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Earth

Submission + - Scientists Postulate Extinct Hominid with 150 IQ 6

Hugh Pickens writes: "Neuroscientists Gary Lynch and Richard Granger have an interesting article in Discover Magazine about the Boskops, an extinct hominid that had big eyes, child-like faces, and forebrains roughly 50% larger than modern man indicating they may have had an average intelligence of around 150, making them geniuses among Homo sapiens. The combination of a large cranium and immature face would look decidedly unusual to modern eyes, but not entirely unfamiliar. Such faces peer out from the covers of countless science fiction books and are often attached to “alien abductors” in movies. "Back there in the past, ten thousand years ago. The man of the future, with the big brain, the small teeth. He lived in Africa," wrote naturalist Loren Eiseley. "His brain was bigger than your brain” The history of evolutionary studies has been dogged by the almost irresistible idea that evolution leads to greater complexity, to animals that are more advanced than their predecessor, yet the existence of the Boskops argues otherwise — that humans with big brains, and perhaps great intelligence, occupied a substantial piece of southern Africa in the not very distant past, and that they eventually gave way to smaller-brained, possibly less advanced Homo sapiens—that is, ourselves. "With 30 percent larger brains than ours now, we can readily calculate that a population with a mean brain size of 1,750 cc would be expected to have an average IQ of 149," write Lynch and Granger. But why did they go extinct? "Maybe all that thoughtfulness was of no particular survival value in 10,000 BC. Lacking the external hard drive of a literate society, the Boskops were unable to exploit the vast potential locked up in their expanded cortex," write Lynch and Granger. "They were born just a few millennia too soon.""

Comment Re:automated tool for locating cells? (Score 1) 315

When Law Enforcement listened in on suspects who have Onstar it caused the accident detection system to not work correctly (whilst the car occupants were being monitored):

http://news.zdnet.com/2100-9584_22-132934.html

"When FBI agents remotely activated the system and were listening in, passengers in the vehicle could not tell that their conversations were being monitored. After "vehicle recovery mode" was disabled, the court said, passengers were notified by the radio displaying an alert and, if the radio was not on, the system beeping."

The Military

Soviets Built a Doomsday Machine; It's Still Alive 638

An anonymous reader points out a story in Wired introducing us to the Doomsday Machine built by the Soviet Union in the 1980s — and that remains active to this day. It was called "Perimeter." The article explains why the device was built, and why the Soviets considered it to be something that kept the peace, even though they never told the US about it. "[Reagan's] strategy worked. Moscow soon believed the new US leadership really was ready to fight a nuclear war. But the Soviets also became convinced that the US was now willing to start a nuclear war. ... A few months later, Reagan... announced that the US was going to develop a shield of lasers and nuclear weapons in space to defend against Soviet warheads. ... To Moscow it was the Death Star — and it confirmed that the US was planning an attack. ... By guaranteeing that Moscow could hit back, Perimeter was actually designed to keep an overeager Soviet military or civilian leader from launching prematurely during a crisis. The point, [an informant] says, was 'to cool down all these hotheads and extremists. No matter what was going to happen, there still would be revenge. Those who attack us will be punished.'"
Government

French Deputies Want Labels On Photo-Altered Models 512

Psychophrenes writes "A number of French deputies are proposing to pass a law requiring all published photos that were modified by means of an image manipulation program to include a statement indicating that 'the photo was altered in order to modify the appearance of a person.' This indication is to be mandatory on all ads, packaging images, political posters and even art photos, and is considered a matter of public health, aimed at fighting anorexia." The related article is in French, but Google Translate does a pretty good job.
NASA

Space Shuttle To Be Replaced By SpaceX For ISS Resupply 297

destinyland writes "Next year SpaceX will perform resupply missions for the International Space Station after the Space Shuttle is grounded, as part of a $3.5 billion NASA resupply contract. 'The fledgling space industry is reminiscent of the early days of the personal computer,' notes one technology reporter, 'when a number of established vendors and startups reversed-engineered Microsoft's DOS and manufactured PCs using the Intel 8080 chip set. We're likely to see a similar industry shakeout in the private space vehicle market segment in the coming decades.'"
Communications

GMail Experiences Serious Outage 408

JacobSteelsmith was one of many readers to note an ongoing problem with Gmail: "As I type this, GMail is experiencing a major outage. The application status page says there is a problem with GMail affecting a majority of its users. It states a resolution is expected within the next 1.2 hours (no, not a typo on my part). However, email can still be accessed via POP or IMAP, but not, it appears, through an Android device such as the G1." It's also affecting corporate users: Reader David Lechnyr writes "We run a hosted Google Apps system and have been receiving 502 Server Error responses for the past hour. The unusual thing about this is that our Google phone support rep (which paid accounts get) indicated that this outage is also affecting Google employees as well, making it difficult to coordinate."
Microsoft

Linus Calls Microsoft Hatred "a Disease" 634

Hugh Pickens writes "In the aftermath of Microsoft's recent decision to contribute 20,000 lines of device driver code to the Linux community, Christopher Smart of Linux Magazine talked to Linus Torvalds and asked if the code was something he would be happy to include, even though it's from Microsoft. 'Oh, I'm a big believer in "technology over politics." I don't care who it comes from, as long as there are solid reasons for the code, and as long as we don't have to worry about licensing etc. issues,' says Torvalds. 'I may make jokes about Microsoft at times, but at the same time, I think the Microsoft hatred is a disease. I believe in open development, and that very much involves not just making the source open, but also not shutting other people and companies out.' Smart asked Torvalds if Microsoft was contributing the code to benefit the Linux community or Microsoft. 'I agree that it's driven by selfish reasons, but that's how all open source code gets written! We all "scratch our own itches." It's why I started Linux, it's why I started git, and it's why I am still involved. It's the reason for everybody to end up in open source, to some degree,' says Torvalds. 'So complaining about the fact that Microsoft picked a selfish area to work on is just silly. Of course they picked an area that helps them. That's the point of open source — the ability to make the code better for your particular needs, whoever the "your" in question happens to be.'"
Cellphones

The Irksome Cellphone Industry 272

gollum123 writes "David Pogue of the NYTimes wonders why Congress is worrying about exclusive handset contracts when there are more significant things that are broken, unfair, and anti-competitive in the American cellphone industry. He lists text messaging fees, double billing, handset subsidies, international call rates, and 'airtime-eating instructions' among the major problems not being addressed by Congress. 'Right now, the cell carriers spend about $6 billion a year on advertising. Why doesn't it occur to them that they'd attract a heck of a lot more customers by making them happy instead of miserable? By being less greedy and obnoxious? By doing what every other industry does: try to please customers instead of entrap and bilk them? But no. Apparently, persuading cell carriers to treat their customers decently would take an act of Congress.'"

Comment Gcc ... (Score 1) 739

Red Hat 5.2, sometime around 1999, I installed it so I could compile my homework, for a C programming class, instead of having to use hyperterminal to connect to school, from which I then had to telnet to the CS dept's Solaris system. Later moved to Debian and never looked back, and now using Debian & Ubuntu on different computers. Wow, 10 years using Linux! :)
Sci-Fi

Star Trek Premiere Gets Standing Ovation, Surprise Showing In Austin 437

MrKaos writes "Proving that science fiction can still be great entertainment, J.J. Abrams appears to have impressed Star Trek fans at the official world premiere of Star Trek, who gave the film a five-minute standing ovation at the Sydney Opera House in Australia today. Meanwhile, mere hours beforehand, flummoxed fans at the Alamo Drafthouse theater in Austin, TX, deceived into thinking they were seeing a special, extended version of Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan, were pleasantly surprised when a disguised Leonard Nimoy greeted them and announced they would be seeing the new film in its entirety. ILM's influence on the film is reported as visually stunning, and lucky Australian fans are scheduled to see the movie first, as it opens a day before the American release."
The Internet

Dial-Up Users "Don't Want Broadband" 593

Barence writes "The majority of dial-up Internet users say they don't want to upgrade their connection to broadband, according to a new study in the US. The Pew Internet & American Life research found that 62% of dial-up users had no interest in upgrading to a high-speed connection." (CNN is carrying the AP's story on the study, too.)
Wireless Networking

OLPC Mesh Networking Tester Explains How It Works 92

An anonymous reader writes "James Cameron is an engineer working on the OLPC project, specifically testing the wireless network capabilities of the OLPC XO laptop. Cameron lives in a small town called Tooraweenah in a remote region of the Australian outback. There is little noise in the spectrum in the area, so it's perfect for testing the wireless networking capabilities of the XO as it mirrors the kind of rural, spacious environment the XO is intended to be deployed in. Cameron breaks down exactly how the OLPC XO's mesh networking works, including the cheap US$35 solar powered mesh nodes that can be mounted on top of a tree to further the network's reach. Testing in the Australian outback, Cameron discovered that the range of the XO could go up to 1.6km 'quite easily' at 1.5m above ground. 'Assuming a range of 1.6km holds true, (the mathematical formula for area of a circle) Pi R squared tells us one well placed mesh node will cover up to eight square kilometers.' The article also includes numerous pictures of the mesh nodes and testing of the XO."
Privacy

Submission + - The New Facebook Ads: Another Privacy Debacle? (concurringopinions.com)

privacyprof writes: "Facebook recently announced a new advertising scheme called "Social Ads." Instead of using celebrities to hawk products, it will use pictures of Facebook users. Facebook might be entering into another privacy debacle. Facebook assumes that if people rate products highly or write good things about a product then they consent to being used in an advertisement for it. But such an assumption is wrong. When Facebook created a system that notified people's friends about new changes to people's profiles, the result was outrage. Facebook thought that there wasn't a privacy problem since the information was public. But as I argue in my book, The Future of Reputation,, Facebook didn't understand that privacy amounts to much more than keeping secrets — it involves controlling accessibility to personal data. With Social Ads, Facebook is again misunderstanding privacy — just because people say positive things about a product does not mean that they want to be used to shill it. People whose images are used in an advertisement without their consent might be able to sue under the tort of appropriation of name or likeness: "One who appropriates to his own use or benefit the name or likeness of another is subject to liability to the other for invasion of his privacy." Restatement (Second) of Torts 652C."
Slashback

Submission + - 1977 gets its ass kicked! (blogspot.com)

Cap'n.Brownbeard writes: Man finds JC Penney catalog from 1977. Man pees pants. Man blogs.

"A JC Penney catalog from 1977. It's not often [that] blog fodder just falls in my lap, but holy hell this was two solid inches of it, right there for the taking... The clothes are fantastic."

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