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Programming

+ - Are Amazon's web services going Open Source?->

Submitted by ruphus13
ruphus13 (890164) writes "Amazon has been one of the early movers in the cloud computing space, with its AWS offerings, including S3 and EC2. Now, there is a lot of chatter around the imminent open sourcing of all its APIs and services and the impact that will have on the other 'clouds' out there — public or private. From the article, "Amazon faces significant threats from open source cloud computing efforts if it pursues a purely proprietary path...Amazon can't ignore the cost advantages and diversity of product offerings that open source players are already offering in the cloud computing space. The company's best move is to open source its tools, which will end up diversifying them, play on a level field in terms of cost with the open source alternatives, and charge for services. Absent these moves, the company will lose potential customers to free, open source alternatives...Word is Amazon's legal team is currently 'investigating' open sourcing their various web services API's including EC2, S3, etc.", although these have not been confirmed by Amazon."
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Robotics

+ - Italian company proposes robot firefighter

Submitted by Big Nemo '60
Big Nemo '60 (749108) writes "From an Italian engineering magazine: Mr. Domenico Piatti, an engineer and fire brigade officer in Naples (Italy), developed an autonomous firefighting robot specially (but not exclusively) designed for motorway/railroad tunnels.

Named ROBOGAT, the robot moves along a lightweight monorail, that also includes mains for water (and optionally foam). It is equipped with both visible and infrared cameras. When a fire alert is triggered in the tunnel, two robots will start, one from each end of the tunnel, and traveling at up to 60 km/h they will reach the site of the fire. Once there, they will autonomously attach to the closest water/foam plug and aim to the fire with their multiple rotating nozzles. The external body is made of a ceramic/titanium composite, also once the robot is attached to the water plug, water is used to cool the "skin" of the robot before feeding the nozzles.

While the robot is fully autonomous, an operator from a control room may take over as needed. The robot runs on batteries; optionally, water from the mains can operate a small turbine recharging the batteries and extending the operating time. The whole thing is quite small, and can be easily retrofitted in existing galleries.

Company website (in English): http://www.robogat.com/home_Eng.htm

(Notice: I am not related in any way with the manufacturing company, I just found a featured article in the magazine of the Italian National Council of Engineers — only in dead tree form, sorry.)"
Security

+ - Obama's cybersecurity plan echoes Bush's failures->

Submitted by Trailrunner7
Trailrunner7 (1100399) writes "President Obama on Friday presented his long-awaited cybersecurity plan, which included the establishment of a new White House office headed by a cybersecurity "coordinator" who would oversee and advise Obama on this issue. He also proposed hiring a separate official dedicated to privacy and civil liberties concerns. The proposal, which bears a striking resemblance to the six-year-old National Strategy to Secure Cyberspace, is ambitious in its scope and scale and it likely will face many of the same roadblocks that previous efforts in this area have faced. Obama should send a short and sweet memo to the heads of all of the federal agencies, saying, "This is my cybersecurity coordinator. He speaks directly for me on this issue. Listen to him. If you're not interested in helping me fix this problem--which you all helped create, by the way--then step aside. Adults are working here.""
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Government

+ - First Internet Election Takes Place in Hawaii

Submitted by
Hugh Pickens
Hugh Pickens writes "The Washington Post reports that voting has ended in what is being touted as the nation's first all-digital election and city officials say it has been a success after some 7.300 voters in Honolulu's neighborhood council election were able to pick winners entirely online or via telephone. Although only 6.3 percent of eligible voters cast ballots, city officials say the experiment appears to have generated few problems and it even saved the financially strapped city around $100,000. "It is kind of the wave of the future," said Bryan Mick, a community relations specialist with the city Neighborhood Commission, "so we're kind of glad in a way that we got to be the ones who initiated it." Before the first day of balloting, voters living in 22 neighborhood board districts with contested races received a passcode that, along with the last four digits of their Social Security number, gave them access to an election Web site created by Everyone Counts. Voting also was conducted by phone, with results electronically fed into the same computer system that collected the Web votes. Lori Steele, head of Everyone Counts, the San Diego-based firm chosen by the commission to run the election, said the computer codes in her firm's system are available for auditing, and that each completed ballot is heavily encrypted and more secure than that used in Internet banking. Web voting, which produces no paper record, cannot be used in city council or state elections because state law bars voting systems that do not include a vote verification process. "The technology side, it works," said Joan Manke, executive secretary of the commission. "So my sense is because it's a change, it's something totally new, it takes time. I think, for people to buy into it, to want to actually try it.""
Earth

+ - SPAM: Green Tax Credits

Submitted by
welcome2green.com
welcome2green.com writes "Get Thousands of dollars in energy-efficient tax credits for going green. If you are thinking about doing some eco-friendly home improvements or undertaking a new construction project, you may qualify for tax credits. This article lists items that qualify for the tax credits and some guidelines you need to know about. Save money — Go Green [spam URL stripped]"
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Mozilla

+ - Mozilla Mulls Dropping Firefox For Win2K, Early XP->

Submitted by
CWmike
CWmike writes "Mozilla is pondering dropping support for Windows 2000 and Windows XP without Service Pack 3 when it ships the follow-up to Firefox 3.5 in 2010, show discussions on the mozilla.dev.planning forum by developers and Mozilla executives, including the company's chief engineer and its director of Firefox. 'Raise the minimum requirements on Gecko 1.9.2 (and any versions of Firefox built on 1.9.2) for Windows builds to require Windows XP Service Pack 3 or higher,' said Michael Conner, one of the company's software engineers, to start the discussion. Mozilla is currently working on Gecko 1.9.1, the engine that powers Firefox 3.5, the still-in-development browser the company hopes to release at some point in the second quarter. Gecko 1.9.2, and the successor to Firefox 3.5 built on it — dubbed 'Firefox.next' and code named 'Namoroka' — are slated to wrap up in 'early-to-mid 2010,' according to Mozilla."
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Microsoft

+ - Office 2010 will come in 32-bit and 64-bit flavors

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "It looks like Office 2010 will be the first version of Microsoft Office to come as a 64-bit flavor. Surely that will kickstart development of 64-bit applications. In an e-mail exchange with Ars today, a Microsoft spokesperson confirmed that Office 2010 will be available in both flavors: "Yes, Office will have two separate 32-bit and 64-bit versions. Office 2010 will be the first to do this.""
Social Networks

+ - Scientists warn of Twitter dangers

Submitted by Smidge207
Smidge207 (1278042) writes "New findings show that the streams of information provided by social networking sites are too fast for the brain's "moral compass" to process and could harm young people's emotional development. Before the brain can fully digest the anguish and suffering of a story, it is being bombarded by the next news bulletin or the latest Twitter update, according to a University of Southern California study. "If things are happening too fast, you may not ever fully experience emotions about other people's psychological states and that would have implications for your morality," said researcher Mary Helen Immordino-Yang. Brain scans showed humans can process and respond very quickly to signs of physical pain in others, but took longer to show admiration of compassion. "For some kinds of thought, especially moral decision-making about other people's social and psychological situations, we need to allow for adequate time and refection," said Immordio-Yang. She said the study raises questions about the emotional cost, particularly for young people, of heavy reliance on a torrent of news snippets delivered via TV and online feeds such as Twitter. She said: "We need to understand how social experience shapes interactions between the body and mind, to produce citizens with a strong moral compass." USC sociologist Manuel Castells said the study raised more concerns over fast-moving TV than the online environment. "In a media culture in which violence and suffering becomes an endless show, be it in fiction or in infotainment, indifference to the vision of human suffering gradually sets in." Research leader Antonio Damasio, director of USC's Brain and Creativity Institute, said the findings stressed the need for slower delivery of the news, and highlighted the importance of slow-burn emotions like admiration. Damasio cited the example of U.S. President Barack Obama, who says he was inspired by his father, to show how admiration can be key to cultural success. "We actually separate the good from the bad in great part thanks to the feeling of admiration. It's a deep physiological reaction that's very important to define our humanity." Twitter, which allows users to swap messages and links of 140-characters or less, says on its Web site that it sees itself as a solution to information overload, rather than a cause of it."
Google

+ - Android 1.5 SDK is Released->

Submitted by RadiusK
RadiusK (653164) writes "Starting today, developers can get an early look at the SDK for the next version of the Android platform. Version 1.5 introduces APIs for features such as soft keyboards, home screen widgets, live folders, and speech recognition. At the developer site, you can download the early-look Android 1.5 SDK, read important information about upgrading your Eclipse plugin and existing projects, and learn about what's new and improved in Android 1.5."
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Education

+ - College Police: Using Linux is suspicious behavior->

Submitted by FutureDomain
FutureDomain (1073116) writes "The Boston College Campus Police have seized the electronics of a computer science student for allegedly sending an email outing another student. The probable cause? The search warrant application states that he is "a computer science major" and he uses "two different operating systems for hiding his illegal activity. One is the regular B.C. operating system and the other is a black screen with white font which he uses prompt commands on." The EFF is currently representing him."
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NASA

+ - SPAM: NASA takes Ethernet deeper into space

Submitted by
coondoggie
coondoggie writes "While Ethernet technology has gone places no one would have envisioned 36 years ago, NASA today signed an agreement with a German Ethernet vendor to build highly fault-tolerant networks for space-based applications. TTTech builds a set of time-triggered services called TTEthernet that is implemented on top of standard IEEE802.3 Ethernet. Its technology is designed to enable design of synchronous, highly dependable embedded computing and networking, capable of tolerating multiple faults, the company said. [spam URL stripped]"
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The Internet

+ - Center for Responsive Politics data archive online->

Submitted by
Presto Vivace
Presto Vivace writes "Today the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics is putting 200 million data records from the watchdog group's archive directly into the hands of citizens, activists, journalists and anyone else interested in following the money in U.S. politics.

With today's announcement, skilled data-divers can explore the information that's already aggregated on OpenSecrets.org to its full depth. Web developers and database experts can grab federal money-in-politics data that CRP's researchers have standardized and coded, and mash it up with other data sets. Timelines, charts, maps, other graphics and mobile applications are just some of the projects that could result--all powered by CRP's unparalleled data.

"

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