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Robotics

Submission + - Stanford Robot Car Nails Amazing Parking Maneuver (singularityhub.com) 1

kkleiner writes: Stanford’s Junior, the robot car that took second place at DARPA’s Grand Challenge in 2007, has learned how to perform a tire squealing 180 degree spin into a skin-tight parking space. Similar to a James Bond action scene, the maneuver is impressive and would be extremely difficult for a human to pull off. We won't be handing the keys over to robot cars anytime soon, but Stanford shows us that at least for some driving tasks robot cars can already meet or even exceed human ability.
Education

Submission + - Medical Journals Rejecting Tobacco Funded Research (latimes.com)

eldavojohn writes: The journal PLoS Medicine joins PLoS One and PLoS Biology by announcing they will not accept any more papers funded by the Tobacco Industry. The journal's official statement cites the serious health risks associated with smoking in addition to the Tobacco Industry's misinformation campaigns. One expert tried to explain that not everyone is happy with this decision saying "By deciding to no longer allow for research funded in any part by the tobacco industry, they're acknowledging that they're no longer able to evaluate science." Will this attitude proliferate to other fields in rejecting papers funded by parties with a monetary conflict of interest with science?

Submission + - Kickass Apt. vs. Persistent Microwave Exposure (slashdot.org) 3

An anonymous reader writes: I am considering buying a penthouse apartment in Manhattan that happens to be about twenty feet away from a pair of panel antennas belonging to a major cellular carrier. The antennas are on roughly the same plane as the apartment and point in its direction. I have sifted through a lot of information online about cell towers, most of which suggest that the radiation they emit is low-level and benign. Most of this information, however, seems to concern ground-level exposure at non-regular intervals. My question to Slashdot is: should the prospect of persistent exposure to microwave radiation from this pair of antennas sitting thirty feet from where I rest my head worry me? Am I just being a jackass? Can I, perhaps, line the walls of the place with a tight metal mesh and thereby deflect the radiation? My background is in computer engineering — I am not particularly knowledgeable about the physics of devices such as these. Help me make an enlightened decision.
Linux

Submission + - Is Desktop Linux becoming too proprietary? 5

selven writes: The main factor that separates Linux out from more mainstream systems is, in the eyes of the average Linux user, freedom. Freedom is at the core of the Linux culture, but in the last few years it seems that Linux is moving away from these ideals. Ubuntu, despite its front page commitment to free and open source software, has made many sacrifices of freedom in favor of convenience, such as the replacement of OpenOffice.org with Google Docs in the netbook edition, an app store for commercial, presumably proprietary, software and a music store. Novell and Microsoft have made a patent agreement and patented components are entering desktop Linux systems. Is this the plot of the evil corporations, to destroy freedom one step at a time with stealth rather than power, or is this a necessary and unavoidable part of Desktop Linux growing up?
Spam

Submission + - New Facebook Attack Tricks Users Into Creating App

adeelarshad82 writes: Websense Security Labs has identified a new malicious Facebook app that takes the art to a new level. Conventional malicious apps can be taken down by Facebook as soon as they know about them. In order to get past that ability, this social engineering trick talks users through the process of building new app themselves. If you run the app and allow it to access your profile and then grant it extended permissions to post messages (because it asks you to), your friends all get spammed with the app too.

Submission + - 'Good Enough' Software QA trending us into Failure (boldinventions.com)

An anonymous reader writes: Faced with the inescapable conclusion that complex software can never be 100% tested, companies have been forced into a 'Good Enough' strategy. As complexity increases, the probability of unexpected bugs increases with it. At the same time, hardware vendors have been dramatically increasing the capability of embedded CPU hardware, and therefore much more can be done in software. So all our consumer products which contain embedded systems are trending on a death march toward unreliability, or unsustainable QA costs. In end will consumers simply continue to downgrade their expectations when it comes to product reliability, or will something have to change?

Submission + - LHC back online (twitter.com) 1

medea writes: It seems that, by media mostly unnoticed, LHC is back online. Let's see for how long this time...
Spam

Submission + - Yahoo Spam Filters Block Effort to Help Fight Spam (blogspot.com)

fatherjoecode writes: I was wondering if any one else has had this problem. Over the past couple of weeks I've had issues with Yahoo mail blocking my admittedly small efforts to fight spam. Every day I'd forward the messages in my spam folder to organizations like SpamCop.net, spam@uce.gov, and coldrain.net. However this past week or two I'm only able to forward maybe one or two messages a day before it started to block me from doing so with the following message:

        Your message was not sent

        Your account has been temporarily blocked from sending messages.
        This block can be caused by sending messages that trigger our spam filters,
        or by having too many recipients in one email. We encourage you to review
        the contents and recipient list of your message, and try sending it at after an
        hour or two. Doing so will usually resolve the matter. If you are still unable to
        send messages after a 24-hour period, please read our FAQ for more
        information and to request Customer Care assistance.

        We apologize for the inconvenience.

        Thanks,

        The Yahoo! Mail Team

Of course I've contacted "The Yahoo! Mail Team" multiple times and I've changed my password. So far nada and now the problem is starting up on another Yahoo mail account that I forward spam messages from.

This issue is especially problematic with SpamCop because after 24 hours the timestamps in the headers of the spam messages become stale and SpamCop won't process them, so I end up deleting most of them. It's a sad irony that my endeavors to help in this fight against spam are being thwarted by the very Yahoo feature that is itself trying to protect email users by identifying spam sources within Yahoo mail. While I totally understand the purpose of this effort and applaud the work being done; In my case it's overreaching and needs to be tweaked in some way. Possibly if the the application could look at the recipient email list to see if they're being sent to spam fighting organizations first before deciding whether or not to block the account.

Medicine

Submission + - US Gov't Poisoned Alcohol During Prohibition 5

Hugh Pickens writes: "Pulitzer Prize–winning science journalist Deborah Blum has an interesting article in Slate about the US government's little known policy to scare people into giving up illicit drinking during prohibition in the 1920's by poisoning industrial alcohols manufactured in the United States. Known as the "chemist's war of Prohibition," the federal poisoning program, by some estimates, killed at least 10,000 people by the time Prohibition ended in 1933. The story begins with ratification of the 18th Amendment, which banned sale and consumption of alcoholic beverages in the United States after high-minded crusaders and anti-alcohol organizations helped push the amendment through in 1919. When the government saw that its “noble experiment” was in danger of failing, it decided that the problem was that methyl alcohol, readily available as industrial alcohol, didn't taste nasty enough and put its chemists to work designing ever more unpalatable toxins adding such chemicals as kerosene, brucine (a plant alkaloid closely related to strychnine), gasoline, benzene, cadmium, iodine, zinc, mercury salts, nicotine, ether, formaldehyde, chloroform, camphor, carbolic acid, quinine, and acetone. In 1926, in New York City, 1,200 were sickened by poisonous alcohol; 400 died. The following year, deaths climbed to 700. These numbers were repeated in cities around the country as public-health officials nationwide joined in the angry clamor to stop the poisoning program but an official sense of higher purpose kept it in place while lawmakers opposed to the plan were accused of being in cahoots with criminals and that bootleggers and their law-breaking alcoholic customers deserved no sympathy. As one of its most outspoken opponents, Charles Norris, the chief medical examiner of New York City during the 1920s, liked to say, it was "our national experiment in extermination.""

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