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Submission + - Town Turns Off the Lights to See the Stars

Hugh Pickens writes writes: "Stargazing skies all over the world all over the world are disappearing, as the sky above New York City is Class 9 on the Bortle ranking and American suburban skies are typically Class 5, 6, or 7. But some places are making an effort to preserve their skywatching heritage as Exmoor National Park was granted International Dark-Sky Reserve status in November and people in the Exmoor town of Dulverton were challenged to switch off their lights as part of the BBC's Stargazing Live, demonstrating that you don't need special equipment to see the stars more clearly, if you have a decent pair of binoculars. "The whole idea is to show that even a small town, which is still quite dark, can give off quite a lot of light," says astronomer Mark Thompson. The event in Dulverton gained a lot of support from local residents and businesses. "It needed a bit of organization to get everyone to say yes," says town mayor Chris Nelder. "We want people to just enjoy the night sky, to treasure the fact we have them and to look after them," adds Claire O'Connor from Exmoor National Park Authority."

Submission + - Anonymous Attackers Not So Untraceable (

Stoobalou writes: Researchers at the University of Twente are warning that the LOIC DDoS tool used by Anonymous is easily traceable.

The tool of choice in the ongoing pro-WikiLeaks DDoS attacks by digital vigilante group Anonymous may leave its users open to prosecution, failing as it does to adequately protect their identity.

That's the claim of the Design and Analysis of Communication Systems Group at the University of Twente, which recently released a report into the Low-Orbit Ion Cannon, or LOIC, distributed denial of service tool favoured by Anonymous for attacking corporate websites by which it feels aggrieved.

In the report, the researchers claim that "even though the group behind the attacks claims to be anonymous, the tools they provide do not offer any security services, such as anonymisation. As a consequence, a hacktivist that volunteers to take part in such attacks, can be traced back easily" — and that means a possible prosecution under local computer crime laws.


Submission + - Using Google Earth to find ancient lost cities (

An anonymous reader writes: A story in the online site of the Aussie science mag Cosmos discusses how archaeologists are using sophisticated sateliite images to find previously undiscovered cities. What 's really cool is how some are simply using Google Earth — and discovering all sorts of previously unknown sites!

Journal SPAM: Digital Astrophotography - Review

In the 80's there were a series of commercials for Reeses Peanut Butter Cups that revolved around the theme of accidental meetings between chocolate and peanut butter. The individuals would realize that the two tastes that they loved separately were even better together. Two great loves for many card carrying geeks are digital photography and astronomy. "


Submission + - Office 2003SP3: Old file formats, now unavailable! 3

time961 writes: "In Service Pack 3 for Office 2003, Microsoft has disabled support for many older file formats, so if you have old Word, Excel, 1-2-3, Quattro, or Corel Draw documents, watch out! They did this because the old formats are "less secure", which actually makes some sense, but only if you got the files from some untrustworthy source.

Naturally, they did this by default, and then documented a mind-bogglingly complex workaround (KB 938810) rather than providing a user interface for adjusting it, or even a set of awkward "Do you really want to do this?" dialog boxes to click through. And, of course, because these are, after all, old file formats, many users will encounter the problem only months or years after the software change, while groping around in dusty and now-inaccessible archives.

One of the better aspects of Office is its extensive compatibility mechanisms for old file formats. At least the support isn't completely gone—it's just really hard to use. Security is important, but there are better ways to fulfill this goal.

This was also covered by the Windows Secrets newsletter, although I can't find a story URL for it."
The Gimp

Submission + - GIMP 2.4 released! (

MrDrBob writes: "Love it or hate it, version 2.4 of our Marmite-favoured graphics editor has been released, and includes quite a few big changes. The selection tools have been rewritten from scratch, including a new way of selecting things with round corners, as requested by web designers. Better zooming code means that whole lines of your image will no longer disappear when zoomed out, and new colour management code should be welcomed by digital photo artists. The GIMP also includes a new Tango-style icon set, which goes hand-in-hand with the redesigned website. Unfortunately, GEGL integration still isn't anywhere to be found, but perhaps it'll make it in a later release."

Let's organize this thing and take all the fun out of it.