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United States

USPS Discriminates Against 'Atheist' Merchandise 1121

fish waffle writes "Suspecting that their strongly branded 'Atheist' products may be treated differently by more religiously-oriented postal regions, Kickstarter success Atheist Shoes conducted an experiment. They sent 178 packages to 89 people in different parts of the U.S., each person receiving one package prominently branded as 'Atheist' merchandise, and one not. The results: packages with the atheist label were nearly 10 times more likely to be 'lost,' and took on average 3 days longer to show up when they did. Control experiments were also done in Europe and Germany — it's definitely a USPS problem."
The Internet

Why Trolls Win With Toxic Comments 298

Hugh Pickens writes "The Web is a place for unlimited exchange of ideas. But according to an NPR report, researchers have found that rude comments on articles can change the way we interpret the news. 'It's a little bit like the Wild West. The trolls are winning,' says Dominique Brossard, co-author of the study on the so-called 'Nasty Effect.' Researchers worked with a science writer to construct a balanced news story on the pros and cons of nanotechnology, a topic chosen so that readers would have to make sense of a complicated issue with low familiarity. They then asked 1,183 subjects to review the blog post from a Canadian newspaper that discussed the water contamination risks of nanosilver particles and the antibacterial benefits. Half saw the story with polite comments, and the other half saw rude comments, like: 'If you don't see the benefits of using nanotechnology in these products, you're an idiot.' People that were exposed to the polite comments didn't change their views really about the issue covering the story, while the people that did see the rude comments became polarized — they became more against the technology that was covered in the story. Brossard says we need to have an anchor to make sense of complicated issues. 'And it seems that rudeness and incivility is used as a mental shortcut to make sense of those complicated issues.' Brossard says there's no quick fix for this issue (PDF), and while she thinks it's important to foster conversation through comments sections, every media organization has to figure out where to draw the line when comments get out of control. 'It's possible that the social norms in this brave new domain will change once more — with users shunning meanspirited attacks from posters hiding behind pseudonyms and cultivating civil debate instead,' writes Brossard. 'Until then, beware the nasty effect.'"

Comment Re:Grow Up (Score 4, Informative) 965

It really depends on your usage pattern. Some people find it really annoying, others like it, whilst some are in between. I do find it really annoying on occasion. For example one of the things I like to do is watch a web cast while playing Free Cell. In Windows 7 this was simple enough. In Windows 8, the Free Cell game is a 200 MB download (instead of being built in like in Win 7), and it only plays in Metro - so it takes either the full screen or 80% of the screen if you snap it. Then you can't watch the web cast unless you have two monitors. Honestly whoever thought that it was a good idea to force apps to full screen on large monitors was a moron. Fortunately I do have two monitors so I can make this work. But it is annoying. Most other things are fine - as long as you avoid Metro style apps and make sure to set the system to not use the Metro apps for opening files.
News

New Pope Selected 915

Freshly Exhumed sends this quote from CBC: "Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina has been selected as Pope of the world's 1.2 billion Catholics. He will be known as Pope Francis. He is the first Pope from the Americas. The 76-year-old was the runner-up to Benedict XVI during the last conclave. He is well-known for his humility and espouses church teachings on homosexuality, abortion and contraception. He has no Vatican experience."
Books

$13 Txtr Beagle Ebook Reader To Sell For $69 79

Nate the greatest writes "Remember that really cheap 5" ereader that everyone was talking about back in October? It turns out that the price was too good to be true. Txtr, maker of the beagle ereader, has confirmed today that the beagle will be coming to the US market in the near future. But it's not going to cost $13. Instead this ereader will cost $69. It seems that txtr isn't having much luck selling the beagle to telecoms (where it was going to be marketed as a smartphone companion device), so they have instead decided to try to sell it in the retail trade, where it will have to directly compete against the Kindle. That is going to be a problem because the beagle is much less capable than the Kindle, even though it costs the same. The beagle won't work without a companion Android app which is needed to transfer files to the beagle over Bluetooth. That app requires Android 4.0 or above."
Debian

Gamer Rewrites Valve's Steam Installer For Debian 158

An anonymous reader writes "Gaming on Linux is growing fast right now, and most of that is thanks to Steam. Initially, Steam committed only to the most popular desktop distribution, Ubuntu, but more recently has opened the door to others. So what do you do when you want to game in Linux and you're using something a little less popular — at least, on the desktop? If you're a programmer called GhostSquad57, you rewrite the installer for Debian. GhostSquad57 uploaded his efforts to Github yesterday, and has since reached out to the Linux community."
Businesses

How Paid Apps On Firefox OS Will Work 74

An anonymous reader writes "Mozilla has put up a blog post about how building a paid app will work for Firefox OS. The Firefox Marketplace will host web apps, and Mozilla is quick to point out that the apps won't lock you into Firefox OS. They will use the receipt protocol, which other devices can support. If they end up doing so, users could buy the app just once and run it anywhere. 'There is, of course, a chicken vs. egg problem here so Mozilla hopes to be the egg that helps prove out the decentralized receipt concept and iterate on the protocol. Mozilla invites other vendors to help us work on getting receipts right so that paid apps are as portable and "webby" as possible.' Mozilla has a JavaScript API for exposing device receipts, and a client-side library can then contact a verification service URL from the receipt." Somewhat related: a recent panel at Mobile World Congress consisted of representatives for Firefox OS, Ubuntu for Phones, and Sailfish OS. They spoke about the need for alternatives to Android and iOS, and how manufacturers and carriers actually seem eager to use these new operating systems to differentiate their products

Comment Re:Teamwork (Score 1) 455

Not being an "expert" in the field (if one actually exists), all I can offer is an anecdote. I think people need both types of work at different times. As a technical lead for my team - I need to be available to point people in the right direction, help them with issues, and decide on some of the correct technical choices. However, when I am in the office I ALWAYS have someone from either my team or one of our other infrastructure teams in my office. My solution is to work from home one day a week. Even though I am available via phone, instant message, email, and even video call I don't get bothered much at all when home and can crank out code or documentation or even build system images without interruption. On the other days, I don't plan on getting too much of my own work done - but then my position includes facilitating the other folks on the team to get their assignments done. This has worked really well for me for over 5 years.
Censorship

CT State Senator Wants To Ban Kids From Using Arcade Guns 335

New submitter Nyder writes "In a move that is sure to bring tears to the eyes of kids everywhere, Connecticut State Senator Toni Harp proposed a bill in January that would ban anyone younger than 18 from playing 'violent point-and-shoot' video games in arcades or other public establishments. 'The bill also called for research into the effects of violent video games on young minds, through a committee called the Violent Video Game Task Force within the Department of Children and Families. The task force would advise the Governor and General assembly on state programs that "may reduce the effects of violent video games on youth behavior," suggesting before the research was done that violent video games have an effect on children's actions.' Hopefully this won't pass; I guess the video game lobby hasn't paid this Senator enough 'funds' for her campaign."

Comment Re:Who cares ? (Score 4, Insightful) 148

Doomed to failure? No, not completely. But when you are this late to market and your competitors have entrenched and solid ecosystems, your stuff better kick some serious ass and be available on some seriously nice hardware and have a thriving app ecosystem ready to go. Otherwise? Yes, pretty much doomed. You end up struggling mightily like Microsoft is with Windows 8 Phone. It is actually a decent OS and the hardware is pretty much on par with other phones. But it doesn't come out and just blow the others in the market away and the app ecosystem is not really "there" yet (which is why I have an Android phone). So they languish unsold. A tablet competitor like Ubuntu would be the same way. Make it really rock out of the box and get some devs on it right now or it won't go very far very fast.
Patents

Do Patent Laws Really Protect Small Inventors? 267

whoever57 writes "Patent trolls like to claim that patent laws provide a way that small inventors can create products and benefit financially from their invention. One such inventor faces selling his house, despite inventing a product that has sold tens of millions worldwide. From the article: 'Inventor Trevor Baylis says he faces having to sell his house after failing to make money from his wind up radio and is now calling for the government to step into to protect inventors. “I’ve got someone coming around in the next couple of weeks to do a valuation on my house,” says Trevor Baylis, as he walks into the sitting room of his home on Eel Pie Island, in Twickenham, south-west London. “I’m going to have to sell it or remortgage it – I’m totally broke. I’m living in poverty here.”'"
Ubuntu

Ubuntu For Phones To Arrive Next Week On Nexus 4 107

nk497 writes "Canonical has revealed that a developer preview of Ubuntu for phones will arrive next week, on the 21st of February. The touch preview will initially only be available for the Galaxy Nexus and Nexus 4 smartphones, but Canonical plans to support more devices. The release is designed to let developers create apps — and to give 'enthusiasts' a sneak peek — ahead of the smartphone side of Ubuntu arriving in version 13.10 in October. Canonical suggested that the OS will initially only support low-end smartphones, but the group plans to also support higher-end models, too, and the OS will work across mobile devices, PCs and TVs."

Comment Re:And those expensive E-books... (Score 4, Insightful) 129

Not only are they expensive, they are also not sold. They are licensed. This removes the ability to use the provisions of the first sale doctrine. So you can buy a license to a book - but you can't transfer it. With a physical book I can sell it to a used book store, hand it to my wife or kids and let them read it, send it off to a friend in another state, donate it, etc. With an e-book I can't (legally) do any of that. I can't even let my wife read it on her e-reader (separate account). Since we are very limited in what we can do (again legally) with them, they don't have the same value to me as a consumer. Yet they charge the same (or higher) price. I had put my thoughts on this into a blog entry some months back. They still pertain now. http://gildude.blogspot.com/2012/03/have-you-bought-into-e-book-model.html

One of the things I'd like to see if the ability to transfer from one cloud service to another. Amazon has theirs, Google has theirs, other folks likewise have theirs. But I have no (legal) way to transfer an e-book out of say Amazon's service and into say Google's service if, for instance, I decide I want to use a different e-reader and move "my" licensed content. Can't do it. The only value I get out of e-books that is missing from physical books is the amount of books that can be stored on a small device and the ability to add more to that device from say a hotel room on a trip. However e-books have all the previously mentioned downsides - many of which people are very slowly becoming aware of.
Linux

Moving the Linux Kernel Console To User-Space 311

jones_supa sends this quote from Phoronix: "David Herrmann has provided an update on his ambitious initiative to kill off the Linux kernel console. Herrmann has long been working on making the Linux kernel CONFIG_VT option unnecessary for providing a Linux console by punting it off to user-space. The Linux kernel VT console hasn't been changed much in the past two decades and Herrmann is hoping to see it replaced with a user-space solution he's been developing that would allow for multi-seat support, a hardware-accelerated console, full internalization, and other features."

Comment Re:Sounds like a great success. (Score 3, Interesting) 199

Well since the files are encrypted, these 150 files are simply ones where the user shared the link and the key in the URL. This can also be done via mega-search.me. In fact, according to Ars Technica http://arstechnica.com/business/2013/01/wait-for-it-select-files-from-mega-now-indexed-on-third-party-site/, several people have shared copyrighted material using Mega as storage and mega-search.me as the locator. These files can easily be checked by the copyright holder.

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