An anonymous reader writes "Real-world military conventions have had obvious effects on many sci-fi books, movies, and TV shows. But how does their fictional representation stack up against the evolving rules of high-tech warfare? In an interview with Foreign Policy magazine, a naval analyst discusses some of the technological assumptions involved in transposing sea combat to space combat, and his amusement with the trope of 'aircraft carriers in space.' He says, 'Star Wars is probably the worst. There is no explanation for why X-Wings [fighters] do what they do, other than the source material is really Zeroes [Japanese fighter planes] from World War II. Lucas quite consciously copied World War II fighter combat. He basically has said they analyzed World War II movies and gun camera footage and recreated those shots. Battlestar Galactica has other issues. One thing I have never understood is why the humans didn't lose halfway through the first episode. If information moves at the speed of light, and one side has a tactically useful FTL [faster-than-light] drive to make very small jumps, then there is no reason why the Cylons couldn't jump close enough and go, "Oh, there the Colonials are three light minutes away, I can see where they are, but they won't see me for three minutes?"'"
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bcrowell writes "California Governor Jerry Brown has signed SB 1052 and 1053, authored by state senator Darrell Steinberg, to create free textbooks for 50 core lower-division college courses. SB 1052 creates a California Open Education Resources Council, made up of faculty from the UC, Cal State, and community college systems. The council is supposed to pick 50 core courses. They are then to establish a 'competitive request-for-proposal process in which faculty members, publishers, and other interested parties would apply for funds to produce, in 2013, 50 high-quality, affordable, digital open source textbooks and related materials, meeting specified requirements.' The bill doesn't become operative unless the legislature funds it — a questionable process in California's current political situation. The books could be either newly produced (which seems unlikely, given the 1-year time frame stated) or existing ones that the state would buy or have free access to. Unlike former Gov. Schwarzenegger's failed K-12 free textbook program, this one specifically defines what it means by 'open source,' rather than using the term as a feel-good phrase; books have to be under a CC-BY (or CC-BY-SA?) license, in XML format. They're supposed to be modularized and conform to state and W3C accessibility guidelines. Faculty would not be required to use the free books."
benrothke writes "Today's handheld device is the mainframe of years past. An iPhone 5 with 64 GB of storage and the Apple A6 system-on-a-chip processor has more raw computing power entire data centers had some years ago. With billions of handheld devices in use worldwide, it is imperative that digital forensics investigators and others know how to ensure that the information contained in them, can be legally preserved if needed." Read on for the rest of Ben's review.
MassDosage writes "I've always found Chemistry interesting, particularly in high school when I had the good fortune of having a Chemistry teacher who was not only really good looking, but a great teacher too. I studied it for a year at University and then moved on and haven't really given the periodic table and its elements much thought since. This changed when the Wonderful Life with the Elements was delivered to me two weeks ago. It's one of those books that aims to make science fun and, unlike many other attempts which turn out to be pretty lame, this actually succeeds in presenting the periodic table in a fresh, original and interesting manner." Read on for the rest of Mass Dosage's review.
An anonymous reader writes "AllThingsD columnist Arik Hesseldahl noticed another milestone marking the passing of the personal computer era: for the first time since the early '80s, the share of worldwide sales of DRAM chips consumed by PCs (desktop and laptop computers, but not tablets) has dropped below fifty percent. Perhaps a more important milestone was reached last year, when more smartphones were shipped (not sold) worldwide than the combined total of PCs and tablets (also noticed by Microsoft watcher Joe Wilcox). While this is certainly of tremendous marketing and business importance to the likes of Apple, Microsoft, Google, Adobe, and PC OEMs, others may reflect on the impending closing of the history books on the era that started in Silicon Valley a little over 35 years ago."
Nate the greatest writes "Do you know what is crazier than sending DMCA notices to a site like Lendink which doesn't host any content? It's when an author threatens to sue book reviewers over trademarks. Jazan Wild, a comics creator, is sending out threatening emails to any and all book blogs who review a recently published book called Carnival of Souls. The book was written by Melissa Marr, and it happens to use a title which Jazan Wild owns the registered trademark. He's also suing the publisher for trademark infringement, but HarperCollins is laughing it off. The book blog Bookalicious posted the email they got from Jazan. Needless to say they did not take down the review."
New submitter disconj writes "Over at Wired, Ethan Gilsdorf interviews Jon Peterson, author of the new book Playing at the World. Gilsdorf calls it 'a must read,' though he cautions it 'is not intended for a general audience. It's a book for geeks, about geeks.' It is apparently an insanely-detailed history of role-playing games and wargames, including everything from Prussian kriegsspiel up to Dungeons & Dragons and the beginning of computer RPGs (but none of that heathen stuff after 1980). Peterson says in the interview that he wanted to write a history of these games 'worthy of the future they are creating.' He apparently spent five years on the project, including unearthing a huge trove of previously-unknown historical documents."
Nate the greatest writes "Late last week three publishers and the Department of Justice finalized an agreement to settle the claims that the publishers conspired to raise ebook prices. One of the terms of the agreement was that publishers were going to have to allow ebook retailers like Amazon to set the price of ebooks. Today it looks like the new prices have gone into effect. Amazon, B&N, and a small indie ebookstore called BooksonBoard are all offering HarperCollins ebooks at a discount. B&N and Amazon seem to be using the same price book, while BoB is having a 24% off sale."
An anonymous reader writes "We've all heard the horror stories of Amazon swindling the user out of their content on the Kindle, but this time they've managed to do it preemptively: by blocking the GFDL licensed Arch Linux Handbook from the Kindle Store." Reasons include: "We’ve reviewed the information you provided and have decided to block these books from being sold in the Kindle Store. The books closely match content that is freely available on the web and we are not confident that you hold exclusive publishing rights. This type of content can create a poor customer experience, and is not accepted. As a result, we have blocked the books listed below from being sold in the Kindle Store." The workaround: he uploaded a mobi copy to the Arch website.
puddingebola writes "Can Toys R Us provide the iPad killer? The 'Tabeo' s a 7 inch Android tablet running ICS with a micro-SD card slot. From the article, 'Powered by a 1GHz processor, the multitouch device comes with 4GB of built-in storage but can handle up to 32GB with a micro SDHC card. The device comes with 50 preloaded games, books, and educational apps and offers access to 6,000 more apps through the Tabeo Store.'"
unixluv writes "Evidently, Wikipedia doesn't believe an author on his own motivations when trying to correct an article on his own book. A Wikipedia administrator claimed they need 'secondary sources.' I'm not sure where you would go to get a secondary source when you are the only author of a work. Thus, in a lengthy blog post for The New Yorker, Roth created his own secondary source. He wrote, 'My novel The Human Stain was described in the entry as "allegedly inspired by the life of the writer Anatole Broyard." ... This alleged allegation is in no way substantiated by fact. The Human Stain was inspired, rather, by an unhappy event in the life of my late friend Melvin Tumin, professor of sociology at Princeton for some thirty years.' The Wikipedia page has now been corrected."
linjaaho writes "Senja Larsen, who runs popular Facebook study group Senja teaches you Swedish, collected $14,161 via Kickstarter's crowd funding service. The project caught much media attention in Finland (TV and all major newspapers), since it is the first crowdfunded book project in this country, and among the first Finnish crowdfunded projects. (Previous ones include the movie Iron Sky, the role-playing game Myrskyn Sankarit, and the Wishbone headphone wire manager). Now, after successfully collecting the funds for the book (and after the book has been edited and printed), the National Police Board of Finland has asked Senja to submit a statement [PDF; Finnish] concerning using crowdfunding to finance a project [PDF; Finnish] and the terminology used. It is possible that all the funding collected must be returned. The main problem is that direct translations of terminology at Kickstarter, such as 'bounty' and 'support,' are interpreted to mean collecting money without giving anything back, and this kind of operation requires a permit which can be only given to associations, not to private persons, and it takes long to apply for such permit."
An anonymous reader writes "On Thursday a U.S. District Judge approved a settlement between the Department of Justice and three publishers accused to colluding to inflate ebook prices (order). 'The Justice Department had accused Apple and five publishers in April of illegally colluding on prices as part of an effort to fight internet retailer Amazon.com Inc's dominance of e-books. The publishers who agreed to settle are News Corp's HarperCollins Publishers Inc, CBS Corp's Simon & Schuster Inc and Lagardere SCA's Hachette Book Group. Apple; Macmillan, a unit of Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holtzbrinck GmbH; and Pearson Plc's Penguin Group have vowed to fight the Justice Department's lawsuit with a trial due to start on June 3 next year.' The decision came after a lengthy period of public comment. According to the AP, 'The ruling released Thursday cast aside the strident objections of Apple, other book publishers, book sellers and authors who argued the settlement will empower Internet retailing giant Amazon.com Inc. to destroy the "literary ecosystem" with rampant discounting that most competitors can't afford to match. Those worries were repeatedly raised in court filings about the settlement. More than 90 percent of the 868 public comments about the settlement opposed the agreement.'"
ananyo writes "South Korea's government has urged textbook publishers to ignore calls to remove two examples of evolution from high-school textbooks. The move marks a change of heart for the government, which had earlier forwarded a petition from the 'Society for Textbook Revise' to publishers and told them to make their own minds up about the demands. The petition called for details about the evolution of the horse and of the avian ancestor Archaeopteryx to be removed from the books. In May, news emerged that publishers were planning to drop the offending sections, sparking outrage among some scientists. The resulting furor prompted the government to set up an 11-member panel, led by the Korean Academy of Science and Technology. On 5 September, the panel concluded that Archaeopteryx must be included in Korean science textbooks. And, while accepting that the textbooks' explanation of the evolution of the horse was too simplistic, the panel said the entry should be revised rather than removed or replaced with a different example, such as the evolution of whales."
sciencewatcher writes "In an attempt to solve a rape and murder of a 16-year-old girl, the Dutch police have asked 8080 men to provide their DNA. All these people lived 5 km or less from the crime scene at the time of the murder. This reopened cold case is the first large-scale attempt not to hunt the rapist and killer but to locate his close or distant male relatives. All data gathered will be destroyed after the match with this particular murder. There seems to be great public support for this attempt." Shades of The Blooding.
jyosim writes "Some see it as the latest ploy by textbook publishers to kill the used book market: 'access codes' for online supplements for course work. In some cases professors require students to purchase these codes in order to even see the required homework. One U. of Maine's student's struggle to find a reasonably priced textbook demonstrates the limits the new publisher practices put on students, but some argue that ultimately the era of digital course materials will be better for student learning."
eldavojohn writes "For quite some time humans have struggled to answer the question why there is anything rather than nothing. Jim Holt's Why Does the World Exist? tackles such questions in the form of a journey. After laying a brief groundwork, Holt travels from leading prominent philosopher to curmudgeonly physicist to reserved theologian, visiting each and relaying the juiciest parts of his transcripts to the reader. In doing so, this book takes on an interesting form with a meaty dense center to each chapter (the actual dialogues) surrounded by the light and fluffy bread of Holt's expert writing about the settings, weather and food of his travels. While this consequently lacks the characteristics of a heady hard hitting original philosophical work, these sandwiches should prove quite palatable for most readers. Why Does the World Exist? criss-crosses the etymological, epistemological, theological and philosophical aspects of its title while remaining a fairly easy read." Keep reading for the rest of eldavojohn's review.
The 2012 Hugo Award ceremony has completed at Chicon 7, and Among Others by Jo Walton has been given the award for Best Novel. The Man Who Bridged the Mist by Kij Johnson won for Best Novella, and The Paper Menagerie won for Best Short Story. Doctor Who had three nominations for Best Dramatic Presentation (Short Form), and ended up taking home the award for the episode "The Doctor's Wife," which was written by Neil Gaiman and directed by Richard Clark. Season 1 of Game of Thrones won Best Dramatic Presentation (Long Form), edging out Hugo and Captain America. Ursula Vernon was awarded the Best Graphic Story Hugo for Digger. See below for the full list of winners.
MassDosage writes "After nearly 15 years or of writing code professionally it was refreshing to take a figurative step back and read a book aimed at people getting started with computer programming. As the title suggests, Think Like A Programmer tries to get to the core of the special way that good programmers think and how, when faced with large and complex problems, they successfully churn out software to solve these challenges in elegant and creative ways. The author has taught computer science for about as long as I've been programming and this shows in his writing. He has clearly seen a lot of different people progress from newbie programmers to craftsmen (and craftswomen) and has managed to distill a lot of what makes this possible in what is a clear, well-written and insightful book." Read below for the rest of Mass Dosage's review.
Michael Ross writes "Of all the open source content management systems used for building websites, Drupal has a reputation for being one of the most flexible and powerful available, but not the easiest for web designers to use. Drupal version 7 has made some strides in alleviating those flaws, but there is still much progress to be made. During the past few years, a number of books have been published that explain how Drupal designers can do custom theming, but they tend to focus on the technical details of the theme layer, and not the practice of web design when using Drupal as a foundation. That rich yet neglected subject area is the focus of a new book, Drupal for Designers: The Context You Need Without the Jargon You Don't." Keep reading to see what Michael has to say about the book.