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Submission + - Researchers could put penicillin back in battle (physorg.com)

esocid writes: Research led by the University of Warwick has uncovered exactly how the bacterium Streptococcus pneumoniae has become resistant to the antibiotic penicillin. The same research could also open up MRSA to attack by penicillin and help create a library of designer antibiotics to use against a range of other dangerous bacteria. Worldwide Streptococcus pneumoniae causes 5 million fatal pneumonia infections a year in children. In the US it causes 1 million cases a year of pneumococcal pneumonia in the elderly of which up to 7% are fatal. This new research has completely exposed how Streptococcus pneumoniae builds its penicillin immunity and opens up many ways to disrupt that mechanism and restore penicillin as a weapon against these bacteria.

Penicillin normally acts by preventing the construction of an essential component of the bacterial cell wall: the Peptidoglycan. This component provides a protective mesh around the otherwise fragile bacterial cell, providing the mechanical support and stability required for the integrity and viability of cells of Streptococcus pneumoniae and other bacteria including MRSA. This research provides a valuable collection of targets for pharmaceutical companies seeking ways of disrupting antibiotic resistance in such bacteria.


Submission + - GCC 4.3 released

JOrgePeixoto writes: The GCC team has released GCC 4.3.0 . GCC has been integrated with the MPFR library, allowing it to evaluate and replace at compile-time calls to built-in math functions having constant arguments with their mathematically equivalent results. With MPFR GCC can generate correct results regardless of the math library implementation or floating point precision of the host platform, independent of the compilation configuration being native or cross-compile.

Among many optimization changes is a new forward propagation pass on RTL, awareness of stack frame consumption by the inliner heuristics and enhancements in interprocedural optimization. Some of the changes enhance compilation speed and memory use.

Also new is tuning for Intel Core 2 and AMD Geode and support for SSSE3, SSE4.1 and SSE4.2 built-in functions and code generation. Some targets have been removed and some added, including the SPU of the CELL, ARMv7 and Thumb-2.

C has gained fixed-point data-types and operators, better checking and better warnings.
Fortran has gained better Fortran 2003 support.
The integration of Eclipse Java compiler and enhancements in libgcj provide better Java support.
C++ gained better warnings, a parallel mode and some support for C++0x and TR1.
Also the update and enhancement of the documentation are among a huge number of changes .
It's funny.  Laugh.

Submission + - US Military Secrets Emailed to Factory Hand

The Narrative Fallacy writes: "Factory worker Gary Sinnott had no idea when he set up his website to promote the town of Mildenhall in England that he would end up getting classified e-mails from the United States Air Force. The website has been sent hundreds of emails outlining highly classified information, including emails about military tactics and passwords intended for personnel at the neighboring US airbase. What began as a slow trickle of mundane messages soon escalated and hundreds of classified emails were sent from around the world after people mistook www.mildenhall.com for the military website www.mildenhall.af.mil. Sinnott said that when he initially reported the problem airbase officials did not appear phased. "At first their attitude was we are not worried, we are American, our security is great" but that after he informed the base that he had received information detailing the flight path to be used by the plane carrying President Bush on a visit to the region, officials went 'mental'. Now after years of trying to resolve the issue, Sinnott has been forced to close down his website because he is unable to cope with the sheer number of emails arriving in his inbox every day. A statement released by RAF Mildenhall confirmed that officials had tried to help Sinnott: "In November, we confirmed that our base servers blocked any emails going to this site and we sent out a base-wide email advising everyone to use appropriate government email domains and inform family and friends.""

Submission + - Google Sites in the Corporation... (google.com)

Hey Mum! writes: A decision got passed down today to block Google Sites — http://www.google.com/sites/ — inside our network. The reason: It directly competes with our Sharepoint solution. I'm a fan of Google but I can only 'agree' with this decision when I consider our investment in MS Sharepoint.

I'm just after some opinions of Google Sites and Google Apps. Has anyone used it in a medium-large business? Can it be successful? Are there privacy concerns, compatibility problems? What's your opinion of companies (I assume we're not the only one) simply blocking Google Sites — or any other possibly useful, but competing, applications — all together rather than proving the solutions offered by ICT are the way to go?

Hopefully this doesn't turn into a Sharepoint bashing free-for-all. Thank you in advance.


Submission + - Finding planets by our nearest neighboring stars (newscientist.com)

Shag writes: "A lot of astronomers look for planets around other stars, but a team in California have come up with a plan for finding Earth-like planets around Alpha Centauri B, one of our nearest neighboring stars, less than 5 light-years away. Manned spacecraft would take 100 millennia to get there at speeds we've already achieved, but if the faster speeds necessary for interstellar travel are ever attained, this star system could be an excellent first stop."

Submission + - First Menlow board -- oooh, tiny

nerdyH writes: German board vendor Lippert has unveiled what it claims to be the first motherboard based on Intel's "Menlow" chipset for ultra-mobile PCs. The CoreExpress-Menlow is smaller than a credit card, yet clocks to 1.5GHz, has 1GB of RAM soldered onboard, has multiple PCI Express lanes, USB 2.0, HD audio, an IDE interface, and a digital LVDS video interface. The board is the first in a proposed "CoreExpress" standard motherboard form-factor measuring 2.6 by 2.3 inches (65 x 58 mm).

Submission + - Teen takes on donor's immune system

Leibel writes: The Australian ABC News is reporting that a 15-year-old Australian liver transplant patient has defied modern medicine by taking on her donor's immune system. Demi-Lee Brennan had a liver transplant. Nine months later, doctors at Sydney's Westmead Children's Hospital were amazed to find the teenager's blood group had changed to the donor's blood type. They were even more surprised when they found the girl's immune system had almost totally been replaced by that of the donor, meaning she no longer had to take anti-rejection drugs.

PS Editors. I can't find a suitable topic for this in the list. Sorry!

Submission + - Using Google Earth to find ancient lost cities (cosmosmagazine.com)

An anonymous reader writes: A story in the online site of the Aussie science mag Cosmos discusses how archaeologists are using sophisticated sateliite images to find previously undiscovered cities. What 's really cool is how some are simply using Google Earth — and discovering all sorts of previously unknown sites!

Submission + - Intel Announces 'Smaller than a Penny' SSD (techluver.com)

Tech.Luver writes: "On Dec 14 Intel announced the Intel Z-P140 PATA Solid State Drive (SSD), an ultra-small — smaller than a penny, weighing less than a drop of water — complete storage solution for mobile digital entertainment, and embedded applications, offering low-power, high performance, and durability, which is also 400x smaller than a 1.8-inch hard-drive. Right Capacity 2, 4, 8, and 16GB capacities are enough to support operating system storage, applications, data, and media storage, meeting mainstream density requirements for most computing markets. ( http://techluver.com/2007/12/16/intel-announces-tiny-solid-state-drives/ )"

Submission + - Brain grown in jar pilots F-22 sim (pantherhouse.com) 5

NJ Hewitt writes: "Florida scientists have grown a brain in a petri dish and taught it to pilot an F-22 jet simulator." The brain, with neurons connected to 60 electrodes, at first had no ability to pilot the fighter jet, but slowly learned and can now reliably navigate through even hurricane-force winds in the simulator.

Submission + - Linux Networking Cookbook

stoolpigeon writes: "[Editors: I've read the slashdot guidelines and tried to adhere to them as best I could. What follows is my review of a brand new O'Reilly book, the Linux Networking Cookbook. My email is bittercode@gmail.com. I can be reached at 321-695-4295 and I'm usually logged into AIM during the week as ronpeckjr. I would never ask this on a regular submission, but if this review is rejected, due to my writing, could I get a short note letting me know that and possibly what I could have done to improve it? I would really appreciate that.]

The Linux Networking Cookbook is Schroder's companion to her earlier book, The Linux Cookbook. As the title suggests, this is a set of networking 'recipes'. The scope is wide, but the recipes are concise and to the point. Schroder wastes little time getting to the focus of each section, making this an excellent reference guide for any of the technologies that are covered. For the reader interested in a deep, long running discussion of how and why things work the way they do, this is not what they want. The book is perfect though for the reader looking for examples and thorough instructions on getting things installed and running.

The back cover of the Linux Networking Cookbook says, "This wide-ranging recipe collection covers everything you need to know as a Linux network administrator, whether you're new to the job or have years of experience." I'm on the new to the job side of the spectrum when it comes to networking experience. My guess is that for the experienced administrator, there may not be a lot of depth. But the breadth of the information is such that they are very likely to find something new here. The book assumes a basic familiarity with administering Linux. Instructions are detailed but the reader will need to know how to navigate the file system, edit files, create user and group, change permissions and other similar tasks.

Like many other cookbooks, my questions were "Will I understand the recipes?", "Are these recipes within my skill level?" and "Are these things that I want to make?". Schroder has done an excellent job making everything in this book extremely clear and understandable. There is enough explanation to get the reader started, not so much that it feels slow or like she was padding for length. Anyone with even slight exposure to the command line in Linux should be able to dig right in, follow the instructions and enjoy the satisfaction of seeing these recipes work. It often felt to me like I had taken a few hours of research on Google, cut out the useless and outdated, cut out the excess verbiage, and was left with a distilled set of advice, examples and references for further reading. I really see this book as being strongest as a time saver and a great platform for learning. That answers my first two questions with an emphatic yes. Now all that is left is the question of, "Are these things that I want to make?" Here, really the best answer is to read through the table of contents. I'm going to comment on what stood out, but there are just too many subtopics covered to mention them all. So it would be worthwhile for any who might be interested in this book to take the time to read through them.

The only drawback to the book is that to really get a lot out of it, one is going to need access to some equipment. For many chapters some PCs are enough. For other chapters, purchasing hardware will probably be necessary. While this keeps the book from being perfect for everyone, I would say that it also means that the reader is going to get a solid understanding of the topics rather than one that is only theoretical. This is a strength of the book in my opinion, but it is good that the buyer is aware of this before they purchase.

Each chapter follows the same format. They begin with a brief overview of the technology and concepts for that chapter. Chapter 1, "Introduction to Linux Networking" contains only this overview, and is the shortest chapter of the book. The overview includes not only the primary concepts but what hardware will be required to work through the recipes and any software that may be required as well. The overview is followed by a series of subtopics, each presented with a problem, solution, discussion of the solution and a list of other resources. The solutions are given with instructions applicable to the Fedora and Debian distributions. I would assume that this makes the book immediately useful for the majority of linux users, as their distribution will probably be very similar to one of those two.

The second chapter is Building a Linux Gateway on a Single-Board Computer. This chapter is somewhat unique in that the recipes are all written with the goal of installing Pyramid Linux on a Soekris 4521 board. The recipes also require a CF card (or microdrive), power supply and null-modem cable. These hardware requirements mean that working through this chapter requires spending more than an insignificant amount. The Soekris board runs about $150 and then there will be the smaller costs of the other equipment. For the reader unwilling to spend the money, this chapter is not much use. On the other hand, someone who may be interested in learning this kind of embedded work and finding out more about network devices will find this to be an excellent chapter. I remember spending more on my first Mindstorms kit to start learning about embedded programming.

The third chapter is Building a Linux Firewall. This chapter has recipes to build an iptables firewall from scratch. The problems and solutions in this chapter are excellent and cover a wide ranging number of situations. Many distributions have gui tools for managing iptables, but I know I've run into problems with these applications more than once. Schroder lays out how to get around such difficulties and deal directly with iptables for everything from getting multiple SSH host keys past NAT to logging. The references to outside resources are also extremely useful as in the other chapters.

Chapter four is Building a Linux Wireless Access Point. This chapter builds on the previous two chapters. These recipes, combined with the previous recipes, and once again pointed at a devoice running pyramid linux, will have the reader building a very capable wireless access point. These three chapters work together as a very nice unit that could be seen a little costly for the hobbiest or as incredibly inexpensive for the network administrator. I think that they offer very attractive options to the shop with a smaller budget but a reluctance to settle on less capable hardware.

Chapter five takes a turn and is Building a VoIP Server with Asterisk. This chapter can be done with a few pcs, and hardware that allow for putting sound in and getting sound out. I found the chapter to be a little difficult to follow but I have absolutely no experience with telecommunications. I think that anyone else in my position may need to do some other supplementary reading (Schroder points out plenty) and an allowance for plenty of time to expirement and learn. Like the other chapters, the coverage is wide, and given enough time readers could have a very capable system built with the guidance given in this chapter.

Chapter six is Routing with Linux. Unlike chapters two and four, the recipes in this chapter are written assuming Debian or Fedora as opposed to Pyramid Linux. Schroder starts with calculating subnets and moves on quickly to static and dynamic routing.

Chapters seven, eight, nine and ten are all about connecting remotely. Seven is Secure Remote Administration with SSH. The basics are covered as well as hardening SSH, tunneling X Windows securely and even sshfs. I've personally spent a great deal of time tracking down little bits of information for many of these, and here they are all collected together in a very easy to read and use format. Chapter eight is Using Cross-Platform Graphical Desktops. This chapter covers rdesktop, FreeNX and VNC. The majority of the chapter focuses on FreeNX and VNC. The VNC portions give some very nice recipes for working securely and in a mixed environment that includes windows machines. I work in just such an environment, and I look forward to being able to reference this book on those occasions when I need to connect to one of our Windows servers. It doesn't happen too often, and that makes a reliable reference that much more valuable. Chapter nine is Building Secure Cross-Platform Virtual Private Networks with OpenVPN. The recipes begin with instructions on setting up a lab to work with OpenVPN and test things without interfering with the rest of a network. This is a quick chapter and lays out setting up the server and connecting with clients. Chapter ten is similar to nine but has recipes to build a Linux PPTP VPN server.

Chapters eleven and twelve move things back inside the LAN. They are Single Sign-on with Samba for Mixed Linux/Windows LANs and Centralized Network Directory with OpenLDAP. The recipes include migrating away from and into Windows networking solutions. I can see the value here not only for network administrators, but also Linux system administrators who may find themselves needing to integrate into a predominately Windows environment. I know there are often questions on Slashdot about getting Linux in the door. Well, for those who succeed, these chapters could come in very handy.

Chapters thirteen and fourteen are about network monitoring using Nagios and MRTG. The recipes cover a wide number of monitoring options and could really get an IT shop on well on their way from finding out about outages from their users, to being truly on top of their network.

Chapter fifteen is a quick treatment of IPv6. Chapter 16 covers network installs. Chapters seventeen and eighteen cover administration via serial console directly and over a modem. These tried and true methods are probably less relied upon than in the past, but they are covered well and it speaks to the thorough coverage of the book. Chapter nineteen closes the book with a host of generic recipes centered around troubleshooting network issues. This is a solid chapter, not just a quick troubleshooting grid tacked on to the end of the book. There are three appendices. The first is a list of recommended resources that is dominated by O'Reilly titles, though there are others. The second is a glossary and the third is a very useful kernel building reference.

The index is decent. It is not exceptional, but it is not bad either. This is somewhat alleviated by the fact that the book comes with access to it on Safari for 45 days. There is also a web site with all of the examples available for download. The author's website is also a good launch point for related articles and information."

Submission + - Role of endogenous retroviruses in human evolution

mhackarbie writes: The current edition of the New Yorker magazine has a fascinating story about endogenous retroviruses in the genomes of humans and other species. Although researchers have known about such non-functional retroviral 'fossils' in the human genome for some time, the large amount of recent genomic data underscores just how pervasive they are, in a compelling tale that involves humans, their primate cousins, and a variety of viral invaders. Some researchers are even bringing back non-functional viral remnants from the dead by fixing their broken genes.

Submission + - Microcontroller for the hobbyist? 5

TomTheGeek writes: "I'm a programmer that's done some assembly language before and would like to start programming microcontrollers. I've heard about the BASIC Stamps from Parallax, the PIC series from Microchip, the MAKE Controller Kit, and the AVR series from Atmel but they seem to be focused on a development board that is too expensive to dedicate to a single project. Having an expensive development board is fine but I want the microcontroller to be cheap (<$10) enough that I don't have to disassemble my previous project in order to start a new one. I'll be doing the programming in Ubuntu so compatible development tools and drivers are required."

Submission + - Thirty Meter Telescope Moving Ahead

Hugh Pickens writes: "California Institute of Technology and the University of California have announced they have received a $200 million commitment over nine years toward the further development and construction of the Thirty-Meter Telescope (TMT). The core of the TMT Observatory will be a wide-field, alt-az Ritchey-Chretien telescope with a 492 segment, 30 meter diameter primary mirror, a fully active secondary mirror and an articulated tertiary mirror. TMT will be the first ground-based astronomy telescope designed with adaptive optics as an integral system element. The adoptive optics will sense atmospheric turbulence in real-time, correct the optical beam of the telescope to remove its effect, and enable true diffraction-limited imaging on the ground. For many astronomical observations, this is equivalent to observing above the Earth's atmosphere at a fraction of a cost of a space-based observatory. Relative to the Hubble Space Telescope, TMT will have 144 times the collecting area and more than a factor of 10 better spatial resolution at near-infrared and longer wavelengths."

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It appears that PL/I (and its dialects) is, or will be, the most widely used higher level language for systems programming. -- J. Sammet