Cazekiel writes "In January 2011, an Air Canada Boeing 767 carrying 95 passengers and eight crew members was on route to Zurich from Toronto when its First Officer, fatigued and disoriented from a long nap he'd taken, panicked in seeing what he believed to be a U.S. cargo plane on a collision course with his aircraft. The panicking F.O. pushed forward on the control column to make a rapid descent. Only, it wasn't an aircraft he'd been looking at, but Venus. According to the article: 'The airliner dropped about 400 feet before the captain pulled back on the control column. Fourteen passengers and two crew were hurt, and seven needed hospital treatment. None were wearing seat belts, even though the seat-belt sign was on.' The only danger in this situation had been the F.O. napping for 75 minutes instead of the maximum 40, as the disorientation and confusion stemming from deeper sleep was the culprit in this mix-up. However, the Air Canada Pilots Association, 'has long pressured authorities to take the stresses of night flying into account when setting the maximum hours a pilot can work,' taking into account that North Atlantic night-flights are hardest on an already-fatigued pilot."
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A longstanding task for the GIMP has been porting the core graphics code from the ancient implementation (dating back to version 1.2) to GEGL. Progress has been hampered by the amount of code relying on details of the implementation of image data: tiles are directly accessed instead of linear buffers, and changing that detail would break the entire core and all plugins. A few weeks ago, two GIMP hackers got together to do some general hacking, and inadvertedly ported the core graphics code to GEGL. They work around the mismatch between GEGL buffers and GIMP tiles by implementing a storage backend for GEGL using the legacy GIMP tiles; to their surprise things Just Worked (tm), and their code branch will become the 2.9 development series once 2.8 is released. With this, 2.10 will finally feature higher bit depth images, additional color spaces (CMYK for one), and hardware accelerated image operations. There's still work to be done: to take advantage of the new features, plugins need to be ported to access GEGL buffers instead of GIMP tiles, but the conversion work is straightforward and current plugins will continue working as well as they do now in the meantime.
redletterdave writes "The outbreak of a new livestock disease in western Europe last year, particularly harmful to offspring, could move further into areas surrounding the worst affected countries in the next cycle of new births, scientists say. The Schmallenberg virus — named after the German town where it was first detected in November — infected sheep and cows on at least 2,600 farms in eight EU countries last year, most likely between August and October. Thought to have been spread for hundreds of miles across Europe by biting midges and warm late summer winds, the virus has since been confirmed in Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, France, Italy, Spain and Britain. 'It is certainly a warning for the whole world in the sense that, unfortunately, new threats may emerge,' said Alberto Laddomada, a former virologist who heads the animal health unit at the European Commission. 'This virus has spread very, very quickly in the European Union amongst an animal population of many millions.'"
ananyo writes "Many of the problems that led to the 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill have not been addressed, say the members of a commission set up by U.S. President Barack Obama to study the disaster. The group released a report today (PDF) on progress towards its 2011 recommendations for preventing future disasters and improving spill response. The U.S. Congress fares worst in the new report, earning a 'D' rating for its failure to enact any meaningful legislation in response to the disaster. The Restore Act would allocate 80% of any fines that BP pays for the spill under the Clean Water Act to restoring the environment and economies of the states in the Gulf of Mexico, but the act has stalled in the House of Representatives. The Obama administration did better, with a B, thanks in part to new drilling regulations, while the oil industry's efforts to improve safety saw it awarded a C+."
theodp writes "How much would you pay for an amazing light bulb? On Sunday — Earth Day — Philips' $60 LED light bulb goes on sale at Home Depot and other outlets. The bulb, which lasts 20 years, won a $10 million DOE contest that stipulated the winning bulb should cost consumers $22 in its first year on the market. Ed Crawford, the head of Philips' U.S. lighting division, said it was always part of the plan to have utility rebates bring the price down to the $22 range."
An anonymous reader writes "The water at a high school in Afghanistan was contaminated today, poisoning roughly 150 girls in attendance. Afghan officials say this was a deliberate attack: 'We are 100 percent sure that the water they drunk inside their classes was poisoned. This is either the work of those who are against girls' education or irresponsible armed individuals.' From the article: 'Some of the 150 girls, who suffered from headaches and vomiting, were in critical condition, while others were able to go home after treatment in hospital, the officials said. They said they knew the water had been poisoned because a larger tank used to fill the affected water jugs was not contaminated. ... None of the officials blamed any particular group for the attack, fearing retribution from anyone named.'"
fishmike writes "NOAA has made sea floor maps and other data on the world's coasts, continental shelves and deep ocean available for easy viewing online. Anyone with Internet access can now explore undersea features and obtain detailed depictions of the sea floor and coasts, including deep canyons, ripples, landslides and likely fish habitat. The new online data viewer compiles sea floor data from the near shore to the deep blue, including the latest high-resolution bathymetric (sea bottom) data collected by NOAA's Office of Coast Survey primarily to support nautical charting."
An anonymous reader writes "The oceanographers aboard RRS Discovery were expecting the winter weather on their North Atlantic research cruise to be bad, but they didn't expect to have to negotiate the highest waves ever recorded in the open ocean. Wave heights were measured by the vessel's Shipborne Wave Recorder, which allowed scientists from the National Oceanography Centre to produce a paper titled 'Were extreme waves in the Rockall Trough the largest ever recorded?' It's that paper, in combination with the first confirmed measurement of a rogue wave (at the Draupner platform in the North Sea), that led to 'a surge of interest in extreme and rogue waves, and a renewed emphasis on protecting ships and offshore structures from their destructive power.'"
silentbrad writes, with bits and pieces from the Globe and Mail: "A number of Canadian media companies have joined forces to try to shut down a free music website recently launched by the Canadian Broadcasting Corp., claiming it threatens to ruin the music business for all of them. The group, which includes Quebecor Inc., Stingray Digital, Cogeco Cable Inc., the Jim Pattison Group and Golden West Radio, believes that CBCmusic.ca will siphon away listeners from their own services, including private radio stations and competing websites that sell streaming music for a fee. The coalition is expected to expand soon to include Rogers Communications Inc. and Corus Entertainment Inc., two of the largest owners of radio stations in Canada. It intends to file a formal complaint with the CRTC, arguing that the broadcaster has no right under its mandate to compete with the private broadcasters in the online music space. ... 'The only music that you can hear for free is when the birds sing,' said Stingray CEO Eric Boyko, whose company runs the Galaxie music app that charges users $4.99 a month for unlimited listening. 'There is a cost to everything, yet CBC does not seem to think that is true.' ... The companies argue they must charge customers to offset royalty costs which are triggered every time a song is played, while the CBC gets around the pay-per-click problem because it is considered a non-profit corporation. ... Media executives aren't the only ones who have expressed concern. When the CBC service was launched in February, the Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers said that when it set a flat fees for the more than 100,000 music publishers it represents, it never envisioned a constant stream of free music flooding the Internet."
gurps_npc writes "Robert Krampf, who runs the web site 'The Happy Scientist,' recently wrote in his blog about problems with Florida's Science FCAT. The Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test is an attempt to measure how smart the students are. Where other states have teachers cheating to help students, Florida decided to grade correct answers as wrong. Mr. Krampf examined the state's science answers and found several that clearly listed right answers as wrong. One question had 3 out of 4 answers that were scientifically true. He wrote to the Florida Department of Education's Test Development center. They admitted he was right about the answers, but said they don't expect 5th graders to realize they were right. For this reason they marked them wrong. As such, they were not changing the tests. Note: they wouldn't let him examine real tests, just the practice tests given out. So we have no idea if FCAT is simply too lazy to provide good practice questions, or too stupid to be allowed to test our children."
MrSeb writes "Hot on the heels of the most successful storage mediums of all time — MiniDisc and Zip disks — Sony has announced the Optical Disc Archive, a system that seems to cram up to 30 Blu-ray discs into a single, one-inch-thick plastic cassette, which will have a capacity of between 300GB and 1.5TB. As far as I can tell, the main selling point of the Optical Disc Archive is, just like MiniDisc, the ruggedness of the cassettes. Optical discs themselves are fairly resistant to changes in temperature and humidity, and the cassettes are dust and water resistant. What is the use case for these 1.5TB MiniDiscs, though? In terms of pure storage capacity, tape drives are still far superior (you can store up to 5TB on a tape!) In terms of speed and flexibility, hard drives are better. If you're looking for ruggedness, flash-based storage is smaller, lighter, and can easily survive a dip in the ocean. The Optical Disc Archive might be good as extensible storage for TV PVRs, like TiVo and Sky+ — but as yet, we don't even know the cost of the system or the cassettes, and I doubt either will be cheap."
AstroPhilosopher writes "The U.S. Supreme Court will hear an appeal from a Thai student who was fined $600,000 for re-selling textbooks. Trying to make ends meet, the student had family members in Thailand mail him textbooks that were made and purchased abroad, which he then resold in the U.S. It's a method many retailers practice every day. 'Discount sellers like Costco and Target and Internet giants eBay and Amazon help form an estimated $63 billion annual market for goods that are purchased abroad, then imported and resold without the permission of the manufacturer. The U.S.-based sellers, and consumers, benefit from the common practice of manufacturers to price items more cheaply abroad than in the United States. This phenomenon is sometimes called a parallel market or grey market.'"
imac.usr writes "The Virginia Supreme Court will hear arguments today on a case brought by a Fairfax County resident alleging that the county's school board members violated the state's Freedom of Information Act. The suit alleges that board members colluded to close an elementary school in the county through rapid exchange of emails with each other. The state's FOIA rules stipulate that such exchanges can not constitute 'virtually simultaneous interaction' and that any assemblage of three or more members constitutes a formal meeting which must be announced. The article notes similar suits are popping up across the country, highlighting one of the difficulties governments face in balancing communication with transparency."
Weezul writes "Paramount's 'Worldwide VP of Content Protection and Outreach' Al Perry has insinuated that Louis CK making $1 million in 12 days means he isn't monetizing. Al Perry asserted that 'copyright law gives creators the right to monetize their creations, and that even if people like Louis C.K. decide not to do so, that's a choice and not a requirement.' Bonus, Slashdot favorite Jonathan Coulton apparently grossed almost half a million last year."
All Hands Active's Josh Williams. He shows us a project the group is doing in conjunction with Eastern Michigan University's Bright Futures Institute for the Study of Children, Families, and Communities. This is just one project, and maybe not the most exciting one they do, but it's something simple they can (and do) cart around to schools and other remote locations. They use a laser cutter for this simple project, not because it's really needed, Josh says, but because "any excuse to use a laser cutter is a good excuse."