by kdawson
from the press-the-advantage dept.
gQuigs notes a graph up at StatCounter Global Statistics, which shows that in the last few days Firefox 3.5 became the most used browser version worldwide, edging ahead of IE7. IE8 is rising fast (along with Windows 7), but over the last few months the slope of Firefox's worldwide curve has been steeper. (In the US, IE8 has always been ahead of Firefox 3.5; in Europe Firefox has led since late summer.) The submitter suggests using the time when Firefox rules the roost, globally speaking, to put the final nail in the coffin of IE6, which still has a 14% global share (5%-7% in the US and EU; China and Korea are holding up IE6's numbers).
Microsoft

Microsoft Steals Code From Microblogging Startup 315

Posted by kdawson
from the did-they-think-nobody-would-notice dept.
Readers davidlougheed and TSHTF both let us know that microblogging service Plurk reported today that Microsoft China not only copied look and feel from its interface, but also copied raw code from Plurk's service, when it released its own microblogging service called MSN Juku (or Mclub). In instances of the code released on the Plurk blog, the layout, code structure, and variable names were very similar or in some cases 100% identical. The story has been covered in multiple media sources. The software theft is hypocritical, given Microsoft's past threats against Chinese software piracy."
Space

Super-Earths Discovered Orbiting Nearby, Sun-Like Star 242

Posted by Soulskill
from the i-for-one dept.
likuidkewl writes "Two super-earths, 5 and 7.5 times the size of our home, were found to be orbiting 61 Virginis a mere 28 light years away. 'These detections indicate that low-mass planets are quite common around nearby stars. The discovery of potentially habitable nearby worlds may be just a few years away,' said Steven Vogt, a professor of astronomy and astrophysics at UCSC. Among hundreds of our nearest stellar neighbors, 61 Vir stands out as being the most nearly similar to the Sun in terms of age, mass, and other essential properties."
Earth

Expedition To Explore an Alaska-Sized Plastic "Island" 325

Posted by kdawson
from the one-hundred-megatons dept.
Peace Corps Online writes "An expedition called Project Kaisei has departed bound for the Great Pacific Garbage Patch — a huge 'island' of plastic debris in the Pacific Ocean estimated to be the size of Alaska (some estimates place it at ten times that size). The expedition will study the impact of the waste on marine life, and research methods to clean up the vast human-created mess in the Pacific. The BBC quotes Ryan Yerkey, the project's chief of operations: 'Every piece of trash that is left on a beach or ends up in our rivers or estuaries and washes out to the sea is an addition to the problem, so we need people to be the solution.' The garbage patch occupies a large and relatively stationary region of the North Pacific Ocean bound by the North Pacific Gyre, a remote area commonly referred to as the horse latitudes. The rotational pattern created by the North Pacific Gyre draws in waste material from across the North Pacific Ocean, including the coastal waters off North America and Japan. As material is captured in the currents, wind-driven surface currents gradually move floating debris toward the center, trapping it in the region. 'You are talking about quite a bit of marine debris but it's not a solid mass,' says Yerkey. 'Twenty years from now we can't be harvesting the ocean for trash. We need to get it out but we need to also have people make those changes in their lives to stop the problem from growing and hopefully reverse the course.'"

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