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Software

+ - GPLv3 upgrade set for Friday-> 1

Submitted by
InfoWorldMike
InfoWorldMike writes "A controversial update to the GNU GPL (General Public License) is set to be released Friday by the Free Software Foundation, a representative of the organization said on Tuesday. GPL version 3 is arriving 16 years after version 2 of the license for open-source software. Questions remain, however, about who exactly will adopt it. Among improvements is a copyright technology not found anywhere in the world with the goal of providing uniformity in different jurisdictions, said Brett Smith, licensing compliance engineer for the foundation. An explicit patent provision in GPL 3 means people who contribute to free software cannot sue users for patent infringement, Smith said. This was not clear in the GPL previously. The foundation in version 3 provides what has been described as "patent-insurance" in response to the Microsoft-Novell arrangement. Will you buy this patent insurance?"
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Biotech

+ - Autism symptoms reversed in lab->

Submitted by DoctorPhish
DoctorPhish (626559) writes "A study, by Massachusetts Institute of Technology, appearing in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows symptoms of mental retardation and autism have been reversed for the first time in laboratory mice.
The researchers, based at MIT's Picower Institute for Learning and Memory, targeted an enzyme called PAK which affects the number, size and shape of connection between brain cells. They found that inhibiting the enzyme stopped mice with Fragile X Syndrome behaving in erratic ways.
"This implies that future treatment may still be effective even after symptoms are already pronounced" according to Dr Susumu Tonegawa of the research group."

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Media

+ - Personalized user generated news that you can edit->

Submitted by
Sanity
Sanity writes "Thoof, the latest project of Ian Clarke, creator of the Freenet P2P network, came out of private beta today. Thoof is an attempt to address the shortcomings of current user-generated news websites, by allowing users to edit stories (Wikipedia style, but with an additional voting step), and also through a new and novel personalization algorithm that is much faster at learning your preferences than a conventional collaborative filter."
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Media

+ - Why This Universe?-> 3

Submitted by
GRW
GRW writes "The current issue of Skeptic Magazine has an article by Robert Lawrence Kuhn entitled "Why This Universe: Toward a Taxonomy of Possible Explanations". Why does the universe exist? Why not nothing? Why are the physical laws and constants what they are and not something else? The author classifies the many possible scientific and non-scientific explanations for this question into four catagories: One Universe Models, Multiple Universe Models, Non-Physical Causes and Illusions."
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Databases

+ - The worth of Open Source? Open question->

Submitted by
AlexGr
AlexGr writes "Good mainstream article by Aaron Ricadela (BusinessWeek): The IPO plan of Swedish software company MySQL is eagerly awaited by fund managers, who want more benchmarks to gauge open source's value. For all the success of open-source software, developers the world over flock to the code available freely over the Internet — its purveyors able to thrive as public companies are few. Linux operating system seller Red Hat has generated billions in value for investors, but its shares have slipped 3% in the past year amid new competition. Novell, which supports a version of Linux, has been criticized for striking a cooperation deal with Microsoft seen by many as a threat to the spread of Linux. http://www.businessweek.com/technology/content/jun 2007/tc20070625_775467.htm"
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Programming

+ - What is an "average" user?

Submitted by
rueger
rueger writes "I'm working with a medium sized non-profit with several hundred members. We make extensive use of web resources and discussion lists. Our challenge is figuring out what level of support an "average" user needs. We like to to package help and support in ways that a actually teach end users to be self sufficient, but are struggling to decide how far that goes.

We're trying to establish a minimum skills and knowledge level that it is assumed that end users will have. Some are obvious — knowing how to surf the web in a browser and click on links. Knowing how to write and reply to e-mail. Word and Excel.

What we find though is that some things which we assume are widely known — like using CTRL-click to choose multiple items in a list — are a mystery to many users. As well, there are some people who for whatever reason just can't understand written instructions. And others who simply freeze when presented with a screen full of things that they have never seen before.

Right now we're bouncing between beginner level detail for the truly unskilled, and complaints from more experienced users that the instructions are "too long." In extreme cases we wind up phoning people and walking them though how to use our web based discussion lists. (Which admittedly are using a software package that sucks.)

So my question is: what are the minimum skills that are assumed for an "average" end user?"
Politics

Will Linux Win the Next Presidential Election? 453

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the vote-for-their-os-since-everything-else-is-depressing dept.
i_like_spam writes "Douglas Karr has posted an interesting breakdown, complete with bar charts, of the operating systems and server software used by the websites for 23 declared and undeclared presidential candidates. The breakdown shows that there is nearly an equal split between Linux and Windows servers among the whole candidate pool. More interesting, all of the Democratic candidates except for Hillary favor Linux or FreeBSD. 69% of the Republican candidates, in contrast, prefer Windows. Is this preference for OSS or Microsoft a true reflection of differing political philosophies? And, more importantly, will Linux win the next election?"
Sun Microsystems

+ - Sun super computer may hit 2 petaflops.

Submitted by Fletcher
Fletcher (666) writes "Sun Microsystems on revealed the Constellation System, a high-performance computing platform that company executives claim will vault the company back into the top ranks of supercomputer manufacturers. The linchpin in the system is the switch that conducts traffic between the servers, memory and data storage. Code-named Magnum, the switch comes with 3,456 ports, a larger-than-normal number that frees up data pathways inside these powerful computers.

"We are looking at a factor-of-three improvement over the current best system at an equal number of nodes," said Andy Bechtolsheim, chief architect and senior vice president of the systems group at Sun. "We have been somewhat absent in the supercomputer market in the last few years."

The Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC) at the University of Texas is currently preparing a Constellation system. If TACC can get enough Barcelona chips from Advanced Microsystems by October 15, its will provide a peak performance of around 500 teraflops. A fully built-out Constellation system, with contemporary components, could hit a peak of 2 petaflops."
The Almighty Buck

+ - Private equity firms trolling for high-tech buys->

Submitted by
coondoggie
coondoggie writes "Private equity firms have shown more than a fleeting interest in acquiring high tech companies these days. Just take a look at this year's purchase list: Avaya by TPG Capital and Silver Lake Partners for $8.2 billion; CDW by Madison Dearborn Partners for $7.3 billion; Alltel by Goldman Sachs and TPG Capital for $27.5 billion...Investors at UBS have built a model for looking at hypothetical leveraged buyouts of technology companies and ranks potential targets by how profitable they might be. The top 10 companies on UBS's list include: Unisys, Bearingpoint, Tibco McAfee, Symantec, and BEA Systems. The story notes that Microsoft and Oracle and other large companies fit the bill but are likely way too large for a buyout. http://www.networkworld.com/community/?q=node/1689 1"
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Announcements

+ - LatestGreenpeace report says Apple getting greener->

Submitted by
slacknow
slacknow writes "Greenpeace's new Guide to Greener Electronics is out in it's 4th edition, and shows Apple making progress while Nokia regains the lead overall.

The guide ranks leading mobile and PC manufacturers on their global policies and practice on eliminating harmful chemicals and on taking responsibility for their products once they are discarded by consumers. Companies are ranked on information that is publicly available and communications/clarifications with the companies."

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Censorship

+ - FBI wants to put restrictions on student freedoms->

Submitted by
Chebab
Chebab writes "The FBI has been visiting top universities in New England and recommended the university heads to follow a set of guidelines intended to protect the universities from foreign spies and terrorists. Among other things, the guidelines prevent students from showing interest in colleagues' work, engaging in independent research and going abroad. From the article:
"Following rules which have been abandoned in Eastern Europe, faculty, staff and students are encouraged to spy on their colleagues for signs of suspicious behaviour and report any concerns to the FBI or the military.""

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