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The Internet

EBay Pressured To Block Sales of Ivory Products 261

Posted by timothy
from the first-they-came-for-the-ivory-guys dept.
RickRussellTX writes "eBay is being pressured by an animal welfare group to ban sales of ivory and animal tooth products on its site. Although eBay is in compliance with the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species when it warns users that such postings may be inviolation of national and international law, the International Fund for Animal Welfare is demanding that they go a step further to search for and delete any posting of ivory products."
Power

Eric Lerner's Focus Fusion Device Gets Funded 367

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the race-for-the-power-finish-line dept.
pln2bz writes "Eric Lerner, author of The Big Bang Never Happened, has received $600k in funding, and a promise of phased payments of $10 million if scientific feasibility can be demonstrated to productize Lerner's focus fusion energy production device. Unlike the Tokamak, focus fusion does not require the plasma to be stable, does not produce significant amounts of dangerous radiation, directly injects electrons into the power grid without the need for turbines and would only cost around $300k to manufacture a generator. Lerner's inspiration for the technology is based upon an interpretation for astrophysical Herbig-Haro jets that agrees with the Electric Universe explanation."
Mozilla

Firefox 4 Will Push Edges of Browser Definition 501

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the all-kinds-of-fun-new-toys dept.
Chris Blanc writes "Mozilla Lab's push is to blur the edges of the browser, to make it both more tightly integrated with the computer it's running on, and also more hooked into Web services. So extended, the browser becomes an even more powerful and pervasive platform for all kinds of applications. 'Beard wants the new online/offline, browser/service to be more intelligent on behalf of its users. Early examples of this intelligence include the "awesome bar," which is what Mozilla calls the new smart address bar in Firefox 3. It offers users smart URL suggestions as they type based on Web searches and their prior Web browsing history. He's looking to extend on this with a "linguistic user interface" that lets users type plain English commands into the browser bar. Beard pointed me towards Quicksilver and Enso as products he's cribbing from.'"
Biotech

Natural Selection Can Act on Human Culture 239

Posted by Zonk
from the people-are-people-so-why-should-it-be dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "Scientists at Stanford University have shown for the first time that the process of natural selection can act on human cultures as well as on genes. The team studied reports of canoe designs from 11 Oceanic island cultures, evaluating 96 functional features that could contribute to the seaworthiness of the vessels. Statistical test results showed clearly that the functional canoe design elements changed more slowly over time, indicating that natural selection could be weeding out inferior new designs. Authors of the study said their results speak directly to urgent social and environmental problems. 'People have learned how to avoid natural selection in the short term through unsustainable approaches such as inequity and excess consumption. But this is not going to work in the long term,' said Deborah S. Rogers, a research fellow at Stanford."
Government

Best Super Tuesday Candidate for Technology? 549

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the something-to-talk-about dept.
Petey_Alchemist writes "With Super Tuesday coming up and the political field somewhat winnowed down, the process of picking the nominees for the next American President is well underway. At the same time, the Internet is bustling through a period of legal questions like Copyright infringement, net neutrality, wireless spectrum, content filtering, broadband deployment. All of these are just a few of the host of issues that the next President will be pressured to weigh in on during his or her tenure. Who do you think would be the best (or worst) candidate on Internet issues?"
Biotech

Pope Denounces Some Biotech as Affront to 'Human Dignity' 1158

Posted by Zonk
from the weighing-in dept.
eldavojohn writes "Today in a speech the pope denounced human cloning, embryonic stem cell research and artificial insemination, citing them as a violation of 'human dignity.' That said, the pope did 'appreciate and encourage' research on stem cells from non-embryonic cells in the human body. The pope encouraged the Vatican to be a leading voice in the philosophy and discussion of bioethics. 'Church teaching certainly cannot and must not weigh in on every novelty of science, but it has the task to reiterate the great values which are on the line and to propose to faithful and all men of good will ethical-moral principles and direction for new, important questions,' Benedict said."
Cellphones

How Not to Build a Cellphone 326

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the now-seriously dept.
Jamie found an NYT story about a new t-mobile Shadow phone which starts off by talking about how Apple is changing the phone game by wrestling power from the carriers, and then discussing what could be a reasonable piece of hardware. And then how it is wrecked by software. The phone has wait screens, a task manager, odd error messages etc. Makes for an amusing read.
Security

Picture Passwords More Secure than Text 261

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the my-scribble-is-my-password dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "People possess a remarkable ability for recalling pictures and researchers at Newcastle University are exploiting this characteristic to create graphical passwords that they say are a thousand times more secure than ordinary textual passwords. With Draw a Secret (DAS) technology, users draw an image over a background, which is then encoded as an ordered sequence of cells. The software recalls the strokes, along with the number of times the pen is lifted. If a person chooses a flower background and then draws a butterfly as their secret password image onto it, they have to remember where they began on the grid and the order of their pen strokes. The "passpicture" is recognized as identical if the encoding is the same, not the drawing itself, which allows for some margin of error as the drawing does not have to be re-created exactly. The software has been initially designed for handheld devices such as iPhones, Blackberry and Smartphone, but could soon be expanded to other areas. "The most exciting feature is that a simple enhancement simultaneously provides significantly enhanced usability and security," says computer scientist Jeff Yan."
Communications

The World's Languages Are Fast Becoming Extinct 939

Posted by kdawson
from the culture-drain dept.
Ant sends news of a report, released a couple of weeks back by the Living Tongues Institute for Endangered Languages in Oregon, on the alarming rate of extinction of the world's languages. While half of all languages have gone extinct in the last 500 years, the half-life is dropping: half of the 7,000 languages spoken today won't exist by the year 2100. The NY Times adds this perspective: "83 languages with 'global' influence are spoken and written by 80 percent of the world population. Most of the others face extinction at a rate, the researchers said, that exceeds that of birds, mammals, fish and plants."
Privacy

Going to Yosemite? Get Your Passport Ready! 969

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the certainly-not-of-or-for-the-people dept.
rev_media writes to tell us that CNN has a few updates to the Real ID act currently facing legislators. The Real ID acts mandates all states to begin issuing federal IDs to all citizens by 2008. Costs could be as much at $14 billion, but only 40 million are currently allocated. Several states have passed legislation expressly forbidding participation in the program, while others seem to be all for it. The IDs will be required for access to all federal areas including flights, state parks and federal buildings. People in states refusing to comply will need to show passports even for domestic flights.
Science

Half-Squid, Half-Octopus Discovered Off of Hawaii 170

Posted by Zonk
from the half-squid-half-octopus-all-disco-lover dept.
Otter writes "A unique creature that's been dubbed an 'octosquid' with eight arms and a squid-like mantle, was discovered off Hawaii. The creature, of a previously unknown species, was trapped in the net covering a 3,000 foot-deep intake tube for the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority. From the article: 'The octosquid was pulled to the surface, along with three rattail fish and half a dozen satellite jellyfish, and stayed alive for three days. According to War, the lab usually checks its filters once a month, but this time, it put a plankton net in one of the filters and checked it two weeks later. The pitch-black conditions at 3,000 feet below sea level are unfamiliar to most but riveting to scientists who have had the opportunity to submerge. The sea floor is full of loose sediment, big boulders and rocks, and a lot of mucuslike things floating in the water, which are usually specimens that died at the surface and drifted to the bottom.'"
Privacy

Court Orders Dismissal of US Wiretapping Lawsuit 362

Posted by Zonk
from the we-heard-your-plan-you-have-no-case dept.
jcatcw writes with a link to a ComputerWorld article about the dismissal of a case against the NSA over the wiretapping program revealed last year. The case was brought by the ACLU. A three-judge panel in the Sixth Circuit has sent the case back down to District court for ultimate dismissal. "The appeals court decision leaves opponents of the NSA program in a difficult position, said Jim Dempsey, policy director of the Center for Democracy and Technology, a civil liberties group that has opposed the program. The appeals court ruled that the plaintiffs could not sue because they can't prove they were affected by the program, and at the same time, ruled that details about the program, including who was targeted, are state secrets."
Software

FCC Rules Open Source Code Is Less Secure 365

Posted by Zonk
from the tell-that-to-apache dept.
An anonymous reader writes "A new federal rule set to take effect Friday could mean that software radios built on 'open-source elements' may have trouble getting to market. Some US regulators have apparently come to the conclusion that, by nature, open source software is less secure than closed source. 'By effectively siding with what is known in cryptography circles as "security through obscurity," the controversial idea that keeping security methods secret makes them more impenetrable, the FCC has drawn an outcry from the software radio set and raised eyebrows among some security experts. "There is no reason why regulators should discourage open-source approaches that may in the end be more secure, cheaper, more interoperable, easier to standardize, and easier to certify," Bernard Eydt, chairman of the security committee for a global industry association called the SDR (software-defined radio) Forum, said in an e-mail interview this week.'"

In these matters the only certainty is that there is nothing certain. -- Pliny the Elder

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