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Earth

Debunking a Climate-Change Skeptic 807

Posted by kdawson
from the so-many-notes-mister-mozart dept.
DJRumpy writes "The Danish political scientist Bjørn Lomborg won fame and fans by arguing that many of the alarms sounded by environmental activists and scientists — that species are going extinct at a dangerous rate, that forests are disappearing, that climate change could be catastrophic — are bogus. A big reason Lomborg was taken seriously is that both of his books, The Skeptical Environmentalist (in 2001) and Cool It (in 2007), have extensive references, giving a seemingly authoritative source for every one of his controversial assertions. So in a display of altruistic masochism that we should all be grateful for (just as we're grateful that some people are willing to be dairy farmers), author Howard Friel has checked every single citation in Cool It. The result is The Lomborg Deception, which is being published by Yale University Press next month. It reveals that Lomborg's work is 'a mirage,' writes biologist Thomas Lovejoy in the foreword. '[I]t is a house of cards. Friel has used real scholarship to reveal the flimsy nature' of Lomborg's work."
Education

Followup To "When Teachers Are Obstacles To Linux" 626

Posted by kdawson
from the more-sides-to-the-story dept.
An couple of anonymous readers wrote in to let us know about a followup to last Wednesday's story of the teacher who didn't believe in free software. The Linux advocate who posted the original piece has cooled off and graciously apologized for going off half-cocked (even though the teacher had done the same), and provided a little more background which, while not excusing the teacher's ignorance, does make her actions somewhat more understandable. Ken Starks has talked with the teacher, who has received a crash education in technology over the last few days — Starks is installing Linux on her computer tomorrow. He retracts his insinuations about Microsoft money and the NEA. All in all he demonstrates what a little honest communication can do, a lesson that all of us who advocate for free software can take to heart. "The student did get his Linux disks back after the class. The lad was being disruptive, but that wasn't mentioned. Neither was the obvious fact that when she saw a gaggle of giggling 8th grade boys gathered around a laptop, the last thing she expected to see on that screen was a spinning cube. She didn't know what was on those disks he was handing out. It could have been porn, viral .exe's...any number of things for all she knew. When she heard that an adult had given him some of the disks to hand out, her spidey-senses started tingling. Coupled with the fact that she truly was ignorant of honest-to-goodness free software, and you have some fairly impressive conclusion-jumping. In a couple of ways, I am guilty of it too."
Programming

(Useful) Stupid Regex Tricks? 516

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the hope-you-like-reading-lots-of-random-characters dept.
careysb writes to mention that in the same vein as '*nix tricks' and 'VIM tricks', it would be nice to see one on regular expressions and the programs that use them. What amazingly cool tricks have people discovered with respect to regular expressions in everyday life as a developer or power user?"
Math

Achieving Mathematical Proofs Via Computers 209

Posted by timothy
from the send-picture-of-abacus dept.
eldavojohn writes "A special issue of Notices of the American Mathematical Society (AMS) provides four beautiful articles illustrating formal proof by computation. PhysOrg has a simpler article on these assistant mathematical computer programs and states 'One long-term dream is to have formal proofs of all of the central theorems in mathematics. Thomas Hales, one of the authors writing in the Notices, says that such a collection of proofs would be akin to the sequencing of the mathematical genome.' You may recall a similar quest we discussed."
GNU is Not Unix

Creative GPLs X-Fi Sound Card Driver Code 369

Posted by timothy
from the intelligent-move dept.
An anonymous reader writes "In a move that's a win for the free software community, Creative Labs has decided to release their binary Linux driver for the Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi and X-Fi Titanium sound cards under the GPL license. This is coming after several failed attempts at delivering a working binary driver and years after these sound cards first hit the market."
Games

LittleBigPlanet Sequel Already In the Works 27

Posted by Soulskill
from the optimistic-or-cocky dept.
Now that the delay caused by a rogue song has come and passed, the LittleBigPlanet servers have been turned on, and creations are beginning to filter in. A BBC feature on the game revealed that plans are already underway for a sequel. Another report suggests that they're looking at other methods for expanding the game as well: "With the game just hitting stores, it's too early to start talking about sequels, but Media Molecule already is looking into how they can get more creative tools into the hands of their users. 'We can release new levels, new stickers, new content,' Evans said. 'It's pretty clear to me that we have to move in a fluid direction about what's a sequel and what's not a sequel.'"
Censorship

Australian Government Ignoring Problems With Proposed Filters 292

Posted by Soulskill
from the la-la-la-i-can't-hear-you dept.
halll7 writes with an update to the proposed Australian national firewall we discussed recently. According to the BBC, "The official watchdog, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), has been conducting laboratory tests of six filtering products, and the government plans a live trial soon. ... After its recent trials, ACMA reported significant improvements on earlier studies. The network degradation on one product was less than 2%, although two products were in excess of 75%." Now, Ars Technica reports that "an Australian newspaper has uncovered documents showing that the government minister responsible for the program has ignored performance and accuracy problems with the filters, then tried to suppress criticism of the plan by private citizens." The EFA has a great deal to say in opposition of these plans.
Power

PC Makers Try To Pinch Seconds From Their Boot Times 399

Posted by timothy
from the an-operating-system-called-linux dept.
Some computers are never turned off, or at least rarely see any state less active than "standby," but others (for power savings or other reasons) need rebooting — daily, or even more often. The New York Times is running a short article which says that it's not just a few makers like Asus who are trying to take away some of the pain of waiting for computers, especially laptops, to boot up. While it's always been a minor annoyance to wait while a computer slowly grinds itself to readiness, "the agitation seems more intense than in the pre-Internet days," and manufacturers are actively trying to cut that wait down to a more bearable length. How bearable? A "very good system is one that boots in under 15 seconds," according to a Microsoft blog cited, and an HP source names an 18-month goal of 20-30 seconds.
Medicine

Half of American Doctors Often Prescribe Placebos 238

Posted by timothy
from the first-do-no-nothin' dept.
damn_registrars writes "'Half of all American doctors responding to a nationwide survey say they regularly prescribe placebos to patients. The results trouble medical ethicists, who say more research is needed to determine whether doctors must deceive patients in order for placebos to work.' The study just quoted goes on to say that the drugs most often used as placebo are headache pills, vitamins, and antibiotics. Studies on doctors in Europe and New Zealand have found similar results."
Image

Ultrasound Machine Ages Wine 448

Posted by samzenpus
from the I'll-take-the-cheap-stuff dept.
Inventor Casey Jones says his creation uses ultrasound technology to recreate the effects of decades of aging by colliding alcohol molecules inside the bottle. Mr. Jones said, "This machine can take your run-of-the-mill £3.99 bottle of plonk and turn it into a finest bottle of vintage tasting like it costs hundreds. It works on any alcohol that tastes better aged, even a bottle of paintstripper whisky can taste like an 8-year-aged single malt." The Ultrasonic Wine Ager, which looks like a Dr. Who ice bucket, takes 30 minutes to work and has already been given the thumbs up by an English winemaker. I know a certain special lady who is about to have the best bottle of Boone's Farm in the world.
Education

Re-purposing a Student Tech Service Group? 185

Posted by Soulskill
from the quake-3-server-farm dept.
discards writes "I help run a student group at a Canadian University. For almost 15 years we've provided students with services such as web space, email, wireless internet on campus, cvs/svn, database access, mailing lists, etc., all using Linux and FOSS. In recent years, however, we have faced becoming obsolete. The university now provides wireless access, people get their email from other places such as Google, which also provides free svn access, web space, and so forth. Since we have a large amount of decent, usable hardware, as well as space, funding and a very fast internet connection, we are looking to possibly reform instead of just withering away and dying. We would like to ask Slashdot for ideas as to what we could do; preferably something that cultivates student research or provides an otherwise useful service to students, though all ideas are welcome."
Space

Naphthalene Found In Outer Space 180

Posted by timothy
from the wake-me-up-when-they-find-remulac dept.
Adam Korbitz writes with an excerpt from his blog on an exciting discovery in space: "A team of researchers led by Spanish scientists has published their discovery of the complex molecule naphthalene in an interstellar star-forming cloud, indicating many prebiotic organic molecules necessary for life as we know it could have been present when our own solar system formed. According to the new research — published in The Astrophysical Journal Letters — the naphthalene molecules were discovered 700 light-years from Earth in a star-forming region of the constellation Perseus, in the direction of the star Cernis 52."
Media

+ - "Viacom hit me for infringing my own copyright-> 2

Submitted by
Chris Knight
Chris Knight writes "Long story short: I ran for school board where I live this past fall and created some TV commercials including this one with a "Star Wars" theme. A few months ago VH1 grabbed the commercial from YouTube and featured it in a segment of its show "Web Junk 2.0". Neither VH1 or its parent company Viacom told me they were doing this or asked my permission to use it, but I didn't mind it if they did. It was great to see the commercial was being enjoyed by a far wider audience than I'd expected. I was honored that they chose to use it and thought that Aries Spears's commentary about it was pretty hilarious, so I posted a clip of VH1's segment on YouTube so that I could put it on my blog. This morning I got an e-mail from YouTube saying that the video has been pulled because Viacom is claiming that I'm violating its copyright. Viacom used my video without permission on their commercial television show, and now says that I am infringing on THEIR copyright for showing the clip of the work that Viacom made in violation of my own copyright! Talk about chutzpah! Needless to say, I would like to fight this: not for any kind of monetary compensation, but just for the right to employ my own self-created material per Fair Use."
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