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Submission + - Transit Stream interrupted by roadworks (

clockt writes: "NASA scientists have been broadcasting pictures of the transit of Venus from Alice Springs after cloudy skies and a mystery computer connection problem delayed the transmission.

The planned live broadcast of the rare astronomical event from an Alice Springs high school was delayed by an hour by what was later identified as an "IT problem".

Earlier, the ABC had been told that the problem was caused when a backhoe being used by a roadwork crew cut a fibre-optic cable, knocking out many internet connections in parts of the Northern Territory.

A school spokesperson says NASA computers have been connected to the school's internet system to allow the transmission to go ahead." ...

Hooray for education funding.

Submission + - Machine Learning Algorithms to Crack Morse Code (

mni12 writes: "Morse code has been used since early 1840's and is still a very popular mode of communication especially among ham radio operators. While it takes some effort for humans to learn Morse code it is a very efficient way in communicating short messages over radio waves, especially under noise, interference, propagation fading or other adverse conditions. Experienced human operators can easily outperform any publicly available Morse decoding software.
I have done some experiments with machine learning algorithms, especially with Self Organizing Maps (SOM) applied to real-time decoding Morse code in real world noise & interference filled signals. Early test results look promising but I would like to turn to Slashdot community for some advice and ideas.

What kind of machine learning algorithms would be applicable for real time Morse decoder when signals contain a lot of noise, interference from other stations, fading, irregular timing and other problematic features?"

Comment Re:Phone isn't bricked, its just blocked (Score 3, Interesting) 234

I occasionally browse through the pawn brokers shops, looking for old hand tools. A few years ago it was common to see 3 or 4 display cases filled with second-hand mobile phones stacked 3 deep. The Motorola Razr was popular then, and well represented. Over the course of about one week they all went away; I wandered in to one shop not far from the centre of town to be greeted with a desert of black, dusty velvet. Not a single phone left in the place.

Two things occurred to me then: The government had done something good (!) and pawn brokers are a thinly disguised mechanism for returning stolen goods to the economy.

I'd known about the ability to block a digital phone since the change from analogue, and it always struck me as ridiculous that the telco wouldn't do that as a matter of course: they are service companies, they lock the asset into their system, and they make the contract a personal thing. Isn't it good customer service to say "Sorry your phone got stolen, but rest assured the thief will get no benefit from it. Come to the show room and lets talk about a replacement..." Yes, you may end up paying for two phones and might feel personally disempowered, but the knowledge that the long arm of the telco can reach out to the thief and stop his gloating in a heartbeat has some real value.

Credit Card companies do it with stolen cards don't they? What's the difference? The stolen item has a unique identifier, the database has a flag on said number and when it appears in the system the alarm bell rings and it refuses to service it. The stolen asset is suddenly less valuable, or possibly even a liability if we take it to it's logical conclusion.

Comment Re:wrong about connectivity? (Score 1) 155

Internet connectivity would give her access to far more mental stimulation than a few games, plus potential social interaction as well.

Absolutely. We're just going to bury one of ours this week, pegged out at 91. She wasn't great technically but email was her great passion for the last couple of years, and when her computer broke (Old PC running XP and outlook express, so it was regularly falling over) she got pretty grumpy and we'd run around and fix it. - and no, I am not suggesting you give your aged dear ones computers that are shit so they get to see you more often; neither you nor they will be seeing the bright side of that sort of social interaction. Give them good tools that get out of their way and maybe they'll leave you it in the will :)

Mum's in her eighties and we bought her an iPad last year. She loves it. Sure, she sometimes swipes or pokes the wrong thing, but there's a button on it (home button) that solves all those problems. Just start over, no big deal. But she's in charge, and that's independence and self determination and dignity right there.

iPad and Google Street View are also a great match for immigrant families with time on their hands and stories to tell.


Embedded Linux 1-Second Cold Boot To QT 141

An anonymous reader writes "The blog post shows an embedded device cold booting Linux to a QT application all in just one second. This post also includes a link which describes what modifications were made to achieve this."

World's Northernmost Town Gets Nightlights 144

Velcroman1 writes "On October 26, 2,000 Norwegians watched the sun set. The next time they'll see it rise? Sometime in February. Extended nighttime is an annual occurrence for the residents of Longyearbyen, Norway — Earth's northernmost town. Located at 78 degrees north latitude in the Arctic circle, Longyearbyen experiences a phenomenon called Polar Night, in which the town remains in perpetual darkness for four months each winter. To lighten up the seemingly endless night, Philips has started an experiment called 'Wake Up the Town.' And anyone who's complained about the brief daylight hours in winter will want to know how it works."
Hardware Hacking

Building a Telegraph Using Only Stone Age Materials 238

MMBK writes "It's the ultimate salvagepunk experiment, building a telegraph out of things found in the woods. From the article: 'During the summer of 2009, artist Jamie O’Shea of the organization Substitute Materials set out to test whether or not electronic communication could have been built at any time in history with the proper knowledge, and with only tools and materials found in the wilderness of New Jersey.'"

Govt To Bomb Guam With Frozen Mice To Kill Snakes 229

rhettb writes "In a spectacularly creative effort to rid Guam of the brown tree snake, an invasive species which has ravaged local wildlife and angered local residents, the US Department of Agriculture is planning to 'bomb' the island's rainforests with dead frozen mice laced with acetaminophen. While it might not seem difficult to purge an island of snakes, the snake's habit of dwelling high in the rainforest canopy has so far thwarted efforts to rid the island of the pest. Eradicating the snake is a priority because it triggers more than 100 power outages a year at a cost of $1-4 million and has driven at least 6 local bird species to extinction."

Deodorant Sought to Save New Zealand's Native Birds 102

New Zealand researchers have received a NZ$600,000 grant to develop a deodorant for native birds whose strong odors make them easy targets for introduced predators. Since the birds evolved without any mammal predators they emit a very strong odor compared to birds in other parts of the world. Canterbury University researcher Jim Briskie says kiwis smell like mushrooms or ammonia, while kakapo parrots have a hint of "musty violin case."

Two Unpatched Flaws Show Up In Apple iOS 171

Trailrunner7 writes "The technique that the Web site is using to bypass the iPhone's security mechanisms and enable users to run unapproved apps on their phones involves exploiting two separate vulnerabilities. One of the vulnerabilities is a memory-corruption flaw that affects the way that Apple's mobile devices, including the iPad and iPod Touch, display PDFs. The second weakness is a problem in the Apple iOS kernel that gives an attacker higher privileges once his code is on a targeted device, enabling him to break out of the iOS sandbox. The combination of the two vulnerabilities — both of which are unpatched at the moment — gives an attacker the ability to run remote code on the device and evade the security protections on the iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch. The technique became public earlier this week when the site began hosting a set of specially crafted PDF files designed to help users jailbreak their Apple devices and load apps other than the ones approved by Apple and offered in its official App Store."

New Mars Rover Rolls For the First Time 100

wooferhound writes "Like proud parents savoring their baby's very first steps, mission team members gathered in a gallery above a clean room at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory to watch the Mars Curiosity rover roll for the first time. Engineers and technicians wore bunny suits while guiding Curiosity through its first steps, or more precisely, its first roll on the clean room floor. The rover moved forward and backward about 1 meter (3.3 feet). Mars Science Laboratory (aka Curiosity) is scheduled to launch in fall 2011 and land on the Red Planet in August 2012. Curiosity is the largest rover ever sent to Mars. It will carry 10 instruments that will help search an intriguing region of the Red Planet for two things: environments where life might have existed, and the capacity of those environments to preserve evidence of past life."

Criminal Photoshops Himself Into Charity Photos In Bid For Leniency 108

38-year-old Daryl Simon decided it would be a good idea to submit fake pictures of himself at charity events, and forged letters of support from various charitable organizations to the court before he was sentenced for credit card fraud. Unfortunately for Daryl, he is as good at Photoshop as he is at credit card scams, and Judge Stephen Robinson was not amused. Simon was sentenced to 285-months in prison — 50 months more than the maximum under sentencing guidelines. From the article: "Daryl Simon's bald-faced move included sticking a picture of himself into a shot with a physical-therapy patient, then flipping the image and placing it next to a teen student. 'Evidence that his image was inserted and flipped can be seen by examining the single detail on his shirt above his fingers — that detail appears on the left side of the shirt in the top photograph, and on the right side of the shirt in the bottom photograph,' prosecutors wrote."

Antidepressants In the Water Are Making Shrimp Suicidal 182

Antidepressants may help a lot of people get up in the morning but new research shows they are making shrimp swim into that big bowl of cocktail sauce in the sky. Alex Ford, a marine biologist at the University of Portsmouth, found that shrimp exposed to the antidepressant fluoxetine are 5 times more likely to swim towards light instead of away from it. Shrimp usually swim away from light as it is associated with birds or fishermen.

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When it is incorrect, it is, at least *authoritatively* incorrect. -- Hitchiker's Guide To The Galaxy