After a successful campaign to liberate the English translation of the French Debian Administrator's Handbook, Roland Mas and Raphaël Hertzog announced its availability under the Creative Commons BY-SA license. You can read it online, download it for free, apt-get install debian-handbook if you're using Debian, or buy a physical copy (or donate for an electronic version). I skimmed through it, and discovered a few debconf and libvirt tricks I hadn't known about within a few minutes.
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theodp writes "The Floppy Disk Icon, observes Scott Hanselman, means 'save' for a whole generation of people who have never seen one. That, and other old people icons that don't make sense anymore — Radio Buttons, Clipboards, Bookmarks, Address Books and Calendars, Voicemail, Manila Folder, Handset Phone, Magnifying Glass and Binoculars, Envelopes, Wrenches and Gears, Microphones, Photography, Televisions, Carbon Copies and Blueprints — are the subject of Hanselman's post on icons that are near or past retirement age, whose continued use is likely to make them iconic glyphs whose origins are shrouded in mystery to many."
An anonymous reader writes "In the next decade, our brains are going to become optimized for information browsing, says best-selling author Nicholas Carr. According to Carr, while the genetic nature of our brains isn't being changed by the Internet at all, our brains are adapting 'at a cellular level' and are weakening modes of thinking we no longer exercise. Therefore, in 10 years, if human beings are using the Internet even more than they do today, says Carr, "our brains will be even more optimized for information browsing, skimming and scanning, and multitasking — fast, scattered modes of thought — and even less capable of the kinds of more attentive, contemplative thinking that the net discourages."" While Carr isn't making a case for Lamarckian evolution, the argument here seems weak to me; the same kind of brain change could be attributed to books, or television, or the automobile, couldn't it?
First time accepted submitter BigVig209 writes "Univ. of MN is cataloging open-access textbooks and enticing faculty to review the texts by offering $500 per review. From the article: 'The project is meant to address two faculty critiques of open-source texts: they are hard to locate and they are of indeterminate quality. By building up a peer-reviewed collection of textbooks, available to instructors anywhere, Minnesota officials hope to provide some of the same quality control that historically has come from publishers of traditional textbooks.'"
gotfork writes "The world's largest scavenger hunt, covered in previous years on Slashdot, is now taking place at the University of Chicago. The competition is fierce: in 1999 one team build a working breeder reactor in the quad, but only won second place. Items on this year's list include your appendix in a jar (210), a disappearing spoon made of metal (105), a chromatic typewriter (216), a xyloexplosive (33) and a weaponized Xerox machine (83). Check out the full list here (PDF). Not bad for the school where 'where fun comes to die.'" Does your school have any equivalent annual hijinks?
jsuda writes "You would think that geeks would be as interested in fitness as dogs are of TV. After all, geeks already put in hours of finger dancing on keyboards, assembling hefty code fragments, and juggling PHP programming functions. Although intended, in part, as a guide to real physical fitness the book, Fitness for Geeks, entices geeks with what they are really interested in–the science of fitness, nutrition, and exercise. In 11 chapters over 311 pages (including notes and an index) author, Bruce W Perry, describes in great detail the science of fitness and all of its components–food selections, timings, and fastings; exercising of all types; sleep, rest, and meditation; the benefits of hormesis (shocking the body with stresses); and the benefits of natural sunlight." Read on for the rest of jsuda's review.
JeepFanatic writes "I've never been one to read comic books, but I've always enjoyed superheroes. My 3-year-old son is really into superheroes (especially Spider-man) and I thought it would be a fun thing to do together to start reading comics to him. Any suggestions on comics that would be more appropriate to start him out with?"
First time accepted submitter NGTechnoRobot writes "In a turn for the books the BBC reports that Microsoft has invested $300 million in Barnes and Noble's Nook e-reader. The new Nook reader will integrate with Microsoft's yet-to-be-released Windows 8 operating system. From the article: 'The deal could make Barnes and Noble's Nook e-book reader available to millions of new customers, integrating it with the Microsoft's new Windows 8 operating system. The as-yet unnamed new company will be 82.4% owned by Barnes and Noble, with Microsoft getting a 17.6% stake.' Guess the lawsuit's over, folks."
Hugh Pickens writes "Jacob Heilbrunn reports in The Atlantic that Germany is taking a new step toward what is often called 'normalization' as the state of Bavaria has announced that in 2015 it will publish Hitler's Mein Kampf, banned in Germany since World War II. In announcing the publication of the book, Bavarian finance minister Markus Soeder says that he wants to contribute to the 'demystification' of it. In 2015, the Bavarian state's copyright to the book will expire and the idea is to publish a scholarly version that will help stem its appeal for commercial publishers. The book is not banned by law in Germany, but Bavaria has used ownership of the copyright to prevent publication of German editions since 1945. Copyright restrictions stop at the end of 2015, 70 years after Hitler's death. By publishing in 2015 before the expiry of the copyright, Bavaria hopes to make future German editions as 'commercially unattractive' as possible. 'We want to make clear what nonsense is in there,' says Soeder and to show 'what a worldwide catastrophe this dangerous body of thought led to.'"
First time accepted submitter cos(0) writes "Between O'Reilly, Wrox, Addison-Wesley, The Pragmatic Bookshelf, and many others, software developers have a wide variety of literature about languages, patterns, practices, and tools. Many publishers even offer subscriptions to online reading of the whole collection, exposing you to things you didn't even know you don't know — and many of us learn more from these publishers than from a Comp Sci curriculum. But what about publishers and books specializing in tech underneath software — like VHDL, Verilog, design tools, and wire protocols? In particular, best practices, modeling techniques, and other skills that separate a novice from an expert?"
First time accepted submitter FBeans writes "'Science fiction publisher Tor UK is dropping digital rights management from its e-books alongside a similar move by its U.S. partners. ... Tor UK, Tor Books and Forge are divisions of Pan Macmillan, which said it viewed the move as an "experiment."' With experiments, come results. Now users can finally read their books across multiple devices such as Amazon's Kindle, Sony Reader, Kobo eReader and Apple's iBooks. Perhaps we will see the *increase* of sales, because the new unrestricted format outweighs the decrease caused by piracy?"
DesScorp writes "James Lovelock, the scientist that came up with the 'Gaia Theory' and a prominent herald of climate change, once predicted utter disaster for the planet from climate change, writing 'before this century is over billions of us will die and the few breeding pairs of people that survive will be in the Arctic where the climate remains tolerable.' Now Lovelock is walking back his rhetoric, admitting that he and other prominent global warming advocates were being alarmists. In a new interview with MSNBC he says: '"The problem is we don't know what the climate is doing. We thought we knew 20 years ago. That led to some alarmist books — mine included — because it looked clear-cut, but it hasn't happened," Lovelock said. "The climate is doing its usual tricks. There's nothing much really happening yet. We were supposed to be halfway toward a frying world now," he said. "The world has not warmed up very much since the millennium. Twelve years is a reasonable time it (the temperature) has stayed almost constant, whereas it should have been rising — carbon dioxide is rising, no question about that," he added.' Lovelock still believes the climate is changing, but at a much, much slower pace."
Sci-Fi author Charlie Stross was recently put in the position of offering his thoughts to book publisher Macmillan on why eBook DRM is a terrible thing — not just for consumers, but for publishers, too. He makes a strong case that the removal of DRM, while not an immediate financial boon, will strongly benefit publishers in years to come through increased goodwill from users, greater leverage against Amazon's near-monopoly on distribution, and better platform interoperability. "Within 5 years we will be seeing a radically different electronic landscape. Unlocking the readers' book collections will force Amazon and B&N and their future competitors to support migration (if they want to compete for each others' customers). So hopefully it will promote the transition from the near-monopoly we had before the agency model, via the oligopoly we have today, to a truly competitive retail market that also supports midlist sales." Users have been railing against DRM for years, but it appears the publishers are finally starting to listen.
New submitter Durinia writes "Minnesota Public Radio is running a story about the University of Minnesota's Open Textbooks project. The goal of the project is to solicit reviews of college-level open source textbooks and collect those that pass muster onto their website. The project will focus first on high-volume introductory classes such as those for Math and Biology, because as David Ernst, director of the project, states in the interview: 'You know the world doesn't need another $150 Algebra One book. Algebra One hasn't changed for centuries, probably.'" Requirements for inclusion include: Open licensing (Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike), complete content (no glorified collections of lecture notes), applicability outside of the author's institution, and print availability.
eldavojohn writes "The New York Review of Books has an article penned by Steven Weinberg lamenting the future of physics, cosmology and this era of 'big science' in which we find ourselves. A quote from Goldhaber sums up the problem nicely, 'The first to disintegrate a nucleus was Rutherford, and there is a picture of him holding the apparatus in his lap. I then always remember the later picture when one of the famous cyclotrons was built at Berkeley, and all of the people were sitting in the lap of the cyclotron.' The article is lengthy with a history of big physics projects (most painfully perhaps the SSC) but Weinberg's message ultimately comes across as pessimism laced with fatalism — easily understandable given his experiences with government funding. Unfortunately he notes, 'Big science has the special problem that it can't easily be scaled down. It does no good to build an accelerator tunnel that only goes halfway around the circle.' Apparently this article mirrors his talk given in January at the American Astronomical Society. If not our government, will anyone fund these immense projects or will physics slowly grind to a halt due to fiscal constraints?"