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Space Station Module Could Carry Humans To Asteroid 62

Soulskill writes "Brian Wilcox, a JPL roboticist, spoke at a NASA workshop about the possibility of detaching one of the International Space Station's modules and using it as the primary living space for astronauts on a trip to an asteroid. 'The node could be connected to two space exploration vehicles and have add-on inflatable modules. ... The space station is slated to operate through at least 2020, which roughly coincides with the earliest likely launch date for human exploration of an asteroid. In April President Barack Obama set a 2025 goal for a manned mission to an asteroid.'"

Comment Re:Impressive (Score 4, Insightful) 356

On a side note, why are people suddenly so in love with the term "infographic"? Can't we call it a "graph" or "chart"?

First, infographics isn't a new term, it's a been around since the early 1990s, at least.

Second, infographics is a more inclusive category than charts or graphs. Charts and graphs tend to be quantitative in nature. A good example of an infographic is a map: calling a subway map a chart is a stretch. (Yes, I'm aware of nautical and aeronautical charts.)

So, when Dan suggests that Flash has legitimate uses for infographics, I think that's a perfectly legitimate use of the term.

Comment Re:Hooray! (Score 1) 457

Will you feel the same way when a Republican POTUS uses these powers the Progressives are attempting to usurp?

Honestly? If George Bush supported his FCC bringing ISPs under the control of title II as common carriers (which is now being proposed), I wouldn't have cared, or at least not for partisan reasons.

Can you explain how classifying ISPs under Title II will lead towards partisan government control of the internet? I don't see your point here.

Comment Re:I'm more convinced than ever that this is BS. (Score 2, Insightful) 367

I saw this story [] earlier today and now I'm more convinced than ever the whole thing is BS. Look carefully at the photograph (provided by the parents, I might add.) Who goes to sleep with their laptop turned on and the camera pointed right at their face, so that it's perfectly centered in the frame and just well lit enough to show it clearly? If you've ever seen real photographs taken by peeping toms with hidden cameras, they're always grainy and show subjects in unflattering lighting conditions. This picture is just to perfect to be real.

I think that's a silly argument, the same sort of logic and amateur forensics lead many birthers to the conclusion that Obama wasn't born in Hawaii.

If this image was fake, I'm sure the judge in the case would be furious. IANAL, but I'm sure that lying to the media about evidence in an ongoing case is somewhat unethical...

More likely: The image was cropped, maybe by the news organization or the family. Sure, it does have good composition, but to assume that the image is uncropped and too good (and therefore must be fraudulent!) needs a great big jump to conclusions mat.

Oh and...

If you've ever seen real photographs taken by peeping toms with hidden cameras, they're always grainy and show subjects in unflattering lighting conditions.

That might just be the most disturbing thing I've read on Slashdot all day. I'm hoping you simply didn't consider your words carefully...

Comment Re:It was a horrible idea then AND now (Score 4, Informative) 511

I have been telling people for YEARS how unwise it is to have or use a "debit" card with a Visa/MC logo on it. My bank kept INSISTING that I use one, and I would have to send it back and tell them to please send me a regular debit/ATM card. Many of the same people that thought I was "paranoid" and "obsessive" or just plain strange don't think so anymore.

You are paranoid. And ignorant. As long as you report the theft to your financial institution as soon as you learn about it, there are strong protections in place. It's simply not true that it's up to YOU to track down your money. It's up to your financial institution. They are required by law to credit you in the case of errors or unauthorized purchases, and are even required to issue a provisional credit in many cases before the investigation is complete.

A Visa Debit card carries the same protections as a Visa Credit card for signature based-transactions. PIN based transactions are still covered by Regulation E, which protects the consumer.

And there's no such thing as a perfectly good ATM card: with a skimmer, a fraudster can clone your ATM card and have your PIN. Fraudulent PIN based transactions are MUCH harder to refute. People call up all the time and say, "I have no idea how that person got my PIN number, I've never given it to ANYONE!" We (my bank) pull the ATM video, and sure enough it's their son/daughter. The consumer sheepishly admits, "Oh, well, I just told them my PIN once, months ago..." Given the choice between turning the video over to the police or rescinding the claim of unauthorized use, many people will choose the latter.

Comment What to do? Tell you're bank they're full of it (Score 5, Informative) 511

IAABG (I am a banking geek).

The rules for provisional credit on debit cards is very well established. They fall under Regulation E, section 205.11. The bank has ten days to get you a provisional refund, and can take up to 45 days in certain circumstances to complete their investigation and finalize the credit.

Make sure you get them a notice in writing! Once you do, they have ten days to credit you, and many banks will do it much faster. If the bank drags their feet, just tell them "I want provisional credit within the mandated timeline per Regualtion E".

Here's more on this topic:

The protection for misuse of debit cards is strong, you just need to know what to do. If your bank isn't responsive, Move Your Money to a smaller institution that cares.


Ubuntu Will Switch To Base-10 File Size Units In Future Release 984

CyberDragon777 writes "Ubuntu's future 10.10 operating system is going to make a small, but contentious change to how file sizes are represented. Like most other operating systems using binary prefixes, Ubuntu currently represents 1 kB (kilobyte) as 1024 bytes (base-2). But starting with 10.10, a switch to SI prefixes (base-10) will denote 1 kB as 1000 bytes, 1 MB as 1000 kB, 1 GB as 1000 MB, and so on."

Comment Re:Bullshit (Mod parent down) (Score 1) 902

What bullshit. The privacy protections regarding census answers were put in place AFTER the Japanese internment camps as a RESPONSE.

No, good sir, what you write is indeed bullshit.

Says Says Scientific American in 2007:

The Second War Powers Act of 1942 temporarily repealed that protection [census confidentiality] to assist in the roundup of Japanese-Americans for imprisonment in internment camps in California and six other states during the war.

According to the same article, the Census Bureau denied this for decades.

It's true that in response, the privacy of the census was further codified:

The legal confidentiality of census information dates to 1910, and in 1954 it became part of Title 13 of the U.S. Code

After doing some research, it's clear that the Slashdot summary is accurate. If the "summary reads as is [sic] those protections were disregarded in that roundup", it's because they were. I pity the mods that fell for you.

Comment Re:Medical... (Score 1) 727

Also, try to pack all that electronics into such a small package, including feedback cancellation (that really loud whine that older hearing aids were prone to produce) and and it has to be able to run on a single battery for at least a few hours at a time.

I bet Apple could do it.

If Google has a philanthropic arm (, why can't Apple?

Comment Well, duh. (Go Microsoft!) (Score 2, Informative) 348

Microsoft is based in Seattle. We tend to be quite liberal and supportive of civil rights out here. Hell, I had two jobs with two lesbian managers in a row -- in IT! How often does that happen?

Microsoft learned about this the hard way in 2005: Originally opposed to a gay rights bill in Washington state, they quickly changed position.

Said Balmer at the time:

"After looking at the question from all sides, I've concluded that diversity in the workplace is such an important issue for our business that it should be included in our legislative agenda," Ballmer wrote. Ballmer said he did not want to "rehash the events" that led to the company taking a position of neutrality. But he did say the company was implementing changes to make sure the mistakes were not repeated.

I read that as "our employees [probably smart, talented, and many quite senior in the company] threw a fucking fit over our ignorance."

True to their word, in 2009 Microsoft donated $100k to support partnership rights in Washington.

I agree with other commenters that this is a civil rights issue, and seriously doubt Microsoft will screw the pooch on gay rights ever again.

Social Networks

Xbox Live Now Allows Gender Expression 348

Last year we discussed news that an Xbox Live gamer was banned for identifying herself as a lesbian on her profile. Microsoft said at the time that nothing sexual in nature could appear in Gamertags or profiles. Now, they seem to have reconsidered their stance, and they've updated their Code of Conduct accordingly. Xbox Live General Manager Marc Whitten wrote: "[The update] will allow our members to more freely express their race, nationality, religion and sexual orientation in Gamertags and profiles. Under our previous policy, some of these expressions of self-identification were not allowed in Gamertags or profiles to prevent the use of these terms as insults or slurs. However we have since heard feedback from our customers that while the spirit of this approach was genuine, it inadvertently excluded a part of our Xbox LIVE community. This update also comes hand-in-hand with increased stringency and enforcement to prevent the misuse of these terms."

Microsoft Sends Flowers To Internet Explorer 6 Funeral 151

Several readers have written with a fun followup to yesterday's IE6 funeral. Apparently Microsoft, in a rare moment of self-jest, took the time to send flowers, condolences, and a promise to meet at MIX. The card reads: "Thanks for the good times IE6, see you all @ MIX when we show a little piece of IE Heaven. The Internet Explorer Team @ Microsoft."

365 Days of drinking Lo-Cal beer. = 1 Lite-year