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Necessary Reading:
posted by LaminatorX on Friday April 18, @08:47AM   Printer-friendly
from the Springfield-Opera-House dept.

The New York Times presents a contrast between the architecture choices of South Korean tech titans, Samsung and LG. Both rivals are building new American headquarters, and on this score, the contest isn't close. Buildings are corporate symbols and advertisements, after all. Samsung comes across as a good citizen here; LG as a lousy neighbor.

Samsung's 1.1-million-square-foot North American offices, include a boxy, sleek glass behemoth that vaguely harks back to office parks of the 1970s. Most importantly, though, The building links to the city's light-rail system and fits into San Jose's street grid. It's eco-friendly, with public gardens, plazas and a cafe near a parking garage that is partly camouflaged behind solar panels.

In contrast, LG's new $300 million, 490,000-square-foot headquarters would rise 143 feet high and above the treeline next to a national natural landmark. The site had been zoned to prohibit anything over 35 feet high, a provision that protects the view, but the company, a hefty local taxpayer, won a variance.

From the article:

Getting more to the point, You'd think the company's bosses wouldn't want to look bad, compared with their rival. The project in San Jose is thoughtful. LG's is a public shame.

[ Submitter's note: This is an excellent opportunity to discuss corporate social responsibility and the ignorance and/or arrogance of corporate leadership, but in my opinion, something seems a bit "off" about the above quoted sentence as displayed to an American audience. Could the article in fact be a subtle or not-so-subtle "hit-piece" on LG? ]

posted by LaminatorX on Friday April 18, @06:32AM   Printer-friendly
from the Over-the-Hill dept.

A study into Cognitive Motor Performance looked at players playing Starcraft 2. An advantage of using this game in testing was that it is a non-laboratory activity (so has voluntary participation) that requires real-time decisions "conferring a large advantage to players who can act and make decisions quickly".

The authors discovered that around age 24, the looking-doing latency was increasing, and this was consistent accross all leagues. Click here for s dandy chart.

From the article:

In summary, we provide the most precise estimate thus far of the onset, around 24 years of age, of cognitive-motor decline in an complex task performed by millions of people around the world. Despite it's early onset, the decline is a significant performance deficit, suggesting early adulthood declines are real world relevant. Further, we find no evidence that this decline can be attenuated by expertise, despite claims that domain relevance should be a major determinant on whether attenuation should occur. Experience nevertheless allows one to compensate for these declines indirectly. In our study, older players appear to hold their own despite their declines, perhaps by decreasing their cognitive load through the use of simplified strategies or improved use of the game interface.

Medical xpress highlight that it isn't all bad; older players more readily use short cut and sophisticated command keys to compensate for declining speed in executing real time decisions.

posted by n1 on Friday April 18, @04:08AM   Printer-friendly
from the gambling-with-education dept.

Alternet reports on eduction reform in Tennessee.

The Tennessee House and Senate have approved a measure that allows for two free years of tuition at community colleges or technical schools for all the state's high school graduates. The proposal not only has the backing of Republican Gov. Bill Haslam, it was based on his idea.

posted by n1 on Friday April 18, @02:24AM   Printer-friendly
from the end-user-is-obsolete dept.

Tom's Hardware reports on an Avast Antivirus study which found that ~24% of their customers still used XP, and of those, 27% didn't plan to upgrade.

Meanwhile, Microsoft has cut the price of XP patches by as much as 95% for those corporations and governments that haven't yet moved on. The model now seems to be a "new ceiling is $250,000, according to several sources, although the $200-per-device price remained in place." That ceiling is down from $5 million just a few weeks ago. Those patches, by the way, are not available for the general public.

posted by n1 on Friday April 18, @12:53AM   Printer-friendly
from the consulting-with-nasa-on-project-naming dept.

In late 2016, our favorite Saturnian orbiter Cassini will commence the final phase of the Solstice Mission. Using Titan to alter its orbit with Saturn, Cassini will drop between the inner-most ring and the cloudy top of Saturn for 22 loops before finally entering the atmosphere.

An excellent writeup of the Cassini missions was posted in a guest blog at The Planetary Society by John Spencer, written near the beginning of 2009, John was unsure NASA would have funding for this final phase. Worry not, John! Everything looks good from here.

NASA has announced that (Surprise!) we can help choose the name of the final phase of the mission. All suggestions must be received by April 25, 2014. The current name is "Proximal Orbits", which I am fairly fond of, but only because if its high Scrabble score. NASA has provided a list of names, but none of them invoke any sense of awesomeness, so I hope we are able to come up with something better.

posted by n1 on Thursday April 17, @11:51PM   Printer-friendly
from the freedom-for-the-food dept.

A US-based group of plant breeders is launching an initiative to start open-sourcing seeds from new crops, starting with "29 new varieties of 14 different crops, including carrots, kale, broccoli and quinoa."

posted by n1 on Thursday April 17, @10:31PM   Printer-friendly
from the depends-who-you-are dept.

The Guardian brings us Economist Thomas Piketty — Capitalism simply isn't working and here are the reasons why.

Piketty is a man for the times. For 1970s anxieties about inflation substitute today's concerns about the emergence of the plutocratic rich and their impact on economy and society. Piketty is in no doubt, as he indicates in an interview in today's Observer New Review, that the current level of rising wealth inequality, set to grow still further, now imperils the very future of capitalism. He has proved it.

It is a startling thesis and one extraordinarily unwelcome to those who think capitalism and inequality need each other. Capitalism requires inequality of wealth, runs this right-of-centre argument, to stimulate risk-taking and effort; governments trying to stem it with taxes on wealth, capital, inheritance and property kill the goose that lays the golden egg. Thus Messrs Cameron and Osborne faithfully champion lower inheritance taxes, refuse to reshape the council tax and boast about the business-friendly low capital gains and corporation tax regime.

Piketty deploys 200 years of data to prove them wrong.

posted by janrinok on Thursday April 17, @08:52PM   Printer-friendly
from the did-I-forget-to-mention-the-chimp? dept.

Robert Krulwich at NPR writes, "Many have tried to outperform Ayumu (that's the chimp's name), but when you see how easy it is for him, how matter-of-factly he gets things right, it's clear he's got a talent that's built in. It's not a talent you'd expect a chimp to have, but, hey, this isn't a trick. Nature isn't pro-human or pro-chimp. It's just nature." [Contains link to YouTube video]

posted by janrinok on Thursday April 17, @07:20PM   Printer-friendly
from the more-bucks-for-your-bang dept.

William Dunn, a Kansas State University engineer, and his research team have developed a patented technique that improves military security and remotely detects improvised explosive devices (IEDs). The same technique could help police during drug searches. Created with a grant from the US Marine Corps and private funding, the technique has promise in detecting the most common chemical explosives, nitrogen-rich explosives.

Dunn created a template-matching technique called signature-based radiation scanning to determine the presence of explosives. The template-matching technique works similar to a bar code. Dunn's team has created templates for nitrogen-rich explosives and if a material matches one of these templates, then it potentially contains nitrogen-rich explosives.

posted by janrinok on Thursday April 17, @06:13PM   Printer-friendly
from the some-guys-have-all-the-luck dept.

RT reports that Kim Dotcom can have seized assets returned New Zealand High Court

The New Zealand High Court has ruled that Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom can be reunited with millions of dollars, property, cars, and artwork. It comes after the court denied an application by the Crown to extend the freezing of Dotcom's fortune. The application to continue the freeze on his assets was made on behalf of the United States, which wants to extradite and prosecute Dotcom for money laundering, online piracy, and conspiracy to commit piracy.

Gapes managed to successfully oppose the application by arguing that the original order was made on the back of a criminal jurisdiction prosecution, whereas the extension application was based on a "future action for civil forfeiture." The Criminal Proceeds Act allows extensions only on duration - not on new grounds, said Gapes.

Recording studios and movie labels have recently filed several civil law suits against the internet tycoon in the US. Earlier this month, six major Hollywood studios opened a huge lawsuit against Kim Dotcom and his colleagues. Among them are film giants 20th Century Fox, Disney, and Paramount. He was also sued earlier this month by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), which alleged that he profited massively from the copyright infringement of music.

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