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US Declares Public Health Emergency Over Swine Flu 695

mallumax sends word from the NYTimes that US government officials today declared a public health emergency over increasing cases of the swine flu first seen in Mexico. Here is additional coverage from CNN. From the Times: "American health officials [say]... that they had confirmed 20 cases of the disease in the United States and expected to see more as investigators fan out to track down the path of the outbreak. Other governments around the world stepped up their response to the incipient outbreak, racing to contain the infection amid reports of potential new cases from New Zealand to Hong Kong to Spain, raising concerns about the potential for a global pandemic. The cases in US looked to be similar to the deadly strain of swine flu that has killed more than 80 people in Mexico and infected 1,300 more." Reader "The man who walks in the woods" sends a link to accounts emailed to the BBC from readers in Mexico. While these are anecdotal, they do paint a picture of a more serious situation than government announcements have indicated so far.
Operating Systems

What Needs Fixing In Linux 865

An anonymous reader writes "Infoweek's Fixing Linux: What's Broken And What To Do About It argues that the 17-year-old open-source operating system still has problems. Leading the list is author Serdar Yegulap's complaint that the kernel application binary interfaces are a moving target. He writes: 'The sheer breadth of kernel interfaces means it's entirely possible for something to break in a way that might not even show up in a fairly rigorous code review.' Also on his list of needed fixes are: a consistent configuration system, to enable distribution; native file versioning; audio APIs; and the integration of X11 with apps. Finally, he argues that Linux needs a committee to insure that all GUIs work consistently and integrate better on the back-end with the kernel."
Data Storage

Researcher Warns of "Digital Dark Age" 367

alphadogg writes "A assistant professor from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is sounding a warning that companies, the government and researchers need to come up with a plan for preserving our increasingly digitized data in light of shifting document management and other software platforms (think WordPerfect and floppy disks). Jerome P. McDonough, who teaches at the Graduate School of Library and Information Science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, says there exists about 369 exabytes worth of data, and that includes some pretty hard to replace stuff, including tax files, email and photos. Open standards could play a key role in any preservation effort, he says. 'If we can't keep today's information alive for future generations, we will lose a lot of our culture,' McDonough said. Even over the course of 10 years, you can have a rapid enough evolution in the ways people store digital information and the programs they use to access it that file formats can fall out of date.'"

OpenGL 3.0 Released, Developers Furious 643

ikol writes "After over a year of delays, the OpenGL ARB (part of the Khronos industry group) today released the long-awaited spec for OpenGL 3.0 as part of the SIGGRAPH 2008 proceedings. Unfortunately it turns out not to be the major rewrite that was promised to developers. The developer community is generally furious, with many game developers intending to jump ship to DX10. Is this the end of cross-platform 3d on the cutting edge?"

KDE 4.1 Beta 2 – Two Steps Forward, One Step Back? 431

jammag writes "Linux pundit Bruce Byfield takes a look at the latest KDE beta and finds it wanting: 'Very likely, KDE users will have to wait for another release or two beyond 4.1 before the new version of KDE matches the features of earlier ones, especially in customization.' He notes that the second beta is still prone to unexplained crashes, and goes so far as to say, 'Everyone agrees now that KDE 4.0 was a mistake.' I'm not too sure about that — really, 'everyone?'"

Microsoft 'Shared Source' Attempts to Hijack FOSS 381

aacc1313 writes "An article that details how Open Source is being hijacked by Microsoft and the sort via 'Shared Source' licenses and how Open Source licenses have become so much more confusing. From the article, "The confusion stems from the fact that Microsoft's 'shared source' program includes three proprietary licenses as well, whose names are similar in some ways to the open-source licenses. Thus, while the Microsoft Reciprocal License has been approved by OSI, the Microsoft Limited Reciprocal License (Ms-LRL) is not, because it allows users to modify and redistribute the software only on the Windows platform" and "The 'shared source' program was and is Microsoft's way of fighting the open source world, allowing customers to inspect Microsoft source code without giving those customers the right to modify or redistribute the code. In other words, "shared source" is not open source, and shouldn't be confused with it.""

You Used Perl to Write WHAT?! 307

Esther Schindler writes "Developers spend a lot of time telling managers, 'Let me use the tool that's appropriate for the job' (cue the '...everything looks like a nail' meme here). But rarely do we enumerate when a language is the right one for a particular job, and when it's a very, very wrong choice. James Turner, writing for CIO.com, identifies five tasks for which perl is ideally suited, and four that... well, really, shouldn't you choose something else? This is the first article in a series that will examine what each language is good at, and for which tasks it's just plain dumb. Another article is coming RSN about JavaScript, and yet another for PHP... with more promised, should these first articles do well."

DRM-Free Music Spells Trouble? 634

digitaldame2 writes "Many opponents of DRM have been overjoyed at recent efforts to free media from its grip. But PC Mag Editor-in-Chief Lance Ulanoff believes the whole world has gone mad. His view is that our digital economy will collapse this way, and it could be followed by countless others. 'The music industry's moves have been terrified reactions to staunch the bleeding of millions of dollars in revenue down the drain. For maybe a year, music companies thought they had the situation under control, but then album sales tumbled. Retailers, musicians, and some music-industry execs thought DRM was the culprit, and they soon joined the chorus of consumers calling for its head. Now consumers are getting their wish, and the music industry will continue to crumble. Giving up control of content and giving it away free are not rational ideas in a market economy, yet everyone's cheering.'" Is the removal of restrictions from our media really that big a deal?

The Horrible Things That Could Happen To EA 58

A recent Gamasutra story noted something interesting in Electronic Arts' financials filing. The company is extremely reliant on brick and mortar retailers like Wal-mart (which made up 12% of its net revenue) and Gamestop (about 15%). Simon Carless, writing at the GameSetWatch blog, takes that analysis one step further and postulates some of the horrible things that could happen to the software giant if the conditions were right. It's all meant tongue-in-cheek, of course, but it's an interesting discussion of how even large companies can be vulnerable to simple issues: "5. Wrong System, Wrong Time! 'Our business is highly dependent on the success and availability of video game hardware systems manufactured by third parties, as well as our ability to develop commercially successful products for these systems.' More specifically, as EA explains, this is the Wii/DS effect in action: 'A platform for which we are developing products may not succeed or may have a shorter life cycle than anticipated.'"

Wii 'Popularity Bubble' to Burst? 426

A combination of industry and developer observations has prompted Tech.co.uk to wonder if the Wii's overwhelming popularity is due to end sometime soon. This is based on a report from Japanese business newspaper The Nikkei, which published an article recently entitled 'Software Houses Miscalculate Audience, Demand For Wii'. "The report goes on to discuss the likelihood that many Wiis are gathering dust in owners' cupboards, citing one software house president as saying, 'People bought it out of curiosity, and it's likely a lot of them haven't used it.' Given that September saw Wii sales fall sharply in Japan for the second consecutive month, it seems reasonable to speculate that the bubble inflated by the novelty factor is starting to deflate, but writing Nintendo off at any stage is a perilous course to steer." Is this just worrying, or is there validity to this?
Operating Systems

A Gut Check On Gutsy Gibbon 390

jammag writes "Linux pundit Bruce Byfield looked inside the pre-release of Gutsy Gibbon and found what he calls 'Windows thinking.' His article, Divining from the Entrails of Ubuntu's Gutsy Gibbon, notes that Ubuntu is the dominant distro, having achieved a level of success that might be leading to complacency. He opines: 'Only once or twice did I find a balance between accessibility to newcomers and a feature set for advanced users. At times, I wondered whether the popularity might be preventing Ubuntu from finishing some rough edges.'"

Community vs. Corporate Linux, The Coming Divide 201

tobyj writes "MadPenguin.org discusses the great divide that will separate corporate Linux (companies that are working with Microsoft) and community Linux (companies that haven't yet partnered with Microsoft) and their impact on Linux as a whole. Matt Hartley writes, "For Linux enthusiasts, the rules are simple and clear to interpret. But for Microsoft and its Linux partners, we will see plenty of them pointing to self-created loopholes, which will result in fierce debate, and perhaps even worse, blatant defiance. As a collective community, we'd like to think that this whole issue will just blow over, but with the massive migration of so many Windows users and companies that wish to capitalize on this migration, defiance of the GPL will happen and more so than ever before."
Linux Business

Microsoft Fracturing the Open-Source Community 299

TechGeek sends us to eWeek, where Mark Shuttleworth is quoted to the effect that Microsoft has succeeded in fracturing the Linux and open-source community with its patent indemnity agreements. Quoting: "Microsoft's strategy was to drive a wedge into the open-source community and unsettle the marketplace, Shuttleworth said. He also took issue with the Redmond, Wash., software maker for not disclosing the 235 of its patents it claims are being violated by Linux and other open-source software. 'That's extortion and we should call it what it is,' he said." Shuttleworth added, "I don't think this will end well for the companies that slipped up and went down that road."

Does ODF Have a Future? 402

qedramania writes "Linuxworld seems to think ODF is a dead duck. Is the Windows monopoly too big and too entrenched? Other than diehard Linux fans, does anyone really care if they have to keep paying Microsoft to do basic word processing? It seems as though the momentum is towards a complete Microsoft monoculture in software for business and government. You can bet that big business and governments will want more than just reliability from Microsoft in return for their acquiescence. Does ODF have a future?"

How Microsoft Beat Linux In China 313

kripkenstein notes an analysis up on TechRepublic detailing how Microsoft beat Linux in China, and the consequences of that victory: "With the soon-to-be largest economy standardized on Windows desktops, desktop Linux does seem to have an uphill battle ahead of it." "Linux has turned out to be little more than a key bargaining chip in a high stakes game of commerce between the Chinese government and the world's largest software maker... The fact that... Linux failed to gain a major foothold in China is yet another blow to desktop Linux. After nearly eight years of being on the verge of a breakthrough, Linux seems more destined than ever to be a force in the server room but little more than a narrow niche and an anomaly on the desktop."

16.5 feet in the Twilight Zone = 1 Rod Serling