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Puzzle Games (Games)

Submission + - Gamers to Help Design HIV Vaccines

Hugh Pickens writes: "For years, biochemists have reengineered naturally occurring proteins by growing them in viruses and single-celled organisms in a process called directed evolution. Now David Baker, a leading protein scientist at the University of Washington, has demonstrated the first algorithm for building novel, functioning enzymes from scratch and wants to enlists gamers to improve three-dimensional protein structures, using graphical representations of real protein chemistry. Baker's game, called Foldit which is avaiable for download, uses humans, who are better at seeing the big picture than computers are, to improve computer-designed proteins. The first several levels of Foldit are designed to teach players what good proteins look like and how to manipulate them using the tools of the game. After improving the designs of a few test proteins, players can advance into competitive play, working in teams or alone. By making the game available to anyone over the Web, the researchers expect to find people they call protein savants — people who are very good at solving protein structures and who will spend several hours a week playing the game."

Submission + - Scientists Provide Explanation For Cancer's Spread

Hugh Pickens writes: "Metastasis, the spread of cancer throughout the body, can be explained by the fusion of a cancer cell with a white blood cell in the original tumor, according to Yale School of Medicine researchers, who say that this single event can set the stage for cancer's migration to other parts of the body. The studies, spanning 15 years, have revealed that the newly formed hybrid of the cancer cell and white blood cell adapts the white blood cell's natural ability to migrate around the body, while going through the uncontrolled cell division of the original cancer cell. This causes a metastatic cell to emerge, which like a white blood cell, can migrate through tissue, enter the circulatory system and travel to other organs. "This is a unifying explanation for metastasis," said John Pawelek at Yale Cancer Center. "Although we know a vast amount about cancer, how a cancer cell becomes metastatic still remains a mystery." Although The fusion theory was first proposed in the early 1900s, the team began by fusing white blood cells with tumor cells which were remarkably metastatic and lethal when implanted into mice. "Viewing the fusion of a cancer cell and a white blood cell as the initiating event for metastasis suggests that metastasis is virtually another disease imposed on the pre-existing cancer cell," said Pawelek. "We expect this to open new areas for therapy based on the fusion process itself.""

Submission + - Right Whales Protected by Smart Warning Buoys

Pickens writes: "Endangered North Atlantic right whales are safer along Massachusetts Bay's busy shipping lanes this spring, thanks to a new system of smart buoys. The buoys recognize whales' distinctive calls and route the information to a public Web site and a marine warning system, giving ships the chance to avoid deadly collisions. The 10-buoy Right Whale Listening Network — developed at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution — is arriving barely in time for the beleaguered right whale. The species was hunted to the brink of extinction centuries ago, and now fewer than 400 of the 50-ton black giants remain. Collisions with ships are currently a leading cause of death. Each "auto-detection" buoy recognizes the right whale's call, automatically rings up recorders at the lab and uploads the sound. Analysts verify the call and then feed the signals to the listening network's Web site and to the Northeast U.S. Right Whale Sighting Advisory System. The network of buoys is strategically placed between inbound and outbound shipping lanes, and each buoy listens in a 5-mile radius, providing information on where collision risks are highest. To help protect whales when they are quiet, alerts remain in effect around a buoy for 24 hours after a call is detected."

Submission + - Plan to Clear Travelers from Terrorist Watch Lists

Hugh Pickens writes: "In a program aimed at the tens of thousands of travelers who are pulled aside for questions at airports because their names match those on government watch lists, travelers who can prove they don't belong on terrorist watch lists could be spared extra scrutiny under a new program that addresses the public's biggest complaint about aviation safety. "It's the Ted Kennedy problem," Chertoff said, referring to Massachusetts Senator Edward Kennedy who announced in 2004 he had been repeatedly stopped at airports because his name was similar to someone flagged for possible links to terrorism. Under the new program, innocent travelers would have a new option: to allow the airline to add their names and dates of birth into company records. "After that, they will get their boarding pass just like everyone else does," said Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff and on subsequent trips, those fliers also would be allowed to obtain their boarding passes over the Internet. One potential rub is that travelers will need to provide extra personal information to each airline they fly on and it's also up to the airlines whether they participate in the program."

Submission + - SPAM: Joomla! A User's Guide

stoolpigeon writes: "It doesn't seem like it has been 3 years since the Mambo dev team split and a new content management system, Joomla! was born. Over the last few years Joomla has grown to be very popular and has very strong developer and user communities. Joomla is extremely flexible and a wide array of extensions exist that allow the system to provide many different capabilities. In "Joomla! A User's Guide", Barrie North provides everything needed to get anyone up and running with a Joomla based site, even if they have little or no experience with creating web sites or applications.

The book is written with language and content squarely aimed at someone new to the tech side of building and running a web site. The language is very simple and even relatively basic terms are explained. As someone with some amount of experience working with software and the web, I didn't find it to be tedious. North does not go on at length, but just gives the information necessary so that someone without the background will be able to keep up. He can also be rather sympathetic to the reader, encouraging them with things that he says can be difficult. That did get a little tiring at times, though I would imagine for his target audience these affirmations could be really assuring. If you are someone who just wants to get a jump on how Joomla works, I wouldn't worry too much about this emphasis on the basic. The book is not overly verbose and so the more basic content does not seem to stretch on forever. North covers a lot of ground in what is a thin book in comparison to much of what seems to dominate the tech book market these days.

While North doesn't wallow in the most basic material and explanations, he never moves on to the really advanced stuff either. If you are interested in coding extensions, or working with the core code, you wont find much here. If you would like a definitive guide with an explanation for every feature and option that exists in Joomla you wont get that either. What North provides is a guide to the most used and most useful information about how to install, set up and run a Joomla based web site. Probably the most advanced material in the book deals with building templates for customizing the look of Joomla. Along with instructions on working with Joomla itself, North also takes some time to also deal with how to generate traffic to a site. For some that chapter may be a bit uncomfortable, though North does a good job of laying out a basic explanation of how things work, as well as practices to avoid. There is a matching appendix on SEO, which is a dirty word in some places. I think that North approaches it with a nice balance between reaching for visibility while avoiding actions that are less than desirable.

The book ends with 3 example sites that the reader can build as they work through the book. These cover a nice range of cases with one being for a school, another for a business and the third is a blog. This gives the reader nice opportunities to play with the software while having guidelines that keep moving things forward and give it all some useful context. A nice companion to this is an appendix with six case studies on existing sites that use Joomla. North interviewed someone from each site and gives an introduction to the site, a screen shot of their front page and then the questions and answers about the site. Together this forms very nice coverage on just what kind of possibilities exist from a real world perspective as opposed to keeping everything purely theoretical.

The book tends to lean towards explaining platform specific items, like installation, from the Windows perspective. I think the assumption is that Linux users will probably already know how to install what they need and are quite likely to already have all the supporting pieces in place. North explains the installation of WampServer for windows users, to get them started with a local install for working through the book. Everything is very hands on and while the screen shots are not in color they are clear and easy to understand. There are also highlighted notes that give the reader reinforcement on what is most necessary to take away from a section.

The support for the book outside of the copy itself is very good. The book comes with 45 days access through Safari. North's site for the book has downloads for the associated files from the book as well as sql dumps from the MySQL databases that correspond to the example sites from the book. Everything necessary to build out the examples in the book, or compare one's work to the authors should problems creep up.

I consider myself to be somewhat technically proficient and at times I did find myself skimming over material that I didn't need. But I did want to use Joomla well and gain that skill quickly and this book was very helpful in that regard. I would think for anyone else who didn't want to waste any time hunting around, this could be a useful guide. Another good use I could see for the book is that it would make an excellent gift to anyone who is not a 'geek' but is using a joomla based site. This could be a client that has a new site you just built for them, or a relative or friend who would like to have a site of their own but seem to call you for support a little too often. I know if I hand off a Joomla site to anyone in the future, unless they are already experience with it, they will be getting a copy of this book.

I've given the book a final rating of 8 on a scale of 10. I do so for two reasons. The first is that Joomla is constantly under development and it is more than likely that in a couple more years or less these instructions will need a major over haul. The second is that while the information on generating traffic was somewhat interesting, I'd have gladly traded it for more information on Joomla itself. Those are relatively minor complaints and from what I've seen, this may be the top Joomla book available right now."

Submission + - Good books for learning mainframes

Anonymous Coward writes: "I have been working with computers for about 21 years. I started on the Apple IIc and went from there. I have used workstation versions of Linux, Windows, Unix, OS/2, and MacOS. I have worked as a network administrator and systems administrator for some small businesses. This allowed me to work with some low end Windows and Unix web servers and domain servers. I am now wishing to become better acquainted with the mainframe side of computers. I am a hardware nerd at heart, but have a great deal of experience with software as well. I would like to find a book that will give me an overview of mainframes from the ground up. It should include items like hardware maintenance and software setup."
The Internet

Submission + - SPAM: Warning buoy network saves Right Whales

coondoggie writes: "A new network of smart buoys is adding some much needed protection for endangered Right Whales in Massachusetts Bay's shipping lanes which see some 1,500 ships pass through every year. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution deployed the 10-buoy Right Whale Listening Network that can recognize whales' distinctive calls and route the information to a public Web site and a marine warning system, giving ships the chance to avoid deadly collisions. An extraordinary large number of North Atlantic right whales were in the bay earlier this month. A Boston Globe report said aerial surveys done by the Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies determined that about 79 of the world's remaining 350 right whales — 22% — were feeding in the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary and Cape Cod Bay on April 10. As of this writing 61 Right Whale calls had been detected in the past 24 hours according to the research Web Site. [spam URL stripped]"
Link to Original Source

Submission + - Concrete Examples Don't Help Students Learn Math 1

Pickens writes: "A new study says that the use of "real-world" concrete examples doesn't help students learn math. Examples of concrete learning include story problems often given to math students, such as the classic one of two trains that leave different cities and head toward each other at different speeds. "The danger with teaching using this example is that many students only learn how to solve the problem with the trains," says study leader Jennifer Kaminski. "If students are later given a problem using the same mathematical principles, but about rising water levels instead of trains, that knowledge just doesn't seem to transfer." Students who learned the same concept through abstract examples were much more likely to be able to transfer that knowledge to different situations. The problem may be that extraneous information about marbles or containers may divert attention from the real mathematics behind it all. "We really need to strip these concepts down to very symbolic representations such as variables and numbers. Then students are better prepared to apply those concepts to a variety of situations," Kaminski added."

Submission + - Apple Prepares for the Coming iPod Slump

Hugh Pickens writes: "Companies like AOL have stagnated along with the products that made them successful as a mature market and downward pressure on prices led to a nasty death spiral but Saul Hansell writes in the NY Times that Apple has used its amazing six-year run with the iPod to nurture other business lines. Even though the number of iPods sold this quarter grew only 1 percent from the same quarter a year ago, Apple should be able to sustain itself with three business lines that it will help it withstand a collapse in the MP3-player market: a continuing revenue stream from the iPods that have already been sold because of the iTunes Store, product upgrades to the iPhone and iPod Touch that are so different that they may well appeal to a significant number of iPod users, and perhaps most significantly sales of the Macintosh which showed an increase of 51 percent by units and 54 percent by dollars. Apple's computer sales have been growing 2 to 3 times as fast as the overall market and this quarter the company says it grew 3.5 times faster than the PC market overall."
PC Games (Games)

Submission + - Pirated 'Grand Theft Auto IV' Hits Internet

Narrative Fallacy writes: "Illegal copies of the new GTA IV game appear to be available for download from bit torrent file-sharing sites, six days before the game is officially released. The files in question are supposedly an illegal copy of the Xbox 360 version of the game, and have been seeded across various torrent sites by a group calling themselves iCON. Grand Theft Auto IV, which gets its official global release on April 29, is expected to sell around six million copies in its first week. When the first Grand Theft Auto appeared just over ten years ago it was a top-down-view, two-dimensional game with fairly rudimentary graphics produced by a small Scottish designer. "In terms of someone successfully combining an action game and an exploratory world to hang out in and be entertained by," says Rockstar's senior creative honcho Dan Houser, "it was definitely the first game that did it successfully. The mission play was there and the non-mission play was there and you moved between the two very seamlessly." GTA IV may retain the classic lines and and slick handling of its predecessors but it has been given a thorough tune-up. "The big deal", says Houser, was "detail — our goal was to make a high-definition gaming experience and then figure out what that means tonally through the whole experience, so it's not just about graphics, it's about animation, physics, writing, storytelling, physics, characterisation...""
Hardware Hacking

Submission + - Did the Apple fall from the tree?

Hmmm2000 writes: Company claims to be offering a Mac clone for considerablly less than the standard Apple price. A typical Mac Pro runs about $1999, and this company is selling their "compatible" system for $399. I'm no fan of closed hardware systems, but the law is on Apples side .. I wonder how long it will take before Pystar get poked by Apple.

Submission + - SPAM: The web vs. U.S. Bank

destinyland writes: "Online information is creating problems for U.S. Bancorp. A new federal law lets customers opt-out of high-fee overdraft protection. In October a consumer site published an internal U.S. Bancorp memo, which inspired a Washington customer to confront a local manager who insisted that opting out was impossible. He ultimately received an apology from the bank's CEO — but two days later recorded the bank's tellers again wrongly advising customers that opting out was impossible. Now he's posted the audio recording online, targetting the $50 billion a year banks earn from their "courtesy" overdraft protection."
Link to Original Source

Submission + - Space Shuttle Secrets Stolen for China

Ponca City, We Love You writes: "The Department of Justice has announced the indictment of former Boeing engineer Dongfan Chung on charges of economic espionage in the theft of company trade secrets relating to the Space Shuttle, the C-17 military transport aircraft and the Delta IV rocket. Chung is a native of China and a naturalized U.S. citizen who stole secrets on behalf of China, the indictment says. According to the indictment, Chinese aviation industry representatives began sending Chung 'tasking' letters as early as 1979. Over the years, the letters directed Chung to collect specific technological information, including data related to the Space Shuttle and various military and civilian aircraft. Chung allegedly responded in one letter indicating a desire to contribute to the 'motherland,' the DOJ said. It was not immediately clear how much, if any, damage the alleged espionage did to U.S. national security but DOJ officials said the cases reflect the determination of China's government to penetrate U.S. intelligence and obtain vital national defense secrets. "Today's prosecution demonstrates that foreign spying remains a serious threat in the post-Cold War world,'' said Kenneth L. Wainstein, Assistant Attorney General for National Security"
Input Devices

Submission + - SPAM: Use your cellphone as a 3-D mouse 1

Roland Piquepaille writes: "In recent years, we've started to use our cellphones not only for placing calls or exchanging messages. Now, we take pictures, read our e-mails, listen to music or watch TV. But, according to New Scientist, UK researchers are going further with a prototype software that turns your cellphone into a 3-D mouse. The phone is connected to your computer via Bluetooth. And you control the image on the screen by rotating or moving your phone. As says one of the researchers, "it feels like a much more natural way to interact and exchange data." The technology might first be used in shopping malls to buy movie tickets or to interact with advertising displays. But read more for additional details and a picture showing how a researcher is using his cellphone to control what appears on his screen."

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