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Communications

Princeton Researchers Say Feds Need Data Standard 49

dcblogs writes "The federal government's data-sharing efforts are a mess, and if Barack Obama really wants a useful 'Google for government,' he would have to set the government's vast amount of data free by exposing it and ensuring it complies to standards. Once that happens, commercial sites, aggregators, bloggers and everyone else will be able to access it, use it and transform it, argue a group of Princeton researchers (follow Download link for full PDF)."
Censorship

Debunking the Google Earth Censorship Myth 294

waderoush writes "There's a persistent Web meme to the effect that Google obscures sensitive or top-secret locations in Google Maps and Google Earth at the insistence of national governments. A July IT Security article promoted on Digg, 'Blurred Out: 51 Things You Aren't Allowed to See on Google Maps,' revived this notion. But the article has been widely criticized, and I did some fact-checking this week on the six Boston-area locations mentioned in the IT Security list. As it turns out, not one of the allegedly blurred locations has degraded imagery in Google Maps, as my screen shots demonstrate. My post looks into the sources of the misleading IT Security piece, and of other mistaken rumors about Google Maps."
Image

The Thirteen Greatest Error Messages of All Time 623

Technologizer writes "They add insult to injury — and computing wouldn't be the same without 'em. So I rounded up a baker's dozen of the most important error messages in computing history — from Does Not Compute to Abort, Retry, Fail to the Sad Mac to the big kahuna of them all — the mighty Blue Screen of Death. And just in case my judgment is off, I include a poll to let the rest of the world vote for the greatest error message of all." I can't believe that "I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that" didn't make the list.
Science

New State of Matter Boosts Quantum Computation 41

Matthew Sparkes writes "In theory, quantum computers can be superior to classical computers for some kinds of problems; in practice their building blocks, qubits, are extremely fragile. Even a slight knock can destroy information. A radical solution to this problem was proposed in the 80's — instead of storing qubits in properties of particles, such as an electron's spin, it was suggested that qubits could be encoded into properties shared by the whole material, and so would be harder to disrupt. Unfortunately, no material with the needed properties existed. Scientists now think they have made a material in the lab, thought to be an example of a new state of matter, that might do the trick. It's an ultra-purified form of a mineral, herbertsmithite, first discovered in Chile in 1972. Its electrons are arranged in a triangular lattice. Researchers say it could become the silicon of the quantum computing era."
GNOME

Gnome 2.18 Released 253

xdancergirlx writes "Gnome 2.18 was released today (on time as usual). Detailed release notes are available. Nothing revolutionary in this release but definitely some nice new features, bug fixes, and improvements."
Space

Submission + - Cassini Sees Seas on Titan!

outlaw69 writes: Instruments on NASA's Cassini spacecraft have found evidence for seas, likely filled with liquid methane or ethane, in the high northern latitudes of Saturn's moon Titan. One such feature is larger than any of the Great Lakes of North America and is about the same size as several seas on Earth. Cassini's radar instrument imaged several very dark features near Titan's north pole. Much larger than similar features seen before on Titan, the largest dark feature measures at least 100,000 square kilometers (39,000 square miles). http://www.redorbit.com/news/space/868526/cassini_ sees_seas_on_titan/index.html Obligatory Quote..." I for one welcome our new planet titan overlords!"
NASA

NASA Commemorates Space Shuttle Tragedies 100

eldavojohn writes "Space.com is covering NASA's commemoration of the Apollo 1 crew & the last shuttle crews of both the Challenger and Columbia orbiters. The Apollo 1 crew was lost forty years ago yesterday to a fire while testing their spacecraft on a launch pad. From the article: 'While the nearly two decades separating NASA's three space disasters allowed room for the agency to grow complacent, the relatively short time between the 2003 loss of Columbia and the end of the shuttle program could avoid a repeat of such behavior.'"
Yahoo!

Submission + - Mass Manufacturing of Defective Products

LostIt1278 writes: "Companies have been selling less than quality software for years and they have been getting paid for it. It seems that worked out so well that now manufacturing and selling defective hardware is common place. Every time I drive the 20 miles to get to the "city" to buy anything I have to drive back 2 days (give or take a week) to return at least half the items I bought because it has a manufacturer's defect. Example (TRUE!!) I received an XBOX 360 as a gift for the holiday season in December. It has already been returned because it decided that it wasn't an XBOX 360. When inserting a game (any of them!) it told me to please place the disc in an XBOX 360 to play it. I know, no big surprise there, everyone has been having problems with the poorly made 360. I have also had to return a $60 wireless Guitar Hero guitar controller (the yellow button didn't work), an original XBOX controller (made by Pelican that just made you spin in game), a PSP with a scratch on the backside of the LCD screen, 2 Mad Catz racing wheels for the original XBOX (I was told they shipped a whole batch of defective ones and not to buy anymore from that store), 2 Toshiba laptops (1 hard drive failure in the first month, the other a defective touch pad I noticed out of the box), an iPaq Pocket PC that refused to acknowledge any SD card, and that's just what I've returned recently. I have my own IT business and I spend a lot of money on technology. I, personally, am sick of having to drive 40 miles round trip every time I buy something just because some manufacturer wants to shave a few more pennies off of their costs by making their products cheap. Am I the the only one seeing this trend grow? It's getting a bit ridiculous and it's only getting worse. I literally have to return half of the items I buy. When will it end or won't it? How do we stop such a wide spread trend? I haven't even mentioned the some what often "less than helpful" customer service I've received while returning defective products. That's a topic all to itself but maybe another article eh Best Buy?"
Google

Spamming Google Maps 225

An anonymous reader writes "Google organized a flyover of Sydney, Australia last Friday for Australia Day. The images taken on the day will be posted to Google Maps in a few weeks. A number of dotcoms spent hours making huge signs that would be visible from the air. It will be interesting to see whether Google will repeat the event in other cities. If they do, get prepared early. What sign would you make?"
Businesses

Submission + - Starting a career in science at 38?

A Science Nostalgic writes: I'm 38, have a succesful career as a software developer but feel the all-too-similar enterprise apps are boring my brains out and I'm intensely missing the world of science (which I didn't pursue in favor of programming when I got my engineering degree). Now I'm contemplating looking for a job in research, but fear the age and the lack of "exercise" with math and physics would pose an understandable handicap. If I study math seriously I can realistically shed the "rust" in a year, maybe two, but I still fear I'll be considered too old for research. I graduated abroad so I don't have any old contacts at the local universities (there are a few in my city). I checked their job boards, they have no positions just in s/w development which I could use as an entry point. Do the Slashdot readers have any experience with such a career change? Is it feasible at all to get into science once you approach 40? I feel my brain is still alive and kicking and years of debugging have taught me a few things about investigating causes and correlations — useful skills in research.
Space

European Launch Site For Virgin Galactic 94

syguy writes "Sir Richard Branson's sub-orbital space tourism venture, Virgin Galactic, is considering a second launch site in Europe. Already committed to Spaceport America near Upham, New Mexico, USA, Virgin Galactic has signed a deal with the Swedish company Spaceport to investigate providing sub-orbital flights from Kiruna airport, Sweden. This is one of the northernmost commercial airports in the world. Branson is attracted by the possibility of offering flights through the Aurora Borealis. Flights could begin in 2011 or 2012." From the article: "The company said last year they would be conducting research into the safety of such a flight. Scientists have little information on how the storms that produce the northern lights affect spacecraft. [The] joint NASA-Canadian Space Agency THEMIS project will launch five satellites into space in February to monitor the northern lights..."
Biotech

Journal Journal: Cancer Cured? 2

Here's the deal. Researchers at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada found a cheap and easy to produce drug that kills almost all cancers. The drug is dichloroacetate, and since it is already used to treat metabolic disorders, we know it should be no problem to use it for other purposes.
Education

Submission + - Genitalia Now Inappropirate in 7th Grade Health

firemoose writes: A 7th grade health class teacher has been transferred to administrative duties and may be fired for having his students draw male genitalia on a chalk board in class. The district superintendent took action after receiving complaints from parents. He has labeled the teacher's actions as "insensitive" and inappropriate for the mixed-sex students of the 7th grade class. The article quotes a parent and a teacher who believe that the school board may be overreacting, but is only able to cite a 4th grade student who found the idea of genitalia in class offensive.

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