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Buzz Aldrin Publishes Moon Expenses Form 100

An anonymous reader writes: Proving once again that the government has a form for everything, Buzz Aldrin has unveiled his Apollo 11 documentation on social media over the past few days, including a travel voucher detailing his expenses on his trip to the moon. The papers listed him as having been on a "work trip" from his home in Houston, Texas that had taken him to the moon and then back again with a total expenses claim of just $33.31. The report notes : "Government meals and quarters [were] furnished for all of the above dates."
Social Networks

Girls Catfish ISIS On Social Media For Travel Money 238

MarkWhittington writes: Yahoo Travel reported that three women in Chechnya took ISIS for $3,300 before getting caught. They are now under investigation for Internet fraud, which seems to be illegal even when committed against the most fearsome terrorist army in modern times. The scam seems to be a combination of the Nigerian Prince con, in which a mark is fooled into giving the con artist large sums of money and catfishing, in which the mark strikes up an online romance with someone he thinks is an attractive woman (or man depending on the gender and preference of the mark.)

San Francisco's Public Works Agency Tests Paint That Repels Urine 210

monkeyzoo writes: San Francisco is testing an ultra-water-repellant paint on wallls in areas fraught with public urination problems. The paint is designed to repel the urine and soil the offender's pants. "It's supposed to, when people urinate, bounce back and hit them on the pants and get them wet. Hopefully that will discourage them. We will put a sign to give them a heads up," said Mohammad Nuru, director of the San Francisco public works. A Florida company named Ultra-Tech produces the super-hydrophobic oleophobic nano-coating that was also recently used with success on walls in Hamburg, Germany [video] to discourage public urination. Signs posted there warn, "Do not pee here! We pee back!"

The French Scrabble Champ Does Not Speak French 113

HughPickens.com writes: On July 20, Nigel Richards won the French-language world Scrabble championship. Richards does not speak a word of French. "He doesn't speak French at all, he just learnt the words," says Liz Fagerlund. "He won't know what they mean, wouldn't be able to carry out a conversation in French I wouldn't think." Richards reportedly memorized an entire French dictionary in the two months leading up to the competition. For living-room players, Scrabble is a test of vocabularies but for world-class players, it's about cold memorization and mathematical probabilities which is why top player are often computer programmers or mathematicians, not poets or novelists. Think of the dictionary as a giant rulebook of valid text strings not as a compendium of the beauty and complexity of the English language. A good competitive player will have memorized a sizeable chunk of the 83,667 words that are two letters to eight letters long. Great players will know a lot of the 29,150 nine-letter words as well.

To the uninitiated, a scrabble game played by top players looks like they had played in Martian. Here's a taste: In a single game in last year's Nationals, Richards played the following words: zarf (a metal holder for a coffee cup), waddy (to strike with a thick club), hulloed (to hallo, to shout), sajous (a capuchin, a monkey), qi (the vital force in Chinese thought), flyboats (a small, fast boat), trigo (wheat) and threaper (one that threaps, disputes). Richards has a photographic memory and is known for his uncanny gift for constructing impossible words by stringing his letters through tiles already on the board. "He is probably the best Scrabble player in the world at this point," says John D. Williams, Jr.. "He's got the entire dictionary memorized. He's pretty much a Scrabble machine, if such a thing exists." So, really, how does he do it? As Richards said in an interview posted on YouTube, "I'm not sure there is a secret. It's just a matter of learning the words." All 178,691 of them.

Skype Translate Reportedly Has a Swearing Problem In Chinese 82

An anonymous reader writes: Skype Translate was supposed to be Microsoft's attempt at the "Star Trek" universal translator, offering real-time voice and text translation. It launched with one of the most challenging of languages, Chinese. And apparently, thanks to the Great Firewall, it has its problems. An American expat using it in China reports: "A glitch in the beta software misinterpreted the words I spoke. 'It's nice to talk to you' was translated as 'It's f*cking nice to f*ck you,' and other synthesized profanity, like the icebox robot in 1970's sci-fi flick Logan's Run, but with Tourette Syndrome. It was quite funny to me - I couldn't help but laugh during repeated takes, to Yan's exasperation - but the tech team were none too happy about it as they worked late into the night."

Techies Hire Witch To Protect Computers From Viruses and Offices From Spirits 232

schwit1 writes: It may seem like your computer or smartphone is possessed by an evil spirit sometimes when a mysterious bug keeps causing an app to crash, but if you truly think your machine has been invaded by an evil spirit, there's someone who will take your call — Reverend Joey Talley. A Wiccan witch from the San Francisco Bay Area, Talley claims to solve supernatural issues for techies. Business Insider reports: "Talley’s website says she welcomes issues too unusual or dangerous to take the the straight world of Western helpers. But she also says no problem is too big or small, even, perhaps, your printer malfunctioning. However before you jump on the phone, you should be aware that Talley’s services do not come cheap. She charges $200 an hour (though a phone consultation is free)."

'Pluto Truthers' Are Pretty Sure That the NASA New Horizons Mission Was Faked Screenshot-sm 321

MarkWhittington writes: Forget about Apollo moon landing hoax theories. That is so 20th Century. Gizmodo reported that the "Pluto Truthers" have followed the astonishing images being sent back by NASA's New Horizons probe and have come to the conclusion that they are faked. After all, if the space agency could fake the entire moon landing, it would be child's play to fake a robotic probe to the edge of the Solar System.

Researchers Study "Harbingers of Failure," Consumers Who Habitually Pick Losers 300

AmiMoJo writes: Is your favorite TV show always getting cancelled? Did you love Crystal Pepsi? Were you an early adopter of the Zune? If you answered yes to these questions, researchers say you might be a "Harbinger of Failure." In a study published in the Journal of Marketing Research, researchers identified a group of consumers whose preferences can predict products that will fail. “Certain customers systematically purchase new products that prove unsuccessful,” wrote the study authors. “Their early adoption of a new product is a strong signal that a product will fail.”

Students Win Prize For Color-Changing Condoms That Detect STDs 171

New submitter PJ6 writes: Three students attending the Isaac Newton Academy in the UK won the Healthcare Category of the Teen Tech Awards, for their idea to use antibodies to create color-changing condoms to recognize STDs. They say the material, which is still in the concept stage, will turn green for chlamydia, yellow for herpes, purple for HPV, and blue for syphilis. The BBC reports: "The boys said they still have to test the science and feasibility of their idea. They want to work with a university on the science and say they've already been contacted by a condom company which is interested in working with them on developing the concept further."

Researchers Claim a Few Cat Videos Per Day Helps Keep the Doctor Away 59

bigwophh writes: A study published in the journal Computers in Human Behavior suggests that watching videos of cats may be good for your health. The study pinged nearly 7,000 people and asked them how viewing cat videos affected their moods. Of those surveyed, over a third (36 percent) described themselves as a "cat person" and nearly two-thirds (60 percent) said they have an affinity for both dogs and cats. Survey subjects noted less tendencies towards feeling anxious, sad, or annoyed after watching cat videos, including times when they viewed the videos while at work or trying to study. They also reported feeling more energetic and more positive afterwards. There may have been some guilt from putting off work or studying to watch Internet videos, but the amusement they got from seeing the antics of cats more than made up for it.

You'll Totally Believe Why These Startups Failed 151

Nerval's Lobster writes: If you ever wanted a glimpse into what dooms startups, look no further than autopsy.io, a website that lists the reasons why many newborn tech firms imploded. The website offers entrepreneurs the ability to self-explain why their startup didn't quite make it; in a bid to separate real-life stories from entertaining fictions, the application form asks for a link to a blog post or medium article "that tells the story of the failure," along with the founder(s) Twitter handle and Crunchbase or Angel.co profile. Some of the reasons listed for failure are maddeningly opaque, such as UniSport's "for a number of reasons" or PlayCafe's "we didn't reach enough users." Others are bleakly hilarious; as the founders of Zillionears, self-billed as a "creative pre-sale platform for musicians," confessed: "People really didn't really LIKE anything about our product." If you're thinking of launching your own company, or you work for a wet-behind-the-ears startup, it's worth scanning the list to see if any of these potential crises are brewing in your setup.

Indicted Ex-FIFA Executive Cites Onion Article In Rant Slamming US Screenshot-sm 194

schwit1 writes with news that former FIFA Vice President Jack Warner has evidently not heard of The Onion. In a video on his Facebook page, Warner holds up a printout of an Onion story titled “FIFA Frantically Announces 2015 Summer World Cup In United States” and says: “Then I look to see that Fifa has frantically announced, 2015, this year [...] the World Cup, beginning May 27. If FIFA is so bad, why is it that the USA wants to keep the Fifa World Cup?” The next World Cup is not due to be held until 2018 and there have been no games in the U.S.. Warner is facing extradition to the U.S. on corruption charges. Time further reports: Even Sunday wasn't easy, when Warner needed two attempts to get his message across by telling followers that the latest accusations against him stem largely from the U.S. being upset that it did not win the rights to host the 2022 World Cup — which went to Qatar. In an eight-minute Facebook video, which was quickly deleted after numerous news reports picked up on the gaffe, Warner held up a printout of a fictitious story from The Onion bearing the headline: "FIFA Frantically Announces 2015 Summer World Cup In United States." The fake story was published on Wednesday, hours after Warner was indicted in the U.S. and arrested and briefly jailed in Trinidad. Warner asked why the story was "two days before the FIFA election" when Sepp Blatter was re-elected as president.

Billboard Advertising Banned Products In Russia Hides If It Recognizes Cops 86

m.alessandrini writes: In response to a ban of food imported from the European Union, an Italian grocery in Russia hired an ad agency to create a billboard with a camera and facial recognition software, that's able to change to a different ad when it recognizes the uniform of Russian cops. Gizmodo reports: "With the aid of a camera and facial recognition software, the technology was slightly tweaked to instead recognize the official symbols and logos on the uniforms worn by Russian police. And as they approached the billboard featuring the advertisement for Don Giulio Salumeria’s imported Italian goods, it would automatically change to an ad for a Matryoshka doll shop instead."

Musical Organ Created From 49 Floppy Disk Drives 76

ErnieKey writes: A youth club in Germany, called Toolbox Bodensee, has created an unusual musical organ. It is constructed of 49 floppy disk drives all of which combine to play quite a unique sound. It has the ability to be played manually or act as a playback device. If you have a bunch of old floppy drives and want to assemble your own organ, the 3D print files are available for free download on Thingiverse.

Secret Files Reveal UK Police Feared That Trekkies Could Turn On Society 214

An anonymous reader writes: Scotland Yard was worried that fans of shows like the X Files and Star Trek might run amok during the Millennium according to secret files. The file, called UFO New Religious Movements (NRMs) And The Millennium, reveals that anti-terrorism experts were also concerned about the brain-washing effect of Dark Skies, Roswell, Millennium and The Lawnmower Man on viewers. According to the Telegraph: "The secret briefing note was obtained from the Met under the Freedom of Information Act by Sheffield-based British X-Files expert Dr Dave Clarke while researching a new book, How UFOs Conquered the World. Dr Clarke, who teaches investigative journalism at Sheffield Hallam University, said: 'The documents show the police and security services were concerned about the export of some new religious movements concerning UFOs and aliens from the USA in the aftermath of the mass suicide by followers of the Heaven's Gate.'"
The Almighty Buck

World's Rudest Robot Set To Simulate the Fury of Call Center Customers 150

An anonymous reader writes: A New Zealand-based company called Touchpoint Group has unveiled the world's angriest robot, which is designed to help train call center employees in the art of dealing with frustrated customers. The project, named Radiant, will involve one of Australia's biggest banks, which is providing researchers with recordings of real-life interactions with customers. Once finished Radiant will simulate hundreds of millions of angry customer interactions, helping companies better understand what triggers heated calls.

Sorority Files Lawsuit After Sacred Secrets Posted On Penny Arcade Forums 257

Limekiller42 writes: Lawyers for the Phi Sigma Sigma sorority have filed suit in Seattle's King County Superior Court against an unidentified person for "publicizing the sorority's secret handshake, robe colors and other practices." The well-written article is by Levi Pulkkinen of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and states that the sorority is seeking a restraining order and financial compensation for damages.

17-Year-Old Radio Astronomy Mystery Traced Back To Kitchen Microwave 227

New submitter Bo'Bob'O writes: The BBC reports that the scientists at the Parkes and Bleien Radio Observatories in New South Wales, Australia, have tracked down earth-based signals that had been eluding observation for 17 years. These signals, which came to be called Perytons "occurred only during office hours and predominantly on weekdays." The source, as it turned out, was located right inside the antenna's tower where impatient scientists had been opening the kitchen microwave door before its cycle had finished. As the linked paper concludes, this, and a worn magnetron caused a condition that allowed the microwaves to emit a burst of frequencies not expected by the scientists, only compounding the original mystery.

Woman Alerts Police of Hostage Situation Through Pizza Hut App Screenshot-sm 105

mpicpp writes with this ABC News story about how a Pizza Hut app may have saved a woman's life. "A Florida mother held hostage by her boyfriend used the Pizza Hut app to notify police she needed help, authorities said. Cheryl Treadway, 25, was allegedly being held at knife point in her home by Ethan Nickerson, 26, in Avon Park on Monday, the Highlands County Sheriff's Office told ABC News today. 'She was held hostage by him all day,' Public Information Officer Nell Hays said. Nickerson took away Treadway's phone, police said, but she was eventually able to persuade him to let her order a pizza using her Pizza Hut app. 'She told him, "The kids are hungry. Let's order a pizza. Let's get them some food,"' Hays said, noting that's when Treadway was able to sneak in a written message through the delivery. Along with her order of a small, classic pepperoni pizza, she wrote: 'Please help. Get 911 to me,' according to police. She also wrote: '911hostage help!'"