ananyo writes "Cultural Observatory at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts is to index the whole of the ArXiv pre-print database of papers from the physical sciences, breaking down the full text of the articles into component phrases to see how often a particular word or phrase appears relative to others — a measure of how 'meme-like' a term is. The team has already applied a similar approach to 5 million books in the Google Books database to produce their n-gram viewer. But the Google Books database carries with it a major limitation: because many of the works are under copyright, users cannot be pointed to the actual source material. Applying the tool to ArXiv means it could be used to chart trends in high-energy physics, for example: a quickening pulse of papers citing the Higgs boson, for example, or a peak in papers about supersymmetry, a theory which may soon be waning."
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Hugh Pickens writes "BBC reports that a growing body of evidence from both science and history suggests that eight-hours of uninterrupted sleep may be unnatural as a wealth of historical evidence reveals that humans used to sleep in two distinct chunks called first and second sleep. A book by historian Roger Ekirch, At Day's Close: Night in Times Past, unearths more than 500 references to a segmented sleeping pattern — in diaries, court records, medical books and literature, from Homer's Odyssey to an anthropological account of modern tribes in Nigeria. 'It's not just the number of references — it is the way they refer to it, as if it was common knowledge,' says Ekirch. References to the first and second sleep started to disappear during the late 17th Century with improvements in street lighting, domestic lighting and a surge in coffee houses — which were sometimes open all night. Today most people seem to have adapted quite well to the eight-hour sleep, but Ekirch believes many sleeping problems may have roots in the human body's natural preference for segmented sleep which could be the root of a condition called sleep maintenance insomnia, where people wake during the night and have trouble getting back to sleep. 'Our pattern of consolidated sleep has been a relatively recent development, another product of the industrial age, while segmented sleep was long the natural form of our slumber, having a provenance as old as humankind,' says Ekrich, adding that we may 'choose to emulate our ancestors, for whom the dead of night, rather than being a source of dread, often afforded a welcome refuge from the regimen of daily life.'"
First time accepted submitter benrothke writes "It is said that the song Wipe Out launched a generation of drummers. In the world of information security, the classic Applied Cryptography: Protocols, Algorithms, and Source Code in C by Bruce Schneier may have been the book that launched a generation of new cryptographers. Schneier's latest work of art is Liars and Outliers: Enabling the Trust that Society Needs to Thrive. For those that are looking for a follow-up to Applied Cryptography, this it is not. In fact, it is hard to classify this as an information security title and in fact the book is marked for the current affairs/sociology section. Whatever section this book ultimately falls in, the reader will find that Schneier is one of the most original thinkers around." Keep reading for the rest of Ben's review.
New submitter SpockLogic writes "The Telegraphs has a tongue in cheek essay in praise of eternal copyright by the founder of an online games company. Quoting: 'Imagine you're a new parent at 30 years old and you've just published a bestselling new novel. Under the current system, if you lived to 70 years old and your descendants all had children at the age of 30, the copyright in your book – and thus the proceeds – would provide for your children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and great-great-grandchildren. But what, I ask, about your great-great-great-grandchildren? What do they get? How can our laws be so heartless as to deny them the benefit of your hard work in the name of some do-gooding concept as the "public good," simply because they were born a mere century and a half after the book was written? After all, when you wrote your book, it sprung from your mind fully-formed, without requiring any inspiration from other creative works – you owe nothing at all to the public. And what would the public do with your book, even if they had it? Most likely, they'd just make it worse.'"
jkauzlar writes "The standard Oracle JVM has about sixty 'developer' (-XX) options which are directly related to performance monitoring or tuning. With names such as 'UseMPSS' or 'AllocatePrefetchStyle', it's clear that Joe Schmo Code Monkey was not meant to be touching them, at least until he/she learned how the forbidding inner recesses of the JVM work, particularly the garbage collectors and 'just-in-time' compiler. This dense, 600-page book will not only explain these developer options and the underlying JVM technology, but discusses performance, profiling, benchmarking and related tools in surprising breadth and detail. Not all developers will gain from this knowledge and a few will surrender to the book's side-effect of being an insomnia treatment, but for those responsible for maintaining production software, this will be essential reading and a useful long-term reference." Keep reading for the rest of jkauzlar's review.
Zothecula writes "Inspired by origami and children's pop-up books, Harvard engineers have pioneered a means of mass-producing bee-sized flying microrobots. The breakthrough mechanizes the already state-of-the art process of making Harvard's Mobee robots by hand, by mass producing flat assemblies by the sheet which can be folded and assembled in a single movement. The technique, which cunningly exploits existing machinery for making printed circuit boards, can theoretically be applied to a multitude of electromechanical machines."
First time accepted submitter Hotawa Hawk-eye writes "Tor Books has announced that the release date for the final volume in the Wheel of Time series of books, A Memory Of Light, will be January 8, 2013. [Barring a Mayan apocalypse, of course.] The fantasy series, started by Robert Jordan and continued by Brandon Sanderson after Jordan's death, will span 15 books and over 10,000 pages."
Despite Apple's protestation that the iBooks Author EULA was misinterpreted, the idea of a book publishing system that could be used to grab copyright of the prepared text is annoying — like the sort of EULAs that seem to give photo-sharing sites unlimited re-use rights of hosted personal photos. New submitter rohangarg points out a publishing system which shouldn't have such problems, and is nicely cross-platform besides: "A new open-source digital writing and publishing platform has been launched by non-profit group Sourcefabric. Booktype allows for collaborative editing and writing of books that can be easily outputted to on-demand print services and eReaders such as the Amazon Kindle, Nook, iPad, and more with a few simple clicks. Booktype source can be found here." The online demo also leads to some downloadable examples (as PDFs).
Ralph Spoilsport writes "A coalition of 17 publishing companies has shut down library.nu and ifile.it, charging them with pirating ebooks. This comes less than a month after megaupload was shut down, and SOPA was stopped. If the busting of cyberlockers continues at this pace and online library sharing dismantled, this under-reported story may well be the tip of a very big iceberg — one quite beyond the P&L sheets of publishers and striking at basic human rights as outlined in the contradictions of the UN Charter. Is this a big deal — a grim coalition of corporate power? Or just mopping up some scurvy old pirates? Or somewhere in between?" Adds new submitter roaryk, "According to the complaint, the sites offered users access to 400,000 e-books and made more than $11 million in revenue in the process. The admins, Fidel Nunez and Irina Ivanova, have been tracked down using their PayPal donation account, which was not anonymous. Despite the claims of the industry the site admins say they were barely able to cover the server costs with the revenue."
Hugh Pickens writes "Alan Jacobs writes in the Atlantic about Every Tribe Every Nation, an organization whose mission is to produce and disseminate Bibles in readable mobile-ready texts for hundreds of languages including Norsk, Potawatomie, Bahasa Indonesia, and Hawai'i Pidgin as the old missionary impulse is being turned towards some extremely difficult technical challenges. The Bible is a large, complicated text containing three quarters of a million words and the typesetting is quite complex because of the wide range of literature types found in scripture and the need for several types of note. 'For all the issues that are still to be solved, ETEN is trying to do things that the world's biggest tech companies haven't cracked yet, such as rendering minority languages correctly on mobile devices,' says Mark Howe. 'There's a unity among Bible translators and publishers that stands in stark contrast to the fractured, fratricidal smartphone industry.' But once these technical challenges are met, it won't be only Bibles only that people can get on their mobile devices, but whole new textual worlds."
Cutting_Crew writes "As we all know brick and mortar stores have been closing left and right recently. We had CompUSA, Borders and Circuit City all close their doors within the last 4 years. According to an article on Forbes.com, it is spelled out pretty clearly why Best Buy is next in line to shut its doors for good. Some of the reasons highlighted include a 40% drop is Best Buy stock in 2011, lack of vision regarding their online services, management too concerned with store sales instead of margins and blatant disregard for quality customer service."
Harperdog writes "Laura Kahn has a lovely essay about the history of science fiction, and how science fiction can help explain concepts that are otherwise difficult for many...or perhaps, don't hold their interest. Interesting that Frankenstein is arguably the first time that science fiction appears. From Frankenstein to Jurassic Park, authors have been writing about 'mad scientists' messing around with life. Science fiction can be a powerful tool to influence society's views — one scientists should embrace."
New submitter shuttah writes "Robert X. Cringely, author of the 1992 influential book Accidental Empires , will be republishing and updating (including pictures and new chapters) the now twenty year-old book via the launch of a new blog also by the author. Cringeley tells us, 'So next month I'll be starting a second blog with its own URL just for Accidental Empires. I, Cringely will continue right here as ever (no changes at all), but on the book blog I will over several months publish — a chapter or so at a time — the entire 100,000-word book for the world to read, free of charge.' The book was also the basis for Cringley's 1996 TV miniseries Triumph of the Nerds released by PBS."
New submitter brennanw writes "Anyone who was active on mp3.com during the late 90s/early 2000's will find Amazon.com's KDP Select awfully familiar: authors who make their works exclusive to Amazon compete for a pool of money. Any time someone 'borrows' one of their books, they get a cut of a monthly sum (700K in January, 600K for February) based on how many of their books were checked out vs. how many other author's books were checked out. This is almost identical to the 'Payback for Playback' service MP3.com provided musicians a little over a decade ago. Payback for Playback effectively destroyed the original MP3.com artist community, and I don't think KDP Select is going to be much different for the self-publishing community that is growing on Amazon."
jrepin writes "During a recent 5 day sprint, four KDE contributors planned and produced a handbook for beginning KDE developers. The guide is recommended for every new contributor to KDE development. It outlines technical aspects of contributing to KDE and is a valuable first point of contact for new developers. The guide offers insights into KDE from the developer's point of view, and explains how to check out existing code, modify it and submit patches. Currently the guide only focuses on the coding aspects of KDE. Contributors are welcome (encouraged) to expand the guide to cover other aspects of the KDE Community as well as enhance the existing content in the book. We are currently working on how to release subsequent versions."