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SchrodingerZ writes: In November of this year, the 42nd Expedition to the International Space Station will launch, and the crew has decided to embrace their infamous number. NASA has released an image of the crew mimicking the movie poster for The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, a film released in 2005, based on a book with the same name by Douglas Adams. Commander Butch Wilmore stands in the center as protagonist Arthur Dent, flight engineer Elena Serova as hitchhiker Ford Prefect, flight engineer Alexander Samokutyayev as antagonist Humma Kavula, astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti as Trillian, and flight engineers Terry Virts and Anton Shkaplerov as two-headed galactic president Zaphod Beeblebrox. The robotic "Robonaut 2" also stands in the picture as Marvin the depressed android. Cristoforetti, ecstatic to be part of this mission stated, "Enjoy, don't panic and always know where your towel is!" Wilmore, Serova and Samokutyayev blasted off September 25th for Expedition 41, the rest of Expedition 42 will launch November 23rd.
39 comments | 4 days ago
alphadogg (971356) writes At Harvard University's Sanders Theater this evening, a collection of the most off-the-wall, bizarre and lurid scientific efforts of the past year will be dubiously honored with an Ig Nobel Prize. The Ig Nobels are awarded annually by Improbable Research, an organization devoted to scientific education that publishes the Annals of Improbable Research magazine six times a year. Past honorees have included:*A study about homosexual necrophilia in ducks; Competitive analysis of breakfast cereal sogginess; The discovery that dung beetles can navigate using the Milky Way galaxy. The ceremony begins at 6 p.m. EST, and can be viewed online for free here.
30 comments | about two weeks ago
leob (154345) writes In case you haven't noticed yet, the 23rd International Obfuscated C Code Contest is now in progress. A pre-announcement was made on Twitter in the end of August; the online submission tool is now available until 2014-Oct-19 18:17:16 UTC.
14 comments | about two weeks ago
MTorrice (2611475) writes "Researchers have harnessed that heat from a computer CPU to run the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) to amplify DNA in a blood sample. The team developed software that cycles the temperature of the CPU to drive PCR's three distinct steps.The method allowed them to detect miniscule amounts of DNA from a pathogenic parasite that causes Chagas disease. They hope their technique will lead to low-cost diagnostic tests in developing countries." (Always good to put waste heat to a practical purpose.)
27 comments | about a month ago
New submitter Petrut Malaescu writes: Last year Mercedes introduced an intelligent Lane Assist system to its S-class, which is cataloged as a Level 1 "Function-specific Automation" system. In other words, hands and feet must always be on the controls. But a clever driver discovered that all it takes to keep the car in Lane Assist mode is a soda can taped to the steering wheel. It's enough to trigger the steering wheel sensor that's supposed to detect the driver's hands. Obviously, it's not a good idea to try this on a busy highway.
163 comments | about 2 months ago
An anonymous reader writes with good news for everyone who loves Strong Bad.Back in April, Homestar Runner got its first content update in over four years. It was the tiniest of updates and the site went quiet again shortly thereafter, but the Internet's collective 90s kid heart still jumped for joy...The site's co-creator, Matt Chapman, popped into an episode of The Jeff Rubin Jeff Rubin Show to chat about the history of Homestar — but in the last 15 minutes or so, they get to talking about its future. The too-long-didn't-listen version: both of the brothers behind the show really really want to bring it back. The traffic they saw from their itty-bitty April update suggests people want it — but they know that may very well be a fluke. So they're taking it slow.
57 comments | about 3 months ago
theodp (442580) writes Over at Alarming Development, Jonathan Edwards has an interesting rant entitled Developer Inequality and the Technical Debt Crisis. The heated complaints that the culture of programming unfairly excludes some groups, Edwards feels, is a distraction from a bigger issue with far greater importance to society.
"The bigger injustice," Edwards writes, "is that programming has become an elite: a vocation requiring rare talents, grueling training, and total dedication. The way things are today if you want to be a programmer you had best be someone like me on the autism spectrum who has spent their entire life mastering vast realms of arcane knowledge — and enjoys it. Normal humans are effectively excluded from developing software. The real injustice of developer inequality is that it doesn't have to be this way." Edwards concludes with a call to action, "The web triumphalists love to talk about changing the world. Well if you really want to change the world, empower regular people to build web apps. Disrupt web programming! Who's with me?" Ed Finkler, who worries about his own future as a developer in The Developer's Dystopian Future, seconds that emotion. "I think about how I used to fill my time with coding," Finkler writes. "So much coding. I was willing to dive so deep into a library or framework or technology to learn it. My tolerance for learning curves grows smaller every day. New technologies, once exciting for the sake of newness, now seem like hassles. I'm less and less tolerant of hokey marketing filled with superlatives. I value stability and clarity."
608 comments | about 3 months ago
Jason Koebler (3528235) writes Internet slang: Do you use it? If so, do it AYOR (at your own risk), because the FBI knows exactly what you're saying thanks to the agency's insane list of "Twitter shorthand." Rather than just rely on Urban Dictionary or a Google search, the agency has compiled an 83 page list of more than 2,800 acronyms. The FBI responded to a FOIA request with one of the most illegible scans of a document you'll ever see, embedded on a CD — so maybe the agency isn't all that up on its technology, or maybe it's just doing its best to KTAS (keep this a secret). Please use one of your favorites in a grammatical sentence referencing current events, and/or your favorite food, to help build up the corpus.
124 comments | about 3 months ago
An anonymous reader writes "In the spirit of Jimmy Kimmel's popular Mean Tweets series and in a rare video appearance, Linus Torvalds takes to task a few 'tweeters' who have called him out. Never one to back down, Linus reads the tweets and shares his comments." Sadly, this is just a few -- with weekly updates, Linus could charge a subscription to fund unlimited diving trips.
62 comments | about 4 months ago
An anonymous reader writes "The rate of cybercrime is growing and growing, and law enforcement is struggling to keep up. The FBI is in the process of beefing up its headcount, but they're running into a problem: many of the hackers applying for these jobs have a history of marijuana use, and the agency has a zero tolerance policy. FBI Director James Comey said, 'I have to hire a great work force to compete with those cyber criminals and some of those kids want to smoke weed on the way to the interview.' However, change may be on the horizon: Comey said the FBI is changing 'both our mindset and the way we do business.' He also encouraged job applications from former pot users despite the policy."
319 comments | about 4 months ago
phmadore writes: "Some clever German pranksters managed to put one over on a sect of the intelligentsia just the other day. In this 30-minute presentation (video) at the re:publica 2014 tech conference, activists going under the pseudonyms of Paul von Ribbeck and Gloria Spindle presented four new (and moderately credible) Google products making up the 'Google Nest': Google Trust, Google Hug, Google Bee, and Google Bye. 'We can't really guarantee that we protect your information, but we can do our very best to protect you,' says Spindle about eight minutes in. Google is reportedly rather upset about the whole affair. The conference organizers were in on the joke — the audience were clued in afterward and asked to participate in order to fool the media. For me, the discussion-worthy items here are: data insurance and the value of data."
45 comments | about 5 months ago
An anonymous reader writes "Those of us who spend our days sitting in front of a screen trying to make computers do our bidding know how difficult programming can be. But from an outside perspective, there's not much to indicate difficulty. Most of us have heard somebody compare our job to digging ditches, or some other manual labor, meant to contrast easy (sitting around and typing) versus hard (muscle-wearying work). Now, Peter Welch has written an amusing essay to help combat that point of view, titled Programming Sucks. He compares bridge building to a big software project. Here's a small part of it:
'You start by meeting Mary, project leader for a bridge in a major metropolitan area. Mary introduces you to Fred, after you get through the fifteen security checks installed by Dave because Dave had his sweater stolen off his desk once and Never Again. Fred only works with wood, so you ask why he's involved because this bridge is supposed to allow rush-hour traffic full of cars full of mortal humans to cross a 200-foot drop over rapids. Don't worry, says Mary, Fred's going to handle the walkways. What walkways? Well Fred made a good case for walkways and they're going to add to the bridge's appeal. Of course, they'll have to be built without railings, because there's a strict no railings rule enforced by Phil, who's not an engineer. ... Would you drive across this bridge? No. If it somehow got built, everybody involved would be executed. Yet some version of this dynamic wrote every single program you have ever used, banking software, websites, and a ubiquitously used program that was supposed to protect information on the internet but didn't.' Welch goes on to gripe about all the ways in which programming is almost awesome, but ends up being annoying."
278 comments | about 5 months ago
netbuzz (955038) writes "A band called netcat is generating buzz in software circles by releasing its debut album as a Linux kernel module (among other more typical formats.) 'Are you ever listening to an album, and thinking "man, this sounds good, but I wish it crossed from user-space to kernel-space more often!" We got you covered,' the band says on its Facebook page. 'Our album is now fully playable as a loadable Linux kernel module.'"
128 comments | about 5 months ago
samzenpus writes "Writer and comedian Harold Ramis has passed away at 69. Ramis had a hand in many classic comedies but is especially loved for playing the ghost-hunting Egon Spengler in Ghostbusters. 'His creativity, compassion, intelligence, humor and spirit will be missed by all who knew and loved him,' said his family in a statement."
136 comments | about 7 months ago
Saint Aardvark writes "If you're a Unix or Linux sysadmin, you know sudo: it's that command that lets you run single commands as root from your own account, rather than logging in as root. And if you're like me, here's what you know about configuring sudo:
1.) Run sudoedit and uncomment the line that says "%wheel ALL=(ALL) ALL".
2.) Make sure you're in the wheel group.
If you're a sysadmin, you need to stop people from shooting themselves in the foot. There should be some way of restricting use, right? Just gotta check out the man page.... And that's where I stopped, every time. I've yet to truly understand Extended Backus-Naur Form, and my eyes would glaze over. And so I'd go back to putting some small number of people in the 'wheel' group, and letting them run sudo, and cleaning up the occasional mess afterward. Fortunately, Michael W. Lucas has written Sudo Mastery: User Access Control for Real People." Keep reading for the rest of Saint Aardvark's review.
83 comments | about 7 months ago
SirLurksAlot writes "News is beginning to circulate on Twitter and various sites that Jim Weirich, the creator of Rake, has passed away at the age of 58. He was an active developer (his last commit in the last 24 hours) and has made many contributions to the Ruby community over the years, as well as being a prolific speaker and teacher. He had a great sense of humor and was beloved by many. He will be greatly missed."
109 comments | about 7 months ago
An anonymous reader writes "Rhawn Joseph, a self-described astrobiologist involved with the infamous Journal of Cosmology, is suing NASA, demanding 100 high-resolution photos and 24 micrographs be taken of the 'donut' rock that recently appeared in front of the Opportunity rover on Mars, on the basis that it is a living organism. The remarkable full text of the complaint, which cites NASA's mineralogical analysis of the rock as evidence against it being a rock, is available to read at Popular Science." Really, the lawsuit is worth a read.
140 comments | about 8 months ago
Nemo the Magnificent writes "Ever been asked a question in a job interview that's just so abysmally stupid, you're tempted to give in to the snark and blow the whole thing up? Here are suggested interview-ending answers to 16 of the stupidest questions candidates actually got asked in interviews at tech companies in 2013, according to employment site Glassdoor. Oil to pour on the burning bridges."
692 comments | about 8 months ago
An anonymous reader writes "An Irish politician has called for tougher controls on the use of open source internet browsers. He said, 'An online black market is operating which protects the users’ anonymity and operates across borders through the use of open source internet browsers and payments systems which allow users to remain anonymous. This effectively operates as an online supermarket for illegal goods such as drugs, weapons and pornography, where it is extremely difficult to trace the identity of the buyers. We need a national and international response to clamp down on this illicit trade.' The politician added that the U.S. had 'taken action' to address this, but he seemed surprised that their solution was only 'temporary.'"
335 comments | about 9 months ago
rjmarvin writes "Someone is finally pausing TV shows and movies to figure out if the code shown on screen is accurate or not. British programmer and writer John Graham-Cumming started taking screenshots of source code from movies such as Elysium, Swordfish and Doctor Who, and when it became popular turned the concept into a blog. Source Code in TV and Films posts a new screenshot daily, proving that, for example, Tony Stark's first Iron Man suit was running code from a 1998 programmable Lego brick."
301 comments | about 9 months ago