jones_supa writes "The switch to digital TV broadcasts in Australia has entered its final few days, with Sydney's analog signals being fully switched off today, 3 December. That just leaves Melbourne plus remote central and eastern Australia — and those areas will be switched over on 10 December, completing the country's transition to digital TV. The government runs an information site to assist the remaining crusty luddites with the switch-over."
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smf28 writes "In a recent research paper published in Science, a team of researchers at MIT describe a new imaging technique that produces three-dimensional photos with only a single photon per pixel, using essentially one-hundredth the light of the best existing imaging technologies. The researchers say the technology could have a wide variety of low-light imaging applications from military to biological use."
thomst writes "Robert Barnes of the Washington Post reports that the US Supreme Court has declined to hear petitions from Amazon.com and Overstock.com requesting that a decision by the New York State Supreme Court permitting that state's 2008 law requiring sales taxes be collected on Internet sales, even if the seller has no 'business presence' in New York. The New York Court of Appeals ruled that Amazon's relationship with third-party affiliates in the state that receive commissions for sending Web traffic its way satisfied the 'substantial nexus' necessary to force the company to collect taxes, and New York's Supreme Court had affirmed the ruling. The Federal high court's refusal to hear the petitions leaves the state law in effect, even though it appears to conflict with the Court's 1993 decision in Quill v. North Dakota."
cagraham writes "According to IBM's latest Data Benchmark report, 21.8% of all online Black Friday sales were made from mobile devices. Mobile traffic, meanwhile, accounted for 39.7% of all Black Friday traffic. Interestingly, iOS users accounted for 18.1% of online sales, while Android users accounted for just 3.5%. The data come from IBM's real-time monitoring over 800 U.S. online retailers. The report also notes that tablets generated less traffic than smartphones, but accounted for almost twice the number of sales. Overall, online sales for Black Friday grew 18.9% year-over-year."
An anonymous reader writes "The organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) has proposed destroying at least 1000 tons of the confiscated Syrian chemical weapon stockpile out at sea, which some fear will destroy delicate ecosystems vital to sea and human life alike. The OPCW claims the plan is 'technically feasible' and is apparently willing to risk ecological disaster to destroy the toxic contents of the weaponry in or above the sea. Members of the press were told, 'the group is considering whether to destroy the chemical weapons in the ocean, either on a ship or by loading them onto an offshore rig.'"
An anonymous reader writes "New research suggests that the amount of methane being released from Siberian permafrost is much larger than previously thought. From the article: 'Thawing permafrost gets a lot of attention as a positive feedback that could amplify global warming by releasing carbon dioxide and methane, both of which are greenhouse gases. Because of this, a lot of effort goes into studying Arctic permafrost. An international group of researchers led by Natalia Shakhova at the University of Alaska Fairbanks has been plying the remote waters of the Siberian Shelf for about a decade to find out how much methane was coming up from the thawing permafrost. They didn't expect to find it bubbling.'"
theodp writes "Over at WhiteHouse.gov, Bill Nye has issued a call for entries for the first-ever White House Student Film Festival, a video contest for K-12 students, whose finalists will have their short films shown at the White House. From the website: "The President has an assignment for you: Our schools are more high-tech than ever. There are laptops in nearly every classroom. You can take an online course on Japanese — and then video chat with a kid from Japan. You can learn about geometry through an app on your iPad. So, what does it all mean? We're looking for videos that highlight the power of technology in schools. Your film should address at least one of the following themes: 1. How you currently use technology in your classroom or school. 2. The role technology will play in education in the future."
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Scott Jaschik writes in Inside Higher Education that the academic job market is structured in many respects like a drug gang, with an expanding mass of outsiders and a shrinking core of insiders and with income distribution within gangs extremely skewed in favor of those at the top, while the rank-and-file street sellers earned even less than employees in legitimate low-skilled activities. According to Alexandre Afonso, academic systems rely at least to some extent on the existence of a supply of 'outsiders' ready to forgo wages and employment security in exchange for the prospect of prestige, freedom and reasonably high salaries that tenured positions entail. 'What you have is an increasing number of brilliant PhD graduates arriving every year into the market hoping to secure a permanent position as a professor and enjoying freedom and high salaries, a bit like the rank-and-file drug dealer hoping to become a drug lord,' says Afonso. 'To achieve that, they are ready to forgo the income and security that they could have in other areas of employment by accepting insecure working conditions in the hope of securing jobs that are not expanding at the same rate.' The Chronicle of Higher Education recently reported on adjunct lecturers who rely on food stamps to make ends meet. Afonso adds that he is not trying to discourage everyone from pursuing Ph.D.s but that prospective graduate students need to go in with a full awareness of the job market."
Charliemopps writes "For 20 years the password for the U.S. nuclear arsenal was '00000000.' Kennedy instituted a security system on all nuclear warheads to prevent them from being armed by someone unauthorized. It was called PAL, and promised to secure the entire US arsenal around the world. Unfortunately for Kennedy (and I guess, the whole world) U.S. military leadership was more concerned about delaying a launch than securing Armageddon. They technically obeyed the order but then set the password to 8 Zeros, or '00000000'."
The L.A. Times has a short but compelling article about the state of the art (and coming state of the art) in dedicated networking technology in one of the applications where you'd expect the customers to care most about it: connecting financial trading centers. Milliseconds count, and the traders count milliseconds. From the article, one example: "[New York-based networking company] Strike, whose ranks include academics as well as former U.S. and Israeli military engineers, hoisted a 6-foot white dish on a tower rising 280 feet above the Nasdaq Stock Market's data center in Carteret, N.J., just outside New York City. Through a series of microwave towers, the dish beams market data 734 miles to the Chicago Mercantile Exchange's computer warehouse in Aurora, Ill., in 4.13 milliseconds, or about 95% of the theoretical speed of light, according to the company. Fiber-optic cables, which are made up of long strands of glass, carry data at roughly 65% of light speed."
The much-discussed health care finance sign-up website HealthCare.gov has benefited from the flurry of improvements that have been thrown at it in the last several weeks. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid spokesman Aaron Albright told Fox News Saturday that "[w]ith the scheduled upgrades last night and tonight, we're on track to meet our stated goal for the site to work for the vast majority of users." CMM spokeswoman Julie Bataille. "said the installation of new servers Friday night helped improved the response times and error rates, even with heavier-than-usual weekend traffic." If you've used the site this weekend, what has your experience been like?
An anonymous reader writes "Over the last couple years, I have taught myself the basic concepts behind Computational Neuroscience, mainly from the book by Abbott and Dayan. I am not currently affiliated with any academic Neuroscience program. I would like to take a DIY approach and work on some real world problems of Computational Neuroscience. My questions: (1) What are some interesting computational neuroscience simulation problems that an individual with a workstation class PC can work on? (2) Is it easy for a non-academic to get the required data? (3) I am familiar with (but not used extensively) simulators like Neuron, Genesis etc. Other than these and Matlab, what other software should I get? (4) Where online or offline, can I network with other DIY Computational Neuroscience enthusiasts? My own interest is in simulation of Epileptogenic neural networks, music cognition networks, and perhaps a bit more ambitiously, to create a simulation on which the various Models of Consciousness can be comparatively tested."
lpress writes "Udacity CEO and MOOC super star Sebastian Thrun has decided to scale back his original ambition of providing a free college education for everyone and focus on (lifelong) vocational education. A pilot test of Udacity material in for-credit courses at San Jose State University was discouraging, so Udacity is developing an AT&T-sponsored masters degree at Georgia Tech and training material for developers. If employers like this emphasis, it might be a bigger threat to the academic status quo than offering traditional college courses."
An anonymous reader writes "The secret to open source innovation, and the reason for its triumphal success, has nothing to do with the desire to innovate. It's because of the four freedoms and the level playing field (and agility) that was the end result. It's like Douglas Adams' definition of flying: you don't try to fly, you throw yourself at the ground and miss. This article explains why it was never about innovation — it was always about freedom. Quoting: 'When the forces of economics put constant downward price pressure on software, developers look for other ways to derive income. Given the choice between simply submitting to economic forces and releasing no-cost software in proprietary form, developers found open source models to be a much better deal. Some of us didn't necessarily like the mechanics of those models, which included dual licensing and using copyleft as a means of collecting ransom, but it was a model in which developers could thrive.'"
KentuckyFC writes "Infectious disease condemns poor countries to an endless cycle of ill health and poverty. Now a powerful new model of the link between disease and economic growth has revealed why some escape plans work while others just make matters worse. The problem is that when workers suffer from poor health, economic output goes down. And if economic output goes down, there is less to spend on healthcare. And if spending on healthcare drops, workers become less healthy. And so on. So an obvious solution is for a country to spend more on healthcare. But the new model says governments must take care since the cost to a poor country can send the economy spiraling into long term decline. By contrast, an injection of capital from outside the country allows spending on healthcare to increase without any drop in economic output. 'We find that a large influx of capital is successful in escaping the poverty trap, but increasing health spending alone is not,' say the authors. And the amount required is relatively little. The model suggests that long-term investment needs only to be more than 15 per cent of the cost of healthcare. But anything less than this cannot prevent the vicious circle of decline."
192_kbps writes "Catcher in the Rye author J. D. Salinger wrote the short story The Ocean Full of Bowling Balls and left depository copies with a few academic libraries with the understanding that the work would not see mass distribution until the mid-21st century. The only authorized place to read the story is in a special reading room at Princeton where electronics are not allowed and a librarian continuously babysits the reader. A PDF of the story, as well as two other unpublished stories, appeared on private bittorrent site what.cd where a huge bounty had been placed for the work. Incredibly, the uploader (or someone connected to the uploader) bought an unauthorized copy on eBay for a pittance. The file, Three Stories, is making the bittorrent rounds but can also be read on mediafire."
Jah-Wren Ryel writes "In 2012, Canadian Ellen Richardson was hospitalized for clinical depression. This past Monday she tried to board a plane to New York for a $6,000 Caribbean cruise. DHS denied her entry, citing supposedly private medical records listing her hospitalization. From the story: '“I was turned away, I was told, because I had a hospitalization in the summer of 2012 for clinical depression,’’ said Richardson, who is a paraplegic and set up her cruise in collaboration with a March of Dimes group of about 12 others.'"
mrspoonsi writes "A team of ex-Nokia employees has released the first handset running on a new smartphone platform. The Jolla phone — pronounced Yol-la — is powered by open-source operating system Sailfish, but can run most apps designed for Google's Android platform. The platform — originally called MeeGo — was developed by Nokia, but dumped in 2011 in favour of the company adopting the Windows Phone system. Nokia released just one handset running the software, the N9-00. Antti Saarnio, chairman and co-founder of Jolla, told the BBC in May that MeeGo — now called Sailfish — had not been given enough chance to succeed."
revealingheart writes "Creative Commons has launched new versions of their flexible copyright licenses, after two years of input. Changes include waiving database and moral rights where possible, and adjustments to attribution requirements. Licenses are now designed to work internationally by default."