hype7 writes "An Australian student at Deakin University had a fascinating idea for a final project — to send a balloon up 100,000ft (~30,000 metres) into the stratosphere with a digital camera attached. The university was supportive, and the project took shape. Although there were some serious hitches along the way, the project was successful, and he managed to retrieve the balloon — with the pictures. What's really amazing is that the total cost was so low; the most expensive part was buying the helium gas for approximately AUD$250 (~USD$200)."
An anonymous reader writes "ABC News is reporting that a California woman is suing Toyota for $10 million for sending her email that appeared to be from a criminal stalker. The woman claims the emails terrified her to the point that she suffered sleeplessness, poor work performance, etc. Toyota says the ruse was part of a marketing campaign for the Toyota Matrix. A Toyota spokesman says they are not liable for the woman's distress, because 'The person who made this claim specifically opted in, granting her permission to receive campaign emails and other communications from Toyota.'"
TechReviewAl writes "Technology Review reports that the Chinese government has for the first time targeted the Tor anonymity network. In the run-up to China's National Day celebrations, the government started targeting the sites used to distribute Tor addresses and the number of users inside China dropped from tens of thousands to near zero. The move is part of a broader trend that involves governments launching censorship crackdowns around key dates. The good news is that many Tor users quickly found a way around the attack, distributing 'bridge' addresses via IM and Twitter."
nandemoari writes "T-Mobile is taking a huge financial hit in the fallout over the Sidekick data loss. But Microsoft, which bears at least part of the responsibility for the mistake, is paying the price with its reputation. As reported earlier this week, the phone network had to admit that some users' data had been permanently lost due to a problem with a server run by Microsoft-owned company Danger. The handset works by storing data such as contacts and appointments on a remote computer rather than on the phone itself. BBC news reports today that Microsoft has in fact recovered all data, but a minority are still affected (out of 1 million subscribers). Amidst this, Microsoft appears not to have suffered any financial damage. However, it seems certain that its relationship with T-Mobile will have taken a major knock. The software giant is also the target of some very bad publicity as critics question how on earth it failed to put in place adequate back-ups of the data. That could seriously damage the potential success of the firm's other 'cloud computing' plans, such as web-only editions of Office."
An anonymous reader writes "In this week's issue of Nature, scientists from Princeton University trained mice to navigate around a virtual environment using a setup that resembles a combination of a giant trackball and a mini-iMax theater displaying a virtual world rendered using a modified version of the Quake 2 open source game engine. (Here's the academic paper, subscription required.) They hold the mouse's head still atop a giant trackball, which the mouse turns by running. The scientists use the rotations to move the mouse around in the virtual environment, and when he reaches certain places, he gets a reward. Because they are able to hold the head still, they can stick microscopic glass electrodes into individual neurons in the hippocampus of this mouse as it 'navigates.' They find the neural activity that resembles activity during real life navigation, and learned new things about the inputs and computations that are going on inside these neurons, which weren't known before. No word as of yet whether the scientists plan on giving the mice control of the gun. Wonder whether John Carmack ever envisioned this when he opened up the Quake code?"
rippie78 writes "Whirlpool the Australian broadband news site has broken the story that
The federal government has shocked industry by rushing a bill through parliament that will compel ISPs to block all P2P traffic."
errgh writes "I'd like to start a web service that eventually would be supported either by ads and/or a subscription fee. It would be based on a open source social portal backend, although I will have to do some serious modifying to get it do accomplish my goals. The software is GPL v2 licensed. What will I need to post so that the license requirements will be met? Will I need to provide dividends to the authors? Can I not disclose the modified source, but only the unmodified original?"