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Amazon Isn't Killing Writing, the Market Is

mbone Re:More the economics of publishing (192 comments)

There is literally too much content and most of it looks awful.

There always ways - Sturgeon's law* and all of that. There just used to be these people called "editors" and "publishers" who kept much (but certainly not all) of the crap from the market.

* BTW, Sturgeon was an optimist.

about two weeks ago
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Ask Slashdot: How Many Employees Does Microsoft Really Need?

mbone I know what they think (272 comments)

In modern corporate thinking, the answer is two - the CEO, and a flunky to fetch coffee and do any actual work the CEO should be doing. Every other position should be either automated or outsourced.

about two weeks ago
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Giant Crater Appears In Northern Siberia

mbone Re:black hole caused by a black hole (122 comments)

It would be more likely to be the exit point of a miniature black hole. The entry point would likely be a very small hole.*

I call these exit wounds; the physics is that the exiting hypervelocity thing sets up a shock wave moving matter out of the way, and it's the shock wave excavates the material in the hole. (Even a black hole does this; a decent sized one (say 10^10 kg) is very small, so not much matter would be eaten during a transit of the Earth. It does, however, pull matter towards it and its wake sets up an explosive shock wave that fractures and evacuates material.)

* A black hole the mass of the Sun would have a radius of ~ 3 km, so one the mass of the Earth is a few mm, and a likely primordial black hole, with a mass of maybe 10^10 kg, would have a radius of 10^-17 m, or well below the size of an atomic nucleus. Such a small black hole would not "eat" much in its passage through the Earth, which might take 20 - 40 seconds or so, because not much would actually hit it. It's gravitational wake, however, would be another matter. Such a primordial black hole would leave a tiny entrance wound, but a large exit wound.

about two weeks ago
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Giant Crater Appears In Northern Siberia

mbone Re:Some thoughts (122 comments)

Patomskiy Crater is in solid rock, this new one is in soft sediment. Solid rock requires energy to fracture, and it is thus less likely to be removed from an excavation. By the way, these sorts of holes (assuming that they are explosive in origin) are similar to "bench-blasting" in explosives work; there is a huge literature on this.

about two weeks ago
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Giant Crater Appears In Northern Siberia

mbone Some thoughts (122 comments)

First, if this is 80 meters in diameter, or 40 meters in radius, and say at a minimum 40 meters deep, that’ s not quite 10^9 kg of soil moved up order 40 meters, requiring (very roughly) the equivalent of 60 tons of TNT, at a minimum, and thus an equivalent magnitude of ~ 3.2 (again, roughly). Such an explosion should be detectable on seismological networks, such as the ones looking for nuclear testing.

Second, there is another mystery crater in Siberia - the Patomskiy crater. This one is in rock, not sediment, is about 160 meters in diameter, and is maybe 300 years old, but I have to wonder if they have a similar cause.

Third, I am interested in quark nuggets and other types of condensed matter, such as Q-Balls, generically called Compact UltraDense Objects (CUDOs) by Jan Rafelski of U. Arizona. If these things exist in the appropriate masses, they could cause holes such as this and the Patomskiy crater. Even better, if this were to be caused by transiting CUDO, it would cause a "linear earthquake, which should be easily recognizable in the seismic record.

about two weeks ago
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Time Warner Turns Down Takeover Bid From Rupert Murdoch

mbone Thank God (70 comments)

All I can say is that if we actually had decent anti-trust enforcement (YAGTDRR - Yet Another Good Thing Destroyed by Ronald Reagan), these mergers wouldn't even be an issue to begin with. Since they are, thank God this one seems not be going forward.

about two weeks ago
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Arecibo Radio Telescope Confirms Extra-galactic Fast Radio Pulses

mbone Re:First contact? (95 comments)

One burst from one location in the sky, then weeks or months later, another burst from another location in the sky. I don't think a pattern recognition algorithm is going to help you much.

about three weeks ago
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Here Comes the Panopticon: Insurance Companies

mbone Re:It's already going on... (353 comments)

Actually, as someone who is a pretty conservative driver, I welcomed the option to let worse drivers subsidize my premiums in exchange for them tracking my driving for a while. I could care less that they know (for example) that I always signal turns and lane changes and don't aggressively accelerate or stop. I could also care less that people who can't demonstrate the same behavior are seen as a higher risk and charged a higher premium.

...except you, of course, since you're on my \. frinds list and all...

Well, if you ever get divorced, better make sure you have never driven anywhere your ex-wife's attorney could make hay knowing about.

about three weeks ago
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Coddled, Surveilled, and Monetized: How Modern Houses Can Watch You

mbone Buy? (150 comments)

I haven't bought any of this, don't know anyone (personally) who has bought any of this, and don't know why anyone would buy any of this.

I guess, however, some people may have more money than brains. I wish they would put it into Kickstarter, Indiegogo, Rockethub, instead of this crap.

about three weeks ago
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Coddled, Surveilled, and Monetized: How Modern Houses Can Watch You

mbone Re:Ken Starr is a bad example. (150 comments)

Sure, he did all kinds of dirt-gathering in order to try and impeach Clinton, but no one took him seriously.

Susan McDougal called. She wants to have a word with you.

I predict that if some fine day a Federal prosecutor (independent or otherwise) decides for some bogus reason that they want to hassle you, you will take it very seriously indeed.

I agree Whitewater was, like Benghazi, a fake scandal, but fake scandals can hurt real people.

about three weeks ago
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US Arrests Son of Russian MP In Maldives For Hacking

mbone Re:Hm... (176 comments)

In geopolitics, taking powers you do not actually have always leads to a reaction. Wait for it.

about three weeks ago
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US Arrests Son of Russian MP In Maldives For Hacking

mbone Imperial Police (176 comments)

What in the hell are the US police doing arresting anyone in a foreign country? Is the Maldives part of the empire now?

And, yes, the Russians are totally correct in calling this kidnapping. Look for some poor American tourist or businessman to be nabbed in a tit-for-tat.

about three weeks ago
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TSA Prohibits Taking Discharged Electronic Devices Onto Planes

mbone As a data point (702 comments)

It has been a number of years since I was asked to turn on a device, even when I go through enhanced security. So, unless this is accompanied by a "we are now pushing to turn on all electronics" it is not exactly a prohibition.

about three weeks ago
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Cassini's Space Odyssey To Saturn

mbone Re:Fear Mongers Didn't Want to Let Cassini Fly (45 comments)

That is one advantage of using the SLS for the Europa-clipper - it would be a Hohmann trajectory, with no subsequent Earth-flybys to get people anxious.

about three weeks ago
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Cassini's Space Odyssey To Saturn

mbone Flagship Missions (45 comments)

Viking, Voyager, Galileo, Cassini - these were the so called "Flagship" missions - big, envelope-pushing missions intended to substantially advance our knowledge of the solar system. (MSL is really another, but Mars is special for NASA and so they don't call it that.) They have somewhat fallen out of favor, as they are very expensive and prone to delays and overruns, but it is hard to see how there can be substantial advances, particularly in the outer solar system, without them.

The next mission of this class will, Congress willing, be the Europa-clipper, which is slowly getting to the AO stage. I can hardly wait.

about three weeks ago
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By 2045 'The Top Species Will No Longer Be Humans,' and That Could Be a Problem

mbone Re:Magical Machine Thinking (564 comments)

What is wrong with these people? Are they unaware that such has been proposed time and again by past luminaries?.

Nothing is wrong with them , as they still get rewarded for making bad predictions.

about three weeks ago
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By 2045 'The Top Species Will No Longer Be Humans,' and That Could Be a Problem

mbone Or maybe not. (564 comments)

No-one ever lost money betting against an A.I. prognosticator.

about three weeks ago
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Ask Slashdot: How Often Should You Change Jobs?

mbone Re:Lower limit. (282 comments)

That depends. How often do you get fired?

about three weeks ago

Submissions

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Mars (One) Needs Payloads

mbone mbone writes  |  about three weeks ago

mbone (558574) writes "Mars One has announced that their first, unmanned, lander, targeted for 2018, needs payloads. Along with their 4 experiments, and a University experiment, they have two payloads for hire :

Mars One offers two payload opportunities for paying mission contributors. Proposals can take the form of scientific experiments, technology demonstrations, marketing and publicity campaigns, or any other suggested payload. “Previously, the only payloads that have landed on Mars are those which NASA has selected,” said Bas Lansdorp, “We want to open up the opportunity to the entire world to participate in our mission to Mars by sending a certain payload to the surface of Mars.”

The formal Request for Proposals for all of this is out now as well."
Link to Original Source

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A Lunar Space Elevator in our (near) Future?

mbone mbone writes  |  about 5 months ago

mbone (558574) writes "After the IAA sponsored a study on the terrestrial space elevator which concluded that it should be possible to build one, in 30 years or so, if that pesky unobtanium for the tether material can be actually invented in that time, now is the time for some press on the Lunar Space Elevator, which has the advantage that existing tether materials (such as Zylon) are strong enough to support it.

A Lunar Space Elevator would be the biggest structure ever made in much the same way as the Great Wall of China is bigger than a kiddie sandbox. The current prototype design (scaled for a deployment in a single SLS launch) would involve 270,000+ km of tether material, stretching from Sinus Medii, past the Lagrange point, deep into cis-lunar space. With all of that string, the prototype payload mass is only 128 kg, but you have to start somewhere, and it could be (and, if it works, would be) built up over time.

The goal is to open the Moon up to mining. Let the games begin!"

Link to Original Source
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Server Sky - internet and computation in orbit

mbone mbone writes  |  about a year ago

mbone (558574) writes "Even if SpaceX and other companies can drastically lower the cost of going to orbit, what are we going to do once we get there? Since the 1970's, NASA has been searching for commercial applications for space, such as making crystals or medicines in zero-gravity, but, except for communications and navigation, space as yet barely figures into commerce, largely because it is expensive to send materials there, and expensive to send finished products back. Now there is Server Sky, which is trying to build on the realization that information is the cheapest product to send to and from space, and that "traditional data centers consume almost 3% of US electrical power, and this fraction is growing rapidly. Server arrays in orbit can grow to virtually unlimited computation power, communicate with the whole world, pay for themselves with electricity savings, and greatly reduce pollution and resource usage in the biosphere." What do slashdotters (who tend to be interested in computation) think? Is there money to be made in putting the cloud above the clouds?"
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Violation of Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle

mbone mbone writes  |  about 2 years ago

mbone (558574) writes "A very interesting paper has just hit the streets (or, at least, Physics Review Letters) about the Heisenberg uncertainty relationship as it was originally formulated about measurements. They find that they can exceed the uncertainty limit in measurements (although the uncertainty limit in quantum states is still followed, so the foundations of quantum mechanics still appear to be sound.) This is really an attack on quantum entanglement (the correlations imposed between two related particles), and so may have immediate applications in cracking quantum cryptography systems. It may also be easier to read quantum communications without being detected than people originally thought."
Link to Original Source
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US Government loses confidence in ICANN

mbone mbone writes  |  more than 2 years ago

mbone (558574) writes "The "no cost" contract between the US Department of Commerce and ICANN over hosting the Internet Assigned Names and Number Authority (IANA) was supposed to be re-let this March. Now, it has been withdrawn, and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) says that "we are cancelling this RFP because we received no proposals that met the requirements requested by the global community." This is a pretty stunning vote of no confidence in ICANN by the US Government, on the eve of the 43rd ICANN meeting in Costa Rica. Speculation is that this is related to the attempts of the ITU-T to take over Internet governance, but it also could be over the new Global top level domains. I am sure we will be hearing a lot more about this in the weeks to come."
Link to Original Source
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Why did the Government cancel the IANA RFP?

mbone mbone writes  |  more than 2 years ago

mbone (558574) writes "Friday afternoon (a classic time to bury bad news), the Department of Commerce put out a laconic cancelation of the zero dollar RFP for IANA, the Internet Assigned Names and Numbers Authority : AMENDMENT 0003 — Request for Proposal (RFP) SA1301-12-RP-IANA is hereby cancelled. The Department of Commerce intends to reissue the RFP at a future date, date to be determined (TBD). This contract may be for zero dollars, but it is a crucial one for the Internet, as it ties IANA, and thus ICANN, the global root for DNS, and such matters as the new global top level domains, to the US Government. Anyone have any idea what is up?"
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That's it for IPv4 - it had a good run

mbone mbone writes  |  more than 3 years ago

mbone (558574) writes "The last regular Internet Protocol version 4 (IPv4) address assignment, a /8, has been handed out, by IANA to APNIC, which will trigger the final distribution of IPv4 space to all of the Registries. So, February 1, 2011, marks the end of business as usual for IPv4. The future holds (hopefully) the wholesale adoption of IPv6 and (probably) a market in IPv4 address space."
Link to Original Source
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Wikileaks looses its DNS

mbone mbone writes  |  more than 3 years ago

mbone (558574) writes "The DNS provider for wikileaks.org, EveryDNS, has booted it off and the site is no longer reachable by name. EveryDNS say on their main web site EveryDNS.net provided domain name system (DNS) services to the wikileaks.org domain name until 10PM EST, December 2, 2010, when such services were terminated. As with other users of the EveryDNS.net network, this service was provided for free. The termination of services was effected pursuant to, and in accordance with, the EveryDNS.net Acceptable Use Policy. I guess that being DOSed is not part of the AUP. http://www.wikileaks.info/ has a list of mirror sites, some of which no longer work, due to wikileak's loss of Amazon.com EC2 hosting."
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Domain Seizures no Hoax

mbone mbone writes  |  more than 3 years ago

mbone (558574) writes "Despite some suspicion, including on slashdot, the seizure of the file linking site rapgodfathers.com and various torrent sites are apparently real, as Eric Holder is having a press conference and has issued a press release touting the seizure of sites "engaged in the illegal sale and distribution of counterfeit goods and copyrighted works."

Among other things, this shows that the DOJ is using both Google Analytics and Piwik Open Source Web Analytics, as there is analytic javascript for both in the index.html on the banned sites. And, based on look at the jpeg used, at least some of the ICE use Macs, as the take-down jpeg was prepared with Adobe Photoshop CS5 for Macintosh on 2010:11:18 09:37:21"

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Customs and TSA Raid RapGodFathers Hosting Site

mbone mbone writes  |  more than 3 years ago

mbone (558574) writes "The Torrentfreak site is reporting that DHS and ICE (i.e., Customs) agents arrived at a Dallas datacenter Tuesday with orders to take down the 146,500 member RapGodFathers site (RGF). Equipment was seized, and they report that their domain name is being blocked and is likely to be taken as well. The RGF admins say that the site has no content itself, just links to other sites, and that they always respect DMCA takedown notices. RGF reports on their twitter account (@rapgodfather) that they are looking for "for more offshore hosting to support RapGodFathers."

If the facts are as reported, there are a number of troubling issues about this, not the least of which is why US Customs troubles itself with link-sharing sites in Dallas, far from any US borders."

Link to Original Source
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Robots in space

mbone mbone writes  |  more than 3 years ago

mbone (558574) writes "The crew for this Wednesday's Space Shuttle launch includes a robot bound for the ISS — Robonaut 2, or R2, "the first dexterous humanoid robot in space." For now, it will be deployed on a fixed pedestal inside the station, but the plans include giving it mobility (not that hard in micro-gravity) and taking it outside to help with space walks. Now, the New York Times has an article about "Project M," sending a humanoid robot to the Moon — which at least has its own NASA promotional video.

Is our form really the best there is for space exploration ? Should our robotic explorers look like us, or like the Mars Rovers ?"

Link to Original Source
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Hands on Airport Searches

mbone mbone writes  |  more than 3 years ago

mbone (558574) writes "As it happens I was talking to a TSA person socially today and they brought up their new "aggressive" policy for pat down searches. Now I see it has made the Boston Herald. It will be done for any secondary screening, or if you opt out of the X-ray machines.

They are supposed to feel under a woman's breast and under a man's genitals, and also to feel the separation in a woman's genitals, and likewise into one's bottom. They are apparently not very happy about having to do this, but have been trained on the new technique and will be given performance review demerits if they don't perform properly. (Maybe the TSA will send ringers through security to evaluate performance, I didn't think to ask.)

I have to wonder if it is to convince people to go through the backscatter X-rays now that it is becoming widely known that you can opt out of that. I have a feeling that this will cause a major push-back from the traveling public."

Link to Original Source
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20 meter tsunami in New York after asteroid hit

mbone mbone writes  |  more than 3 years ago

mbone (558574) writes "According to an article in LiveScience, an 200 meter diameter asteroid impact in the Atlantic 2300 years ago may have caused a 20 m (60ft) high tsunami to hit what's now NYC. They have found 30 cm of disturbed sediments in the NYC area with shocked minerals, which is generally regarded as conclusive evidence for a meteor impact. They go on to speculate that 'One possible reason why Indian tribes only moved into the area relatively recently is that the people who were once there were all wiped out'. Of course, it would not be a pretty picture if this were repeated in the same area today."
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In Court ? Be careful what you post on Facebook.

mbone mbone writes  |  more than 3 years ago

mbone (558574) writes "Going to Court ? Seeking damages for injuries ? Be careful what you post on Facebook (and, presumably, elsewhere). ! In the first case of its kind (analyzed in the Courtroom strategy blog, a Suffolk County NY Judge allowed a defendant in a personal injury lawsuit to obtain access to the Facebook profile of the plaintiff suing them, saying "Plaintiff has no legitimate reasonable expectation of privacy." You have been warned. I am not a lawyer, and this is not legal advice, but I would expect this to become common."
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Facebook has issues, goes down for some users

mbone mbone writes  |  more than 3 years ago

mbone (558574) writes "Apparently Facebook is having issues, and is intermittently and maybe regionally down. The Wall Street Journal DIgits blogs says that they are having “an issue with a third-party network provider." but it may be more than that. From Northern Virginia, it is possible to pingFacebook servers, but the server throws a "500 Internal Server Error" if you try and conect via http."
Link to Original Source
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Google is testing Airborne Camera Drones

mbone mbone writes  |  more than 3 years ago

mbone (558574) writes "According to the German language site WirtschaftsWoche (an English version is available from the IBTimes) Google has purchased a German "Microdrone" for evaluation. These devices can take off, fly a mission and land automatically using GPS, and can carry night vision cameras or even "see through walls" Far IR cameras. Of course, the maker of these drone assures us that they cannot be a "Big Brother der Lufte" because that is "verboten."

Is it just me, or is Google entering into dangerous airspace here ? It seems like the ruckus from a backyard-after-dark addition to Street View could make the legal tussles Google has already encountered with the driving vans seem minor by comparison."

Link to Original Source
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NIAC is Back !

mbone mbone writes  |  about 4 years ago

mbone (558574) writes "Do you have an idea on how to do space travel right ? Think it could pass peer review ? Well, the NIAC (NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts Program) is back ! In a two day "Industry Forum," the new NASA Chief Technologist, Bobby Braun, described an ambitious new program of NASA initiatives to encourage new thinking and new ideas, including funding for "Game Changing Technologies, and the new NIAC. These new initiatives are explicitly modeled on DARPA, and are an attempt to "push the reset button" on an increasingly hide-bound bureaucracy. I attended the forum, and the reaction from non-NASA participants I talked to was overwhelmingly positive. They also announced 3 new Centennial Challenges. The Centennial Challenges are an X-Prize like program with a total of $ 5 million in new awards, for a successful nanosatellite launch system, an solar-powered electric vehicle capable of night-time operations, and a sample-return robot capable of autonomously retrieving geological samples.

In many ways, NIAC is the most interesting of the new initiatives, as it is specifically intended to deal with blue-sky, just this side of science fiction ideas with a 10+ year development horizon. Selected ideas will get $ 100K for the first year, and can ramp up after that (up to and including flights into space). Space elevators, nuclear propulsion, truly autonomous robots, even things like the search for alien life in the deep biosphere, could be funded if they seem interesting and pass review. (The previous NIAC provided the first serious funding for the space elevator, for example.) Jay Falker, the Program Manager, made it clear that they were not looking for just proposals from established names and big companies, but would welcome participation from all (although only US citizens or companies can get funding). So, there you go slashdotters ! If you have an idea, the technical savvy to back it up, and can wait for the announcement of opportunity (thought to be around October 1), then you have a chance at getting NASA funding to back it up."

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Hayabusa returns particles from asteroid

mbone mbone writes  |  about 4 years ago

mbone (558574) writes "Slashdot readers may remember the long odyssey of the Japanese Hayabusa spacecraft — and the recent Slashdot article entitled "No Samples On Japan's Hayabusa Asteroid Probe."

Well, the BBC now has a story, "Hayabusa capsule particles may be from asteroid." Apparently JAXA (the Japanese Space Agency) has opened the sample container returned to Earth by Hayabusa, and has released "images of tiny dust particles inside the container."

You will note that I titled this story carefully — Hayabusa has now returned particles from the asteroid. Whether they are asteroid particles or pieces of dust brought all the way from Earth remains to be seen, but they were certainly returned from the asteroid — a remarkable technical feat. This announcement, I think, gives considerable hope that these particles are from the near-Earth asteroid, Itokawa, as the Japanese have been very careful in trying to avoid contamination. Even a tiny speck of dust would be very revealing about the asteroid's constitution and possibly its history as well. Kudos to JAXA for a job well done."

Link to Original Source
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Federal Authorities Shut Down 7 Movie Sharing Webs

mbone mbone writes  |  more than 4 years ago

mbone (558574) writes "There is an article in NJ Today on a announcement by the United States Attorney and Homeland Security about the seizure of the domain names of seven sites: TVSHACK.NET, MOVIES-LINKS.TV, FILESPUMP.COM, NOW-MOVIES.COM, PLANETMOVIEZ.COM, THEPIRATECITY.ORG, and ZML.COM, for violations of federal criminal copyright infringement laws. The announcement said that these high volume web sites offered copies of movies such as “The Karate Kid,” “Toy Story 3 and “Sex and The City 2.” ZML.COM, is a “cyberlocker,” the latest target for the MPAA's ire.

Search warrants were also executed on the servers involved with these sites.

So, was this an out and out criminal enterprise, or a bunch of hobbyists ? Or something in between ? I bet the slashdot audience knows."

Link to Original Source
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Jupiter is missing a belt

mbone mbone writes  |  more than 4 years ago

mbone (558574) writes "Jupiter just went through Superior Conjunction (i.e., went behind the Sun as seen from the Earth), so it has been out of view for a while. Now that has returned, it is different — the South Equatorial Belt (SEB) is missing. The SEB has about 10 times the surface area of the Earth, so this is not a small change. Here are a series of photos of Jupiter's new look. The Jupiter Red Spot typically inhabits the southern border of the SEB, but it doesn't seem to be affected by the change. It's a pity that this happened at Superior Conjunction, and that there is no satellite in Jupiter orbit, so details of the change are largely missing.

The SEB has previously gone missing in 1973 and 1990. Since no one really knows what makes the Jovian belts, no one knows why they disappear either. If the belts are really just material from deeper layers coming to the surface, it is possible that the convection has stopped for some reason, or that high altitude clouds have covered it over."

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