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Lord of the Rings

MGM and Warner Near On Deal For Hobbit Films 222

Jamie found an NYT story that says "After months of negotiation and delay, Warner Brothers and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer are on the verge of an agreement that would allow the director Peter Jackson to begin shooting a two-part version of J. R. R. Tolkien's The Hobbit early next year." The production has struggled recently with issues with unions, and a fire.

The Binary Code In Canada's Gov-Gen Coat of Arms 486

Lev13than writes "Dr. David Johnston, formerly the president of the University of Waterloo, was installed as Canada's new Governor-General on Friday. As de facto head of state and the Queen's representative in Canada he is required to design a personal coat of arms. One modern detail has attracted particular attention - a 33-digit palindromic binary stream at the base. Efforts to decode the meaning of the number using ASCII, Morse, grouping by 3/11 and other theories has so far come up empty (right now it's a toss up between random, the phone number 683-077-0643 and Morse code for 'send help - trapped in a coat of arms factory.') Is 110010111001001010100100111010011 the combination to his luggage, or just a random stream of digits?"
Star Wars Prequels

Lucas Promises Star Wars on Blu-Ray in 2011 420

Several readers have written with word that George Lucas has announced a 2011 release date for the Star Wars series — all six films — on Blu-Ray. Engadget (linked) has an explanation of what to expect, and includes a video of a deleted scene that the Blu-Ray version will include. They warn that this might be a disappointment to anyone who (correctly) believes that Han shot first.

WebKit Gives Konqueror a Speed Boost (Past Firefox) 199

An anonymous reader writes "We always knew that WebKit is going to make Konqueror fast; but how much faster? Today we test that by putting Konqueror with KHTML through the SunSpider JavaScript Test and the then do the same with WebKit. To get an idea of how fast they are compared to other browsers, we also decided to put Firefox 4.0 Beta 2 through the tests."
The Media

Narco-Blogger Beats Mexico Drug War News Blackout 518

An anonymous reader writes "An anonymous, twentysomething blogger is giving Mexicans what they can't get elsewhere — an inside view of their country's raging drug war. Operating from behind a thick curtain of computer security, Blog del Narco in less than six months has become Mexico's go-to Internet site at a time when mainstream media are feeling pressure and threats to stay away from the story. Many postings, including warnings and a beheading, appear to come directly from drug traffickers. Others depict crime scenes accessible only to military or police."

Microsoft Finally To Patch 17-Year-Old Bug 251

eldavojohn writes "Microsoft is due for a very large patch this month, in which five critical holes (that render Windows hijackable by an intruder) are due to be fixed, in addition to twenty other problems. The biggest change addresses a 17-year-old bug dating back to the days of DOS, discovered in January by their BFF Google. The patch should roll out February 9th."

Can You Trust Chinese Computer Equipment? 460

Ian Lamont writes "Suspicions about China slipping eavesdropping technology into computer exports have been around for years. But the recent spying attacks, attributed to China, on Google and other Internet companies have revived the hardware spying concerns. An IT World blogger suggests the gear can't be trusted, noting that it wouldn't be hard to add security holes to the firmware of Chinese-made USB memory sticks, computers, hard drives, and cameras. He also implies that running automatic checks for data of interest in the compromised gear would not be difficult." The blog post mentions Ken Thompson's admission in 1983 that he had put a backdoor into the Unix C compiler; he laid out the details in the 1983 Turing Award lecture, Reflections On Trusting Trust: "The moral is obvious. You can't trust code that you did not totally create yourself. (Especially code from companies that employ people like me.) No amount of source-level verification or scrutiny will protect you from using untrusted code. In demonstrating the possibility of this kind of attack, I picked on the C compiler. I could have picked on any program-handling program such as an assembler, a loader, or even hardware microcode. As the level of program gets lower, these bugs will be harder and harder to detect. A well installed microcode bug will be almost impossible to detect."

Giving CubeSats Electric Propulsion 74

eldavojohn writes "Thirteen picosatellites were launched back in June of 2006 with the price coming down dramatically in the years since. But the Rubik's cube sized devices have no mobility, meaning once they're put in orbit, they stay in that orbit. The big problem is that traditional chemical propulsion systems are too large for ten-centimeter sided cubes weighing a kilogram. A new electric propulsion system designed by Paulo Lozano of MIT might change that. "

Next X-Prize — $10M For a Brain-Computer Interface 175

The first X-Prize was about reaching space. Now, reader destinyland writes "This time it's inner space, as Peter Diamandis holds a workshop at MIT discussing a $10 million X-Prize for building a brain-computer interface. This article includes video of Ray Kurzweil's 36-minute presentation, 'Merging the Human Brain with Its Creations,' and MIT synthetic neuroscientist Ed Boyden also made a presentation, followed by discussion groups about Input/Output, Control, Sensory, and Learning. Besides the ability to communicate by thought, the article argues, a Brain-Computer Interface X Prize 'will reward nothing less than a team that provides vision to the blind, new bodies to disabled people, and perhaps even a geographical 'sixth sense' akin to a GPS iPhone app in the brain.'"

Gaining Root Access On Linux-Based Femtocells 102

viralMeme writes "According to the Register, 'Security researchers have turned their attention to femtocells, and have discovered that gaining root on the tiny mobile base stations isn't as hard as one might hope.' One of the researchers said, 'After hours of sniffing traffic, changing IP address ranges, guessing passwords and investigating hardware pinouts, we had obtained root access on these Linux-based cellular-based devices, which piqued our curiosity [about] the security implications.' Whoever designed these devices should be sent back to computer school. An authentication device that can be bypassed is a contradiction in terms. Or, as some pen-pusher would put it in a report: an unantipicated security excursion.

Electric Bicycles Surging In Popularity 533

gollum123 writes "An accidental transportation upheaval began in China, where an estimated 120 million electric bicycles now hum along the roads, up from a few thousand in the 1990s. They are replacing traditional bikes and motorcycles at a rapid clip and, in many cases, allowing people to put off the switch to cars. The booming Chinese electric-bike industry is spurring worldwide interest and impressive sales in India, Europe, and the US. China is exporting many bikes, and Western manufacturers are also copying the Chinese trend to produce models of their own. From virtually nothing a decade ago, electric bikes have become an $11 billion global industry. In the Netherlands, a third of the money spent on bicycles last year went to electric-powered models. Industry experts predict similar growth elsewhere in Europe, especially in Germany, France, and Italy, as rising interest in cycling coincides with an aging population. India had virtually no sales until two years ago, but its nascent market is fast expanding and could eclipse Europe's in the next year. In China, electric bicycles have evolved into bigger machines that resemble Vespa scooters. These larger models are causing headaches for global transportation planners. They cannot decide whether to embrace them as a green form of transportation, or ban them as a safety hazard. Some cities are studying the halfway measure of banning them from bicycle lanes while permitting them on streets."
The Internet

IE 8 Is Top Browser, Google Chrome Is Rising Fast 319

An anonymous reader points out that the latest Net Applications numbers show that MSIE 8 has become the world's most-used browser, taking over from IE6, which has been hit by the decline in the use of Windows XP. emphasizes another angle on the numbers, which is that Chrome is the fastest-growing browser. Firefox's market share has stalled just below 25%. Chrome is now in third place, ahead of Safari. The Guardian's article reminds: "There's no guarantee that NetApps' numbers are accurate, and they are very unlikely to be correct to two decimal places. However, they do appear to be a good indicator of market trends."

Will Your Super Bowl Party Anger the Copyright Gods? 560

garg0yle writes "According to some folks, watching the Super Bowl on a television bigger than 55 inches is illegal. Is this true? Yes and no — long story short, if you're in a private residence you're probably okay, but if you're running a sports bar you may technically have to negotiate a license with the NFL. Just don't charge for food, or call it a 'Super Bowl' party, since the term itself is copyright."

DIY Texting System For Really Underground Radio 98

Gulthek writes "Sixteen-year-old Alexander Kendrick has created a device that allows texting and other data transfer from almost 1000 feet underground. The tech could allow rapid emergency communication with the surface and opens the potential for scientific measurements without the need to continually visit (and disturb) the cave environment." There's some kvetching in the NPR story's comments that it's not the first use of cave radios, but that seems to miss the point.

Boot Camp Finally Supports Windows 7 On Macs 216

Dave Knott writes "After some delay Apple has updated Boot Camp to support Windows 7 on Macintosh computers. They have also provided an upgrade utility that facilitates transition to Windows 7 for Mac owners who have existing Vista installations. The new version of Boot Camp requires OS X 10.6 (Snow Leopard)."

One picture is worth 128K words.