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Submission + - A Tale of Two mooches

dynamo writes: "My brother Dave* and I just released mooch, an iPhone app for keeping track of loans between friends (ex: borrowing $10 for a movie ticket.) When we started, we did some research and, amazingly, there didn't seem to be any iPhone apps out there that did this already. We researched available names during the design process, and eventually settled on "mooch", because lowercase utility names just feel right. mooch version 1.0 was completed and submitted to Apple on Aug. 2nd.

On Sep. 17th, after roughly six weeks** of "in-review" status, mooch posted to the App Store. We were thrilled — until we found out that another app with very similar functionality had been released two days earlier on the 15th (but that had been submitted after ours) — and with a nearly identical name — "Mooch! (IOU)". There are some minor differences in the UI and feature set, but the core functionality is the same as mooch's. (ex: They have a button to send a deadbeat friend reminders per transaction, we have a button to send a reminder email per friend, with the current total and transaction history.)

So, what do you do in this situation? Well, you compete, obviously, and of course we intend to do that. There are enough potential customers for more than one personal loan management app. Our concern is the similarity in name combined with the similarity in function. I can't just say to buy the app called mooch that tracks personal loans, and expect someone to find it, I have to say to get the mooch with the hand grabbing the cash icon. We've pretty much decided not to ask them to change their name — mostly because we don't want to be jerks about it, but also because we probably don't have the legal / financial resources available to make them if they don't want to.

The other issue is that we have a long list of planned features, some of which are already implemented in their application — for example, attaching a photo to a transaction. It seems likely enough that the reverse is true as well. Is it better to announce new features in advance to avoid looking like we copied them, or to keep it under wraps so as not to tip off the competition? Do we have to worry about anything resembling patent issues?

* Dave incidentally also works on the Frankencamera, which was featured on Slashdot a few weeks ago.
** For completeness, about 4 weeks into the review process, Apple very reasonably asked that a small change be made to the UI. We made the change, tested it, and resubmitted within 48 hours."

Submission + - HP drops EDS brand, renames technology group (cio.com.au)

Dan Jones writes: In May last year HP completed the deal to buy EDS for just under $14 billion and promised that the company brand will continue. Well a little over a year later and HP has announced it will leave the EDS brand behind and rename its IT services business HP Enterprise Services. Is anyone surprised by the move? When HP acquired Mercury a couple of years ago the first thing it did was sunset the brand. HP is also renaming its Technology Solutions Group to HP Enterprise Business. EDS was founded in 1962 and in a sense established what became known as the IT services market.

Submission + - France reintroduces the "Three strikes law" (zeropaid.com)

Thanshin writes: France's lower house of parliament formally passed a revised 'Three strikes' bill that will allow authorities to disconnect illegal file-sharers from the Internet.

The new bill now allows a judge to make the 'third strike decision of either disconnecting an Internet user, fine of up to 300,000 euros ($415,000USD),or a two-year jail sentence.

The measure was passed on a vote of 285-225.

The first strike will be notified by mail, the second by certified postal mail and the third will cause the disconnection. The user will have to continue paying the connection fee during the disconnection time.

Submission + - What's Good for Google is Good for the USA?

theodp writes: The Obama administration embraced cloud computing on Tuesday, arguing that a shift to online apps, storage and processing is critical to reduce government waste and ease environmental impacts. And as Federal CIO Vivek Kundra announced (YouTube, cheesy cartoon @19:00) the launch of Apps.gov at NASA's Ames Research Center, Google's Sergey Brin was there. No, not to check on the private jets he and other top Googlers park there. As Google cheerleader Kundra led the Feds into the Cloud, Google announced it is readying a dedicated Google cloud for federal, state, and local government customers in the US. 'Everyone benefits from cloud computing,' asserts Google, adding that 'few stand to benefit more than government.'

Submission + - Most detailed photos of an atom yet (insidescience.org) 1

BuzzSkyline writes: Ukrainian researchers have managed to take pictures of atoms that reveal structure of the electron clouds surrounding carbon nuclei in unprecedented detail. Although the images offer no surprises (they look much like the sketches of electron orbitals included in high school science texts), this is the first time that anyone has directly imaged atoms at this level, rather than inferring the structure of the orbitals from indirect measurements such as electron or x-ray interferometry.

Submission + - Microsoft: No TCP/IP patches for you, XP (computerworld.com) 1

CWmike writes: Microsoft says it won't patch Windows XP for a pair of bugs it quashed Sept. 8 in Vista, Windows Server 2003 and Windows Server 2008. The news adds Windows XP Service Pack 2 (SP2) and SP3 to the no-patch list that previously included only Windows 2000 Server SP4. "We're talking about code that is 12 to 15 years old in its origin, so backporting that level of code is essentially not feasible," said security program manager Adrian Stone during Microsoft's monthly post-patch Webcast, referring to Windows 2000 and XP. "An update for Windows XP will not be made available," Stone and fellow program manager Jerry Bryant said during the Q&A portion of the Webcast (transcript here). Last Tuesday, Microsoft said that it wouldn't be patching Windows 2000 because creating a fix was "infeasible."

Submission + - Astrophysicists find planet that should not exist (latimes.com)

SpuriousLogic writes: Scientists have discovered a planet that shouldn't exist. The finding, they say, could alter our understanding of orbital dynamics, a field considered pretty well settled since the time of astronomer Johannes Kepler 400 years ago. The planet is known as a "hot Jupiter," a gas giant orbiting the star Wasp-18, about 330 light years from Earth. The planet, Wasp-18b, is so close to the star that it completes a full orbit (its "year") in less than an Earth day, according to the research, which was published in the journal Nature. Of the more than 370 exoplanets — planets orbiting stars other than our sun — discovered so far, this is just the second with such a close orbit. The problem is that a planet that close should be consumed by its parent star in less than a million years, say the authors at Keele University in England. The star Wasp-18 is believed to be about a billion years old, and since stars and the planets around them are thought to form at the same time, Wasp-18b should have been reduced to cinders ages ago.
Sun Microsystems

Submission + - Sun plans security coprocessor for new Ultrasparc (goodgearguide.com.au)

angry tapir writes: "At the Hot Chips conference at Stanford University, Sun presented plans for a security accelerator chip that it said would reduce encryption costs for applications such as VoIP calls and online banking Web sites. The coprocessor will be included on the same silicon as Rainbow Falls, the code name for the follow-on to Sun's multithreaded Ultrasparc T2 processor."

Submission + - Depression May Provide Cognitive Advantages 1

Hugh Pickens writes: "Paul W. Andrews and J. Anderson Thomson, Jr. argue in Scientific American that although depression is considered a mental disorder, depression may in fact be a mental adaptation which provides real benefits. This is not to say that depression is not a problem. Depressed people often have trouble performing everyday activities, they can't concentrate on their work, they tend to socially isolate themselves, they are lethargic, and they often lose the ability to take pleasure from such activities such as eating and sex. So what could be so useful about depression? "Depressed people often think intensely about their problems," write the authors. "These thoughts are called ruminations; they are persistent and depressed people have difficulty thinking about anything else. Numerous studies have also shown that this thinking style is often highly analytical. They dwell on a complex problem, breaking it down into smaller components, which are considered one at a time." Various studies have found that people in depressed mood states are better at solving social dilemmas and there is evidence that people who get more depressed while they are working on complex problems in an intelligence test tend to score higher on the test (PDF). "When one considers all the evidence, depression seems less like a disorder where the brain is operating in a haphazard way, or malfunctioning. Instead, depression seems more like the vertebrate eye--an intricate, highly organized piece of machinery that performs a specific function.""
The Almighty Buck

Submission + - Apple Allegedly Sought Non-Poaching Deal with Palm

theodp writes: "A Bloomberg report that Apple CEO Steve Jobs proposed a possibly illegal truce with Palm against poaching their respective employees is sure to pique the interest of the U.S. Department of Justice, which already is investigating whether Google, Yahoo, Apple, Genentech and other tech companies conspired to keep others from stealing their top talent. 'Your proposal that we agree that neither company will hire the other's employees, regardless of the individual's desires, is not only wrong, it is likely illegal,' former Palm CEO Ed Colligan reportedly told Jobs in August 2007. That same summer, Google lectured Congress on why constraints must not be placed on hiring: 'Google's success — like that of technology companies across our nation — absolutely depends on attracting the best and the brightest employees,' testified Google VP for People Operations Laszlo Bock. 'Hiring and retaining the most talented employees,' Bock added, 'is essential to the United States' ability to compete globally.' Good points — be interesting if they come back to haunt Google and the other under-investigation tech giants."

Submission + - Wired writer disappears, find him and make 5k. (atavistic.org) 5

carp3_noct3m writes: A freelance Wired magazine journalist has decided to see what it is like to disappear from normal life, all while staying on the grid. The catch, is that he is challenging anyone and everyone to find him, take a picture, and speak a special codeword to him. If you can do that, you can make 5000 dollars, which happens to come out of his paycheck for the article he'll be writing. Oh, and to top it all off, whoever gets him gets pictures and interviews in Wired. He has been posting to his Twitter, has been apparently using TOR for internet, and the Wired website will be posting his credit card transactions. So Slashdot, do we have what it takes to show this guy we know our stuff? Hop to it my minions.

Submission + - DNA Evidence Can Be Fabricated, Scientists Show

ewlslash writes: Scientists in Israel have demonstrated that it is possible to fabricate DNA evidence, undermining the credibility of what has been considered the gold standard of proof in criminal cases. The scientists fabricated blood and saliva samples containing DNA from a person other than the donor of the blood and saliva. They also showed that if they had access to a DNA profile in a database, they could construct a sample of DNA to match that profile without obtaining any tissue from that person. "You can just engineer a crime scene," said Dan Frumkin, lead author of the paper, which has been published online by the journal Forensic Science International: Genetics. "Any biology undergraduate could perform this." http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/18/science/18dna.html

Submission + - Teaching 3rd Grader Computer Programming

OS24Ever writes: "When I was a youngster, about 30 years ago now, there was a plethora of these things called 'magazines' that you 'paid for' that people would "mail you" once a month. In them, where pages and pages of code for you to type into your computer. In fact, if you can imagine it, they had programs for different brands of computers because the same program didn't work on all of them. They had cool names like Compute! and Byte and for a person with limited math skills it still taught you language structure and lots of debugging because god knows no one types in something from a magazine perfectly. It also taught me to hack. Once I learned that POKEing in the right place changed colors I started customizing my desktop colors every time my trusty Atari 800 turned on.

Recently, I was enjoying an episode of MacBreak Dev and my oldest, who is just about to turn eight, exclaimed on how she HAD to try that. It was an episode of using Quartz Compser and a Wiimote along with some IR LEDs on a pair of glasses. So I sat there realizing that in third grade the Apple IIe at school, and later the Atari 800 (which still works thank you) appeared into my life at the age of eight. I learned how to type in programs from a few of the BASIC manuals, and then I discovered that there were magazines that had these programs in them I could type in. Sure now you have this newfangled copy & paste, and you don't have to go to the library and join the atari users club so you can 'check out' cassette tapes that had BASIC programs on them and realize you can save them to your own tape after you loaded them. Now you download random programs, you can cut/paste code snippets, but the exploration of typing something in off a sheet of paper and pushing a button to see if it works doesn't seem to exist. in fact by the late 80s it really had died out already.

So my question for those of us who have produced spawn or two and would like to encourage this type of thing but may or may not be that good of educating or not sure how to break down concepts are there any resources like that out there? Where you say 'here, type this stuff in and get it to work' and the reward is a lame little game that you finally got to work on your Atari 800 after weeks and weeks of typing and proofreading and losing it to a failed cassette tape that you bounced off the basement wall in frustration."

Be careful when a loop exits to the same place from side and bottom.