rueger writes "At various times during the day I need a quick break from serious work. Browsing the 'net is not a good choice because it invariably winds up consuming an hour on places like Slashdot, so right now that means my break is a game of Solitaire. Loads in seconds, takes maybe a minute to play, then back to stuff that matters. I'm wondering what other goodies could fill that role — maybe games, maybe something that actually leads to knowledge, skills, or a measurable output? Think of it as an on-screen micro-hobby. Any Ideas?"
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First time accepted submitter Rawlsian writes "Great Falls, Montana, television station KRTC issued a denial of an Emergency Alert System report that 'dead bodies are rising from their graves.' The denial surmises that 'someone apparently hacked into the Emergency Alert System...This message did not originate from KRTV, and there is no emergency.'"
skade88 writes "Pepsi will release on Feb 28th a new breakfast Mountain Dew. The new drink called Kick Start is Mountain Dew mixed with fruit juice. It will come in two flavors, Citrus and Fruit Punch. 'Our consumers told us they are looking for an alternative to traditional morning beverages – one that tastes great, includes real fruit juice and has just the right amount of kick to help them start their days,' said Greg Lyons, Mountain Dew's vice president of marketing."
ianare writes "A propaganda video from the North Korean authorities has been removed from YouTube following a copyright claim by games maker Activision. It shows a space craft flying around the world and eventually over a city resembling New York. The buildings are then seen crumbling amid fires and missile attacks. However, the dramatic images (video) were soon recognized as having been lifted from Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3. By Tuesday, the video had been blocked, with a message notifying users of Activision's complaint shown in its place."
Reducing various items to a fine powder in one of his blenders earned Blendtec CEO Tom Dickson a cult following. One of, if not the greatest viral marketing campaigns of all time, the "Will It Blend?" series has been watched almost 221,000,000 times on YouTube. In addition to receiving many marketing awards, Tom and his blenders have been featured on The Tonight Show and the History Channel series Modern Marvels. He has agreed to take a break from pureeing household objects and answer your questions. As usual, you're invited to ask as many questions as you'd like, but please divide them, one question per post.
itwbennett writes "Here's a bright spot in Beijing's off-the-chart bad air pollution: The market for mobile apps that monitor air quality is thriving. 'When the pollution went beyond the air quality index, all the social networks in China and media began paying attention to the problem,' said Wang Jun, one of the developers of the China Air Pollution Index app. 'This caused the downloads to increase 30 times.'" Obviously a Spaceballs fan, a Chinese man is even selling fresh air in cans.
kkleiner writes "No longer will they say, 'He's going to end up flipping burgers.' Now, robots are taking even these ignobly esteemed jobs. San Francisco based Momentum Machines makes a robot called the Alpha that can churn out 360 gourmet burgers per hour. The company plans on launching the first ever burger restaurant chain with a cook staff made entirely of robots. You think Americans are obese right now? Just wait."
Kittenman writes "Rick Champagne, a 56-year-old company owner from Arizona has bought the original Batmobile (dating back to Burt Ward and the '60s) for $4.2 million. He's quoted as saying it 'was a dream come true.' From the article: 'The Batmobile design was based on a 1955 Lincoln Futura, a concept car built in Italy by the Ford Motor Company. It was the first time that car had come up for public sale since it was bought in 1965 by car-customiser George Barris, who transformed it in 15 days, at the cost of $15,000 (£9,400), into the superhero's famous vehicle.'"
It appears that it isn't just fans who took notice of the failed White House petition to build a Death Star. Star Wars Blog has an official response from the Galactic Empire which reads in part: "IMPERIAL CENTER, CORUSCANT – The overwhelming military superiority of the Galactic Empire has been confirmed once again by the recent announcement by the President of the United States that his nation would not attempt to build a Death Star, despite the bellicose demands of the people of his tiny, aggressive planet. 'It is doubtless that such a technological terror in the hands of so primitive a world would be used to upset the peace and sanctity of the citizens of the Galactic Empire,' said Governor Wilhuff Tarkin of the Outer Rim Territories. 'Such destructive power can only be wielded to protect and defend by so enlightened a leader as Emperor Palpatine.'”
SchrodingerZ writes "The Viktor Rydberg school in Stockholm, Sweden, has announced that they have included Minecraft into the curriculum for their 13-year-old students. The program is not meant to teach children about math or language, but rather as a tool to inspire creativity in the classroom. 'They learn about city planning, environmental issues, getting things done, and even how to plan for the future,' Viktor Rydberg teacher Monica Ekman told English-language newspaper The Local. 'It's not any different from arts or woodcraft,' she added."
Hugh Pickens writes "A burglar gets stuck in a chimney, a truck driver in a head on collision is thrown out the front window and lands on his feet, walks away; a wild antelope knocks a man off his bike; a candle at a wedding sets the bride's hair on fire; someone fishing off a backyard dock catches a huge man-size shark. Now Kevin Kelly writes that in former times these unlikely events would be private, known only as rumors, stories a friend of a friend told, easily doubted and not really believed but today they are on YouTube, seen by millions. 'Every minute a new impossible thing is uploaded to the internet and that improbable event becomes just one of hundreds of extraordinary events that we'll see or hear about today,' writes Kelly. 'As long as we are online — which is almost all day many days — we are illuminated by this compressed extraordinariness. It is the new normal.' But when the improbable dominates the archive to the point that it seems as if the library contains only the impossible, then the 'black swans' don't feel as improbable. 'To the uninformed, the increased prevalence of improbable events will make it easier to believe in impossible things,' concludes Kelly. 'A steady diet of coincidences makes it easy to believe they are more than just coincidences.'"
You may soon have another option to lose weight other than dieting and exercise thanks to Dean Kamen. The inventor has designed a pump that can suck the cheeseburgers out of your stomach and replace it with water. From the article: "The pump was invented by Dean Kamen, the same man who brought you the Segway, and perhaps more fittingly, a breakthrough dialysis machine. This pump works by routing a tube directly into the user's stomach and then sucking out some of the gooey, masticated goodness. The user then squeezes a little plastic bag to replace that volume of stomach-stew with water. Sounds great, right? There are some catches though. It hasn't been approved by the FDA yet, and some of the users in the tests had problems with certain foods like 'cauliflower, broccoli, Chinese food, stir fry, snow peas, pretzels, chips, and steak.' Oh, also there's a tube going into your stomach that you use to pump unpuked vomit into the toilet. Participants in trial studies did manage to lose about half of their excess weight this way, around 45 pounds on average, so apparently it works."
hypnosec writes "Anonymous has filed a petition with the U.S. Government asking the Obama administration to make Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks a legal form of protest. Anonymous has argued that because of advancements in internet technology, there is a need for new ways of protest. The hacking collective doesn't consider DDoS as a form of attack and equates it to hitting the 'refresh' button on a webpage. Comparing these attacks to the 'occupy' protests, Anonymous notes that instead of people occupying an area, it is their computers occupying a website for a particular period of time."
New submitter snooz_crash writes "An Ex-CIA analyst requests your assistance in IDing a base that he has been observing for quite a while. The base has been in existence for several years, but its shape and location do not lead to an immediate answer to the riddle of 'what the heck is it?'"
angry tapir writes "Zynga's Mark Pincus made the annual 'Worst CEOs' list compiled by Dartmouth College professor Sydney Finkelstein. Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook and Andrew Mason of Groupon received dishonorable mentions. Zuckerberg earned his dishonorable mention on the list partly due to his 'hoodie mentality.'"
Google85 writes "Dacor is exhibiting an oven that runs Android at CES 2013: it pulls together a 1GHz processor, 512MB of DDR2 RAM and Android 4.0.3. It also cooks food. At the front of the Discovery Wall Oven, there's a 7-inch LCD touch panel. From the article: '...The oven-maker's Discovery IQ controller cooking app will offer up interactive cooking guides, recipes and all other things cooking, although you'll still be able to install more standard apps from Google Play. The built-in cooking app offers preprogrammed dishes and adjustable timings for several dishes, while you can even program the oven to cook food remotely from any Android device.'"
Orome1 writes "When imagining law enforcement officers investigating and searching for cyber criminals or evidence about their activities, the last thing that you can probably envision is them searching for a stray cat. But that was exactly what detectives of Japan's National Police Agency recently did as the last step in a complex 'treasure hunt' started on New Year's Day by a person (persons?) who is allegedly the mastermind behind the so-called 'Remote Control Virus.' The malware in question was instrumental in staging a continuous campaign of death and bomb threats sent to airline companies, kindergartens, schools, law offices, broadcasting networks and shrines."
An anonymous reader writes "An irritated father of a 23-year-old gamer hired 'In-game assassins' to attempt to make his son quit playing video games and have him get a job. 'Feng's idea was that his son would get bored of playing games if he was killed every time he logged on, and that he would start putting more effort into getting a job.' While the son recently had a job at a software development company he quit because he decided he didn't like the work."
linuxwrangler writes "Two teens are behind bars after hatching a plan that involved drugging milkshakes they gave to the parents of one of the kids. The parents were suspicious after waking groggy the next day, and used a home drug-test on one of the remaining drinks. The teens came up with the plan in order to avoid their 10pm Internet curfew."
A growing number of colleges are providing graduating students tools to improve their online image. The services arrange for positive results on search engine inquiries by pushing your party pictures, and other snapshots of your lapsed judgement off the first page. Syracuse, Rochester and Johns Hopkins are among the schools that are offering such services free of charge. From the article: "Samantha Grossman wasn't always thrilled with the impression that emerged when people Googled her name. 'It wasn't anything too horrible,' she said. 'I just have a common name. There would be pictures, college partying pictures, that weren't of me, things I wouldn't want associated with me.' So before she graduated from Syracuse University last spring, the school provided her with a tool that allowed her to put her best Web foot forward. Now when people Google her, they go straight to a positive image — professional photo, cum laude degree and credentials — that she credits with helping her land a digital advertising job in New York."
skade88 writes "What does the Slashdot community do to celebrate New Years Eve? Does your city do something cool and unique to celebrate? Do you celebrate with fireworks in front of your house, or in your favorite MMO (WoW, Minecraft, etc.)?"
An anonymous reader writes "It's after Christmas, so what do you do with your Christmas tree? Turn it into a missile, of course! From the creators of 'Christmas Tree Rocketry: The Art and Science of Holiday Recycling' (video) comes a new epic: the flight of the XMS MissileToe."
dotarray writes "One Colorado family received more than they'd bargained for this Christmas when they gave five-year-old Braydon Giles a pre-owned Nintendo 3DS that apparently still contained 'graphic images' from a previous owner. From the article: 'Refurbishing is an art, as well as a craft. The whole point is to make a gadget feel pristine, even when it used to be owned by a cult leader, a scout leader or an exhibitionist. Sadly, someone in a Colorado GameStop stopped refurbishing before the job was complete. So much so that 5-year-old Braydon Giles opened his Xmas gift — a Nintendo 3DS — and discovered images of naked people doing less than pristine things. As Channel 9 News tells it, Braydon showed the 3DS to his brother Bryton. He wanted his help to remove these weird pictures. '"
They are capable of delicate surgery, creating beautiful works of art, and comforting someone feeling down, but according to a new study your hands evolved to smash someone in the face. From the article: "Human hands evolved so that men could make fists and fight, and not just for manual dexterity, new research finds. The study, published in the Journal of Experimental Biology, adds to a growing body of evidence that humans are among the most aggressive and violent animals on the planet. 'With the notable exception of bonobos, great apes are a relatively aggressive group of mammals,' lead author David Carrier told Discovery News. 'Although some primatologists may argue that chimpanzees are the most aggressive apes, I think the evidence suggests that humans are substantially more violent.''"
coondoggie writes "Boeing calls it Project SPUDS — or rather, Synthetic Personnel Using Dielectric Substitution — that is, using sacks of potatoes perched on aircraft seats to test the effectiveness of wireless signals in an airliner cabin. Boeing said it was researching an advanced way to test wireless signals in airplanes and needed a way to effectively simulate 200-300 people sitting in seats throughout the aircraft."
coondoggie writes "Insidious unknown planets lurking behind the sun ready to slam into Earth, supernova set to engulf the planet and giant, unseen asteroids screaming toward our globe are all theories espoused across the Internet as to how we will meet our demise on 12/21/2012. Do any of these theories even remotely hold out a scintilla of evidence they could happen? Not even remotely if you look at the material NASA has put out which pretty much debunks any and all of the notions being floated in across the cybersphere."
An anonymous reader writes "While fossils have long shown that limbs evolved from fins, scientists have shown live in the laboratory how the transition may have happened. Researchers said that the new study published in the journal Developmental Cell offers evidence revealing that the development of hands and feet occurred through the acquisition of new DNA elements capable of activating specific genes."
EdIII writes "The White House petition to secure funding for building the Death Star has garnered over 25,000 signatures, which means the White House must officially respond. I can't wait to see it. My question to Slashdot readers: what modifications would you add to the proposed Death Star? Obviously, as one journalist put it, 'guardrails around any of the facility's seemingly endless number of bridges, spans, shafts and pits.' What other changes would you ask your representatives to make?"
brindafella writes "Australian Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, recorded a spoof speech about the Mayan calendar apocalypse several days ago, for radio station "Triple J". Gillard said in part, 'Whether the final blow comes from flesh eating zombies, demonic hell beasts or from the total triumph of K-pop, if you know one thing about me it is this: I will always fight for you to the very end.' The speech has been picked up in China on Sina Weibo (China's Twitter) and has achieved well over 23,000 repeats, without anyone picking up the irony." This comes on the heels of the online version of China's Communist Party newspaper picking up an Onion story about North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un being named the "Sexiest Man Alive."
Census numbers show that 176,632 people in England and Wales ask themselves, "What would Yoda do?" Although the number of people who list their religion as "Jedi" has dropped by more than 50% in the past 10 years, It remains the most popular "alternative" faith in England. From the article: "The new figures reveal that the lightsabre-wielding disciples are only behind Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Sikhism, Judaism and Buddhism in the popularity stakes, excluding non-religious people and people who did not answer."
Press2ToContinue writes "Scientists have found a relatively straightforward way to persuade the cells discarded in human urine to turn into valuable neurons. The technique, described online in a study in Nature Methods this week (abstract), does not involve embryonic stem cells. These come with serious drawbacks when transplanted, such as the risk of developing tumors. Instead, the method uses ordinary cells present in urine, and transforms them into neural progenitor cells — the precursors of brain cells. Researchers routinely reprogram cultured skin and blood cells into induced pluripotent stem cells, which can go on to form any cell in the body. But urine is a much more accessible source."
Having the ability to create a 20 liter cloud of slime and tie themselves in knots, hagfish have always been one of my favorite deep-sea denizens. Being a living slime dispenser has not won the species many fans however, with the notable exceptions of Mike Rowe and Dr. Egon Spengler. All that is about to change thanks to the work of a research team at Canada’s University of Guelph. They've found that hagfish slime might be used to make new plastics and even super-strong fabrics. From the article: "A research team at Canada’s University of Guelph managed to harvest the slime from the fish, dissolve it in liquid, and then reassemble its structure by spinning it like silk. It’s an important first step in being able to process the hagfish slime into a useable material, according to Atsuko Negishi, a research assistant and lead author on the paper in this week’s journal Biomacromolecules. 'We’re trying to understand how they make these threads and how we can learn from that to make protein-based fibers that have excellent mechanical properties,' Negishi said. 'The first step is can we harvest the threads. It turns out that is doable.'"
The Maine lobster population is booming, but it turns out that's bad news if you're a little lobster: "'We've got the lobsters feeding back on themselves just because they're so abundant,' said Richard Wahle, a marine sciences professor at the University of Maine, who is supervising the research. 'It's never been observed just out in the open like this,' he said." Abundance caused by populations of their predators collapsing.
Zothecula writes "One of life's less pleasant surprises is discovering the chocolate bar that you forgot you had in your pocket on a hot day. Two scientists working at Cadbury's research and development plant in Bourneville, U.K., are fighting that gooey surprise with the invention of chocolate that remains solid even when exposed to temperatures of 40 C (104 F) for more than three hours. Aimed at tropical markets, the 'temperature tolerant chocolate' is described in a World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) patent application."
An anonymous reader writes "The Boring 2012 Conference, the celebration of unexciting things served with dry British humor, now belongs to the wastepaper basket of history. Correspondents at the third annual London conference report that speakers covered a range of such dull topics as supermarket self-service checkouts; a photographic survey of results produced by breakfast toasters; a web site tracking the physical heights of celebrities; and the use of Google Maps to the chart the location of IBM cash registers around London." Funny thing is, the talks described actually sound fascinating.
eldavojohn writes "NPR pointed out a press release claiming that North Korean archaeologists have found a 'unicorn lair' in Pyongyang. The members of the History Institute of the DPRK Academy of Social Sciences have "reconfirmed" that this site was used for King Tongmyong's unicorn where the unicorn would concoct his unicorn schemes and do his unicorn things if anyone ventured too closely. The last line is, perhaps, the most important line of the article, 'The discovery of the unicorn lair, associated with legend about King Tongmyong, proves that Pyongyang was a capital city of Ancient Korea as well as Koguryo Kingdom.' Fear not that North Korea is surpassing the world in cryptozoology, Dr. Melba S. Ketchum of Nacogdoches, TX has claimed to have recently sequenced Bigfoot's DNA and he's part human."
slashchuck writes "Niels Bohr is one of the greatest scientists who ever lived and a favorite of his fellow Danes when he lived in Copenhagen. Apparently, after he won the Nobel Prize in 1922, the Carlsberg brewery gave him a gift – a house located next to the brewery. And the best perk of the house? It had a direct pipeline to the brewery so that Bohr had free beer on tap whenever he wanted."
eldavojohn writes "Art critic and University Professor of Humanities and Media Studies at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia Camille Paglia has written a book that not only claims George Lucas is the 'World's Greatest Living Artist' but also that 'Revenge of the Sith' is our generation's greatest work of art. That's right: Titian, Bernini, Monet, Picasso, Jackson Pollock and ... George Lucas. If you thought you understood art but you hated Episode III, it might be difficult to understand how her book 'Glittering Images: A Journey Through Art from Egypt to Star Wars' ends with 'Revenge of the Sith.' There is a possibility that the art world remembers this generation by examining that movie."
concealment writes "Coleman, an anthropologist who teaches at McGill University, spent three years studying the community that builds the Debian GNU/Linux open source operating system and hackers in the Bay Area. More recently, she's been peeling away the onion that is the Anonymous movement, a group that hacks as a means of protest — and mischief. When she moved to San Francisco, she volunteered with the Electronic Frontier Foundation — she believed, correctly, that having an eff.org address would make people more willing to talk to her — and started making the scene. She talked free software over Chinese food at the Bay Area Linux User Group's monthly meetings upstairs at San Francisco's Four Seas Restaurant. She marched with geeks demanding the release of Adobe eBooks hacker Dmitry Sklyarov. She learned the culture inside-out."
Too late for many east-coast Americans, but perhaps in time to stop a blaze or two in California, an anonymous reader writes with this video of "a controlled demonstration of why it is a bad idea to fry a frozen turkey." My brother this morning assembled (despite poor directions and questionable parts fit) a deep fryer for a Thanksgiving turkey; we're optimistic, and the turkey seems to be fully thawed at least.
theodp writes "In what would be akin to General Petraeus pledging fidelity to his wife from the Gmail account he shared with his lover, Oprah has professed her endless love for the Microsoft Surface from an iPad. Microsoft's Surface tablet is one of Oprah's 'Favorite Things' of 2012, but an eagle-eyed observer at ZAPP noticed that a tweet from Oprah last night ('Gotta say love that SURFACE! Have bought 12 already for Christmas gifts.') apparently originated from Twitter for iPad. Betcha Steve Ballmer has a shiny new Surface for the Oprah staffer or intern who fesses up to Tweeting on her boss's behalf!"
garymortimer writes "Photos provided by the animal rights group show the multicopter smoking on the ground, with its lithium polymer battery supply smoldering. Another photo shows the drone's video camera smashed. The drone, dubbed 'Angel,' was a Cinestar 8 octocopter estimated at $4,000. This wasn't the first time SHARK has been shot out of the sky. This is the fourth drone that the group has lost while investigating pigeon shootings. One drone landed on club property, and is the subject of an ongoing lawsuit."
mikejuk writes "GIF started out as a humble acronym 25 years ago, entered common parlance as the format used for web graphics and now achieves fame as a verb by becoming Oxford Dictionaries USA Word of the Year 2012. GIF as a noun has always been an all-capital letter noun. Becoming a verb has caused problems concerning the use of capital and lower case letters. The common form is to keep the noun in caps and add the verbal endings in lower case — as in GIFed,GIFing), However, an all lower-case spelling with the f duplicated (giffed, giffing) is also being used."
PolygamousRanchKid writes "Forget texting while driving. German police say they nabbed a driver who had wired his Ford station wagon with an entire mobile office. Saarland state police said Friday the 35-year-old man was pulled over for doing 130 kph (80 mph) in a 100 kph zone while passing a truck Monday. Built on a wooden frame on his passenger seat they found a laptop on a docking station tilted for easy driver access, a printer, router, wireless internet stick, WLAN antenna, and an inverter to power it all." I've driven some long trips with a similar passenger-seat setup (minus the printer), but of course for use only while stopped. Since the police in this case had no evidence that the rig was being used while driving, the driver was ticketed only for speeding and for having unsecured items. Really, it seems like something that Skymall should offer in neater form; now I regret not picking up a surplus police cruiser computer when they were in stock at the local Goodwill.
another random user writes with bad news from the BBC for anybody who enjoys a hamburger now and again: "Meat-eaters 'easily cheat, lie, forget promises and commit sex crimes,' according to a controversial school textbook available in India. New Healthway, a book on hygiene and health aimed at 11 and 12 year-olds, is printed by one of India's leading publishers. 'This is poisonous for children,' Janaki Rajan of the Faculty of Education at Jamia Millia University in Delhi told the BBC. 'The government has the power to take action, but they are washing their hands of it,' she said. 'The strongest argument that meat is not essential food is the fact that the Creator of this Universe did not include meat in the original diet for Adam and Eve. He gave them fruits, nuts and vegetables,' reads a chapter entitled Do We Need Flesh Food? The chapter details the 'benefits' of a vegetarian diet and goes on to list 'some of the characteristics' found among non-vegetarians. 'They easily cheat, tell lies, forget promises, they are dishonest and tell bad words, steal, fight and turn to violence and commit sex crimes,' it says."
RenderSeven writes "In a press release issued today, baker Hostess Brands asked a bankruptcy court for permission to close all of its plants and sell off their assets, immediately laying off 18,500 workers. Citing high labor and rising health care costs, increasing competition and growing consumer awareness of healthy foods, Hostess says it can no longer operate without union concessions. A crippling strike has already shut down operations at all facilities, and while the Teamsters Union has ratified a new contract to keep Hostess in business, the Bakers Union has refused saying they would rather see the company closed than accept pension cuts. The Teamsters union is urging the bakers union to hold a secret ballot on whether to continue striking; citing its financial experts who had access to the company's books, the Teamsters say that Hostess' warning of liquidation is 'not an empty threat or a negotiating tactic' but a certain outcome if workers keep striking. If your late-night programming is fueled by Twinkies, Ding Dongs and Zingers, better stock up now." [Editor's note: A whole bunch of users submitted this news. I worry about our readership's cholesterol levels.]
concealment writes "In addition to potentially keeping Google's search and email programs from overheating, the pond also has become home to plenty of algae, which meant Google had to stock it with fish. And since this is the Lowcountry, the food chain didn't stop there. 'So we now have a 4-foot alligator that has taken up residence in our pond as well,' Kava said, clearly amused. He added that government experts have said it'll have to be removed once it grows to six feet long."
concealment writes "most of Apple's products are so popular that it seems everything the company does is destined to succeed. But it doesn't take much digging to find a trail of failures and false starts. Even in recent years, there are examples of products that seemed great but never resonated with consumers, and some that seemed so destined for failure it's hard to imagine why any company would have brought them to market. Here are some examples of Apple veering a bit off course."
stevegee58 writes "The Mitt Romney presidential campaign accidentally launched a transition website the day after the election. Sporting a 'President Elect' seal and a catchy new tagline ('Smaller, Simpler, Smarter') , the site was up briefly before the gaffe was discovered and the site taken down. Fortunately an alert blogger, Taegan Goddard, found the errant site and published some screen shots."