NewsStream Pick of the litter from my aggregated feeds -- Summarized

2005: May [March, April]

An Antidote to Spyware? [eWeek 5/9/2005] In Defining Spyware: A Solution, Simson Garfinkel proposes an interesting approach to deal with spyware and other malware. Instead of trying to define what behaviours are legal and what aren't, "a cleaner solution would be to require software vendors to document the behaviors in their software that most computer users find surprising. This legislation could be modeled on the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906. Back then, U.S. consumers faced a horrible problem of narcotics and other addictive drugs being routinely added to foods of all kinds, from soft drinks to baby food. The act didn't outlaw the practice; it simply required that specific ingredients had to be disclosed on a product's label." Companies that didn't comply could be prosecuted for unfair or deceptive trade practices. Let the consumer decide! 5/22/2005 10:29:00 AM    
Samsung's Massive 40-inch Ultra-slim, Ultra-sharp, OLED TV [AkihabaraNews 20-05-2005 via Gizmodo 5/20/2005] This huge [prototype] OLED (Organic Light-Emitting Diode) TV cements Samsung's status as a consumer technology leader. The OLED panel, which the model is so helpfully showing us is viewable from just about any angle, is also thinner, pixelier, and contrastier than current flat panel TVs. Manufactured on Samsung's fourth generation production line, the prototype combines the features of emissive OLED technology, including wide viewing angle, thin package size, no color filter and no backlight, with the enormous production advantages of standard a-Si techniques. According to the press release, "Shattering traditional AM OLED size limitations, the new prototype offers a maximum screen brightness of 600 nits; a black-and-white contrast ratio of 5,000:1; and, a color gamut of 80 percent. Motion pictures with ultra-high quality images can be impeccably reproduced by skillfully employing OLED's rapid video response capabilities for image processing of HD-class resolution. The ultra-thin shape of the panels will allow future TV set designers to create televisions with a total thickness of only 3cm or less." 5/21/2005 11:39:01 AM    
A parking ticket can teach a lot about productivity [Globe and Mail 5/19/2005] Mobile ticketing technology boosts productivity in new ways for the cities involved. The technology allows municipalities to issue more tickets and reduce errors, and it eliminates the cumbersome and time-consuming data entry involved with handwritten tickets. It's possible -- through a wireless connection to a back-end information repository -- for officers using the portable devices to check the history of tagged vehicles and immediately summon a towing company to cart away any found to have numerous outstanding citations. That equals more revenue for the city generated by each parking enforcement employee. The cost to equip a parking control officer -- including handheld device, printer and the software -- is about $6,000. The payback in terms of increased efficiency and revenue for municipalities is realized in as little as six months... 5/19/2005 10:00:59 PM    
Create your own BSOD in Windows XP (on request, that is) [TechRepublic.com 5/18/2005] As puzzling as it may sound, it can be quite useful to create your own Blue Screen Of Death in Windows XP. From troubleshooting your Startup And Recovery settings to demonstrating to end users what to do if they encounter a BSOD, this tip will come in handy. Here's how to create a BSOD: 1. Launch the Registry Editor Regedit.exe. 2. Go to HKLMSYSTEMCurrentControlSetServicesi8042prtParameters. 3. Edit, select New | DWORD Value and name the new value CrashOnCtrlScroll. 4. Double-click the CrashOnCtrlScroll DWORD Value, type 1 in the Value Data textbox, and click OK. 5. Close the Registry Editor and restart Windows XP. When you want to cause a BSOD, press and hold down the [Ctrl] key on the right side of your keyboard, and then tap the [ScrollLock] key twice. Now you should see the BSOD. 5/19/2005 7:06:59 PM    
Sony In-Car GPS shows where you should have been in real-time 3D [AkihabaraNews 5/13/2005 9:30 via Gizmodo 5/13/2005 10:53:04] As Americans continue to question the necessity of GPS units in cars, Sony has released a new model in its Linux-based XYZ series, the sleek, touchscreen units that can display most of the streets of Tokyo is real-time 3D. The NVXYZ777 can also be mated to an optional 'EX' box that fits in the in-dash DIN slot, storing a 30GB hard drive that can hold map data, as well as music. Lust all you like, but don't feel too bad — Japanese drivers will be paying in the neighborhood of $2,500 for the system. 5/15/2005 9:43:24 AM    
Opportunity Rover Begins Escape From Sand Trap [JPL Mars Rovers sol 464, 5/14/2005] Careful Rollout: The Mars Rover Opportunity rotated its wheels on sol 463 for the first time since it dug itself into a sand dune. The wheels made about two and a half rotations. In the loose footing, the rover advanced 1.1 inch forward, 0.19 inch sideways and 0.18 inch downward. The results were a good match for what was expected from tests under simulated Mars conditions on Earth, and the rover team will decide whether to repeat the same careful movement again in two days. Two weeks ago, Opportunity had completed nearly 131 feet of a planned 295-foot drive, when it started slip on a one foot tall by 8 feet wide sand dune. Its wheels kept rotating, but the rover barely inched forward. The rover team spent more than two weeks designing and conducting tests before choosing the best way for Opportunity to drive out of the dune. [Thumbnail links to 1,436K animated GIF] 5/14/2005 9:29:34 PM    
Microsoft announces Windows protection, maintenance and tuning package [via Slashdot, New York Times 5/13/2005] Microsoft will finally enter the consumer antivirus business as part of an all-in-one subscription service for automated protection, maintenance and performance tuning as package. Windows OneCare addresses core safety concerns such as worms, viruses and spyware, but also spans broader PC health issues: helping protect electronic assets such as digital photos, music, financial data and software; and guarding against performance degradation and system clutter that can result from heavy use. The new antivirus and improved firewall will join the AntiSpyware already in beta. The maintenance service runs a monthly PC tune-up, and backup saves files by category to CD or DVD, with the ability to restore saved versions or transfer them to a new PC. Windows OneCare gives PC users one simple point of reference for checking the overall health of their system, and will automatically notify them of available updates or other recommended actions as needed. Otherwise, the service will stay quiet and in the background. 5/13/2005 5:01:01 PM    
Xbox 360 Unveiled [Slashdot: 5/13/2005; 8:53:27 AM] You may or may not have caught the Xbox 360 unveiling on MTV Thursday night, but the internet will provide. A plethora of sites have photos, videos, commentary, specifications, and interviews about the new system. Your fellow readers have pulled together to provide links to: 1up.com, Joystiq, Gamespot, The BBC, CNN, NYT, Gamespy, Team Xbox, Voodoo Extreme, Anandtech, and eToyChest. The official Xbox 360 site opened last night as well for word straight from the source. For more official images Ourcolony.net has been 'solved', and now features an OurColony specific video preview. Finally, for commentary on the event, the Video Game Ombudsman provides an alternative to the press releases. 5/13/2005 9:15:34 AM    
Sun Blesses Open-Source Java Effort [TechWeb 5/11/2005 6:21 PM ET] Sun Microsystems has endorsed and may even participate in the Apache Foundation's Project Harmony, which will create an open-source version of Sun' desktop Java 2, Standard Edition (J2SE). The project includes a complete set of class libraries, a Java Virtual Machine (VM) implementation, and a test suite for interoperability testing, all under the terms of Apache's open-source licensing model. The proposal and accompanying FAQ acknowledge several key challenges, including concern over possible intellectual property conflicts. "Personally, I am not entirely sure if the world really needs a second J2SE implementation," stated Graham Hamilton, Sun's chief technologist for Java Software, in a blog entry posted the day after Harmony's public debut. Although Hamilton also cautioned that "creating a full scale implementation is a mammoth task," on the whole, his comments indicated that both he and Sun welcomed the effort. Other highly-placed Sun employees confirmed that Sun has decided to endorse and possibly to support the effort. 5/12/2005 8:50:32 AM    
OSS Projects Offer Bounties For Features [Slashdot: 5/10/2005; 4:52:06 PM] The market for open source developers seems to be heating up. Asterisk, Gnome, Horde, and Mozilla all have bounties for desired features. Recently, Lime Wire updated its wish list to include bounties on open source development work! Similarly, i2p also released a bounty list. Is it time to consider quitting my day job to do open source development full time?
Also: Mark Shuttleworth: Claim Your Bounty!, Public Software Fund, AROS project, ... 5/11/2005 8:30:09 AM    
Stoker's Dracula as a blog [via Boing Boing 5/9/2005] This genius blogger is posting the Jonathan Harper journal entries from Stoker's Dracula as a series of dated blog posts [rss]: "8 May -- I began to fear as I wrote in this book that I was getting too diffuse. But now I am glad that I went into detail from the first, for there is something so strange about this place and all in it that I cannot but feel uneasy. I wish I were safe out of it, or that I had never come. It may be that this strange night existence is telling on me, but would that that were all! If there were any one to talk to I could bear it, but there is no one. I have only the Count to speak with, and he-- I fear I am myself the only living soul within the place. Let me be prosaic so far as facts can be. It will help me to bear up, and imagination must not run riot with me. If it does I am lost. Let me say at once how I stand, or seem to..." 5/10/2005 8:23:25 PM    
D'Oh: Hillary "RIAA" Rosen Says iPod DRM is cruel and unfriendly [Boing Boing 5/9/2005 via Ernest Miller] Hilary Rosen, former head of the RIAA, is complaining about the DRM policy on her iPod. She is upset because she is unable to buy Windows DRM'd music and play it on her iPod. She calls this 'cruel,' 'anti-consumer' and 'user unfriendly.' "The problem is that the iPod only works with either songs that you buy from the on-line Apple iTunes store or songs that you rip from your own CDs. But those other music sites have lots of music that you can't get at the iTunes store. So, if you have an iPod, you are out of luck. If you are really a geek, you can figure out how to strip the songs you might have bought from another on-line store of all identifying information so that they will go into the iPod. But then you have also degraded the sound quality. How cruel... Why am I complaining about this? Why isn’t everyone?" 5/9/2005 9:06:50 PM    
Woman's personal information left on floor model computer then sold by Circuit City Personal information copied to floor model computer then sold [Denver Channel 5/6/2005 via Fark 5/8/2005] Susan asked to have the files from her old computer saved, so Circuit City employees copied her files onto a floor model computer then onto a disk. But they never removed Susan's personal files from that floor model, and a few days later that computer was sold. "That evening I got a call from a stranger who told me he purchased a computer containing all of my personal information," Susan said. Circuit City told her it was her fault for leaving her files on their computer because the transfer was done at no charge and she did not specifically ask for protection. That's when she filed suit. 5/8/2005 8:37:19 PM    
Fat, food and behaviour [Mind Hacks 5/6/2005] The Guardian discusses the growing evidence for a link between fatty acids, brain function and behaviour in a story that focuses on the potential effects on visual problems, dyslexia and difficulties with attention. Some 40% of the children given Omega-3 essential fat supplements made dramatic improvements in reading and spelling, averaging progress of more than nine months in just three months. The control group made just the normal progress of three months. After three months, the control group switched from placebos to active supplements, and showed similar leaps in progress. In another randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, Bernard Gesch gave a course of supplements containing essential fatty acids and key vitamins and minerals to prisoners in one of Britain's maximum security prisons. The inmates were responsible for some of the highest levels of prison violence in the UK. The number of serious offences, including violence, by the prisoners, fell by nearly 40% in those taking the supplements but not at all in those not taking them. To Gesch, the case is just "bleeding obvious". 5/7/2005 6:53:39 PM    
Introducing Agile to a legacy project [Steve Eichert 4/7/2005] Brian Marick recently posted his “talking points” for how to introduce Agile to a legacy project.  I think this is something that is often overlooked in the agile community.  There is oodles and oodles of documentation about how to run an agile project when you’re starting fresh, but I haven’t seen very much on how to introduce agile into an existing “legacy” project.  Usually the team is deciding to give agile a try because of disappointments on previous projects, which are usually still around.  This poses some difficult problems since the legacy code usually doesn’t have very many (if any) tests, is likely highly coupled, and possibly a complete mess.  Brian’s post provides some good guidance on how to get started when you’re in such an environment.  The most important thing to note is that it should be gradual process, you can’t make a project agile in a day or week, but you can begin to see immediate benefits from moving in an agile direction. 5/7/2005 6:40:04 PM    
Top 10 Light Therapy Products [About.com 5/6/2005] These products, ranging from $10 to hundreds of dollars, can help you add broad- or full-spectrum or natural lighting to your home or office. Recent studies show strong evidence that exposure to artificial broad-spectrum light is an effective treatment for seasonal affective disorder (SAD) in which people become more depressed in the darker days of winter. They're good for your general health, too. 5/7/2005 5:49:37 PM    
Court yanks down FCC's broadcast flag [CNET News.com 5/6/2005, 9:52AM PDT] In a stunning victory for hardware makers and television buffs, a federal appeals court has tossed out government rules that would have outlawed many digital TV receivers and tuner cards starting July 1. "The broadcast flag regulations exceed the agency's delegated authority under the statute," a three-judge panel unanimously concluded. "The FCC has no authority to regulate consumer electronic devices that can be used for receipt of wire or radio communication when those devices are not engaged in the process of radio or wire transmission." (Click here for a PDF of the decision.) During oral arguments in February, the three judges suggesed the FCC had overstepped what the law permits. "You're out there in the whole world, regulating. Are washing machines next?" asked Judge Harry Edwards. Quipped Judge David Sentelle: "You can't regulate washing machines. You can't rule the world." 5/6/2005 8:12:30 PM    
Criminal Enterprise Moves Into Net The Simpsons: Fat Tony[TechWeb 4/27/2005 via W2Knews 5/6/2005] Malware, spam, phishing, spyware, bots and root kits are raking in big bucks and fighting them effectively is a huge challenge. David Aucsmith, Microsoft's Security CTO, said, "We've seen an explosion of criminal enterprise moving onto the Net in the last 18 months or so... It's no longer just for kicks. It is for making money... 70 to 80 percent of all spam comes from bots. These are your moms' machines, compromised by a bot. They're fairly sophisticated now." The "herders" who operate bot networks offer to rent out their bot networks. "People are making a lot of money with spam," he said flatly. The Wall Street Journal had an article on May 5 about true Mafia tactics where e-commerce sites were sent extortion emails, and told to pay up 10 grand protection money, or else be attacked. Looks like true crime has arrived in the neighborhood. 5/6/2005 7:51:29 PM    
Interview with James Gosling: "The Man Who Brewed Up Java" [Business Week 5/4/2005 via Boing Boing 5/6/2005] Business Week has a good interview with James Gosling. "The really lucky thing was we ended up reading the tea leaves correctly and guessing the direction things were going to take. "
Q: How has becoming known as "the father of Java" changed your life, personally?
A: In some sense, it kind of ruined my life. I'm absolutely an engineer, a scientist kind of guy. I've kind of learned how to have a public presence. But it doesn't give me the same kind of job satisfaction that building something does. 5/6/2005 7:31:44 PM    
Infoscraper update
  • RSS Bandit is a desktop news aggregator written in C# and .NET under active development at SourceForge. See Revamping the RSS Bandit Application for a 2003 MSDN article about RSS Bandit.
     
  • Creating a generic Site-To-RSS tool [9/29/2003] describes a generic HTML-to-RSS scraper tool that uses regular expressions with VB.NET.
     
  • Template Based Scraping [10/28/2002] A quick overview of screen scraping.
     
  • RSSxl is an HTML to RSS converter that will generate an RSS feed from pretty well any HTML web page - with no requirement to edit the source HTML first. It is a free online service that translates HTML to RSS.
Now to put it all together ... 5/5/2005 3:12:34 PM    
We know what you did [CNET HotTopicsNewsletter May 3, 2005] Go to ZabaSearch.com, type in your name, and see what comes up. Are you shocked at the search results? Or are you not surprised? In Pick your battles with Internet privacy, Tom Merritt maintains that ZabaSearch is no evil Big Brother. It's a search aggregator, and a rather efficient one at that. All the information in its database can be found elsewhere on the Web. Its crime, if any, was making personal information supereasy to find. 5/5/2005 9:23:24 AM    
Practical auto MP3 (at a realistic price) [Woot! 5/5/2005; 2:52:09 AM] The Omnifi DMP1 20GB Car Media Jukebox (reviewed here) consists of a controller, a removable hard drive, and a wireless adapter. Thanks to the auto sync feature, it can sit out in your garage and fetch the content you want while you're snug in bed. You'll roll off to work every morning armed with a fresh batch of podcasts, tunes, news, audiobooks, whatever. You could buy it at Target for $665.98, which might seem reasonable considering the technology involved, but it's way too much considering a 20G iPod costs $299.99. Today's Woot! special (May 5 only) has it for $139.99, which puts it on the right side of the cost-convenience equation. 5/5/2005 8:34:46 AM    
Searching by Image Instead of Keywords [Slashdot: 5/4/2005; 9:53:22 PM] Content based image retrieval (CBIR), the technique to search for images not by keywords, but by comparing features of the images themselves has been the focus of much research for decades. Consider for instance adding CBIR to Google Images, where you would be able to search for images similar to a query image instead of using keywords. A research project at Penn State University has recently been applied to the biggest aviation photo database in the world with close to 800,000 images. You can search for images similar to a photo already in their database (click "View similar photos") or submit your own query image. Some queries generate better results than others but CBIR is certainly here to stay and will be standard in many image applications of the future. 5/5/2005 8:21:34 AM    
The Unemployed Working on OSS Projects [Slashdot: 5/5/2005; 2:52:26 AM] In Australia the unemployed have to fulfill a 'mutual obligation' requirement in order to receive welfare payments. What this means is that recipients of welfare payments have to be involved in some sort of activity that improves their chances of finding employment. Until now this has included various types of community service and training and education programs. Recently an organisation called CommunityCode has been established to allow recipients to fulfill this requirement by contributing to OSS projects. 5/5/2005 7:52:57 AM    
Microsoft Partners with SAP for Enterprise Business Applications [internetnews.com 4/24/2005] Using their service-oriented architecture models as a base, SAP AG and Microsoft are jointly developing a new composite application that hooks together SAP's enterprise services architecture and Microsoft's .NET platform to integrate the two companies' technologies. Code-named Mendocino, the software represents the next level of integration between the companies' core products, where customers use SAP's business software directly from Office applications. SAP will resell Microsoft Office and Microsoft will resell licenses to SAP's business process platform, available in 2006. The pact offers more tangible proof that distributed computing models are here to stay. 5/4/2005 6:35:57 PM    
Utilize MySQL's features through .NET [TechRepublic 5/3/2005] MySQL continues to gain market share due to its ease of use and price. The open source community has extended its reach by developing a connector to be used with the .NET Framework. Learn more about using MySQL in .NET applications and get extended examples of how to work with MySQL data via .NET. 5/4/2005 1:53:17 PM    
Why I Don't Use DataSets in My ASP.NET Applications. [4GuysFromRolla 5/4/2005] This article examins the fundamentals of the two data access objects provided by ADO.NET: the DataReader and the DataSet. Both objects have their time and place in .NET applications but, according to Scott Mitchell, DataSets are rarely, if ever, useful in ASP.NET Web applications. There are exceptions, granted, but for the majority of Web applications, DataReaders should be used exclusively. Performance, performance, performance. (There's also a good discussion on this topic going on over at Scott's blog.) 5/4/2005 1:43:00 PM    
How to make screen capture work with Windows video

Most people know that when you press the Windows Print Screen (PrtSc) key, nothing (apparently) happens. Some people know that Windows actually takes a snapshot of your computer's screen and copies it into the clipboard, so you can paste it into your favorite graphics processing program, or Paint. A few people even know that pressing Alt+PrtSc copies the currently selected window instead of the full screen. Of course, there are all kinds of screen capture programs to give you more control over the process.

In theory, it should be easy to capture stills from video files, whether paused or streaming, by pressing Atl+PrtSc and pasting the result into your graphics program. However, quite often all you get is a beautiful image of the media player's border and controls, with a blank where the picture of the video is supposed to be.

I always thought this was some sort of DRM control "feature", but I was wrong. It's actually caused by your video acceleration setting.

D'Oh!

In Fixing a blank display, the screen capture experts at PixelMetrics explain how to turn off the media player's acceleration while recording. They give instructions for Media Player (7,8,9,10), QuickTime Player, RealPlayer, and WinAmp.

If that doesn't work, they also explain how to disable hardware acceleration system-wide.

5/4/2005 9:49:27 AM    
Punching the Clock: Hacking an alarm clock to snooze when hit [via Street Tech 5/3/2005] This is a fun hardware hack: a cheapo alarm clock outfitted with an accelerometer so that it will go into snooze mode when you smack it, whack it, punch it, toss it off your nightstand, etc. This application note for the low-cost DE-ACCM[pdf] accelerometer board shows how to reverse engineer an off-the-shelf appliance and modify it so it's much more fun and useful. Dimension Engineering was formed in 2004 by two Carnegie Mellon graduates to sell easy-to-use electronic products to the hobbyist, educational and research markets. 5/4/2005 8:40:31 AM    
When Reality Bites the Free Gospel [Free Software Magazine April 2005 via Linux Today 5/3/2005] "In a dream world, all software would be free. However, we spend enough time with our eyes open to realize that some situations call for proprietary software, either as a desktop or as a server application, on a free system... Examine this scenario: you have an Oracle database that’s been running for x years and it’s tweaked so perfectly you can’t afford the time and effort to scrub it and migrate to a free relational database. Rest easy: Oracle is available on free systems, albeit certified only on certain distributions... Another scenario: You’re one of the poor sods who pass your company's Free-OS exemption test because of some esoteric application not available on free systems... OpenOffice.org to the rescue." 5/4/2005 8:36:16 AM    
On average, only five make it to interviews: poll [Globe and Mail 5/4/2005] On average, executives only interview five candidates for each job opening, according to a new survey of 100 Canadian executives by OfficeTeam, a unit of Robert Half International Inc.. "Once you secure an interview, you've crossed a major hurdle," said Diane Domeyer, executive director of OfficeTeam. "The key then becomes presenting your skills and talent effectively and building rapport with the hiring manager to distinguish yourself from other candidates." 5/4/2005 8:14:14 AM    
Open Document Format Approved [Slashdot: 5/4/2005; 5:52:18 AM] Open Document Format approved! Read all about it!* The OpenDocument format is intended to provide an open alternative to proprietary document formats including the popular DOC, XLS, and PPT formats used by Microsoft Office. Organizations and individuals that store their data in an open format avoid being locked in to a single software vendor, leaving them free to switch software if their current vendor goes out of business or changes their software or licensing terms to something less favorable. The OASIS Group announces that the third Committee Draft [PDF*] of the Open Document Format for Office Applications (OpenDocument) v1.0 Specification has been approved as an OASIS Standard.
*Acrobat reader required to read open format PDF 5/4/2005 8:08:50 AM    
Lobbyists in uproar as Florida Legislature considers banning felons from lobbying. [St. Petersburg Times 5/3/2005 via Fark] Lobbyists were in an uproar Monday over a proposal to ban felons from lobbying the Florida Legislature. It was a last-minute amendment to a bill which would require lobbyists to report the dollars they spend wining and dining lawmakers. The Senate President said he was unaware that any lobbyists had felony records until telephone calls and notes started pouring in. Senator Alex Villalobos, R-Miami, suggested the felony amendment be named in honor of the defibrillators required on the fourth-floor, where lobbyists hang out. 5/4/2005 7:47:09 AM    
Sluggish, but improving growth rates for Microsoft certified professionals [SearchWin2000.com 3/23/2005] Numbers from Microsoft show more interesting monthly growth rates across the board in the past 13 months than in the two previous years. Some observations: MCSE continues to show strong and steady growth; MCSA is finally starting to develop some serious momentum; MCDBA growth has jumped the most ... 5/3/2005 7:51:33 PM    
Data integration can be a hoot with OWL [SearchWebServices.com 2/17/2005] The movement to standards-based computing that XML and Web services herald is eerily analogous to the work done in the first half of the twentieth century to establish international long distance telephone standards. The use of semantic integration technologies, like Web Ontology Language (OWL), can solve the problem of data composition. Using ontologies as an abstraction layer for enabling automated information exchange is analogous to the use of Service contracts to abstract the implementation of service providers from consumers. However, just as SOA requires an advanced investment in architecture, the creation of ontologies are quite time-consuming, and require a leap of faith by implementers before they can realize their value. 5/3/2005 7:41:52 PM    
Beating the RSS crunch with aggregation/bloglines [SearchWebServices.com 10/20/2004] Bloglines has created a freely available, simple and straightforward set of APIs that developers can use to access their aggregated blog database and relieve congestion problems. What Bloglines does for RSS feeds is very much like what Google and Yahoo do for popular Web pages and information: they compile this content into their databases, so that accesses to frequently requested pages are satisfied from a local cache, instead of requiring the original server to handle yet another update or access request. 5/3/2005 7:35:14 PM    
US Secrets revealed with cut'n'paste - Clipboard now illegal [Boing Boing 5/1/2005; 10:53:54 PM] Seems that the US report on the killing of Italian agent Calipari in Baghdad by US forces was redacted by a PDF novice who didn't understand how to operate the DRM. Consequently all the names, numbers and details carefully redacted by the military are available with just a simple cut-and-paste. Does this make the clipboard a DMCA violation mechanism? 5/2/2005 7:38:11 AM    
The Business of Design [Fast Company 5/2/2005] Roger Martin argues that in this turbulent, get-real economy, the advantage goes to those who can outimagine and outcreate their competitors. Traditional companies reward those who prove that something actually operates or that something must be. Design shops reward those with the foresight and courage to act on what might be. "We're telling students that the big bucks are made by administering linear improvements -- getting better and better at doing essentially the same thing," he says. "But the real challenge lies in getting better and better at a different thing: devising clever solutions to wickedly difficult problems." See also: Fast Take: Thinking Like a Designer 5/2/2005 7:34:23 AM    
An end to those annoying support phone calls ... "Tired of Supporting Friends' Computers? Migrate Them to GNU/Linux". [NewsForge 4/30/2005 via Linux Today 5/1/2005] This article actually makes a certain amount of sense, at least from the viewpoint of the unpaid support person. As long as you understand it's really talking about locked-down systems, not Linux.
"The result, after six months, is an end to the annoying phone calls ... Yes, they're all still using GNU/Linux. It's what they imagined computing would be in the first place -- no hassles, no threats, no worries. It's like a dream come true, not just for them, but for me too -- no more troubleshooting nightmares and monthly service calls."

Of course, while a static system may be "a dream come true" for support, it may be a different kind of dream for a user who wants to use a new game, camera, or file format ....

"GNU/Linux does not pose the kinds of problems that Windows does. There is no registry to easily corrupt, and the operating system does not fail in generic, catch-all ways. The user has no power to alter the system software, so important files are not accidentally deleted, and potential viruses and spyware programs have no ability to wreck the system."

It's true that Linux currently has fewer installations and fewer attackers, but both of those statistics are changing. As a direct result of Linux's increasing popularity, more and more malware writers are targeting Linux systems -- after all, you're guaranteed that each target system has at least minimal compile/link/load support and scripting, not to mention rootkit support. Security through obscurity is a fool's game.

The point about protecting the system software from the user is an excellent one, though. I wonder if the author has ever heard of Windows XP?

"It takes a knowledgeable, skilled user to keep a Windows system properly maintained. In short, they need an operating system that, for all their trying, they cannot screw up. Windows isn't it."

Mind you, as long as the users are unable to change the operating system, add or remove software, or add or remove hardware, you have an appliance computer. The underlying operating system is almost irrelevant, but in practice it makes much more sense to run a locked down Windows XP installation running in User mode. Windows XP's autoupdate and autorepair mean that with a properly configured antivirus program the system will maintain itself with NO user effort.

Of course, it's not even that simple. I configured a fully locked-down XP system so my mother could use email and browse the web. This worked extremely well for her, but it drove my father nuts. He couldn't change any of the desktop settings, let alone "clean up" the system by moving all the DLLs to the same directory, installing the "right" applications, and deleting "problem" files like kernel32.dll. He finally lost patience, wiped the system, and installed his own highly "optimized" version of Windows 98. He'd probably have done the same thing to Linux. He's happy, she's thrilled any time her email works, and I stopped taking support calls -- so, I guess, that approach works, too.

5/1/2005 3:18:22 PM    
Near Perfect "Einstein Ring" Discovered. [Universe Today 4/29/2005] Gravitational lensing happens when the gravity of a relatively close galaxy acts as a telescope lens to focus the light from a more distant galaxy. The galaxies are never perfectly lined up, though, and the "natural telescope" is a bit blurry. But now astronomer Remi Cabanac has found one of the most complete lenses ever discovered: a near perfect Einstein Ring, magnifying a distant galaxy with incredible clarity. 5/1/2005 3:09:23 PM    
Microsoft Reaches Out to Open-Source Community. [eWeek 4/29/2005] Microsoft Corp. has extended an olive branch to the open-source community, calling for a sit-down to discuss how the software giant can better work with the open-source world. Brad Smith, Microsoft's general counsel, called for bridge building between Microsoft, its competitors and the open-source community. "We will need some new rotations in how we work together, in how we license, in how we share technology or intellectual property rights with each other." Larry Rosen, former general counsel for OSI, said this was the first conciliatory statement to come out of Redmond.  Rosen noted that the open-source community helped WWWC develop a royalty-free intellectual property policy, is working with OASIS, and would like to work with Microsoft in the same way. Eric Raymond, an open-source community leader said he too welcomes the conciliatory tone from Microsoft. "Nobody in the open-source world expects Microsoft to open-source their core products; given their business model that would be insane," Raymond said. "But, realistically, they could do some important things... Microsoft has a history of destructive meddling at organizations like the IETF and W3C, and of attempting to hijack standards like Kerberos by making them dependent on proprietary 'extensions.' Simply not doing this would be a huge improvement." 5/1/2005 10:05:24 AM    
Space Elevator Group's First Commercial Nanotube Factory opening in June [Universe Today 4/27/2005 via Slashdot: 5/1/2005] LiftPort Group, a consortium dedicated to commercially developing and constructing a space elevator by 2018, will  open a commercial-scale carbon nanotube manufacturing plant this June. LiftPort Nanotech will be located in Millville, New Jersey, a community with a history in glass and plastics production. Both the City of Millville and the Cumberland County Empowerment Zone are partnering to provide $100,000 in initial seed money for the new facility. Many expect the LiftPort Group to be a front-runner in NASA's recently-announced Centennial Challenges competitions for space elevator technologies, which begin in September of this year. 5/1/2005 9:50:55 AM