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The First Draft of the SN manifesto is available

Do you use correct grammar/spelling on the Internet?

  • Yes, always
  • No, this is not a classroom
  • At work yes, otherwise no
  • Depends on the context and situation
  • Usually, but I mix in (lolspeak, 1337, doge, etc) occasionally
  • Only when trolling
  • Only when NOT trolling
  • Other - Specify

[ Results | Polls ]
Comments:47 | Votes:433

posted by LaminatorX on Wednesday October 01, @03:05PM   Printer-friendly
from the resistance-is-fruitful dept.

Researchers are closer to unraveling the mystery of how Timothy Ray Brown, the only human cured of HIV, defeated the virus, according to a new study. Although the work doesn't provide a definitive answer, it rules out one possible explanation.

Researchers point to three different factors that could independently or in combination have rid Brown’s body of HIV. The first is the process of conditioning, in which doctors destroyed Brown’s own immune system with chemotherapy and whole body irradiation to prepare him for his bone marrow transplant.

His oncologist, Gero Hütter, who was then with the Free University of Berlin, also took an extra step that he thought might not only cure the leukemia but also help rid Brown’s body of HIV. He found a bone marrow donor who had a rare mutation in a gene that cripples a key receptor on white blood cells the virus uses to establish an infection. (For years, researchers referred to Brown as "the Berlin patient.")

The third possibility is his new immune system attacked remnants of his old one that held HIV-infected cells, a process known as graft versus host disease.

posted by LaminatorX on Wednesday October 01, @01:31PM   Printer-friendly
from the Gov.-Actually dept.

BBC reports:

Under current rules, there has been a risk of being sued for breach of copyright if clips of films, TV shows or songs were used without consent.

But the new European Copyright Directive will allow the use of the material so long as it is fair and does not compete with the original version.

The new law will come into effect on 1 October.

Owners of the copyrighted works will only be able to sue if the parody conveys a discriminatory message.

Comedy writer Graham Linehan, who was behind TV shows such as The IT Crowd, Father Ted and Black Books, agreed the rules had been "quite restrictive" in his experience.

"Artists need to be protected, but recently there's been an automated quality to some of the legal challenges. You might do something and you know full well the author of the original work will love the thing your doing and see it as a tribute or friendly nod, but the lawyers - they don't see any of that, they just see something they have to act on.

There seems to be a catch, but I don't know how this catch kicks in:

It would then be down to a judge to decide if the parody is funny.

While parody works by allusive or ironical imitation of other cultural manifestations, does it need to be always funny?

posted by NCommander on Wednesday October 01, @12:00PM   Printer-friendly
from the a-response-from-the-director-of-project-freelancer dept.

After laying out my longer-term plans for the site two weeks ago, I've sat down, read the feedback, and started looking at writing a response. Under normal circumstances, I generally reply to comments as they're posted, but in this case, a more public and general dialog appears to be necessary. If you haven't read the previous post, I recommend doing so now.

Now, with that introduction out of the way... I have unfortunately been unavailable to write a more detailed response, due to real life issues. So please excuse my only responding to two of the major points brought up. I do wish to have a follow-up to address the remainder, but I can not make a promise as to when that may be.

posted by azrael on Wednesday October 01, @10:45AM   Printer-friendly
from the food-to-die-for dept.

ScienceMag is running a story that reveals some of the survival and propagation mechanisms of the Anthrax Bacillus in the wild. It turns out the bacterium has a green thumb.

In northwestern Namibia's Etosha National Park, the carcasses of animals that have died of anthrax fertilize patches of grass, making them particularly lush, and attractive to other animals. Of course animals that died from other causes fertilize grass too.

Wendy Turner, a disease and wildlife ecologist at the University of Oslo, noticed that the much greener grass near old Zebra carcasses seemed to attract animals, predominantly Zebras. Since Zebras seem particularly prone to death by Anthrax, she decided to study the effect of the pathogen on vegetation.

posted by martyb on Wednesday October 01, @09:14AM   Printer-friendly
from the as-ice-floes-flow-gravity's-drop-drops dept.

The European Space Agency started to crunch the data acquired during the Gravity field and steady-state Ocean Circulation Explorer (GOCE) mission. ESA is able to report now that the loss of Antarctic ice for the duration of the program (Mar 2009 – Nov 2013) is significant enough to produce detectable gravity shifts.

Now, as I'm done with the sensationalism above, let's try to show some perspective:

  1. between 2011 and 2014, Antarctica as a whole has been shrinking in volume by 125 cubic kilometres a year;
  2. Phil Plait (the Bad Astronomer) argues (with good supporting material, how else?) we are past the point of no return with the major Antarctic West Antarctic glacier collapse, which will contribute to the global sea levels with a rise of several meters over the next few hundred years
  3. (relevant trivia) the GRACE mission (JPL and German Aerospace Center) - still operational - offers a more coarse resolution for the gravity variation: flies 500km altitude and uses the variation of push/pull forces between two satellites on polar orbits 220km apart.
  4. The GOCE satellite flew at lower altitude (235 km), used ionic propulsion to compensate for the drag and directly measured the g-force using three pairs of ultra-sensitive accelerometers arranged in three dimensions that responded to tiny variations in the 'gravitational tug' of Earth with an accuracy of 1e–5 m/s^2 (that's roughly 1e-6 of the standard g) and a spatial resolution under 100km.

    The spatial resolution is fine enough to resolve the loss of ice by catchment basins and offer an insight on the dynamic of the ice loss (sorry, the URL for the animation is broken).

posted by martyb on Wednesday October 01, @07:41AM   Printer-friendly
from the hoping-it-stays-contained dept.

A CDC press release confirms what has already been reported in other sources. The Liberian man became ill four days after arriving in the US, and sought medical help two days later. He was sent home, but returned to hospital two days later and was admitted. Hopefully Ebola's ability to spread through the air remains limited.

Notwithstanding the BBC report, the CDC report states:

The data health officials have seen in the past few decades since Ebola was discovered indicate that it is not spread through casual contact or through the air. Ebola is spread through direct contact with bodily fluids of a sick person or exposure to objects such as needles that have been contaminated. The illness has an average 8-10 day incubation period (although it ranges from 2 to 21 days); CDC recommends monitoring exposed people for symptoms a complete 21 days. People are not contagious after exposure unless they develop symptoms.

See our earlier stories: How Ebola Blocks Immune System, Second Ebola Outbreak in DRC Unrelated to First, and Ebola Disease Modelers: 100K by December.

posted by n1 on Wednesday October 01, @05:49AM   Printer-friendly
from the because-it-was-fun-the-first-time dept.

According to the project's website, the Internet Census 2012 researchers are crowdfunding next internet-wide research via Bitcoin.

"We are working on a vast and ground-breaking census, this time we hope to do it legally. Please help us make this happen by donating bitcoins to: 1tUCEnTyKzWrTBn1tgruSRkfahGUhxHcq"

Internet Census 2012 was a biggest complete scan of the entire internet with results being publicly available. This included traceroute information, port scanning, service and OS fingerprinting and more.

posted by n1 on Wednesday October 01, @03:58AM   Printer-friendly
from the windows-os-x dept. reports Windows 10 Technical Preview will be available for download today and the full OS will be available mid-2015. Meanwhile, The Verge has a video of desktop/tablet mode transitions that seem to make the new version of Microsoft's OS quite a bit less annoying than Windows 8 has been for users.

frojack writes:

Cnet along with every other tech site are reporting that Microsoft is skipping Windows 9, officially announcing the next major version will be called Windows 10.

Originally codenamed Windows Threshold, the new operating system essentially does away with the tiled "Metro" user interface that Microsoft had attempted to implement across its entire device line, from desktop PCs to Surface tablets and Widows Phone devices. It is such a substantial leap, according to Microsoft's executive VP of operating systems, Terry Myerson, that the company decided it would be best to skip over Windows 9, the widely expected name for the next version.

While early reviews of pre-release candidates did have some pleasant surprises; the major changes seems to be a far more intelligent handling of tablets which have keyboards and mice that can come and go, be folded out of the way, and the OS switches seamlessly from a desktop oriented user interface to a touch oriented one. The Verge has an extensive writeup and a video of this in action.

Some may criticize the name change as desperation, others will simply announce "too little too late". Others trot out allegedly year old April Fools Joke stories that (if not totally tongue in cheek) predicted this name change on April fools day in 2013.

The changes shown seem to address the big issues in the interface previously known as Metro, in a rather well integrated way.

So what say Soylentils: Is this enough? Has Microsoft actually listening to the complaints since Windows 8 was first released? Has their self inflicted gunshot wound to the foot healed? Will this re-start the corporate customers on delayed upgrades? Or will they hold out for 11?

Or, is the best you have to say about it "too little too late"?

posted by n1 on Wednesday October 01, @02:05AM   Printer-friendly
from the when-drones-are-outlawed-only-outlaws-will-have-drones dept.

Pennsylvania authorities suspect that two men accused of stealing mobile phones were monitoring law enforcement. Local media reported Tuesday that when they were arrested last month, one of the two suspects was carrying a camera-equipped drone that police saw flying over the Upper Saucon Township's police headquarters the day before the arrests.

The accused are Duane Holmes, 44, of North Bergen, and Chaviv Dykes, 20, of Newark. Police said they had $50,000 in mobile phones allegedly stolen from a Verizon Wireless store and other outlets that said were lifted "during a string of smash-and-grab burglaries."

posted by n1 on Wednesday October 01, @12:11AM   Printer-friendly
from the (DEFUN-HELLO-()-"HELLO-WORLD"-) dept. has some interesting thoughts on the time it takes to be productive in different programming language (and programming language types), as well as what it means to be productive, in a an essay title "600 Months". It starts with this thought-provoking statement:

“I have personally found that LISP is unbelievably productive if you’re willing to invest in the 600-month learning curve.”-Paul Ford

That's 50 years - nearly the entire history of LISP as a language, and far more time than most of us have available for learning a new language.

What languages took you the longest to feel "fluent" in? What language concepts do you still have trouble grasping?

posted by n1 on Tuesday September 30, @10:24PM   Printer-friendly
from the mental-gymnatiscs-championship dept.

David P. Barash, an evolutionary biologist and professor of psychology at the University of Washington, writes in the NYT that every year he gives his students The Talk, not as you might expect, about sex, but about evolution and religion. According to Barash many students worry about reconciling their beliefs with evolutionary science and just as many Americans don’t grasp the fact that evolution is not merely a “theory,” but the underpinning of all biological science, a substantial minority of his students are troubled to discover that their beliefs conflict with the course material. "There are a couple of ways to talk about evolution and religion," says Barash. "The least controversial is to suggest that they are in fact compatible." Stephen Jay Gould called them "nonoverlapping magisteria," noma for short, with the former concerned with facts and the latter with values." But Barash says magisteria are not nearly as nonoverlapping as some of them might wish. "As evolutionary science has progressed, the available space for religious faith has narrowed: It has demolished two previously potent pillars of religious faith and undermined belief in an omnipotent and omni-benevolent God."

The twofold demolition begins by defeating what modern creationists call the argument from complexity - that just as the existence of a complex structure like a watch demands the existence of a watchmaker, the existence of complex organisms requires a supernatural creator. "Since Darwin, however, we have come to understand that an entirely natural and undirected process, namely random variation plus natural selection, contains all that is needed to generate extraordinary levels of non-randomness. Living things are indeed wonderfully complex, but altogether within the range of a statistically powerful, entirely mechanical phenomenon." Next to go is the illusion of centrality. "The most potent take-home message of evolution is the not-so-simple fact that, even though species are identifiable (just as individuals generally are), there is an underlying linkage among them — literally and phylogenetically, via traceable historical connectedness. Moreover, no literally supernatural trait has ever been found in Homo sapiens; we are perfectly good animals, natural as can be and indistinguishable from the rest of the living world at the level of structure as well as physiological mechanism." Finally there is a third consequence of evolutionary insights: a powerful critique of theodicy, the effort to reconcile belief in an omnipresent, omni-benevolent God with the fact of unmerited suffering. "But just a smidgen of biological insight makes it clear that, although the natural world can be marvelous, it is also filled with ethical horrors: predation, parasitism, fratricide, infanticide, disease, pain, old age and death — and that suffering (like joy) is built into the nature of things. The more we know of evolution, the more unavoidable is the conclusion that living things, including human beings, are produced by a natural, totally amoral process, with no indication of a benevolent, controlling creator."

Barash concludes The Talk by saying that, although they don’t have to discard their religion in order to inform themselves about biology (or even to pass his course), if they insist on retaining and respecting both, they will have to undertake some challenging mental gymnastic routines. "And while I respect their beliefs, the entire point of The Talk is to make clear that, at least for this biologist, it is no longer acceptable for science to be the one doing those routines."

posted by n1 on Tuesday September 30, @08:55PM   Printer-friendly
from the finding-new-ways-to-make-you-pay dept.

The New York Times reports:

EBay said on Tuesday that it would spin off its PayPal payments unit into a separate publicly traded company, taking a step the activist hedge fund magnate Carl C. Icahn first demanded nine months ago.

The move will cleave eBay almost in half, separating it from the payments processor it acquired 12 years ago and built into a giant that generates almost half of the company’s revenue.

The spinoff is expected to be completed in the second half of 2015.

posted by n1 on Tuesday September 30, @07:18PM   Printer-friendly
from the journalism,-but-not-as-we-know-it dept.

The Intercept reports:

A prominent national security reporter for the Los Angeles Times routinely submitted drafts and detailed summaries of his stories to CIA press handlers prior to publication, according to documents obtained by The Intercept.

Email exchanges between CIA public affairs officers and Ken Dilanian, now an Associated Press intelligence reporter who previously covered the CIA for the Times, show that Dilanian enjoyed a closely collaborative relationship with the agency, explicitly promising positive news coverage and sometimes sending the press office entire story drafts for review prior to publication. In at least one instance, the CIA’s reaction appears to have led to significant changes in the story that was eventually published in the Times.

“I’m working on a story about congressional oversight of drone strikes that can present a good opportunity for you guys,” Dilanian wrote in one email to a CIA press officer, explaining that what he intended to report would be “reassuring to the public” about CIA drone strikes.

[...] The emails also show that Dilanian shared his work with the CIA before it was published, and invited the agency to request changes. On Friday April 27, 2012, he emailed the press office a draft story that he and a colleague, David Cloud, were preparing. The subject line was “this is where we are headed,” and he asked if “you guys want to push back on any of this.”

It appears the agency did push back. On May 2, 2012, he emailed the CIA a new opening to the story with a subject line that asked, “does this look better?”

posted by n1 on Tuesday September 30, @05:56PM   Printer-friendly
from the we-ruined-this-planet-already dept.

From Aeon Magazine:

Musk did not give me the usual reasons. He did not claim that we need space to inspire people. He did not sell space as an R & D lab, a font for spin-off technologies like astronaut food and wilderness blankets. He did not say that space is the ultimate testing ground for the human intellect. Instead, he said that going to Mars is as urgent and crucial as lifting billions out of poverty, or eradicating deadly disease.

‘I think there is a strong humanitarian argument for making life multi-planetary,’ he told me, ‘in order to safeguard the existence of humanity in the event that something catastrophic were to happen, in which case being poor or having a disease would be irrelevant, because humanity would be extinct. It would be like, “Good news, the problems of poverty and disease have been solved, but the bad news is there aren’t any humans left.”’

posted by n1 on Tuesday September 30, @04:12PM   Printer-friendly
from the because-they-always-get-it-wrong dept.

Would SN Members like to predict the outcome of upcoming events?

In the Microsoft Prediction Lab you can make predictions about upcoming events and view the combined predictions of the crowd. The Microsoft Prediction Lab team is excited to push the boundaries of forecasting technology, including how to ask questions (data collection), how to keep billions of related likelihoods consistent (data analytics), and how to convey complex quantitative information usefully (data visualization).

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