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Restauranteurs Say Yelp Uses Extortion To Ply Ad Sales 202 202

Readers Mike Van Pelt and EricThegreen point out a story in the East Bay Express alleging that online restaurant review site Yelp is doing more than providing a nice interface for foodies to share their impressions of restaurants. Instead, says the article, representatives from the site have called restaurants in the Bay area to solicit advertising, but with an interesting twist: the ad sales reps let restaurant owners know that, if they buy advertising at around $300 a month, Yelp can "do something" about prominently displayed negative reviews of their restaurants. If the claims are true, it sure lowers my opinion of Yelp, which I'd thought of as one of the good guys (and a useful site). I wonder how many other online review sites might be doing something similar.
The Internet

New Tool Promises To Passively ldentify BitTorrent Files 265 265

QuietR10t writes "A new technique has been developed for detecting and tracking illegal content transferred using the BitTorrent file-trading protocol. According to its creators, the approach can monitor networks without interrupting the flow of data and provides investigators with hard evidence of illicit file transfers. 'Our system differs in that it is completely passive, meaning that it does not change any information entering or leaving a network,' says Schrader." I wonder if it can specifically identify legal content, too.

Towards a Wiki For Formally Verified Mathematics 299 299

An anonymous reader writes "Cameron Freer, an instructor in pure mathematics at MIT, is working on an intriguing project called (video from O'Reilly Ignite Boston 4): a math wiki which only allows true theorems to be added! Based on Isabelle, a free-software theorem prover, the wiki will state all of known mathematics in a machine-readable language and verify all theorems for correctness, thus providing a knowledge base for interactive proof assistants. In addition to its benefits for education and research, such a project could reveal undiscovered connections between fields of mathematics, thus advancing some fields with no further work being necessary."

Genetic Glitch May Prevent Kids From Learning From Their Mistakes 500 500

jamie pointed out an interesting piece being featured in Newsweek that claims a "genetic glitch" may prevent some kids from learning from their mistakes to the same degree as others. "If there is one thing experts on child development agree on, it is that kids learn best when they are allowed to make mistakes and feel the consequences. So Mom and Dad hold back as their toddler tries again and again to cram a round peg into a square hole. [...] But not, it seems, all kids. In about 30 percent, the coils of their DNA carry a glitch, one that leaves their brains with few dopamine receptors, molecules that act as docking ports for one of the neurochemicals that carry our thoughts and emotions. A paucity of dopamine receptors is linked to an inability to avoid self-destructive behavior such as illicit drug use. But the effects spill beyond such extremes. Children with the genetic variant are unable to learn from mistakes. No matter how many tests they blow by partying the night before, the lesson just doesn't sink in."

Microsoft Demos "Deep Zoom" Technology 272 272

Barence writes "Yesterday, during a presentation for this year's Imagine Cup, Microsoft's Mark Taylor demonstrated the company's Deep Zoom technology to appreciative gasps of admiration from the computing students present. It's pretty impressive stuff, and you can try 'deep zooming' for yourself at the Hard Rock Memorabilia Site." Unfortunately the demo requires the Silverlight plugin and the story is pretty thin on technical details. I would be interested to see how they captured the image data to that level without massive pixelation.

+ - 3G iPhone Expected in June-> 1 1

MaineCoasts writes: The Times Online reports that European sellers of the iPhone are braced for "significant losses" on unsold inventories of first generation iPhones which must be cleared away for the new 3G versions expected in June. The three European distributors of the iPhone "sold 330,000 units to the end of December, but industry sources say that European sales of the iPhone were forecast to be between 500,000 and 600,000."
Link to Original Source

Comcast Cheating On Bandwidth Testing? 287 287

dynamo52 writes "I'm a freelance network admin serving mainly small business clients. Over the last few months, I have noticed that any time I run any type of bandwidth testing for clients with Comcast accounts, the results have been amazingly fast — with some connections, Speakeasy will report up to 15 Mbps down and 4 Mbps up. Of course, clients get nowhere near this performance in everyday usage. (This can be quite annoying when trying to determine whether a client needs to switch over to a T1 or if their current ISP will suffice.) Upon further investigation, it appears that Comcast is delivering this bandwidth only for a few seconds after any new request and it is immediately throttled down. Doing a download and upload test using a significantly large file (100+ MB) yields results more in line with everyday usage experience, usually about 1.2 Mbps down and about 250 Kbps up (but it varies). Is there any valid reason why Comcast would front-load transfers in this way, or is it merely an effort to prevent end-users from being able to assess their bandwidth accurately? Does anybody know of other ISPs using similar practices?"

New Chip For Square Kilometer Radio Telescope 88 88

An anonymous reader writes "ZDNet Aus reported on a new low-noise chip that could help in building the $1.6B Square Kilometer Array, the world's largest radio telescope. Wikipedia claims the telescope will be 50 times as sensitive as current instruments. It will have a resolution able to detect every active galactic nucleus out to a redshift of 6, when the universe was less than 1 billion years old and way crazy. It will have the sensitivity to detect Earth-like radio leakage at a distance of several hundred to a few thousand light years, which could help greatly with the search for extraterrestrial life. The chip's designer, Prof. Jack Singh, commented on the chip's ability to help with quantum computing research, due to its ability to operate at millikelvin temperatures, necessary to prevent quantum decoherence."

+ - Is Skype Discontinuing Unlimited Calling Plans?

An anonymous reader writes: I recently picked up an N800, and I thought I'd check out its potential as a mobile Skype client. Skype promotes unlimited calling plans for $9 for three months or $30 per year. However about six weeks ago they stopped offering the three month option for purchase through their web site. The forum moderator claimed this was temporary, but the claim seemed disingenuously vague, and I decided to wait it out. I've never used Skype and didn't want to commit to a year without first sampling the three month plan. Now the yearly plan has also been removed. It remains to be seen whether this is also a 'temporary' condition. The plans can apparently still be purchased with prepaid cards through retail channels. However given the negative press that Skype received this year, I wonder if this signals the end of the Skype unlimited calling plan.

Promise of OOXML Oversight By ISO Falls Through 216 216

640 Comments Are Enough for Anyone writes "Microsoft is going back on one of their promises concerning OOXML. While they originally made assurances that the ISO would take control of the standard if it were approved, Microsoft is now reversing that position and keeping near-full control over OOXML with the ECMA. This is significant because the ECMA is the group that originally rubber-stamped OOXML. It seems unlikely that they will force changes to correct problems with the standard. In Microsoft's new plan, the ISO would only be allowed to publish lists of errata and would be unable to make OOXML compatible with existing ISO standards, while the ECMA would be the one to control any new versions of the standard."

Replacing a Thinkpad? 902 902

An anonymous reader writes "As a very happy Thinkpad T20 user (still working after 7 years), I always planned on replacing it with another Thinkpad T-series. However, Thinkpads are now produced by Lenovo, a Chinese company, and I can't quite bear to buy Chinese while the Burmese military are shooting at monks with the Chinese Government as their biggest backer. Maybe this is silly, as whatever I buy is likely to be made (at least in part) in China... but still, what are my options for something as well built as the Thinkpad T-series?"

What To Do When Broadband is Not An Option? 577 577

professorguy writes "I've been on the internet since 1984 (back before email addresses had @'s). But it looks like we're coming to the end of an era. From my home, I have 26.4 kbps dial-up access to the internet (you read that right). Since I am a hospital network administrator, it would be nice to do some stuff remotely when I am on 24/7 call. However, no cable or DSL comes anywhere near my house and because of the particular topography of my property (I'm on a heavily-forested, north-facing hillside), satellite is also not available. Heck, cell phones didn't even work here until January. So far, the technical people I've asked all have the same advice for reasonable connectivity: move. Move out of the house my wife and I built and lived in for 20 years. Has it really come to this? Am I doomed to be an internet refugee? Is this really my only option? Do you have an alternative solution for me?"

BitTorrent Closes Source Code 390 390

An anonymous reader writes ""There are two issues people need to come to grips with," BitTorrent CEO Ashwin Narvin told "Developers who produce open source products will often have their product repackaged and redistributed by businesses with malicious intent. They repackage the software with spyware or charge for the product. We often receive phone calls from people who complain they have paid for the BitTorrent client." As for the protocol itself, that too is closed, but is available by obtaining an SDK license."

A Hardware-Software Symbiosis 120 120

Roland Piquepaille writes "We all want smaller and faster computers. Of course, this increases the complexity of the work of computer designers. But now, computer scientists from the University of Virginia are coming with a radical new idea which may revolutionize computer design. They've developed Tortola, a virtual interface that enables hardware and software to communicate and to solve problems together. This approach can be applied to get a better performance from a specific system. It also can be used in the areas of security or power consumption. And it soon could be commercialized with the help of IBM and Intel."

This is clearly another case of too many mad scientists, and not enough hunchbacks.