glogger writes "Jim Willcox, the video expert at Consumer Reports, bids farewell to our ability to get high-definition video via the analog component-video connections on Blu-ray players. Thanks to Hollywood pirate-paranoia, potentially millions of law-abiding viewers will have their choices restricted. Quoting: 'Hollywood studios now have the right to insert an ICT "flag" into a Blu-ray movie; if it detects that a player is using an analog connection that doesn't support HDCP, it downconverts the video's 1080p (1920 by 1080) native resolution to 960 by 540 (540p): better than DVD quality but only about one-quarter of full HD quality. This ensures that high-def video is available only through the copy-protected HDMI outputs.'"
theodp writes "A USPTO filing made public Thursday reveals that Microsoft is seeking a patent for something it calls 'One-Way Public Relationships' in social networks and other online properties, lawyer-speak for what's more commonly known as being a 'fan' of something online. It's unclear whether it's a goof on Apple, but Microsoft curiously used the example of a U2 fan named Steve to explain its 'invention' to the USPTO. Purported patent reformer Microsoft, which has called for the US to change from a first-to-invent patent system to a first-to-file system, filed the patent application in July 2009. Microsoft is a partner with and investor in Facebook, which first established its fan pages back in November 2007."
ehrichweiss writes "The Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics is warning parents and teachers of a new threat to our children: sounds. Apparently kids are now discovering binaural beats and using them to get 'physiological effects.' The report goes on with everyone suggesting that such aural experiences will act as a gateway to drug usage and even has one student claiming there are 'demons' involved. Anyone who has used one of those light/sound machines knows all about the effects that these sounds will give and to state that they will lead kids to do drugs is nonsense at best. It seems the trend in scaring the citizens with a made-up problem has gone to the next level."
alexmipego writes "I'm a developer, and a few months ago while working on a common geodesic problem (distance between two GPS points) I started to research a new algorithm that greatly improves the performance over existing algorithms. After relearning a lot of math I'm now fairly close to the final algorithm, after which I'll run extensive benchmarks comparing my algorithm with the most commonly used ones. After spending so much time on this, and if the final results are positive, I feel that simply posting this type of work on a blog might not be the best option, so I'm looking into something more formal, like a research paper. I've no experience on those, have not even read a complete one, so my first question is what resources do you recommend to learn how to write one? And even after I write it, I can't expect to be published by Science or other high-profile publications. So where should I send it to make it known by people in the respective fields and be taken seriously?"
vhfer writes "From NPR comes this story about old-school communications in the age of Twitter: 'Only a few years ago, blogs listed ham radio alongside 35 mm film and VHS tape as technologies slated to disappear. They were wrong. Nearly 700,000 Americans have ham radio licenses — up 60 percent from 1981, a generation ago. And the number is growing.' The article goes on to say that while there's plenty of 60-plus year old hams, there's also a growing contingent of teens. I just met a 14-year-old, licensed in 2009. Getting rid of the Morse Code requirement sure helped in that regard. So does the fact that the test questions (and the answers) are freely available, legally, on the Internet. Study, take the test, hang the license certificate on the wall. Your geek cred gets an immediate boost. And who knows? Maybe the next time there's a Haiti-earthquake-sized disaster, you'll be one of the thousands of ham volunteers who provided the only communications in/out of Haiti for weeks following the quake, not to mention all of the tactical comms the country had for nearly a month."
Lanxon sends in an intriguing piece from Wired: "This eerie wreck image is not computer-generated. It's the sonar image of Russian nuclear submarine B-159 (called K-159 before decommissioning), which has been lying 248m down in the Barents Sea, between Norway and Russia, since 2003. The Russian Federation hired Adus, a Scottish company that specializes in high-resolution sonar surveying, to evaluate if it would be possible to recover the wreck. 'The operation was complicated as the submarine was very deep, so we had to use the sonar equipment mounted on a remotely operated vehicle' [also pictured in the article], says Martin Dean, the managing director of Adus and a forensic-wreck archaeologist. 'We also had a problem with the surveying due to the density of North Atlantic cod attracted to the sound of the sonar and the light of the cameras.'"
JamJam writes "The Lancet, a major British medical journal, has retracted a flawed study linking the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine to autism and bowel disease. British surgeon and medical researcher Andrew Wakefield and his colleagues originally released their study in 1998. Since then 10 of Wakefield's 13 co-authors have renounced the study's conclusions and The Lancet has said it should never have published the research. Wakefield now faces being stripped of his right to practice medicine in Britain. The vaccine-autism debate should now end."
garg0yle writes "Google's Toolbar is supposed to allow the user to disable it. However, it was discovered by a researcher that it was still sending information even when disabled. A patch is now available, and Google claims this was just a bug, not a feature."
kai_hiwatari writes "The recently released KDE SC 4.4 Beta 1 has introduced tabbed windows as a new feature. It is now possible to tab together windows from different applications. This looks like it will be a very good productivity tool. Like the tabbed browsers, this may well end up as a feature in all desktop environments in the years ahead."
I think what they wanted to see was a pick-up group, not the functioning of a previously well-oiled organization.
Corporations were specifically forbidden from entering.
adeelarshad82 writes "eBay's PayPal division reported that PayPal processed 20 percent more transactions on Black Friday compared to last year. PayPal didn't release the total payment volume, but claimed that its Payflow Gateway system processes nearly a quarter of e-commerce, while its direct sales numbers reflect 12 percent of all e-commerce. In general, reports from a number of e-tailers and retailers indicated that consumers spent more on Black Friday than in 2008, when the United States was in the midst of a recession. However, it's still unclear whether shoppers bought more on Black Friday, when they could expect a discount on what usually is one of the busiest days in the holiday season, or whether the pattern will continue. In 2008, shoppers stopped buying in early December, a shock that the US economy felt well into 2009." How did your Black Friday turn out? Did you wait in endless lines and contribute to the trampling deaths of fellow shoppers, sit at home and help take down your favorite online retailer's servers, or eschew the process altogether?
MeatballCB writes "Hey folks. Being the 'technical' guy of the family, I often get calls from friends and family members when they're having PC issues. Most of these folks are not technical, so trying to troubleshoot problems over the phone can often be a challenge. Anyone know of a simple-to-use and (preferably) free service that would allow for remote viewing/control of their PCs? I know there's WebEx and GoToMyPC, but I hate to pay for something I'd use once every two months. I also know about VNC, but trying to walk someone through opening up ports on their router that thinks their Internet is broken when their homepage gets changed is not realistic. Anyone know of anything that would be easy to set up and use?"
An anonymous reader writes "Researchers from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich and the French National Institute for Research in Computer Science and Control have now developed a scheme for protecting implantable medical devices against wireless attacks. The approach relies on using ultrasound waves to determine the exact distance between a medical device and the wireless reader attempting to communicate with it." I had no idea that things have gotten so bad that hearts are being hacked.
scruffybr writes "Today the first information about the pricing and launch of Microsoft’s Project Natal has emerged. The pricing for the hardware will be much much lower than many had anticipated, coming in at around £50 when sold separately from the console. The idea being that it’s low enough that people will purchase on impulse."