First time accepted submitter discussM tipped us to a story about a recently granted patent in which "a system and method preventing unauthorized access to copyrighted academic texts is provided in which trademark licenses, discussion boards, and grade content are integrated into a web-based system that aligns the interests of teaching professionals, students, and publishers while also enhancing the overarching academic mission to create and disseminate knowledge." Quoting Torrent Freak: "As part of a course, students will have to participate in a web-based discussion board, an activity which counts towards their final grade. To gain access to the board students need a special code, which they get by buying the associated textbook." But don't worry too much, from Ars: "Beyond the legal questions, other experts suggested forcing students to buy texts through such a system is unlikely to be implemented. Professors have few incentives to make it more difficult and to compel students even more than they already are to buy textbooks, digital or analog. (A 2011 survey from UC Riverside found that 78 percent of undergraduates 'bought fewer books, bought cheaper books or read books on reserve to help meet expenses.')"
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zer0point writes "The law lets U.S. agencies monitor the communications of foreigners outside the U.S. But two senators are questioning whether a loophole allows the storage and search of messages from Americans that are picked up inadvertently while foreigners are being monitored. The intelligence community has repeatedly said it takes steps to minimize the data collected on Americans. Among the senators’ concerns: that the administration hasn’t been able to estimate how many people in the U.S. have had their information reviewed under the program."
alphadogg writes "Google's Vint Cerf and others are spearheading celebrations in Silicon Valley and the UK this month to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Alan Turing's birth. 'The man challenged everyone's thinking,' says Vint Cerf, Google's chief Internet evangelist, in an interview with Network World. 'He was so early in the history of computing, and yet so incredibly visionary about it.' Cerf — who is president-elect of the Association for Computing Machinery and general chair of that organization's effort to celebrate the upcoming 100th anniversary of Turing's birth on June 23 — says that it's tough to overstate the importance of Turing's role in shaping the world of modern computing. Turing's accomplishments included his breakthrough Turing machine, cracking German military codes during WWII and designing a digital multiplier called the Automated Computing Machine."
Snirt writes "The Nobel Committee has chosen to lower this year's Nobel prize winnings by two million kronor ($283,030) due to turbulence in the current economic climate. The prize now stands at 8 million kronor, down from the 10 million of 2011. 'The reason behind this decision is that the financial markets are really unstable and there are reasons to suspect that this turbulence will continue for a while still,' said Lars Heikensten, head of the Nobel Committee, to the TT news agency. 'Long term, we aim to raise the figure, even though we think that the Nobel Prize's value should lie in the prize itself and not the prize money,' he said. While Heikensten admits that it was a 'tough decision' to cut the prize money, he told the news agency that it's not the first time the prize sum has been altered, adding that it has been lowered and raised several times over the past few years."
First time accepted submitter JOrgePeixoto writes "Emacs 24.1 has been released. New features include a new packaging system and interface (M-x list-packages), support for displaying and editing bidirectional text, support for lexical scoping in Emacs Lisp, improvements to the Custom Themes system, unified/improved completion system in many modes and packages and support for GnuTLS (for built-in TLS/SSL encryption), GTK+ 3, ImageMagick, SELinux, and Libxml2."
A University of Colorado-Boulder team has uncovered extremophile microbes in the rocky, high-altitude Atacama desert on the Chile-Argentina border "which seem to have a different way of converting energy than their cousins elsewhere in the world." According to the researchers, "[T]hese are very different than anything else that has been cultured. Genetically, they’re at least 5 percent different than anything else in the DNA database of 2.5 million sequences." It's an exciting frontier for biologists in part because of the recurring interest in the possibility that life has existed (or does exist) on Mars; the dry, volcanic Atacama is often compared to the Martian surface.
New submitter SouthSeaDragon writes "I'm a computer professional who has performed most of the functions that could be expected over a 39 year career, including hardware maintenance and repair, sitting on a 800 support line, developing a help desk application from the ground up (terminal-based), writing a software manual, plus developing and teaching software courses. In recent years, I've worked for computer software vendors doing pre-sales support generally for infrastructure products including applications, app servers, integration with Java based messaging and ESB product and most recently a Business Rules product. I was laid off recently due to a restructuring and am now trying to figure out the next phase. With the WIA displaced worker grants now available I am attempting to figure out what training would be good to pursue. I am hearing that 'the Cloud' is the next big thing, but I'm also looking into increasing my development skills with a current language. I wonder what the readers might suggest for new directions."
New submitter toxygen01 writes "Neal Stephenson, sci-fi writer mostly known for his books Snowcrash and Cryptonomicon, takes on revolutionizing virtual sword fighting with help of crowdfunding. Inspired by the little-known fictional universe of 'Mongoliad,' an interactive book he is collaborating on, his company is trying to develop hardware (low-latency motion controller) and software for realistic medieval sword fighting. From what is promised, it will try to be open for other developers by having API and SDK available for further modding." Very few Kickstarter drives have a steel longsword as one of the rewards for investing.
jones_supa writes with this news, straight from The Irish Times: "Rovio, the Finnish company behind Angry Birds, is considering moving its headquarters to Ireland, chief executive Mikael Hed has said. Rovio employs approximately 400 people, mostly in Finland, but Rovio is in contact with IDA Ireland about establishing headquarters here. The reason for the move would be corporation tax rate, which in Finland is 24.5%, while Ireland's rate is 12.5%. Companies such as Google and Facebook have also set up European headquarter operations in Dublin for the same reason. Hed said that if the decision was made to move to Ireland, the company would then decide exactly what elements of its operations would move. 'If we did make that decision then it would be a natural thing to do to have some production [in Ireland] also.'"
OceanMan7 writes "My 7-year-old son is getting very interested in microscopic things — from bacteria to parameciums (paramecia?) Not being a biologist, I would appreciate advice on what type of microscope to get. I'd be operating it and he viewing with supervision. I'd like something better than a toy and plan to buy it used, if possible. Extra points if it's stereo and also allows me to view opaque objects at low magnification."
New submitter Progman3K writes "Richard Stallman, father of the FSF, had his bag containing his laptop, medicine, money and passport stolen after his talk at the University of Buenos Aires on Friday, June 8." Adds reader jones_supa, excerpting from the same linked story: "As a result of this occurrence, he was forced to cancel his talk in Cordoba, and it's still unknown how this will impact the rest of his speaking engagements throughout the world."
New submitter Drinking Bleach writes "Eric Raymond, coiner of the term 'open source' and co-founder of the Open Source Initiative, writes in detail about how to evaluate the effects of running any particular piece of closed source software and details the possible harms of doing so. Ranking limited firmware as the least kind of harm to full operating systems as potentially the greatest harms, he details his reasoning for all of them. Likewise, Richard Stallman, founder of GNU and the Free Software Foundation, writes about a much more limited scope, Nonfree DRM'd games on GNU/Linux, in which he takes the firm stance that non-free software is unethical in all cases but concedes that running non-free games on a free operating system is much more desirable than running them on a non-free operating system itself (such as Microsoft Windows or Apple Mac OS X)."
jamstar7 writes "From an Associated Press report: 'China will launch three astronauts this month to dock with an orbiting experimental module, and the crew might include its first female space traveler, a government news agency said Saturday. A rocket carrying the Shenzhou 9 spacecraft was moved to a launch pad in China's desert northwest on Saturday for the mid-June flight, the Xinhua News Agency said, citing an space program spokesman. The three-member crew will dock with and live in the Tiangong 1 orbital module launched last year, Xinhua said. The government has not said how long the mission will last.' China, who is not an ISS partner, plans to see if its Shenzhou 9/Long March 2F system can get the job done like the Dragon/Falcon9 system can. They plan on two missions this year to dock with their Tiangong 1 module, which was launched in September 2011. Their eventual plans include building a complete space station by 2020, though one of only about 60 tons, compared to the ISS's 450-ish tons."
Hugh Pickens writes "Michael Crowley writes that using drones rather than soldiers to kill bad guys is appealing for many reasons, including cost, relative precision and reduction of risk to American troops. But there's plenty of evidence that drones antagonize local populations and create more enemies over the long term than we kill in the short term. The failed 2010 Times Square bomber, Faisal Shahzad, has said that about the U.S. drone campaign in Pakistan, and the Washington Post has described how drone strikes may be breeding sympathy for al-Qaeda in Yemen. 'It is the politically advantageous thing to do — low cost, no U.S. casualties, gives the appearance of toughness. It plays well domestically and it is unpopular only in other countries,' says Dennis Blair, director of national intelligence until May of 2010. 'Any damage it does to the national interest only shows up over the long term.' Now there's another component to the new warfare that threatens blowback: cyberwar. Like drones, cyberweapons are relatively cheap and do their work without putting American troops in harm's way. The blowback comes when those viruses get loose and inflict unintended damage or provide templates to terrorists or enemy nations that some experts think could lead to disaster and argue that cyberweapons are like bioweapons, demanding international treaties to govern their use. 'We may indeed be at a critical moment in history, when the planet's prospects could be markedly improved by an international treaty on cyberweapons, and the cultivation of an attendant norm against cyberwar,' writes Richard Wright. 'The ideal nation to lead the world toward this goal would be the most powerful nation on earth, especially if that nation had a pretty clean record on the cyberweapons front. A few years ago, America seemed to fit that description. But it doesn't now.'"
ananyo writes "Scientists have reported the first tabletop source of ultra-short, laser-like pulses of low energy, or 'soft,' X-rays. The light, capable of probing the structure and dynamics of molecules (abstract), was previously available only at large, billion-dollar national facilities such as synchrotrons or free-electron lasers, where competition for use of the equipment is fierce. The new device, by husband-and-wife team Margaret Murnane and Henry Kapteyn based at JILA in Boulder, Colorado, might soon lie within the grasp of a university laboratory budget — perhaps allowing them to one day be as common in labs as electron microscopes are."