BillyG noted an RMS interview where he says "'Software as a service' means that you think of a particular server as doing your computing for you. If that's what the server does, you must not use it! If you do your computing on someone else's server, you hand over control of your computing to whoever controls the server. It is like running binary-only software, only worse: it's even harder for you to patch the program that's running on someone else's server than it is to patch a binary copy of a program running on your own computer. Just like non-free software, 'software as a service' is incompatible with your freedom."
An anonymous reader writes "We have a T1 line coming into our satellite office and we rely fairly heavily on it to transfer large amounts of data over a VPN to the head office across the country. Recently, we decided to upgrade to a 20 Mbit line. Being the lone IT guy here, it fell on me to run cable from the ISP's box to our server room so I went out and bought a spool of Cat6. I mentioned the purchase and the plan to run the cable myself to my boss in head office and in an emailed response he stated that it's next to impossible to create quality cable (ie: cable that will pass a Time Domain Reflectometer test) by hand without expensive dies, special Ethernet jacks and special cable. He even went so far as to say that handmade cable couldn't compare to even the cheapest Belkin cables. I've never once ran into a problem with handmade patch cables. Do you create your own cable or do you bite the bullet and buy it from some place?"
mike.rimov writes "I saw that part of the brand new Windows Live package is the Family Safety Filter, so I decided to give it a spin. Turned it on, set it to 'basic filtering' (their lowest level), and went to Google ... oops, it blocks Google! So I logged into the settings and added Google as an exception. Google still wouldn't come up. Just in case, I turned off the family filter: voila, Google. As we all know, 'Don't be evil' is not part of Microsoft's motto! Oh yeah — and with the filter on, Microsoft's own search engine, live.com comes up." Anomaly?
ApharmdB writes "Beneath a glacier in Antarctica, scientists have discovered a community of microbes growing in frigid pools of salty water. It's a particularly tough environment, with no light, no oxygen, and extremely cold temperatures. But the microbes appear to live — and thrive — off a combination of iron and sulfur, according to a new study. The result of that strange metabolism is a brilliant red streak of cascading ice called Blood Falls."
CNet reports on legislation currently being drafted that would transfer federal cybersecurity responsibilities away from the Department of Homeland Security. Instead, they would fall under the authority of the Executive Office of the President, creating an Office of the National Cybersecurity Advisor. A tech commission recommended relieving the DHS of cybersecurity responsibilities late last year, saying it simply wasn't prepared to deal with organized online threats. More recently, the director of the DHS's National Cybersecurity Center resigned, citing interference from the NSA. The new legislation would "put the White House National Cybersecurity Advisor in charge of coordinating cyber efforts within the intelligence community and within civilian agencies, as well as coordinating the public sector's cooperation with the private sector. The advisor would have the authority to disconnect from the Internet any federal infrastructure networks — or other networks deemed to be 'critical' — if found to be at risk of a cyberattack. The private sector will certainly speak out if this provision is included in the final draft of the bill, a representative of the technology industry who spoke on condition of anonymity said."
jjohn_h writes "Two guys at VentureBeat have managed to take the source code for Google's Linux-based operating system for mobile phones, Android, and compile it for an Asus netbook. Immediately, speculation began that Android will soon be running on PCs and laptops. '... we discovered that Android already has two product "policies" in its code. Product policies are operating system directions aimed at specific uses. The two policies are for 1) phones and 2) mobile internet devices.' Though some remain skeptical, I surely hope it is going to happen. Since Android does not rely on X11, but has its own framebuffer graphics, that would indeed be a cosmic shift."
nandemoari quotes a story at Infopackets: "2009 has gotten off to a great start for a team of iPhone enthusiasts with little regard for Apple's licensing requirements. They've finally figured out a way to get the phone to work with any cell phone carrier (and not just AT&T). The iPhone Dev Team is best known for their work on 'jailbreaking;' the technique of altering an iPhone so that you can run any applications on it, not just those approved by Apple. Given the company's questionable vetting policy for entry to the official App store, it's not surprising many users approve of jailbreaking."
Techdirt has a wonderful summary of how hard it is sometimes to stay upbeat when faced with some of the complete idiocy that intelligent, tech-savvy readers often have to deal with in their day-to-day lives. While the frustration will probably never go away, nor will the news calling attention to it, it does seem that opening people's eyes to problems helps things move in the right direction, so keep it up. "Yes, we're in the midst of a brutal financial mess — but that won't stop innovation. Yes, incumbent forces, with short-sighted plans and a desire to hold back the tides are annoying and disruptive (not in a good way) in the short run. But even they are finding they can't hold back progress. Robert Friedel has a wonderful book called A Culture of Improvement that details how we, as a society, are constantly looking to improve on what we already have. We add ideas and ingenuity to old concepts and build something better — not because of the desire to grab some "intellectual property," but because of the desire to improve our own lot, to build a better tool that we want to use. Incumbent short-sighted players have been able to hinder and harm progress, but they can't keep it down completely. That culture of improvement can't be stopped entirely."
nandemoari writes "The beta version of Windows 7 has been widely distributed through torrents and other file sharing systems. But now some commentators claim Microsoft deliberately allowed the package to get into the hands of pirates. 'I'm not being critical here, as some Microsoft Watch commenters will surely claim. It's rather smart marketing. Microsoft fills a big news void with something bloggers and journalists will write about. The suspense of stealth downloads from torrents and races to post the best screenshots first make the Windows 7 leak buzz all the more exciting. For other people, there is delight in seeing Microsoft squirm because Seven leaked early. Not that I see much squirming going on.'"
carazoo.com sends along a story on Volvo's upcoming crash-proof car. The company will introduce a concept car based on the S60 this month at the Detroit Auto Show, looking ahead a few years to the goal that by 2020 "no one should be killed or injured in a Volvo car." The concept car will have forward-looking radar as a proximity sensor, and the ability to brake if a collision is imminent. When the car senses a collision, a light flashes on the windscreen display along with an audible warning. If the driver doesn't act, the car will brake automatically.
An anonymous reader writes "New security check points in 2020 will look just like something out of the futuristic movie, The Minority Report. The idea of the new checkpoints will allow high traffic to pass through just as you were walking at a normal pace. No more waving a wand to get through checkpoints — the new checkpoint can detect if you have plans to set off a bomb before you even enter the building."
Davros writes "GateHouse Media, which publishes more than 100 papers in Massachusetts, accuses the Times of violating copyright by allowing its Boston Globe online unit to copy verbatim the headlines and first sentences from articles published on sites owned by GateHouse."
ThinSkin writes "ExtremeTech has written an article on the best keyboards in every category, such as gaming keyboards (macro and hybrid), media center keyboards, keyboard gamepads, and so forth. Of course, the big companies like Microsoft and Logitech dominate these lists, while smaller companies like Razer, Ideazon, and others play an important role as well."
In a refreshing break from all the doom and gloom, Amazon.com is calling this holiday season their best ever. Reporting a 44 percent rise in the number of items sold, they are refusing to provide actual dollar amounts, so it is still a very subjective measurement. "Amazon customers ordered more than 6.3 million items on Dec. 15, compared with roughly 5.4 million on its peak day last year, the company said. It shipped more than 5.6 million products on its best day, a 44 percent rise over 2007, when it shipped about 3.9 million on its busiest day. The company did not provide dollar figures and wouldn't say whether the average value of orders had changed, and the jumps it reported Friday are in line with increases Amazon has seen since it started releasing the figures in 2002."