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Comment: Asimov: "Not as We Know it" (Score 1) 221

I'll confess immediately that I didn't read TFA. I just want to drop this link to a nice Isaac Asimov essay, back from 1962:
Not as We Know it – The Chemistry of Life

Remember that Asimov was a professor of biochemistry. In the article, he investigates alternatives to the chemistry of life as we know it. He comes up with the following list:

[H]ere, then, is my list of life chemistries, spanning the temperature range from near red heat down to near absolute zero:
1. fluorosilicone in fluorosilicone
2. fluorocarbon in sulfur
3.*nucleic acid/protein (O) in water
4. nucleic acid/protein (N) in ammonia
5. lipid in methane
6. lipid in hydrogen
Of this half dozen, the third only is life-as-we-know-it. Lest you miss it, I've marked it with an asterisk.

When you read the article, you may want to skip the first bit and start from about the paragraph "Well, that's what I want to discuss."

Comment: "Anonymous" is not anonymous at all (Score 1) 95

by phaunt (#47448329) Attached to: Bot Tweets Anonymous Wikipedia Edits From Capitol Hill

Many people don't seem to realise that by editing Wikipedia anonymously, you're giving away your IP address for everyone to see. I'd expected a comment to that effect here but didn't, so I'll be the first to post it.

In that sense, editing with a registered account is much more anonymous. Only some Wikipedia staff members can look up your IP address, so edits from Capitol Hill using an account won't be picked up by this twitter bot. Also, those staff members (should) have to follow procedures before they can look up your IP.

Science

Low Levels of Toxic Gas Found To Encourage Plant Growth 103

Posted by samzenpus
from the what-doesn't-kill-you-makes-you-stronger dept.
olsmeister writes "Hydrogen Sulfide is a toxic, flammable, foul-smelling gas that some theorize may have been at least partially responsible for some of Earth's mass extinctions, including the Permian-Triassic event, which killed well over half of the species on the planet. Now, thanks to a fortuitous accident, doctoral student at the University of Washington seems to have discovered that very low doses of the gas seems to greatly enhance plant growth, causing plants to germinate more quickly and grow larger. The finding could have far reaching implications for both food and biofuel production."

Comment: This guy at seclists.org nailed it (Score 3, Interesting) 65

by phaunt (#42967471) Attached to: Notification of Server Breach Mistaken For Phishing Email

Michael Sinatra over at seclists.org had the following to say:

This should be a lesson to all of us, since EDUCAUSE is definitely not alone here: We all do regular, legitimate business in ways that is sometimes indistinguishable from phishing, at least to regular users. That needs to stop. Email marketers and analytics junkies will not like to hear this, but we need to put an end to embedded email links that are redirected through other systems. IMO, we should put an end to *all* legitimate links in emails; instead have a business portal with all of the links to surveys, training sites, etc., and have notification emails for when new things appear on the portal. In addition, we could modify our SSO sites so that they alert users when they need to take care of something that we would normally use email for which to notify the user. Once that's done, we can assure users that we will NEVER ask them to click on a link in an email, just like we currently remind them that we never ask them for passwords.

If that is "too hard" and/or the analytics stuff is "too valuable" then we need to simply accept the risk that our users will get caught in phishing attacks. The bad guys have figured out that it is very easy to mimic our business practices, and they have gotten very good at doing it. Unless we change those practices, they will find us to be easy pickings.

Comment: TFA got the probabilities backward (Score 4, Informative) 110

by phaunt (#42759495) Attached to: Online Ads Are More Dangerous Than Porn, Cisco Says

The summary, and the Security Week article, write that "Users are more 21 times more likely to get hit with malware from online shopping sites than if they'd gone to a counterfeit software site".

Cisco's report says that "Online shopping sites are 21 times more likely to deliver malicious content than counterfeit software sites."

Those statements are not equivalent. Online shopping sites have many more visitors than counterfeit software sites, so they have more opportunity to deliver malware. The same goes for the factor of 27 for search engines.

Also, it's hard to check the factor of 182 for adult sites, since the report doesn't include that number, or in fact even the words "porn" or "adult".

Comment: See this comparison. Wikipedia is moving, too. (Score 5, Interesting) 116

by phaunt (#42655879) Attached to: Fedora 19 Nixing MySQL in Favor of MariaDB
Here is a comparison of MariaDB vs MySQL.
Probably most important to Fedora is this:

Truly Open Source

  • All code in MariaDB is released under GPL, LPGL or BSD. MariaDB does not have closed source modules like the one you can find in MySQL enterprise edition. In fact, all the closed source features in MySQL 5.5 enterprise edition are found in the MariaDB open source version.
  • MariaDB includes test cases for all fixed bugs. Oracle doesn't provide test cases for new bugs fixed in MySQL 5.5.
  • All bugs and development plans are public.
  • MariaDB is developed by the community in true open source spirit.

Wikipedia, too, is moving from MySQL to MariaDB.

Databases

Fedora 19 Nixing MySQL in Favor of MariaDB 116

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the take-that-mr-ellison dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Red Hat developers are planning to replace MySQL with MariaDB in Fedora 19. For the next Fedora update, the MariaDB fork would replace MySQL and the official MySQL package would be discontinued after some time. The reasoning for this move is the uncertainty about Oracle's support of MySQL as an open-source project and moves to make the database more closed." Update: 01/22 13:47 GMT by T : Note: "Nixing" may be a bit strong; this move has been proposed, but is not yet officially decided.

Comment: Heinlein "predicted" this (Score 2) 111

by phaunt (#42544279) Attached to: Fireflies Bring Us Brighter LEDs

In 1940, Robert A. Heinlein (writing under the pseudonym of Lyle Monroe) published a story called "Let There Be Light" where the firefly's bioluminosity whas studied leading to the development of "light panels", kinda-sorta predicting LEDs. It's a nice development that now the firefly is being studied to improve those LEDs. Though the mechanism is totally different of course.

The story is apparently in the public domain now, available here.

Advertising

French ISP Blocking Web Ads By Default 317

Posted by Soulskill
from the hasn't-yet-surrendered-to-pressure-from-ad-suppliers dept.
New submitter GavrocheLeGnou writes "The french ISP 'Free.fr' is now blocking ads from Adsense and other providers by default for all its subscribers. The option can be turned off globally, but there's no whitelist (Google translation of French original). From the article: 'Because the service doesn’t offer a whitelist (contrary to Adblock, a service I’ve used for years), this means that it is an all or nothing choice, activated by default to block everything. And since it is not only internet, but TV and phone lines running through the FreeBox, it’s possible that, if left unchecked, Free could beginning blocking TV ads, or phone calls from known spam hotlines. While this seems like a potentially beneficial service, there’s no doubt that it’s biting at the heels of several sectors who rely on advertisement to make money, let alone the advertisers themselves who pay to reach an audience, and are blocked at the door.'"

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