NYTimes | Peer Steinbrück Stumbles in Effort to Unseat Angela Merkel in Germany

December 30 11:42 PM | By NICHOLAS KULISH | Germany
The Social Democrats’ candidate for chancellor, Peer Steinbrück, finds himself facing questions about speaking fees and a comment that Angela Merkel has the advantage of a “women’s bonus.”

xkcd | Resolution

December 30 11:24 PM
If at first you don't succeed, that's one data point.

The Register | China turns the screws on netizens with real-name registration plans

December 30 11:05 PM

Want internet access? Just sign here please…

Any hopes that the recent change in Communist Party leadership would signal a relaxing of online restrictions in China appear to have been dashed after state media revealed plans for the roll-out of real-name registration for all internet users.…

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December 30 10:24 PM

The Register | Build a BONKERS test lab: Everything you need before you deploy

December 30 10:03 PM

Trevor Pott reveals his server room's crash-test dummies

Part one Every systems administrator needs a test lab and over the course of the next month I am going to share with you the details of my latest.…

NYTimes | Japan’s New Premier Backs More Nuclear Plants

December 30 9:49 PM | By HIROKO TABUCHI | Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant (Japan)
Shinzo Abe, the newly elected prime minister, said Sunday that he would seek to build nuclear reactors, reversing a campaign pledge to move Japan away from nuclear power.

Slashdot | Origin of Neil Armstrong's 'One Small Step' Line Revealed

December 30 9:24 PM
SchrodingerZ writes "In an upcoming BBC Documentary, Dean Armstrong, the brother of astronaut Neil Armstrong, reveals when the world famous 'one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind' line originated. For years, people have argued over when Armstrong came up with the line, whether it was on the spot or planned years ahead. Also debated is whether Armstrong meant to include 'a' before man, making the indefinite article 'man', which alludes to mankind, into a singular, 'a man', himself. According to Dean Armstrong, the quote was shared to him over a board game, months before the mission began. He says, 'We started playing Risk and then he [Neil] slipped me a piece of paper and said 'read that'. I did. On that piece of paper there was 'That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind'. He says 'what do you think about that?' I said 'fabulous'. He said 'I thought you might like that, but I wanted you to read it'. He then added: 'It was 'that is one small step for A man''. Armstrong had always insisted that he had said 'a', that that it was lost in communication static. This new story however conflicts with what Neil told James Hansen for his biography, stating he came up with the quote on the lunar surface. More on the historic moon landing and the life of Neil Armstrong in the new documentary Neil Armstrong- First Man on the Moon, on BBC."

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December 30 9:24 PM

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December 30 9:24 PM

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December 30 9:24 PM

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December 30 9:24 PM

NYTimes | Books of The Times: ‘A Man of Misconceptions’ by John Glassie

December 30 9:07 PM | By JENNIFER SCHUESSLER | Kircher, Athanasius
“A Man of Misconceptions,” by John Glassie, profiles the 17th-century German polymath Athanasius Kircher, whose sprawling résumé was said to include hieroglyphics translation and a “cat piano.”

NYTimes | Adam Lanza’s Body Claimed for Burial

December 30 8:50 PM | By THE NEW YORK TIMES | Newtown (Conn)
A spokeswoman for the Connecticut medical examiner’s office declined to say who had claimed Adam Lanza’s body.

NYTimes | Chinese Firm Is Cleared to Buy American DNA Sequencing Company

December 30 8:50 PM | By ANDREW POLLACK | Genetics and Heredity
The controversial purchase of a Silicon Valley-based DNA sequencing company by a Chinese firm has raised concerns about American competitiveness in a field that is becoming a big business.

Cockeyed | Gallery of Appliance Power Use Tests

December 30 8:24 PM
Using my handheld Watt meter, I tested every electrical item I could thing of, inside and outside of the house. Click a photo to see the results for that item.

NYTimes | Elza van den Heever in ‘Maria Stuarda’ at the Met

December 30 8:24 PM | By DANIEL J. WAKIN | Baldness
The soprano Elza van den Heever said she was moved to shave her head to play Elizabeth I in “Maria Stuarda” as a way of contributing to the professionalism she saw at the Metropolitan Opera.

NYTimes | Rape Incites Women to Fight Culture in India

December 30 7:57 PM | By HEATHER TIMMONS and SRUTHI GOTTIPATI | India
Protesters say they and others like them will never fully take part in the promise of a more prosperous nation unless something fundamental changes.

Boing Boing | Raw Turkey Christmas cake

December 30 7:46 PM | Cory Doctorow | Post

This magnificent raw turkey cake (orange and rum spice cake) was created by London's Sarah Hardy. Yum!

Raw Turkey Christmas Cake

NYTimes | Erika Menendez, Suspect in Fatal Subway Push, Had Troubled Past

December 30 7:45 PM | By MARC SANTORA and ANEMONA HARTOCOLLIS | Mental Health and Disorders
Erika Menendez, charged with shoving a stranger to his death under a train in Queens, has a long history with New York City’s law enforcement and mental health establishments.

NYTimes | Chinese Regulator’s Family Profited From Stake in Insurer

December 30 7:40 PM | By DAVID BARBOZA | Regulation and Deregulation of Industry
Dai Xianglong oversaw the insurance industry when a company his relatives helped control made an investment that came to be worth billions.

NYTimes | Settlement Expected With Banks Over Home Loans

December 30 7:29 PM | By JESSICA SILVER-GREENBERG | Foreclosures
Banking regulators are said to be close to a $10 billion settlement with 14 banks that would end the government’s efforts to hold lenders responsible for foreclosure abuses.

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December 30 7:24 PM

NYTimes | Chávez Faces New Complications After Surgery

December 30 6:51 PM | By WILLIAM NEUMAN | Surgery and Surgeons
President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela is experiencing complications arising from a respiratory infection following cancer surgery in Cuba, Vice President Nicolás Maduro said Sunday night.

NYTimes | Funeral of Michael Chiapperini, Slain Firefighter, Is Held

December 30 6:49 PM | By MICHAEL D. REGAN | Webster (NY)
Michael J. Chiapperini was killed along with Firefighter Tomasz Kaczowka in a plot by a deranged sniper, William Spengler Jr., officials said.

NYTimes | Clinton Admitted to Hospital With Blood Clot

December 30 6:08 PM | By HELENE COOPER | Clinton, Hillary Rodham
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton did not suffer any neurological damage, and her physicians said they expect she will make a full recovery.

NYTimes | In Shift, Israel Lets Building Materials Into Gaza

December 30 6:04 PM | By ISABEL KERSHNER | International Trade and World Market
The easing of restrictions on imports is a result of continuing talks in Cairo meant to anchor the cease-fire between Israel and Hamas.

NYTimes | Maxim Magazine Focuses on Military, Veterans and Their Families

December 30 5:51 PM | By CHRISTINE HAUGHNEY | United States Defense and Military Forces
Maxim, a magazine featuring adolescent humor and plenty of scantily clad actresses, has courted the armed forces, veterans and their families as a source of growing readership.

Boing Boing | MonkeyBrains seeks $350,000,000 for its own satellite

December 30 5:41 PM | Cory Doctorow | Video

The happy mutants at MonkeyBrains, the San Francisco hacker-friendly ISP, have launched a $350,000,000 IndieGoGo campaign to buy their own satellite ("North Korea just launched a satellite; we want to as well"). Some fun facts about MonkeyBrains: it was founded by Rudy Rucker, Jr (son of the archduke of mutantcy, cyberpunk writer Rudy Rucker [Sr]); it is the basis for the fictional ISP pigspleen.net in my novel Little Brother; and they want $350,000,000. Also: if the satellite thing doesn't work out, they want to use the money to fill San Francisco with high-speed fiber optics that aren't run by crappy telcos.

A quick internet search reveals that this is the cost for getting a satellite into orbit:

* Satellite manufacture: $150M
* Satellite launch: $120M
* Launch insurance: $20M
* In-orbit insurance: $20M
* Satellite operations (15 years): $15M

Faster Internet!

Our initial research seems to indicate having a satellite in orbit may not speed up your internet at all. [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Satellite_Internet_access#Geostationary_unsuitable_for_low-latency_applications]. However, if more research doesn't bode well for a geostationary satellite, we will take all of the $325M to fund either:

* Fiber to the home.
* A balloon tethered to the Farallon islands.
* a hovering drone over the Bay.

MonkeyBrains satellite

Slashdot | China's Controversial Brain Surgery To Cure Drug Addiction

December 30 4:46 PM
kkleiner writes "A small handful of doctors in China are using a highly controversial procedure to rid people of drug addiction by destroying a part of patients' brains. The procedure involves drilling small holes into the skulls of patients and inserting long electrodes that destroy a part of the brain called the nucleus accumbens. This area, often referred to as the "pleasure center" of the brain, is the major nucleus of the brain's reward circuit. Is it worth being cured of addiction if, losing the addiction, we also lose part of who we are?" The practice has been officially banned, but apparently continues nonetheless.

Slashdot | Why Linux On Microsoft Surface Is a Tough Challenge

December 30 3:42 PM
hypnosec writes "With Linux enthusiasts and distro publishers eagerly waiting for a solution to Microsoft's UEFI SecureBoot, there are those who have already looked at the viability of Linux on Microsoft Surface tablet. Matthew Garrett, a.k.a. UEFI-guru, has revealed that those who are keeping their fingers crossed and hoping to find run Linux on Microsoft's tablet are on an uphill walk and it doesn't seem to be an easy one. So why is this? The answer is in the manner in which Microsoft has restricted the Surface from loading non-signed software / binaries by implementing UEFI SecureBoot. Microsoft has loaded on the ARM based tablet its private key instead of the 'Microsoft Windows UEFI Driver Publisher' key, which is needed to sign non-Microsoft software like Linux distributions or loaders. So, no publisher key = no signed non-Microsoft binary = no Linux."

NYTimes | Giants 42, Eagles 7: Giants Rout Eagles but Miss Playoffs

December 30 3:07 PM | By SAM BORDEN | Football
The Giants, hopeful for a playoff spot, pummeled the Eagles, but the result was rendered meaningless when the Bears beat the Lions.

NYTimes | Tour Bus Crash Kills 9 in Oregon

December 30 2:52 PM | By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
A tour bus careened through a guardrail along an icy Oregon highway and several hundred feet down a steep embankment Sunday, killing nine people and injuring more than 20 others, the authorities said.

Slashdot | Pakistan Lifts YouTube Ban For 3 Minutes, Finds More Blasphemy

December 30 2:27 PM
On Saturday, Pakistan briefly lifted the months-old ban on YouTube, spurred by the widely distributed U.S.-made video presented as a trailer for a film titled "Innocence of Muslims" and decried in many places around the world as blasphemous toward Islam. "After months of criticism of the ban, the government decided to allow Pakistanis to have access to YouTube again, saying steps had been taken to ensure that offensive content would not be visible. But those efforts apparently failed, and the authorities quickly backtracked," writes the New York Times. "Quickly" is right: access to YouTube was apparently open for just three minutes, which seems about right; it shouldn't take longer than that to discover things on the site to which adherents of any particular religion might take umbrage. What's surprising is that this took lifting the censorship on a wide scale, rather than just taking a smaller peek through tunneling software.

NYTimes | Obama Blames ‘Sloppiness’ for Benghazi Attack

December 30 1:46 PM | By ERIC SCHMITT | Libya
President Obama said an inquiry on the episode that claimed four American lives in Libya had identified “huge problems” in how the State Department protects its missions abroad.

NYTimes | Philadelphia District May Close 37 Schools

December 30 1:43 PM | By JON HURDLE | Shutdowns (Institutional)
Facing deep financial problems, Philadelphia’s school district proposed an unprecedented downsizing and other changes that would affect 17,000 students.

Slashdot | New Releases From FreeBSD and NetBSD

December 30 1:37 PM
tearmeapart writes "The teams at FreeBSD have reached another great achievement with FreeBSD 9.1, with improvements to the already fantastic zfs features, more VM improvements (helping bringing FreeBSD to the next generation of VMs), and improvements in speed to many parts of the network system. Support FreeBSD via the FreeBSD mall or download/upgrade FreeBSD from a mirror. Unfortunately, the torrent server is still down due to the previous security incident." And new submitter northar writes "The other day the NetBSD project released their first update to the 6.x series, 6.0.1. They also (rather discreetly) announced a fund drive targeting 60.000 USD before the end of 2012 in the release notes. They better get going if their donation page is anything like recently updated."

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December 30 1:36 PM

The Register | From post-coital squid to high-res Playboy bunnies: The 2012 'IT angle?!' quiz

December 30 1:26 PM

Test your knowledge of the year's most stimulating stories

How much do you remember about what really mattered in 2012? You're about to find out.…

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December 30 1:24 PM

NYTimes | Day Laborers at Premium on Storm-Wrecked Coast

December 30 12:56 PM | By JOSEPH BERGER | New York City
For workers in New York and New Jersey, Hurricane Sandy yielded demolition and construction jobs that had been scarce since the housing market collapsed.

The Register | Boffins use laser to move maglev disk

December 30 12:52 PM

Not as fast as a Japanese train

Readers may wish to skip to the video, below, if they’re too holidayed to want to read too many words. For the rest: a group of Aoyama Gakuin University researchers has demonstrated a magnetic-levitation disk that can be moved using lasers.…

NYTimes | Dr. Rita Levi-Montalcini, a Revolutionary in the Study of the Brain, Dies at 103

December 30 12:47 PM | By BENEDICT CAREY | Alzheimer's Disease
By studying chicken embryos in the bedroom of her house in Turin, Italy, Dr. Levi-Montalcini discovered how embryo cells built a latticework of intricate connections.

Boing Boing | Thanks for subscribing to Boing Boing, Stefan!

December 30 12:44 PM | Mark Frauenfelder | Post

Stefan says:

I found this while tidying up a filing cabinet yesterday. Wow. I feel old. I think my subscription started with issue #9. This account is long closed and the address 15 years out of date, so I don't mind posting it.

Boing Boing started out as a print zine in 1988. Here is a cover gallery.

NYTimes | Afghan Army Deaths on the Rise

December 30 12:44 PM | By AZAM AHMED and HABIB ZAHORI | Defense and Military Forces
The Afghan government hit a grim record in its quest to take over the country’s security: more than 1,000 soldiers died in 2012, a 20 percent increase from 2011.

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December 30 12:37 PM

Boing Boing | Public Resource liberates global building codes, include the Eurocode -- free the law!

December 30 12:32 PM | Cory Doctorow | Post

Rogue archivist Carl Malamud sez,

Public.Resource.Org today released 10,062 public safety documents covering 24 countries and 6 regions, including the European Union. The release is documented in a README file and accompanied by 12 tables of supporting documentation.

Some of these standards were obtained directly from the web sites of national standards bodies, such as Ecuador and Thailand which make their standards freely available. A couple thousand were scraped from the World Trade Organization web site, which maintains a repository of mandatory notifications made by member countries. We spent $180,410.73 to obtain the rest of the documents, such as the mandatory building code of Europe, the Eurocode.

These standards were published in order to promote public education and public safety, equal justice for all, a better informed citizenry, the rule of law, world trade and world peace, this legal document is hereby made available on a noncommercial basis, as it is the right of all humans to know and speak the laws that govern them.

This law is your law. Enjoy!

Twelve Tables of Codes (Thanks, Carl!)

Slashdot | Foursquare Will Display Users' Full Names By Default

December 30 12:30 PM
Location services can be useful and fun, but, depending on how paranoid ("cautious") you are, you might already dislike the idea of a social-network dashboard keeping track of where you are at a given moment. After all, bad guys can use computers, too. Now, Foursquare may up your level of caution just a bit: CNET reports that "Beginning January 28, 2013, users' 'full names' will be displayed across the check-in service and venue owners will have increased access to users' check-in data, the company announced in an e-mail sent to users late last night." Users, though, "will still have control of the name displayed by altering their 'full name' in their settings," and can opt out of the increased flow of data to business owners. For users' sake, I hope Foursquare doesn't go in for the "real names" fetish to the extent that both Google and Facebook have.

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December 30 12:24 PM

Boing Boing | You're only as old as your hair

December 30 11:48 AM | Mark Frauenfelder | Post

Life, 1971 Vol. 71, No. 24.
I Love Old Magazines (Via Mostly Forbidden Zone)

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December 30 11:45 AM

Boing Boing | Wally Wood's incredible "Fully Computerized" illustration

December 30 11:33 AM | Mark Frauenfelder | Wide

Thom Buchanan of The Pictorial Arts says of this mind-boggling Wally Wood illustration:

This piece by Wally Wood, which I don't think was for EC [the comic book company that published MAD, Weird Science, and Tales from the Crypt], is genius for its organized complexity—seemingly effortless in its execution. Zoom in on the figures and see how fully realized they are! I cannot overuse the word when it comes to EC guys—they were geniuses!

Wally Wood's incredible "Fully Computerized" illustration

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December 30 11:30 AM

Boing Boing | Ability to sit and rise from the floor is closely correlated with all-cause mortality risk

December 30 11:27 AM | Mark Frauenfelder | Post
In 2002, over 2000 people between the ages of 51 and 80 were asked to sit on the floor using as little hand- or knee-support as possible. They were then asked to stand up without resorting to using their hands or knees if they were able. The results were recorded. By the end of October 2011, 159 subjects had died. It turns out that most of the people who died were the ones who needed the most support while performing the task. Only 2 of the 159 people who died had been able to sit down and stand up unsupported: "These differences persisted when results were controlled for age, gender and body mass index, suggesting that the sitting-rising test score is a significant predictor of all-cause mortality."

Test of musculo-skeletal fitness is 'strong predictor' of mortality in the middle-aged and older (Via Seth Robert's Blog)

Slashdot | Moscow Plane Crash Caught On Passerby's Dash Cam

December 30 11:24 AM
acidradio writes "Yesterday a Tupolev 204 (Russian-made aircraft equivalent to an Airbus 321 or a shortened 757) overran the runway at Moscow Vnukovo airport and crashed into a nearby highway. A plane crash is always bad, but what makes this seem different is how well it was recorded. It seems like everyone in Russia has a dashcam, here is footage. A driver who just happened to be driving by on the nearby M3 highway (right about here on the map) is pelted by flying nose wheels and a row of coach-class seats! An accident like this has probably never been filmed so up close. We are getting better and better at recording accidents and disasters (whether by coincidence due to overuse of surveillance or maybe on purpose). What does that say about our level of documentation and recording of people's everyday lives? And what's the deal with dashcams in every Russian car?"

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December 30 11:24 AM

Slashdot | FSF Does Want Secure Boot; They Just Want It Under User Control

December 30 11:16 AM
Yesterday, we ran a story with the headline "Free Software Foundation Campaigning To Stop UEFI SecureBoot." It's more complicated than that, though, writes gnujoshua: "We want computer manufacturers to implement Secure Boot in a way that is secure. If a user can't disable Secure Boot and they are unable to sign their own software (e.g., bootloader, OS, etc), then we call that particular implementation 'Restricted Boot.' We don't want computer makers to implement Restricted Boot. We want them to implement Secure Boot and to provide a way for individuals to install a fully free OS on their computers. Many computer makers are implementing UEFI Secure Boot in this way, and we want to continue encouraging them to do so." The complete text of the statement they'd like people to sign reads: "We, the undersigned, urge all computer makers implementing UEFI's so-called "Secure Boot" to do it in a way that allows free software operating systems to be installed. To respect user freedom and truly protect user security, manufacturers must either allow computer owners to disable the boot restrictions, or provide a sure-fire way for them to install and run a free software operating system of their choice. We commit that we will neither purchase nor recommend computers that strip users of this critical freedom, and we will actively urge people in our communities to avoid such jailed systems."

NYTimes | Shedding Door Pulls, Mumbai Taxis Rattle Off

December 30 11:15 AM | By DAVID SHAFTEL | Fiat SpA|FIATY|other-OTC
The Padmini taxi was once ubiquitous in Mumbai. But under a 2008 government decree requiring cabs older than 25 years to be retired, the old car is slowly disappearing.

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December 30 11:06 AM

NYTimes | Boutiques Offer New Cash Protection as a U.S. Guarantee Ends

December 30 10:47 AM | By NATHANIEL POPPER and JESSICA SILVER-GREENBERG | Federal Deposit Insurance Corp
With $1.5 trillion of bank deposits losing an unlimited government guarantee granted in the financial crisis, services are parceling cash into F.D.I.C.-insurable bundles at multiple banks.

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December 30 10:44 AM

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December 30 10:30 AM

Boing Boing | Porcupine bites skier

December 30 10:24 AM | Mark Frauenfelder | Video

"Ha ha ha ha ha. I get it on video." (Via Arbroath)

Slashdot | Autonomy Chief Says Whitman Is Watering Down HP Fraud Claims

December 30 10:24 AM
McGruber writes "Possibly the wierdest tax-writeoff of the year happened when Meg Whitman claimed that her US-based multinational corporation HP had been defrauded by British-software firm Autonomy; Ms. Whitman and HP claimed an 8.8 billion dollar write-down. As the Los Angeles Times explains, 'HP acquired Autonomy in 2011 for $11 billion, a move it hoped would turn it away from its dependence on sales of computer hardware with its low profit margins, and into the more profitable business of software. However, the price HP paid was widely criticized for being too high, and in part led to the subsequent ouster of Chief Executive Leo Apotheker.' The wierdness continues — in its annual report filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, HP claims that the U.S. Department of Justice has opened an investigation into HP's allegations that HP has uncovered widespread accounting fraud at Autonomy. However, The Guardian points out that former Autonomy CEO Mike Lynch claims that HP 'is watering down the accusations it had levelled against him over the accounts filed by his old software company.' Mr. Lynch also says that he has not been contacted by the U.S. Department of Justice, which HP claims is investigating the alleged fraud. Perhaps Slashdot's users can help make sense of this mess and help explain it to me?"

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December 30 10:24 AM

NYTimes | Cold-Weather Aid Trickles Into Afghan Camps

December 30 10:07 AM | By ROD NORDLAND | Refugees and Displaced Persons
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees on Sunday distributed emergency cold weather supplies to families in a refugee camp where two days earlier a 3-year-old child died of exposure to the cold.

Slashdot | Ask Slashdot: Easiest Way To Consolidate Household Media?

December 30 9:24 AM
First time accepted submitter Lordfly writes "The wife and I have started looking to buy a house. In the spirit of that, I've been giving away books, CDs, and DVDs to 'downsize' the pile of crap I'll have to lug around when we do find the right place. That got me thinking about digital files. I'm perfectly okay with giving up (most) books, CDs, and DVD cases. The only music I buy are MP3s anyway, and we stream most everything else if we wanted to watch a show or movie. That being said, I have a desktop, my wife has an old Macbook, we both have tablets, and I also have an Android smartphone. I'd like to set up something on an extra Windows box shoved in a closet that lets me dump every digital file we have (photos, music, ebooks, movies) and then doles it out as necessary to all of our devices. Unfortunately my best computer geek days are likely behind me (photography and cooking have consumed me since), so while I CAN schlep around a command line, I've lost most of my knowledge, so go easy on the 'just apt-get FubarPackageInstaller.gzip and rd -m Arglebargle' stuff. Something easy enough for my wife to use would be a major plus. So: What's the best way to make your own personal 'cloud'?"

NYTimes | Michelle Obama, First in Fashion

December 30 8:57 AM | By CATHY HORYN | Google Inc|GOOG|NASDAQ
Can Michelle Obama, who has used celebrity and style to redefine her role as first lady, step off the glamour pedestal and broaden her reach?

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December 30 8:47 AM

Slashdot | Early Apple Designs Revealed, Courtesy of Harmut Esslinger

December 30 8:24 AM
SternisheFan writes with an excerpt as carried by CNET of former Apple design chief Harmut Esslinger's upcoming book, titled Design Forward: Creative Strategies for Sustainable Change. Writing of Steve Job's integration of design as an essential element across the company as a whole, Esslinger says: "The company's [then] CEO, Michael Scott, had created different business divisions for each product line, including accessories such as monitors and memory drives. Each division had its own head of design and developed its products the way it wanted to. As a result, Apple's products shared little in the way of a common design language or overall synthesis In essence, bad design was both the symptom and a contributing cause of Apple's corporate disease. Steve's desire to end the disjoined approach gave birth to a strategic design project that would revolutionize Apple's brand and product lines, change the trajectory of the company's future, and eventually redefine the way the world thinks about and uses consumer electronics and communication technologies." CNET shows off a few of those old designs (many of them appearing unsurprisingly fresh), but for much more of them see these images at designboom.

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December 30 8:07 AM

NYTimes | Pakistan Bomb Kills at Least 19 Shiite Pilgrims

December 30 8:04 AM | By SALMAN MASOOD | Terrorism
The remotely detonated bomb, which struck buses bearing passengers on a religious pilgrimage, also wounded at least 25 people in southwestern Pakistan.

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December 30 7:36 AM

Boing Boing | Malls are dying

December 30 7:29 AM | Cory Doctorow | Post

There's something nice about going into a well-maintained, well-thought-through shop -- indeed, there's a whole genre of fiction about this. But the dark side of retail is the sprawling American megamall, the original killer of the downtown and the mom-and-pop shop, which turned the public square into a private space and brought crushing sameness to the land.

So while we lament the Internet's deleterious effect on the friendly used bookstore, let's not forget to celebrate the its even harsher effect on malls:

A report from Co-Star observes that there are more than 200 malls with over 250,000 square feet that have vacancy rates of 35 percent or higher, a "clear marker for shopping center distress." These malls are becoming ghost towns. They are not viable now and will only get less so as online continues to steal retail sales from brick-and-mortar stores. Continued bankruptcies among historic mall anchors will increase the pressure on these marginal malls, as will store closures from retailers working to optimize their business. Hundreds of malls will soon need to be repurposed or demolished. Strong malls will stay strong for a while, as retailers are willing to pay for traffic and customers from failed malls seek offline alternatives, but even they stand in the path of the shift of retail spending from offline to online.

This in turn creates further opportunity for online commerce. If I were thinking of starting a new retail brand right now, I would unquestionably start it online.

[The Atlantic Cities/Jeff Jordan]

The Death of the American Shopping Mall

(via MeFi)

See also: DeadMalls.com

(Image: Pheonix Village Mall, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from cwsteeds's photostream)

Boing Boing | The LED dawn at 29c3, the 29th Chaos Communication Congress

December 30 7:28 AM | Quinn Norton | Feature

Dawn is breaking over last day of the annual Chaos Communication Congress in Hamburg, Germany. CCC is the meeting of the Chaos Computer Club (also CCC), a group of German hackers hanging out together since 1981. Congress (as it is also known) is one of the great gatherings of tribes in the hacker world -- which, in the time it has existed, has gone from being a tiny, sometimes gothy and mathematically inclined subculture to being a big, elitist community whose work, values, and aesthetics touch the lives of billions of people. CCC has grown and flowered with the community.

The mad and beautiful landscape of the conference this year covers four floors of a Hamburg conference center like and electrical/human forest undergrowth. The topics range as wildly as technology itself. Sessions include the mathematics of factoring (cracking) RSA encryption, the state of the surveillance state in Russia, SCADA vulnerabilities, often in critical infrastructure, Romantic poets, and massively hacking tamagotchis. The halls and "assembly" areas for affinity groups all full of the interests of hacker culture: coding tables, hackerspaces, lockpicking, blinky lights, food hacking, etc. The undercurrents and background noise of the conference saturate in the hallway track. Legal crackdowns and the rising surveillance states crowd on in on us from outside, old fights over misogyny, sex and violence, and exclusion riddle the event from within. And through it, also the revitalization of friendships that are, in some cases, four days wide but decades deep. The starts and ends of countless projects, some of which will amuse us all, some fail, and others that will in time shape the world.

The hacker community that comes together at CCC is an extraordinary thing, physical and ethereal, a communion of wizards and fools, often trading roles through the day.

This year's theme is Not My Department, ominously lifted from Tom Lehrer's song about Wernher von Braun and the nuclear age. It's a self-conscious choice, a sign of growing awareness that this community is poised to sit in a position of strange power in the 21st century -- without yet knowing what kind of ethics should accompany that position. A nest of geeks whose real-world influence has grown out of all proportion in the last 30 years, these hackers, coders, and makers are struggling with the weird machine they have created in the heart of the world.


Nearly all the talks are available on Youtube within a day of being completed -- follow along at home, and on Twitter at the #29c3 hashtag. But for the hallway track, there is only here.

NYTimes | Destination: Wellness

December 30 7:24 AM | By JESSE McKINLEY | MGM Resorts International|MGM|NYSE
Wellness retreats, wellness rooms, wellness resorts, wellness weekends. Answering the insistent call of wellness tourism and trying to figure out what it all is.

NYTimes | India’s Aakash Venture Produces Optimism but Few Computers

The Aakash project was supposed to provide $50 tablet computers for students across India, revolutionizing the nation’s schools and its tech industry, but so far those goals remain elusive.

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December 30 6:38 AM

Boing Boing | Buddy Holly's demo for "Words of Love"

December 30 6:28 AM | Cory Doctorow | Video

Piglisi sez, "Experimenting with double-tracking his voice and guitar, Buddy Holly recorded a demo for a song he'd composed (by himself, despite his producer/manager taking half the songwriting credit). A scratchy acetate survives."

Buddy Holly - Words Of Love ('Echo Chamber Demo')

See also:

* Buddy Holly's first-ever recording, from 1949
* Rave On Buddy Holly: tribute album streaming now
* Buddy Holly's secretly recorded contract negotiation with Decca
* What was in Buddy Holly's plane-crash overnight bag?

Slashdot | Investing In Lego Bricks For Fun But Mostly Profit

December 30 6:23 AM
First time accepted submitter theideabulb writes "Just as stock investors have portfolios of all different sorts of stocks, Lego investors hold massive collections of Lego sets and can make annual profits that beat stocks. This article is a looking into the world of the little plastic brick that makes money for LEGO fans and a website that helps track peoples' collections to help them track their profits."

NYTimes | G.O.P. Yields on Fiscal Point, Clearing Way for More Talks

December 30 6:06 AM | By JONATHAN WEISMAN | Medicare
The Senate was set to reconvene Monday after failing to produce a fiscal deal with just hours to go before large tax increases and spending cuts were to begin taking effect.

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December 30 5:54 AM

Slashdot | Odds Favor Discovery of Earth-Like Exoplanet in 2013

December 30 5:20 AM
Earth-like exoplanets have gotten a lot of attention in the last few years; it's exciting to think that there's life — or even just life-sustaining conditions — on planets other than Earth, whether near by (on Mars) or much farther away (orbiting Vega). Projects like NASA's Kepler, and the ground-based HARPS, attempt to spot planets outside our solar system of all kinds. These exoplanet discoveries have been ramping up lately, and so has sorting of the discovered planets by size and other characteristics; the odds are looking good, say astronomers quoted by Space.com, that an Earth-like planet will be found this year. Abel Mendez runs the Planetary Habitability Laboratory at the University of Puerto Rico at Arecibo, and UC Berkeley astromer Geoff Marcy looks for planets as part of the Kepler team; they explain in the article why they think 2013 is an auspicious one for planet hunters.

NYTimes | To Save Wildlife, and Tourism, Kenyans Take Up Arms

December 30 4:43 AM | By JEFFREY GETTLEMAN | Poaching (Wildlife)
In Kenya, people are so eager to protect their wildlife — and the tourism dollars that safaris bring — that civilians are risking their lives to confront poaching gangs.

NYTimes | Modern Love: Modern Love — Three Mothers, One Bond

December 30 4:28 AM | By JENNIFER HAUSEMAN | Babies and Infants
She said she had picked us, in part, because she had read that lesbians have the longest wait for adoptions of all, and she wanted to right that wrong. How could we not love her?

NYTimes | Questcor Finds Profit for Acthar Drug, at $28,000 a Vial

December 30 4:24 AM | By ANDREW POLLACK | Mattel Inc|MAT|NASDAQ
After pricing its once-obscure drug, Acthar, in the stratosphere, Questcor gained many fans on Wall Street. But the company has also drawn some doubters.

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NYTimes | Newtown Task Force Returns Biden to Gun Control Arena

December 30 3:24 AM | By PETER BAKER | Constitutional Amendments
The current debate offers Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. a chance to craft a legislative response that would reinstate his assault weapons ban, while also making it more effective.

NYTimes | Nonprofit Operator of New Jersey Halfway Houses Paid Millions to Founder

December 30 3:24 AM | By SAM DOLNICK | Nonprofit Organizations
The second-largest operator of halfway houses in New Jersey, a nonprofit, has paid its founder roughly $7 million over the past decade, and has hired several of the founder’s relatives.

NYTimes | Drone War Spurs Pakistan Militants to Deadly Reprisals

December 30 2:57 AM | By DECLAN WALSH | Central Intelligence Agency
Militants in Pakistan’s tribal belt tape confessions and executions of alleged informers who aid drone attacks, deepening an atmosphere of paranoia and mistrust.

Slashdot | Ban on Certain Samsung Products Appears Likely ITC Ruling

December 30 2:24 AM
Ars Technica reports that "On Friday the ITC filed a redacted version of a remedy suggested by ITC Administrative Law Judge Thomas Pender, in which he recommended a ban be enforced against Samsung products that were found to infringe upon four Apple patents. The judge also recommended that Samsung post a bond for 88 percent of the value of its infringing mobile phones, as well as 32.5 percent of the value of infringing media players, and 37.6 percent of the value of infringing tablets." That sounds like a clear loss for Samsung, but the judge "also approved several workarounds suggested by Samsung that might permit the company to continue selling the implicated products (which include the Transform, Acclaim, Indulge and Intercept smartphones, according to Computerworld). These workarounds would sidestep infringing on Apple's four patents—which include one design patent and three technology patents." Ruling and remedy have yet to be approved by the panel whose word would make them final.

NYTimes | New Churches Focus on Building a Community Life

December 30 2:17 AM | By AMY O’LEARY | Evangelical Movement
As more Americans identify as “spiritual but not religious,” evangelicals are changing their focus to building inviting community spaces.

The Register | The year GNOMES, Ubuntu sufferers forked off to Mint Linux

December 30 2:10 AM

It is only wafer-thin, and no cheque required

Linux in 2012 It's been a rough year for Linux on the desktop. More specifically, it's been a rough year for GNOME-based Linux on the desktop. But a glimmer of hope may have appeared thanks to a Mint-flavoured distribution of the open-source operating system.…

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The Register | Chinese court orders Apple to cough £100k to writers for violating copyright

December 30 1:02 AM

Fruity tech maker comes a cropper in China

Apple got a nasty post-Christmas present in China on Thursday when a Beijing court hit it with a 1.03m yuan (£102,000) fine after ruling the fruity tech titan was responsible for applications which appeared on its App Store containing unlicensed content.…

NYTimes | Gérard Depardieu Stirs Belgian Border Town

December 30 12:47 AM | By ANDREW HIGGINS | Belgium
Néchin, a rural settlement in Belgium, has become a tax haven for scores of wealthy French citizens, including, most recently, the actor Gérard Depardieu.

NYTimes | ECM Album Covers by Manfred Eicher

December 30 12:24 AM | By DANA JENNINGS | Music
Manfred Eicher, the founder of the record label ECM, is deeply involved in choosing the art on his company’s releases.

NYTimes | YouTube Ban Lifted in Pakistan, for 3 Minutes

December 30 12:24 AM | By SALMAN MASOOD | Demonstrations, Protests, and Riots
A ban imposed after an anti-Islam video caused riots was reinstated when it was discovered that blasphemous material was still available on the site.

The Register | The 'Digital Economy' in 2012: A big noisy hole where money should be

December 30 12:09 AM

No free lunches here - unless you're Zuck or Google

Thank the Zuck! We should all remember Mark Zuckerberg as we sing Auld Lang Syne this year. Facebook's photographic landgrab via its freshly acquired Instagram service has helped put some vital perspective onto 2012 - bringing home issues that were abstract or buried by political posturing.…