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Submission Summary: 0 pending, 39 declined, 7 accepted (46 total, 15.22% accepted)

United States

Submission + - W.Va. voters say machines are switching votes 1

iminplaya writes: Three Putnam County voters say electronic voting machines changed their votes from Democrats to Republicans when they cast early ballots last week.

This is the second West Virginia county where voters have reported this problem. Last week, three voters in Jackson County told The Charleston Gazette their electronic vote for "Barack Obama" kept flipping to "John McCain".

Putnam County Clerk Brian Wood said on Saturday that he is upset there are "so many negative stories out there and not enough positive ones. We want people to vote. People need to know the facts...

Wood said, "Voting machines are very reliable. I hate the fact that stories like this are printed. It makes everybody get scared."

I would think so...
The Media

Submission + - McCain/Palin campaign and bogus DMCA takedowns

iminplaya writes: Concerns about DMCA takedown abuse and fair use aren't limited to Lawrence Lessig, the EFF, and Free Press--John McCain and Sarah Palin are going all mavericky on the issue as well. Yesterday, their campaign sent a letter to YouTube complaining about rightsholders (especially news organizations) that filed illegitimate DMCA takedown notices and managed to have important campaign clips pulled at crucial times.

The letter opens by talking about how important YouTube has been for the campaign's efforts to get out copies of commercials, speeches, etc., but notes that the site's usefulness is being curtailed by "overreaching copyright claims."

But "despite the complete lack of merit" to the claims, the videos were pulled as per YouTube's policy.

The campaign can file a counternotice, of course, and YouTube will eventually put the videos back up (at this point, if a rightsholder still believes the takedown request was valid, he or she can sue the creator of the video). But this process doesn't move at either "Internet speed" or "campaign speed," and having crucial attack videos down for days at a time is apparently hurting the campaign.

The letter is yet more evidence of why human judgment--not just automated filtering or scanning--is crucial in such cases.

It's refreshing to see mainstream politicians (or at least their operatives and lawyers) speaking up for fair use and showing an understanding of the problems caused by overly-aggressive systems for flagging possible violations. Perhaps when those at the highest levels of government--not just the mothers of dancing toddlers--understand the problems here, a better copyright balance can be struck.
The Almighty Buck

Submission + - China set to trump US in manufacturing

iminplaya writes: China is set to overtake the United States next year as the world's largest producer of manufactured goods, four years earlier than expected, as a result of the rapidly weakening U.S. economy. The great leap is revealed in forecasts for the Financial Times by Global Insight, an economics consultancy based in Boston. According to the estimates, next year China will account for 17% of manufacturing value-added output, while the United States will make 16%. In 2007, the United States was still easily in the top slot and accounted for a fifth of the total. China was second, with 13.2%. The expected change will end more than a 100 years of U.S. dominance. It returns China to a position it occupied, according to economic historians, for 1,800 years, up to about 1840, when Britain became the world's biggest manufacturer after its Industrial Revolution.
Transportation

Submission + - TSA Snafu Grounds Nine Planes at O'Hare Field

iminplaya writes: Nine American Eagle airplanes were grounded Tuesday after a TSA inspector, conducting an overnight security check, used sensitive instrument probes to climb onto the parked aircraft at Chicago's O'Hare Airport... At least forty regional commuter flights were delayed throughout the day, according to American Airlines. The TSA agent, as part of spot inspection of aircraft security, climbed onto the parked aircraft using control sensors mounted on the fuselage as handholds, according to a TSA official in Chicago, Elio Montenegro. "Our inspector was following routine procedure for securing the aircraft that were on the tarmac," Montenegro told ABCNews.com. Here's a somewhat more less "polished" take on the story.
Power

Submission + - Japan Demands Probe Into Cause of Nano Flameouts

iminplaya writes: "Several incidents of iPod nanos bursting into flames have created consumer jitters in gadget-happy Japan. Apple is downplaying the problem, pointing out that no major injuries or damage have been reported. The problem is due to defective batteries, the company said, and only a tiny percentage of the devices have caught on fire."

I like that. Only a "tiny percentage"... Is anybody beginning to understand why I would prefer that these devices not be allowed on airplanes?
Earth

Submission + - Stone Age mass graves reveal green Sahara

iminplaya writes: One of the driest deserts in the world, the Saharan Tenere Desert, hosted at least two flourishing lakeside populations during the Stone Age, a discovery of the largest graveyard from the era reveals. The archaeological site in Niger, called Gobero, was discovered by Paul Sereno at the University of Chicago, during a dinosaur-hunting expedition. It had been used as a burial site by two very different populations during the millennia when the Sahara was lush. "The first people who used the Gobero cemetery were Kiffian, hunter-gatherers who grew up to two metres tall," says Elena Garcea of the University of Cassino in Italy and one of the scientists on the team. The large stature of the Kiffian suggests that food was plentiful during their time in Gobero, 10,000 to 8,000 years ago...All traces of the Kiffian vanish abruptly around 8,000 years ago, when the Sahara became very dry for a thousand years. When the rains returned, a different population, the Tenerians, who were of a shorter and more gracile build, based themselves at this site. Bones and artefacts dated to the Tenerian episode suggest that these people herded cattle and hunted fish and wildlife with tools that required less physical strength than those of the Kiffian. "The most amazing find so far is a grave with a female and two children hugging each other. They were carefully arranged in this position. This strongly indicated they had spiritual beliefs and cared for their dead," says Garcea.

Research Article
Books

Submission + - Columbus debunker sets sights on Leonardo da Vinci

iminplaya writes: Leonardo da Vinci's drawings of machines are uncannily similar to Chinese originals and were undoubtedly derived from them, a British amateur historian says in a newly-published book.
Gavin Menzies sparked headlines across the globe in 2002 with the claim that Chinese sailors reached America 70 years before Christopher Columbus.
Now he says a Chinese fleet brought encyclopedias of technology undiscovered by the West to Italy in 1434, laying the foundation for the engineering marvels such as flying machines later drawn by Italian polymath Leonardo.
"Everything known to the Chinese by the year 1430 was brought to Venice," said Menzies, a retired Royal Navy submarine commander, in an interview at his north London home.
From Venice, a Chinese ambassador went to Florence and presented the material to Pope Eugenius IV, Menzies says.
"I argue in the book that this was the spark that really ignited the renaissance and that Leonardo and (Italian astronomer) Galileo built on what was brought to them by the Chinese.
"Leonardo basically redrew everything in three dimensions, which made a vast improvement."
If accepted, the claim would force an "agonizing reappraisal of the Eurocentric view of history", Menzies says in his book "1434: The Year A Magnificent Chinese Fleet Sailed To Italy and Ignited The Renaissance".
Music

Submission + - Yahoo Music going dark, taking keys with it

iminplaya writes: The bad dream of DRM continues. Yahoo e-mailed its Yahoo! Music Store customers yesterday, telling them it will be closing for good — and the company will take its DRM license key servers offline on September 30, 2008. Sure, it's bad news and yet another example of the sheer lobotomized brain-deadness that has characterized music DRM, but the reaction of most music fans will be: "Yahoo had an online music store?"... DRM makes things harder for legal users; it creates hassles that illegal users won't deal with; it (often) prevents cross-platform compatibility and movement between devices. In what possible world was that a good strategy for building up the nascent digital download market? The only possible rationales could be 1) to control piracy (which, obviously, it has had no effect on, thanks to the CD and the fact that most DRM is broken) or 2) to nickel-and-dime consumers into accepting a new pay-for-use regime that sees moving tracks from CD to computer to MP3 player as a "privilege" to be monetized. What we really need to do is just — you know what? Why bother. We've been down this road so many times before that everyone knows their lines by heart.
Space

Submission + - Good News, Everybody

iminplaya writes: Ulysses is not dead yet."
"ESA issued a statement in February saying that, as Ulysses' radioisotope thermoelectric generators were running out of power, the spacecraft would likely die some time this year. The actual death blow to the spacecraft was likely to be the freezing of hydrazine fuel in a cold spot in a fuel line. Mission controllers found creative ways to prevent the freezing, but the solution was not a long-term one, and ESA had a ceremonial send-off and wrap-up of the mission in mid-June, announcing that the spacecraft would be shut down on July 1. However, it now appears that announcement was premature. ESA issued a statement on July 3 titled "Ulysses hanging on valiantly." And on Wednesday, the following email was sent by Ulysses mission operations manager Nigel Angold to the Ulysses community, indicating that Ulysses' voyage could actually continue for some time.
Medicine

Submission + - Study Links Lead Poisoning and Criminal Behavior

iminplaya writes: "Lead is a toxic metal that damages the nervous system when ingested or inhaled. It is present throughout the environment because of its widespread use in the past in paint, solder for water pipes, and gasoline. In this new study, the researchers investigate the association between actual measurements of prenatal and childhood blood lead concentrations and criminal arrests in early adulthood to get a clearer idea about whether early lead exposure is associated with subsequent violent behavior."
On a more personal note, I would also like to point out the benefits and advantages of peer-reviewed open access journals.
Biotech

Submission + - It was 40 years ago 1

iminplaya writes: '1967: The first human-to-human heart transplant is performed. The operation is a success, but the patient dies after complications set in.
South African surgeon Christiaan Barnard, who prepared for this day by performing a number of experimental heart transplants involving dogs, led a 30-member surgical team in implanting the heart of a young woman into 53-year-old Louis Washkansky, a Cape Town grocer suffering from diabetes and incurable heart disease.'
Space

Submission + - The Device NASA Is Leaving Behind

iminplaya writes: After years of delays, NASA hopes to launch this week a European-built laboratory that will greatly expand the research capability of the international space station. Although some call it a milestone, the launch has focused new attention on the space agency's earlier decision to back out of plans to send up a different, $1.5 billion device — one that many scientists contend would produce far more significant knowledge. "...it would be a true international disgrace if this instrument ends up as a museum piece that never is used."
Quickies

Submission + - Arm Wrestling Machine Breaking Arms

iminplaya writes: Japanese arcade distributor Atlus Co. said it will recall 150 arm-wrestling machines that are breaking players' arms.

The machine, known as Arm Spirit, has so far broken three arms of players who put it to the challenge. The machine features 10 levels of arm-wrestling difficulty, including a French maid, a drunken martial arts master and a Chihuahua. The final throw-down, for those who manage to avoid having their forearms snapped, is against a professional arm-wrestler.

"We think that maybe some players get overexcited and twist their arms in an unnatural way."

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