Hugh Pickens writes "Dave Lindorff writes in the LA Times that growing numbers of students are discovering their old school is actively blocking them from getting a job or going on to a higher degree by refusing to issue an official transcript. The schools won't send the transcripts to potential employers or graduate admissions office if students are in default on student loans, or in many cases, even if they just fall one or two months behind. It's no accident that they're doing this. It turns out the federal government 'encourages' them to use this draconian tactic, saying that the policy 'has resulted in numerous loan repayments.' It is a strange position for colleges to take, writes Lindorff, since the schools themselves are not owed any money — student loan funds come from private banks or the federal government, and in the case of so-called Stafford loans, schools are not on the hook in any way. They are simply acting as collection agencies, and in fact may get paid for their efforts at collection. 'It's worse than indentured servitude,' says NYU Professor Andrew Ross, who helped organize the Occupy Student Debt movement last fall. 'With indentured servitude, you had to pay in order to work, but then at least you got to work. When universities withhold these transcripts, students who have been indentured by loans are being denied even the ability to work or to finish their education so they can repay their indenture.'"
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wiredmikey writes "According to reports, which were confirmed Friday by ICS-CERT (PDF), there has been an active cyber attack campaign targeting the natural gas industry. However, it's the advice from the DHS that should raise some red flags. 'There are several intriguing and unusual aspects of the attacks and the U.S. response to them not described in Friday's public notice,' Mark Clayton wrote. 'One is the greater level of detail in these alerts than in past alerts. Another is the unusual if not unprecedented request to leave the cyber spies alone for a little while.' According to the source, the companies were 'specifically requested in a March 29 alert not to take action to remove the cyber spies if discovered on their networks, but to instead allow them to persist as long as company operations did not appear to be endangered.' While the main motive behind the request is likely to gain information on the attackers, letting them stay close to critical systems is dangerous. The problem lies in the complexities of our critical infrastructures and the many highly specialized embedded systems that comprise them."
MrSeb writes "The Light Fair convention kicks off in Las Vegas this week, so there will be any number of related announcements coming soon. Lighting giant Philips is starting things off early with the announcement of their 100W-equivalent LED bulb, the AmbientLED 23W. The model produces 1700 lumens, putting it at a very respectable 73.9 lm/W. The unveiling comes shortly after Philips' L Prize bulb was made available to consumers. That bulb currently sells for about $60 and is a more efficient light source, capable of 94 lm/W. The two use similar designs; for example, both take advantage of remote phosphor, but the AmbientLED 23W (it will be called the EnduraLED in non-consumer applications) is brighter and lacking in some of the performance characteristics of the L Prize winner, including luminous efficiency and color accuracy. Philips' 100W-equivalent bulb will be available some time in the fourth quarter. Pricing has yet to be announced, but it will likely be well over $30."
Volanin writes "Currently I use a triple boot system on my Macbook, including MacOS Lion, Windows 7, and Ubuntu Precise (on which I spend the great majority of my time). To share files between these systems, I have created a huge HFS+ home partition (the MacOS native format, which can also be read in Linux, and in Windows with Paragon HFS). But last week, while working on Ubuntu, my battery ran out and the computer suddenly powered off. When I powered it on again, the filesystem integrity was OK (after a scandisk by MacOS), but a lot of my files' contents were silently corrupted (and my last backup was from August...). Mostly, these files are JPGs, MP3s, and MPG/MOV videos, with a few PDFs scattered around. I want to get rid of the corrupted files, since they waste space uselessly, but the only way I have to check for corruption is opening them up one by one. Is there a good set of tools to verify the integrity by filetype, so I can detect (and delete) my bad files?"
New submitter crazyjj writes "As reported in Wired, a recent National Research Council report indicates a growing concern for NASA, the NOAA, and USGS. While there are currently 22 Earth-observing satellites in orbit, this number is expected to drop to as low as six by the year 2020. The U.S. relies on this network of satellites for weather forecasting, climate change data, and important geologic and oceanographic information. As with most things space and NASA these days, the root cause is funding cuts. The program to maintain this network was funded at $2 billion as recently as 2002, but has since been scaled back to a current funding level of $1.3 billion, with only two replacement satellites having definite launch dates."
Hugh Pickens writes "The Telegraph reports that huge plant-eating dinosaurs called sauropods may have produced enough greenhouse gas by breaking wind to alter the Earth's climate. Scientists believe that, just as in cows, methane-producing bacteria aided the digestion of sauropods by fermenting their plant food. 'A simple mathematical model suggests that the microbes living in sauropod dinosaurs may have produced enough methane to have an important effect on the Mesozoic climate,' says study leader Dr Dave Wilkinson. 'Indeed, our calculations suggest that these dinosaurs could have produced more methane than all modern sources — both natural and man-made — put together.' The key factor is the total mass of the animals which included some of the largest animals to walk the Earth, such as Diplodocus, which measured 150 feet and weighed up to 45 tons. Medium-sized sauropods weighed about 20 tons and lived in herds of up to a few tens of individuals per square kilometer so global methane emissions from the animals would have amounted to around 472 million tons per year, the scientists calculated. Sauropods alone may have been responsible for an atmospheric methane concentration of one to two parts per million (ppm), say the scientists and studies have suggested that the Earth was up to 10C (18F) warmer in the Mesozoic Era. ''The Mesozoic trend to sauropod gigantism led to the evolution of immense microbial vats unequaled in modern land animals. Methane was probably important in Mesozoic greenhouse warming. Our simple proof-of-concept model suggests greenhouse warming by sauropod megaherbivores could have been significant in sustaining warm climates.'"
Fluffeh writes "Syria's games industry now looks like just another collateral casualty of dictator Bashar Al-Assad's struggle to hold power. 'Life for Syrian game developers has never been better,' joked Falafel Games founder Radwan Kasmiya, 'You can test the action on the streets and get back to your desktop to script it on your keyboard.' Any momentum Syria may have been building as a regional game development hub slowed considerably in 2004, when then-US President George W. Bush levied economic sanctions against the country. Under the sanctions, Syria's game developers found themselves cut off from investment money they needed to grow, as well as from other relationships that were just as important as cash. 'Any [closure of opportunity] is devastating to a budding games company as global partnerships are completely hindered,' said Rawan Sha'ban of the Jordanian game development company Quirkat. 'Even at the simplest infrastructure level, game development engines [from the US] cannot be purchased in a sanctioned country.'"
cylonlover writes "The hashtag or "#" symbol has taken on a lot more use in recent years, especially with the rise of social media tools like Twitter, where it's used to highlight popular topics. So in a way, it's a fitting model for an apartment building designed to act as a self-contained neighborhood, which is exactly the idea behind the Cross # Towers planned for South Korea. Dutch architectural firm, Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG), is modeling the look of the proposed building after the familiar symbol, by placing two interlocking bridges between two skyscrapers, which will also support outdoor park areas to mimic the sort of spaces you'd normally find on the ground."
TheGift73 writes "Retailer, C&A, is putting 'real-time Likes' counters on its hangers in locations around Brazil. The Like data is taken from C&A's Facebook page, where the company has listed its various wares for people to interact with. When a person Likes an item, that Like shows up on the hanger. It is meant to help customers with purchasing decisions. If they are unsure of one item, they can see how many people online think the product is a good buy."
TheGift73 writes in with a link for those of you who like to do things the hard way. "Now that The Pirate Bay is being blocked by ISPs in the UK, millions of people have a new interest in accessing the site, even if they didn't before. The reasons for this are simple. Not only do people hate being told what they can and can't do, people – especially geeks – love solving problems and puzzles. Unlocking The Pirate Bay with a straightforward proxy is just too boring, so just for fun let's go the hard way round."
An anonymous reader writes "An Apple programmer, apparently by accident, left a debug flag open in the most recent version of its Mac OS X operating system. In specific configurations, applying the OS X Lion update 10.7.3 turns on a system-wide debug log file that contains the login passwords of every user who has logged in since the update was applied. The passwords are stored in clear text."
TheGift73 writes with a link to (and this excerpt from the beginning of) a brief description at TorrentFreak of recently signed agreements between the U.S. and Australia: "Figures.... File-sharing was firmly on the agenda when the head of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security touched down in the Australian capital last week. The four new agreements – promptly signed before Secretary Janet Napolitano flew back out of Canberra – were less about sharing season two of Game of Thrones and more about sharing the private, government held information of Australian citizens with U.S. authorities."
First time accepted submitter wokie78 writes "The PlanetSolar, a Swiss solar powered catamaran, has just arrived to Monaco (French original), its initial port of departure, after finishing its voyage around the world which it started in September 2010. Its five-member crew completed a 60,006 km trip fully powered by 537 square meters of solar panels, which produced from 500 to 600 kw/h in fair weather — which meant it could go for 300 km on a single charge. Everything on the boat was solar powered."
longacre writes "Suzy Harriston wanted to be friends on Facebook. The profile said she was from Clayton [Missouri] and had more than 300 friends, many of them from Clayton High School. No one seemed to question who Harriston was. That is, until the night of April 5, when a 2011 grad and former Clayton quarterback posted a public accusation. '"Whoever is friends with Suzy Harriston on Facebook needs to drop them. It is the Clayton Principal," wrote Chase Haslett.' Suzy Harriston quickly disappeared from Facebook, and Louise Losos, the principal, subsequently took a leave of absence, and then resigned."
AmiMoJo writes "Japan's last active reactor is shutting down today, leaving the country without nuclear energy for the first time since 1970. All 50 commercial reactors in the country are now offline. 19 have completed stress tests but there is little prospect of them being restarted due to heavy opposition from local governments. Meanwhile activists in Tokyo celebrated the shutdown and asked the government to admit that nuclear power was no longer needed in Japan and to concentrate on safety. If this summer turns out to be as hot as 2010 some areas could be asked to make 15% power savings to avoid shortages, while other areas will be unaffected due to savings already made."