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Comment As a mathematician ... (Score 5, Insightful) 312

... I *really* hope that this is finally the device I've been holding out for. I have hundreds of papers in PDF format, most produced using LaTeX, downloaded from the arXiv or elsewhere -- but because it's too much of a pain to read on-screen, I end up printing out several papers a week (dozens or hundreds of pages) just to read and then throw away. Stacks of printouts are gathering chalk dust on my desk, because I need to refer to them frequently, and don't want to print out a fresh copy every time I want to do that. People who complain that this device doesn't have a full-color touchscreen with video capabilities are missing the point: this is meant to replace your printer, not your computer.

Also, while I'm not a fan of DRM, it still beats the heck out of the "edition wars" in textbook publishing. Because used book sales hurt the market for new books, publishers charge an extortionate amount of money for new textbooks and constantly release new editions (sometimes with trivial changes, like rearranged exercises) to depreciate the value of used books. All else being equal, I'd rather see $40 electronic textbooks that can't be sold back, rather than $200 hardcover monstrosities that get "revised" every other year. (Of course, while this may be the lesser evil, it's still an evil -- I'd much rather assign a book that's freely available, or available in a cheap Dover paperback edition, than do either of these -- so don't flame me, please!)



Australian Gov't May Employ a Homegrown Quantum Key System 141

mask.of.sanity writes "The Australian government is trialling a new Quantum Key Distribution (QKD) system built by Aussie scientists. QKD is considered the world's toughest security because the slightest attempt to intercept the one time keys, coded into lasers at the quantum level, will disrupt the beam. The technology differs from current cryptography tech primarily because it's cheap. Well, less than the $US100k price tag of rival systems. It uses off-the-shelf networking gear instead of proprietary technology, and is built on open standards, so it's easier to install. The random key is encoded at the quantum level in the sidebeam in the phase and amplitude, or brightness and colour, of a highly tuned laser beam. The creators, who built the system in part for their Ph.Ds, said it can be used to transport the most sensitive data like critical infrastructure and secret commercial IP. The days of hand-delivered security keys are numbered."

Optical Fiber With a Silicon Core 60

Roland Piquepaille writes "According to the Optical Society of America, U.S. researchers have been able to create a practical optical fiber with a silicon core. As they were able to use the same commercial methods that are used to develop all-glass fibers, this might pave the way for future silicon fibers as viable alternatives to glass fibers. The scientists note that this should help increase efficiency and decrease power consumption in computers and other systems that integrate photonic and electronic devices. Here is a good summary by the lead researcher: 'In the past, we've needed one structure to process light and another to carry it. With a silicon fiber, for the first time, we have the ability to greatly enhance the functionality in one fiber.'"

TV Viewers' Average Age Hits 50 331

Ant writes "Variety reports on a recent study that says TV viewership's median age is outside the 18-49 years demographic: "The broadcast networks have grown older than ever — if they were a person, they wouldn't even be a part of TV's target demo anymore." These totals exclude DVR users, and apparently the oldest since they started tracking it. Of course you know what the means ... TV is for old people! The internet has confirmed it.

Beatles and iTunes At Last? 246

rjshirts writes "Ars Technica is reporting that the Beatles and Apple have signed a reported $400 million dollar deal to bring the entire Beatles Catalog to iTunes. From the article: 'As of today there is no time frame as to when the catalog will appear online, but it seems to just be a matter of time. McCartney himself even said in November that the catalog would be making its way onto the the store some time in 2008. While we have heard this sort of thing time and time again, this might just be the real deal. Prepare yourself — Beatlemania is coming to iTunes.'"

OLPC, Microsoft Working Toward Dual-Boot XO Laptops 231

Ian Lamont writes "The OLPC Project and Microsoft are developing a dual-boot system to put both Linux and Windows on the laptops, according to an interview with Nicholas Negroponte. The article is thin on details, as the OLPC/Microsoft talks are apparently at an early stage. Could this be the end of the OS wars in Nigeria and other developing countries?" While Microsoft has been working on an OLPC-capable version of Windows for some time now, the interesting thing here is the dual-booting provision, rather than forcing users into an either-or choice.

Scientist Suggests We Explore 'Universe is a VR Simulation' Theory 1144

holy_calamity writes "A New Zealand physicist has written a paper saying that physicists should seriously explore the possibility the universe is a giant virtual reality simulation. He says that the existence of quantum phenomena could be due to the underlying digital nature of the simulation and also claims his VR hypothesis can explain relativity, the big bang and more. It should be possible to perform experiments to prove the hypothesis too. He reasons that if reality was to do something that information processing cannot, then it cannot be virtual."

String Theory in Two Minutes 328

An anonymous reader writes "Most of us have heard of string theory, many of us know what it is and some of us may even be experts in the field. But could you explain it in two minutes? Discover Magazine recently had a contest to do precisely that: create a two minute or less video of everything you need to know about string theory. You can view some of the best entries (video) as well as the winning video: String Ducky!"

The Journey of Radios From Hardware to Software 114

An anonymous reader writes "The New York Times is carrying a story all about the process of replacing radios with software. The article tells the tale of Vanu Bose, son of the man who started the Bose company, and his quest to bring software to what was previously a hardware-only enterprise. He met a lot of resistance in the 90s to his ideas, because processor technology was not up to the task. Now that technology has caught up with Vanu, his software (and other products like it) are increasingly replacing now-outdated hardware components. 'Well-established companies like Motorola and Ericsson now use elements of software-defined radio for their base stations. But Mr. Bose was the first to come to market with software that could handle multiple networks with the same equipment. Software radio appears to offer an elegant solution to what has been a vexing problem: how to have a single handset, like a cellphone, communicate across multiple networks. For instance, the G.S.M. standard, for global system for mobile communications, is used broadly in Europe, and most notably in the United States by AT&T.'"

Change Google's Background Color To Save Energy? 519

i_like_spam writes "Recent commentary at Nature Climate Change describes an on-going debate about the energy savings associated with the background colors used by high-traffic websites such as Google and the NYTimes. A back of the envelope calculation has suggested energy savings of 750 Megawatt hours per year if Google switched their background from white to black. In response, a new version of Google called Blackle was created. However, other calculations by the Wall Street Journal suggest minimal energy savings."

Is DVORAK Gaining Traction Among Coders? 559

coderpath asks: "At a recent Seattle Ruby Brigade hack night someone asked how many people used the DVORAK keyboard layout. Out of 9 people, 7 used DVORAK and only 2 were using QWERTY. I personally made the switch last Christmas, after 25 years of typing with QWERTY. What do you use? Have you switched to DVORAK? Have you been wanting to make the switch? Has anyone else noticed an increase in adoption of DVORAK lately?"

As of next Thursday, UNIX will be flushed in favor of TOPS-10. Please update your programs.