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Pizza Lovers Suffer Data Breach From Hell 164

netbuzz writes "Some 230,000 New Zealanders have been informed that their personal information has apparently fallen into the hands of hackers who compromised the network of a locally famous food chain, Hell Pizza. The company says it suspects 'a rogue employee,' but one security expert says Hell's ordering portal is 'about 50 steps of fail.' Several New Zealand celebrities are among the victims and at least one is taking the matter in stride, musing: 'My Twitter has been hacked, my Facebook has been hacked and I'm pretty sure half of New Zealand has my phone number already. I have nothing bad to say about Hell.'"

Survey Says To UK — Repeal Laws of Thermodynamics 208

mostxlnt writes "As we noted, the new Tory UK government has launched a website asking its subjects which laws they'd most like repealed. There are proposals up for repeal of the Laws of Thermodynamics: Second, Third, and all (discussion thread on this one closed by a moderator). One comment on the Third [now apparently deleted] elucidated: 'Without the Third Law of Thermodynamics, it would be possible to build machines that would last forever and provide an endless source of cheap energy. thus solving both potential crises in energy supply as well as solving the greenhouse gas problem in one step... simples... eh?'"

Chains of RFCs and Chains of Laws? 168

AlexNicoll writes "I recently completed a DNSSEC library for the .NET platform (thanks to Wouter @ NLNetLabs for his help!). While writing the library, I encountered the extremely entertaining concept of following the long chain of DNS-related RFCs on the IETF website. Some RFCs were obsoleted, some were updated, some updates were obsoleted by others, and some were never really formally related or linked — so even finding them was a challenge in search-fu. Finally, I think I got the whole picture, but I'm not sure. Then I got to thinking: searching for the relevant RFCs in IETF RFC chains was a lot like trying to figure out how (in the US) local, regional, state, and federal laws interact with themselves and each other. Since I just recently moved, I thought I ought to know the rules of the place I live in. It turns out to be just as non-trivial, if not more so, than parsing RFC chains. So here's the question: given that the processes are somewhat similar, does anyone know of a project that has tried to consolidate all the information in one place, so that it's in one comprehensive and up-to-date document, for either laws or RFCs?" Update: 05/24 14:24 GMT by KD : Ray Bellis from Nominet took up the challenge and compiled dependency graphs for DNS-related RFCs.

New Speed Cameras Catch You From Space 351

A new kind of speed camera that uses satellites to measure average speed over long distances is being tested in Britain. The "Speedspike" system combines plate reading technology with a global positioning satellite receiver to calculate average speed between any two points in the area being monitored. From the article: "Details of the trials are contained in a House of Commons report. The company said in its evidence that the cameras enabled 'number plate capture in all weather conditions, 24 hours a day.' It also referred to the system's 'low cost' and ease of installation." I can't wait to see the episode of MythBusters where they try to avoid getting a speeding ticket from a satellite.

The Best Robots of 2009 51

kkleiner writes "Singularity Hub has just unveiled its second annual roundup of the best robots of the year. In 2009 robots continued their advance towards world domination with several impressive breakouts in areas such as walking, automation, and agility, while still lacking in adaptability and reasoning ability. It will be several years until robots can gain the artificial intelligence that will truly make them remarkable, but in the meantime they are still pretty awesome."

Jetman Attempts Intercontinental Flight 140

Last year we ran the story of Yves Rossy and his DIY jetwings. Yves spent $190,000 and countless hours building a set of jet-powered wings which he used to cross the English Channel. Rossy's next goal is to cross the Strait of Gibraltar, from Tangier in Morocco and Tarifa on the southwestern tip of Spain. From the article: "Using a four-cylinder jet pack and carbon fibre wings spanning over 8ft, he will jump out of a plane at 6,500 ft and cruise at 130 mph until he reaches the Spanish coast, when he will parachute to earth." Update 18:57 GMT: mytrip writes: "Yves Rossy took off from Tangiers but five minutes into an expected 15-minute flight he was obliged to ditch into the wind-swept waters."

HTML Tags For Academic Printing? 338

meketrefi writes "It's been quite a while since I got interested in the idea of using html (instead of .doc. or .odf) as a standard for saving documents — including the more official ones like academic papers. The problem is using HTML to create pages with a stable size that would deal with bibliographical references, page breaks, different printers, etc. Does anyone think it is possible to develop a decent tag like 'div,' but called 'page,' specially for this? Something that would make no use of CSS? Maybe something with attributes as follows: {page size="A4" borders="2.5cm,2.5cm,2cm,2cm" page_numbering="bottomleft,startfrom0"} — You get the idea... { /page} I guess you would not be able to tell when the page would be full, so the browser would have to be in charge of breaking the content into multiple pages when needed. Bibliographical references would probably need a special tag as well, positioned inside the tag ..." Is this such a crazy idea? What would you advise?

Hints of a Link Between Autism and Vinyl Flooring 356

SpuriousLogic sends in a link from Scientific American to a study by Swedish and US researchers that reaches the surprising conclusion that there may be a link between autism and vinyl floors. "Children who live in homes with vinyl floors, which can emit chemicals called phthalates, are more likely to have autism, according to research by Swedish and US scientists published Monday. ... The scientists were surprised by their finding, calling it 'far from conclusive.' ... The researchers found four environmental factors associated with autism: vinyl flooring, the mother's smoking, family economic problems, and condensation on windows, which indicates poor ventilation. Infants or toddlers who lived in bedrooms with vinyl, or PVC, floors were twice as likely to have autism five years later... than those with wood or linoleum flooring. ... Several scientists who did not participate in the study cautioned that it has too many limitations to draw conclusions, but they suggested that new studies be designed to look for a connection between autism and indoor air pollutants."

Hungry Crustaceans Eat Climate Change Experiment 291

Earlier this month, an expedition fertilized 300 square kilometers of the Atlantic Ocean with six metric tons of dissolved iron. This triggered a bloom of phytoplankton, which doubled their biomass within two weeks by taking in carbon dioxide from the seawater. The dead phytoplankton were then expected to sink to the ocean bed, dragging carbon along with them. Instead, the experiment turned into an example of how the food chain works, as the bloom was eaten by a swarm of hungry copepods. The huge swarm of copepods were in turn eaten by larger crustaceans called amphipods, which are often eaten by squid and whales. "I think we are seeing the last gasps of ocean iron fertilization as a carbon storage strategy," says Ken Caldeira of the Carnegie Institution at Stanford University. While the experiment failed to show ocean fertilization as a viable carbon storage strategy, it has pushed the old "My dog ate my homework" excuse to an unprecedented level.
The Almighty Buck

The Formula That Killed Wall Street 561

We recently discussed the perspective that the harrowing of Wall Street was caused by over-reliance on computer models that produced a single number to characterize risk. Wired has a piece profiling David X. Li, the quant behind the formula that enabled the creation of such simple risk models. "For five years, Li's formula, known as a Gaussian copula function, looked like an unambiguously positive breakthrough, a piece of financial technology that allowed hugely complex risks to be modeled with more ease and accuracy than ever before. With his brilliant spark of mathematical legerdemain, Li made it possible for traders to sell vast quantities of new securities, expanding financial markets to unimaginable levels. His method was adopted by everybody from bond investors and Wall Street banks to ratings agencies and regulators. ... [T]he real danger was created not because any given trader adopted it but because every trader did. In financial markets, everybody doing the same thing is the classic recipe for a bubble and inevitable bust."
Classic Games (Games)

History of the Pinball Construction Set 32

Matt Barton writes "I thought you all might enjoy our article on the history of Bill Budge's Pinball Construction Set, a key progenitor to LittleBigPlanet and other games that enable users to generate their own shareable content. The article is heavily illustrated and covers the game's precedents as well as those it influenced (Bard's Tale Construction Set, Racing Destruction Set, etc.) Budge said, 'I was exposed to GUIs at Apple, and I had the pinball simulation from Raster Blaster. I saw that it would be a small step to do a construction set. This was the kind of program I liked, since there was no game to write. But it was a lot of work, since I had to implement file saving, a mini sound editor and a mini paint program.'"

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