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Submission Summary: 0 pending, 7 declined, 4 accepted (11 total, 36.36% accepted)

+ - Building an assistive reading device? 1

Submitted by
RulerOf
RulerOf writes "A few years ago, my girlfriend's grandfather was diagnosed Macular Degeneration. Ever since, he has had progressively more trouble with daily activities. While his wife and family are able to help him with most things, at the age of 88 and without many living friends left, he dearly misses the ability to read printed text. He was able to get by for some time with magnifying glasses and other basic aids but now even those do not help.

Recently, a local clinic which specializes in treatment for low-sight and blind individuals made him aware of and showed him several assistive reading devices that successfully allowed him to read. He mentioned this to his family members, and when I was told about it, I thought that these devices sounded like they were not much more than a camera attached to an LCD monitor or television with a little bit of special software thrown into the mix. Some investigation online turns up products such as these, and their prices are so prohibitively high ($2400-$3000) that the manufacturer won't even list them on their website. Furthermore, the effects that these devices can apply to the picture they output look awfully similar to the effects filters built into many webcams, and the ability to zoom and pan a live view of the screen is something that I've done effortlessly for years on OS X, and that I know exists in many Linux desktop environments.

My current plan is to try to build something like this with a used Mac Mini, a Logitech HD Webcam with a full-screen view of the camera always up, and a Magic Trackpad to control zoom level and screen position, plugged into a huge LCD TV that he already owns.

Have any of you ever built something like this? Am I wrong in thinking that the ease of use would be comparable to the purpose built devices when configured correctly? Is this something that might work better with a newer nettop device, a digital camera or camcorder, and Windows (where I'm skilled at automating things) or Linux at the core instead?"
Games

+ - Valve Announces DotA 2->

Submitted by RulerOf
RulerOf (975607) writes "Just over a year after hiring IceFrog, the lead developer of the wildly popular DotA Allstars mod for Warcraft III, and the speculation surrounding Valve's recent trademark filing for the "DotA" name, Valve has officially announced DotA 2.

Gameplay of DotA 2 is being ported exactly from the current DotA Allstars and includes every hero, but vast improvements are being made to the game including VoIP, a coaching system, in-game rewards, and AI that takes over for disconnected players. Lastly, it all runs on top of the Source engine.

GameInformer's website appears to be struggling right now though, as they had an exclusive on this story."

Link to Original Source

+ - J.D. Salinger, American Author, Dead at 91->

Submitted by RulerOf
RulerOf (975607) writes "J.D. Salinger, most notorious for his authorship of "The Catcher in the Rye," published in 1951, died yesterday, January 27th, 2010, at the age of 91.

Aside from his subsequent fame derived from "Catcher," Salinger was also ironically well known for his reclusive nature, living in seclusion in Cornish, N.H. for more than 50 years. In spite of an injury sustained early last year, it's stated that Salinger died of natural causes.

From the article: "Despite having broken his hip in May," the agency said, "his health had been excellent until a rather sudden decline after the new year. He was not in any pain before or at the time of his death.""

Link to Original Source
The Military

+ - Internet Brings Closure to Veteran 63 Years Later->

Submitted by RulerOf
RulerOf (975607) writes "Last week, CNN.com ran a story about U.S. Military field medic, Anthony Acevedo, a WWII veteran who was imprisoned in a Nazi slave camp, and was later forced to sign an affidavit saying it never happened. His story details many of the horrific events he and his fellow soldiers endured, and recalled a particularly emotional moment when a soldier named Vogel died in his arms, having lost the will to live after a failed escape attempt.

Martin Vogel, who joined the military during WWII after his brother, Bernard, was drafted in 1944, lost his brother during the war, but never knew any of the details of what happened or how he had died. The only information he had obtained was that his brother was imprisoned in a Nazi slave camp, and at some point attempted to escape, and was haunted ever since by the lack of closure he received from the U.S. Government.

Vogel, after reading Acevedo's story on CNN.com, contacted CNN, who in turn connected Vogel with Acevedo and another survivor from the same camp. Martin learned in a conference call with the other two veterans, that the man who died in Acevedo's arms was indeed his brother Bernard, finally giving him the closure he longed for after 63 years of uncertainty."

Link to Original Source
Intel

+ - Intel Stock Hits 5-year Low in Falling Market->

Submitted by RulerOf
RulerOf (975607) writes "Currently at $16.38 and dropping, shares of Intel stock have officially hit their lowest price since 2003, as reported by Business Week.

From the article:

"The stock, which is a component of the Dow Jones Industrial Average, fell 59 cents, or 3.4 percent, to $16.72 in early afternoon trading. ...Intel's shares are down about 37 percent since the start of the year, a bigger drop than the Dow Jones industrials, which are down about 25.5 percent year-to-date.

While Intel is generally considered a relatively safe bet...it is not immune to a downturn and it[s] stock price has declined amid fears that declining PC demand will mean lower demand for its semiconductors.""

Link to Original Source
Software

+ - Boot Camp Pulled for OS X 10.4 Users->

Submitted by RulerOf
RulerOf (975607) writes "In a not-so-surprising move amidst the anticipation surrounding the impending release of OS X 10.5 Leopard, Apple has pulled the Boot Camp 1.4 Beta from their web site. It will from now on presumably only be usable as a fully released product, bundled with Leopard. Of course, this doesn't leave current Boot Camp users in the dust; from the article:

"Not to worry, though: if you've used Boot Camp [...] your Windows partition should continue to work just like it [used] to. Remember, however, that Apple will ignore any problems you might encounter, and the Boot Camp utility itself will stop working."

This comes on the heels of a previous announcement at the beginning of the month, where v1.2 of Boot Camp expired on October 1st."

Link to Original Source
Communications

+ - IP Phones and Exchange Support in a Modern PBX

Submitted by RulerOf
RulerOf (975607) writes "I work for a small business as an IT manager, and we're currently orchestrating a move to a new location because we have more than outgrown our original office. With this move, we're (finally) investing in a proper business class PBX-based phone system, but due to my limited experience with various phone systems, I am having trouble making my own decisions on what particular features and technologies I should consider when I look at my boss and say "This is what we should get." The nerd in me wants to recommend an IP based phone system for the elegance and potential features they should offer, but the realist in me is having a hard time justifying the additional expenditure inherently associated with an IP based phone system and PBX.

In your experience, is there any phone system that can give the features I desire, such as full accounting with Active Directory and Exchange integration (big plus), web management with Windows Authentication, and all the features one would expect out of any PBX-based phone system? Would these features consequently only exist in an IP based phone system? Can I find what I'm looking for in a more traditional system and save money?"
Google

+ - Google Maps Click-to-Call Discontinued-> 1

Submitted by RulerOf
RulerOf (975607) writes "I went to look up a local butcher this morning that I needed place a phone order with as I usually do, by finding them on Google Maps and utilizing the "Call" feature that Google added to thier maps service back in November of last year. I've found it to be an incredibly useful tool, but I was rife with disappointment this morning when I scoured the Google Maps page, only to find that the "Call" button had gone missing.

I later confirmed my fears, ironically through a Google News search, by finding an article detailing that Google has killed its click-to-call program."

Link to Original Source
Music

+ - Music Decoded from 600 Year Old Engravings

Submitted by RulerOf
RulerOf (975607) writes "Musicians recently unlocked a 600 year old mystery that had been encoded into the walls of the Rosslyn Chapel that was featured in "The Da Vinci Code." The song was carved into the walls of the chapel not using traditional notes, but in the form of geometric shapes known as cymatics, or Chladni patterns. After the entire song was decoded, it was set to traditional lyrics and recorded, and can be heard in a video featured here, at the musicians' website. The video also gives a visual representation of how the engravings match up to the cymatic patterns.

From the article:

"The music has been frozen in time by symbolism...They are of such exquisite detail and so beautiful that we thought there must be a message here." The two men matched each of the patterns on the carved cubes to a Chladni pitch, and were able finally to unlock the melody.

Lastly, a direct link to the video."
Software

+ - MPAA Fires Back at AACS Decryption Utility

Submitted by RulerOf
RulerOf (975607) writes "The AACS Decryption utility released this past December known as BackupHDDVD originally authored by Muslix64 of the Doom9 forums has received its first official DMCA Takedown Notice. It has been widely speculated that the utility itself was not an infringing piece of software due to the fact that it is merely "a textbook implementation of AACS," written with the help of documents publicly available at the AACS LA's website, and that the AACS Volume Unique Keys that the end user isn't supposed to have access to are in fact the infringing content, but it appears that such is not the case. From the thread:

"...you must input keys and then it will decrypt the encrypted content. If this is the case, than according to the language of the DMCA it does sound like it is infringing. Section 1201(a) says that it is an infringement to "circumvent a technological measure." The phrase, "circumvent a technological measure" is defined as "descramb(ling) a scrambled work or decrypt(ing) an encrypted work, ... without the authority of the copyright owner." If BackupHDDVD does in fact decrypt encrypted content than per the DMCA it needs a license to do that."
The Internet

+ - Convincing Internet Prank Hits YouTube

Submitted by RulerOf
RulerOf (975607) writes "Three days ago a video was posted on YouTube called "How to Sign Up for GoogleTV Beta" along with four others as part of a series called "Infinite Solutions with Mark Erickson." The video was covered over at Gizmodo and after reading the article's comments, the joke becomes much more obvious. Follow the links for some very well done pranks from How to Unlock a Hidden Minesweeper Mode to Boosting your WiFi signal with a salad bowl.

It's all wonderfully wrapped up with a reassuring video that, among highlighting the jokes, gives a much better shot of the GoogleTV beta."

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