dryriver sends this excerpt from the Guardian: "Scientists have pinpointed a new treasure trove in our oceans: micro-organisms that contain millions of previously unknown genes and thousands of new families of proteins. These tiny marine wonders offer a chance to exploit a vast pool of material that could be used to create innovative medicines, industrial solvents, chemical treatments and other processes, scientists say. Researchers have already created new enzymes for treating sewage and chemicals for making soaps from material they have found in ocean organisms. 'The potential for marine biotechnology is almost infinite,' says Curtis Suttle, professor of earth, ocean and atmospheric sciences at the University of British Columbia. 'It has become clear that most of the biological and genetic diversity on Earth is – by far – tied up in marine ecosystems, and in particular in their microbial components. By weight, more than 95% of all living organisms found in the oceans are microbial. This is an incredible resource.'"
Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive
Penurious Penguin writes "The Wall Street Journal, in correspondence with Chevron representatives, reveals that back in 2010, Stuxnet reached Chevron, where it managed to infect — but not significantly affect — the oil giant's network. According to a Chevron representative speaking to CNET, the issue was 'immediately addressed ... without incident.' The Stuxnet worm is believed to be the work of the U.S. and Israel, and this report is confirmation that it struck well wide of its intended targets. Chevron's general manager of the earth sciences department, Mark Koelmel, said to CIO Journal, 'I don't think the U.S. government even realized how far it had spread ... I think the downside of what they did is going to be far worse than what they actually accomplished.'"
SternisheFan writes with this excerpt from NBC News: "The killer storm that hit the East Coast last month and left the nation's largest city with a crippled transit system, widespread power outages and severe flooding has resurfaced the debate about how best to protect a city like New York against rising storm surges. In a 2011 report called 'Vision 2020: New York City Comprehensive Waterfront Plan,' NYC's Department of City Planning listed restoring degraded natural waterfront areas, protecting wetlands and building seawalls as some of the strategies to increase the city's resilience to climate change and sea level rise. 'Hurricane Sandy is a wake-up call to all of us in this city and on Long Island,' Malcolm Bowman, professor of physical oceanography at State University of New York at Stony Brook, told NBC News' Richard Engel. 'That means designing and building storm-surge barriers like many cities in Europe already have.' Some of the projects showcased at Rising Currents include: Ways to make the surfaces of the city more absorptive (through porous sidewalks) and more able to deal with water, whether coming from the sea or sky; Parks and freshwater and saltwater wetlands in Lower Manhattan; Artificial islands or reefs (including ones made of recycled glass) to make the shoreline more absorptive and break the waves."
WOOFYGOOFY writes "The NY Times and Voice Of America are reporting on a study by the U.S. National Research Council (PDF) which was released Friday linking global climate change to national security. The report, which was developed at the request of the C.I.A., characterizes the threats posed by climate change as 'similar to and in many cases greater than those posed by terrorist attacks. 'Climate-driven crises could lead to internal instability or international conflict and might force the United States to provide humanitarian assistance or, in some cases, military force to protect vital energy, economic or other interests, the study said.' If the effect of unaddressed climate change is the functional equivalent of terrorist attacks on the nation, does the Executive Branch, as a matter of national security, have a duty and a right to begin to act unilaterally against climate change irrespective of what Congress currently believes?"
theodp writes "Online education has had a fifty-year road to 'overnight' success. MIT Technology Review calls the emergence of free online education, particularly massive open online courses (MOOCs), The Most Important Education Technology in 200 Years. 'If you were asked to name the most important innovation in transportation over the last 200 years,' writes Antonio Regalado, 'you might say the combustion engine, air travel, Henry Ford's Model-T production line, or even the bicycle. The list goes on. Now answer this one: what's been the single biggest innovation in education? Don't worry if you come up blank. You're supposed to.' Writing about MOOC Mania in the Communications of the ACM, Moshe Y. Vardi worries that 'the enormous buzz about MOOCs is not due to the technology's intrinsic educational value, but due to the seductive possibilities of lower costs.' And in MOOCs Will Eat Academia, Vivek Haldar writes, 'MOOCs will almost certainly hollow out the teaching component of universities as it stands today...But all is not lost, because the other thing universities do is research, and that is arguably as important, if not more, than teaching.' So, are MOOCs the best thing since sliced bread, or merely the second coming of 1920s Postal Course Mania?"
An anonymous reader writes "Car dealers in New York and Massachusetts have filed a lawsuit that seeks to block Tesla from selling its pricey electric vehicles in those states. The dealers say they are defending state franchise laws, which require manufacturers to sell cars through dealers they do not own. Robert O'Koniewski of the Massachusetts State Automobile Dealers Association says, 'Those dealers are investing millions of dollars in their franchises to make sure they comply with their franchise agreements with the manufacturers. Tesla is choosing to ignore the law and then is choosing to play outside that system.'"
Hugh Pickens writes "Coffee is the world's favorite beverage and the second-most traded commodity after oil. Now Nick Collins reports that rising global temperatures and subtle changes in seasonal conditions could make 99.7 per cent of Arabica-growing areas unsuitable for the plant before the end of the century and in some areas as soon as 2020. Even if the beans do not disappear completely from the wild, climate change is highly likely to impact yields. The taste of coffee, a beverage of choice among Slashdot readers, will change in future decades. 'The worst case scenario, as drawn from our analyses, is that wild Arabica could be extinct by 2080,' says Justin Moat. 'This should alert decision makers to the fragility of the species.'" Read more, below.
jfruh writes "In the mid-00s, more and more people started learning about Android, a Linux-based smartphone OS. Open source advocates in particular thought they could be seeing the mobile equivalent of Linux — something you could download, tinker with, and sell. Today, though, the Android market is dominated by Google and the usual suspects in the handset business. The reason nobody's been able to launch an Android empire from the garage is fairly straightforward: the average smartphone is covered by over 250,000 patents."
pigrabbitbear writes with an update to the story, based on a DigiTimes report, that iPhone maker Foxconn would be opening a new factory in the U.S. "Foxconn makes a lot of stuff, but as it's one of Apple primary manufacturing partners, lots of people jumped to the salacious conclusion that a U.S.-based Foxconn factory could finally produce an American-made iPhone. Foxconn denied the DigiTimes report today. A company spokeswoman told CNET that the company actually 'already has multiple facilities based in the U.S.' but that 'there are no current plans to expand our operations there at this time.' Foxconn doesn't make iPhones in the existing U.S. factories, and they don't plan to."
An anonymous reader writes "Now that Windows 8 is on sale and has already been purchased by millions, expect very close scrutiny of Microsoft's latest and greatest security features. 0-day vulnerabilities are already being claimed, but what about the malware that's already out there? When tested against the top threats, Windows 8 is immune to 85 percent of them, and gets infected by 15 percent, according to tests run by BitDefender."
Penurious Penguin writes "After serving as Director of the CIA since September 2011, David Petraeus resigned from his position today, November 9. The retired four-star Army general has cited an extramarital affair as reason for the resignation. Michael Morell will now serve as Acting Director of the CIA."
An anonymous reader writes "I am getting ready to start learning the use of virtual machines. What VM software would you recommend? This is for personal use. It would be good to run both Windows VMs and Linux VMs. Early use would be maintaining multiple Windows installs using only one desktop computer with plenty of cores and memory. I would be starting with a Windows host, but probably later switching to a Linux host after I learn more about it. Free is good, but reliability and ease of use are better. What is your preferred choice for a VM beginner? VMware? Xen? VirtualBox? Something else?" It may also be helpful if you can recommend particular VM software for particular uses, or provide some insight on different hosting options.
MassDosage writes "In a remarkable show of good timing Presentation Patterns turned up on my desk for review within days of me having been asked to give a presentation at a large tech conference. So I decided to read the book as I worked on my presentation and apply any lessons learned as I worked my way through it. The word "patterns" in the book's title will be known to most software developers as a reference to the seminal 'Gang of four' software design patterns book which codified common solutions to software problems. The concept of patterns originated in building architecture with the idea being that by categorizing and naming solutions to problems, a common vocabulary could be built up that allowed practitioners in a certain field to communicate more effectively. This was hugely successful and has spawned the idea of looking for patterns in many other areas which is where this book comes in." Read on for the rest of Mass Dosage's review.
crookedvulture writes "Last October, Thailand was hit by massive flooding that put much of the world's hard drive industry under water. Production slowed to a crawl as drive makers and their suppliers mopped up the damage, and prices predictably skyrocketed. One year later, production has rebounded, with the industry expected to ship more drives in 2012 than it did in 2011. For the most part, though, hard drive prices haven't returned to pre-flood levels. Although 2.5" notebook drives are a little cheaper now than before the flood, the average price of 3.5" desktop drives is up 35% from a year ago. Prices have certainly fallen dramatically from their post-flood peaks, but the rate of decline has slowed substantially in recent months, suggesting that higher prices are the new norm for desktop drives."
Nerval's Lobster writes "Facebook's engineers face a considerable challenge when it comes to managing the tidal wave of data flowing through the company's infrastructure. Its data warehouse, which handles over half a petabyte of information each day, has expanded some 2500x in the past four years — and that growth isn't going to end anytime soon. Until early 2011, those engineers relied on a MapReduce implementation from Apache Hadoop as the foundation of Facebook's data infrastructure. Still, despite Hadoop MapReduce's ability to handle large datasets, Facebook's scheduling framework (in which a large number of task trackers that handle duties assigned by a job tracker) began to reach its limits. So Facebook's engineers went to the whiteboard and designed a new scheduling framework named Corona." Facebook is continuing development on Corona, but they've also open-sourced the version they currently use.