Max Tardiveau writes "I just finished reading Neal Stephenson's latest novel, Anathem. I was awaiting it with some anticipation because I absolutely loved Stephenson's best-known novels: Snow Crash, The Diamond Age, and Cryptonomicon. One of Stephenson's non-fiction pieces, called In the beginning was the command line, simply wowed me when I read it. The man can write. A few years ago, I got really excited when I heard that he was writing a whole cycle of novels (the Baroque cycle). But I read the first book of the cycle — Quicksilver — and I was somewhat disappointed, so I skipped the rest of the cycle. I realize that many people enjoyed these novels, but I was hoping that Stephenson would get back his old style and inspiration. So, when Anathem was announced, I was full of anticipation — was this going to be the one? Would he find his mark again?" Keep reading for Max's impressions of Anathem
longhairedgnome writes "The curiosity in President-elect Barack Obama's phone records came with a high price tag for Verizon Wireless employees. According to CNN, the workers who snooped on Obama's phone records have been fired. 'This was some employees' idle curiosity,' a company source told CNN and added 'we now consider this matter closed.' Justice served? What about legal possibilities?" Can we expect anyone who followed a warrantless wiretap from the Bush administration to also be fired then? I mean, they violated our privacy as well.
alphadogg writes "A federal judge in Seattle has ordered Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer to testify in a class action lawsuit against Microsoft that alleges the company misled consumers in a marketing campaign for its Windows Vista operating system in which computers sold with an older Microsoft OS were labeled 'Vista Capable' when in fact they could only run a basic version of Vista. Ballmer has unique personal knowledge of facts surrounding the case, therefore he must face questioning, Judge Marsha Pechman of the US District Court for the Western District of Washington at Seattle ruled, according to court documents released late Friday."
FiReaNGeL writes "Astronomers have seen the aftermath of spectacular stellar explosions known as supernovae before, but no one had witnessed a star dying in real time — until now. While looking at another object in the spiral galaxy NGC 2770, using NASA's orbiting Swift telescope, scientists detected an extremely luminous blast of X-rays released by a supernova explosion. They alerted 8 other telescopes to turn their eyes on this first-of-its-kind event. 'We were looking at another, older supernova in the galaxy, when the one now known as SN 2008D went off. We would have missed it if it weren't for Swift's real-time capabilities, wide field of view, and numerous instruments.'" Bad Astronomy has an excellent, well-illustrated story about the discovery as well. I Don't Believe in Imaginary Property contributes a link to the BBC's coverage, and adds a nugget gleaned from Ars Technica: "SN 2007uy's collapse caused an X-ray burst of about 10^39 joules, most likely due to the 'shock break out' when the energy of the core's collapse finally reached the neutron star's surface."