An anonymous reader writes "According to a memo being reported on by Information week, the US Department of Transportation has issued a moratorium on upgrading Microsoft products. Concerns over costs and compatability issues has lead the federal agency to prevent upgrades from XP to Vista, as well as to stop users from moving to IE 7 and Office 2007. As the article says, 'In a memo to his staff, DOT chief information officer Daniel Mintz says he has placed "an indefinite moratorium" on the upgrades as "there appears to be no compelling technical or business case for upgrading to these new Microsoft software products. Furthermore, there appears to be specific reasons not to upgrade."'"
eldavojohn writes "Scottish engineers are taking advantage of the huge ocean coast that Scotland enjoys by building a 'wave farm' to harvest electricity from the ocean's powerful waves. These big red tubes have been named the Pelamis System after a sea snake. Max Carcas, the business developer for the firm, says it is 'a bit like a ship at anchor or a flag on a flagpole, it self orientates into the waves ... Waves then travel down the length of the machine and in doing so each of the sections, each of these train carriages, moves up and down and side to side.' These snake-like movements push hydraulic fluid through generators to produce electricity."
Matt Whipp writes "In a story I wrote for PCPro, I explore a tip submitted by one of our readers. They pointed out how much more it costs to renew security software, rather than buying it new. In fact it cost less than half the price to buy it new than it does to renew the license because of heavy discounting. He feels a bit cross that, as a loyal customer, he is the one penalized. From the article: 'ZoneAlarm may have tripped up on this discount issue, but it's not alone. It highlights just how cynical companies can be in relying on customers' assumptions that a renewal should be cheaper than buying new. McAfee's Internet Security Suite costs just £24.99 with the current 50 per cent discount. However, should you be fool enough to already be a customer of McAfee, you'll have to pay £39.99 to renew your licence.'"
logube writes "BBC has up an article about the trap of installing Vista in your existing desktop. Written by Tim Weber, a self-confessed 'sucker for technology,' this article is a good introduction to the pain and extra money required to get going with the newest version of Windows. See how you can spend an extra 130 british pounds, and still have no working webcam! Says Weber, 'It took me one day to get online. The detail is tedious and highly technical: reinstalling drivers and router firmware didn't work, but after many trial and error tweaks to Vista's TCP/IP settings, I had internet access. Once online, Creative's website told me that my sound card was a write-off. No Vista support would be forthcoming.'"
Roland Piquepaille writes "If you think that future NASA's moon camps need to have a science fiction look, you might be disappointed. Today, NASA is testing small inflatable structures. In fact, if these expandable 'tents' receive positive reviews, astronauts will 'camp' on the moon as early as 2020. These 12-foot (3.65 meter) diameter inflatable units could be used as building blocks for a future lunar base. Right now, a prototype is tested at NASA's Langley Research Center. But NASA also wants to test other inflatable structures in the not-too-friendly environment of the Antarctic next year. Still, it's too early to know if NASA's first habitable lunar base will use inflatable or rigid structures."
MichaelSmith writes "Several news sites are reporting that a worm is starting to exploit the Solaris Telnet 0-day vulnerability. By adding simple text to the Telnet command, the system will skip asking for a username and password. If the systems are installed out of the box, they automatically come Telnet-enabled. 'The SANS Internet Storm Center, which monitors Internet threats, has noticed some increase in activity on the network port used by Solaris' telnet feature, according to an ISC blog posted on Tuesday. "One hopes that there aren't that many publicly reachable Solaris systems running telnet," ISC staffer Joel Esler wrote.'"
Carl Bialik from WSJ writes "The start-up Lightfleet has developed an unusual way to use lasers to speed the flow of data inside a computer, hoping to break a bottleneck that can hamper machines using many microprocessors, the Wall Street Journal reports. The company plans to sell servers it predicts will be much more efficient than existing systems in tackling tough computing problems. Tasks could include automatically recognizing a face in a video image or sifting through billions of financial transactions for signs of illegal activity. These machines will attempt to sidestep some of the problems associated with parallel computation by ensuring all processors are connected, all the time."
twofish writes "Google's YouTube video site will soon be showing content from the BBC in a deal announced today. Auntie Beeb's content will be spread across three different channels, one for news and two for entertainment programmes. Content will include adverts, and clips from shows such as "Top Gear," "The Mighty Boosh," and nature shows narrated by David Attenborough. The deal is likely to be controversial, particularly since the BBC is paid for by a compulsory tax system (the license fee) rather than through advertising or subscription. The article goes on to say that they won't be 'hunting down' people that upload their content to YouTube. Just the same, they reserve the right to take down or remove programmes that have run on their channels which might damage relationships; examples might be football offerings or 'edited' shows."
Parent groups prepare to label real life as "violent and filled with adult-related content."
....seriously, folks. Access isn't the issue in the modern era; teaching kids good judgment is.
shoemortgage writes "The Association for Computing Machinery has named Frances E. Allen the recipient of the 2006 A.M. Turing Award for contributions that fundamentally improved the performance of computer programs in solving problems, and accelerated the use of high performance computing. Allen,74, is the first woman to receive the Turing Award in the 41 years of its history. She retired from IBM in 2002."
jaweekes writes: The TV program "Top Gear" recently launched the "largest non-commercial rocket launch in European history" in the form of a rocket-propelled Reliant Robin. From the article http://www.bbc.co.uk/topgear/show/production_note
s /shuttle.shtml "What could possibly be so difficult about building a space shuttle? Quite a lot, as it turns out. This was easily Top Gear's most ambitious film and, while everything didn't go quite according to plan, we're still very proud of the results. Here are just a few of the things that happened when we tried to put an ageing three-wheeler into space."
s31523 writes: "We all remember the scene from the movie Real Genius where the nerdy guys get a laser to fire which burns a hole through everything for miles. The Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California has announced they have a Solid State Heat Capacity Laser (SSHCL) that averages 67kW working in their lab. Developed for the military, Dr. Yamamoto claims this to be a record and is quoted as saying, "I know of no other solid state laser that has achieved 67kW of average output power". The potential uses for this bad boy go well beyond turning a professor's house into Jiffy Pop. Here is what a 40w laser can do, now imagine 67000 watts. Although many lasers have peaked at higher capacities, getting the average sustained power to remain high seems to be the tricky part."
MattSparkes writes: "The Mars rover Spirit used to get quite confused when it came upon a rock. Because it could only plan routes of a metre or two it couldn't understand how to navigate around large objects, and frequently used to rock back and forth for hours trying to figure it out. NASA have written new software called D* for the rover Opportunity, which should allow it to autonomously plan routes up to 50 metres long. The new software still won't be able to avoid sand-traps though."
netbsd_fan writes "A former California judge has been sentenced to 27 months in prison for possession of illegal pornography, based entirely on evidence gathered by an anonymous vigilante script kiddie in Canada. At any given time he was monitoring over 3,000 innocent people. The anonymous hacker says, "I would stay up late at night to see what I could drag out of their computers, which turned out to be more than I expected. I could read all of their e-mails without them knowing. As far as they were concerned, they didn't know their e-mails had even been opened. I could see who they were chatting with and read what they were saying as they typed."