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Government

Submission + - Utah Repeals Anti-Transparency Law (sltrib.com)

oddjob1244 writes: After enduring two weeks of public fury, Utah lawmakers voted Friday to repeal a bill that would have restricted public access to government records. While Senate President Michael Waddoups accused the media of lobbying on the issue and others blamed the press for biased coverage that turned citizens against them, Sen. Steve Urquhart said bluntly: "We messed up. It is nobody's fault but our's."

Michael Waddoups is indirectly blaming Slashdot from previous media coverage: http://yro.slashdot.org/story/11/03/23/202234/Utah-Works-To-Repeal-Anti-Transparency-Law and http://yro.slashdot.org/story/11/03/15/1647251/Utah-Governor-Honored-With-Blackhole-Award

Idle

Submission + - Ohio man gets a $16.4 million cable bill (yahoo.com)

wiredmikey writes: You may have heard the story about the man living in a 14x60 trailer who got a $12,864 electric bill, or the Corpus Christie man who was billed $7.7 million by his water company, or the Canadian whose cell phone provider hit him up for $85,000...

In this case an Ohio man's attempt to make a payment on his cable bill to Time Warner was rejected, and he learned that the company had calculated his past-due amount at more than $16 million.

Submission + - Indie Freeware Game Release: Sqrxz 2 (pixelprospector.com)

Anonymous Coward writes: "Insane difficult games are usually challenging and frustrating at the same time. With "Sqrxz 2" comes another crazy Jump'n'Run game which requires mind, reflexes and timing. Enemies may be not only eliminated, but be misused to solve tricky puzzles. Optically the game resembles a 16-bit style and features marvelous ingame chiptunes. The game is available for Windows, Ubuntu, Amiga OS4, Dreamcast and a couple of other systems."
Firefox

Submission + - Investigating the Performance of Firefox 4 and IE9 (mozillazine.org)

theweatherelectric writes: Mozilla's Robert O'Callahan has posted an article on his blog in which he investigates the performance differences between Firefox 4 and IE9. He writes, 'As I explained in my last post, Microsoft's PR about "full hardware acceleration" is a myth. But it's true that some graphics benchmarks consistently report better scores for IE9 than for Firefox, so over the last few days I've been looking into that. Below I'll explain the details [of] what I've found about various commonly-cited benchmarks, but the summary is that the performance differences are explained by relatively small bugs in Firefox, bugs in IE9, and bugs in the benchmarks, not due to any major architectural issues in Firefox (as Microsoft would have you believe).'

Submission + - CNN showing doctored Japan earthquake videos (cnn.com)

ctdownunder writes: CNN is showing purposely "enhanced" videos of shaking structures. The digital doctoring is obvious even to the untrained eye; the image is expanded and contracted quickly to simulate earthquake shaking.
Education

Submission + - Falling Demand for Brains?

Hugh Pickens writes writes: "Paul Krugman writes in the NY Times that information technology seems to be reducing, not increasing, the demand for highly educated workers (reg. may be required), because a lot of what highly educated workers do could actually be replaced by sophisticated information processing. One good recent example is how software is replacing the teams of lawyers who used to do document research. “From a legal staffing viewpoint, it means that a lot of people who used to be allocated to conduct document review are no longer able to be billed out,” says Bill Herr, a lawyer at a major chemical company who used to muster auditoriums of lawyers to read documents for weeks on end. “People get bored, people get headaches. Computers don’t.” If true this raises a number of interesting questions. "One is whether emphasizing education — even aside from the fact that the big rise in inequality has taken place among the highly educated — is, in effect, fighting the last war," writes Krugman. "Another is how we [can] have a decent society if and when even highly educated workers can’t command a middle-class income." Remember the Luddites weren’t the poorest of the poor, they were skilled artisans whose skills had suddenly been devalued by new technology."
Science

Submission + - Star Trek-like communicator to connect hospital (timescolonist.com)

intellitech writes: Staff at the new patient tower at Royal Jubilee Hospital will be using small devices to remotely communicate with each other -just like characters on the futuristic Star Trek. The devices, part of a $500,000 communication system, will allow real-time conversation between virtually everyone receiving care or involved with its delivery.
Apple

Submission + - If iPads are post-pc devices why must I use iTunes (thestartupfoundry.com) 1

g0atbutt writes: As I listened to Steve speak, one phrase kept gnawing at me. Steve said that the iPad was “a post-pc device”. As an iOS developer who makes his living building apps for iPads and iPhones, I disagree. You see iOS has this ball and chain attached to it called “iTunes” that runs on a typical PC. The first time you turn your iPad on you’re greeted with this screen on the right prompting you to plug your iPad into a computer so it can be setup. You can’t even turn your iPad on the first time without being tethered to iTunes.

Submission + - Wikileaks Cables Say Saudi Oil Supplies Overstated (nytimes.com)

spicate writes: Recently revealed cables released by Wikileaks suggest that Saudi Arabia may reach peak oil output much sooner than initially thought, possibly within 17 years. The U.S. diplomat who wrote them called his source, Sadad al-Husseini, "no doomsday theorist." The diplomat continues, "his pedigree, experience and outlook demand that his predictions be thoughtfully considered." With most of the rest of the world experiencing declining conventional crude oil production already, new discoveries and improved extraction techniques may not be sufficient to cover the deficits. Is there still time to move away from oil?
Space

Submission + - Possible new planet "about to be discovered" (dailymail.co.uk) 1

nekad writes: From the article "Scientists believe they may have found a new planet in the far reaches of the solar system, up to four times the mass of Jupiter". They've already named the planet "Tyche" despite not having been discovered yet (if it even exists).
Cellphones

Submission + - Taxes on Cell Phones Hit All-Time High

adeelarshad82 writes: As the breakdown of top ten states with the higest and lowest taxes shows, the wireless consumers in Nebraska, Washington, and New York pay more than 20 percent of their wireless bills in taxes and fees, mostly due to the proliferation of archaic or duplicated surcharges.Experts from KSE Partners spent five years monitoring the federal, state, and local taxes imposed on wireless consumers. According to their analysis wireless taxes grew three times faster than the retail sales rate between 2007 and 2010. The reason behind this is that legislators and Congressmen are targeting the wireless industry for tax money to relieve the burden from more recession-starved industries. Infact a few states even tax wireless consumers for non wireless-related projects, for instance Utah funds its poison-control centers with a poison-control surcharge found on wireless bills, and in 2009 Wisconsin imposed a police and fire protection fee to subsidize local departments.

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