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Comment Re:Please... (Score 4, Insightful) 187

I should add, for anyone crazy enough to want to read the forums, here's a link: Clicky, it can get quite confusing at times, the regulars were well on their way to inventing a new language (not to mention para-religions at times), but there's definitely some fascinating posts as well, and every frame immortalised in order, with an enforced (by how fast you read) gap to replicate the way it felt when it was going.

Comment Re:Please... (Score 5, Informative) 187

It was for lack of better terminology, an entirely new way of doing a webcomic. Usually XKCD updates 3 times a week, with a new URL for each one (and very rarely do stories continue across updates), Time updated every 30 minutes at the same URL, initially with minute variations, which lots of the regular viewers missed for quite a while. The complete lack of dialogue for the first 100 or so frames meant that people were being challenged to create their own backstory. The story itself also got grander in scope as it progressed, with subtle hints towards the setting being given. That it went for months, and over 3000 frames (which when viewed are effectively a stop-motion movie), is also unprecedented to my knowledge. It also managed to spawn a thread which managed to stay on-topic for over 50000 posts, (as well as a whole pile of jargon within that thread.)

It isn't the greatest story ever told, but the method of presentation (particularly the enforced wait between frames which leads to great speculation), subtle hints which rely on not insignificant prior knowledge (the time-period was placed by a particularly beautiful, and accurate, rendering of the night sky which was presented over a period of days), make it unique.

Submission + - WSJ claims that the FBI can "remote activate" microphones in Android and laptops (

Zanadou writes: Another day, another story to toss on to the "are-they-watching-you?" pile: an article published today on the Wall Street Journal about "FBI hacker (sic.) tactics" reports this:

"The FBI develops some hacking tools internally and purchases others from the private sector. With such technology, the bureau can remotely activate the microphones in phones running Google Inc.'s Android software to record conversations, one former U.S. official said. It can do the same to microphones in laptops without the user knowing, the person said. Google declined to comment."

Sounds like they're talking about ex post facto compromised/tampered laptops—but who knows about Android? FUD, anyone?

Submission + - US Supreme Court Overturns Patents on Human Genes

GreenTech11 writes: In what is being described as a win by scientific and civil liberty communities, the Supreme Court of the United States unanimously ruled against Myriad Genetics on Thursday, saying that human genes cannot be patented. Although Myriad's patents on synthetic versions of genes were upheld, the Supreme Court ruled that simply isolating genes from surrounding genetic material was not patentable, a position taken by the Obama administration. The ruling promises cheaper genetic tests in future, as biotech companies will no longer be able to hold a monopoly on the genes being tested.

The Supreme Court Ruling can be found here (PDF)

Comment Re:OPs title is wrong, and biased... (Score 1) 1111

Exactly my thoughts on reading the article, the guy would have to be living under a rock to not realise what the compartment was likely to be used for, which under California's law (although he wasn't tried there it would appear) made him an accomplice. It's not unreasonable that he received a jail sentence for his work, ignorance of the law (a key point of the article) does not grant immunity to the law. However, a two and a half decade sentence is most definitely a case of over-zealous sentencing. A 10 year sentence, with possibility of parole at 5 or 6 would be harsh, but fair. 24 years without parole (and more than double the sentence given to the actual main perpetrators in the drug ring) is simply a case of finding a good scapegoat for a campaign of being "Tough on Law and Order". Who was up for election?

Comment Re:Translate this to legalese: (Score 5, Informative) 371

That'd be because the majority of pharmaceuticals are covered under the Pharmaceutical Benefit System, ie, subsidised by the government as part of free and universal health care. I'm sure that if the Australian government didn't do that, we'd get an especially large "fuck you" from the pharma companies as well.

As far as media goes, I'm hopeful that something might come of this, it's one thing on physical products (where at least you can put it down to "shipping"), but when buying the exact same software, (or even the same song), costs at least 100% more, then there is no other explanation than price gouging. Particularly galling when most of these countries don't pay much Australian tax on their Australian profits either.


Submission + - Researcher Finds 40-50 Million Devices Hackable Due To UPnP Bugs (

Sparrowvsrevolution writes: H.D. Moore of Rapid7 has discovered a set of security flaws in three different implementations of the set of common (and notoriously troublesome) networking protocols known as Universal Plug and Play, or UPnP. For nearly the last six months, he's been scanning the Internet for devices made vulnerable by those UPnP bugs, and has discovered somewhere between 40 and 50 million routers, printers, servers and other devices susceptible to some sort of hacker compromise via the public Internet. At least some routers from every major vendor are vulnerable. And 23 million of the devices could be completely taken over and used as Linux machines capable of attacking the rest of a victim's internal network.

Moore recommends that users disable UPnP on their networking gear and other devices immediately, and that ISPs even go so far as to push new firmware to consumers' home routers.


Submission + - Graphene and brain research to get around one billion euro in funding - each (

cylonlover writes: The European Commission has announced two Future and Emerging Technologies (FET) Flagships that could each receive funding of a staggering one billion euro (US$1.3 billion) over a period of ten years. The “Graphene Flagship” and the “Human Brain Project” are large-scale, science-driven research initiatives designed to “fuel revolutionary discoveries” and provide major benefits for European society – hopefully creating new jobs and providing economic growth along the way.

The Graphene Flagship aims to get graphene out of the lab and into real world products and applications, while the Human Brain Project will attempt to gain a better understanding of our least understood organ so as to develop new treatments for brain diseases, build new computing technologies inspired by the architecture of the brain, and provide insights into what makes us human.

Comment Re:uuh (Score 5, Interesting) 132

I don't doubt the science behind the concept, and your point about debris being able to puncture the exterior no matter what is a good one. I'm curious about the potential psychological impact of the module. Even if it's completely irrational (and the FA says non-rigid exteriors are better able to withstand a micrometeor), I can't help but feel that if I was up in the ISS, I'd want a solid metal wall, rather than an inflatable fabric one.

Having said that, being able to more than double the size, and presumably living space, of the ISS would probably do a great deal of good psychologically. Not to mention the fact that people who choose to go on missions to the ISS must have a certain amount of crazy to begin with, so probably wont care in the same way an ordinary mortal such as myself would.

The next question of course is how to get it up there? It's about 10x more than the maximum payload of either the Dragon or Soyuz rockets...


Submission + - Origin of Neil Armstrong's 'One Small Step' Line Revealed (

SchrodingerZ writes: "In an upcoming BBC Documentary, Dean Armstrong, the brother of astronaut Neil Armstrong, reveals when the world famous 'one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind' line originated. For years, people have argued over when Armstrong came up with the line, whether it was on the spot or planned years ahead. Also debated is whether Armstrong meant to include 'a' before man, making the indefinite article 'man', which alludes to mankind, into a singular, 'a man', himself. According to Dean Armstrong, the quote was shared to him over a board game, months before the mission began. He says, 'We started playing Risk and then he [Neil] slipped me a piece of paper and said 'read that’. I did. On that piece of paper there was 'That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind’. He says 'what do you think about that?’ I said 'fabulous’. He said 'I thought you might like that, but I wanted you to read it’. He then added: 'It was 'that is one small step for A man’'. Armstrong had always insisted that he had said 'a', that that it was lost in communication static. This new story however conflicts with what Neil told James Hansen for his biography, stating he came up with the quote on the lunar surface. More on the historic moon landing and the life of Neil Armstrong in the new documentary Neil Armstrong- First Man on the Moon, on BBC."

Comment Re:What if... (Score 3, Insightful) 175

You're right, I'm not a scientist, and as such I know how much land an ox can plow in a day! How could the rest of the world be so silly? The only reason that the metric system hasn't been implemented in the US is laziness masquerading as self-entitlement "How dare you take this away from me! This is our history!" Hell, I'm a well educated person, and I had to google ox to find out exactly what one is in relation to a cow. (Trained for farm work apparently, often a castrated male)

Comment About 300GB of data total (Score 1) 172

Although, I could be a smartarse: my genetic code would only take up about 100GB, add on another 10% maybe for epigenetic markers.

Most of the 300GB is music, photos and TV/Movies. Probably games as well, and a very small proportion of it being text based assignments. Extrapolating from the size of a HTML version of War and Peace, I've probably got another GB or two on my bookshelf, which is actually the data I enjoy the most.

I'd also be curious as to how much "data" the memories and behaviour patterns that make up me would take up, since with the exception of a few GB of photos, none of the other data is really irreplaceable. Any brave neurologist want to take an estimate? Or an overconfident computer scientist?

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