carmendrahl writes "Eukaryotic cells, which are defined by having a nucleus, rarely grow larger than 10 micrometers in diameter. Scientists know a few reasons why this is so. A new study suggests another reason — gravity. Studying egg cells from the frog Xenopus laevis, which reach as big as 1 mm across and are common research tools, Princeton researchers Marina Feric and Clifford Brangwynne noticed that the insides of the eggs' nuclei settled to the bottom when they disabled a mesh made from the cytoskeleton protein actin. They think the frog eggs evolved the mesh to counteract gravity, which according to their calculations becomes significant if cells get bigger than 10 micrometers in diameter."
McGruber writes "Today, Former FBI agent Donald John Sachtleben has agreed to plead guilty to leaking secret government information about a bomb plot to the Associated Press. In May, Sachtleben agreed to plead guilty to unrelated charges of possessing and distributing child pornography, and to pay restitution to an identified victim portrayed in the images and videos he allegedly possessed." The deal includes a prison sentence of three years and seven months, and "If accepted by a judge, the prison sentence would be the longest ever handed down in a civilian court for a leak of classified information to a reporter."
darthcamaro writes "It was ten years ago this past Sunday September 22nd, that the Red Hat sponsored Fedora project was born. The first Fedora release didn't come until six weeks later in November of 2003. Over the last 10 years the project has transformed itself from being entirely controlled by Red Hat to being a true community effort. In a video interview, the current Fedora Project Leader, Robyn Bergeron talks about the past and the future of Fedora. 'We need to think about how we're actually making the sausage,' Bergeron said. 'I think we can try and abstract and automate the things we have to do a lot, so our really awesome people's brains can be applied to solving problems that aren't yet automate-able.'"
dcblogs writes "Northeast Utilities has told IT employees that it is considering outsourcing IT work to India-based offshore firms, putting as many as 400 IT jobs at risk. The company is saying a final decision has not been made. But Conn. State Rep. and House Majority Leader Joe Aresimowicz, who is trying to prevent or limit the outsourcing move, says it may be a done deal. NU may be prompting its best IT employees to head to the exits. It also creates IT security risks from upset workers. The heads-up to employees in advance of a firm plan is 'kind of mind mindbogglingly stupid,' said David Lewis, who heads a Connecticut-based human resources consulting firm OperationsInc, especially 'since this is IT of all places.' The utility's move makes sense, however, if is it trying to encourage attrition to reduce severance costs." Because it's worked so well for others in the past.
An anonymous reader writes "Google today announced it is dropping Netscape Plugin Application Programming Interface support in Chrome. The company will be phasing out support over the coming year, starting with blocking webpage-instantiated plugins in January 2014. Google has looked at anonymous Chrome usage data and estimates that just six NPAPI plug-ins were used by more than 5 percent of users in the last month. To 'avoid disruption' (read: attempt to minimize the confusion) for users, Google will temporarily whitelist the most popular NPAPI plugins: Silverlight, Unity, Google Earth, Google Talk, and Facebook Video." Google offers NaCl as an alternative, and "Moving forward, our goal is to evolve the standards-based web platform to cover the use cases once served by NPAPI."
colinneagle writes "Members of an FAA advisory panel are reportedly meeting this week to make changes to the ban on the use of electronic devices on an airplane during takeoff and landing. The new regulations will allow the use of electronic devices to access content stored on the devices, including e-books, music, podcasts, and video. Sending emails, connecting to Wi-Fi, and making phone calls will still be prohibited. The announcement is expected to be made later this month, and the rules put into effect next year, according to the report."
Dputiger writes "Microsoft has unveiled both the Surface 2 and Surface 2 Pro, updating the former with a Tegra 4 processor and the latter with a new Haswell chip. Among the additional improvements are a more comfortable kickstand with two height settings, 1080p displays for both devices, USB 3.0 support, better battery life, and a higher resolution camera. Pricing for the 32GB Surface without a Touch or Type Cover is set at $449."
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Bruce Schneier writes that lots of people discount the seriousness of the NSA's actions by saying that it's just metadata — after all the NSA isn't really listening in on everybody's calls — they're just keeping track of who you call. 'Imagine you hired a detective to eavesdrop on someone,' writes Schneier. 'He might plant a bug in their office. He might tap their phone.' That's the data. 'Now imagine you hired that same detective to surveil that person. The result would be details of what he did: where he went, who he talked to, what he looked at, what he purchased — how he spent his day. That's all metadata.' When the government collects metadata on the entire country, they put everyone under surveillance says Schneier. 'Metadata equals surveillance; it's that simple.'"
coondoggie writes "With an eye toward letting drones share the nation's common airspace, the Air Force has set out to find the technology that will let unmanned aircraft sense and avoid other airplanes in flight. The ability to sense and avoid — common on all manned aircraft that fly the national airspace — is one of the trickier issues for drones which do not support such technology. It will be a major hurdle to jump as drone vendors and others press for common drone access to national airspace."
NewYorkCountryLawyer writes "In a recent 56-page decision (PDF) in Capitol Records v. Vimeo, LLC, a federal court in Manhattan found Vimeo to be covered by the Digital Millenium Copyright Act, rejecting Capitol Records' arguments that it was not entitled to the statute's "safe harbor". However, Vimeo is not yet out of the woods in this particular case, as the Court found factual issues — requiring a trial — as to 10 of the videos on the question of whether they were uploaded at the direction of Vimeo users, and as to 55 of the videos whether Vimeo had actual knowledge, or red flag knowledge, as the existence of an infringement."
minty3 writes "Scientists say they used the pandemic as a 'natural experiment' to discover how the body's immune system builds resistance to the flu. The research, published in the journal Nature Medicine, showed how certain immune cells helped some avoid the severe illness. 'Our findings suggest that by making the body produce more of this specific type of CD8 T cell, you can protect people against symptomatic illness,' said study leader Professor Ajit Lalvani, from the National Heart and Lung Institute at Imperial College London, in a statement. 'This provides the blueprint for developing a universal flu vaccine.'"
First time accepted submitter gbrambilla writes "A problem every system administrator has to face sooner or later is to improve the performance of the infrastructure that he administers. This is especially true if the infrastructure is a Citrix XenApp farm that publishes applications to the users, that starts complaining as soon as those applications become slow. A couple of weeks ago I was asked to publish a new ERP application and suddenly all the hosted applications started to suffer performance problems... after some basic tests I looked on Amazon for an help and found the book I'm reviewing: Citrix XenApp Performance Essentials, by Luca Dentella, is a practical guide that helps system administrators to identify bottlenecks, solve performance problems and optimize XenApp farms thanks to best-practices and real-world examples." Read below for the rest of gbrambilla's review.
necro81 writes "Hyperlinks are not forever. Link rot occurs when a source you've linked to no longer exists — or worse, exists in a different state than when the link was originally made. Even permalinks aren't necessarily permanent if a domain goes silent or switches ownership. According to new research from Harvard Law, some 49% of hyperlinks in Supreme Court documents no longer point to the correct original content. A second study on link rot from Yale stresses that for the Court footnotes, citations, parenthetical asides, and historical context mean as much as the text of an opinion itself, which makes link rot a threat to future scholarship."
Nerval's Lobster writes "A consortium led by financial-holding company Fairfax Financial has agreed to acquire BlackBerry for $4.7 billion. Under the terms of the agreement, Fairfax Financial will acquire every BlackBerry stock-share it doesn't already own. Further details are pending, including future management structure and whether BlackBerry will continue with its stated intent to lay off thousands of employees over the next few months. 'The Special Committee is seeking the best available outcome for the Company's constituents, including for shareholders,' Barbara Stymiest, chair of BlackBerry's Board of Directors, wrote in a statement. 'Importantly, the go-shop process provides an opportunity to determine if there are alternatives superior to the present proposal from the Fairfax consortium.' A special committee formed by BlackBerry's Board of Directors had spent the past few weeks looking for a potential acquirer. BlackBerry has seen its market-share crumble as businesses and consumers embrace rivals such as Apple's iPhone and Google Android devices."
Today Valve Software announced SteamOS, a Linux-based gaming operating system designed for, as Valve puts it, "living room machines." They say, "In SteamOS, we have achieved significant performance increases in graphics processing, and we're now targeting audio performance and reductions in input latency at the operating system level. Game developers are already taking advantage of these gains as they target SteamOS for their new releases." One major feature they're touting is the ability to use the SteamOS machine to stream video games from other Windows and Mac computers in the house to your TV. They mention media streaming as well, but without much detail. "With SteamOS, 'openness' means that the hardware industry can iterate in the living room at a much faster pace than they've been able to. Content creators can connect directly to their customers. Users can alter or replace any part of the software or hardware they want. Gamers are empowered to join in the creation of the games they love. SteamOS will continue to evolve, but will remain an environment designed to foster these kinds of innovation."
Bennett Haselton writes: "While nothing can really 'prepare' you for your first time at Burning Man, there are a few simple steps that can eliminate a lot of the stress. Unfortunately it can be hard to get information out of the 10-year veterans about how to do things the easy way (some of them probably view the 'easy way' as 'ruining the whole point'). So here's some advice instead from someone who just got back from their first time, and who likes to take the path of least resistance." Keep reading for the rest of Bennett's Burning Man advice.
theodp writes "This weekend's NY Times is all-about-the-comments. First, Michael Erard recounts the history of Web site comments and explains how their technical origins have shaped the actual commentary we've come to expect as usual today. On dealing with people-behaving-badly, Erard writes, 'Only a few [high-traffic sites] seem to have tried user-moderation systems like the one developed by Slashdot's creator, Rob Malda. Founded in 1997, Slashdot rapidly began to suffer from what Malda called 'signal-to-noise-ratio problems' as tens of thousands of users showed up. Rather than embracing the chaos (which was a hallmark of Usenet, another digital channel of communications) or locking things down with moderators (which e-mail lists did), Malda figured out a way for users to moderate one another. Moderation became like jury duty, something you were called to do.' Next, NY Times community manager Bassey Etim, who oversees 13 comment moderators, offers up his comments on comments, agreeing that 'the comments are where the real America is.' Finally, there's Gawker's next-generation Kinja, which aims to further blur the lines between stories, blog entries, and comments."
Nerval's Lobster writes "Apple managed to sell nine million iPhones over the weekend, with the company claiming its initial supply of high-end iPhone 5S units completely sold out. Apple didn't sell out of the new iPhone 5C, its plastic-cased (and cheaper) alternative to the iPhone 5S; models are still available for shipment within 24 hours from Apple's online store. And the iPhone 5S selling out is no surprise: in the weeks ahead of the new iPhones' launch, rumors persisted that the initial production run of the device was relatively small in scope, which would make it far easier for Apple to sell out of its first batch. But how many iPhone 5C units did Apple actually manage to sell? In August, KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo suggested that Apple would produce just over 5 million iPhone 5S units ahead of the device's launch weekend; if that number's accurate, and Apple sold every single one, it would mean Apple sold roughly 4 million iPhone 5C units in order to reach that 9-million-sold figure for both models. That's an impressive figure for any smartphone, of course, and it could quiet some of the naysayers who have spent the past several months suggesting that Apple's best years are behind it."
KentuckyFC writes "Many types of small spider release threads into the air which then lift and carry them significant distances. Biologists have found them at altitudes of up to 4 km. The conventional thinking is that the threads catch thermal air currents which then carry them away but this does not explain how spiders perform their trick even when there is little or no wind. Now one physicist says the explanation is the atmosphere's natural electric field which has an average downward-pointing magnitude of 120 Volts per metre. He calculates that a strand of silk need only gain a negative charge of around 30 nanoCoulombs to lift a spider. That explains how the spiders take off on windless days, how they reach such great heights and how several strands can lift heavier spiders of up to 100 milligrams."
schliz writes "A one percentage point increase in an inflation forecast brings about a 75% rise in laughter, according to an American University PhD student, who studied transcripts of the Federal Open Market Committee at the Federal Reserve. Laughter usually comes in response to witticisms during a meeting at the time of the inflation forecast, and has been shown to be a mechanism for coping with the stress of a perceived threat."
cold fjord writes "The Hill reports, 'The National Security Agency has posted a job opening for a privacy and civil liberties officer. The position was first mentioned last month, when President Obama outlined his plans to bring more transparency to the NSA surveillance programs. A White House press release said the agency was "taking steps to put in place a full time Civil Liberties and Privacy Officer."' — From the NSA job posting: 'The NSA Civil Liberties & Privacy Officer (CLPO) is conceived as a completely new role, combining the separate responsibilities of NSA's existing Civil Liberties and Privacy (CL/P) protection programs under a single official. The CLPO will serve as the primary advisor to the Director of NSA for ensuring that privacy is protected and civil liberties are maintained by all of NSA's missions, programs, policies and technologies. This new position is focused on the future, designed to directly enhance decision making and to ensure that CL/P protections continue to be baked into NSA's future operations, technologies, tradecraft, and policies. The NSA CLPO will consult regularly with the Office of the Director of National Intelligence CLPO, privacy and civil liberties officials from the Department of Defense and the Department of Justice, as well as other U.S. government, private sector, public advocacy groups and foreign partners. '"
theodp writes "Nate West has a nice essay on the importance of whimsy in learning to program. "It wasn't until I was writing Ruby that I found learning to program to be fun," recalls West. "What's funny is it really doesn't take much effort to be more enjoyable than the C++ examples from earlier...just getting to write gets.chomp and puts over cout > made all the difference. Ruby examples kept me engaged just long enough that I could find Why's Poignant Guide to Ruby." So, does the future of introductory computer programming books and MOOCs lie in professional, business-like presentations, or does a less-polished production with some genuine goofy enthusiasm help the programming medicine go down?"
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "ZDNet reports that Oracle's Larry Elison kicked off Oracle OpenWorld 2013 promising a 100x speed-up querying OTLP database or data warehouse batches by means of a 'dual format' for both row and column in-memory formats for the same data and table. Using Oracle's 'dual-format in-memory database' option, every transaction is recorded in row format simultaneously with writing the same data into a columnar database. 'This is pure in-memory columnar technology,' said Ellison, explaining that means no logging and very little overhead on data changes while the CPU core scans local in-memory columns. Ellison followed up with the introduction of Oracle's new M6-32 'Big Memory Machine,' touted to be the fastest in-memory machine in the world, hosting 32 terabytes of DRAM memory and up to 384 processor cores with 8-threads per core."
angry tapir writes "A team of developers has launched a new crowdfunding platform — Drupalfund.us — that's designed to help accelerate development work on the open-source Drupal CMS, as well as potentially fund new training material and other projects of interest to community members. I had a long-ish chat to one of the co-founders about the goals of the platform and how crowdfunding can be used to push forward open source development."
We mentioned recently the rebound in Arctic ice levels compared to those found at the end of last summer; now that the 2013 minimum has been reached, Forbes' Alex Knapp points out that 2013's figures still show the 6th lowest ice extent in recorded history. "This pattern is expected to continue as average global temperatures continue to rise, leading to further Arctic Ice melts. The volume of sea ice – that is, how thick the Arctic ice is, has also been steadily declining over the same period. And although the charts above only go back to the 80s, the loss of sea ice began several decades prior to that. In 2011, a paper published in Nature estimating Arctic ice extent for the past 1450 years shows a sharp decline in Arctic ice beginning in the mid-20th century."