Dainsanefh writes with news that the new Congress isn't wasting any time getting back to work. From the article: "Lawmakers are still positioning themselves for a debt ceiling fight in a few months, but one Republican congressman wants to snuff out a particular idea immediately: the U.S. Treasury minting $1 trillion platinum coins to avert a debt ceiling showdown. Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.) has introduced a bill to specifically ban President Barack Obama from minting the coins. The trillion-dollar coin has been previously discussed on Slashdot:"
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sciencehabit writes "Imagine life on a spaceship headed to Mars. You and your five crewmates work, exercise, and eat together every day under the glow of fluorescent lights. As the months pass, the sun gets dimmer and communication with Earth gets slower. What does this do to your body? According to an Earth-based experiment in which six volunteers stayed in a windowless 'spaceship' for nearly a year and a half, the monotony, tight living space, and lack of natural light will probably make you sleep more and work less. Space, for all intents and purposes, turns you into a couch potato."
Matt Heusser, who makes a good living as an independent IT consultant. He says many other people who are currently pounding out code or performing other routine computer-oriented tasks can become independent, too. He's not selling a course or anything here, just passing on some advice to fellow Slashdot readers. He's written up some of this advice in a series of four articles: Getting People to Throw Money At You; How to become IT Talent; That Last Step to Become ‘Talent’ In IT; and The Schwan’s Solution. He also gave a speech last November titled Building your reputation through creative disobedience. (The link is to a 50 minute video of that speech.) Anyway, we figure quite a few Slashdot readers are at least as smart as Matt and may want to take some career steps similar to the ones he has taken. In today's video, he gives you some ideas about how to stop being an IT worker and how to become IT talent instead.
Nerval's Lobster writes "Back in April 2010, the Library of Congress agreed to archive four years' worth of public Tweets. Even by the standards of the nation's most famous research library, the goal was an ambitious one. The librarians needed to build a sustainable system for receiving and preserving an enormous number of Tweets, then organize that dataset by date. At the time, Twitter also agreed to provide future public Tweets to the Library under the same terms, meaning any system would need the ability to scale up to epic size. The resulting archive is around 300 TB in size. But there's still a huge challenge: the Library needs to make that huge dataset accessible to researchers in a way they can actually use. Right now, even a single query of the 2006-2010 archive takes as many as 24 hours to execute, which limits researchers' ability to do work in a timely way."
Deathspawner writes "If there's one thing that each CES can bring, it's a handful or products that manage to drop jaws everywhere. Kingston's latest flash drive series, DataTraveler HyperX Predator 3.0, manages to be one of those. It's aimed at folks who actually need mass storage on the go at speeds that mechanical hard drives cannot offer. Available soon will be a 512GB model, followed by the 1TB later this quarter. The drive features read speeds of 240MB/s and write speeds of 160MB/s — not quite desktop SSD speeds, but much faster than a mechanical hard drive, and with vastly reduced latencies due to it being flash storage. Not surprisingly, pricing has not yet been discussed."
kkleiner writes "A German company has brought us one step closer to the kinds of shootouts only seen in Sci-Fi films. Düsseldorf-based Rheinmetall Defense recently tested a 50kW, high-energy laser at their proving ground facility in Switzerland. First, the system sliced through a 15mm- (~0.6 inches) thick steel girder from a kilometer away. Then, from a distance of two kilometers, it shot down a handful of drones as they nose-dived toward the surface at 50 meters per second."
The Bad Astronomer writes "A new study finds that there may be 100 billion alien planets in the Milky Way alone, with 17 billion of them the size of Earth. Announcements like this have been made before, but this new research is more robust than previous studies, using data from the Kepler planet-hunting spacecraft over a longer period and analyzing it in a more statistically solid way (PDF). They also found that smaller planets are not as picky about their host stars, with terrestrial planets forming around stars like the Sun or as small as tiny, cool red dwarfs with equal ease."
An anonymous reader writes "With the eyes of the tech world fixed on CES this week, Apple this morning conveniently decided to issue a press release announcing that the iTunes App Store has now topped over 40 billion downloads. That's an incredible feat, to be sure, but even more incredible is that nearly half of those downloads occurred in 2012. In December alone, iOS users downloaded over 2 billion applications, setting a monthly record in the process."
2muchcoffeeman writes "The cause of the great increase in violent crime that started in the 1960s and peaked in the 1990s may have been isolated: lead. This leads directly to the reason for the sharp decline in violent crime since then: lead abatement programs and especially the ban of tetraethyl lead as an anti-knock agent in gasoline starting in 1996. There are three reasons why this makes sense. First, the statistics correlate almost perfectly. Second, it holds true worldwide with no exceptions. Every country studied has shown this same strong correlation between leaded gasoline and violent crime rates. Third, the chemistry and neuroscience of lead gives us good reason to believe the connection. Decades of research has shown that lead poisoning causes significant and probably irreversible damage to the brain. Not only does lead degrade cognitive abilities and lower intelligence, it also degrades a person's ability to make decisions by damaging areas of the brain responsible for emotional regulation, impulse control, attention, verbal reasoning, and mental flexibility. Another thing that stands out: if you overlay a map showing areas with higher incidence of violent crime with one showing lead contamination, there's a strikingly high correlation."
Orome1 writes "A group of researchers from the Institute of Telecommunications of the Warsaw University of Technology have devised a way to send and receive messages hidden in the data packets used to represent silences during a Skype call. After learning that Skype transmits voice data in 130-byte packets and the silences in 70-byte packets, the researchers came upon the idea of using the latter to conceal the sending and receiving of additional messages."
mikejuk writes "Every January it is traditional to compare the state of the languages as indicated by the TIOBE index. So what's up and what's down this year? There have been headlines that C# is the language of the year, but this is based on a new language index. What the TIOBE index shows is that Java is no longer number one as it has been beaten by C — yes C not C++ or even Objective C."
First time accepted submitter Edgewood_Dirk writes that a giant squid has been filmed in its natural habitat for the first time. "Scientists and broadcasters have captured footage of an elusive giant squid, up to eight meters (26 feet) long that roams the depths of the Pacific Ocean. Japan's National Science Museum succeeded in filming the deep-sea creature in its natural habitat for the first time, working with Japanese public broadcaster NHK and the U.S. Discovery Channel. The massive invertebrate is the stuff of legend, with sightings of a huge ocean-dwelling beast reported by sailors for centuries.'" The first live footage of a giant squid was captured in 2006 by Japan's National Science Museum researcher, Tsunemi Kubodera, after it was hooked and brought to the surface.
judgecorp writes "Google has abandoned its policy of warning Chinese users against keywords that trigger censorship. The search giant had added a warning that advised Chinese users not to use search terms that could cause the Chinese authorities to shut off their access to Google, but has now abandoned these warnings. While Google says they were ineffectual, free speech campaigners have expressed disappointment."
Rambo Tribble writes "Reuters reports that Los Almos National Laboratory has removed switches produced by Chinese firm H3C, which once had ties to Huawei. This appears to be a step taken to placate a nervous Congress, rather in response to any detected security issues. From the article: 'Switches are used to manage data traffic on computer networks. The exact number of Chinese-made switches installed at Los Alamos, how or when they were acquired, and whether they were placed in sensitive systems or pose any security risks, remains unclear. The laboratory - where the first atomic bomb was designed - is responsible for maintaining America's arsenal of nuclear weapons. A spokesman for the Los Alamos lab referred inquiries to the Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration, or NNSA, which declined to comment.'"
Nerval's Lobster writes "Netflix has released 'Janitor Monkey,' an open-source tool for killing old Amazon Web Services (AWS) instances, that began life as an in-house product. While those hosting a private data center will have little use for this scrubbin' simian, those enterprises with a public cloud can add Janitor Monkey to their administrative bag of tricks. The premise behind the tool is a simple one: while AWS allows for easy (and cheap) experimentation, it's easy for even the most diligent IT pro to rack up unnecessary costs when they forget to shut off a particular instance. While Netflix's Asgard tool—open-sourced in June, because this is how the company rolls—allows administrators to delete unused resources, Janitor Monkey takes things one step further by allowing those instances to be automatically found so that Asgard can clean them up. Over the past year, Janitor Monkey has deleted more than 5,000 resources running in the Netflix production and test environments, the company said. Janitor Monkey detects AWS instances, EBS volumes, EBS volume snapshots, and auto-scaling group."