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[#] Sun Feb 15 2009 23:12:00 EST from rss

Subject: Do We Need a New Internet?

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Richard.Tao and a number of other readers sent in a NYTimes piece by John Markoff asking whether the Internet is so broken it needs to be replaced. "...[T]here is a growing belief among engineers and security experts that Internet security and privacy have become so maddeningly elusive that the only way to fix the problem is to start over. What a new Internet might look like is still widely debated, but one alternative would, in effect, create a 'gated community' where users would give up their anonymity and certain freedoms in return for safety. Today that is already the case for many corporate and government Internet users. As a new and more secure network becomes widely adopted, the current Internet might end up as the bad neighborhood of cyberspace. You would enter at your own risk and keep an eye over your shoulder while you were there." A less alarmist reaction to the question was blogged by David Akin: "If you build a new Internet and you want me to get a license to drive on it, sorry. I'm hanging out here in v.1."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.



http://rss.slashdot.org/~r/Slashdot/slashdot/~3/9YGpzCkcBYs/article.pl

[#] Mon Feb 16 2009 01:08:00 EST from rss

Subject: Collided Satellite Debris Coming Down?

[Reply] [ReplyQuoted] [Headers] [Print]

Jamie found this Bad Astronomy blog on the many reports beginning about 7 hours ago of one or more fireballs in the sky across Texas. That blog's proprietor first doubted that the phenomena could be due to the satellites that collided in orbit last week, but later left the possibility open. The National Weather Service for Jackson, KY put out an announcement about possible explosions and earthquakes across the area and blamed the defunct satellites. "These pieces of debris have been causing sonic booms...resulting in the vibrations being felt by some residents...as well as flashes of light across the sky. The cloud of debris is likely the result of the recent in orbit collision of two satellites on Tuesday...February 10th when Kosmos 2251 crashed into Iridium 33." An Austin TV station has more reports.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.



http://rss.slashdot.org/~r/Slashdot/slashdot/~3/w2jE5cMPs1U/article.pl

[#] Mon Feb 16 2009 03:05:00 EST from rss

Subject: The Role of Experts In Wikipedia

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Hugh Pickens writes "Episteme, a magazine about the social dimensions of knowledge, has a special issue on the epistemology of mass collaboration, with many of the articles focusing on Wikipedia. One of the most interesting articles is by Lawrence M. Sanger on the special role of experts in the age of Wikipedia. Sanger says the main reason that Wikipedia's articles are as good as they are is that they are edited by knowledgeable people to whom deference is paid, although voluntarily, but that some articles suffer precisely because there are so many aggressive people who 'guard' articles and drive off others (PDF), including people more expert than they are. 'Without granting experts any authority to overrule such people, there is no reason to think that Wikipedia'a articles are on a vector toward continual improvement,' writes Sanger. Wikipedia's success cannot be explained by its radical egalitarianism or its rejection of expert involvement, but instead by its freedom, openness, and bottom-up management and there is no doubt that many experts would, if left to their own devices, dismantle the openness that drives the success of Wikipedia. 'But the failure to take seriously the suggestion of any role of experts can only be considered a failure of imagination,' writes Sanger. 'One need only ask what an open, bottom-up system with a role for expert decision-making would be like.' The rest of the articles on the epistemology of mass collaboration are available online, free for now." Sanger was one of the founders of Wikipedia, and of its failed predecessor Nupedia, who left the fold because of differences over the question of the proper role of experts. Sanger forked Wikipedia to found Citizendium, which we have discussed on several occasions. After 2-1/2 years, Citizendium has a few tenths of a percent as many articles as Wikipedia.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.



http://rss.slashdot.org/~r/Slashdot/slashdot/~3/t26swZ_fNo4/article.pl

[#] Mon Feb 16 2009 04:58:00 EST from rss

Subject: Acquired Characteristics May Be Inheritable

[Reply] [ReplyQuoted] [Headers] [Print]

A story from a week or so back in Technology Review describes research coming to the surprising conclusion that Jean-Baptiste Lamarck may have been right — that acquired characteristics can be passed on to offspring, at least in rodents. Lamarck's ideas have been controversial for 200 years, and dismissed in mainstream scientific thinking for nearly that long. "In Feig's study, mice genetically engineered to have memory problems were raised in an enriched environment — given toys, exercise, and social interaction — for two weeks during adolescence. The animals' memory improved... The mice were then returned to normal conditions, where they grew up and had offspring. This next generation of mice also had better memory, despite having the genetic defect and never having been exposed to the enriched environment."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.



http://rss.slashdot.org/~r/Slashdot/slashdot/~3/EcMBccHEh0U/article.pl

[#] Mon Feb 16 2009 07:45:00 EST from rss

Subject: A Brief History of Chip Hype and Flops

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On CNet.com, Brooke Crowthers has a review of some flops in the chip-making world — from IBM, Intel, and AMD — and the hype that surrounded them, which is arguably as interesting as the chips' failures. "First, I have to revisit Intel's Itanium. Simply because it's still around and still missing production target dates. The hype: 'This design philosophy will one day replace RISC and CISC. It is a gateway into the 64-bit future.' ... The reality: Yes, Itanium is still warm, still breathing in the rarefied very-high-end server market — where it does have a limited role. But... it certainly hasn't remade the computer industry."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.



http://rss.slashdot.org/~r/Slashdot/slashdot/~3/RCFqTPYiu3M/article.pl

[#] Mon Feb 16 2009 10:29:00 EST from rss

Subject: Earth May Harbor a Shadow Biosphere of Alien Life

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An anonymous reader sends us to Cosmos Magazine for a speculative article arguing that a 'shadow biosphere' may exist on Earth, unrelated to life as we know it. If such non-carbon-based life were found here at home, it would alter the odds for how common life is elsewhere in the universe, astrobiologists say. "The tools and experiments researchers use to look for new forms of life — such as those on missions to Mars — would not detect biochemistries different from our own, making it easy for scientists to miss alien life, even if was under their noses. ... Scientists are looking in places where life isn't expected — for example, in areas of extreme heat, cold, salt, radiation, dryness, or contaminated streams and rivers. [One researcher] is particularly interested in places that are heavily contaminated with arsenic, which, he suggests, might support forms of life that use arsenic the way life as we know it uses phosphorus."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.



http://rss.slashdot.org/~r/Slashdot/slashdot/~3/MNQR-ap5leI/article.pl

[#] Mon Feb 16 2009 10:29:00 EST from rss

Subject: Earth May Harbor a Shadow Biosphere of Alien Life

[Reply] [ReplyQuoted] [Headers] [Print]

An anonymous reader sends us to Cosmos Magazine for a speculative article arguing that a 'shadow biosphere' may exist on Earth, unrelated to life as we know it. If such non-carbon-based life were found here at home, it would alter the odds for how common life is elsewhere in the universe, astrobiologists say. "The tools and experiments researchers use to look for new forms of life — such as those on missions to Mars — would not detect biochemistries different from our own, making it easy for scientists to miss alien life, even if was under their noses. ... Scientists are looking in places where life isn't expected — for example, in areas of extreme heat, cold, salt, radiation, dryness, or contaminated streams and rivers. [One researcher] is particularly interested in places that are heavily contaminated with arsenic, which, he suggests, might support forms of life that use arsenic the way life as we know it uses phosphorus."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.



http://rss.slashdot.org:80/~r/Slashdot/slashdot/~3/MNQR-ap5leI/article.pl

[#] Mon Feb 16 2009 07:45:00 EST from rss

Subject: A Brief History of Chip Hype and Flops

[Reply] [ReplyQuoted] [Headers] [Print]

On CNet.com, Brooke Crowthers has a review of some flops in the chip-making world — from IBM, Intel, and AMD — and the hype that surrounded them, which is arguably as interesting as the chips' failures. "First, I have to revisit Intel's Itanium. Simply because it's still around and still missing production target dates. The hype: 'This design philosophy will one day replace RISC and CISC. It is a gateway into the 64-bit future.' ... The reality: Yes, Itanium is still warm, still breathing in the rarefied very-high-end server market — where it does have a limited role. But... it certainly hasn't remade the computer industry."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.



http://rss.slashdot.org:80/~r/Slashdot/slashdot/~3/RCFqTPYiu3M/article.pl

[#] Mon Feb 16 2009 04:58:00 EST from rss

Subject: Acquired Characteristics May Be Inheritable

[Reply] [ReplyQuoted] [Headers] [Print]

A story from a week or so back in Technology Review describes research coming to the surprising conclusion that Jean-Baptiste Lamarck may have been right — that acquired characteristics can be passed on to offspring, at least in rodents. Lamarck's ideas have been controversial for 200 years, and dismissed in mainstream scientific thinking for nearly that long. "In Feig's study, mice genetically engineered to have memory problems were raised in an enriched environment — given toys, exercise, and social interaction — for two weeks during adolescence. The animals' memory improved... The mice were then returned to normal conditions, where they grew up and had offspring. This next generation of mice also had better memory, despite having the genetic defect and never having been exposed to the enriched environment."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.



http://rss.slashdot.org:80/~r/Slashdot/slashdot/~3/EcMBccHEh0U/article.pl

[#] Mon Feb 16 2009 03:05:00 EST from rss

Subject: The Role of Experts In Wikipedia

[Reply] [ReplyQuoted] [Headers] [Print]

Hugh Pickens writes "Episteme, a magazine about the social dimensions of knowledge, has a special issue on the epistemology of mass collaboration, with many of the articles focusing on Wikipedia. One of the most interesting articles is by Lawrence M. Sanger on the special role of experts in the age of Wikipedia. Sanger says the main reason that Wikipedia's articles are as good as they are is that they are edited by knowledgeable people to whom deference is paid, although voluntarily, but that some articles suffer precisely because there are so many aggressive people who 'guard' articles and drive off others (PDF), including people more expert than they are. 'Without granting experts any authority to overrule such people, there is no reason to think that Wikipedia'a articles are on a vector toward continual improvement,' writes Sanger. Wikipedia's success cannot be explained by its radical egalitarianism or its rejection of expert involvement, but instead by its freedom, openness, and bottom-up management and there is no doubt that many experts would, if left to their own devices, dismantle the openness that drives the success of Wikipedia. 'But the failure to take seriously the suggestion of any role of experts can only be considered a failure of imagination,' writes Sanger. 'One need only ask what an open, bottom-up system with a role for expert decision-making would be like.' The rest of the articles on the epistemology of mass collaboration are available online, free for now." Sanger was one of the founders of Wikipedia, and of its failed predecessor Nupedia, who left the fold because of differences over the question of the proper role of experts. Sanger forked Wikipedia to found Citizendium, which we have discussed on several occasions. After 2-1/2 years, Citizendium has a few tenths of a percent as many articles as Wikipedia.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.



http://rss.slashdot.org:80/~r/Slashdot/slashdot/~3/t26swZ_fNo4/article.pl

[#] Mon Feb 16 2009 01:08:00 EST from rss

Subject: Collided Satellite Debris Coming Down?

[Reply] [ReplyQuoted] [Headers] [Print]

Jamie found this Bad Astronomy blog on the many reports beginning about 7 hours ago of one or more fireballs in the sky across Texas. That blog's proprietor first doubted that the phenomena could be due to the satellites that collided in orbit last week, but later left the possibility open. The National Weather Service for Jackson, KY put out an announcement about possible explosions and earthquakes across the area and blamed the defunct satellites. "These pieces of debris have been causing sonic booms...resulting in the vibrations being felt by some residents...as well as flashes of light across the sky. The cloud of debris is likely the result of the recent in orbit collision of two satellites on Tuesday...February 10th when Kosmos 2251 crashed into Iridium 33." An Austin TV station has more reports.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.



http://rss.slashdot.org:80/~r/Slashdot/slashdot/~3/w2jE5cMPs1U/article.pl

[#] Sun Feb 15 2009 23:12:00 EST from rss

Subject: Do We Need a New Internet?

[Reply] [ReplyQuoted] [Headers] [Print]

Richard.Tao and a number of other readers sent in a NYTimes piece by John Markoff asking whether the Internet is so broken it needs to be replaced. "...[T]here is a growing belief among engineers and security experts that Internet security and privacy have become so maddeningly elusive that the only way to fix the problem is to start over. What a new Internet might look like is still widely debated, but one alternative would, in effect, create a 'gated community' where users would give up their anonymity and certain freedoms in return for safety. Today that is already the case for many corporate and government Internet users. As a new and more secure network becomes widely adopted, the current Internet might end up as the bad neighborhood of cyberspace. You would enter at your own risk and keep an eye over your shoulder while you were there." A less alarmist reaction to the question was blogged by David Akin: "If you build a new Internet and you want me to get a license to drive on it, sorry. I'm hanging out here in v.1."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.



http://rss.slashdot.org:80/~r/Slashdot/slashdot/~3/9YGpzCkcBYs/article.pl

[#] Sun Feb 15 2009 21:55:00 EST from rss

Subject: High Tech Misery In China

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theodp writes "Think you've got a bad job? Think again. You could be making keyboards for IBM, Microsoft, Dell, Lenovo and HP at Meitai Plastic and Electronics, a Chinese hardware factory. Prompted by the release of High Tech Misery in China by a human-rights group, a self-regulating body set up by tech companies will conduct an audit of working conditions at the factory. In return for take-home pay of 41 cents per hour, workers reportedly sit on hard wooden stools for 12-hour shifts, seven days a week. Overtime is mandatory, with workers being given on average two days off per month. While on the production line, workers are not allowed to raise their hands or heads, are given 1.1 seconds to snap each key into place, and are encouraged to 'actively monitor each other' to see if any company rules are being transgressed. They are also monitored by guards. Workers are fined if they break the rules, locked in the factory for four days per week, and sleep in crowded dormitories. Okay, it's not all bad news — they're hiring."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.



http://rss.slashdot.org:80/~r/Slashdot/slashdot/~3/OHOHj7HBQwc/article.pl

[#] Sun Feb 15 2009 20:40:00 EST from rss

Subject: Sea Sponge Extract Conquers Resistant Bacteria

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Science News has an article on research into a compound found in a particular kind of sea sponge that seems to have the ability to restore antibiotics' effectiveness against resistant bacteria. The hope is that, since the compound is not itself deadly or even harmful to bacteria, it may skew the antibiotic-bacteria arms race in our favor. "Chemical analyses of the sponge's chemical defense factory pointed to a compound called algeferin. Biofilms, communities of bacteria notoriously resistant to antibiotics, dissolved when treated with fragments of the algeferin molecule. And new biofilms did not form. So far, the algeferin offshoot has, in the lab, successfully treated bacteria that cause whooping cough, ear infections, septicemia and food poisoning. The compound also works on... [MRSA] infections, which wreak havoc in hospitals. 'We have yet to find one that doesn't work,' says [one of the researchers]."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.



http://rss.slashdot.org:80/~r/Slashdot/slashdot/~3/Ktu41_eFuQM/article.pl

[#] Sun Feb 15 2009 19:25:00 EST from rss

Subject: Canon Tries To Shut Down "Fake" Canon Blog

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Thomas Hawk writes "An interesting twist over at the Fake Chuck Westfall Blog. Fake Chuck (like Fake Steve before him) has a blog out parodying Canon's real Technical Information Advisor Chuck Westfall. It seems that Canon and their lawyers over at Loeb & Loeb are none too fond of all the fun that Fake Chuck and DSLR geeks everywhere have been having at their expense and have sent Fake Chuck's blog hosting company, WordPress, a notice to take the blog down. Canon's lawyers cite that Fake Chuck's blog is 'calculated to mislead recipients,' even though the blog has 'fake' in the title, 'fake' in the URL and 'fake' just about everywhere else in the blog. What in the heck is wrong with Canon? Do they really think that trying to shut down a parody blog is going to make their new 5D Mark II ship any faster?" After Fake Chuck removed the Canon logo from his site, WordPress is standing behind him and has rebuffed Canon's demand.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.



http://rss.slashdot.org:80/~r/Slashdot/slashdot/~3/7kJYFNuJxls/article.pl

[#] Sun Feb 15 2009 18:12:00 EST from rss

Subject: "Microsaccades" Help To Refresh Your Field of View

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Ponca City, We love you writes with news of research from the Salk Institute into small, unconscious eye movements called "microsaccades," the purpose of which has been in question for many years. A recent study showed that those movements were essentially responsible for maintaining a coherent image for interpretation by the brain. They are also the cause of a famous optical illusion in which a still image appears to move. '"Because images on the retina fade from view if they are perfectly stabilized, the active generation of fixational eye movements by the central nervous system allows these movements to constantly shift the scene ever so slightly, thus refreshing the images on our retina and preventing us from going 'blind,'" explains Hafed. "When images begin to fade, the uncertainty about where to look increases the fluctuations in superior colliculus activity, triggering a microsaccade," adds Krauzlis.'"

Read more of this story at Slashdot.



http://rss.slashdot.org:80/~r/Slashdot/slashdot/~3/iTqmL20N4RE/article.pl

[#] Sun Feb 15 2009 16:56:00 EST from rss

Subject: How Google Decides To Cancel a Project

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The New York Times is running a story about the criteria involved when Google scraps one of their projects. While a project's popularity among users is important, Google also examines whether they can get enough employees interested in it, and whether it has a large enough scope — they prefer not to waste time solving minor problems. The article takes a look at the specific reasons behind the recent cancellation of several products. "Dennis Crowley, one of two co-founders who sold Dodgeball to Google in 2005 and stayed on, said that he had trouble competing for the attention of other Google engineers to expand the service. 'If you're a product manager, you have to recruit people and their "20 percent time."' ... [Jeff Huber, the company's senior vice president of engineering] said that Google eventually concluded that Dodgeball's vision was too narrow. ... Still, Google found the concepts behind Dodgeball intriguing, and early this month, it released Google Latitude, an add-on to Google Maps that allows people to share their location with friends and family members. It's more sophisticated than Dodgeball, with automatic location tracking and more options for privacy and communication."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.



http://rss.slashdot.org:80/~r/Slashdot/slashdot/~3/54IuLIEOwFA/article.pl

[#] Sun Feb 15 2009 15:43:00 EST from rss

Subject: Gamers, EFF Speak Out Against DRM

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Last month, we discussed news that the FTC would be examining DRM to see if it needs regulation. They set up a town hall meeting for late March, and part of that effort involved requesting comments from potential panelists and the general public. Ars Technica reports that responses to the request have been overwhelmingly against DRM, and primarily from gamers. The Electronic Frontier Foundation also took the opportunity to speak out strongly against DRM, saying flat out that "DRM does not prevent piracy," and suggesting that its intended purpose is "giving some industry leaders unprecedented power to influence the pace and nature of innovation and upsetting the traditional balance between the interests of copyright owners and the interests of the public." Their full public comments (PDF) describe several past legal situations supporting that point, such as Sony's fight against mod chips, Blizzard's DMCA lawsuit against an alternative to battle.net, and Sony's XCP rootkit.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.



http://rss.slashdot.org:80/~r/Slashdot/slashdot/~3/oZ44pSmkyT4/article.pl

[#] Sun Feb 15 2009 14:29:00 EST from rss

Subject: S3 Graphics Fails At Delivering Linux Driver

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Ashmash writes "Phoronix is running a story about S3 Graphics failing to provide Linux support for their Chrome 500 products even though they have announced in press releases going back months that there is Linux support. S3 Graphics has gone as far as advertising OpenGL 3.0 support for Linux and one of their representatives had promised a driver by last December. This situation has been going on for months, but there is no Linux driver at all for the Chrome 500 series."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.



http://rss.slashdot.org:80/~r/Slashdot/slashdot/~3/PXNZAC5zHp8/article.pl

[#] Sun Feb 15 2009 13:15:00 EST from rss

Subject: Internet Killed the Satellite Radio Star

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theodp writes "As Sirius XM faces bankruptcy, Slate's Farhad Manjoo reports that the company has bigger problems than just the end of cheap credit. While it has what seems like a pretty great service — the world's best radio programming for just a small monthly fee — Sirius XM has been eclipsed by something far cheaper and more convenient: the Internet. Load up Pandora or the Public Radio Tuner on your iPhone, and you've got access to a wider stream of music than you'll ever get through satellite. So forget the satellites, the special radios, and the huge customer acquisition costs, advises Manjoo, and instead focus on getting Howard Stern, Oprah, the NFL, and MLB on every Internet-connected device on the market at very low prices."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.



http://rss.slashdot.org:80/~r/Slashdot/slashdot/~3/_VDglaR5D50/article.pl

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