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The Courts

JPL Background Check Case Reaches Supreme Court 112

Dthief writes "A long-running legal battle between the United States government and a group of 29 scientists and engineers of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, has now reached the US Supreme Court." At issue: mandatory background checks for scientists and engineers working at JPL, which they allege includes snooping into their sexual orientation, as well as their mental and physical health.

Dead Pigs Used To Investigate Ocean's "Dead Zones" 106

timothy writes "As places to study what happens to corpses, the Atlantic Ocean is both much larger and much more specialized than the famous 'body farm' in Knoxville, TN. But for all kinds of good reasons, sending human bodies into Davy Jones' locker just to see where they float and how they bloat is unpopular. Pigs don't pay taxes, and more importantly, they don't vote. So Canadian scientists have taken to using them as human-body proxies, to study what happens when creatures of similar size and hairlessness (aka, us) end up 86ed and in the drink."

Michael Dell Says Windows 7 Will Make You Love PCs 627

ruphus13 writes "In a recent talk at the Churchill Club, Michael Dell addressed several topics, including the fact that Windows 7 is poised to take advantage of the upgrade cycle. Dell has always been a strong MS OEM ally and it is now hoping to cash in again from the impending upgrades. From the post: 'Dell made plain several times that he sees the installed base of technology as very old, and sees a coming "refresh cycle" for which he has high hopes. "The latest generation of chips from Intel is strong, particularly Nehalem," he said, adding, "and Windows 7 is on its way." (The operating system arrives Oct. 22nd, although Microsoft's large-volume licensees are already getting it.) He pointed out that many business are running Windows XP, which is eight years old. "I've been using Windows 7 for a long time now," he said, "and if you get the latest processor technology and Office 2010 with it, you will love your PC again. It's a dramatic improvement."'"
PlayStation (Games)

Improving the PlayStation Store 107

This opinion piece takes stock of Sony's PlayStation Store, examining its flaws and the areas Sony needs to improve as their gaming systems come to rely upon it more and more. The problems and suggested solutions involve everything from UI elements to demo availability to pricing inconsistencies. "Some people may say that the Microsoft Points scheme is a little confusing, but it is consistent. If a game is 800MSP in the US, it's 800MSP everywhere else. What a MSP is worth is up to the store, but for the most part they're close. The PlayStation Store on the other hand can be all over the place. While most games in North America keep to the same price point — such as $9.99 or $14.99, converting that over to Europe is another thing entirely. For example, Flower came out earlier this year for $9.99USD. In Australia a $10USD game gets converted to $12.95AUD. Or does it? Bomberman Ultra just came out, and it's $15.95AUD. Heavy Weapon gets released for $12.95AUD, while Capcom’s previous efforts, like Commando 3, convert to $15.95. The same thing also happens for more expensive titles. Both Battlefield 1943 and Fat Princess were released for $14.99 in the US, but in Australia they're priced at $19.95AUD and $23.95 respectively."

Comment Japan and Airport Security (Score 1) 447

I'm based in Japan and have to fly in and out every few months for work. Here are my observations:

1. It used to be pretty relaxed. It still is... if I'm traveling with my wife. For the last 18 months, every time I've flown by myself, I've had my bags briefly searched and been given a pat-down by customs after re-entry. (It may be because I wear a kilt.) However, when they do search my bags for whatever reason (hasn't happened in departures for at least 4 years), they apologize and repack everything nicely for me. This is unlike my experience in American airports where my bags are rifled through, and then I'm expected to repack it-- and get yelled at when I can't undo their unpacking job within 15 seconds.

2. Actually, with the fingerprinting, visa-holders get to use their very own line, separate from even the Japanese citizens (since citizens don't get fingerprinted... just us dirty, criminal (and in my case, permanently residing, tax-paying, etc.) foreigners). I'm usually through faster than anyone else, since there are so few of us on any given flight. But even so, passport control is FAST. Almost as fast as the EU: I've experienced fast passport control (i.e. pretty much a walk-through) in Copenhagen, Helsinki, and Paris. The fingerprinting and face photographing sucks and makes me mad. But it is really quick.

3. Outbound security is relatively strict, but also quick. A breeze compared to the U.S., Canada, the U.K., or, ugh, Charles de Gaulle (they confiscate soft cheeses in carry-on now, but you're never informed of this when you check your luggage for the flight that connects you to France). That's right, France, I'm going to blow up your plane with my Camembert!

4. I much prefer flying into and out of Narita than I do flying in or out of any international airport in North American, France, or the U.K.


Garlic Farmer Wards Off High-Speed Internet 475

DocVM writes "A Nova Scotia farmer is opposing the construction of a microwave tower for fear it will eventually mutate his organic garlic crop. Lenny Levine, who has been planting and harvesting garlic by hand on his Annapolis Valley land since the 1970s, is afraid his organic crop could be irradiated if EastLink builds a microwave tower for wireless high-speed internet access a few hundred meters from his farm."

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