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Hardware Hacking

Balloon and Duct Tape Deliver Great Space Photos 238

krou writes "With a budget of £500, Robert Harrison used cheap parts, a weather balloon, some duct tape, a digital camera, and a GPS device to capture some great photos of the earth from space that resulted in NASA calling him to find out how he had done it. 'A guy phoned up who worked for NASA who was interested in how we took the pictures,' said Mr Harrison. 'He wanted to know how the hell we did it. He thought we used a rocket. They said it would have cost them millions of dollars.' The details of his balloon are as follows: he used 'an ordinary Canon camera mounted on a weather balloon,' 'free software' that 'reprogrammed the camera to wake up every five minutes and take eight photographs and a video before switching off for a rest.' He also ensured the camera was 'wrapped in loft insulation' to make sure it could operate at the cold temperatures. The GPS device allowed him to pinpoint the balloon's location, and retrieve the camera when it fell down to earth attached to a small parachute."
The Almighty Buck

Scientists Develop Financial Turing Test 184

KentuckyFC writes writes to share a new online test that is being touted as the "financial Turing test." The web-based exercise asks users to distinguish between real and randomly generated financial data. "Various economists argue that the efficiency of a market ought to be clearly evident in the returns it produces. They say that the more efficient it is, the more random its returns will be and a perfect market should be completely random. That would appear to give the lie to the widespread belief that humans are unable to tell the difference between financial market returns and, say, a sequence of coin tosses. However, there is good evidence that financial markets are not random (although they do not appear to be predictable either). Now a group of scientists have developed a financial Turing test to find out whether humans can distinguish real financial data from the same data randomly rearranged. Anybody can take the test and the results indicate that humans are actually rather good at this kind of pattern recognition."

Is Apache Or GPL Better For Open-Source Business? 370

mjasay writes "While the GPL powers as much as 77% of all SourceForge projects, Eric Raymond argues that the GPL is 'a confession of fear and weakness' that 'slows down open-source adoption' because of the fear and uncertainty the GPL provokes. Raymond's argument seems to be that if openness is the winning strategy, an argument Michael Tiemann advocates, wouldn't it make sense to use the most open license? Geir Magnusson of the Apache Software Foundation suggests that there are few 'pure' GPL-only open-source projects, as GPL-prone developers have to 'modify it in some way to get around the enforcement of Freedom(SM) in GPL so people can use the project.' But the real benefit of Apache-style licensing may not be for developers at all, and rather accrue to businesses hoping to drive adoption of their products: Apache licensing may encourage broader, deeper adoption than the GPL. The old GPL vs. BSD/Apache debate may not be about developer preferences so much as new business realities."
Hardware Hacking

$100 Linux Wall-Wart Now Available 464

nerdyH sends us to LinuxDevices for a description of a tiny Linux device called the Marvell SheevaPlug. "A $100 Linux wall wart could do to servers what netbooks did to notebooks. With the Marvell SheevaPlug, you get a completely open (hardware and software) Linux server resembling a typical wall-wart power adapter, but running Linux on a 1.2GHz CPU, with 512MB of RAM, and 512MB of Flash. I/O includes USB 2.0, gigabit Ethernet, while expansion is provided via an SDIO slot. The power draw is a nightlight-like 5 Watts. Marvell says it plans to give Linux developers everything they need to deliver 'disruptive' services on the device." The article links four products built on the SheevaPlug, none of them shipping quite yet. The development kit is available from Marvell.
The Almighty Buck

High Tech Misery In China 876

theodp writes "Think you've got a bad job? Think again. You could be making keyboards for IBM, Microsoft, Dell, Lenovo and HP at Meitai Plastic and Electronics, a Chinese hardware factory. Prompted by the release of High Tech Misery in China by a human-rights group, a self-regulating body set up by tech companies will conduct an audit of working conditions at the factory. In return for take-home pay of 41 cents per hour, workers reportedly sit on hard wooden stools for 12-hour shifts, seven days a week. Overtime is mandatory, with workers being given on average two days off per month. While on the production line, workers are not allowed to raise their hands or heads, are given 1.1 seconds to snap each key into place, and are encouraged to 'actively monitor each other' to see if any company rules are being transgressed. They are also monitored by guards. Workers are fined if they break the rules, locked in the factory for four days per week, and sleep in crowded dormitories. Okay, it's not all bad news — they're hiring."

7th-Grader Designs Three Dimensional Solar Cell 719

Hugh Pickens writes "12-year-old William Yuan's invention of a highly-efficient, three-dimensional nanotube solar cell for visible and ultraviolet light has won him an award and a $25,000 scholarship from the Davidson Institute for Talent Development. 'Current solar cells are flat and can only absorb visible light'" Yuan said. 'I came up with an innovative solar cell that absorbs both visible and UV light. My project focused on finding the optimum solar cell to further increase the light absorption and efficiency and design a nanotube for light-electricity conversion efficiency.' Solar panels with his 3D cells would provide 500 times more light absorption than commercially-available solar cells and nine times more than cutting-edge 3D solar cells. 'My next step is to talk to manufacturers to see if they will build a working prototype,' Yuan said. "If the design works in a real test stage, I want to find a company to manufacture and market it.""

Websites Still Failing Basic Privacy Practices 205

DigitAl56K writes "Large companies still can't seem to get the basics of privacy and security on the Web pulled together. Today I went to enter a competition from Duracell to win a Nintendo Wii by filling out an online form. It requires entering your full name, address, and date of birth, and then proceeds to submit it via an unencrypted HTTP POST. The ultimate irony is the message at the bottom of the page that reads: 'Trust is a cornerstone of our corporate mission, and the success of our business depends on it. P&G is committed to maintaining your trust by protecting personal information we collect.' Which websites have you found to be lacking in their basic privacy practices?"

OpenGL 3.0 Released, Developers Furious 643

ikol writes "After over a year of delays, the OpenGL ARB (part of the Khronos industry group) today released the long-awaited spec for OpenGL 3.0 as part of the SIGGRAPH 2008 proceedings. Unfortunately it turns out not to be the major rewrite that was promised to developers. The developer community is generally furious, with many game developers intending to jump ship to DX10. Is this the end of cross-platform 3d on the cutting edge?"

What Programming Languages Should You Learn Next? 759

simoniker writes "Over at Dobbs Code Talk, Chris Diggins has been discussing programming languages beyond C++ or Java, suggesting options such as Ruby ('does a great job of showing how powerful a dynamic language can be, and leverages powerful ideas from Smalltalk, Perl, and Lisp') but suggesting Scala as a first choice ('Very accessible to programmers from different backgrounds.') What would your choice be for programmers extending beyond their normal boundaries?"

UI Designers Hired by Mozilla 245

ta bu shi da yu writes "Mozilla has hired several developers from Humanized. According to Ars Technica, Humanized is a "small software company that is known for its considerable usability expertise and innovative user interface design. The Humanized developers will be working at Mozilla Labs on Firefox and innovative new projects.""

We all agree on the necessity of compromise. We just can't agree on when it's necessary to compromise. -- Larry Wall