jonkman sean writes "University researchers conducted research into how they can gain wireless access to pacemakers, hacking them. They will be presenting their findings at the "Attacks" session of the 2008 IEEE Symposium on Security and Privacy. Their previous work (PDF) noted that over 250,000 implantable cardiac defibrillators are installed in patients each year. This subject was first raised along with similar issues as a credible security risk in Gadi Evron's CCC Camp 2007 lecture "hacking the bionic man"."
Echostorm writes with word that Windows Vista SP1, which began rolling out via Automatic Update, has left some users' machines unbootable. The update loops forever on "Configuring updates: Stage 3 of 3 — 0% complete. Do not turn off your computer." "Shutting down"... restart and loop. Echostorm notes having found traces of what sounds like the same bug in early beta releases of SP1. It's unclear how many users are affected. So far there is no word on a fix from Microsoft.
jetpack writes to make sure we're aware that Apple's OS X 10.5.2 update is available and that it contains plenty of improvements and fixes that users have been asking for. Macworld enumerates some of the big ones, saying that the update "shows Apple listens to users" (sometimes). A couple of the new features simply restore Tiger (10.4) capabilities that Leopard (10.5) had inexplicably withdrawn. You can now shut off the much-maligned transparency of the menu bar, and organize your Dock stacks hierarchically and display them as folders. And Apple has provided welcome access to common Time Machine functions in the menu bar.
whoever57 writes "The Hans Reiser trial has been underway for some time now, the prosecution is moving towards the end of its case. For those interested, not only in the outcome of the trial, but a detailed description of the trial, including some insights into police methods, two reporters are live-blogging. One report is by Henry K. Lee for the San Francisco Chronicle and the other is by David Kravets and published by Wired"
Usually insightful comments include something like reason, logic, and argumentation. Said comment included none of the aforementioned.
eldavojohn writes "The One Laptop Per Child Project plans to launch OLPC America in 2008 , to distribute the low-cost laptop computers originally intended for developing nations to needy students here in the United States. Nicholas Negroponte is quoted as saying, 'We are doing something patriotic, if you will, after all we are and there are poor children in America. The second thing we're doing is building a critical mass. The numbers are going to go up, people will make more software, it will steer a larger development community.'"
Roland Piquepaille writes "Why are diamonds so shiny and beautiful? A Japanese mathematician says it's because of their unique crystal structure and two key properties, called 'maximal symmetry' and 'strong isotropic property.' According to the American Mathematical Society (AMS), he found that out of all the crystals that are possible to construct mathematically, just one shares these two properties with the diamond. So far, his K4 crystal exists only as a mathematical object. And nobody knows if it exists — or if it can be synthesized."
Cassanova writes "Weave is the newest Mozilla Labs project. It allows the user to save browser settings on Mozilla servers (Favorites, sessions, passwords, etc.) and load them from anywhere. With this project, Mozilla is trying to be an online services provider, which is an important step. But can Mozilla labs get over the privacy issues?"
tmalone writes "The New York Times is running an end of year piece about the most interesting people who have died this year. One of their picks is Joybubbles, also known as Josef Engressia, or 'Whistler.' He was born blind and discovered at the age of 7 that he could whistle 2600 hertz into a phone to make free long-distance calls. He was one of the original phone phreaks, got arrested for phone fraud, and was even employed by the phone company. The article deals more with his personal life than with his technical exploits, but is a very interesting story."
The feed points us to a NYTimes article about hospitals using particle accelerators to treat cancer. While expensive, proponents say that the proton beams generated by the accelerators are more precise than conventional X-ray radiation therapy. This results in fewer side effects and reduced irradiation of surrounding tissue. The technology's critics say that the cost is not justified by a measurable increase in the level of care given to the patients. Nevertheless, this is an excellent example of "pure scientific research" leading to a useful, unrelated technique. From the NYTimes: "Tumors in or near the eye, for instance, can be eradicated by protons without destroying vision or irradiating the brain. Protons are also valuable for treating tumors in brains, necks and spines, and tumors in children, who are especially sensitive to the side effects of radiation."
Keith writes "Tens of thousands — or maybe more — accounts to adult websites were recently declared compromised and apparently have been that way since some time in October 2007. The break occurred when the NATS software used to track and manage sales and affiliate revenues was accessed by an intruder. The miscreant apparently discovered a list of admin passwords residing on an unsecured office server at Too Much Media, which makes and maintains NATS installations for adult companies. It would appear that Too Much Media knew of the breach back in October, and rather than fixing the issue tried to bury it by threatening to sue anyone in the adult industry who talked about it." The article gives suggestions for anyone who opened an account at any adult website in the last several months.
An anonymous reader tips us to news out of China that the Web site of the National Bureau of Corruption Prevention crashed on Tuesday, just hours after its launch, as droves of people logged on to complain about corruption among officials. "The number of visitors was very large and beyond our expectations," an anonymous NBCP official said.
loralai writes "Recent breakthroughs in scramjet engines could mean two-hour flights from New York to Tokyo. This technology, decades in the making, could redefine our understanding of air travel and military encounters. 'To put things in context, the world's fastest jet, the Air Force's SR-71 Blackbird spy plane, set a speed record of Mach 3.3 in 1990 when it flew from Los Angeles to Washington, D.C., in just over an hour. That's about the limit for jet engines; the fastest fighter planes barely crack Mach 1.6. Scramjets, on the other hand, can theoretically fly as fast as Mach 15--nearly 10,000 mph.'"
geekmansworld, among other readers, lets us know that the Canadian ISP Rogers is inserting data into the HTTP streams returned by the Web sites requested by its customers. According to a CBC article, Rogers admits to modifying customers' HTTP data, but says they are merely "trying different things" and testing the customer response.
Over the weekend we posted a story about a new copyright bill that creates a new govt. agency in charge of copyright enforcement. Kevin Way writes "In particular, the bill grants this new agency the right to seize any computer or network hardware used to "facilitate" a copyright crime and auction it off. You would not need to be found guilty at trial to face this penalty. You may want to read a justification of it, and criticism presented by Declan McCullagh and Public Knowledge." Lots of good followup there on a really crazy development.