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R In a Nutshell 91

joel.neely writes "R is a statistical computing environment that is fully-compliant with state-of-the-art buzzwords: free, open-source, cross-platform, interactive, graphics, objects, closures, higher-order functions, and more. It is supported by an impressive collection of user-supplied modules through CRAN, the 'Comprehensive R Archive Network.' And now it has its own O'Reilly Nutshell book, R in a Nutshell, written by Joseph Adler. I am pleased to report that Adler has risen to the challenge of the highly-regarded 'Nutshell' franchise. As is traditional for the series, this title mixes introduction, tutorial, and reference material in a style that is well suited to a reader who already has a background in programming, but is a new or occasional user of R." Read on for the rest of Joel's review.

Six-legged Robot Teaches Itself To Walk 113

rabiddeity writes "An undergraduate at the University of Arizona has built a six legged robot from scratch. The robot, which is equipped with sensors on each foot, teaches itself to walk and orients itself via an onboard camera. A similar design might be used to explore unstable environments such as collapsed buildings or rocky landscapes."

Submission + - An end to frivolous patents may be in sight (economist.com)

fiannaFailMan writes: The Economist has high hopes that frivolous patents may become a thing of the past.

America’s Supreme Court is about to issue a ruling which, by all accounts, will make it difficult, if not impossible, to get a patent for a business process. And because most business processes are, at bottom, computer algorithms, the Supreme Court’s judgment could also bar all sorts of software patents in the process. As a result, a lot of patents for online shopping, medical-diagnostic tests and procedures for executing trades on Wall Street could be invalidated.


PhD Candidate Talks About the Physics of Space Battles 361

darthvader100 writes "Gizmodo has run an article with some predictions on what future space battles will be like. The author brings up several theories on propulsion (and orbits), weapons (explosives, kinetic and laser), and design. Sounds like the ideal shape for spaceships will be spherical, like the one in the Hitchhiker's Guide movie."

Comment All sf is Political (Score 1) 1021

I would suggest that all sf involves politics at some level. Heinlein is political as is Asimov. They are not necessarily as obviously political as L. Neil Smith or Orwell, but they definitely say a lot about what is good in government and society and what is bad. None of Tolkein's good guys live in autocracies. Even the Kings of Gondor had to pay attention to their people. Remember that a lot of people consider the s in sf to stand for speculative, rather than science. The key thing is to think about which facet of the genre you wish the students to consider.

Americans Don't Want Targeted Ads 404

itwbennett writes "A survey by the Berkeley Center for Law and Technology at the University of California Berkeley School of Law and the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania finds that US residents do not want to receive Web advertising tailored to their interests. 66% of those surveyed said they don't want tailored, or targeted, online ads and when asked if online ad vendors should deliver targeted ads by tracking customers' behavior across multiple Web sites, 86% of the 1,000 respondents said no. 35% of respondents said executives of companies that use personal information illegally should face jail time, and 18% said those companies should be put out of business. 'While privacy advocates have lambasted behavioral targeting for tracking and labeling people in ways they do not know or understand, marketers have defended the practice by insisting it gives Americans what they want: advertisements and other forms of content that are as relevant to their lives as possible,' the study said. 'In high percentages, [US residents] stand on the side of privacy advocates.'"

Submission + - How does your IT department manage CD/DVD's?

xxuserxx writes: "We have a dedicated storage cabinet that holds most of our software. Over the years this has become a bit out of controll and we are looking for a new soution. I looked on a few of our vendors websites but did not find anything that would meet our requirements. I am looking for an electronic storage device that will store the disks and keep a database as well. Is there anything like that out there? I am looking for somthing in the 1000 + CD/DVD range."

Submission + - GE: 1Tb micro Hologram Disc Readable by a Modified 1

Globally Mobile writes: "The Register has this article concerning GE announcement that it has been developing a 1 Terabyte DVD size disk that can be read by a modified Blu-ray player. Peter Lorraine, GE's lab manager, talking at an Emerging Tech conference last week, said that license announcements could be expected soon. He also mentioned the notion of disks having the capacity of 100 Blu-ray disks, implying a 2.5TB or even 5TB capacity, gained by increasing the number of layers used for recording. The discs will be used for high-end commercial niches initially and then migrate to consumer markets in 2012-2015.
Also here is a video of the technology explained.
.Wish we could see this sooner! Reminds me of the technology that Bowies charecter came up with in 'The Man Who Fell to Earth' Thanks to"
Social Networks

Submission + - SPAM: Facebook CAPTCHA no match for spyware attack

alphadogg writes: "Hackers have found a way to create automated Facebook pages and are using them to spread spyware to unsuspecting users, says antivirus and Internet security firm AVG Technologies. In a blog entry [spam URL stripped] posted Thursday morning, Research Chief Roger Thompson said that AVG's LinkScanner users had started detecting some "rogue spyware attacks" that were coming from Facebook pages. When AVG started looking at the pages, it noticed that the Facebook profiles featured pictures of the same woman and merely had different names to differentiate them. Each page had a link to a supposed video that would infect user computers with spyware if clicked. Thompson says that there are likely untold numbers of such rogue Facebook profiles on the Web right now, meaning that the hackers have somehow found a way to bypass Facebook's CAPTCHA system that requires users to retype a series of letters to activate an account.

The Facebook spyware attack coincides with an FBI warning released today [spam URL stripped] saying that cybercriminals are increasingly using social networking websites such as Facebook to launch attacks."

Link to Original Source

Submission + - Canadian Minister Caught Lying About Net Surveilla (michaelgeist.ca)

An anonymous reader writes: The Canadian government has introduced Internet surveillance legislation that requires ISPs to disclose customer information without a warrant. Peter Van Loan, the Minister in charge, claims that a Vancouver kidnapping earlier this year shows the need for these powers. Michael Geist has done some digging and shows this to be a lie — the Vancouver police acknowledge that the case did not involve an ISP request and the suspect is now in custody.

Choosing a Personal Printer For the Long Haul 557

The Optimizer writes "After 16 years of service, my laser printer, a NEC Silentwriter 95, is finally wearing its internals out, and I need to find a replacement. It's printed over 30,000 pages and survived a half-dozen long-distance moves without giving me any trouble. I believe it's done so well for two reasons. First, it's sturdily built and hails from an era when every fraction of a penny didn't have to be cost-cut out of manufacturing. The other reason was its software. Since it supported postscript Level II, it wasn't bound to a specific operating system or hardware platform, so long as a basic postscript level 2 driver was available. A new color laser printer with postscript 3 seems like a logical replacement, and numerous inexpensive printers are available. I'd rather get a smaller, personal-size printer than a heavy workgroup printer. Most of all, I would like it to still be usable and running well with Windows 9, OS X 11, and whatever else we will be using in 2020. Can anyone recommend a brand or series of printers that is built to last and isn't going to be completely dependent on OS specific proprietary drivers?"

Submission + - J.K. Rowling's 'witchcraft' offended Bush White Ho (keepingthedoor.com) 1

daria42 writes: "Speechless, all right. George W. Bush's White House objected to handing an important United States award to Harry Potter author J. K. Rowling because her books "encouraged witchcraft", former Bush speechwriter Matt Latimer has alleged. "This was the sort of narrow thinking that led people in the White House to actually object to giving the author J. K. Rowling a presidential media because the Harry Potter books encouraged witchcraft," he writes in his new book Speechless: Tales of a White House Survivor."

Communicator Clothing 134

coondoggie writes "The crew of the classic science-fiction show's Starship Enterprise wore small devices on their chests that they could tap to communicate instantly with their colleagues. Such communications technology is now closer to reality thanks to a Finnish company which this week demonstrated high-tech clothing that can send and receive messages via satellite. The demonstrator antenna, built by the Patria Aviation Oy company, looks like a simple patch of cloth but is capable of operating in the Iridium and GPS frequency band as part of clothing. The Iridium satellites allow two-way voice and data communication, while GPS provides positional data to the user. Iridium could also relay the position of the user."

Cosmic Ray Intensity Reaches Highest Levels In 50 years 263

An anonymous reader writes "A NASA probe found that cosmic ray intensities in 2009 had increased by almost 20 percent beyond anything seen in the past 50 years. Such cosmic rays arise from distant supernova explosions and consist mostly of protons and heavier subatomic particles — just one cosmic ray could disable unlucky satellites or even put a mission to Mars in jeopardy."

Comment The MSM are really Creationists (Score 1) 5

Whenever I read a story like this one, I get the feeling that the author, in his or her heart of hearts, is completely in tune with the creationist types who consider the standard Genesis story to be literally true. "God gave man dominion over the animals and ..." I know that I am smarter (in book learnin') than most people, but I also know that most people know more about some thing than I do. In fact, watching small animals around where I live, I know that plenty of birds and rabbits and squirrels know more about my immediate neighborhood than I do.

So why does every story about an animal figuring out something like this sound like a miracle has occurred? Animals, especially most mammals, learn how to do things to survive. Humans learn better than most other animals, but the animals still learn about a lot of different things. Yes, it's a news story when a bear opens a "bear-proof" canister. No, the engineers aren't stupid. No, the bear isn't a freak of nature. Yes, the bear is smarter than most.

Why can't there be smarter and stupider animals? All humans are equally smart? Yeesh.

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