sfcrazy writes "Google has announced the Open Patent Non-Assertion (OPN) Pledge. In the pledge Google says that they will not sue any user, distributor, or developer of Open Source software on specified patents, unless first attacked. Under this pledge, Google is starting off with 10 patents relating to MapReduce, a computing model for processing large data sets first developed at Google. Google says that over time they intend to expand the set of Google's patents covered by the pledge to other technologies." This is in addition to the Open Invention Network, and their general work toward reforming the patent system. The patents covered in the OPN will be free to use in Free/Open Source software for the life of the patent, even if Google should transfer ownership to another party. Read the text of the pledge. It appears that interaction with non-copyleft licenses (MIT/BSD/Apache) is a bit weird: if you create a non-free fork it appears you are no longer covered under the pledge.
adeelarshad82 writes "Microsoft has recently launched two new phones known as the Kin One and Kin Two, previously codenamed 'Pink.' The phones are designed to appeal to social-networking-focused teens, which is probably why the marketing team has tried to spice up the packaging of the phones. According to a Microsoft official the phones are named Kin because they 'knit together ... kindred spirits.' The phones have a keyboard. The Kin One has a 5-megapixel camera, while the Kin Two's 8-megapixel camera can shoot 720p HD video. Both cameras include an LED flash. The One has a mono speaker, the Two's is stereo. One includes 4GB of on-board memory and the Two has 8GB. Both Kin phones have touch screens. According to the hands-on, the Kin phones are based on the same Windows CE core as Windows Phone 7, and they have an IE-based browser. These phones have no downloadable apps, no games, not even a calendar. They're not meant to be expandable smart phones; instead, very good messaging phones."
Hugh Pickens writes "At the peak of a magnetic storm, the number of highly energetic 'killer electrons' strong enough to damage electronics and human tissue can increase by a factor of more than ten times, posing a danger to spacecraft, satellites, and astronauts. Killer electrons can penetrate satellite shielding, so if electrical discharges take place in vital components, a satellite can be damaged or even rendered inoperable. For many years, the mechanism by which killer electrons are produced has remained poorly understood, in spite of physicists' attempts at solving this puzzle. Now the ESA reports that data shows the increase in the creation of a substantial number of killer electrons is due to a two-step process. First, the initial acceleration is due to the strong shock-related magnetic field compression. Immediately after the impact of the interplanetary shock wave, Earth's magnetic field lines began wobbling at ultra low frequencies. In turn, these ULF waves effectively accelerate the seed electrons (provided by the first step) to become killer electrons. 'These new findings help us to improve the models predicting the radiation environment in which satellites and astronauts operate. With solar activity now ramping up, we expect more of these shocks to impact our magnetosphere over the months and years to come,' says Philippe Escoubet, ESA's Cluster mission manager."
For the second time in as many years, a student has made a discovery while participating in the Pulsar Search Collaboratory (PSC), a joint program between the National Radio Astronomy Observatory and West Virginia University designed to get students and teachers involved in analyzing data from the Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope (GBT). This time it was high school sophomore Shay Bloxton, who discovered a brand new pulsar. "For Bloxton, the pulsar discovery may be only her first in a scientific career. 'Participating in the PSC has definitely encouraged me to pursue my dream of being an astrophysicist,' she said, adding that she hopes to attend West Virginia University to study astrophysics. Late last year, another West Virginia student, from South Harrison High School, Lucas Bolyard, discovered a pulsar-like object called a rotating radio transient. His discovery also came through participation in the PSC."
david.emery was one of a few folks who noted that Patrick Stewart can now be referred to as Sir Captain as he will be knighted by the Queen. This should bring balance to any future X-Men movies.
Ada_Rules writes "Researchers at the Imperial College London have announced development of an alcohol substitute that has many of the same properties as the Synthehol from the series Star Trek, in that one will get a buzz from it but will not end up with a hangover. In addition you will have the option of getting immediately sober if you so desire it. Let's hope this is not the typical vaporware. It is not that I really want a drink of Synthehol, but with its release I assume Romulan Ale won't be far behind."
Lucas123 writes "Scientists at Intel are working on developing sensors that would be implanted in a person's head in order to harness brain waves that could then be used to control computers, televisions, cell phones and other electronic equipment. Intel has already used Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (FMRI) machines to determine that blood flow changes in specific areas of the brain based on what word or image someone is thinking of. People tend to show the same brain patterns for similar thoughts. 'Eventually people may be willing to be more committed ... to brain implants. Imagine being able to surf the Web with the power of your thoughts.' said Intel research scientist Dean Pomerleau."
Engadget is one of many reporting that Brother and NEC both seem to have retina display technology in the works for release next year. Brother, at least, seems to have a fully functional prototype, while so far NEC is mostly talk. "Naturally, there are a few considerable limitations compared to more traditional displays, but the company's as yet unnamed goggles do promise to beam an 800 x 600 image directly into your retina that'll appear as a 10-centimeter wide image floating about one meter in front of them -- which is certainly no small feat, even if it may not be the most practical one. Slightly less specific, but also working on a retina display of its own is NEC, which apparently hopes to incorporate a microphone into their display and use it as a real-time translation device that would quite literally display subtitles as you talk to someone."
yet-another-lobbyist writes to mention that Facebook addiction has finally caused real world consequences, at least for one would-be burglar. It seems that 19-year-old Jonathan Parker couldn't stay away from the popular social networking site, even long enough to rob a house. Parker not only stopped mid-robbery to check his Facebook status on the victim's computer, but left it logged in to his account when he left.
Hugh Pickens writes "The Charleston Daily Mail reports that machinist Mike Daugherty built his son a working cannon for his birthday — not a model — a real working cannon. 'It looks like something right out of the battle at Gettysburg,' says Daugherty. The 700 pound cast iron and steel howitzer, designed to use comparatively small explosive charges to propel projectiles at relatively high trajectories with a steep angle of descent, has a 4-inch gun barrel that is 36 inches long mounted on a wooden gun carriage with two 36- inch diameter wheels and took Daugherty about two weeks to build at a cost of about $6,000. 'I've always been interested in the Civil War and cannons, so I thought it would be a good gift,' says Daugherty's 11-year old son Logan. Daugherty said he is not worried about the federal government coming to get his son's cannon because he spoke to the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and found it is legal to own such a cannon because it does not use a firing pin and is muzzle loaded so the government does not consider the weapon a threat. Two days after the family celebrated Logan's 11th birthday, father and son offered a field demonstration of the new cannon on top of a grassy hill overlooking Fairmont, West Virginia and on the third try, the blank inside the barrel went boom and a cannon was born. For a followup they popped a golf ball into the gun barrel, lit the fuse, and watched the golf ball split the sky and land about 600 yards away. 'Any rebels charging up this hill would be in trouble with a cannon like this at the top,' Logan says."
whisper_jeff writes "Disney has announced they will be purchasing Marvel. 'Building on its strategy of delivering quality branded content to people around the world, The Walt Disney Company has agreed to acquire Marvel Entertainment, Inc. in a stock and cash transaction, the companies announced today.'"
Hugh Pickens writes "News Corporation's James Murdoch says that a 'dominant' BBC threatens independent journalism in the UK and that free news on the web provided by the BBC made it 'incredibly difficult' for private news organizations to ask people to pay for their news. 'It is essential for the future of independent digital journalism that a fair price can be charged for news to people who value it,' says Murdoch. 'The expansion of state-sponsored journalism is a threat to the plurality and independence of news provision.' In common with the public broadcasting organizations of many other European countries, the BBC is funded by a television license fee charged to all households owning a television capable of receiving broadcasts. Murdoch's News Corporation, one of the world's largest media conglomerates, owns the Times, the Sunday Times and Sun newspapers and pay TV provider BSkyB in the UK and the New York Post, Wall Street Journal, and Fox News TV in the US." Note that James Murdoch is the son of Rupert Murdoch.
An anonymous reader writes "Thanks to a computer glitch and bad diagnosis coding, the VA sent a letter to thousands of veterans telling them they have Lou Gehrig's Disease. Some were right, but many were mistakes. From the article, 'Recently, the VA determined ALS to be a service-connected disability and generated automatic letters to all veterans whose records included the code for the disease. However, since the coding contained both ALS and undiagnosed neurological disorders, some of those letters were erroneous.'"
chrb writes "BBC News is reporting that the British Video Recordings Act 1984 is invalid due to a 25 year old legal blunder. The Thatcher government of the day failed to officially "notify" the European Commission about the law, and hence it no longer stands as a legal Act. There will now be a period of around three months before the Act can be passed again, during which time it will be entirely legal to sell any video content without age-rated certifications."
Colonel Korn writes "The Seattle PI Blog is reporting that a soon to be published Game Informer survey finally shows the failure rate of XBOX 360s: 54%! The survey also shows the rates of failure for the PS3 (11%) and Wii (7%). Impressively, only 4% of respondents said they wouldn't buy a new 360 because of hardware failures."