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Submission + - Germany Considers Paradigm Shift On Renewables (dw.com)

An anonymous reader writes: Germany, which has been seen as a trend-setter in the move to renewable power sources, may be turning a corner by adopting policies that slow the growth of solar and wind power in order to stabilize electricity prices and allow transmission infrastructure to catch up to the changing generation landscape.

The federal cabinet has adopted measures that would switch market policies away from the administrated pricing set up to a competitive bidding system

The new policy, mandating utilities purchase electricity with 20-year contracts that go to the lowest bids, has yet to be debated in Germany's parliament. Part of the rationalization at the cabinet level, however, is to benefit customers, while allowing utilities to build up infrastructure. German Economic and Energy Minister Sigmar Gabriel also said that grid operators last year had to pay “ billions of euros for wind power capacity that went unused.”

Submission + - When & how we discovered the Earth was round.

StartsWithABang writes: Forget going to space and seeing its roundness, forget Magellan and his circumnavigation of the globe. Forget even Christopher Columbus, even though you wouldn't be alone if you were taught that in school. Contrary to popular belief, this question wasn’t settled in the 1400s or 1500s, but more than 2,000 years ago, in the ancient world! And what’s perhaps most amazing? It was done using nothing more than the Sun, and it measured the size of the Earth, too. An amazing historical-and-scientific read, along with one more reason that Columbus should be mostly forgotten, "His estimates, that he used to convince others that one could sail from Europe directly to India (were the Americas non-existent), were absurdly small! Had the Americas not existed, Columbus and his crew surely would have starved before reaching Asia!"
Science

Submission + - Mice cages alter brains (scienceblog.com)

An anonymous reader writes: Researchers at the University of Colorado’s Anschutz Medical Campus have found the brains of mice used in laboratories worldwide can be profoundly affected by the type of cage they are kept in, which may require scientists to reevaluate the way they conduct future experiments. “We assume that mice used in laboratories are all the same, but they are not,” said Diego Restrepo, director of the Neuroscience Program and professor of cell and developmental biology. “When you change the cages you change the brains and that affects the outcomes of research.” Mice are the chief research mammals in the world today.
IT

Submission + - Confessions of a Cloud Skeptic (infoworld.com)

snydeq writes: "InfoWorld's Matt Prigge argues that it is high time to count 'cloud computing' among history's most prominent IT snake oils — technical trends fraught with "transformational" sales pitches that fell far short. 'After a couple of years of obsessive coverage by trade rags and analyst firms, I think "the cloud" has jumped the shark,' Prigge writes. 'We've been inundated by stories declaring that cloud infrastructure will mark the end of cap ex for IT — and almost as many articles labeling the cloud as an unreliable, underpowered security nightmare. When I first started hearing rumblings about cloud infrastructure a few years ago, I actually thought I might have missed some huge technological development. It didn't take me long to figure out that at a very basic level, cloud infrastructure isn't new at all. It's the marketing and spin that's new.'"
Security

Submission + - Distributed SSH Brute Force Attack Underway (threatpost.com)

Trailrunner7 writes: Security experts are warning about a fresh round of attacks against SSH implementations. The attacks are brute-force attempts to authenticate to remote SSH servers, a tactic that has been used quite often in the past in distributed attacks. However, this series of attacks isn't using the password authentication method. Instead, the attackers are attempting to connect to the SSH servers by using the alternative keyboard-interactive authentication method. In the past, many of the large, distributed SSH attacks have used the simpler password authentication method and just run through a given set of potential passwords on a target server hoping to get lucky.
Patents

Submission + - CSIRO wins Paten battle over WiFi (abc.net.au)

Combat Wombat writes: "The CSIRO, The Australian Government research agency, has won a patent suit against HP, over the use of the IEEE WiFi technology it developed back in 1996. This will be a boon for the agency, as the money can be used to fun more and better science reseach. Finally, the system works for a good cause for once. Information on what the CSIRO does, can be found here http://www.csiro.au/"
Communications

Submission + - Piracy law cuts internet traffic by 33%

Linux Admin Blog writes: "Sweden's new anti piracy laws are based on an EU directive. From the BBC "Internet traffic in Sweden fell by 33% as the country's new anti-piracy law came into effect, reports suggest. Sweden's new policy — the Local IPRED law — allows copyright holders to force internet service providers (ISP) to reveal details of users sharing files.""
Transportation

Submission + - Faulty sensor + no error checking = plane crashes

SiggyRadiation writes: "A few days ago the dutch transport safety board presented a preliminary report regarding the crash of a Turkish Airline Boeing 737.
The cause was a radio altimeter that suddenly went from 1950 feet to -8 feet. This altimeter was connected to the autopilot which continuously decelerated the plane, thinking it was close to touching the runway, and caused a stall. Of course, the pilots should have checked the auto pilot and should have noticed in time that they were not following the correct glide-path.
But, as a software ingeneer, I can't think of any reason why this error couldn't have been detected in software; there are redundant altimeters; the system could check for differences between those altimeters, and the system could even have detected the huge jump from 1850 feet to -8 feet and decided that this was an implausible reading and alert the pilots of "suspect" or "tainted" input.
Are all those sofisticated autopilots and flight management systems really as advanced as the industry wants us to believe or has the first random website better input-checks these days?"
Medicine

Submission + - Birdflu vials accident- Contaminent virus sent out (youtube.com)

kromagnon writes: Officials are trying to get to the bottom of how vaccine manufacturer Baxter International Inc. made an experimental vaccine contaminated with the H5N1 avian flu virus and then distributed it to an Austrian company. Accidental release of a mixture of live H5N1 and H3N2 viruses — if that indeed happened — could have resulted in dire consequences. Nicoll said officials still aren't 100 per cent sure the mixture contained live H5N1 viruses. But given that ferrets exposed to the mixture died, it likely did.

If someone exposed to the mixture had been co-infected with H5N1 and H3N2, the person could have served as an incubator for a hybrid virus able to transmit easily to and among people. That mixing process, called reassortment, is one of two ways pandemic viruses are created.
(BIRD FLU)H5N1 and H3N2 viruses mate readily. While less virulent than H5N1, a number of the offspring viruses appeared to retain at least a portion of the killing power of their dangerous parent. Alarm bells rang in early February when researchers at the Czech sub-contractor inoculated ferrets with the material and the animals promptly died. Baxter learned about the problem on Feb. 6.

People familiar with biosecurity rules are dismayed by evidence that human H3N2 and avian H5N1 viruses have somehow co-mingled in the Baxter research facility. That should not be allowed to happen, a number of experts insisted.Baxter's error is reminiscent of a 2005 incident where a U.S. manufacturer of kits used by laboratories to test their detection capabilities included vials of H2N2 virus in several thousand proficiency kits. H2N2, the virus that caused the 1957 pandemic, has not circulated since 1968 and is thought to be a prime candidate to cause the next pandemic.

That mistake, discovered by Canada's National Microbiology Laboratory, set authorities around the world scrambling to retrieve and destroy the vials of virus, which had been sent to labs in 18 countries.
NEWS LINKS:
http://ca.news.yahoo.com/s/capress/090225/health/health_contaminated_flu_vaccine_1
http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601202&sid=aTo3LbhcA75I

NASA

Submission + - The Earth is Cooling: Look at the Data (blogspot.com)

Advocate123 writes: Meteorologist Anthony Watts compiled the results of all the sources. The total amount of cooling ranges from 0.65C up to 0.75C — a value large enough to erase nearly all the global warming recorded over the past 100 years. All in one year time. For all sources, it's the single fastest temperature change ever recorded, either up or down.
Space

Submission + - Move it or lose it... Earth swallowed in 7b years

pha7boy writes: The Earth will, apparently, be swallowed by the Sun in, give or take, 7.6 billion years. There was some disagreement about whether the Sun will lose enough mass to allow the planet to shift its orbit enough to escape being engulfed. Newer calculations, taking into account tidal forces, predict that this escape will not be possible. While 7.6 billion years seems like a lot, life on the planet has much less. After about 1 billion years, the planet will be too hot to support life. So, does this really matter? Maybe. But we're likely to all be dead by then.
Security

Submission + - German Researchers Test theArm of Anti-Hacker Law

ancientribe writes: A German security firm fed up with the ambiguity and confusion surrounding the country's controversial new anti-hacker law says it will challenge the law head-on tomorrow — by reinstating a hacking tool it had removed from its Website last month for fear of prosecution. This may be the first real test of the new law, which has forced German security firms and researchers to pull proof-of-concept exploit code and hacking tools offline. The security firm, N.runs, says it's ready to face arrest or prosecution all in the name of clarifying the controversial new cybercrime law.

http://www.darkreading.com/document.asp?doc_id=134595&WT.svl=news1_1

Feed Techdirt: Spying On Your Ex-Girlfriend Not Quite What Homeland Security's Database Is For (techdirt.com)

Every time we hear of yet another plan for the government to set up yet another database of information about people, we wonder about how it will be misused. Supporters always talk about how helpful such databases are (which is debatable), but rarely are willing to take into account how such systems are going to be abused -- and they're always abused. The latest such case involves an employee at the Department of Commerce who used a Department of Homeland Security database to track an ex-girlfriend. This wasn't just a one-off thing either. He apparently used the database 163 times to check up on her. Then he threatened to have the woman deported and her family killed. So, as the government continues to push the boundaries in trying to collect more and more data on everyone, it's at least worth asking if the potential for abuses is taken into consideration and how they're dealt with (if they're dealt with at all).
Spam

Submission + - bogons, hijacked RBL domain expired (209.85.129.104)

Mateusz Harasymczuk writes: "Today I have noticed a procmail and spamassassin breakdown on my corporate server (Slackware 10), all emails were redirected to spam.rbl mailbox because of X-Blacklisted: Yes (MAILSERVER_IP listed by bogons, hijacked) header...
And it all happend because http://completewhois.com/ (bogons RBL host) domain expired today."

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