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OS X

+ - Unsanity admits old APE behind Leopard BSOD->

Submitted by
Ian Lamont
Ian Lamont writes: "The reports over the weekend of some Macs blue screening after installing Leopard turned attention to Unsanity's Application Enhancer. Responding to message board threads and an Apple support document that blamed 'third-party enhancement software,' Unsanity's Rosyna Keller at first suggested it was unlikely that APE was the culprit, saying 'You'll always have people suggesting voodoo solutions to problems (like repairing permissions) and them claiming it works when simply rebooting was the fix.' But by Sunday, Unsanity had changed its tune, with programmer Slava Karpenko publishing an apology that admitted older versions of APE were behind the BSOD trouble, and that the company had 'underestimated the number of people running outdated versions of our software.'"
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Google

+ - Google Maps, Predator Drones Turned Tide on Wildfi->

Submitted by Absalom621
Absalom621 writes: California firefighters and rescue workers went to battle with the massive wildfires sweeping through San Diego and Orange counties with a powerful new weapon: near real-time mapping and fire movement intelligence. When the fires got too hot for spotter planes to take readings, visualization experts at San Diego State University worked with NASA and Google to produce maps that tracked the fires and helped direct resources. The results may have saved lives and property. http://preview.baselinemag.com/article2/0,1540,2208915,00.asp
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Censorship

+ - Manhunt 2 banned in the UK

Submitted by sm
sm writes: Manhunt 2 has been banned in the UK. From the article: The British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) rejected 'Manhunt 2' on the grounds of its "casual sadism" and "unrelenting focus on stalking and brutal slaying".The game "constantly encourages visceral killing", it said.
Data Storage

+ - Just how delicate are modern hard drives?

Submitted by
RedBear
RedBear writes: "Recently I've been researching the idea of setting up a computer system like the Mac mini on small to medium-size boats, for use as on-board entertainment centers and/or computer navigation systems. One of my main concerns has been figuring out whether the hard drive will need to be replaced with solid-state media in order to be completely reliable. Having been conditioned by various information sources over the years to treat a spinning hard drive like a baby made of eggshells, I was surprised to find many "car PC" enthusaists commenting in forums that they've had absolutely no problems using desktop hard drives in moving vehicles for years. I've also been surprised to find very little information about or mounting systems for "ruggedizing" hard drives for mobile use, besides some references to sticking a bit of rubber between the drive and the mounting frame, which really seems inadequate. So I'm left wondering, just how delicate is the modern hard drive, really? Are they hardier than I've always been led to believe? Is a modern hard drive ever actually likely to die from just being bumped around a bit, or do they usually die nowadays for other, more mysterious reasons?

Here's the scenario: A small boat (15-35ft) traveling on choppy or rough seas at various speeds can encounter several different kinds of motion, and that motion can shift very suddenly from going in one direction to going in a perpendicular or opposite direction. With the wrong hull design, cruising speeds or wave crest spacings, resonant vibrations can develop that can practically shake your teeth out of your head at times. Go over a big wave the wrong way and you can find yourself doing a belly-flop or nose-dive a dozen or more feet down into the trough behind it, with a nice resounding thump. Again entirely dependent on hull design and angle of incidence, but the harder you hit the water, the harder it hits back. Then there is the lovely continuous rocking (technically, pitching) and rolling that never really stops when you're in unprotected waters, and can vary from -85 to 85 degrees from one moment to the next. I can't imagine any of this motion being good for any kind of hard drive.

Now, a computer like a laptop or the Mac mini has a notebook-size 2.5" hard drive, which by all accounts will be more resistant to G-force shocks than a typical desktop-size 3.5" hard drive. I've read that this is mostly because of their use of "ramp load/unload" technology, where the drive head never touches the platters. Recently some desktop hard drives have started to use this ramp loading technology, so does that mean those desktop drives will be just as shock-resistant as notebook drives, or is the size difference also important? And just how motion resistant are the notebook drives, in a practical outside-the-testing-lab sense?

Some laptops and even drives these days also have motion sensors that will trigger the drive to park the heads during excessive movement, like when a laptop gets pulled off a table onto the floor. I have to guess on this but I'm suspecting these motion sensing systems would get triggered far too often, possibly interrupting the computer during important read or write activities, at best causing a performance hit and at worst crashing the system if it happens too often. So this doesn't seem like the ultimate solution for a drive that may be affected by nearly continuous strong G-forces.

Is anyone here experienced with building systems like this? I'm not talking about a typical car-PC traveling around on mostly paved city streets, I'm talking about a system that will stay functional and reliable while strapped in the back of a racing pickup while it goes through a thousand-mile off-road race through the Mojave desert. Does any company make mounting systems specifically for this kind of use, or is it totally nonsensical to expect any hard drive to survive under such conditions? My Google-fu may not be the best in the world, but I can usually ferret out what I'm looking for, and I've found basically zilch on ruggedized hard drives or mounting systems for either hard drives or computers in high G-force environments.

Keep in mind, one of my main goals is to keep costs as low as possible, so it would be interesting but pointless to discuss commercial solutions that cost a small fortune. The available specialized marine computer systems I saw seem to be designed for large commercial vessels and are horrendously expensive. We aren't talking about military clients here, just regular people who happen to live and/or work on boats. I just want to be able to take a regular computer and make a few ehancements that would allow it to be used on a boat reliably for years under any possible circumstances. Thus one of the main problems with solid-state media, it would cost 3-5 times as much to get 1/10th to 1/5th of the storage capacity, and that's comparing it to notebook hard drives. 160GB notebook HDD = $110, 16GB UDMA CompactFlash card = $300. With desktop hard drives the cost vs. capacity gap widens even further.

This is even more of a problem because one of the main advantages to using a system like the Mac mini would be its ability to run Windows in a virtual machine for access to a lot of Windows-only navigation, mapping/charting and GPS software as well as Windows-only drivers for GPS hardware, while still having access to the great stability and usability experience of Mac OS X, including the multimedia aspects like gigs of music and MP4/DivX rips of movies. The most recent versions of Parallels Desktop and VMware Fusion both have snapshotting and reversion capabilities which would make it incredibly simple for non-technical users to recover from Windows software glitches while out at sea, and keep their software navigation systems working under almost any circumstances. But installing multiple operating systems (and keeping backups) and having access to all those multimedia files means you need plenty of disk space. For most people, obtaining an adequate amount of solid-state storage to really replace a 100+ gigabyte hard drive would be very cost-prohibitive.

If you were tasked with "ruggedizing" a computer system for use under similar circumstances, how would you go about it? How would you make a mounting system to protect a computer from G-forces that may sometimes be the equivalent of, let's say, being dropped on a carpeted floor from about desk height, over and over again? I don't think a couple of rubber feet will be quite enough, and I'm very interested in hearing ideas on simple padding and suspension systems that could isolate a computer from this level of G-shock. A bungie-cord type suspension system would probably just exacerbate the bouncing motion. It would need to be something different, something that would really dampen sudden motion rather than reacting to it. My only idea so far is complicated, probably expensive, and has something to do with counterweights, pulleys, copper tubing and neodymium magnets. Alternatives are welcome, as are any comments pointing out that I'm being ridiculous for thinking computers are so delicate. Am I? Please back up any such statements with references, of course."
PlayStation (Games)

+ - Sony CEO admits PS3 too expensive->

Submitted by
Raver32
Raver32 writes: "You know the PlayStation 3 costs too much, I know the PlayStation 3 costs too much, but now — finally — Sony CEO Howard Stringer has admitted the PlayStation 3 costs too much. Speaking towards the end of last week with the Financial Times Stringer admitted, "Nintendo Wii has been a successful enterprise, and a very good business model, compared with ours . . . because it's cheaper (*cough* — Gordon). That [price cuts] is what we are studying at the moment. That's what we are trying to refine.""
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Businesses

+ - Best Places to Work in IT->

Submitted by
jcatcw
jcatcw writes: "Computerworld's annual summary of the best places to work in IT lists companies that excel in five areas of employment: career development, retention, benefits, diversity, and training. According to the scorecard, the top 5 retention methods are: competitive benefits; competitive salaries; work/life balance; flexible work hours; and tuition reimbursement. Sixty-four percent of these companies expect the number of U.S.-based IT staffers to increase in 2007, on average by 7%. The whole list contains the top 100. The top three are: No. 1: Quicken Loans; No. 2: University of Miami; No. 3: Sharp HealthCare. "
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Music

+ - Interesting questions for A2IM's Bengloff

Submitted by
newtley
newtley writes: "A2IM boss Rich Bengloff renages on a promise to respond to interesting (in the Confucian sense) questions posed by well-known entertainment lawyer Fred Wilhelms on the proposed Copyright Royalty Board Net radio royalty hikes. Among them, "Do you think your label members would agree to a rule that if they sold 'X' number of CDs in a year, they would be forced to pay retroactive membership fees to the RIAA?""
Data Storage

+ - A review of Lexar's 8GB ExpressCard SSD->

Submitted by
Lucas123
Lucas123 writes: "In case you haven't been keeping up, welcome to the brave new world of the ExpressCard, which you'd better be prepared for if you buy a new laptop, according to a Computerword review. 'The ExpressCard SSD carries the same benefits as any flash drive — easily transportable data — and, at least on paper, its read/write speeds give it an edge over most USB-based and PC Card devices. 'When the smoke cleared [from our tests], the results ... were totally befuddling. While the Lexar ExpressCard SSD had the lowest random access time (0.7msec), there was only a 0.2msec difference between it and the Voyager GT.'"
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PC Games (Games)

+ - An In Depth Look Into Chinese "Gold Farming

Submitted by Henry V .009
Henry V .009 writes: The The New York Times describes the life of a Chinese World of Warcraft "Gold Farmer": At the end of each shift, Li reports the night's haul to his supervisor, and at the end of the week, he, like his nine co-workers, will be paid in full. For every 100 gold coins he gathers, Li makes 10 yuan, or about $1.25, earning an effective wage of 30 cents an hour, more or less. The boss, in turn, receives $3 or more when he sells those same coins to an online retailer, who will sell them to the final customer (an American or European player) for as much as $20.
Software

+ - Apple picks a fight it can't win with Safari->

Submitted by
Ian Lamont
Ian Lamont writes: "Mike Elgan has an analysis of Apple's successes and concludes that the release of the Safari browser for Windows not only goes against the Apple success formula, but is doomed to a vicious failure:

The insular Apple universe is a relatively gentle place, an Athenian utopia where Apple's occasional missteps are forgiven, all partake of the many blessings of citizenship, and everyone feels like they're part of an Apple-created golden age of lofty ideas and superior design. But the Windows world isn't like that. It's a cold, unforgiving place where nothing is sacred, users turn like rabid wolves on any company that makes even the smallest error, and no prisoners are taken. Especially the Windows browser market. ... While security nerds were ripping Apple for a buggy beta, the UI enthusiasts started going after Apple for the look and feel. Here's a small sample. Apple can expect much more of this in the future. The problem? Safari for Windows just isn't Windows enough.
Elgan also expects that the Firefox faithful will fight the Safari infux — a theory that has been supported by comments from Mozilla executive John Lilly, who criticized Steve Jobs' 'blurry view of real world' just after Jobs announced Safari for Windows."

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Linux Business

+ - GPLv2 or GPLv3?: Inside the Debate->

Submitted by
jammag
jammag writes: "This article, GPLv2 or GPLv3?: Inside the Debate details the various disputes without blowing hot air. Amid all the wrangling by the various parties, the article makes an interesting point: that large companies may see benefit in GPLv3 on a bottom-line basis. Forget philosophy or legalese — it's cold cash that will carry the day for GPLv3."
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It's funny.  Laugh.

+ - Nuke-proof bunker turns out not water proof.

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes: CNN reports about the opening of a vault which should have been able to withstand a nucleair attack by the Russians. 50 years ago they put an Plymouth Belvedere in the vault to preserve it so that we could get a good look at it in the (for that time) magical year 2007. Unfortunatly it turns out that the vault wasn't capable to withstand water, the once beautiful car is now a real rust bucket in the literal meaning of the word.

Makes one wonder about the quality of the other shelters...
It's funny.  Laugh.

+ - IT ads from the past: From the quaint to the weird->

Submitted by
PetManimal
PetManimal writes: "Computerworld has dug up some funny IT advertising gems from decades past. The highlights include "The Personal Mainframe", Elvira hawking engineering software, and an image of the earliest screenless "briefcase portables." Strange to think that people not only took these technologies so seriously, but also paid big bucks for gear that seems positively primitive now."
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Security

+ - 150mpg Motorized Bicycles a wave of the future?->

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes: Motorized bicycles are getting more popular by the day as gas prices are rising. There is a option to curb your high fuel costs for commute to work. Most states do not require license or registration for your motorized bicycles. The gas mileage that I have gotten myself on my bicycle is around 150 miles per gallon. Going to work in cities or out in the sticks it will get you there and quite possibly faster than most forms of transportation. You can see many examples of what the bicycles are capable of and how well they operate as well as do yourself and fellow Americans a favor and cut your oil consumption during this seeming time of Peak Oil. The sound of it may be far fetched however if you look through history, you will notice that after WWII they were used as a major form of transportation. There was incredible destruction to the infrastructure in europe that did not allow for the construction of the automobile. One could almost wish we had stayed in this frame of mind to prevent the situation we are in now.
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Never appeal to a man's "better nature." He may not have one. Invoking his self-interest gives you more leverage. -- Lazarus Long

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