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United States

McConnell Introduces Bill To Extend NSA Surveillance 209

Posted by samzenpus
from the lets-see-what-you're-doing dept.
jriding sends word that the majority leader of the U.S. Senate has introduced a bill that would extend the surveillance provisions of the Patriot Act until 2020: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell introduced a bill Tuesday night to extend through 2020 a controversial surveillance authority under the Patriot Act. The move comes as a bipartisan group of lawmakers in both chambers is preparing legislation to scale back the government's spying powers under Section 215 of the Patriot Act. It puts McConnell (R-Ky.) and Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr (R-N.C.), the bill’s co-sponsor, squarely on the side of advocates of the National Security Agency’s continued ability to collect millions of Americans’ phone records each day in the hunt for clues of terrorist activity.

Comment: I Disagree with the Summary (Score 4, Interesting) 342

Looking at the video, it appears the booster does not come close to ever having anywhere near a true vertical orientation, and this attempt was not, in fact, "incredibly close to success". Granted, it came closer than ever in history to achieving the goal, but the thruster appeared to not have enough thrust to push the rocket to a vertical position once the booster touched down on the barge. I hope Space-X has a successful next test! The world needs a dose of rockets landing on large flames in the style of those old campy movies.
Portables

1+ Year Running Arch Linux On a Lenovo Yoga 2 Chronicled 74

Posted by timothy
from the not-yet-doing-corpse-position dept.
New submitter KeithCu writes with a lengthy explanation of the joys (and just a handful of glitches) he's had in running Arch Linux on his ultraportable, a Lenovo Yoga 2. Other than the hardware-specific issues, I've been amazed by how well Arch Linux works, given that it doesn't have release cycles, or a big team with a lot of money supporting and marketing it. I've heard only 30 developers maintain the core Arch packages, with most of them having a full-time job doing something else! At the same time, it shouldn't be a total surprise things work so well, because free software doesn't just fall off a turnip truck. Not many reviews feature pictures of a laptop charred from building LibreOffice.
Technology

Powdered Alcohol Banned In Six States 421

Posted by timothy
from the only-had-one-packet-officer dept.
HughPickens.com writes Rachel Abrams reports at the NYT that six states have passed legislation to ban Palcohol, a freeze-dried, powdered alcohol developed by Mark Phillips who he says was inspired by a love of hiking but a distaste for carrying bottles of adult beverages uphill. "When I hike, kayak, backpack or whatever, I like to have a drink when I reach my destination. And carrying liquid alcohol and mixers to make a margarita for instance was totally impractical," says Phillips, who hopes to have Palcohol on store shelves by the summer. One packet of Palcohol equals one shot with each packet weighing 1 ounce and turning into liquid when mixed with 6 ounces of water. Phillips has vigorously defended his product, called Palcohol, saying it is no more dangerous than the liquid version sold in liquor stores and plans to release five flavors: vodka, rum, cosmopolitan, powderita (which is like a margarita) and lemon drop.

Critics are concerned people may try to snort the powder or mix it with alcohol to make it even stronger or spike a drink. "It's very easy to put a couple packets into a glass and have super-concentrated alcohol," says Frank Lovecchio. Amy George, a spokeswoman for Mothers Against Drunk Driving, said MADD did not typically take a stand on the dangers of specific alcohol products, but MADD is concerned about the colorful or playful packaging of such products that can sometimes appeal to children. Phillips dismisses concerns saying that they don't make sense if you think it through. "People unfortunately use alcohol irresponsibly. But I don't see any movement to ban liquid alcohol. You don't ban something because a few irresponsible people use it improperly," says Phillips. "They can snort black pepper. Do you ban black pepper?"
News

V'Ger Source Code Released 53

Posted by samzenpus
from the build-your-own dept.
One of the biggest hurdles to interstellar domination has always been the prohibitive cost of proprietary software for ships or super-weapons. That is all about to change thanks to a surprise move by a mysterious alien race of living machines who have released V'ger's source code. While you'll still need a way to generate a "twelfth-power energy field," this opens the door to many would-be conquerors and ultimate weapon enthusiasts. The release has been praised in terms of increased security and reduced costs by most, but some worry that cheaper, more secure super weapons aren't what the universe needs at this time. Federation spokesperson Lieutenant Ilia disagrees saying: "This is in the carbon units best interest. Many worlds have been infested, You will listen to me."

Comment: SBC6120 is real PDP-8 style hardware (Score 3, Interesting) 92

by cruff (#49356419) Attached to: Rebuilding the PDP-8 With a Raspberry Pi
The SBC6120 uses a Harris 6120 CPU chip which is a PDP-8/e-like microprocessor. It has a companion FP6120 front panel with switches and lights, which is a scaled down version of an older modle rack mount PDP-8 front panel. You built them from kits, loads of fun for those who like that sort of thing. Mine has a CF card for the hard drives (a whole whopping 2 MB each under OS/8!). You may be able to find an unbuilt kit, as the maker of the kit, Spare TIme Gizmos, will not be making any new ones going forward.
Programming

No, It's Not Always Quicker To Do Things In Memory 486

Posted by Soulskill
from the performance-that-fails-to-perform dept.
itwbennett writes: It's a commonly held belief among software developers that avoiding disk access in favor of doing as much work as possible in-memory will results in shorter runtimes. To test this assumption, researchers from the University of Calgary and the University of British Columbia compared the efficiency of alternative ways to create a 1MB string and write it to disk. The results consistently found that doing most of the work in-memory to minimize disk access was significantly slower than just writing out to disk repeatedly (PDF).

Comment: Not 3D chemical printing (Score 2) 132

by cruff (#49250925) Attached to: New Molecular 3D Printer Can Create Billions of Compounds
From the description in the articles, it appears to function more like a DNA assembly. They start with some basic building blocks with certain chemical groups attached, and react them together to build molecules, freeing those attached groups. It does not appear to be adding individual atoms to individual molecules.
Facebook

Man Claiming Half Ownership of Facebook Is Now a Fugitive 163

Posted by samzenpus
from the poke-on-the-run dept.
alphadogg writes Paul D. Ceglia, who was arrested in 2012 for defrauding Facebook on the claim that he owns half the company, is now a fugitive. Ceglia cut off his electronic monitoring bracelet some time around last Friday and left home in violation of the conditions of his bail, court papers said. Ceglia claimed in a 2010 lawsuit that he was entitled to half ownership of Facebook under a 2003 contract with Mark Zuckerberg, who had done programming work for Ceglia's StreetFax.com.

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