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Submission + - New Zealand School Shows Microsoft the Door (

carlmenezes writes: A school in Auckland, New Zealand has adopted an all-open source infrastructure, putting together in two months a system that continues to run fundamentally unchanged. Mark Osbourne, the school's deputy principle, is at the heart of the school's FOSS activities. The system consists of Ubuntu desktops and Mandriva servers, with students using open source applications including OpenOffice, Mahara, and Moodle. Students have reportedly connected everything from Macs to the Playstation Portable. The racks in the school's new server room, which was built with the usual Microsoft specs in mind, will have forty-four empty slots: Of the assumed forty-eight servers, this setup requires just four.

The US's Reverse Brain Drain 757

We may have to rethink the assumption that Silicon Valley is the hotbed of innovation in which all the world's best and brightest want to work and live. TechCrunch has a piece by an invited expert on the reverse brain drain already evident and growing in the US as Indian, Chinese, and European students and workers in the US plan to return home, or already have. From an extensive interview with Chinese and Indian workers who had already left: "We learned that these workers returned in their prime: the average age of the Indian returnees was 30 and the Chinese was 33. They were really well educated: 51% of the Chinese held masters degrees and 41% had PhDs. Among Indians, 66% held a masters and 12% had PhDs. These degrees were mostly in management, technology, and science. ... What propelled them to return home? Some 84% of the Chinese and 69% of the Indians cited professional opportunities. And while they make less money in absolute terms at home, most said their salaries brought a 'better quality of life' than what they had in the US. ... A return ticket home also put their career on steroids. About 10% of the Indians polled had held senior management jobs in the US. That number rose to 44% after they returned home. Among the Chinese, the number rose from 9% in the US to 36% in China."

Mozilla Jetpack, an API For Standards-Based Add-Ons 42

revealingheart writes "Mozilla Labs have released a prototype extension called Jetpack: An API for allowing you to write Firefox add-ons using existing web technologies to enhance the browser (e.g. HTML, CSS and Javascript), with the goal of allowing anyone who can build a Web site to participate in making the Web a better place to work, communicate and play. Example add-ons are included on the Jetpack website. While currently only a prototype, this could lead to a simpler and easier to develop add-on system, which all browsers could potentially implement."

World's First Battery Fueled By Air 205

Hugh Pickens writes "The Telegraph reports on the revolutionary 'STAIR' (St Andrews Air) battery could now pave the way for a new generation of electric cars, laptops and mobile phones. The cells are charged in a traditional way but as power is used an open mesh section of battery draws in oxygen from the surrounding air that reacts with a porous carbon component inside the battery, which creates more energy and helps to continually 'charge' the cell as it is being discharged. The battery has a greater storage capacity than other similar-sized cells and can emit power up to 10 times longer. 'The key is to use oxygen in the air as a re-agent, rather than carry the necessary chemicals around inside the battery,' says Professor Peter Bruce of the Chemistry Department at the University of St Andrews. 'Our target is to get a five to ten fold increase in storage capacity, which is beyond the horizon of current lithium batteries.'"

First Android-Based Netbook, Set-Top Box 114

An anonymous reader writes "China based Skytone famous for making skype headsets have brought out a $100 device, the Alpha-680 netbook running Google Android for its OS. The device has Wi-Fi, Ethernet, USB ports and an SD card slot. After watching the video though, I get a feeling that the boot time is somewhat long. IMO good enough for browsing." Also on the Android front, ruphus13 points out what the maker claims is the first "fully realized" non-mobile Android device (though I think there were some other non-mobile gadgets on diplay at CES), a set-top box from Motorola based on Android. According to the linked post, it's "capable of playing DVDs and CDs, transferring music and video to a mobile device, and ripping and storing files" and "will have a full-featured Chrome-like browser."

Brazilian Pirates Hijack US Military Satellites 359

blantonl writes "Brazilians all over the country are using modified amateur radio equipment to communicate with each other using US Military communications satellites — effectively creating their own CB radio network on the backs of the US Military. Recent efforts to crack down have resulted in arrests of some of the users, however the behavior still continues today."

Highlights From the 2009 Google Summer of Code 72

mask.of.sanity writes "Over a 1000 students were accepted into the fifth year of the program from 70 countries and will work on about 150 open source projects with mentor organisations. The program, created in 2005, has exposed some 2500 students to "real-world" software development and opened employment opportunities within mentor organisations and in fields relevant to their academic study. The United States scored the lion's share with 212 accepted students; 101 from India; 55 from Germany; 44 from Canada, 43 from Brazil. The Dominican Republic, Iceland, Luxembourg and Nigeria were new entrants to the program each with a single accepted student. Check out the slideshow summary of some project highlights, with hyperlinks back the detailed project pages."

Computer Spies Breach $300B Fighter-Jet Project 330

suraj.sun writes "Computer spies have broken into the Pentagon's $300 billion Joint Strike Fighter project — the Defense Department's costliest weapons program ever — according to current and former government officials familiar with the attacks. Similar incidents have also breached the Air Force's air-traffic-control system in recent months, these people say. In the case of the fighter-jet program, the intruders were able to copy and siphon off several terabytes of data related to design and electronics systems, officials say, potentially making it easier to defend against the craft."

Do We Need Running Shoes To Run? 776

prostoalex writes to tell us The Daily Mail has an interesting look at current research in the field of running and injuries related to running. Most of the evidence pointed at a lack of any need for running shoes. Some of the more interesting points: the more expensive the running shoes, the greater the probability of getting an injury; some of the planet's best and most intense runners run barefoot; Stanford running team, having access to the top-notch modern shoes sent in for free by manufacturers, after a few rounds of trial and error still chose to train with no shoes at all."
The Military

Bats Inspiring Future Micro Unmanned Aircraft 76

coondoggie writes "It's not the first time researchers have tried to emulate flapping as a way to fly aircraft, but US Air Force-funded researchers are now looking at how bats move to help them develop future micro-aircraft. According to these researchers, birds, bats, and insects have some highly varied mechanical properties that researchers have so far not utilized in engineering flight vehicles. The idea is to reproduce bat mechanics and develop technology could lead to small, remote controlled aircraft able to move in places where fixed-wing aircraft have a hard time — like the interiors of buildings, caves, or tunnels."

Researchers One Step Closer To Creating Life 292

An anonymous reader writes "Researchers at the Scripps Research Institute are potentially one step closer to creating life. In an experiment they recently created enzymes that can replicate and evolve. 'It kind of blew me away,' said team member Tracey Lincoln of the Scripps Research Institute, who is working on her Ph.D. 'What we have is non-living, but we've been able to show that it has some life-like properties, and that was extremely interesting.'"

The Evolution of Python 3 215

chromatic writes to tell us that O'Reilly has an interview with Guido van Rossum on the evolutionary process that gave us Python 3.0 and what is in store for the future. "I'd like to reiterate that at this point, it's a very personal choice to decide whether to use 3.0 or 2.6. You don't run the risk of being left behind by taking a conservative stance at this point. 2.6 will be just as well supported by the same group of core Python developers as 3.0. At the same time, we're also not sort of deemphasizing the importance and quality of 3.0. So if you are not held back by external requirements like dependencies on packages or third party software that hasn't been ported to 3.0 yet or working in an environment where everyone else is using another version. If you're learning Python for the first time, 3.0 is a great way to learn the language. There's a couple of things that trip over beginners have been removed."

Obama Proposes Digital Health Records 563

An anonymous reader writes "'President-elect Barack Obama, as part of the effort to revive the economy, has proposed a massive effort to modernize health care by making all health records standardized and electronic.' The plan includes having all conventional records converted to digital within 5 years. Independent studies are fixing this cost somewhere in the range of $75 to $100 Billion, with most of the money going to paying and training technical staff to work on the conversion. Early government estimates are showing 212,000 jobs could be created by this plan."

Are 68 Molecules Enough To Understand Diseases? 133

Roland Piquepaille writes "A researcher from the University of California at San Diego (UCSD) claims that 68 molecules can explain the origins of many serious diseases. After reviewing findings from multiple disciplines, he 'realized that only 68 molecular building blocks are used to construct these four fundamental components of cells: the nucleic acids (DNA and RNA), proteins, glycans and lipids,' and he said that 'these 68 building blocks provide the structural basis for the molecular choreography that constitutes the entire life of a cell.'"

"Necessity is the mother of invention" is a silly proverb. "Necessity is the mother of futile dodges" is much nearer the truth. -- Alfred North Whitehead