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Submission Summary: 0 pending, 143 declined, 56 accepted (199 total, 28.14% accepted)

Submission + - Tom Baker: Dr. Who better than real life

smooth wombat writes: With his long scarf and love of jelly babies, Baker's fourth Doctor remains one of the most instantly recognisable incarnations of the Time Lord. He is also the show's longest-serving star, having played the role from 1974 to 1981. He discussed his time with the series, how he got the role, the fan reactions (then and now) and related matters with the BBC.

Baker admits he never watched the show back then, while he was in it or even now, though he is looking forward to the upcoming 50th anniversary episode on November 23rd.

Submission + - Confirmed: pop music too loud, sounds all the same (nbcnews.com) 1

smooth wombat writes: For some time, people have claimed that modern pop music is inherently too loud and bland. Rejoice for it has been confirmed, you were right all along.

Using an archive known as the Million Song Dataset, researchers at the Spanish National Research Council ran music from the last 50 years through some complex algorithms and found that pop songs have become intrinsically louder and more bland in terms of the chords, melodies and types of sound used. Artificial intelligence specialist Joan Serra noted, "We found evidence of a progressive homogenization of the musical discourse."

Submission + - Research shows IE users are dumber (minyanville.com)

smooth wombat writes: Many a joke is made at the expense of people who use Internet Explorer for their web browsing activities. You may now add that they are also dumber than those who use other browsers. As the graph on the page shows, those who use Internet Explorer are not only dumber, on average, than those who use other browsers, but that they are even dumber than they were five years ago (when the last survey took place).

It should be noted that those who use a browser other than IE have had their average IQ increase over the same time period. To view the entire report, use this link (pdf).

Submission + - (The real) Darth Vader speaks (bbc.co.uk)

smooth wombat writes: In conjunction with the auction of an original Darth Vader costume from the time of The Empire Strikes Back, the BBC interviewed the man behind the mask, David Prowse.

When asked if he had any idea of how successful the film would become, Prowse replies:

"I thought I was doing a load of rubbish, I really did," he laughs. "You were wandering round looking at all these funny creatures and fantastic sets, but you had no idea what it would look like at the finish."

Prowse also notes he and James Earl Jones, the voice of Vader, have never met but have spoken on the phone a few times.

Submission + - UK newspaper web sites to become nearly invisible

smooth wombat writes: Various web sites have tried to make readers pay for access to select parts of their sites. Now, in a bid to counter what he claims is theft of his material, Rupert Murdoch's Times and Sunday Times web sites will become essentially invisible to web users. Except for their homepages, no stories will show up on Google.

Starting in late June, Google and other search engines will be prevented from indexing and linking to stories. Registered users will still get free access until the cut off date.

Submission + - The Road Ahead, by Bill Gates, 15 years later (theatlantic.com)

smooth wombat writes: It's been 15 years since Bill Gates wrote his book, The Road Ahead, in which he talks about how technology would shape the future. In the intervening years, technology has changed most aspects of our lives for better or worse. So how did Bill Gates do on his predictions? The Atlantic takes a look at the good and bad of some of his prognostications. Overall, it appears Bill let optimism guide his thoughts, except when it came to the Internet

Submission + - How porn drives tech

smooth wombat writes: We have all heard how it was the adult industry which initially drove vcr sales and how it is the adult industry which readily embraces new technology. This article from CNN talks about all that and more, including the company who says it is able to bypass Apple's iPad restrictions on adult material. There is even some talk about using AI in the future to have interaction between the porn star and user.

As a side note, the article mentions a new adult movie in the works titled, "3D Zen and Sex" which the producer says "There will be many close-ups. It will look as if the actresses are only a few centimeters from the audience."

Submission + - FCC loses Net Neutrality case to Comcast

smooth wombat writes: The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled 3-0 that the FCC does not have the authority to require internet providers to provide equal treatment to internet traffic over their networks.

Comcast had challenged a 2008 FCC order which banned it from blocking the use of BitTorrent by some of its subscribers. It claimed it was throttling traffic to protect all of its users from network congestion.

The FCC had argued the rule was intended to prevent providers from favoring one online content provider over another and had used net neutrality guidelines in implementing the rule.

For the legal reasoning behind the ruling, see this article from Leagle.

Submission + - EMI cannot unbundle Pink Floyd songs

smooth wombat writes: Before the advent of iTunes and MP3s, EMI and Pink Floyd entered into a contract which stated that EMI could not unbundle individual songs from their original album settings. This was insisted upon by the members of Pink Floyd who wanted to retain artistic control of their works which they considered "seamless" pieces of music.

However, with the advent of digital downloads, EMI has been selling individual songs through its online store. Pink Floyd sued, claiming EMI was violating the contract, whereas EMI said the contract only applied to physical albums, not Internet sales.

Judge Andrew Morritt backed the band, saying the contract protected "the artistic integrity of the albums." Judge Morritt also ruled EMI is "not entitled to exploit recordings by online distribution or by any other means other than the complete original album without Pink Floyd's consent."

Submission + - 40 years ago, the Internet was born 1

smooth wombat writes: October 29, 1969. A day that will live in infamy. On that day in history, the first known message was sent over a computer network. The person who witnessed the 'birth' of Internet? Leonard Kleinrock, a professor of computer science at the University of California-Los Angeles.

CNN has a short interview with Kleinrock which discusses the importance of his message as well as his take on the pace of modern technology, privacy, his continued work on the development of the internet and other related issues.

That first message sent? It was intended to be l-o-g and sent to a computer at Stanford Research Institute, but at the moment he sent the letter g, the SRI host crashed so all that was officially sent was lo.

Submission + - Artist destroyed evidence in fair use lawsuit (msn.com)

smooth wombat writes: As a follow-up to this story, artist Shepard Fairey has now admitted he used the original picture the AP claimed he used as the basis for his iconic red, white and blue image of Obama, underlined with the caption "HOPE" and not a different photo as he initially claimed. Fairey said that he tried to cover up his error by submitting false images and deleting others. As a result, his attorneys have said they intend to withdraw from the case and said the artist had misled them by fabricating information and destroying other material.

At the Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh on Saturday night for the opening of an exhibit of his works, Fairey said that the error should not be viewed as "premeditated and sinister."

Submission + - New piece of human evolution puzzle unveiled (time.com) 1

smooth wombat writes: "It's taken 15 years, but in the October 2nd special edition of the magazine Science, 11 papers by 47 authors from 10 countries reveal their findings on the newest addition to the human evolutionary tree. Officially named Ardipithecus ramidus, but nicknamed Ardi, the potential human ancestor lived 1.4 million before the celebrated Lucy skeleton and is also more complete with 125 pieces of its skeleton found.

An interesting aspect of the skeleton is that it bears little resemblance to humans closest living primate ancestor, chimpanzees. As anthropologist C. Owen Lovejoy states in the article:

"It's clear that humans are not merely a slight modification of chimps, despite their genomic similarity.""


Submission + - NASA running low on fuel for space exploration (msn.com)

smooth wombat writes: With the end of the Cold War came warmer relations with old adversaries, increased trade and a world less worried about nuclear war. It also brought with it an unexpected downside: lack of nuclear fuel to power deep space probes. Without this fuel, probes beyond Jupiter won't work because there isn't enough sunlight to use solar panels which probes closer to the sun use.

The fuel NASA relies on to power deep space probes is plutonium-238. This isotope is the result of nuclear weaponry and since the United States has not made a nuclear device in 20 years, the supply has run out. For now, NASA is using Soviet supplies but they too are almost exhausted.

It is estimated it will cost at least $150 million to resume making the 11 pounds per year that is needed for space probes.


Submission + - GM and Segway team up (autoblog.com)

smooth wombat writes: While GM might be on the verge of bankruptcy, it has teamed with Segway to produce a prototype product which goes by the name of P.U.M.A., or Personal Urban Mobility and Access. Think of it as a souped-up Segway with an enclosed two-seat compartment. It can travel up to 35 miles per hour and go 35 miles on a single charge.

The price of the vehicle is estimated to be about one quarter of a traditional car. In addition, technology will allow vehicle-to-vehicle communication to help avoid traffic problems and potentially allow the vehicle to navigate itself through city streets. The estimated date for final development is sometime in 2012.


Submission + - Growing a flower in lunar gravity (msn.com)

smooth wombat writes: If everything goes according to plan, an experiment designed to test if plants can grow in the limited lunar gravity will hitch a ride with a competitor for the Google Lunar X Prize. The press release from Paragon Space Development Corporation outlines its partnership with Odyssey Moon to be the first to grow a plant on another world. In addition to the experiment, Paragon will be helping Odyssey with the thermal control system and lander design. To win the prize, Odyssey must land its craft on the lunar surface by the end of 2014.

More details about the experiment, and obstacles to overcome, may be found in this MSNBC article.

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