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Boring Conference Still Vows: We Will Not Rock You 42

An anonymous reader writes "The Boring 2012 Conference, the celebration of unexciting things served with dry British humor, now belongs to the wastepaper basket of history. Correspondents at the third annual London conference report that speakers covered a range of such dull topics as supermarket self-service checkouts; a photographic survey of results produced by breakfast toasters; a web site tracking the physical heights of celebrities; and the use of Google Maps to the chart the location of IBM cash registers around London." Funny thing is, the talks described actually sound fascinating.

Windows XP Drops Below 40% Market Share While Windows 8 Passes 1% 310

An anonymous reader writes "Just three months ago, we reported how Windows 7 had finally overtaken Windows XP in terms of market share. Now it's time to see how long it takes Windows 8 to succeed its predecessors. Between October to November, Windows XP fell to 39.82 percent while Windows 8 jumped to 1.09 percent."

Why KDE Plasma Makes Sense For Linux Gaming 152

sfcrazy writes "Martin Gräßlin, a lead KDE developer, addresses some queries around a topic bugging Gnome and Unity users — the fallback mode. In this post he says that 'having the non-composited mode around allows us to do things like turning compositing off when running games or heavy OpenGL based applications such as Blender. So if you want to get some of the now finally available games for Linux, KDE Plasma should be your primary choice to enjoy the game. I have also heard of users switching to KDE Plasma because we still provide non OpenGL based setups.'"

How Does a Single Line of BASIC Make an Intricate Maze? 438

JameskPratt writes "This Slate article talks about a single line of code — 10 PRINT CHR$ (205.5 + RND (1)); : GOTO 10 — and how it manages to create a complicated maze without the use of a loop, variables and without very complicated syntax." Now that amazing snippet of code is the basis of a book, and the book is freely downloadable.
Open Source

Half of GitHub Code Unsafe To Use (If You Want Open Source) 218

WebMink writes "GitHub is a great open source hosting site, right? Wrong. There's no requirement that projects on GitHub provide any copyright license, let alone an open source one, so roughly half the projects on GitHub are "all rights reserved" — meaning you could well be violating copyright if you make any use of the code in them. And GitHub management seem just fine with this state of affairs, saying picking a license is too hard for ordinary developers. But if you're not going to give anyone permission to use your code, why post it on GitHub in the first place?"

Humans Evolving Faster Than Ever 253

Kwyj1b0 writes "In a massive study on genetic variation among humans, researchers found that most changes have occurred in the last 200 generations, too fast for natural selection to catch up. Recent papers show that rare genetic variations have a more drastic effect than previously believed. Another result shows that 'we carry a much larger load of deleterious variants' (as well as positive variants) than our ancestors 200 generations ago."

Ask Slashdot: Software For Learning About Data Transmission? 79

bellwould writes "In teaching information tech to a 13-year-old with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), I've found she's wildly interested in the details of data transmission but not programming. We've had limited success with command-line tools like traceroute and tcpdump, but now I'm seeking tips/advice on software that may help her explore and visualize things like transmission protocols." What would you recommend?

Firefox 20 Will Finally Fix Private Browsing Mode 186

darthcamaro writes "Unlike every other major browser vendor, Mozilla today does not allow users to have their private mode browser window open at the same time as a regular browser window. That's now set to change. This is a flaw that has been in Bugzilla since 2008 and has been the subject of heated discussion for years."
The Almighty Buck

Is It Time For the US To Ditch the Dollar Bill? 943

coondoggie writes "It seems well past time that the U.S. ditch its $1 bill — considering such a move could save the country somewhere in the neighborhood of $4 billion. But there is much resistance, or perhaps a lack of real consideration of the issue from most people. Watchdogs at the Government Accountability Office this week testified before a Congressional hearing on the topic, and said dollar coins could save $4.4 billion over 30 years (PDF), or an average of about $146 million per year."

British Pirate Party Asked To Pull Pirate Bay Proxy 80

judgecorp writes "The British Pirate Party has been asked by the music business organisation BPI to pull the plug on the Pirate Bay proxy it has been running. The Pirate Party provides a way round the court-ordered ban on ISPs providing connections to the file-sharing site, The Pirate Bay. So far the Pirate Party says the proxy is a 'legitimate route' to the site, but the BPI says the Pirate Bay is 'not above the law.'"

US Birthrate Plummets To Record Low 567

Hugh Pickens writes "The Washington Post reports that the U.S. birthrate is at its lowest since 1920, the earliest year with reliable records. The rate decreased to 63.2 births per 1,000 women of childbearing age — a little more than half of its peak, which was in 1957. The overall birthrate decreased by 8 percent between 2007 and 2010, but the decline is being led by immigrant women hit hard by the recession, with a much bigger drop of 14 percent among foreign-born women. Overall, the average number of children a U.S. woman is predicted to have in her lifetime is 1.9, slightly less than the 2.1 children required to maintain current population levels. Although the declining U.S. birthrate has not created the kind of stark imbalances found in graying countries such as Japan or Italy, it should serve as a wake-up call for policymakers, says Roberto Suro, a professor of public policy at the University of Southern California. 'We've been assuming that when the baby-boomer population gets most expensive, that there are going to be immigrants and their children who are going to be paying into [programs for the elderly], but in the wake of what's happened in the last five years, we have to reexamine those assumptions,' he said. 'When you think of things like the solvency of Social Security, for example, relatively small increases in the dependency ratio can have a huge effect.'"

UK Government Mandates the Teaching of Evolution As Scientific Fact 783

An anonymous reader writes "A story at the BBC explains how the UK government has put an extra clause into a funding bill to ensure that any new 'free schools' (independent schools run by groups of parents or organizations, but publicly-funded) must teach evolution rather than creationism or potentially lose their funding. 'The new rules state that from 2013, all free schools in England must teach evolution as a 'comprehensive and coherent scientific theory.' The move follows scientists's concerns that free schools run by creationists might avoid teaching evolution. Sir Paul Nurse, president of the Royal Society, said it was 'delighted.' Sir Paul told BBC News the previous rules on free schools and the teaching of evolution versus creationism had been 'not tight enough.'"

Grim Picture of Polar Ice-Sheet Loss 412

ananyo writes "A global team of researchers has come up with the most accurate estimate yet for melting of the polar ice sheets, ending decades of uncertainty about whether the sheets will melt further or actually gain mass in the face of climate change. The ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica are melting at an ever-quickening pace. Since 1992, they have contributed 11 millimeters — or one-fifth — of the total global sea-level rise, say the researchers. The two polar regions are now losing mass three times faster than they were 20 years ago, with Greenland alone now shedding ice at about five times the rate observed in the early 1990s. This latest estimate, published this week in Science, draws on up to 32 years of ice-sheet simulations and 20 years of satellite data to give an estimate two to three times more accurate than that in the last IPCC report."
The Courts

Bradley Manning (WikiLeaks Source) Given Hearing After 2 Years In Jail 369

TrueSatan writes "Finally, Bradley Manning's military court case starts. He's only had to wait 2 years to be heard. Manning claims that while remanded in custody in Iraq he 'passed out due to the heat' and 'contemplated suicide.' The United Nations special rapporteur on torture found Manning's detention was 'cruel and inhuman.' Manning wants the case against him to be dismissed because his pre-trial punishment was so severe. Manning's attorney, David Coombs, earlier released an 11-page letter detailing the conditions of Manning's confinement. Manning offered guilty pleas to minor charges, but not to spying, aiding American enemies or treason, and those pleas have been accepted by the judge."