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Comment Apples and oranges (Score 1) 942

Cellphone conversations are very different from ambient conversations.

It's easier to filter out ambient conversations because you can hear all of the dialog. With cellphone conversations, however, you hear only one side. Your brain then works to fill in the missing dialog. Because your brain is working harder, cellphone conversations are more intrusive and annoying.

I suggest that you spend a fair amount of time in Japan, where public cellphone conversations are frowned upon (especially in trains). After coming back to the U.S., you'll realize how annoying cellphone chatters really are.

Submission + - '55 Science Paper Retracted to Thwart Creationists

i_like_spam writes: The New York Times has an interesting story about a paper published in 1955 by Homer Jacobson, a chemistry professor at Brooklyn College. The paper, entitled "Information, Reproduction and the Origin of Life", speculated on the chemical qualities of earth in the Hadean time, billions of years ago when the planet was beginning to cool down to the point where, as Dr. Jacobson put it, "one could imagine a few hardy compounds could survive." Nobody paid much attention to the paper at the time, but today it is winning Dr. Jacobson acclaim that he does not want — from creationists who cite it as proof that life could not have emerged on earth without divine intervention. So after 52 years, he has retracted it.

Submission + - Brain Differences In Democrats and Republicans

i_like_spam writes: Scientists from NYU and UCLA report in Nature Neuroscience that the brains of Democrats and Republicans process information differently. This new study finds that the differences are apparent even when the brain processes common information, not just political topics. From the study, liberals were more likely to be accurate and showed more brain activity in the region associated with analyzing conflicts. A researcher not affiliated with the study stated, liberals 'could be expected to more readily accept new social, scientific or religious ideas.' Moreover, 'the results could explain why President Bush demonstrated a single-minded commitment to the Iraq war and why some people perceived Sen. John F. Kerry ... as a flip-flopper.

Submission + - High School Students Forced To Declare A Major

i_like_spam writes: As reported in the NYTimes, high school freshmen at many high schools across the nation are now being forced to pick a major. Starting this Fall, 9th graders in Florida will have to choose to major from among a set of state-approved subjects, while some students in Mississippi will have to follow one of nine designated career paths. High school administrators hope that having students declare majors will lead to greater student interest in school until graduation. College administrators think otherwise: 'youngsters should instead concentrate on developing a broad range of critical thinking and communication skills,' says Debra Humphreys from the Association of American Colleges and Universities.

Submission + - New Theory Explains Periodic Mass Extinctions

i_like_spam writes: The theory that the dinosaurs were wiped out by an asteroid impact, the K-T extinction, is well known and supported by fossil and geological evidence. Asteroid impact theory does not apply to the other fluctuations in biodiversity, however, which follow an approximate 62 million-year cycle. As reported in Science news, a new theory seems to explain periodic mass extinctions. The new theory found that oscillations in the Sun relative to the plane of the Milky Way correlate with changes in biodiversity on Earth. The researchers suggest that an increase in the exposure of Earth to extragalatic cosmic rays causes mass extinctions. Here is the original paper describing the finding.

Submission + - Press Forced To Wear Corporate Sponsor Logos

i_like_spam writes: In a story covered by the National Press Photographers Association, photojournalists are protesting a new rule for the upcoming National Football League season that will force them to wear red vests emblazoned with the corporate logos of Reebok and Canon during televised games. The chair of the NPPA's Ethics & Standards Committee said 'it totally goes against our Code of Ethics to force photographers to advertise as if they were some sort of NASCAR vehicle. We are independent gatherers of news, storytellers with no agendas.' The NFL responded by stating that it's not a problem because the logos are small and have been used on vests at other sporting events without protest.

Submission + - ATT + iPhone int'l. roaming data horror: $3k bill 1

DrDiesel writes: via Boing Boing
This guy needs our help to get exposure to his story and to get AT$T to open their eyes to a pretty major problem. tl_roam.html
"I have a caveat emptor to top them all. I purchased an iPhone on opening day to use in lieu of a cumbersome laptop while traveling in Ireland and England for two weeks in early July. AT&T promises "easy, affordable, and convenient plans" in their advertising... turns out I got two out of three. tl_roam.html
On the way to the airport, I activated the per-use international roaming data plan — the only one offered to me. The rep quoted me $.005 per KB but did not disclose what that would translate to in layman's language (i.e., X amount per e-mail, X amount per web page, etc.). I'm a web developer as part of my career and I couldn't even tell you how many KB the average web page is, no less a text message to my son, an e-mail with a photo to my mother, or a quick check of Google Maps. That's part one of the trap. However, I now pay $40 per month for unlimited data usage on the iPhone, so really — how much could it be? $100 at the most, right?

Keep reading. tl_roam.html
As we know, the iPhone can't be unlocked to use a European provider's SIM card for more reasonable rates while traveling. There's part two of the trap. tl_roam.html
To be safe, I went online to My Account at AT&T a couple days into the trip and again a week later and was told "usage data is currently unavailable"... and that's part three. I had no way of knowing specific usage data until I received my bill over the last weekend. tl_roam.html
A bill for $3000." tl_roam.html tl_roam.html

Submission + - Higher Tuition For An Engineering Degree

i_like_spam writes: The NYTimes is running a story about a new trend in tuition charges at public universities throughout the country. Differential pricing schemes are being implemented, whereby majors in engineering and business pay higher tuition rates than majors in arts and humanities. Last year, for instance, engineering majors at the University of Nebraska starting paying an extra $40 per credit hour. One argument in support of differential pricing is that professors in engineering are more expensive than in other fields. However, others argue that engineering students '... who are charged more for their major will stick to the courses in their field to feel that they are getting their money's worth.'
The Almighty Buck

Submission + - Our ATM is broken, so you go to jail? (

Actually, I do RTFA writes: A short while ago, slashdot featured an article about possible criminal prosecution for people who took advantage of faulty slot machine software. At the time, many people drew an analogy to an ATM that dispensed too much money. Well, apparently, that too may result in criminal charges. Interestingly, although they suspect that someone may have tampered with the ATM, they are considering charging anyone who withdrew money from the ATM.

This also provides an interesting rejoinder to 'if they can build a secure ATM, why cannot Diebold build a secure electronic voting machine.'

Operating Systems

Submission + - Historical Look At First Linux Kernel (

LinuxFan writes: KernelTrap has a fascinating article about the first Linux kernel, version 0.01, complete with source code and photos of Linus Torvalds as a young man attending the University of Helsinki. Torvalds originally planned to call the kernel "Freax", and in his first announcement noted, "I'm doing a (free) operating system (just a hobby, won't be big and professional like gnu) for 386(486) AT clones." He also stressed that the kernel was very much tied to the i386 processor, "simply, I'd say that porting is impossible." Humble beginnings.

Submission + - Change Google Background Color To Save Energy?

i_like_spam writes: Recent commentary at Nature Climate Change describes an on-going debate about the energy savings associated with the background colors used by high-traffic websites such as Google and the NYTimes. A back of the envelope calculation has suggested energy savings of 750 Megawatt hours per year if Google switched their background from white to black. In response, a new version of Google called Blackle was created. However, other calculations by the Wall Street Journal suggest minimal energy savings. Who is right in this debate? Should web designers also consider potential energy savings when choosing colors for their sites?

Submission + - Pwnie Awards Make Fun of the Security Industry (

Alexander Sotirov writes: The Pwnie Awards are an award ceremony celebrating the achievements and failures of security researchers during the last year. It will take place during the BlackHat/DefCon conference in Las Vegas next week. The awards are both serious and funny, featuring categories such as Best Server-Side Bug, Mass 0wnage, Lamest Vendor Response and of course Best Song! Slashdot readers are invited to submit nominations. What is your favorite security bug?
Desktops (Apple)

Submission + - Mac Pros Duplicated: Savings Up To $4,078 ( 1

An anonymous reader writes: The Mac Pro Dual Quad Core commands a premium of 75% over the price of off the shelf components. A Mac Pro Dual Dual Core is approximated with savings of $2,564. Is the right to run OS X worth thousands of dollars?

Submission + - Google Changes Background Color To Save Energy 6

i_like_spam writes: Commentary at Nature Climate Change describes an on-going debate about the energy savings associated with the background colors used by high-traffic websites such as Google and the NYTimes. Some back of the envelope calculations have suggested energy savings of 750 Megawatt hours per year if Google switched their background from white to black. Google responded by creating Blackle. Other calculations by the Wall Street Journal, however, suggest minimal energy savings. Who is right in this debate? And, should designers also consider potential energy savings when choosing colors for their websites?

Submission + - Microsoft launches open source site (

prostoalex writes: "Microsoft launched a site dedicated to collaboration between Microsoft and open source community. The site helps developers, IT administrators, and IT buyers find out what Microsoft's product offerings are, and read articles about open source such as "Open Source Provider Sees Sales Doubling After Moving Solutions to the Windows Platform.""

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