jamie writes "The Campbell's monkey has a vocabulary with at least six types of basic call, but new research published in the PNAS claims that they combine them and string them together to communicate new meanings. (Login may be required on the NY Times site.) For example, the word for 'leopard' gets an '-oo' suffix to mean 'unseen predator.' But when that word is repeated after 'come over here,' the combination means 'Timber!' — a warning of falling trees. Scientists have known for some time that vervet monkeys have different warning calls for different predators — eagle, leopard, and snake — but unlike the Campbell's monkeys, vervets don't combine those calls to create new meanings, a key component of syntax. The researchers plan to play back recordings to the monkeys to test their theories for syntax errors."
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alphadogg sends in a Network World piece that begins "Facebook has agreed to shut down a program that sparked a lawsuit alleging privacy violations, and set up a $9.5M fund for a nonprofit foundation that will support online privacy, safety, and security. The lawsuit centers around Facebook's Beacon program, which let third-party Web sites distribute 'stories' about users to Facebook. Beacon was launched in November 2007 and less than a year later plaintiffs filed a class action lawsuit 'alleging that Facebook and its affiliates did not give users adequate notice and choice about Beacon and the collection and use of users' personal information.' ... Facebook never admitted wrongdoing but as part of a proposed settlement the company began sending notices to Facebook users this week. The settlement provides no compensation directly to users who receive the notice. Facebook users can opt out of the settlement, and should do so if they wish to pursue further legal action against Facebook related to the Beacon program. 'If you choose to do nothing and remain in the settlement class, you will be legally bound by the settlement,' a FAQ on the settlement Web site says. "By doing nothing, you will be giving up the right to sue Facebook and the other Defendants over claims related to or arising out of the Beacon program.'" Other defendents included Blockbuster, Fandango, Overstock.com, Zappos.com, and Gamefly. Neither the article nor the settlement site mentions what part, if any, they play in the settlement.
kkleiner writes "You may remember Liam Hoekstra, the baby apparently born without the myostatin gene, and consequently sporting 40% more skeletal muscle than his peers. Using gene therapy, NCH scientists have been able to get follistatin (a myostatin blocker) to promote phenomenal muscle growth in macaque monkeys. NCH is now working with the FDA to perform the preliminary steps necessary for a human clinical trial. Is this the prelude to a super-strength gene therapy for all of us?"
pmdubs writes "Princeton University Professor Michael Freedman, creator of CoralCDN, discusses how he received around 100 pre-settlement letters in one month from various copyright agencies after invalid BitTorrent tracker requests were issued through CoralCDN's proxies. Interestingly, the participating agencies made no effort whatsoever to verify that the Coral nodes were actually running BitTorrent, which they weren't! He questions just how much effort agencies take to reduce false positives when it comes to DMCA notices. Considering the credence that network operators give to such notices (they'll often cut your service upon receipt), it would seem that the answer is 'not enough.'"
supersloshy writes Today Mozilla released Thunderbird 3. Many new features are available, including Tabs and enhanced search features, a message archive for emails you don't want to delete but still want to keep, Firefox 3's improved Add-ons Manager, Personas support, and many other improvements. Download here."
darthcamaro writes "America is no longer the spam king. According to Cisco, US-originated spam dropped by over two trillion messages — American-based IP addresses sent about 6.2 trillion spam messages. The new world leader is Brazil at 7.7 trillion messages. 'I'm not completely surprised to see US falling to number two in the spam stats, but I didn't expect it to happen yet,' said Cisco Fellow Patrick Peterson. 'I was really gratified to see the actual spam volume decrease, not just ranking, but we [also] decreased the amount of spam that is pouring out of the United States.'" The drop in US spam might have had something to do with the temporary shutdown of the McColo spam ISP.
hweimer writes "The German government plans on paying to set up a call center to help Windows users with malware infections. I think this has the effect of being a malware bailout for Microsoft, discouraging them and other software companies from writing better code and giving users little incentive to switch to more secure alternatives. How much government money is needed to run the call center is also not revealed." The call center, running in cooperation with ISPs (but not manufacturers), is envisioned to have a staff of about 40.
Following our recent discussions about the growing evidence pointing to possible life on Mars, reader skywatcher2501 writes with news of a study that has ruled out one possible explanation for the levels of methane seen on that planet — that it might be replenished by disintegrating meteors entering the atmosphere. So two theories remain: either the gas is created as a by-product of reactions between volcanic rock and water, or it is a by-product of a lifeform's metabolism.
kai_hiwatari writes "The Google Chrome Extensions site is now open for Windows and Linux users — but not yet for Mac — and contains around 300 extensions. AdBlock is not yet available, however. (The closest thing to it is Adsweep, but right now it seems to be broken. Who wants to take this on?) Does the availability of extensions put Chrome at risk of becoming bloated, like many complain about with Firefox?"
An anonymous reader writes "CNET reports on the world's most geeky Christmas card, and also the most expensive. The card is made out of a 1st gen iPhone, hacked into a Christmas card using cardboard, paper and glue. The card includes a virtual 'bauble' which uses the iPhone's accelerometer to recreate Christmas decorations that bounce and move with the card. The makers of the card say that because of the iPhone's battery life 'you probably don't want to post it anywhere it will take more than 3 days to arrive.'"
lunchlady55 writes "I have been happily working for my current employer for five years. After moving up the ranks within my department from Intern to Technical Lead, a new manager essentially told me that I have to move into a different role, oriented toward 'administrative duties and management.' We are a 24x7 shop, and will now be required to work five 8-hour days rather than four 10-hour days and be on call during the other two days of the week. Every week. Including holidays. My question is: have any Slashdotters been forced into a non-technical role, and how did it work out? Has anyone said 'No thanks' to this kind of promotion and managed to keep their jobs?"
wkurzius writes with this nugget from Mac Rumors: "As anticipated, Google has finally released an official beta version of its Chrome browser for Mac. The initial beta version, termed Build 188.8.131.52, requires Mac OS X Leopard or Snow Leopard, and is only compatible with Intel-based Macs." And hierofalcon writes with word that Chrome has also been made available as an official Linux Beta.
An anonymous reader writes "Molinker, a Chinese developer of iPhone apps, has been booted from the App Store after being caught trying to game the App Store review system. It seems reviewers were being paid off with free apps in return for 5-star reviews." This means the removal of over 1000 apps, described in this article as "knock-offs of existing applications."
gyrogeerloose writes "Although there was evidence to suggest that the Japanese navy was up to something in December 1941, that information was scant and came too late. Today's intelligence agencies have another problem altogether — more information than they can deal with, and computers aren't helping as much as one might expect for reasons that will be familiar to Slashdot readers: computers can crunch numbers faster and more accurately than humans, but they're still easily baffled by language as it is commonly used in the real world. Metaphor, slang and simple figures of speech can confuse the best algorithm and, as quoted in the linked article in the San Diego Union-Tribune, 'A system that takes a week to discover a bombing that will occur in a day isn't very useful.'"
Lord Duran writes "The Israeli Knesset approved a bill that will require every Israeli citizen to submit a visual scan of their face and a biometric scan of their fingerprints to a national database. I, for one, fail to see how this is anything but evil. TFA mentions the Israeli census was breached — I'd like to point out, for comparison, that it's still freely available on your peer-to-peer file sharing network of choice."