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Submission + - KickSat Would Launch Members' Nanosatellites into (gizmag.com)

Zothecula writes: Pssst, do you wanna buy a satellite? No, really — do you? Well, Zac Manchester would like to sell you one. Not only that, but he claims that the thing could be built and launched into orbit for just a few hundred dollars. For that price, however, you're not going to be getting a big satellite. Manchester's Sprite spacecraft are actually about the size of a couple of postage stamps, but they have tiny versions of all the basic equipment that the big ones have, and yours could end up transmitting your initials from outer space.

Submission + - Obama Issues Executive Orders to Forgive Student L (whitehouse.gov)

cjcurrie writes: "(My first submission and I accidentally posted anonymously. Resubmitted here so you can get a copy of the full email if you want it.)

IIRC, the Obama Administration took all online petitions with over 25,000 signatures and promised an official response. Today, at 6:31 Central, they issued an email to all voters with a link to this reply:

"Today, the Obama Administration announced [...] a series of executive actions to put Americans back to work and strengthen the economy because we can’t wait for Congressional Republicans to act.


"The new “Pay As You Earn” proposal will allow about 1.6 million students the ability to cap their loan payments at 10 percent [...] and forgive the balance of their debt after 20 years of payments."

After describing mortgage consolidation tweaks, the Office of the Press Secretary also announces (in the email, but not in the letter):

"In addition to capping student loan repayments, the Healthcare and Education Reconciliation Act helped increase the maximum Pell Grant to $5,500 and saved taxpayers billions by cutting out banks as middlemen. Because of this reform, there will be over 800,000 additional Pell Grants awarded over the next 10 years and the value of Pell Grants will be able to keep up with additional college costs."

Pell Grants are not loans, but money given to students to help pay for a bachelor's degree.

This executive order will take place starting January 2012."


Retailers Dread Phone-Wielding Shoppers 725

Ponca City writes "The WSJ reports that until recently, retailers could reasonably assume that if they just lured shoppers into stores with enticing specials, the customers could be coaxed into buying more profitable stuff too. But now, marketers must contend with shoppers who can use their smartphones inside stores to check whether the specials are really so special. 'The retailer's advantage has been eroded,' says analyst Greg Girard, adding that roughly 45% of customers with smartphones had used them to perform due diligence on a store's prices. 'The four walls of the store have become porous.' Although store executives publicly welcome a price-transparent world, retail experts don't expect all chains to measure up to the harsh judgment of mobile price comparisons, and some will need to find new ways to survive. 'Only a couple of retailers can play the lowest-price game,' says Noam Paransky. 'This is going to accelerate the demise of retailers who do not have either competitive pricing or a standout store experience.'"

Americans Less Healthy, But Outlive Brits 521

An anonymous reader writes with this intriguing snippet: "Older Americans are less healthy than their English counterparts, but they live as long or even longer than their English peers, according to a new study by researchers from the RAND Corporation and the Institute for Fiscal Studies in London. Researchers found that while Americans aged 55 to 64 have higher rates of chronic diseases than their peers in England, they died at about the same rate. And Americans age 65 and older — while still sicker than their English peers — had a lower death rate than similar people in England, according to findings published in the journal Demography."

33 Developers Leave OpenOffice.org 500

dkd903 writes "We all knew it would come to this, and it has finally happened — 33 developers have left OpenOffice.org to join The Document Foundation, with more expected to leave in the next few days. After Oracle acquired Sun Microsystems, OpenOffice.org fell into the hands of Oracle, as did a lot of other products. So, last month a few very prominent members of the OpenOffice.org community decided to form The Document Foundation and fork OpenOffice.org as LibreOffice, possibly fearing that it could go the OpenSolaris way."

Google Releases New Image Format Called WebP 378

An anonymous reader writes "Google has released WebP, a lossy image format based on the image encoding used by VP8 (the video codec used in Google's WebM video format) to compress keyframes. According to the FAQ, WebP achieves an average 39% more compression than JPEG and JPEG 2000 while maintaining image quality. A gallery on the WebP homepage has a selection of images which compare the original JPEG image with the WebP encoded image shown as a PNG. There's no information available yet on which browsers will support the WebP image format, but I imagine it will be all the browsers which currently have native WebM support — Firefox, Chrome, and Opera." Independent analysis of WebP is available from a few different sources.
The Internet

Bookmark Synchronizer Xmarks Hangs Up Their Hats 225

krulgar writes "On January 10, 2011, Xmarks will be closing their doors. A free service being replaced by free software. It would still be nice to have a single way to keep my bookmarks from my work machine in sync with my home machines and my mobile devices without exerting much effort. Xmarks seemed to be the only ones with that clear vision, maybe the replacement tools can grow into this space, but it's still a little sad to see a useful tool wave goodbye."

Submission + - SPAM: VLC Media Player for iPad is now available

Pureinfotech writes: Apple Approves VLC For iPad. VLC (VideoLan) is a great the open source media player that it is able to play virtually any audio and video file format for Windows, OS X, Linux, and more, making you life a little bit easier, so you don’t have to go online hunting down third party codec packs; now it has an iPad app and it is available now for free!
Link to Original Source

BP Permanently Seals Gulf Oil Well 368

rexjoec writes "BP has finally plugged the Macondo well. This announcement came yesterday after $9.5 billion (through September 17) in expenditures and five months of continuous effort." From the LA Times: "Of the estimated 4.9 million barrels of oil that gushed from the well, 25% was burned, skimmed or piped to tanker ships. A second 25% has evaporated or dissolved, according to government estimates. Another 25%, classified by the government as 'residual oil,' consisted of light sheens on the water, thick goo on the shore and tar balls. The tar balls, though not harmful to humans, are likely to wash up on shore for some time."

Flash Ported To iOS and iPhone 4 231

An anonymous reader noted that there is a simple HOWTO explaining how to install flash on an iPhone4. Mad props for using Strong Bad as the demo. Of course, step one is to use the JailBreakMe. Once installed, Flash inside Safari loads in a stopped state so it won't even hurt performance unless you decide to actually execute the program.

Submission + - EU Parliament Passes Resolution Calling on Canada (michaelgeist.ca)

unity100 writes: Eu Parliament passes resolution calling on Canada to support greater ACTA transparency, and to move negotiations closer to WIPO. Michael Geist writes :

"With the Canada — European Union summit underway this week, the European Parliament has just passed a resolution that calls on Canada to support even greater ACTA transparency and to shift the negotiations to an international organization such as WIPO. The full paragraph within the resolution states that the European Parliament:

Hopes that Canada will fully support the EU's request to open up the ACTA negotiations to public scrutiny, as it requested in its resolution of 10 March 2010, and to have those negotiations conducted under the auspices of an international organisation, the most suitable being WIPO;

In the aftermath of its success in promoting release of the ACTA draft text, it is interesting to see the European Parliament becoming increasingly vocal about the ACTA negotiations. Canada has remained generally silent on these issues and the EP resolution may help coax out a response."

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