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Earth

Nearly Every Seabird May Be Eating Plastic By 2050 74

sciencehabit writes: According to a new study almost every ocean-foraging species of birds may be eating plastic by 2050. In the five large ocean areas known as "garbage patches," each square kilometer of surface water holds almost 600,000 pieces of debris. Sciencemag reports: "By 2050, about 99.8% of the species studied will have eaten plastic, the researchers report online today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Consuming plastic can cause myriad problems, Wilcox says. For example, some types of plastics absorb and concentrate environmental pollutants, he notes. After ingestion, those chemicals can be released into the birds’ digestive tracts, along with chemicals in the plastics that keep them soft and pliable. But plastic bits aren’t always pliable enough to get through a gull’s gut. Most birds have trouble passing large bits of plastic, and they build up in the stomach, sometimes taking up so much room that the birds can’t consume enough food to stay healthy."

Comment Re: Sorry, but Apple still deserves most of the cr (Score 1) 243

OS X is a completely different thing than System 1-7 or OS 8 and 9.

The main thing OS X offered that many a Mac person just hated Apple for not having... was true, preemptive multitasking. Before that, if an application or a desktop accessory didn't use WaitNextEvent(), the entire system ground to a halt, requiring a hardware reset. In fact, because OS 9 and earlier behaved like a chain of primitive Christmas tree lights (one bulb goes out, the entire chain does too), one wound up having to reboot every so often, just for safety. Some applications crashes could be recovered from... others, it was full down. To boot, there wasn't any real multi-user capability, other than what was grafted on via AppleShare servers or security programs like FileGuard or others.

Is OS X perfect? Nope. It desperately needs a new primary filesystem as HFS Plus is getting long in the tooth (it really is at best, competition for ext3) [1]. However, as an OS, it does its job well.

[1]: With all the cash Apple is sitting on, they could either license ZFS from Oracle, or if they don't want to deal with the licensing issues, hit up Symantec, license Veritas for VxFS, and extend that. One can use OSXFuse, but having a native filesystem on par with ZFS or btrfs would be nice.

Windows

The Long Reach of Windows 95 243

jfruh writes: I'm a Mac guy — have been ever since the '80s. When Windows 95 was released 20 years ago, I was among those who sneered that "Windows 95 is Macintosh 87." But now, as I type these words on a shiny new iMac, I can admit that my UI — and indeed the computing landscape in general — owes a lot to Windows 95, the most influential operating system that ever got no respect. ITWorld reports: "... even though many techies tend to dismiss UI innovation as eye candy, the fact is that the changes made in Windows 95 were incredibly successful in making the the system more accessible to users -- so successful, in fact, that a surprising number of them have endured and even spread to other operating systems. We still live in the world Windows 95 made. When I asked people on Twitter their thoughts about what aspects of Windows 95 have persisted, I think Aaron Webb said it best: 'All of it? Put a 15 year old in front of 3.1 and they would be lost. In front of Windows 95 they would be able to do any task quickly.'"
Earth

3 Category 4 Hurricanes Develop In the Pacific At Once For the First Time 213

Kristine Lofgren writes: For the first time in recorded history, three Category 4 hurricanes were seen in the Pacific Ocean at the same time. Climatologists have been warning that climate change may produce more extreme weather situations, and this may be a peek at the future to come. Eric Blake, a specialist with the National Hurricane Center summed it up with a tweet: "Historic central/eastern Pacific outbreak- 3 major hurricanes at once for the first time on record!"

Comment Ada? (Score 1) 310

It can be debated if Ada is obscure or not, but it has an important place in computing: Programs made from it can be made provably secure. Very few languages can do this.

Of course, with most dev houses, being able to have a build tree that can compile an executable for packaging on ship date is the most important thing out there, but if someone actually cared to write code where security or life safety is an issue, there is a language, that isn't too unpopular, that can be used for this.

Censorship

Assange Says Harrods Assisting Metro Police in 'Round-the-Clock Vigil' 250

The Daily Mail reports that Julian Assange seems to have yet another foe (or at least friend of a foe) watching persistently while he stays put in the Ecuadorean embassy in London: Harrod's Department Store. The Metro Police, according to Assange, have developed a relationship with the store, and are using that relationship to facilitate their full-time observation of his roosting place in the embassy. When the founder of Wikileaks says, "We have obtained documents from Harrods [saying that] police have people stationed 24 hours a day in some of the opposing buildings Harrods controls," it seems likely that those documents actually exist.
Microsoft

A Courtroom Victory For Microsoft In Cellphone-Related Patent Suit 14

Mark Wilson writes: Microsoft has been cleared of patent infringement by the US International Trade Commission. The case dates back to 2007 when InterDigital Inc claimed Microsoft infringed its patents, and there were calls for a ban on the import of handsets. InterDigital Inc has been battling in court for eight years, initially trying to claim royalties on phones made by Nokia, now transferred to Microsoft. As well as blocking the call for an import ban, the ITC stated that Microsoft did not infringe patents relating to the way mobiles make calls. In short Microsoft is in the clear and InterDigital's rights have not been violated.

Comment Re:DS9 aka "Cspan" (Score 1) 85

LEXX lost steam after the first season, and just began to resemble Star Trek, and in all the bad ways. DS9 turned into a political/wartime strategic series, and I'd say if you have a love for military SF (which I do), it was probably the finest of its kind. I really wish they had continued in the vain of the grubbier, less noble Federation, muddied and made ugly by its wars, sort of a "The Third Man" of galactic proportions. Instead, they made the completely irrelevant and silly Voyager with a cast of characters that I never could even remotely get into, and the even worse Enterprise, which might have been interesting in the right hands, but instead just ended up being an even worse version of Voyager.

Comment Re:It'll devolve. (Score 1) 85

Overall, the last few seasons of DS9 were indeed probably the best in overall quantity. I still think there are about a dozen ST:TOS episodes that are better than anything that later Trek series produced, and a handful of just really brilliant TNG episodes, but the overall story arcs in the last few seasons of DS9 were, as a group very gripping, and in some ways kind of presaged, though I wouldn't say at the same level of quality, the way that the writers of shows like Breaking Bad and Mad Men built up strong characters with long-term character plots and trajectories.

The problem with DS9 is that I think it exhausted the Trek universe, and they should have paused things there for five or ten years. Instead they saturated and degraded the whole thing with Voyager and Enterprise, which while they might have had the odd episode here and there that was reasonably good, all in all felt like the products of tired writers and producers who no longer really had a zest for the universe, or the ability to conjure up new and interesting characters.

Comment Re:Okay, if they think that will work (Score 4, Insightful) 85

I actually thought the movie was a pretty good one, probably the best movie outside of the Toy Story films that Tim Allen has been involved in. He played a great Bill Shatner, vain and obnoxious, and of course Rickman and Weaver were pitch perfect as versions of Spock and Uruha. It was much about gently mocking Treckies as it was about mocking the actors. It was a mild, good-natured bit of satire that I've watched a couple of times since it came out and have enjoyed.

Comment Re:History repeats. (Score 2) 85

I always thought the crazy gears/blades that Allen and Weaver had to jump through were more inspired by the bizarre security of the Death Star. I don't recall the Enterprise having that many pointlessly dangerous sets in the ship itself. The closet would be the "mains" in Wrath of Khan, but I don't think it's that much of a stretch to assume that a matter-antimatter engine would probably involve some seriously bad radiation.

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