A British plan to blast a path through more than two miles of ice to reach an Antarctic lake has been suspended because of technical problems. From the article: "In a move that clears the way for U.S. and Russian teams to take the lead, Professor Martin Siegert said technical problems and a lack of fuel had forced the closure on Christmas Day of the 7-million-pound ($11 million) project, which was looking for life forms and climate change clues in the lake-bed sediment. 'This is of course, hugely frustrating for us, but we have learned a lot this year,' said Siegert of the University of Bristol, principal investigator for the mission, which was headed by the British Antarctic Survey (BAS). 'By the end, the equipment was working well, and much of it has now been fully field-tested,' he said on the BAS website."
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dryriver writes "Advertising things at the right place is proving to be a cash cow, as electronic ads earn about $23mn each year for an empty building at One Times Square – the iconic tourist destination in the New York City. A 25-story Manhattan office building that has long been empty keeps on bringing in millions to its owner as a billboard. Michael Phillips, CEO of Atlanta-based Jamestown Properties, bought One Times Square through a fund in 1997 for $117 million, as the Wall Street Journal reports. More than 100mn pedestrians pass through the square each year, which is 90% more than 16 years ago, says the Times Square Alliance, a non-profit business improvement organization. And this is what makes a price tag for having a company's name placed on the building the highest in the world, even above such crowded tourist destinations as Piccadilly Circus in London. Dunkin' Brands Group Inc. pays $3.6mn a year for a Dunkin' Donuts digital sign on the One Times Square building, with Anheuser-Busch InBev paying another $3.4mn a year for its advertisement. Sony and News America pay $4mn a year for a shared sign."
coop0030 writes "Wired has an article up about how Adafruit, the kit-based electronics retailer and promoter of hobbyist engineering, is aiming to teach electronics to a younger demographic. So young that they're enlisting the help of puppets. Their new online show, titled Circuit Playground, will teach the essentials of electronics and circuitry to children through kid-friendly dolls with names like Cappy the Capacitor and Hans the 555 Timer Chip. Limor 'Ladyada' Fried, Adafruit's founder and chief engineer (and 2012 Entrepreneur of the Year), will host the episodes, with her team assisting with onscreen and puppeteering duties. Episodes will premiere this March, and Fried holds hope for them to help inspire the next generation of designers and builders."
antdude writes "The National Purchase Diary (NPD) Group Blog reports that 'Internet Connected TVs Are Used To Watch TV, And That's About All — The Internet connected high definition television (HDTV) screen has so far failed to break beyond the bounds of its TV-centric heritage, with little use for the big screen beyond the obligatory video services. But the connection is being used to provide access to a far wider variety of alternative sources for video content. The latest NPD Connected Intelligence Application & Convergence report highlights that nearly six out of ten consumers who own a connected HDTV are accessing Over-the-Top video services through the device.' (Seen on DSL reports.)" Wired's headline on a story based on the same information puts things more bluntly: "No One Uses Smart TV Internet Because It Sucks."
hypnosec writes "A new version of GNU C Library (glibc) has been released and with this new version comes support for the upcoming 64-bit ARM architecture a.k.a. AArch64. Version 2.17 of glibc not only includes support for ARM, it also comes with better support for cross-compilation and testing; optimized versions of memcpy, memset, and memcmp for System z10 and zEnterprise z196; and optimized version of string functions, on top of some quite a few other performance improvements, states the mailing list release announcement. Glibc v 2.17 can be used with a minimum Linux kernel version 2.6.16."
An anonymous reader points out developer Àlex Fiestas's work on multiple monitor configuration for Linux. In particular, the screen manager that he and Dan Vrátil are working on — KScreen — gives KDE users a utility "making the configuration of monitors either auto-magical or super simple." This is one thing that's certainly gotten much better in recent years for Linux GUI users in general, but the video in the linked post makes me a little envious — another good reason to swap desktops once in a while.
skade88 writes "Does life exist on Mars? We might assume if there ever was life on Mars then it most likely came about when Mars was a wetter and warmer place than it is now. So the question is, if life did exist on Mars in the past, does it still exist? Ars takes a look at how microbes have survived on Earth in environmental conditions much like we currently see on Mars."
Dupple writes with news carried by the BBC of a gigantic tech-patent case that (seemingly for once) doesn't involve Samsung, Apple, Microsoft, or Google: "'U.S. chipmaker Marvell Technology faces having to pay one of the biggest ever patent damage awards. A jury in Pittsburgh found the firm guilty of infringing two hard disk innovations owned by local university Carnegie Mellon.' Though the company claims that the CMU patents weren't valid because the university hadn't invented anything new, saying a Seagate patent of 14 months earlier described everything that the CMU patents do, the jury found that Marvell's chips infringed claim 4 of Patent No. 6,201,839 and claim 2 of Patent No. 6,438,180. "method and apparatus for correlation-sensitive adaptive sequence detection" and "soft and hard sequence detection in ISI memory channels.' 'It said Marvell should pay $1.17bn (£723m) in compensation — however that sum could be multiplied up to three times by the judge because the jury had also said the act had been "wilful." Marvell's shares fell more than 10%.'"
Nerval's Lobster writes "Software developer Jeff Cogswell writes: 'About a year ago, I decided to migrate my documents to Google Docs and start using it for all my professional writing. I quickly hit some problems; frankly, Google Docs wasn't as good an option as I'd initially hoped. Now I use LibreOffice on my desktop, and it works well, but I had to go through long odysseys with Google Docs and Zoho Docs to reach this point. Is Microsoft Word actually better than Google Docs and Zoho Docs? For my work, the answer is "yes," but this doesn't make me particularly happy. In the following essay, I present my problems with Google Docs and Zoho Docs (as well as some possible solutions) from my perspective as both a professional writer and a software developer.'"
In an effort to step up its fight against astroturfers, Amazon has barred authors from reviewing books. It's not simply that authors can't review their own books — they can't review any book in a similar genre to something they've published. "This means that thriller writers are prevented from commenting on works by other authors who write similar books. Critics suggest this system is flawed because many authors are impartial and are experts on novels." British author Joanne Harris had a simpler solution in mind: "To be honest I would just rather Amazon delete all their reviews as it... has caused so much trouble. It is a pity. Originally it was a good idea but it is has become such an issue now. The star rating has become how people view if a book is a success and it has become inherently corrupt." How would you improve the online review system?
Tests on milk from several different farms across the U.K. have turned up evidence for a new strain of MRSA — bacteria which have evolved resistance to common antibiotics. As long as the milk is properly pasteurized, it poses no threat to consumers, but anyone working directly with the animals bears a small risk of infection. According to The Independent, "The disclosure comes amid growing concern over the use of modern antibiotics on British farms, driven by price pressure imposed by the big supermarket chains. Intensive farming with thousands of animals raised in cramped conditions means infections spread faster and the need for antibiotics is consequently greater. Three classes of antibiotics rated as 'critically important to human medicine' by the World Health Organization – cephalosporins, fluoroquinolones and macrolides – have increased in use in the animal population by eightfold in the last decade."
As part of their 2012 in review series, the EFF takes a look at how blasphemy laws have chilled online speech this year. A "dishonorable mention" goes to YouTube this year: "A dishonorable mention goes to YouTube, which blocked access to the controversial 'Innocence of Muslims' video in Egypt and Libya without government prompting. The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information, a group based in Egypt, condemned YouTube's decision."
sfcrazy writes "Mark Shuttleworth, the founder of Ubuntu, has shared his plans for 2013. It was clear from the Nexus 7 initiative that Ubuntu is eventually looking into the mobile space more seriously. Google created the cheap device Ubuntu was looking for wider testing and development. The initial builds of Ubuntu for Nexus 7 also showed that, despite popular perception, Unity is far from ready for the mobile devices. In fact quite a lot of 'controversial' technologies introduced in Unity don't fit on a mobile devices such as Global Menus or HUD. So there are many challenges for Mark — redesign Unity for mobile, which may upset users again, get Ubuntu app developers to redesign apps for Ubuntu mobile, get top developers to write apps for Ubuntu... Is it all feasible when companies like RIM or Microsoft are struggling or is Ubuntu becoming a 'me too' company which is not brining anything new to the table and is simply trying to claim a pie?" Shuttleworth also wants to do something or other with the cloud: "It’s also why we’ll push deeper into the cloud, making it even easier, faster and cost effective to scale out modern infrastructure on the cloud of your choice, or create clouds for your own consumption and commerce."
wiredmikey writes "Iranian officials on Tuesday said a 'Stuxnet-like' cyberattack hit some industrial units in a southern province. 'A virus had penetrated some manufacturing industries in Hormuzgan province, but its progress was halted,' Ali Akbar Akhavan said, quoted by the ISNA news agency. Akhavan said the malware was 'Stuxnet-like' but did not elaborate, and that the attack had occurred over the 'past few months.' One of the targets of the latest attack was the Bandar Abbas Tavanir Co, which oversees electricity production and distribution in Hormuzgan and adjacent provinces. He also accused 'enemies' of constantly seeking to disrupt operations at Iran's industrial units through cyberattacks, without specifying how much damage had been caused. Iran has blamed the U.S. and Israel for cyberattacks in the past. In April, it said a voracious malware attack had hit computers running key parts of its oil sector and succeeded in wiping data off official servers."
An article at The H makes the case that many open source foundations have successfully proven their worth and withstood the test of time as legitimate entities. This leads to the question: where do they go from here? The author suggests an umbrella foundation to provide consistent direction across many projects. Quoting; "As you might expect, the main aim of most foundations is to promote their own particular project and its associated programs. For the putative [Open Source Foundation Foundation], that would generalise into promoting open source foundations as a way of supporting open source activity. In practical terms, that might translate into establishing best practice, codifying what needs to be done in order to create an open source foundation in different jurisdictions with their differing legal requirements. That would make it far easier for smaller projects – such as Krita – to draw on that body of knowledge once they have decided to take this route. It might also encourage yet more projects to do the same, encouraged by the existence of support mechanisms that will help them to navigate safely the legal requirements, and to minimise costs by drawing on the experience of others. After all, this is precisely the way open source works, and what makes it so efficient: it tries to avoid re-inventing the wheel by sharing pre-existing solutions to problems or sub-problems."