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NASA Proposes Manned Asteroid Mission 219

eldavojohn writes "NASA has proposed a manned asteroid mission to a near earth object. They mention this being viewed as a "gap-filler" to keep the public's attention between a lunar exploration & manned mars mission. The article also cites these goals as in line with the Constellation Program. From the article, 'Furthermore, a human venture to a space rock may well accelerate precursor robotic surveys of asteroids, Schweickart observed. "Early unmanned visits to asteroids ... it's the same pattern as we did with the Moon and we're doing right now with Mars. It's all pretty logical," he told SPACE.com.'"
DRM

Second Life Businesses Close Due To Cloning 409

Warren Ellis is reporting that many Second Life vendors are closing up shop due to the recent explosion of a program called "Copybot," designed to clone other people's possessions. From the article: "The night before last, I was looking around a no-fire combat sandbox, where people design and test weapons and vehicles, when an argument broke out; a thing going by the name Nimrod Yaffle was cloning things out of other people's inventories, and claiming he could freely do it because he'd been playing with Copybot with employees of SL creator/operators Linden Lab. All hell broke loose, in the sort of drama you can only find on the internet. Linden Lab's first official response? If you feel your IP has been compromised by Copybot, we'll sort of help you lodge a DCMA complaint in the US. Businesses started shutting down moments later." Update 20:43 GMT by SM Several users have mentioned that the Second Life blog has a few thoughts on this issue and quite a few comments from users already.

Wikipedia Explodes In China 151

eldavojohn writes "The Chinese have recently been allowed to enjoy the Chinese version of Wikipedia now that the ban has been lifted. And the result is an explosion in use after being banned for a year. From the article, 'Activity on nonprofit Wikimedia Foundation's Chinese Wikipedia site has skyrocketed since its release, which Internet users in China first started reporting on Nov. 10. Since then, the number of new users registering to contribute to the site has exceeded 1,200 a day, up from an average of 300 to 400 prior to the unblocking. The number of new articles posted daily has increased 75% from the week before, with the total now surpassing 100,000, according to the foundation.' No one's sure how long this will be available to the People's Republic of China but hopefully the government will recognize that at least a significant part of the populace enjoys a Wikipedia community."

Internet Only 1% Porn 422

Eli Gottlieb writes "In what surely comes as a complete and utter surprise to everyone here, a new calculation shows that only one percent of web pages contain pornography. While the calculations were performed using data forced from Google's and Microsoft's search indices by the government, they will help the American Civil Liberties Union to keep enforcement of the Children's Online Protection Act of 1998 banned. A loss for business privacy has become a victory for free speech, even though netizens lose a beloved old proverb."

First Company Logo Visible From Space 436

Albert Sandberg writes, "KFC (Kentucky Fried Chicken) has created the first logo that is visible from space. The construction was made by 65,000 1x1-foot tiles and covers about 2 acres. The logo was built and assembled over about a month and is located in the Nevada desert near Area 51. The article also has a short video showing the construction in time-lapse. Now the aliens know where to get their slimy food :-)"

RFID Tech Infiltrating a British Institution 123

An anonymous reader writes, "According to silicon.com, Marks & Spencer — a department store as quintessentially British as tea & cake — is so pleased with its trial of RFID clothes-tagging that it's planning to roll it out nationwide. Considering that the UK's Information Commissioner recently made a lot of noise around the RFID track and trace tech, warning that Britain is 'sleepwalking into a surveillance society', Marks & Sparks seems to be setting itself up as a tweed-clad Public Enemy Number One."

Global Warming Debunker Debunked 676

Earlier this month we ran an article linking Christopher Monckton's attempt to discredit global warming. The submitter asked plaintively, "Can anyone out there go through this piece and tell me why it might be wrong?" George Monbiot has now done so. From the article: "This is a dazzling debunking of climate change science. It is also wildly wrong... In keeping with most of the articles about climate change in [the Sunday Telegraph], it is a mixture of cherry-picking, downright misrepresentation, and pseudo-scientific gibberish. But it has the virtue of being incomprehensible to anyone who is not an atmospheric physicist... As for James Hansen, he did not tell the US Congress that temperatures would rise by 0.3C by the end of the past century. He presented three possible scenarios to the US Senate — high, medium, and low. Both the high and low scenarios, he explained, were unlikely to materialise. The middle one was 'the most plausible.' As it happens, the middle scenario was almost exactly right. He did not claim, under any scenario, that sea levels would rise by several feet by 2000." And on the political front, the only major ally for Pres. Bush's stand on global warming, Australia's Prime Minister John Howard, is now willing to look at carbon trading.

Biggest IT Disaster Ever? 405

lizzyben writes, "Baseline has a major story about a major IT disaster in the UK: 'In 2002, the English government embarked on a $12 billion effort to transform its health-care system with information technology. But the country's oversight agency now puts that figure at $24 billion, and two Members of Parliament say the project is "sleepwalking toward disaster"... In scale, the project... (NPfIT) is overwhelming. Initiated in 2002, the NPfIT is a 10-year project to build new computer systems that would connect more than 100,000 doctors, 380,000 nurses and 50,000 other health-care professionals; allow for the electronic storage and retrieval of patient medical records; permit patients to set up appointments via their computers; and let doctors electronically transmit prescriptions to local pharmacies.'" An Infoworld article from earlier this year sketches some of the all-time greatest IT meltdowns.

Machine Gun Sentry Robot Unveiled 845

mpthompson writes "Samsung has partnered with a Korean university to develop a robotic sentry equipped with a 5.5mm machine gun. Meant for deployment along the DMZ between North and South Korea, the $200,000 robot employs sophisticated pattern recognition software for targeting humans. No three laws here, but the robot does include a speaker that can be used to politely issue a warning before taking the target out. The promotional video is both scary and funny at the same time."
Space

Space Elevators Could Be Lethal 428

Maggie McKee writes, "A new study reports that passengers on space elevators of current design could be killed by radiation. Even traveling at 200 kilometers per hour, passengers would spend several days in the Van Allen radiation belts, long enough to kill them." Looks like the elevator scientists will get this one solved before liftoff.

Google Envisions Free Cell Phones For All 164

Salvance writes "Google's CEO Eric Schmidt envisions a day when all cell phones are free if the user agrees to watch targeted ads. While he provides no specific plans for Google to give away phones, the implication is that he expects such moves in the future given Google's current pilot successes with delivering text ads on phones." From the article: "Schmidt also said his company was working on how to allow users to maintain basic control of their personal data. Currently, Google stores consumer data on hundreds of thousands of its own computers in order to provide additional services to individual users. The company is looking to allow consumers to export their Web search history or e-mail archives and move them to other sites, if they so choose."

Slashdot Posting Bug Infuriates Haggard Admins 262

Last night we crossed over 16,777,216 comments in the database. The wise amongst you might note that this number is 2^24, or in MySQLese an unsigned mediumint. Unfortunately, like 5 years ago we changed our primary keys in the comment table to unsigned int (32 bits, or 4.1 billion) but neglected to change the index that handles parents. We're awesome! Fixing is a simple ALTER TABLE statement... but on a table that is 16 million rows long, our system will take 3+ hours to do it, during which time there can be no posting. So today, we're disabling threading and will enable it again later tonight. Sorry for the inconvenience. We shall flog ourselves appropriately. Update: 11/10 12:52 GMT by J : It's fixed.

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