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Submission + - Geographers Nearly Predicted Bin Laden's Location (

sciencehabit writes: Could Osama bin Laden have been found faster if the CIA had followed the advice of ecosystem geographers from the University of California, Los Angeles? Probably not, but the predictions of UCLA geographer Thomas Gillespie, who, along with colleague John Agnew and a class of undergraduates, authored a 2009 paper predicting the terrorist’s whereabouts, were none too shabby. According to a probabilistic model they created, there was an 80.9% chance that bin Laden was hiding out in Abbottabad, Pakistan, where he was killed last night. And they correctly predicted that he would be in a large town, not a cave.

Submission + - IE9 can't stop Microsoft's browser slump (

forbruksln writes: "All of Microsoft's older browsers continued their steady fall. IE6, the browser Microsoft has campaigned to kill, fell by one-tenth of a point to 10.9%, while IE7 slipped by five-tenths of a percentage point to 7.4%. And IE8 dropped for the second consecutive month to end April at 33.1%, a number about equal to its July 2010 share."
United States

Submission + - Jerry Brown Cancels $356 Million Prison

Hugh Pickens writes writes: "The San Francisco Chronicle reports that California Governor Jerry Brown has canceled a controversial plan with a projected construction cost of $356 million to build a new Death Row able to house up to 1,152 condemned inmates, citing the state's fiscal crisis. The state auditor estimated the state would spend $1.2 billion on additional staffing to operate the new facility at San Quentin State Prison over the next 20 years. "At a time when children, the disabled and seniors face painful cuts to essential programs, the state of California cannot justify a massive expenditure of public dollars for the worst criminals in our state," says Brown. "California will have to find another way to address the housing needs of condemned inmates." With the US prison system in crisis with 2.3 million Americans incarcarated, up from 338,000 Americans in 1970, Peter Moskos puts forward the idea that since prisons today have all but abandoned rehabilitative ideals, all that is left is punishment, and we certainly could punish in a way that is much cheaper, honest, and even more humane so how about offering criminals the choice of the lash in lieu of incarceration? "If flogging were really worse than prison, nobody would choose it," writes Moskos, an assistant professor of law, police science, and criminal-justice administration at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. "If you were sentenced to five years in prison but had the option of receiving lashes instead, what would you choose? You would probably pick flogging. Wouldn't we all?""

Submission + - First ever Pulitzer for non-print series (

decora writes: "Last year ProPublica won the first Pulitzer for an online news site. This year, they have been awarded the first Pulitzer for a series that did not appear in print. The series was Eisinger and Bernstein's "The Wall Street Money Machine" which described how hedge funds & financiers profited from the collapse of the economy. ProPublica publishes under a Creative Commons license and hosts a Nerd Blog where they write about journalism-related hacking and publish open source tools they have developed."
The Internet

Submission + - High Speed portable internet connection?

An anonymous reader writes: There's a service that currently provides live video feeds online for all sorts of events at different venues and the up bandwidth required to provide the livestream is about 3mbps. We're now looking at providing this service at events that would like multiple feeds at once. Looking at 5 feeds at 3mbps a piece, we'd want about 15mbps of up bandwidth. Doing some reencoding or compression we can get the streams down to about 1.7mbps each, but majority of venues don't have a fast enough connection for even one let alone 5. The venues are all around the country (US). So what are my options and costs for high speed portable internet connections.

Comment Re:WTF? (Score 3, Interesting) 515

I often wondered whether as with food where there is a legal requirement to list the ingredients there should be a similar requirement for PC vendors to list all the bloat/crap/ad-ware they include on their products. Of course people may still not know what they're in for but at least there's a chance you can stop yourself getting affected by a keylogger if you bothered to check it was there. Also if this was a legal requirement then a failure to disclose its presence would lead to a relatively strightforward penalty. I know most of the readers here would probably install the system themselves and likely not even Windows but for the bulk of the consumers it might be useful to at least know what's coming and be able to make a choice *before* the purchase is made.

I'd like to see Samsung get into big trouble over this because it is inherently wrong, at least that's my position, but I am less sure if they have broken any actual laws. Maybe some digital eavesdropping provisions that are only allowed to be done by governments have been breached but I can see Samsung weaselling out of that one. There's probably a disclaimer in 5point font 100 pages into the agreement that the buyer agrees to by opening the box.... of course that's wrong too. Oh where to start...

Comment Re:Piracy is a consequence.... (Score 1) 177

What places might those be? And what's the excuse for buying a cassette when you already own an LP?

If you wanted to play music in your car (and didn't want that to be from the radio) you might need to buy a cassette, at least I'm not aware of any cars came with builtin turntables. The Walkman also made it possible to take music with you on the go, but again if you had the LP you'd need to "buy the White Album again" on cassette.

Comment Re:Well. (Score 1) 356

It is my understanding that in many of the "loser pays" jurisdictions it applies only if the party bringing the suit loses. So in your example you'd be fine... well not fine, more like screwed, but at least safe from having to front up the money for the vampiric hordes used to convict you of some heinous act like downloading a copy of Santa Clause 2.

It's still not a perfect system, but better than you describe.

Comment Re:Computer Labs are still useful (Score 1) 571

I run a number of faculty specific labs (specialised software & hardware) and have a lot of contact with central IT and other faculty specific lab administrators.

I echo a lot of the sentiments already expressed but wanted to address the specific issue of speaking to the users of the facility. Mine is, as far as I know, the only place at my University that has the support staff located in the computer lab area. Everywhere else the students have to log a job with the helpdesk... which ends up being rare because it's more effort than just moving to another machine. Then the admins come around some time later (or perform tasks remotely) and do not, in any way, interact with the end users. In my case they just come and ask, which has its drawbacks too, but I get to know a lot more about them and how they use the labs.

Even those who have their own machines use the labs primarily because of the software. They can't afford to buy copies of CS4 and Solidworks and Final Cut Pro and so on... some pirate, but many wouldn't know how, the rest don't want to. The other reasons are communication with other students, printing and the speed of the machines we have as opposed to what they can get on their laptops.

Knowing how the students work and communicating with them regularly has helped me make the facilities better and while the labs are open until 3am and I go home some 9 hours earlier they're not shy in letting me know what happened the night before about any specific issues.

You learn only so much by looking, you learn more by talking as well.

Comment Re:The band in question (Score 3, Insightful) 317

How many US citizens know what the capital of Florida is?

Also really.. just national capitals would be nice, capitals of states is a much longer bow to draw since the corollary question would be to ask what the capitals of places like Hunan, Alsace, Free State and Tasmania would be.

I think most people would probably assume the answer is Miami because it's the most known of Floridian cities, I knew it wasn't but had to look up the answer. I'm not from the US and do not live there.

I think in broader terms you're right about ignorance not being uniquely a US trait and that entertainment TV shows are a poor educational tool (because they're not meant to be) but if you're trying to change the preconceptions of people then I would say your post isn't doing it.

Comment Re:Vista is good. But there's a bigger problem. (Score 3, Informative) 394

2. It's still streets ahead of OS X, and OS X's licensing doesn't seem to have slowed it down too much.

Whether or not Windows 7 is streets ahead of OS X is debatable but I'm more interested in the second half of that point. OS X, at least the client version which is what I assume we're talking about, has no licensing scheme to speak of. You can install OS X on as many machines as you want from one disc and never have to make a phone call for an activation code or connect to Apple's servers for permission. I guess Apple is effectively selling a licence of OS X with every box sold you could argue their licensing is a giant dongle which doubles as a computer.

At any rate I think the reason OS X's licensing doesn't seem to have hampered it is because it barely has any when compared to the alternative from Microsoft.


Submission + - Australian Internet Filter proposal hits snag

Just because I'm an writes: According to the Sydney Morning Herald the proposed ISP level filter mandated by government is not going to receive the political support it requires to proceed. This story has been previously discussed on Slashdot and while on the surface it sounds like a win for common sense reading the article could lead to the interpretation that the Independent Senator, whose vote is required to carry the numbers, might change his mind if his pet hate of online gambling sites is added to the filter.

Already the filter has broadened from the original banning of child pornography to cover other material. This other material constitutes close to half the evergrowing list.

Comment Re:Science has a high burden of proof. (Score 3, Insightful) 186

Depends on how you frame your purpose. It's a bit like giving a man trout as opposed to teaching him to fish. Also why can't they feed the poor *and* do space exploration.

Personally I think space exploration is very important. Eventually we're going to have to get off this rock to survive. Whether by resource depletion, disease, catastrophic event (something big crashes into Earth, supervolcanoes go apeshit or sun going supernova) something's going to make our time here limited and the sooner we find viable ways of travelling, finding other hospitable planets (or moons) sustaining ourselves and all the other things we haven't figured out yet the better. Yes some of what we do could probably be done better, or more efficiently, but we've got to keep trying. I'm also not a fan of just letting the USA and Russia play this game. I think India the ESA and China all have a valid reason to play the game too. I'm not sure which 3rd world country was being referred to but all the involved nations so far have poor hungry people they could be helping out.

Just because they have a space program doesn't mean they can't do that too.

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