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BBC Astronomer Misses Meteor During Live Show 116

krou writes "BBC astronomer Mark Thompson wasn't having a good night for the BBC's Stargazing Live show. He turned to the camera to complain of poor cloud visibility and a lack of activity in the sky ... only for a meteor to shoot past in the background. A rather sheepish Thompson said, 'I must admit I was oblivious to it. I think I'm probably the only person in the entire country who didn't see it.' (YouTube video of the original live footage)."

CIA Launches WTF To Investigate Wikileaks 402

krou writes "In an effort to investigate the impact of the leaked diplomatic cables, the CIA have launched the Wikileaks Task Force, commonly referred to at CIA headquarters as 'WTF.' 'The Washington Post said the panel was being led by the CIA's counter-intelligence centre, although it has drawn in two dozen members from departments across the agency.' Although the agency has not seen much of its own information leaked in the cables, some revelations (such as spying at the UN) originated from direct requests by the CIA. The Guardian notes that, 'WTF is more commonly associated with the Facebook and Twitter profiles of teenagers than secret agency committees. Given that its expanded version is usually an expression of extreme disbelief, perhaps the term is apt for the CIA's investigation.'"

Air Force Sonic Booms Ignite Crocodiles' Sex Drives Screenshot-sm 61

It turns out the key to a male crocodile's heart is a sonic boom. Crocodiles at an Israeli farm have begun making mating calls in response to sonic booms created by air force planes breaking the sound barrier. From the article: "The males have already begun their mating calls, described by the newspaper as 'the sound a vehicle breaking,' normally reserved for the crocodiles' spring mating season, Israeli newspaper Maariv reported. David Golan of the Hamat Gadar crocodile farm in the Golan Heights, believes the reptiles were responding to the sonic booms, wrongly believing they were the calls of rival males encroaching on their territory
Security — the Evil URL Shortener 116

supernothing writes "DDoS attacks seem to be in vogue today, especially considering the skirmishes over WikiLeaks in the past few weeks. The size of a DDoS attacks, however, has historically been limited by how many computers one has managed to recruit into a botnet. These botnets almost universally require code to be executed on the participants' local systems, whether they are willing or unwilling. A new approach has been emerging recently, however, which uses some simple JavaScript to achieve similar ends. is a new service that utilizes these techniques, but provides a unique twist on the idea. Posing as a legitimate URL shortening service, it serves users the requested pages in an iFrame, while simultaneously participating in a DDoS attack in the background. No interaction is required beyond clicking the link and staying on the page. This makes it relatively trivial to quickly mount large-scale DDoS attacks, and affords willing participants plausible deniability in the assault."

'YouCut' Targets National Science Foundation Budget 760

jamie writes "As some of you may have heard, the incoming Republican majority in Congress has a new initiative called YouCut, which lets ordinary Americans like me propose government programs for termination. So imagine how excited I was to learn that YouCut's first target — yes, its first target — was that notoriously bloated white elephant, the National Science Foundation."

Texas Supreme Court Cites Mr. Spock 345

An anonymous reader writes "We always knew that Spock was wise and would probably make a pretty good judge, so perhaps it's a good thing to see the Texas Supreme Court citing Spock in a recent ruling, noting his wisdom in stating that 'the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.'"

Study Finds Most Would Become Supervillians If Given Powers 419

It probably comes as no surprise, but researchers have found that most of us would gladly put on a mask and fight do-gooders if given super powers. From the article: "But power also acts like strong cologne that affects both the wearer and those within smelling distance, Galinsky noted. The person gains an enhanced sense of their importance, and other people may regard them with greater respect as well as extend leniency toward their actions. That combination makes for an easy slide into corruption."

Anti-Piracy Lawyers Caught Pirating Each Other 131

An anonymous reader writes "We would like to think that the lawyers that are prosecuting alleged copyright infringers are practicing what they preach, but it looks like one of the most high profile firms involved in such cases are just as guilty of stealing others' work as those who are downloading illegal media."
The Internet

Destroy Entire Websites With Asteroids Bookmarklet 65

An anonymous reader writes "Have you ever visited a website and been so frustrated by the content, layout, or adverts that you'd love to destroy it? Well, now you can. If you head on over to the erkie GitHub page there's a JavaScript bookmarklet you can drag and add to your bookmarks toolbar. Then just visit any website and click the bookmarklet. An Asteroids-style ship should appear that you can move around with the arrow keys. Press space and it will start firing bullets which destroy page content."

Microsoft's Chief Exec For Latin America Says 'Open' Means 'Incompetent' 340

An anonymous reader writes "The President of Microsoft Latin America, in criticizing the Brazilian government for its support of open source software, claimed that declaring something open is how you 'mask incompetence.' That seems especially funny coming from Microsoft, who has used 'closed' to mask incompetence for years. I thought 'open' meant that people could find and fix (or ignore) incompetence, whereas closed meant you were stuck with the incompetence."

They Finally Found Out We Like Our Computers 184

I'm Not There (1956) writes "Sociologist Clifford Nass is talking about how people think of their computers as something like human beings. In one of his experiments, Nass found that people are more willing to 'help' computers when the computer helped them previously: 'When people were then asked to help optimize the screen resolution on a computer where the program had been "helpful," they were much more likely to do so than with the less helpful version.' He also found that people evaluating software's performance were more forgiving if the evaluation was done on the same computer the software was tested on. Nass has recently published the book The Man Who Lied to His Laptop, in which he 'uses our interactions with machines to investigate how human relationships could be improved.'"

Dog Eats Man's Toe and Saves His Life Screenshot-sm 207

Have you ever been so drunk that you passed out and your dog ate your toe? I haven't either, but luckily for Michigander Jerry Douthett, he has. It turns out Jerry has type 2 diabetes and a wound on his toe had becoming dangerously infected. After a night of drinking Jerry passed out in his chair and the family dog Kiko decided to do a little doggy doctoring. From the article: "'The toe was gone,' said Douthett. 'He ate it. I mean, he must have eaten it, because we couldn't find it anywhere else in the house. I look down, there's blood all over, and my toe is gone.' [Douthett's wife] Rosee, 40, rushed her husband to the hospital where she's a gerontology nurse — Spectrum Health's Blodgett Campus. Kiko had gnawed to a point below the nail-line. When tests revealed an infection to the bone, doctors amputated what was left of the toe."

Funeral Being Held Today For IE6 Screenshot-sm 194

An anonymous reader writes "More than 100 people, many of them dressed in black, are expected to gather around a coffin Thursday to say goodbye to an old friend. The deceased? Internet Explorer 6. The aging Web browser, survived by its descendants Internet Explorer 7 and Internet Explorer 8, is being eulogized at a tongue-in-cheek 'funeral' hosted by Aten Design Group, a design firm in Denver, Colorado."

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