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Comment Re:Common keyboard for Windows and OS X (Score 1) 477

Placement of Ctrl, Alt/Option, Cmd and Windows keys.
For a Mac, you want Cmd next to the spacebar (for easy access to the most-used shortcuts like Cmd-X/C/V) and Ctrl off to the left somewhere. For Windows, Ctrl needs to be next to the spacebar.

I've got a Windows machine and a Mac running off the same keyboard (KVM switch). Switching is a pain. I've experimented with key remapping software, but haven't found a program that would swap keys only if keyboard 'X' was attached.

Comment Meanwhile, in quieter corners (Score 1) 166

I've been using SE a lot recently. The languages I use a are a bit off the beaten path, and when I filter questions for those languages only, the degradation isn't visible. I can usually find the information I need, my questions get answered comprehensively and correctly, and answering other people's questions helps me hone my own skills. I wouldn't want to lose SE.

Submission + - Understanding a 2,000 year old Greek computer (

szczys writes: We attribute great thinking to ancient Greece. This is exemplified by the Antikythera Mechanism. Fragments of the mechanism were found in a shipwreck first discovered in 1900 and visited by researchers several times over the next century. It is believed to be a method of tracking the calendar and is the first known example of what are now common-yet-complicated engineering mechanisms like the differential gear. A few working reproductions have been produced and make it clear that whomever designed this had an advanced understanding of complex gear ratios and their ability to track the passage of time and celestial bodies.

Submission + - NASA contracting development of new ion/nuclear engines

schwit1 writes: NASA has awarded three different companies contracts to develop advanced ion and nuclear propulsion systems for future interplanetary missions, both manned and unmanned.

These are development contacts, all below $10 million. However, they all appeared structured like NASA’s cargo and crew contracts for ISS, where the contractor does all of the development and design, with NASA only supplying some support and periodic payments when the contractor achieves agreed-upon milestones. Because of this, the contractors will own the engines their develop, and will be able to sell them to other customers after development, thereby increasing the competition and innovation in the field.

Submission + - BBC World Service to provide radio for North Korea and Eritrea (

Ewan Palmer writes: The BBC World service has announced it will launch radio station in tow of the worst countries for press freedom as part of a plan to reach a global audience of 500 million.
The British government announced its “single biggest increase in the World Service budget ever committed” and promised to invest more than $110 by 2016/17 to the service.
Along with improves services in countries such as Thailand, Russia and Somalia, BBC World Service will launch radio services in North Korea and Eritrea who, according to According to Reporters Without Borders' 2015 World Press Freedom index, are the two worst performing countries in the world when ranked on a number of criteria including media independence, respect for the safety and freedom of journalists and infrastructural environment in which the media operate.

Submission + - Researchers create plant-circuit hybrid (

sciencehabit writes: Talk about flower power. Researchers have crafted flexible electronic circuits inside a rose. Eventually such circuitry may help farmers eavesdrop on their crops and even control when they ripen. The advance may even allow people to harness energy from trees and shrubs not by cutting them down and using them for fuel, but by plugging directly into their photosynthesis machinery.

Submission + - Facebook CSO: Trust is the 21st Century's Oil (

chicksdaddy writes: The Christian Science Monitor has a story on Facebook's increasingly precarious position as the world's largest social network in an age of global terror, as last week's coordinate attacks in Paris underscored. From the article (

"The network became a powerful tool for relaying first-hand accounts of the violence, a means for those affected by violence to "check in" with friends and loved ones, and served as a central rallying point to voice support for terrorized Parisians. In fact, the Paris attacks marked the first time that Facebook’s Safety Check feature was made available for a terrorist attack. But as The New York Times reported (, Facebook was also a conduit for the Paris terrorists to communicate and coordinate with each other. For that reason, the company faces growing pressure from law enforcement and politicians to disclose information about – and tamp down on – the darker corners of the social network inhabited by militant groups and their supporters."

Caught in the difficult position of balancing the privacy and civil rights of its users with government demands for data, there is evidence that the company increasingly sees itself in the role of advocate for and defender of the rights of users in the face of unwarranted government intrusion.

Speaking in Baltimore last month, Alex Stamos, Facebook's chief security officer, said that "trust" will become the defining commodity of the 21st century, just as oil had been in the 20th century. Facebook’s future and that of similar companies hinges on its ability to foster trust within its massive user base. That trust, he said, would be the product of Facebook convincing users that it "makes choices in their best interests." And, more importantly, that the company "backs up those choices even in the face of adversity."

Stamos’s words come after Facebook has taken steps in the past year to shore up its reputation as a champion of user privacy. In October, the company announced that it would begin warning users who were the target of state-sponsored hackers, following in the footsteps of companies like Google. Behind the scenes, the company also migrated more than 700 million users of its massively popular WhatsApp chat system to an open source peer-to-peer encryption scheme known as Textsecure by Open Whisper Systems, earning it the ire of the law enforcement and intelligence communities. (

Speaking of the controversy over the growing use of strong encryption to secure communications, however, Stamos flatly rejected the thinking of senior officials such as CIA Director Brennan, who argue that “secure” backdoors can be created in technology so that intelligence agencies can surveil communications. "There is no such thing as 'partial strong encryption,' " Stamos said.

Submission + - VFX Studio Nozom Combines Pre-rendered Visuals with Real-time Navigation for VR (

An anonymous reader writes: "For the entire history of CGI, creators have had to choose between the high fidelity visuals of pre-rendered CGI or the interactivity of real-time CGI," writes Road to VR. "Then along comes PresenZ, promising to mash together these two formerly incompatible benefits into a single solution." Real-time rendering is important in virtual reality because it allows for both interactivity and proper head tracking, enabling users to walk around virtual worlds and have the view adjust correctly no matter where their head moves within the scene. But that means giving up the far superior visual fidelity possible with pre-rendered scenes. Nozon's 'PresenZ' solution is specifically made to allow pre-rendered virtual reality visuals to maintain positional tracking parallax and real-time navigability. The studio is showing for the first time a PresenZ enabled scene which spans an entire room-scale area.

Submission + - Satellite wars (

schwit1 writes: Sixty years after the space race began, an orbital arms race is again in development.

Military officials from the US, Europe and Asia confirm in private what the Kettering Group and other amateur stargazers have been watching publicly. Almost every country with strategically important satellite constellations and its own launch facilities is considering how to defend — and weaponize — their extraterrestrial assets. “I don’t think there is a single G7 nation that isn’t now looking at space security as one of its highest military priorities and areas of strategic concern,” says one senior European intelligence official.

The US is spending billions improving its defences — primarily by building more capacity into its constellations and improving its tracking abilities. A $900m contract was awarded to Lockheed Martin in 2014 to develop a radar system capable of tracking objects as small as baseballs in space in real time. But there are also hints that the US may be looking to equip its satellites with active defences and countermeasures of their own, such as jamming devices and the ability to evade interceptions.

A purely offensive anti-satellite programme is in fast development as well. High-energy weapons and manoeuvrable orbiters such as space planes all open the possibility of the US being able to rapidly weaponise the domain beyond the atmosphere, should it feel the need to do so.

Submission + - Randall Munroe inverviewed by Time magazine; all answers are in comic form

requerdanos writes: Randall Munroe, The former NASA roboticist and author of the web comic xkcd, spoke with Time magazine after the release of his latest book, "Thing Explainer". Sort of. Time asked questions, and Randall's answers were in the form of seven comics that he drew in response. Obligatory xkcd. No, none have title/mouseover text.

Submission + - Happy Birthday, Edwin Hubble, the man who brought us the Universe

StartsWithABang writes: Back in the 1920s, Einstein's general relativity had just come out and gained acceptance, and a debate was raging over whether the spirals in the sky were within our own galaxy, or were entire galaxies unto themselves. Not only did Edwin Hubble put that debate to rest, discovering that they were galaxies, but he measured their distances and recession speeds, discovered the expanding Universe, and paved the way for the Big Bang Theory. Not bad for a guy who was best known as an athlete in college: basketball champion and a heavyweight Gold Gloves boxer!

Submission + - Democracy in Jeopardy (

An anonymous reader writes: This year marks the 95th anniversary of the 19th amendment’s ratification, which granted American women the vote in 1920. Another way to think about it – America took 144 years to enfranchise half of its population. It was also 50 years ago that the Voting Rights Act passed when we started to reckon with the discriminatory practices towards black voters that survived the 15th amendment like a drug-resistant bacteria.

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