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Submission + - Ikea's change of catalog font sparks outrage

Toe, The writes: "In case you thought your fellow SlashDotters were petty and unreasonably obsessive about the banal and trivial, you can find kindred souls in the graphics community. A recent decision by Ikea to change their catalog's typeface from Futura to Microsoft's Verdana has created an uproar seemingly out of proportion with such a non-Earth-shaking event. The switch has spurred a global petition and a growing FaceBook group, and when the outrage spilled over into Twitter, it trended higher than Ted Kennedy."

Submission + - White House Admits Spamming (whitehouse.gov)

adeelarshad82 writes: In the second e-mail controversy in recent days, the White House has admitted sending e-mail updates to people who did not sign up for them. In a blog posting Macon Phillips, the White House Director of New Media, announced "It has come to our attention that some people may have been subscribed to our email lists without their knowledge — likely as a result of efforts by outside groups of all political stripes — and we regret any inconvenience caused by receiving an unexpected message."
The Military

Submission + - Walkthrough of a Titan missile complex

stagg writes: Attached is a link that I discovered on BoingBoing. The website contains an amazing walkthrough of a Titan missile silo. The amount of information available is staggering, right down to the operations manual for the complex. Very cool! The gentleman responsible for much of this information seems to be planning to turn it into a data storage center for secure information. http://www.terrastories.com/bearings/titan-missile-history

Submission + - Why Incompetence Spreads through Big Organizations (technologyreview.com)

atommota writes: Promoting the people most competent at one job does not mean that they'll be better at another, according to a new simulation of hierarchical organizations. There's a paradox at the heart of most Western organizations. The people who perform best at one level of an organization tend to be promoted on the premise that they will also be competent at another level within the organization. I imagine that most readers will have had personal experience at the way that this hypothesis fails in practice.
In 1969, a Canadian psychologist named Laurence Peter encapsulated this behavior in a rule that has since become known as Peter's Principle. Here it is:

"All new members in a hierarchical organization climb the hierarchy until they reach their level of maximum incompetence."

A new study now revisits this rule — The Peter Principle Revisited: A Computational Study


VLC 0.9.9, The Best Media Player Just Got Better 488

Matt Asay points out a recent update to VLC as they narrow in on a 1.0 release. Already a favorite of many, the open source project has made great strides in recent history towards really solidifying the position as best-in-class. This update, 0.9.9, fixes several display bugs and sees some definite performance improvements. "If you've yet to try VLC, do so. Whether you just want to play media files or also want to convert them, VLC can handle just about anything you throw at it. When all other media players fail, whether on Windows, Linux, or the Mac, VLC will almost always deliver. You can download VLC media player 0.9.9 here. It's open source, but that's not why you'll want to keep using it. You'll use it because it's better than its proprietary peers — by a long stretch.

Rocket Hobbyists Prevail Over Feds In Court Case 546

Ellis D. Tripp writes "DC District Court judge Reggie Walton has finally ruled in the 9-year old court case pitting the model rocketry community against the US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. The ruling is a 'slam dunk' for the rocketry community, stating that the BATFE ignored scientific evidence and overstepped its bounds by classifying ammonium perchlorate composite propellant (APCP) as an 'explosive.' Effective immediately, the BATFE has no legal jurisdiction over hobby rocket motors, and a federal Low Explosives User's Permit will no longer be needed in order to purchase APCP motors. The full text of the Judge's decision is reproduced at the link."
The Almighty Buck

The Formula That Killed Wall Street 561

We recently discussed the perspective that the harrowing of Wall Street was caused by over-reliance on computer models that produced a single number to characterize risk. Wired has a piece profiling David X. Li, the quant behind the formula that enabled the creation of such simple risk models. "For five years, Li's formula, known as a Gaussian copula function, looked like an unambiguously positive breakthrough, a piece of financial technology that allowed hugely complex risks to be modeled with more ease and accuracy than ever before. With his brilliant spark of mathematical legerdemain, Li made it possible for traders to sell vast quantities of new securities, expanding financial markets to unimaginable levels. His method was adopted by everybody from bond investors and Wall Street banks to ratings agencies and regulators. ... [T]he real danger was created not because any given trader adopted it but because every trader did. In financial markets, everybody doing the same thing is the classic recipe for a bubble and inevitable bust."
The Internet

The Chinese (Web Servers) Are Coming 231

Glyn Moody writes "The February 2009 Netcraft survey is not the usual 'Apache continues to trounce Microsoft IIS' story: there's a new entrant — from China. 'This majority of this month's growth is down to the appearance of 20 million Chinese sites served by QZHTTP. This web server is used by QQ to serve millions of Qzone sites beneath the qq.com domain.' What exactly is this QZHTTP, and what does it all mean for the world of Web servers?"
United States

Submission + - Russian Professor Predicts Fall of U.S. in 2010

atommota writes: For a decade, Russian academic Igor Panarin has been predicting the U.S. will fall apart in 2010. For most of that time, he admits, few took his argument — that an economic and moral collapse will trigger a civil war and the eventual breakup of the U.S. — very seriously. Now he's found an eager audience: Russian state media. In recent weeks, he's been interviewed as much as twice a day about his predictions. "It's a record," says Prof. Panarin. "But I think the attention is going to grow even stronger." Mr. Panarin posits, in brief, that mass immigration, economic decline, and moral degradation will trigger a civil war next fall and the collapse of the dollar. Around the end of June 2010, or early July, he says, the U.S. will break into six pieces — with Alaska reverting to Russian control.

Submission + - Google bans anti-MoveOn.org ads (examiner.com)

An anonymous reader writes: According to this story,


Google has banned advertisements critical of MoveOn.org, the far-left advocacy group that caused a national uproar last month when it received preferential treatment from The New York Times for its "General Betray Us" message. Google claims the ads were removed and would not be allowed to resume because they violated Google's trademark policy. Interestingly, Google appears to be selectively enforcing its policy, routinely permitting the unauthorized use of company names such as Exxon, Wal-Mart, Cargill and Microsoft in advocacy ads. An anti-war ad currently running on Google asks "Keep Blackwater in Iraq?" and links to an article titled "Bastards at Blackwater — Should Blackwater Security be held accountable for the deaths of its employees?"

Are you troubled by Google's censorship, or is it OK (or even desireable and neccesary for the good of the USA) to suppress the political speech of conservative people and parties you disagree with?


Submission + - Googlebot following Gmail users?

omeomi writes: "I recently set up a script that emails URL's with unique id's to users of a mailing list that I maintain. When users click on the URL in their email, they are directed to a private page on my website, and their username and IP address is logged. However, I noticed that when the user is a Gmail user, their IP address is always followed by a Googlebot-IP address (confirmed with whois). It appears that the Googlebot follows Gmail users when they click on links in their emails. I wonder, what does it do with this information? Is it used only for Gmail-advertising, or are these pages that I've intended to be private and unique being indexed by Google? Has anybody else experienced this?"

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