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Submission + - Gravity Makes Earth Resemble Lumpy Play-D (

sciencehabit writes: By taking more than 70 million observations during its first 2 years in orbit, a limousine-length satellite has given scientists their most detailed map yet of Earth's gravitational field. The lumpiness of that geoid—the theoretical surface that a planet-wide ocean would take if there were no tides or currents—betrays the irregularity of the planet's mass distribution, including concentrations of mass such as mountain ranges and ice sheets. The work could lead to better understanding of the speeds and paths of ocean currents, as well as improved estimates of how they disperse pollutants. It could also provide new insights about geological processes occurring deep within Earth, such as the movement of one tectonic plate being shoved beneath another, and when combined with other data will help improve estimates of the thickness and mass of polar ice sheets.

Submission + - Convicted Terrorist Relied on Single Letter Cipher

Hugh Pickens writes writes: "The Register reports that the majority of the communications between convicted terrorist Rajib Karim and Bangladeshi Islamic activists were encrypted with a system which used Excel transposition tables which they invented themselves that used a single-letter substitution cipher invented by the ancient Greeks that had been used and described by Julius Caesar in 55BC. Despite urging by the Yemen-based al Qaida leader Anwar Al Anlaki, Karim rejected the use of a sophisticated code program called "Mujhaddin Secrets" which implements all the AES candidate cyphers, "because 'kaffirs', or non-believers, know about it so it must be less secure." "Tough communication interception laws [RIPA] were passed in the UK 10 years ago on the basis that they were needed to fight terrorism," says Duncan Campbell, who acted as an expert witness for the defense during the trial. "The level of cryptography they used was not even up to the standards of cryptology and cryptography in the Middle Ages, although they made it look pretty using Excel.""

Submission + - Robert Bunsen - An Open Source Pioneer? (

cygtoad writes: Today Celebrates Robert Bunsen's 200th Birthday. I found this interesting factoid on the man: Bunsen and Desaga did not apply for patent protection on their burner and it was quite soon that others began to produce their own versions. Some even went so far as to claim the invention as their own, including one person who was granted a patent on the device. Both Bunsen and Desaga were involved in writing letters to the proper authorities to refute these claims. Does anyone have an older example of such an open information pioneer? In my book he deserves some honor.

Submission + - Renewable Energy Might Not Be 2

lee1 writes: "Physicist Axel Kleidon of the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry
in Jena, Germany has shown that it is a mistake to consider the wind and
waves to be truly renewable energy sources. Build enough wind farms to
replace fossil fuels, he says, and we would reduce the energy available
in the atmosphere and actually accelerate climate change. We know from
thermodynamics that only a modest fraction of the solar energy reaching
Earth is available as 'free energy' we can use, taking the form of
winds, ocean currents, and lifting of evaporated water. The rest becomes
heat, which is not available to do work. By building wind and wave farms, we
will be converting part of the sun's useful energy into thermal energy.
The effects of this would probably show up first in the wind farms
themselves, where the gains expected will be less than predicted as the
energy of the Earth system is depleted. Kleidon’s calculations show
that the amount of energy which we can harness from the wind is reduced
by a factor of 100 if you take this into account. In addition, sucking that much energy out of the
atmosphere will alter precipitation, turbulence and the amount of solar
radiation reaching the Earth's surface. The effect
will be comparable to the results of doubling
atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide. Even current photovoltaic
designs will contribute to global warming, because they
convert only a small fraction of the light that hits them converting the rest to heat that warms the environment."

Submission + - It's World Backup Day (

1sockchuck writes: Today is World Backup Day, an occasion to backup your personal data and financial information and check your restores. For those needing motivation — a group that apparently includes 15 percent of data centers — the Slashdot archives bear witness to date disasters at providers small (Ma.gnolia) and large (Microsoft). The World Backup Day initiative grew out of a thread at Reddit, and invites online backup services to observe the occasion by offering discounts.

Comment Re:This is the biggest fad since Palm (Score 1) 146

All the things you mention still puts it in the realm of toy. Executives and doctors alike want to "find a use for it" as you state yourself. The rub comes when it is the wrong tool for the job. You understand the infancy of the tablet, doctors and executives don't and when you tell them it won't work well, they look at you like you must be woefully inadequate at your job.

Comment This is the biggest fad since Palm (Score 5, Insightful) 146

I can't say that i am ready to jump on the tablet bandwagon, but if I did it wouldn't be an iPad. I know I risk being left behind by not being an adopter, but tablets just haven't proven themselves primarily because developers don't write important mission critical programs for touch screens, they write them for keyboards and mice.

We recently went live with an EMR (Electronic medical record) at our hospital. As slick as the EMR is, it is written for a keyboard and a mouse. Guess what the docs want, you guessed it; Can we get it work on an IPAD? Oh yes, while technically possible via Citrix it is about as about as practical as mounting a steering wheel on a horse. Can't you teach the horse to respect the steering wheel? Um, no.

We have tried tablets in the past for the EMR. The users get excited about them and once they have them, they collect dust. $2,000.00 state of the art spill proof made especially for hospital settings tablet PC's which never leave their docking bays. What a waste.

All tablets are currently toys, iPad included. If I want toy to play with and have an extra couple hundred bucks burning a whole in my pocket then maybe I will buy one, but why would I want a toy with limitations, like the iPad?

Tablets may some day be a respectable tool for some apps who's developers are willing to write to them, but that will be 10 years out. Then, they will be about as sexy as a Palm is today.

Intel's Atom To Ship In Over 35 Tablets Next Year 146

nateman1352 writes with a bit from TechSpot: "Intel has been trying to cut itself a slice of the mobile market for years, and it seems the company is finally making some headway. During a conference yesterday, Intel CEO Paul Otellini revealed that the company's Atom platform will ship in over 35 tablets starting early next year. The chipmaker has partnered with more than a dozen manufacturers who will launch slates running Windows [or] Android as well as Intel's own MeeGo operating system." The article lists Toshiba, Dell, Fujitsu, Lenovo, Asus, AT&T, Cisco, and Acer as developing Atom-based tablets.

Comment HTPC's not limited only by HDMI. (Score 1) 171

"No longer does an HTPC need to be shoehorned into the confines of the entertainment center."

Yeah but then you have still have IR remotes an IR blasters still keeping the HTPC pretty sticky to the entertainment center. The new tech is slick yes, but expensive for now and there are other limiting factors. It is a nice step in the evolution though.

Comment Re:Technical solutions are already out there (Score 1) 180

Domain keys? SPF?

Um, what are those?

Again, what efforts have we made to educate our representatives? If we leave it up to them they can only act on what knowledge they have. So isn't this partially our fault too?

It is easy to criticize officials who make blind decisions from the comfort of our keyboards, but we might as well yell at the TV during Monday night football. The problem is that we are not in the game. You could argue that we cannot get in the game, but have we tried?

Comment A 10:1 consultant to employee ratio? (Score 4, Insightful) 294

...that is just insane. It is no wonder they have issues.

I currently work on and EMR for a health system and I can tell you that they are incredibly complex animals. The workflows in healthcare are complex. Successfully writing interfaces to and from these systems is near impossible (namely pharmacy systems). The best you can do is try to get a central homogenous vendor with good modules which use the same database. You need low turnover to establish and maintain EMR's and while consultants can be handy, that ratio should be flipped.

At any rate I am not dogging the McMaster's work, but there is a huge disparity between products out there. It is a little presumptous to say theirs would have been an alternative to save millions. It really has to do with the mission and the product features.

This seems to me to be just one botched project, or more likely doomed from the start.

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