taskforce writes "There are good reasons to think web services like Facebook won't be around forever. If Facebook ever were to go down there would be potentially huge costs to its users. We can all take individual steps to protect our data and social network, but is there anything we can do to our economy to mitigate the costs of the failure of these services? The Red Rock looks at the role open source, open standards, consumer cooperatives, and enterprise reform can play. The author concludes that all is not lost, and that there's a lot we can do to reduce both the cost and frequency of failure." His suggestions are pretty radical: "The first is draw up an Open Data Bill and pass it into law. This would (where applicable) mandate the use of open standards by firms, and also mandate that all data held about a user is downloadable by that user, in an open standard. ... The second is to reform the corporate structure of larger companies to include some directors elected by consumers, rather than just shareholders. Not all the directors, like in the Cooperative Group, and not even a majority, but just a small portion of the board — say one third."
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New submitter _prime writes "Until recently the mechanism by which cells make proteins in low-oxygen environments has been unknown. As published in Nature (paywall) this week, the discovery of the mechanism by an Ottawa-based team of researchers potentially means it could be 'very easy to kill cancer cells' without harming normal cells because cancer cells leverage the same low-oxygen protein synthesis mechanism even in the presence of normal oxygen levels."
An anonymous reader writes with an excerpt from Phoronix: "Chris Kenyon, the VP of sales and business development for Canonical, just spoke this afternoon at the Ubuntu 12.10 Developer Summit about what Canonical does with OEMs and ODMs. He also tossed out some rather interesting numbers about the adoption of Ubuntu Linux. Namely, Ubuntu will ship on 5% of worldwide PC sales with a number of 18 million units annually."
An anonymous reader writes "The U.S. military is developing its next generation bomber with Chinese anti-access strategy — the ability to stop any enemy force from coming to fight with things like carrier killer missiles — in mind. The new bomber will replace older platforms like the 1950's B-52, the 1970's B-1, and 1990's B-2 stealth bomber. The new bomber will sport some unique qualities. It will have an option to be unmanned, will act similar to a UAV, have better stealth capabilities, will be connected to U.S. intelligence networks to create a 'smart' battlefield environment, and have near unlimited range thanks to in-air refueling."
Fluffeh writes "On Monday, the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles approved Google's license application to test autonomous vehicles on the state's roads. The state had approved such laws back in February, and has now begun issuing licenses based on those regulations. The state previously outlined that companies that want to test such vehicles will need an insurance bond of $1 million and must provide detailed outlines of where they plan to test it and under what conditions. Further, the car must have two people in it at all times, with one behind the wheel who can take control of the vehicle if needed. The Autonomous Review Committee of the Nevada DMV is supervising the first licensing procedure and has now approved corresponding plates to go with it, complete with a red background and infinity symbol."
An opinion piece at Gamasutra takes a look at the recent success of Kickstarter campaigns for video game projects — Double Fine's adventure game and a sequel to Wasteland each raised around $3 million. Hundreds of other projects have sprung up, hoping to replicate that success — but will it last? From the article: "I am convinced that Tim Schafer and his team at Double Fine know how to deliver a game (mostly) on time and (mostly) on budget. Brian Fargo too. Is that true for all 314 of the current Kickstarter projects? What about the projects which get started but never finished? If publishers like LucasArts can cancel games that are almost finished or like Codemasters can pay for a game it never saw, what certainty do pledgers have that the game that they have paid for will ever see the light of day? We are still in the early days of our Kickstarter relationship, the early days of falling in love. Everything our partner does is wonderful. We gloss over the risks, we ignore the downsides, because the glory of falling in love is everything. I think we have about six months left of that period. Towards the end of this year, some Kickstarter projects are going to start slipping. Some will see their teams collapse amidst bicker recriminations. Some pledgers are going to start getting very angry."
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.'"
astroengine writes "As we recently discussed, on June 5 or 6 this year — the exact time and date depends on where you are in the world — Venus will be visible as a small black circle crossing the disk of the sun. Usually, the Hubble Space Telescope would have no business observing this event — the sun is too close for its optics. But plans are afoot for Hubble to observe the reflected sunlight bouncing off the lunar surface during the transit. As the sunlight will pass through the Venusian atmosphere, the transit will provide invaluable spectroscopic data about Venus' atmospheric composition. This, in turn, will help astronomers in characterizing the atmospheres of planets orbiting other stars."
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."
eldavojohn writes "Details are thin, but the long-covered Oracle v. Google trial has at least partially been decided in favor of Oracle. The jury says Google violated copyrights with Android when it used Java APIs to design the system. Google moved for a mistrial after hearing the incomplete decision. The patent infringement accusations have yet to be ruled upon."
An anonymous reader writes "IEEE announced the publication of IEEE 802.11-2012, which defines the technology for the world's premier wireless LAN products. The new IEEE 802.11-2012 revision has been expanded significantly by supporting devices and networks that are faster and more secure, while offering improved Quality of Service and improved cellular network hand-off. The standard's relevance continues to expand with the emergence of new applications, such as the smart grid, which augments the facility for electricity generation, distribution, delivery and consumption with a two-way, end-to-end network for communications and control."
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?"
The Bad Astronomer writes "Using the monster 8.2-meter Subaru telescope, astronomers have identified the most distant cluster of galaxies ever found: a collection of galaxies at a staggering distance of 12.7 billion light years. This is the most distant cluster ever seen that has been confirmed spectroscopically (PDF). Technically, it's a protocluster, since it's so young — seen only a billion years after the Big Bang itself — the cluster must still be in the process of formation."
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."