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Science

Stone Tool 1.83M Years Old Discovered In Malaysia 200

goran72 writes with news out of Malaysia that archaeologists have announced the discovery of stone tools more than 1.8 million years old — the earliest evidence of human ancestors in South-east Asia. Researchers believe the tools were made by members of the early human ancestor species Homo erectus. The tools actually date as slightly older than the earliest H. erectus fossils, which came from Georgia and China. No bones of that antiquity have so far been found in Malaysia. "The stone hand-axes were discovered last year in the historical site of Lenggong in northern Perak state, embedded in a type of rock formed by meteorites which was sent to a Japanese lab to be dated."
Medicine

Every Man Is an Island (of Bacteria) 193

Shipud writes "There are ten times more bacterial cells in our body than our own cells. Most of them are located in our guts, and they affect our well-being in many ways. A group at Washington University has recently reported that although our gut microbes perform similar functions, it appears that different people have completely different compositions of gut bacteria: every man is an island, a unique microbial ecosystem composed of completely different species. One conclusion is that the whole division of bacteria into species may well be over-used in biomedicine."
The Courts

KY Appeals Court Nixes Seizure of Gambling-Linked Domains 102

davidwr writes "A state appeals court in Kentucky ruled that the state courts cannot seize domain names as 'gambling devices.' The court ruled that 'it's up to the General Assembly — not the courts nor the state Justice Cabinet — to bring domain names into the definition of illegal gambling devices.'"
Music

Pandora Trying Out Invasive Commercial Breaks 244

Nathan Halverson writes "The popular online radio service Pandora.com has added brief commercial interruptions to its service. Pandora says this is a trial and is targeted to a subset of listeners at this point. In one case, a brief ad for the Fox TV show 'Lie To Me' interrupted the music stream for about 15 seconds after ten songs had initially played, and the same commercial interrupted 22 songs later. 'But [Pandora's] founder promised the site will never carry as many audio ads as broadcast radio, despite the fact it pays substantially higher royalty fees to the recording industry.'"
Image

Beginning iPhone Development Screenshot-sm 216

Cory Foy writes "When my wife got a Touch several months back, the first thing I wanted to do was build some applications for it. Who wouldn't want to play with a device that has accelerometers, position sensors and multi-touch gestures? But being new to the Mac world, I needed something to help guide me along. Beginning iPhone Development aims to be that guide. But does it live up to the challenge of teaching a newbie Mac and iPhone developer?" Read below for the rest of Cory's review.
Transportation

Feds To Offer Cash For Your Clunker 740

coondoggie sends along a NetworkWorld piece that begins, "The government... wants to motivate you to get rid of your clunker of a car for the good of the country (and the moribund car industry). A 'Cash for Clunkers' measure introduced this week by three US Senators, two Democrats and a Republican, would set up a national voucher program to encourage drivers to voluntarily trade in their older, less fuel-efficient car, truck, or SUV for a car that gets better gas mileage. Should the bill pass, the program would pay out a credit of $2,500 to $4,500 for drivers who turn in fuel-inefficient vehicles to be scrapped and purchase a more fuel-efficient vehicle."
Music

Report Claims 95% of Music Downloads Are Illegal 331

Un pobre guey writes "The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) press release claims that 95% of music file downloads in 2008, an estimated 40 billion files, were illegal. Oddly enough, digital music sales are up: 'The digital music business internationally saw a sixth year of expansion in 2008, growing by an estimated 25 per cent to US$3.7 billion in trade value. Digital platforms now account for around 20 per cent of recorded music sales, up from 15 per cent in 2007. Recorded music is at the forefront of the online and mobile revolution, generating more revenue in percentage terms through digital platforms than the newspaper (4%), magazine (1%) and film industries (4%) combined... Despite these developments, the music sector is still overshadowed by the huge amount of unlicensed music distributed online. Collating separate studies in 16 countries over a three-year period, IFPI estimates over 40 billion files were illegally file-shared in 2008, giving a piracy rate of around 95 per cent.'"
Games

Violence in Games, Once Again, Not That Compelling 191

One of the great arguments of the digital age has been over the effects of video games on aggression — especially if you have ever heard the name Jack Thompson. A recent study suggest the counterpoint once again, that violent video games really don't have that much impact. "The authors performed six studies in total, but they were in broad agreement, so we'll only discuss the more compelling ones here. For the experimental portion, these involved playing an essentially identical game with different degrees of violent content. One group of participants was randomly assigned to play the game House of the Dead 3 on the different extremes of its gore settings, while a second was split between those who played the normal version of Half-Life 2, and a those who played a modified version that turned the adventure into an elaborate game of tag. In both cases, the primary influences on enjoyment were the sense of competence and satisfaction, along with the immersive nature of the game. Generally, females rated immersion as more important, while males went for competence (and consistently rated their own expertise very highly). Violence didn't register when it came to enjoyment, even for those with pre-existing violent tendencies."
Image

South Carolina Seeking To Outlaw Profanity Screenshot-sm 849

MBGMorden writes "It looks like in an act that defies common sense, a bill has been introduced in the South Carolina State Senate that seeks to outlaw the use of profanity. According to the bill it would become a felony (punishable by a fine up to $5000 or up to 5 years in prison) to 'publish orally or in writing, exhibit, or otherwise make available material containing words, language, or actions of a profane, vulgar, lewd, lascivious, or indecent nature.' I'm not sure if 'in writing' could be applied to the internet, but in any event this is scary stuff."
Apple

Steve Jobs Takes Leave of Absence From Apple 429

An anonymous reader writes with this excerpt from Network World: "A number of sites are reporting that Apple's CEO Steve Jobs is taking a leave of absence till June at least. Speculation over Jobs' possibly failing health has run rampant in the past few weeks. Prior to the recent MacWorld show, Jobs said he had a hormone deficiency that had caused him to dramatically lose weight. In a memo today Jobs told workers his health issues are more complex than he thought." Reader Bastian227 adds a link to this letter from Steve Jobs on Apple's website, which also says that Tim Cook will be responsible for daily operations, though Jobs will remain involved with major strategic decisions.
Television

Conflict of Interest May Taint DTV Delay Proposal 339

Anonymous writes "Ars Technica has discovered that one of the Obama transition team members advising on the digital TV transition has a conflict of interest that would benefit WiMAX carrier Clearwire over Verizon. 'Barack Obama's call to delay the DTV transition would affect not only millions of analog TV viewers, but also powerful companies with a vested interest in the changeover date — including at least one with an executive on Obama's transition team.'"
Security

Interview With an Adware Author 453

rye writes in to recommend a Sherri Davidoff interview with Matt Knox, a talented Ruby instructor and coder, who talks about his early days designing and writing adware for Direct Revenue. (Direct Revenue was sued by Eliot Spitzer in 2006 for surreptitiously installing adware on millions of computers.) "So we've progressed now from having just a Registry key entry, to having an executable, to having a randomly-named executable, to having an executable which is shuffled around a little bit on each machine, to one that's encrypted — really more just obfuscated — to an executable that doesn't even run as an executable. It runs merely as a series of threads. ... There was one further step that we were going to take but didn't end up doing, and that is we were going to get rid of threads entirely, and just use interrupt handlers. It turns out that in Windows, you can get access to the interrupt handler pretty easily. ... It amounted to a distributed code war on a 4-10 million-node network."
The Media

Saving Journalism With Flash and Java 206

An anonymous reader writes "New York magazine has a story about some of the flashy new ideas that are coming out of the labs of the New York Times. The piece prompted Peter Wayner to dig up some of the old Java applets he wrote to explore whether more promiscuity really stops AIDS and whether baseball can do anything to speed up the games. He notes that these took a great deal of work to produce and it's not possible to do them on a daily basis. Furthermore, they're cranky and fragile, perhaps thanks to Java. Are cool, interactive features the future of journalism on the web? Or will simple ASCII text continue to be the most efficient way for us to mingle our thoughts, especially when ASCII text won't generate a classloading error?"
Education

MIT Moves Away From Massive Lecture Halls 317

eldavojohn writes "The New York Times is reporting on MIT's migration away from large lectures as many colleges and universities have. Attendance at these lectures often falls to 50 percent by the end of the semester. TEAL (Technology Enhanced Active Learning) gives the students a more hands on approach and may signal the death of the massive lecture hall synonymous with achieving a bachelors of science."
Medicine

Implant Raises Cellular Army To Attack Cancer 193

holy_calamity writes "New Scientist reports on a sneaky new approach to getting the immune system to fight cancer. An implant releases a 'molecular perfume' irresistible to messenger immune cells, which enter the implant where they are given a sample of the cancer's 'scent' and a disperse signal that sends them scurrying to the nearest lymph node. There they convince other immune cells to start attacking anything that matches the sample they picked up."

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