Lasrick writes "Fred Guterl is the executive editor of Scientific American, and in this piece he explores various threats posed by the technology that modern civilization relies on. He discusses West African and Indian monsoons, infectious diseases, and computer hacking. Here's a quote: 'Today the technologies that pose some of the biggest problems are not so much military as commercial. They come from biology, energy production, and the information sciences — and are the very technologies that have fueled our prodigious growth as a species. They are far more seductive than nuclear weapons, and more difficult to extricate ourselves from. The technologies we worry about today form the basis of our global civilization and are essential to our survival.'"
Slashdot stories can be listened to in audio form via an RSS feed, as read by our own robotic overlord.
First time accepted submitter ChanukahZombie writes "The City of Calgary, AB has introduced a new traffic congestion/timing information platform for drivers. 'The system collects the publicly available data from Bluetooths to estimate the travel time and congestion between points along those roads and displays the information on overhead message boards to motorists.' Currently only available on the Deerfoot Trail (the city's main highway artery) but will be 'expanded in the future to include sections of Crowchild Trail and Glenmore Trail in the southwest.' As for privacy concerns, the city says it cannot connect the MAC address collected to the device owner."
DoofusOfDeath writes "I've done a good bit of SQL development / tuning in the past. After being away from the database world for a while to finish grad school, I'm about ready to get back in the game. I want to start contributing to some OSS database project, both for fun and perhaps to help my employment prospects in western Europe. My problem is choosing which OSS DB to help with. MySQL is the most popular, so getting involved with it would be most helpful to my employment prospects. But its list of fundamental design flaws (video) seems so severe that I can't respect it as a database. I'm attracted to the robust correctness requirements of PostgreSQL, but there don't seem to be many prospective employers using it. So while I'd enjoy working on it, I don't think it would be very helpful to my employment prospects. Any suggestions?"
An anonymous reader writes "Lamar Smith, a global warming skeptic, will become the new chairman of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology. Someone who disagrees with the vast majority of scientists will be given partial jurisdiction over NASA, EPA, DOE, NSF, NOAA, and the USGS. When will candidates who are actually qualified to represent science or at a minimum show an interest in it be the representatives of science with regard to political decision-making?"
New submitter SleazyRidr writes "Finally some news that will please a lot of the Slashdot crowd: a company has been charged with manslaughter! BP has been charged with manslaughter following the Macondo Incident. 'BP has agreed to pay $4.5 billion to settle the criminal charges and related Securities and Exchange Commission charges.' Two of the rig supervisors and a BP executive are also facing jail time. The supervisors are charged with 'failing to alert on-shore managers at the time they observed clear signs that the Macondo well was not secure and that oil and gas were flowing into the well,' and the supervisor is charged with 'obstruction of Congress and making false statements to law enforcement officials about the amount of oil flowing from the well.' Is this the start of companies being forced to take responsibility for their actions?"
New submitter whizzter writes "I was reading the Swedish national news today and an image in a stock exchange related article struck my eye. An order had been placed for 4 294 967 290 futures (0xfffffffa or -6 if treated as a 32-bit signed integer), each valued at approximately 16,000 USD, giving a neat total of almost 69 trillion USD. The order apparently started to affect valuations and was later annulled, however it is said to have caused residual effects in the system and trading was halted for several hours."
Orome1 writes "NetWars CyberCity is a small-scale city located close by the New Jersey Turnpike complete with a bank, hospital, water tower, train system, electric power grid, and a coffee shop. It was developed to teach cyber warriors from the U.S. military how online actions can have kinetic effects. Developed in response to a challenge by U.S. military cyber warriors, NetWars CyberCity is an intense defensive training program organized around missions. 'We've built over eighteen missions, and each of them challenges participants to devise strategies and employ tactics to thwart computer attacks that would cause significant real-world damage,' commented Ed Skoudis, SANS Instructor and NetWars CyberCity Director."
Richard Stallman (RMS) founded the GNU Project in 1984, the Free Software Foundation in 1985, and remains one of the most important and outspoken advocates for software freedom. RMS now spends much of his time fighting excessive extension of copyright laws, digital rights management, and software patents. He's agreed to answer your questions about GNU/Linux, free software, and anything else you like, but please limit yourself to one question per post.
An anonymous reader writes "Over the past couple of days, there have been reports about the return of file sharing lawsuits to Canada, with fears that thousands of Canadians could be targeted. While it is possible that many will receive demand letters, Michael Geist has posted a detailed primer on liability in Canada that notes that recent changes to Canadian copyright law limit liability in non-commercial cases to a maximum of $5,000 for all infringement claims. In fact, it is likely that a court would award far less — perhaps as little as $100 — if the case went to court as even the government's FAQ on the recent copyright reform bill provided assurances that Canadians 'will not face disproportionate penalties for minor infringements of copyright by distinguishing between commercial and non-commercial infringement.'"
another random user writes with news that the founder of TVShack probably won't be thrown into a U.S. prison for life. From the article: "Richard O'Dwyer, from Sheffield, is accused of breaking copyright laws. The US authorities claimed the 24-year-old's TVShack website hosted links to pirated films and TV programs. The High Court was told Mr O'Dwyer had signed a 'deferred prosecution' agreement which would require him paying a small sum of compensation. Mr O'Dwyer will travel to the US voluntarily in the next few weeks for the deal to be formally ratified, it is understood." Looks like Jimbo going to bat for him generated a bit of bad press. As usual, the MPAA is not enthused. Different articles are reporting that his mother is the one traveling to the U.S. to finalize the deal.
SchrodingerZ writes "Representative Darrell Issa, a Republican congressman from California, has drafted a bill for the internet. The bill, aptly named the Internet American Moratorium Act (IAMA), is, 'a two-year moratorium on any new laws, rules or regulations governing the Internet.' In short it hopes to deny any new government bills related to lawmaking on the internet for the next two years. The bill was first made public on the website Reddit, and is currently on the front page of Keepthewebopen.com, a website advocating internet rights. 'Together we can make Washington take a break from messing w/ the Internet,' Issa writes on his Reddit post. The initial response to the bill has been mixed. Users of Reddit are skeptical of the paper's motives and credibility. As of now, the bill is just a discussion draft, whether it will gain footing in the future is up in the air."
New submitter zenyu writes "IPCC's 2mm per year estimate for sea level rise at current CO2 levels has proven too optimistic. Sea levels have been rising 3.2mm per year in the last two decades. The IPCC's 50 cm — 100 cm projection for the next century may prove equally optimistic."
theodp writes "President Obama and his daughters headed to an indie bookstore last Saturday to promote shopping local. The White House did not disclose which books were bought, but author Lauren Oliver tweeted her delight after a White House photo showed her books Delirium and Pandemonium were among the 15 children's books purchased by the Obama family for Christmas gift-giving. While it made for a nice Small Business Saturday photo op, do you suppose the President paid much more for the books at the small indie bookshop than he might have at an online retailer like Amazon, where the hardcopy edition of Pandemonium is $10.15 (44% off the $17.99 list price) and the hardcopy edition of Delirium can be had for $10.47 (42% off the $17.99 list price)? Kindle Editions of the books are also available for $7.99. And with both titles eligible for free Amazon Prime shipping, the President could've saved on gasoline and Secret Service costs, too! So, will you be following the President's lead and shop local this holiday season, or is the siren song of online shopping convenience and savings too hard to resist?"
judgecorp writes "Amazon and Google both applied for a role in the U.K. government's 'G-Cloud' for public services, but were rejected, a FOI request has revealed. It is most likely this was because of concerns about where data was hosted and backed up. Amazon Web Services has a dedicated cloud service for the government in the U.S., but has not been able to duplicate that in Britain."
An anonymous reader writes "The first large scientific study of how people respond to poor video quality on the Internet paints a picture of ever rising user expectations and the willingness to abandon ship if those expectations are not met (PDF). Some nuggets: 1) Some users are willing to wait for no more than 2 seconds for a video to start playing, with each additional second adding 6% to the abandonment rate. 2) Users with good broadband connectivity expect faster video load times and are even more impatient than ones on mobile devices. 3) Users who experience video freezing watch fewer minutes of the video than someone who does not experience freezing. If a video freezes for 1% of its total play time, 5% less of its total play time is watched, on average. 4) Users who experience failures when they try to play videos are less likely to return to the same website in the future. Big data was analyzed (260+ million minutes of video) and some cool new data analysis techniques used."