Time Slows Down writes "Psychology Today has an interesting story on a new theory of why we dream. Finnish psychologist Antti Revonsuo believes that dreams are a sort of nighttime theater in which our brains screen realistic scenarios simulating emergency situations and providing an arena for safe training. 'The primary function of negative dreams is rehearsal for similar real events, so that threat recognition and avoidance happens faster and more automatically in comparable real situations,' he says. We have 300 to 1,000 threat dreams per year — one to four per night and just under half are aggressive encounters: physical aggression such as fistfights, and nonphysical aggression such as verbal arguments. Faced with actual life-or-death situations — traffic accidents, terrorist attacks, street assaults — people report entering a mode of calm, rapid response, reacting automatically, almost without thinking. Afterward, they often say the episode felt unreal, as if it were all a dream. 'Dreaming is a sensitive system that tries to pay much attention to the threatening cues in our environment,' Revonsuo says. 'Their function is to protect and prepare us.'"
Lucas123 writes "Panasonic plans to unveil the thinnest Blu-ray Disc drive made yet at the upcoming CES show. The drive is 9.5mm high, which allows it to fit into standard laptop form factors instead of requiring manufacturers to redesign systems to fit high-def DVD players as they've been doing. 'Panasonic has already begun offering samples of the drives to laptop makers with the hope that the companies will build it into new PCs.'"
Ponca City, We Love You writes "Daily Domainer has a story alleging that there may be a leak that allows domain tasters to intercept, analyze and register your domain ideas in minutes. 'Every time you do a whois search with any service, you run a risk of losing your domain,' says one industry insider. ICANN's Security and Stability Advisory Committee (SSAC ) has not been able to find hard evidence of Domain Name Front Running but they have issued an advisory (pdf) for people to come forward with hard evidence it is happening. Here is how domain name research theft crimes can occur and some tips to avoiding being a victim."
An anonymous reader writes "PC Magazine reviews the $200 Linux desktop wonder sold by Wal-Mart. This desktop sold out quickly and has been cited as proof that consumers are tired of the Windows tax and ready for Linux. Not so according to PC Magazine, which gave the gPC a 1.5 star rating." Previous discussions we've had about system reviews were realistic but not quite so harsh; is this just nitpicking or is the 'shiny' starting to wear off of the cheap Linux PC concept?
The feed points us to a NYTimes article about hospitals using particle accelerators to treat cancer. While expensive, proponents say that the proton beams generated by the accelerators are more precise than conventional X-ray radiation therapy. This results in fewer side effects and reduced irradiation of surrounding tissue. The technology's critics say that the cost is not justified by a measurable increase in the level of care given to the patients. Nevertheless, this is an excellent example of "pure scientific research" leading to a useful, unrelated technique. From the NYTimes: "Tumors in or near the eye, for instance, can be eradicated by protons without destroying vision or irradiating the brain. Protons are also valuable for treating tumors in brains, necks and spines, and tumors in children, who are especially sensitive to the side effects of radiation."
SirLurksAlot sends us to Ars Technica for an article about the Warner Music Group's decision to allow DRM-free music downloads through Amazon. This reversal of Warner's former position has been underway for some time, and it boosts the number of DRM-free songs available from Amazon to 2.9 million. Quoting: "Warner's announcement says nothing about offering its content through other services such as iTunes, and represents the music industry's attempt to make life a bit more difficult for Apple after all the years in which the company held the keys to music's digital kingdom.
Stony Stevenson writes with the news that, despite a ban on US PC hardware, Iranian techs have built an enormously powerful supercomputer from 216 AMD processors. The Linux-cluster machine has a 'theoretical peak performance of 860 gig-flops'. "The disclosure, made in an undated posting on [the University of] Amirkabir's Web site, brought an immediate response Monday from AMD, which said it has never authorized shipments of products either directly or indirectly to Iran or any other embargoed country."
coondoggie writes to tell us that NASA has captured some pretty impressive images of the Alluring noctilucent (or "night-shining") clouds. These clouds are made up of ice crystals and dust and are formed at high altitudes near the poles. "Very little is known about how these clouds form over the poles, why they are being seen more frequently and at lower latitudes than ever before, or why they have been growing brighter. AIM will observe two complete cloud seasons over both poles, documenting an entire life cycle of the shiny clouds for the first time. 'It is clear that these clouds are changing, a sign that a part of our atmosphere is changing and we do not understand how, why or what it means,' stated AIM principal investigator James Russell III of Hampton University, Hampton, Va. 'These observations suggest a connection with global change in the lower atmosphere and could represent an early warning that our Earth environment is being changed.'"
pyalot writes: "The swiss goverment has passed a law that would make it impossible to cirvumvent effective copy protection measures. I have created a page to inform and organize a resistance against this law. If we collect 50'000 signatures until the 24th of January however, we can force a national vote on this law. Help me in any way that you can fight this law. I was first made aware of this two days ago by this article on slashdot."
Link to Original Source
Link to Original Source
It started as a rumour post on Kotaku and a Penny Arcade comic strip: reviewer Jeff Gerstmann was fired from the gaming news site Gamespot for giving the co-op action title Kane and Lynch a low score, and snarking on the game in the review. The catch? The firing was dictated by games publisher Eidos, who didn't appreciate the veteran reviewer's tone in the piece. Their ad campaign (spread across the entirety of the Gamespot site) may have been used as a bargaining tool of some kind. Joystiq has a lengthy, detailed summary of this event and its implications, which is no longer technically a rumour. Gerstmann confirmed to the blog that he has been let go from the C|Net-affiliated site, but as of right now can't talk about the details. "The ramifications of the story, if true, are huge. Readers should fairly expect there to be an inviolable firewall between advertising and editorial in journalism, and game journalism (yes, that includes "just reviews") is no different. While our industry has had its fair share of accusations of impropriety, nothing so far has been proven beyond a shadow of a doubt. Giving a publisher the power to fire a senior editor is a line no outlet should be willing to cross." Update: 11/30 17:40 GMT by Z : The Joystiq story continues to be updated, and Tycho has put up what the PA guys heard about the tale in text. Joystiq also has an additional post about the story, with a brief (noncommittal) response from Gamespot.
An anonymous reader writes "An Egyptian human rights activist has been muzzled after YouTube and Yahoo! shut down his accounts. Award-winning blogger Wael Abbas regularly writes and posts video about police brutality, torture and sexual harassment in Egypt. One of the videos — of an Egyptian bus driver being brutalized by an officer — was used as evidence to convict two members of the police force. That's a rare occurrence in a country where human-rights groups say torture is rampant. YouTube said the decision to remove Abbas' videos had nothing to do with the Egyptian government, but was rather an internal decision."
Trotti Laganna writes "Lawyers are now arguing a case brought against Microsoft over Vista's marketing. The software giant is being dinged for allegedly not telling the truth when it put the 'Vista capable' logo on PCs that would only be capable of running Vista Home Basic. Case in point - even the software giant's marketing director Mark Croft was confused by the pre-launch campaign in the United States. Croft's explanation was that "'capable'...has an interpretation for many that, in the context of this program, a PC would be able to run any version of the Windows operating system". After a 10-minute break to talk to Microsoft's lawyers, Croft admitted he had made 'an error', and retracted his previous statement, saying that, by 'capable', Microsoft meant 'able to run a version of Vista'."
Zool writes "A feature is currently running on CNet explicitly promoting open-source software alternatives for typical home users, with programs rated and compared to commercial offerings. Although there's no mention of the Linux advantages to home users, the list is extensive and certainly written with the intention of snagging wider open-source adoption and understanding in the mainstream. 'Why should you care about open source? You should care because the vast majority of common applications, even complex commercial stuff like Adobe Photoshop, Windows Media Player and Microsoft Office, have free, open-source alternatives. And this point is worth reiterating: open-source software is free. No cost. Zero. Zilch.'"
Dekortage writes "Allegedly, electronics giant Samsung Electronics attempted to bribe a South Korean government official with 5 million won (US$5,445). Ironically, the official was Lee Yong-chul, who was a presidential monitor against corruption at the time. This is the latest allegation against Samsung, which was recently accused of running 'a vast network of bribery through the government, the judiciary branch and the news media' that reaches all the way to South Korean President Roh Moo Hyun."
h.ross.perot informs us of research out of the California Pacific Medical Center Research Institute suggesting that a compound found in cannabis may stop breast cancer from metastasizing. Cannabidiol, or CBD, could develop into a non-toxic alternative to chemotherapy some years down the road, if animal and human trials bear out its effectiveness. The article notes that smoking cannabis will not deliver significant quantities of CBD.