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Movies

Netflix To Lift Streaming Limits 249

The AP has a story on Netflix's move to head off expected competition from Apple: the company will lift limits on streaming its movies for most subscribers. The story reports on rumors of an Apple movie-download service that may be announced by Steve Jobs on Tuesday. In the past Netflix has imposed limits on how long its subscribers could watch streamed movies; for example, those who paid $16.99/mo. could stream up to 17 hours per month. The limits will end on Monday for most subscribers (except for those paying $4.99 for two DVD rentals a month, said to be a small minority). The company has 6,000 movies available for streaming, compared to 90,000 that you can get delivered in the mail.
NASA

First Details of Manned Mars Mission From NASA 329

OriginalArlen writes "The BBC has a first look at NASA's initial concepts for a manned Mars mission, currently penciled in for 2031. The main vehicle would be assembled on orbit over three or four launches of the planned Ares V heavy lift rocket. New abilities to repair, replace, and even produce replacement parts will be needed to provide enough self-sufficiency for a 30 months mission, including 16 months on the surface. The presentation was apparently delivered at a meeting of the Lunar Exploration Management Group, although there's nothing on their site yet."
Social Networks

Submission + - Facebook under Fire over Breastfeeding Photos (breastfeeding123.com) 4

NewsCloud writes: "Facebook continues to struggle with when to enforce its own terms of service. While the 78,240 group members who want Facebook to shut down the F*** Islam group are still frustrated, those concerned with photos of breastfeeding mothers can rest more easily. The site has recently come under fire for removing pictures of breastfeeding mothers, and banning users on the grounds that they'd uploaded "obscene content" to their profiles. Says Facebook, "Photos containing an exposed breast do violate our Terms and are removed." In response, more than 33,431 concerned Facebook users have created the "Hey, Facebook, breastfeeding is not obscene!" group. Apparently, scantily clad college co-eds, fine and dandy."

ZOMG New Zunes 358

BarlowBrad writes "From PC World: "Microsoft announced a new slate of Wi-Fi-equipped Zune players today, including $150 4GB and $200 8GB flash-based players, and a $250 80GB model that's slimmer than the original Zune. All of the new models feature touch-sensitive controls and wireless syncing with your PC, a much-demanded feature that Microsoft will also make available on the original 30GB Zune when the new models debut in mid November." Wireless. More space than a Nomad. But draw your own conclusions."
Sci-Fi

Submission + - Heinlein archives to go online (mercurynews.com)

RaymondRuptime writes: "Good news for fans of the late SF master Robert Heinlen, 2 months after his 100th birthday celebration. Per the San Jose Mercury News, "The entire contents of the Robert A. and Virginia Heinlein Archive — housed in the UC-Santa Cruz Library's Special Collections since 1968 — have been scanned in an effort to preserve the contents digitally while making the collection easily available to both academics and the general public... The first collection released includes 106,000 pages, consisting of Heinlein's complete manuscripts — including files of all his published works, notes, research, early drafts and edits of manuscripts." You can skip the brief article and go straight to the archives."
NASA

NASA Decides No Fix Needed for Endeavor's Tiles 209

bhmit1 writes "It looks like NASA is reporting that no repairs are needed for Endeavor. 'After meeting for five hours, mission managers opted Thursday night against any risky spacewalk repairs, after receiving the results of one final thermal test. The massive amount of data indicated Endeavor would suffer no serious structural damage during next week's re-entry. Their worry was not that Endeavor might be destroyed and its seven astronauts killed in a replay of the Columbia disaster — the gouge is too small to be catastrophic. They were concerned that the heat of re-entry could weaken the shuttle's aluminum frame at the damaged spot and result in lengthy post-flight repairs.'"
The Courts

Vote Swapping Ruled Legal 496

cayenne8 writes "During the 2000 election, some sites were set up for people across the nation to agree to swap votes, among them voteswap2000.com and votexchange2000.com. They were established mainly to benefit the third-party candidate Ralph Nader without throwing local elections to George Bush. The state of California threatened to prosecute these sites under criminal statues, and many of them shut down. On Monday the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the vote-swap sites were legal (ruling here, PDF). The court held that '...the websites' vote-swapping mechanisms as well as the communication and vote swaps they enabled were constitutionally protected' and California's spurious threats violated the First Amendment. The 9th Circuit also said the threats violated the US Constitution's Commerce Clause.'"
Robotics

First Armed Robots on Patrol in Iraq 661

An anonymous reader writes "Robots have been roaming Iraq, since shortly after the war began. Now, for the first time — the first time in any war zone — the 'bots are carrying guns. The SWORDS robots, armed with M249 machine guns, "haven't fired their weapons yet," an Army official says. "But that'll be happening soon." The machines have actually been ready for a while, but safety concerns kept them off the battlefield. Now, the robots have kill switches, so "now we can kill the unit if it goes crazy," according to the Army. I feel safer already."
Biotech

Submission + - Chernobyl Mushrooms Feeding on Radiation

cowtamer writes: According to a National Geographic Article certain fungi can use ionizing radiation to perform "radiosynthesis" using the pigment melanin (the same one in our skin that protects us from UV radiation). It is speculated that this might be useful on long space voyages where energy from the Sun is not readily available.
Space

New Theory Explains Periodic Mass Extinctions 383

i_like_spam writes "The theory that the dinosaurs were wiped out by an asteroid impact, the K-T extinction, is well known and supported by fossil and geological evidence. Asteroid impact theory does not apply to the other fluctuations in biodiversity, however, which follow an approximate 62 million-year cycle. As reported in Science, a new theory seems to explain periodic mass extinctions. The new theory found that oscillations in the Sun relative to the plane of the Milky Way correlate with changes in biodiversity on Earth. The researchers suggest that an increase in the exposure of Earth to extragalactic cosmic rays causes mass extinctions. The original paper describing the findings is available online."
Networking

Submission + - Terrorists are like Starfish (?) (washingtontimes.com)

Mark D. Drapeau writes: "Could biological metaphors about networking and systems shed light on one of the most difficult issues of our time — terrorism? According to a new op-ed in the 31 July 2007 Washington Times, and a new book entitled The Starfish and the Spider, the answer is a resounding "Yes". An excerpt from the op-ed reads: *** Most large institutions are organized hierarchically with centralized leadership. Corporations have CEOs, armies have generals, countries have presidents. When competing against centralized organizations, promoting diffusion and disrupting cohesion are considered progressive. However, al Qaeda has a constantly mutating, horizontal structure composed of an inspirational catalyst in the form of Osama bin Laden and other central figures joined with numerous small groups brought together not by orders but ideology. Here, lack of structure is a strength. Little thought is given, however, to how such a decentralized terrorist network structure affects the strategy for combating it. "The Starfish and the Spider," a new book about corporate strategy written for a business audience, has a wider application — combating terrorism — and sheds light on this issue.*** Read more here: http://washingtontimes.com/article/20070731/COMMEN TARY/107310009/1012 And here: http://www.starfishandspider.com/"
Slashdot.org

Introducing the Slashdot Firehose 320

Logged in users have noticed for some time the request to drink from the Slashdot Firehose. Well now we're ready to start having everybody test it out. It's partially a collaborative news system, partially a redesigned & dynamic next-generation Slashdot index. It's got a lot of really cool features, and a lot of equally annoying new problems for us to find and fix for the next few weeks. I've attached a rough draft of the FAQ to the end of this article. A quick read of it will probably answer most questions from how it works, what all the color codes mean, to what we intend to do with it.
The Courts

German Prosecutors Won't Help RIAA Counterpart 199

NewYorkCountryLawyer writes "A German court decision ruled that the European counterpart to the RIAA cannot invoke criminal proceedings over petty file sharing incidents. The goal was to to find out from ISPs the identity of alleged file-sharing subscribers; the requests have been refused as the judge saw the the proceedings as not in the 'public interest', and little or no economic damage was shown to have been caused to the record companies. Offering a few copyright-protected music tracks via a P2P network client was 'a petty offense,' the court declared. Within days, German prosecutors have now indicated that they will no longer permit the use of 'criminal proceedings' to procure subscriber information."

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