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Data Storage

Four SSDs Compared — OCZ, Super Talent, Mtron 206

MojoKid writes "Solid State Drive technology is set to turn the storage industry on its ear — eventually. It's just a matter of time. When you consider the intrinsic benefits of anything built on solid-state technology versus anything mechanical, it doesn't take a degree in physics to understand the obvious advantages. However, as with any new technology, things take time to mature and the current batch of SSDs on the market do have some caveats and shortcomings, especially when it comes to write performance. This full performance review and showcase of four different Solid State Disks, two MLC-based and two SLC-based, gives a good perspective of where SSDs currently are strong and where they're not. OCZ, Mtron and Super Talent drives are tested here but Intel's much anticipated offering hasn't arrived to market just yet."

Stanford's "Autonomous" Helicopters Learn 90

An anonymous reader writes "Stanford computer scientists have developed an artificial intelligence system that enables robotic helicopters to teach themselves to fly difficult stunts by 'watching' other helicopters perform the same maneuvers. The result is an autonomous helicopter that can perform a complete airshow of complex tricks on its own. The stunts are 'by far the most difficult aerobatic maneuvers flown by any computer controlled helicopter,' said Andrew Ng, the professor directing the research of graduate students Pieter Abbeel, Adam Coates, Timothy Hunter and Morgan Quigley. The dazzling airshow is an important demonstration of 'apprenticeship learning,' in which robots learn by observing an expert, rather than by having software engineers peck away at their keyboards in an attempt to write instructions from scratch.'" The title of the linked article uses the term "autonomous," but that's somewhat misleading. The copters can't fly on their own, but rather can duplicate complex maneuvers learned from a human pilot.

Open Security Foundation To Maintain DataLossDB 34

An anonymous reader points out an announcement up at, that going forward their Data Loss Database will be taken over and maintained by the Open Security Foundation. From the news release: "...OSF is pleased to announce that the DataLossDB (also known as the Data Loss Database — Open Source [DLDOS] currently run by will be formally maintained as an ongoing project under the OSF umbrella organization as of July 15, 2008... The project's core mission is to track the loss or theft of personally identifying information not just from the United States, but across the world. As of June 4, 2008, DataLossDB contains information on over 1,000 breaches of personal identifying information covering over 330 million records. The... DataLossDB will be free for download and use in non-profit work and research. The new website launch builds off of the current data set and provides an extensive list of new features."

Ionospheric Interference With GPS Signals 127

Roland Piquepaille writes "In recent years, we have become increasingly dependent on applications using the Global Positioning System, such as railway control, highway traffic management, emergency response, and commercial aviation. But the American Geophysical Union warns us that we can't always trust our GPS gadgets because 'electrical activity in the... ionosphere can tamper with signals from GPS satellites.' However, new research studies are under way and 'may lead to regional predictions of reduced GPS reliability and accuracy.'" Roland's blog has useful links and a summary of a free introduction, up at the AGU site, to a special edition of the journal Space Weather with seven articles (not free) regarding ionospheric effects on GPS.

Researchers Infiltrate and 'Pollute' Storm Botnet 261

ancientribe writes "Dark Reading reports that a group of European researchers has found a way to disrupt the massive Storm botnet by infiltrating it and injecting "polluted" content into it to disrupt communication among the bots and their controlling hosts. Other researchers have historically shied way from this controversial method because they don't "want to mess with other peoples' PCs by injecting commands," said one botnet expert quoted in the article.

Should IT Shops Let Users Manage Their Own PCs? 559

An anonymous reader writes "Is letting users manage their own PCs an IT time-saver or time bomb waiting to happen? 'In this Web 2.0 self-service approach, IT knights employees with the responsibility for their own PC's life cycle. That's right: Workers select, configure, manage, and ultimately support their own systems, choosing the hardware and software they need to best perform their jobs.'" Do any of you do something similar to this in your workplace? Anyone think this is a spectacularly bad idea?

Windows Vista SP1 Meeting Sour Reception In Places 501

Stony Stevenson writes "A day after it was released for public download, Windows Vista SP1 is drawing barbs from some computer users who say the software wrecked their systems. 'I downloaded it via Windows Update, and got a bluescreen on the third part of the update,' wrote 'Iggy33' in a comment posted Wednesday on Microsoft's Vista team blog. Iggy33 was just one of dozens of posters complaining about Vista Service Pack 1's effect on their PCs. Other troubles reported by Vista SP1 users ranged from a simple inability to download the software from Microsoft's Windows Update site to sudden spikes in memory usage. To top it all off, the service pack will not install on computers that use peripheral device drivers that Microsoft has deemed incompatible."
Data Storage

New Seagate Drives Have Real Difficulties With Linux 361

wtansill writes "Seagate's Free Agent series of drives are not intended to be compatible with the Open Source operating system Linux. The Inquirer reports on the problem: an unhelpful power saving mode. 'The problem is to do with the power-saving systems on Seagate's latest range of drives and the fact that it is shipped already formatted to NTFS. The NTFS is only a slight hurdle to Linux users who have a kernel with NTFS writing enabled or can work mkfs. But the "power saving" timer is a real bugger. It will shut the drive off after several minutes of inactivity and helpfully drop the USB connection. When the connection does come back it returns as USB1 which is apparently as useful as a chocolate teapot.' Via Engadget, though, there is a solution!

Automatix 'Actively Dangerous' to Ubuntu 284

exeme writes "Ubuntu developer Matthew Garrett has recently analyzed famed Ubuntu illegal software installer Automatix, and found it to be actively dangerous to Ubuntu desktop systems. In a detailed report which only took Garrett a couple of hours he found many serious, show-stopper bugs and concluded that Ubuntu could not officially support Automatix in its current state. Garrett also goes on to say that simple Debian packages could provide all of the functionality of Automatix without any of the problems it exhibits."

Submission + - Is code art? (

Kroc writes: "Code can be art, although doesn't have to be all the time, just as much as asking for a cup of sugar, isn't poetry. Discuss."
Real Time Strategy (Games)

StarCraft 2 Terran Gameplay, Single Player Info 107

It isn't all World of Warcraft at BlizzCon this year. That little sequel they're making to StarCraft has gotten quite a bit of attention as well. Gamespot has a liveblog transcript of a StarCraft II demo. This one, unlike the last, focuses on the Terrans rather than the Protoss. Several new units and build options are described, along with a bit about the single-player campaign. The campaign is the focus of Kotaku's game coverage, starring Jim Raynor and the crew of the Hyperion. "Part of the campaign in StarCraft II will be focused on Raynor's efforts to make money but taking jobs like this one, missions that ultimately tie into a larger plot. As you earn money, those funds will be put into purchasing technology--upgrades for units and units themselves. Pardo purchased (read: unlocked) the Viking ship for his next mission. This has been done to give players control over the tech progression of the game, instead of following a locked down set of upgrades. Hiking back up to the bridge, Raynor checks out the Star Map. This is where you'll choose your missions. They're much more open ended than in the previous StarCraft campaigns. You'll be able to pick the planet or system you want to tackle next, progressing the story in your own way. Mission briefings provide the summary, objectives, bonus objectives, mission bounty, and recommended technology, so you'll have to choose which best suits your current needs and matches your current level of tech."

Submission + - Die-hard Pluto Fans Have New Cause Fro Despair (

HaHaHa7129 writes: tells us that new data shows that the dwarf planet Eris is 27 percent more massive than Pluto, thereby strengthening the decree last year that there are eight planets in the solar system and a growing list of dwarf planets. The new results, obtained with Hubble Space Telescope and Keck Observatory data, indicate that the density of the material making up Eris is about two grams per cubic centimeter. This means that Eris very likely is made up of ice and rock, and thus is very similar in composition to Pluto. Past results from the Hubble Space Telescope had already allowed planetary scientists to determine that its diameter is 2,400 kilometers, also larger than Pluto's.