scibri writes "A comprehensive analysis published in Nature (abstract) suggests that organic farming could supply needs in some circumstances. But yields are lower than in conventional farming, so producing the bulk of the globe's diet will still require chemical fertilizers and pesticides. The meta-analysis reviewed 66 studies comparing the yields of 34 different crop species in organic and conventional farming systems. The researchers included only studies that assessed the total land area used, allowing them to compare crop yields per unit area. Many previous studies that have showed large yields for organic farming ignore the size of the area planted — which is often bigger than in conventional farming. Crop yields from organic farming are as much as 34% lower than those from comparable conventional farming practices, though in some cases, notably with strawberries and soybeans, the gap is as small as 3%."
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First time accepted submitter ian_po writes "The U.S. Attorney's office has filed indictments against 7 people, including two Transportation Security Administration Screeners and two former TSA employees, after federal agents set up several smuggling sting operations. The alleged smuggling scheme was revealed after a suspected drug courier went to Terminal 5, where his flight was departing, instead of going through the Terminal 6 checkpoint his written instructions directed him to. Court documents indicate the plan was to return to Terminal 5 through a secure tunnel after being allowed through security by the accused Screener. The courier was caught with 10 pounds of cocaine at the other checkpoint by a different TSA agent. If convicted, the four TSA employees face a minimum of 10 years in Federal prison." If ten pounds of anything can get onto a plane by the simple expedient of bribery, please explain again why adult travelers, but not children, must remove their shoes as they stand massed in an unsecured part of a typical U.S. airport.
MojoKid writes "At present, the government's ability to share data on its citizens is fairly restricted, insomuch as the various agencies must demonstrate cause and need. This has created a somewhat byzantine network of guidelines and laws that must be followed — a morass of red tape that CISPA is intended to cut through. One of the bill's key passages is a provision that gives private companies the right to share cybersecurity data with each other and with the government 'notwithstanding any other provision of law.' The problem with this sort of blank check clause is that, even if the people who write the law have only good intentions, it provides substantial legal cover to others who might not. Further, the core problem with most of the proposed amendments to the bill thus far isn't that they don't provide necessary protections, it's that they seek to bind the length of time the government can keep the data it gathers, or the sorts of people it can't collect data on, rather than protecting citizens as a whole. One proposed amendment, for example, would make it illegal to monitor protesters — but not other groups. It's not hard to see how those seeking to abuse the law could find a workaround — a 'protester' is just a quick arrest away from being considered a 'possible criminal risk.'"
First time accepted submitter cos(0) writes "Between O'Reilly, Wrox, Addison-Wesley, The Pragmatic Bookshelf, and many others, software developers have a wide variety of literature about languages, patterns, practices, and tools. Many publishers even offer subscriptions to online reading of the whole collection, exposing you to things you didn't even know you don't know — and many of us learn more from these publishers than from a Comp Sci curriculum. But what about publishers and books specializing in tech underneath software — like VHDL, Verilog, design tools, and wire protocols? In particular, best practices, modeling techniques, and other skills that separate a novice from an expert?"
An anonymous reader writes with this enthusiastic review of the latest from Canonical: "So how does Ubuntu Precise Pangolin (12.04) fare? I will say exceptionally well. Unity is not the same ugly duckling it was made out to be. In Ubuntu 12.04, it has transformed into a beautiful swan. As Ubuntu 12.04 is a long term release, the Ubuntu team has pulled all stops to make sure the user experience is positive. Ubuntu 12.04 aka Precise Pangolin is definitely worthy of running on your machine."
First time accepted submitter FBeans writes "'Science fiction publisher Tor UK is dropping digital rights management from its e-books alongside a similar move by its U.S. partners. ... Tor UK, Tor Books and Forge are divisions of Pan Macmillan, which said it viewed the move as an "experiment."' With experiments, come results. Now users can finally read their books across multiple devices such as Amazon's Kindle, Sony Reader, Kobo eReader and Apple's iBooks. Perhaps we will see the *increase* of sales, because the new unrestricted format outweighs the decrease caused by piracy?"
New submitter WIGFIELD7458 writes "This appears to be a major change in plans that will save the Computer Science Department. Thanks to everyone in the Gator Nation and beyond for speaking out! The battle isn't over yet, but this is very encouraging news. I would urge the students, faculty, and alumni of UF to continue to express your support for the essential academic mission of your university."
cosm writes "With public outcry against the TSA continuing to spread, the TSA is defending a recent episode in which a four-year-old was patted down while kicking and screaming at Wichita Airport in Kansas. From the AP article: 'The grandmother of a 4-year-old girl who became hysterical during a security screening at a Kansas airport said Wednesday that the child was forced to undergo a pat-down after hugging her, with security agents yelling and calling the crying girl an uncooperative suspect.'"
Mark.JUK writes "A major multinational ten month long trial of new 'White Space' technology (IEEE 802.22) in the United Kingdom, which uses the spare radio spectrum that exists between Digital Terrestrial TV (DTV) channels to deliver wireless internet access services over a wide area, has officially completed today and been deemed 'successful.' The technology, if approved, could one day help to bring faster broadband services to both isolated rural and urban areas. The TV White Spaces Consortium, which comprises 17 international and UK technology and media companies (BT, Microsoft, BBC, Alcatel-Lucent etc.), has now recommended that the UK regulator, Ofcom, complete its development of the 'enabling regulatory framework' (i.e. Draft Statutory Instrument) in a 'manner that protects licensees' from 'harmful' interference and encourages innovation and deployment."
An anonymous reader writes "InfoWorld reached out to three security researchers who participate in Google's vulnerability reporting program, through which the company now offers as much as $20,000 for bug reports. They provided some insightful perspectives on what Google (and other companies, such as Mozilla) are doing right in paying bounties on bugs, as well as where there's some room for improvement."
mikejuk writes with this excerpt from I Programmer: "A movie that features science and technology is always welcome, but is it not often we have one that focuses on computer science. Travelling Salesman is just such a rare movie. As you can guess from its name, it is about the Travelling Salesman problem, more precisely about the P=NP question. Written and directed by Timothy Lanzone, and produced by Fretboard Pictures, it should premiere on June 16. As the blurb to the movie trailer says: 'Travelling Salesman is an intellectual thriller about four of the world's smartest mathematicians hired by the U.S. government to solve the most elusive problem in computer science history — P vs. NP. The four have jointly created a "system" which could be the next major advancement for humanity or the downfall of society.'"
Sabbetus writes "Seattle based Bitcoin startup CoinLab secured a $500,000 investment from various investors such as Silicon Valley firm Draper Associates and angel investor Geoff Entress. CoinLab is an emerging umbrella group for cultivating and launching innovative Bitcoin projects. CEO Vessenes said 'if there is a currency that can trade around the world, it's semi-anonymous, it's instant, it's not controlled by government or bank, what's the total value of that currency? The answer to that is, if it works, it's gotta be in the billions. It just has to be for all the reasons you might want to send money around the world.' This type of talk is common from Bitcoin enthusiasts but apparently seasoned investors are starting to agree. Forbes explains the details of their business plan but in short it has to do with tapping the GPU mining potential of gamers, more specifically gamers of free-to-play games. This would add a new revenue stream for online game companies that are trying to provide free games profitably."
FhnuZoag writes "A backdoor has been found in Canadian based RuggedCom's 'Rugged Operating System', providing easy access to anyone with the devices's MAC address — something often publically displayed. Rugged OS is being used in a wide range of applications, including traffic control, power generation, and even U.S. Navy bases. The backdoor was first found over a year ago, and RuggedCom have so far refused to patch out the exploit." The exploit is trivial: each device has a permanent "factory" user, and an automatically generated password derived from the MAC.
DesScorp writes "James Lovelock, the scientist that came up with the 'Gaia Theory' and a prominent herald of climate change, once predicted utter disaster for the planet from climate change, writing 'before this century is over billions of us will die and the few breeding pairs of people that survive will be in the Arctic where the climate remains tolerable.' Now Lovelock is walking back his rhetoric, admitting that he and other prominent global warming advocates were being alarmists. In a new interview with MSNBC he says: '"The problem is we don't know what the climate is doing. We thought we knew 20 years ago. That led to some alarmist books — mine included — because it looked clear-cut, but it hasn't happened," Lovelock said. "The climate is doing its usual tricks. There's nothing much really happening yet. We were supposed to be halfway toward a frying world now," he said. "The world has not warmed up very much since the millennium. Twelve years is a reasonable time it (the temperature) has stayed almost constant, whereas it should have been rising — carbon dioxide is rising, no question about that," he added.' Lovelock still believes the climate is changing, but at a much, much slower pace."
Sci-Fi author Charlie Stross was recently put in the position of offering his thoughts to book publisher Macmillan on why eBook DRM is a terrible thing — not just for consumers, but for publishers, too. He makes a strong case that the removal of DRM, while not an immediate financial boon, will strongly benefit publishers in years to come through increased goodwill from users, greater leverage against Amazon's near-monopoly on distribution, and better platform interoperability. "Within 5 years we will be seeing a radically different electronic landscape. Unlocking the readers' book collections will force Amazon and B&N and their future competitors to support migration (if they want to compete for each others' customers). So hopefully it will promote the transition from the near-monopoly we had before the agency model, via the oligopoly we have today, to a truly competitive retail market that also supports midlist sales." Users have been railing against DRM for years, but it appears the publishers are finally starting to listen.