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The Almighty Buck

Submission + - The Taxman Barely Cometh

theodp writes: "While Congress is considering lowering the 35% federal tax rate, a lot of companies don't need help from Washington. They've been finding legal ways to shrink their tax bill for years, with 'cross-border tax arbitrage' — getting profits out of the U.S. if taxes are lower offshore — emerging as one of the hottest tax-avoidance strategies. A list compiled by BusinessWeek of the S&P 500 companies sending in the smallest checks sports a number of high-tech household names, including Amazon and Yahoo, who respectively sent Uncle Sam 2.8% and 2.9% of their earnings before income taxes over the past five years, and Apple, which paid a whopping $0 in cash taxes last year."

Submission + - Web Browsers Reviewed: Have You Heard Of Sleipnir?

Patrick Griffin writes: Have you heard of Swiftweasel, Flock, Shiira, xB and Sleipnir? Apparently, there are over 100 existing (although not widely used) web browsers. Most of them make use of the rendering engines Trident (IE), Gecko (Firefox), WebCore (Safari) and Presto (Opera 7 and above). However, some of them offer large fields for experiments and exploration, e.g. 3D Engines, but also really useful browsers with advanced functionalities such as desktop-tools integration. Besides Firefox, Opera and Internet Explorer there is a number of promising alternatives which can improve your flexibility, increase your productivity and enrich your browsing experience.

Submission + - Supreme Court To Rule on Second Amendment (

djmoore writes: "The Supreme Court has granted cert in District of Columbia v. Heller. This is the first case examining the Second Amendment to reach SCOTUS since the much-misunderstood Miller case in 1939. The SCOTUS asks the question,[PDF] "Whether the following provisions, D.C. Code 7-2502.02(a)(4), 22-4504(a), and 7-2507.02, violate the Second Amendment rights of individuals who are not affiliated with any state-regulated militia, but who wish to keep handguns and other firearms for private use in their homes?" Some links to background information on this case and the Second Amendment can be found here. Oral arguments will likely be heard in March or April.

Roughly speaking, the question is, does an enumerated "right of the people" have as much weight as, say, the unenumerated right to an abortion? Or does the 2nd Amendment, uniquely in the Constitution, use the phrase "the people" to grant coercive power to the state?

Mandatory Geek Link: Eric S. Raymond's "Ethics From the Barrel of a Gun"."


Submission + - DirectX 9.0c on Linux with Wine (

Tom Wickline writes: "I have posted a howto install DirectX 9.0c into Wine and it passes each of the test that is included in dxdiag.exe.. after the install only five dlls need to be set as builtin Wine dlls and the rest can be run as native Windows dlls. its not 100% DirectX on Linux but its 95% and that's as close as your going to get... as the five dlls that have to be set to builtin need direct access to hardware."

Submission + - Bow down to the gods of Wikipedia (

mateuscb writes: "Here is an example of a good thing gone bad. Wikipedia, the encyclopedia by the people seems to have lost site of its purpose. Too much power given to certain people and now they think they can judge everyone. This basically documents a user trying to get an article published and being faced with discrimination and illogical behavior;"
The Internet

Submission + - Who's (still) wasting your bandwidth? (

An anonymous reader writes: Using the Royal Mail price finder on behalf of an ebay customer today, I noticed the layout of the HTML was poor (probably because it's formatted to work on IE only — yes, I've asked them to fix it). Unable to let any problem lie I took a look at the source and was appalled to see how much redundant whitespace was being served with the page. After 10 minutes tidying it up I discovered that where it might reasonably serve 12k of HTML data it was actually serving up 20k. Around 8,000 pointless bytes are being transmitted every time someone wants to price something up with Royal Mail. When we all used dial-up the issue was page latency; with broadband it's one of download limits. Luckily my ISP doesn't impose one and 8k is not exactly a hill of beans in these gigabyte times, but can anyone beat 40% wastage?
The Media

Submission + - Science vs. Homeopathy (

Mr. E writes: "Ars Technica has an interesting look at pseudoscience as it applies to homeopathy. While most discussions about what science is get derailed by the larger controversies surrounding them, Ars chose a relatively uncontroversial pseudo-science to examine so that they could examine the factors which make homeopathy a psuedo-science: ignoring settled issues in science, misapplication of real science, rejection of scientific standards, claims of suppression, large gaps between the conclusion and evidence, and focusing only on the fringes of what we currently understand."

Submission + - Over 500 Scientists Question Global Warming ( 3

Forrest Kyle writes: "According to research conducted by the Hudson Institute, a right-leaning (according to Wikipedia) political think tank, over 500 scientists have published peer reviewed evidence that contradicts the current scientific "consensus" on anthropogenic global warming. According to the article, "the names were compiled by [Hudson Institute Senior Fellow Dennis] Avery and climate physicist S. Fred Singer [Professor emeritus of environmental sciences at the University of Virginia], the co-authors of the new book Unstoppable Global Warming: Every 1,500 Years, mainly from the peer-reviewed studies cited in their book." For an issue about which Al Gore claims there is no scientific debate, there seems to be a lot of scientific debate.

Author's Note of Disclosure: It is not my intention to stake a claim in the global warming debate. My position is to not immediately take a position without enough scientific facts, which I do not personally possess. As an environmentalist, I take the global warming issue very seriously, but as a thinking person, I am opposed to sensationalism, or claiming a debate is over during a debate. So in other words, don't flame me to death because this article is slanted against Gore's position. =)"

Feed Techdirt: Guy Who Uploaded Star Wars Wearing An Ankle Bracelet, Banned From Using Linux (

When discussing how silly it is that the movie industry freaks out about people uploading movies online, we often point to the case of the last Star Wars movie. That movie was leaked the week before the movie came out in the theaters and was downloaded by fans around the world -- and yet it only seemed to get people more excited to go out and see it in the theaters. There were huge lines and theaters sold out left and right. That's because it's the same thing that many of us have been saying for years: going to the movies is a social experience. People want to go out with their friends and have fun and see a movie in the theater (that is, if the theater makes the experience worth while and doesn't treat them all as criminals or children). However, what we didn't know about that Star Wars example is that one of the guys who uploaded it (and you can bet that it was more than just one guy) ended up getting arrested for doing so and eventually he plead guilty to 'conspiracy to commit copyright infringement' and 'criminal copyright infringement.' For that, he ended up in jail for five months with another five months of home confinement. The home confinement part includes an ankle bracelet he needs to wear. I'd challenge the movie industry to explain how this can possibly be fair, given the fact that there's almost no evidence his actions did any real damage. However, here's where it gets even better. As part of his home confinement, he agreed to install some tracking software on his computer, so his probation officer could track what he's doing (and, presumably, to make sure he's not uploading more stuff). Only problem? He's an Ubuntu Linux user and the gov't doesn't have any tracking software for Linux. So he's been told that he must use Windows for the term of his confinement. He did plead guilty so he has to accept the punishment -- but all in all it really does seem like the punishment is excessive given the actual damage caused.

Submission + - Can OpenID be hacked? (

An anonymous reader writes: Eugene and Vlad Tsyrklevich revealed a number of security flaws in the OpenID Single Sign-On system at the recent BlackHat USA 2007 security conference. The two presenters demonstrated how to port scan Internet hosts such as using OpenID enabled sites and then went on to explain how to bypass firewalls protecting OpenID enabled servers. The presentation also focused on more commonly discussed OpenID security issues such as phishing, privacy and replay attacks. The two concluded by saying that OpenID is a great system that solves a very real username and password management problem but its security and privacy concerns need further thought. Their research slides and whitepaper are now available online.

Submission + - The aerogel revolution is almost upon us (

GnarlyDoug writes: Aerogels, nicknamed liquid smoke, are basically nanofoam. Imagine a material with such a low density that it is transparent yet extremely tough, and such a good insulator that even asbestos cannot compare. It also has a massive surface area, making it perfect as a filter and purifier. Aerogels have been around since the 1930s but they have mainly been laboratory curiosities because they were so brittle and so expensive to make. It seems that has finally changed and that aerogels are about to become mainstream.
GNU is Not Unix

Submission + - Petition to free MainActor source code 1

Anonymous Coward writes: "MainConcept decided earlier this year to discontinue maintenance and distribution of MainActor Video Editing Software. MainActor was one of the most complete and affordable video editing software available for Linux and Windows. Some individuals already sent emails to MainConcept requesting them to free MainActor source code but without success. I hope that we, the whole Open Source Community, will have more success by puting all our efforts together. So, by signing this petition, we, Open Source enthusiasts and non-linear editors, ask that MainConcept release most source code (if not all) of MainActor as Open Source so that the community can continue to support and improve it. A topic has been opened in the unofficial MainActor forum to Free MainActor source code"

MSDOS is not dead, it just smells that way. -- Henry Spencer