vortex2.71 sends us to the Seattle Times for an account of two studies published in the prestigious journal Science pointing to the conclusion that almost all biofuels used today cause more greenhouse-gas emissions than conventional fuels if the full emissions costs of producing these "green" fuels are taken into account. "The benefits of biofuels have come under increasing attack in recent months, as scientists took a closer look at the global environmental cost of their production. These plant-based fuels were originally billed as better than fossil fuels because the carbon released when they were burned was balanced by the carbon absorbed when the plants grew. But that equation proved overly simplistic because the process of turning plants into fuels causes its own emissions — for refining and transport, for example. These studies... for the first time take a detailed, comprehensive look at the emissions effects of the huge amount of natural land that is being converted to cropland globally to support biofuels development."
Many outlets are echoing a subscribers-only report in the Wall Street Journal that Yahoo's board has decided to reject Microsoft's takeover offer. The NYTimes offers the only other independent reporting so far confirming this claim. The report says that Yahoo will formally reject the offer in a letter on Monday, since they believe it "massively undervalues" the company. Microsoft offered $31 per share, a 62% premium on the stock price at the time, for Yahoo; but the latter believes that no offer below $40 per share is tenable. The AP has some background on Yahoo's options in responding to the bid.
mambosauce writes "Brian Krebs, via the security fix blog is reporting that the recent PDF vulnerabilities which were patched only for Adobe Reader 8 and not 7 are being exploited via banner ads. As if there haven't been enough banner ad attacks this year now we have another one targeting one of the most popular applications in the world this weekend. At this rate there won't be many safe applications left to use."
milsoRgen noted a story about Namco Bandai is shuttering between 50 and 60 arcades in Japan and blaming the success of the Wii for the closures. "A lot of the types of games that people played at an arcade can now be done at home," said company spokesman Yuji Machida. To be fair they also blame the high cost of gasoline as well.
conlaw writes to share that according to Discovery.com scientists have found a way to extract energy from rain. A new technique could utilize piezoelectric principles of a special kind of plastic to generate power from falling water in rainstorms or even commercial air conditioners. "The method relies on a plastic called PVDF (for polyvinylidene difluoride), which is used in a range of products from pipes, films, and wire insulators to high-end paints for metal. PVDF has the unusual property of piezoelectricity, which means it can produce a charge when it's mechanically deformed."
mooseman93 wrote to point out Forbes is suggesting that if you haven't purchased an iPhone yet, you may want to wait just a little bit longer. Supposedly the next generation of iPhone will offer some substantial upgrades, including 3G capabilities. "To be sure, a 3G iPhone likely won't pop up over the next several weeks. The Unofficial Apple Weblog reported this week that Apple is hiring a television production firm in preparation for a high-profile late February announcement. That event, however, will likely detail the widely anticipated release of a software developer's kit for Apple's iPhone and iPod Touch. But the wait can't drag on much longer. AT&T is building out its high-speed wireless network as quickly as it can, announcing Wednesday that it will expand its 3G wireless broadband service to more than 80 additional cities by the end of the year for a total of roughly 350 markets."
A new startup, Credentica, hopes to offer the ability for you to perform secure transactions using the smallest amount of personal information possible. Their goal is to both protect privacy and enhance security, which they hope will be a mutually inclusive process. "The technique employs secure multi-party computation, a branch of cryptography that can calculate meaningful answers about secret information by knowing only some non-revealing clues about that secret. The underlying theory was demonstrated in 1982 by Andrew Yao in the so-called Millionaire's Problem [...] U-Prove employs an ID token, a special kind of digital certificate that allows for minimal selective disclosure. The tokens can store all kinds of information, but users can disclose only the minimum amount of data required in any given transaction. They leave no unwanted data trails and permit both anonymity and pseudonymity."
New Scientist is reporting that BP Piscium, an unusual star recently under scrutiny from astronomers, may have swallowed a nearby companion and spewed out a planet-forming dust cloud as a result. The team has also identified a similar scenario with another star which they hope will offer more answers.
eldavojohn writes "It's a common string you see at the start of an HTML document, a URI declaring the type of document, but that is often processed causing undue traffic to W3C's site. There's a somewhat humorous post today from W3.org that seems to be a cry for sanity and asking developers and people to stop building systems that automatically query this information. From their post, 'In particular, software does not usually need to fetch these resources, and certainly does not need to fetch the same one over and over! Yet we receive a surprisingly large number of requests for such resources: up to 130 million requests per day, with periods of sustained bandwidth usage of 350Mbps, for resources that haven't changed in years. The vast majority of these requests are from systems that are processing various types of markup (HTML, XML, XSLT, SVG) and in the process doing something like validating against a DTD or schema. Handling all these requests costs us considerably: servers, bandwidth and human time spent analyzing traffic patterns and devising methods to limit or block excessive new request patterns. We would much rather use these assets elsewhere, for example improving the software and services needed by W3C and the Web Community.' Stop the insanity!"
An anonymous reader writes "Local search engine company, Zvents, has released an open source distributed data storage system based on Google's released design specs. 'The new software, Hypertable, is designed to scale to 1000 nodes, all commodity PCs [...] The Google database design on which Hypertable is based, Bigtable, attracted a lot of developer buzz and a "Best Paper" award from the USENIX Association for "Bigtable: A Distributed Storage System for Structured Data" a 2006 publication from nine Google researchers including Fay Chang, Jeffrey Dean, and Sanjay Ghemawat. Google's Bigtable uses the company's in-house Google File System for storage.'"
An anonymous reader writes "It looks like Intel is being sued over a patent infringement alleged to be in the Core 2 Duo microprocessor design. 'The Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) is charging Intel Corporation with patent infringement of a University of Wisconsin-Madison invention that significantly improves the efficiency and speed of computer processing. The foundation's complaint identifies the Intel CoreTM 2 Duo microarchitecture as infringing WARF's United States Patent No. 5,781,752, entitled "Table Based Data Speculation Circuit for Parallel Processing Computer." WARF contacted Intel in 2001, and made repeated attempts, including meeting face-to-face with company representatives, to offer legal licensing opportunities for the technology.' The text of the complaint [PDF] is also available via WARF's site."
Techdirt points out that while there have been many lawsuits over someone's Google-rank, a Chinese professor is suing Google and Yahoo for removing all mention of him in China. "Google and Yahoo, of course, have agreed to play by local rules in China, upsetting many. Legally, it would seem like this suit has little chance of success — but I doubt that he cares about the legal result. What this actually does is to call attention to his plight — and on that front, it's clearly a successful strategy."