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Earth

Alaskan Blob Is an Algae Bloom 130

Bryan Gividen writes "Time.com is running a story on the previously unidentified blob floating off of the coast of Alaska. The article states that the blob is an algae bloom — far less sinister (or exciting) than any The Thing or The Blob comparison that was jokingly made. From the article: '"It's sort of like a swimming pool that hasn't been cleaned in a while." The blob, Konar said, is a microalgae made up of 'billions and billions of individuals.'"
United States

Iowa Seeks To Remove Electoral College 1088

Zebano writes "Since changing the US constitution is too much work, the Iowa senate is considering a bill that would send all 7 of Iowa's electoral votes to the winner of the national popular vote in a presidential election. This would only go into affect after enough states totaling 270 electoral votes (enough to elect a president) adopted similar resolutions."
Space

New Photos of SpaceX's Falcon 9 Assembly 122

RobGoldsmith writes "New images are now available of SpaceX's Falcon 9 being assembled. The images are accompanied with a small update from SpaceX. If there are no unexpected delays, it's possible Falcon 9 will be completely integrated by the end of the year. This update shows real flight hardware and really brings the rocket alive. View images of the Falcon 9 nearing completion now!"
Mozilla

Firefox Add-On To Track Your Location Via Wi-Fi 181

Barence writes "Mozilla Labs has unveiled a new Add-on that allows Firefox to pinpoint your location based on Wi-Fi signals. The feature, called Geode, is a prototype for the location-tracking technology that will be built into the forthcoming Firefox 3.1. Geode is designed to work with websites that rely on knowing your location, such as mapping and geotagging services. The prospect of Firefox having the ability to track your location raises obvious privacy fears. Mozilla insists users will remain in complete control. 'With Geode, when a website requests your location a notification bar will ask how much information you want to give that site: your exact location, your neighbourhood, your city, or nothing at all,' the Mozilla Labs blog claims."
Image

Slashdot's Disagree Mail Screenshot-sm 264

In this week's Disagree Mail, I try to show the range of messages I get. It's not all angry or insane, sometimes it's sent to us for no apparent reason. We start off a little mad, slip into a whole bunch of crazy and finish with someone who has a complaint about racism at his favorite restaurant. Read below to get started.
Security

Master Diebold Key Copied From Web Site 100

Harrington writes "In another stunning blow to the security and integrity of Diebold's electronic voting machines, someone has made a copy of the key which opens ALL Diebold e-voting machines from a picture on the company's own website. " Update: 02/06 17:40 GMT by Z : We previously discussed this story, early last year.
Patents

Internet Archive Gets DMCA Exemption 84

Paul Hickman writes "The Internet Archive has successfully lobbied for a DMCA exemption for the Software Archive. The IA keeps out-of-date programs, games and other random craziness for future programmers to savor. At the rapid pace of software development, this makes sure that we can create a history for us to remember and wonder at the programming of early games."
Television

No Business Case for HDTV? 525

Lev13than writes "The head of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation argues that there is no business model for HDTV. Speaking at a regulatory hearing being held by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), CBC president Robert Rabinovitch noted that 'There's no evidence either in Canada or the United States that we have found for advertisers willing to pay a premium for a program that's in HD.' In order to cope with infrastructure and programming costs that are roughly 25 per cent higher, Rabinovitch proposes that the CBC start charging cable and satellite companies to carry their signal, and to limit over-the-air transmission. HDTV — good for Best Buy, bad for broadcasters?"

RIAA Defendant Says Kazaa Settlement Bars Case 174

NewYorkCountryLawyer writes "The defendant in Arista v. Greubel has filed an answering statement. The statement says that the RIAA's case against him, since it's based upon his use of Kazaa, is barred by the RIAA's receipt of $115 million from Kazaa. Mr. Greubel also challenged the constitutionality of the RIAA's $750-per-song damages theory, saying damages should be limited to $2.80 per song. See the previous Slashdot discussion of that issue and Judge Trager's decision in UMG v. Lindor."

Ancient Swords Made of Carbon Nanotubes 293

brian0918 writes "Nature reports that researchers at Dresden University believe that sabres from Damascus dating back to 900 AD were formed with help from carbon nanotubes. From the article: 'Sabres from Damascus are made from a type of steel called wootz. But the secret of the swords' manufacture was lost in the eighteenth century.' At high temperatures, impurities in the metal 'could have catalyzed the growth of nanotubes from carbon in the burning wood and leaves used to make the wootz, Paufler suggests. These tubes could then have filled with cementite to produce the wires in the patterned blades, he says.'"

Nvidia Launches 8800 Series, First of the DirectX 10 Cards 149

mikemuch writes "The new top-end GeForce 8800 GTX and GTS from Nvidia launched today, and Loyd Case at ExtremeTech has done two articles: an analysis of the new GPU's architecture, and a benchmark article on PNY's 8800 GTX. The GPU uses a unified scalar-based hardware architecture rather than dedicated pixel pipelines, and the card sets the bar higher yet again for PC graphics." Relatedly an anonymous reader writes "The world and his dog has been reviewing the NVIDIA 8800 series of graphics cards. There is coverage over at bit-tech, which has some really in-depth gameplay evaluations; TrustedReviews, which has a take on the card for the slightly less technical reader; and TechReport, which is insanely detailed on the architecture. The verdict: superfast, but don't bother if you have less than a 24" display."

France To Subsidize Games As Art 48

The New York Times is reporting on efforts by the French culture ministry to treat videogames as art. About time. This initiative will include giving tax breaks for game development, and national recognition of game developer achievements (like the arts award received by Shigeru Miyamoto this March). From the article: "With a total of roughly 100 video game companies, France, along with Britain, has long produced more video games than the rest of Europe combined, according to the market research firm Idate, of Montpellier, France. Of late, however, the French companies have been facing tough times. Infogrames has been struggling against high debt, and an American rival, Electronic Arts, bought 19 percent of Ubisoft's shares in 2004. And Vivendi Games earns most of its revenue from one best-selling game, World of Warcraft, said Laurent Michaud, head of the video games division at Idate. 'It is true that the French video game sector is fragile,' Mr. Michaud said. 'But this is true for companies in all markets due to the quick-changing nature of industry.'"

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