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Submission + - EU wants multiple browser bundling on new PCs

An anonymous reader writes: The EU is considering forcing Windows users to choose a browser to download and install before they can first browse the Internet, according to The Wall Street Journal (subscription required). While the latest Windows 7 builds let you uninstall IE8, "third-party browser makers like Opera, Mozilla and Google are pushing for tough sanctions against Microsoft. The EU would rather have a "ballot screen" for users to choose which browsers to download and install as well as which one to set as default. The bundling requirement might end up becoming a responsibility for manufacturers."

Submission + - Software Enables Re-Creation of 'Lost' Instrument

Hugh Pickens writes: "BBC reports that the Lituus, a 2.4m (8ft) -long trumpet-like instrument, was played in Ancient Rome but fell out of use some 300 years ago. Bach's even composed a motet (a choral musical composition) for the Lituus, one of the last pieces of music written for the instrument.. But until now, no one had a clear idea of what this instrument looked or sounded like until researchers at Edinburgh University developed software that enabled them to design the Lituus even though no one alive today has heard, played or even seen a picture of this forgotten instrument. The team started with cross-section diagrams of instruments they believed to be similar to the Lituus and the range of notes it played. "The software used this data to design an elegant, usable instrument with the required acoustic and tonal qualities. The key was to ensure that the design we generated would not only sound right but look right as well," says Professor Murray Campbell. "Crucially, the final design produced by the software could have been made by a manufacturer in Bach's time without too much difficulty." Performed by the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis (SCB) the Lituus produced a piercing trumpet-like sound interleaving with the vocals in an experimental performance of Bach's "O Jesu Christ, meins lebens licht" in Switzerland earlier this year giving the music a haunting feel that can't be reproduced by modern instruments. The software opens up the possibility that brass instruments could be customized more closely to the needs of individual players in the future — catering more closely for the differing needs of jazz, classical and other players all over the world. "Sophisticated computer modelling software has a huge role to play in the way we make music in the future.""

Microsoft Not the Only Firm Blocking IM Service To US Enemies 173

ericatcw writes "It was reported last week that Microsoft had cut access to its Windows Live Messenger instant messaging service to citizens of five countries with whom the US has trade embargoes. Now, it turns out that Google and, apparently, AOL have taken similar actions. According to a lawyer quoted by Computerworld, even free, downloaded apps are viewed as 'exports' by the US government — meaning totally in-the-cloud services such as e-mail may escape the rules. Either way, there appear to be a number of ways determined citizens of Syria, Iran, and Cuba can get around the ban."

Submission + - Future of LED Lighting is Looking Bright

Hugh Pickens writes: "LED lighting was once relegated to basketball scoreboards, cellphone consoles, traffic lights and colored Christmas lights but the NY Times reports that as a result of rapid developments in the technology, LED lighting is now poised to become common on streets and in buildings, as well as in homes and offices. Some American cities, including Ann Arbor, Mich., and Raleigh, N.C., are using the lights to illuminate streets and parking garages and dozens more are exploring the technology as studies suggest that a complete conversion to the lights could decrease carbon dioxide emissions from electric power use for lighting by up to 50 percent in just over 20 years. LEDs are more than twice as efficient as compact fluorescent bulbs, currently the standard for greener lighting and unlike compact fluorescents, LEDs turn on quickly and are compatible with dimmer switches. Thanks in part to the injection of federal cash, sales of the lights in new "solid state" fixtures — a $297 million industry in 2007 — are likely to become a near-billion-dollar industry by 2013. Wal-Mart Stores has started selling a consumer LED bulb that uses just seven watts of electricity and claims to last for more than 13 years. It costs around $35 — a daunting price tag for a light bulb. "We're kind of testing the waters," says Rand Waddoups, Wal-Mart's senior director of strategy and sustainability. "This is a behavior change, and that requires some work.""
Hardware Hacking

Developer Creates DIY 8-Bit CPU 187

MaizeMan writes "Not for the easily distracted: a Belmont software developer's hand-built CPU was featured in Wired recently. Starting with a $50 wire wrap board, Steve Chamberlin built his CPU with 1253 pieces of wire, each wire wrapped by hand at both ends. Chamberlin salvaged parts from '70s and '80s era computers, and the final result is an 8-bit processor with keyboard input, a USB connection, and VGA graphical output. More details are available on the developer's blog."

Submission + - How Common is Scientific Misconduct?

Hugh Pickens writes: "The image of scientists as objective seekers of truth is periodically jeopardized by the discovery of a major scientific fraud. Recent scandals like Hwang Woo-Suk's fake stem-cell lines or Jan Hendrik Schön's duplicated graphs showed how easy it can be for a scientist to publish fabricated data in the most prestigious journals. Daniele Fanelli has an interesting paper on PLOS One where she performs a meta-analysis synthesizing previous surveys to determine the frequency with which scientists fabricate and falsify data, or commit other forms of scientific misconduct. A pooled weighted average of 1.97% of scientists admitted to have fabricated, falsified or modified data or results at least once -a serious form of misconduct by any standard- and up to 33.7% admitted other questionable research practices. In surveys asking about the behavior of colleagues, admission rates were 14.12% for falsification, and up to 72% for other questionable research practices. Misconduct was reported more frequently by medical/pharmacological researchers than others. "Considering that these surveys ask sensitive questions and have other limitations, it appears likely that this is a conservative estimate of the true prevalence of scientific misconduct," writes Fanelli. "It is likely that, if on average 2% of scientists admit to have falsified research at least once and up to 34% admit other questionable research practices, the actual frequencies of misconduct could be higher than this.""

Submission + - Discovery: Even Tiny Stars Have Planets ( 2

Paul server guy writes: "From a story at — A Jupiter-like planet has been discovered orbiting one of the smallest stars known, suggesting that planets could be more common than previously thought.
"This is an exciting discovery because it shows that planets can be found around extremely lightweight stars," said Wesley Traub, the chief scientist for NASA's Exoplanet Exploration Program at Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. "This is a hint that nature likes to form planets, even around stars very different from the sun."

Astrometry was first attempted 50 years ago to search for planets outside our solar system, but the method requires very precise measurements over long periods of time, and until now, has failed to turn up any exoplanets.
The technique involves measuring the precise motions of a star on the sky as an unseen planet tugs the star back and forth.
The discovery will be detailed in the Astrophysical Journal.

The newfound exoplanet, called VB 10b, is about 20 light-years away in the constellation Aquila (a light-year is the distance that light travels in a year, about 6 trillion miles or 10 trillion kilometers). It is a gas giant, with a mass six times that of Jupiter, and an orbit far enough away from its star to be labeled a "cold Jupiter" similar to our own.

In reality, though, the planet's own internal heat would give it an Earth-like temperature.

The planet's star, called VB 10, is tiny. It is what's known as an M-dwarf and is only one-twelfth the mass of our sun, just barely big enough to fuse atoms at its core and shine with starlight."


Submission + - L0phtcrack (v6) rises again

FyreWyr writes: L0phtcrack--now 12 years old--used to be a security "tool of choice" for black hats, pen-testers, and security auditors alike...that is, until it was sold by L0pht to @stake, then Symantec, to be released and subsequently dropped as LC 5. As an IT security consultant, I used this tool to regularly expose vulnerabilities or recover data when there were few other options available...then let it go as tech evolved away.

Now returned to its original developers, version 6 was released this week with fresh features: support for 64-bit multiprocessors, (current) Unix and Windows operating systems, and a number of other features, including enhanced handling of NTLM password hashes (indicated here) and support for rainbow tables.

Interested parties--especially consultants--will find this shiny new version sports a hefty price tag. It raises doubts in my mind whether it can effectively compete with open source alternatives by similar names, but as I found earlier versions so useful, its re-emergence seems worth the mention.

Submission + - Obama's cybersecurity plan echoes Bush's failures (

Trailrunner7 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."

Submission + - 50 Days of Indigenous Protests in Peru (

NewYorkCountryLawyer writes: "The major media in the United States have been eerily silent about it, but there have been 50 days of protests in the Amazon rainforest area of Peru over the Government's possibly illegal decrees authorizing invasion of the rainforest for further oil exploration. Thousands of indigenous rainforest inhabitants have massed in demonstrations throughout the region, and there have been attacks by the police and military, causing a number of injuries and at least one death among the tribespeople. On Tuesday, May 26th, there was a march and protest in Los Angeles, led by actress Q'orianka Kilcher, whose blog post about Tuesday's demonstration includes an 8 minute video. I feel the issue is of such importance, and is receiving such short shrift from the American media, that I've decided I'd better keep my own collection of links on the subject. The Guardian, BBC, and Reuters in the UK are all providing some coverage, including videos of the police riots, but I have to backtrack to locate the links to those stories."
The Internet

Submission + - 7Million UK Broadband Users Download Illegal Files ( 3

MJackson writes: "An advisor to the UK government, the Strategic Advisory Board for Intellectual Property Policy (SABIP), has published the results of two recently commissioned literature reviews into intellectual property and the behaviours of Digital Consumers in the online world. The studies reveal that approximately 7 million people in the UK are involved with illegal file sharing, accounting for over half of the country's total Internet traffic. The governments Lord Carter is expected to outline his plans for tackling this problem when, sometime over the next few weeks, he reveals the final Digital Britain report. Disconnecting users from their ISP is unlikely to be an option but could still appear."

Submission + - Windows 7 Hard Drive and SSD Performance Analyzed (

bigwophh writes: "Despite the fact that it is based on many of the same core elements a Vista, Microsoft claims Windows 7 is a different sort of animal and that it should be looked at in a fresh new light, especially in terms of performance. With that in mind, this article looks at how various types of disks perform under Windows 7, both of the traditional platter based variety and newer solid state disks. Disk performance between Vista and Win7 is compared using a hard drive and an SSD. SSD performance with and without TRIM enabled is tested. And application performance is tested on a variety of drives. Looking at the performance data, it seems MS has succeeded in improving Windows 7 disk performance, particularly with regard to solid state drives."

Submission + - Cobol hits fifty (

An anonymous reader writes: 'Cobol, the venerable computer language so beloved of Y2K-fearing businesses, has hit 50 years young today, having been invented on the 28th of May 1959 at a meeting of the Sort Range Committee at the Pentagon. The news comes from Cobol specialists Micro Focus, which tells us that there are two hundred times as many Cobol transactions as there are Google searches every day, and that in the UK we all use Cobol-powered applications ten times daily on average.The continuing popularity of Cobol can be attributed to the fact that it just works. That and the fact that a whole generation of programmers refuse to learn anything more modern, and support for legacy systems demands that everyone continues to use a language that really should have been put down years ago'

Submission + - Google Earth as a game engine for ship simulation ( 1

dinther writes: "Today the program "Ships" has been released. "Ships" is a significant program because it is the first serious application that uses Google Earth as a game engine. In "Ships" you take control of a a selection of ships and drive them around the world (If you have that much time) Building games around Google Earth is now viable thanks to the ever increasing detail in Google Earth. Technically the Google Earth browser plugin has proven to be quite a capable platform to work with. Go and check out this review or try it yourself here"

You can tell the ideals of a nation by its advertisements. -- Norman Douglas