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Apple Awarded Patent For iPhone Interface 449

Toe, The writes "Apple's 358-page patent application for their iPhone interface entitled Touch screen device, method, and graphical user interface for determining commands by applying heuristics has been approved after more than two years of review by the US Patent Office. Apple's claims include: 'A computer-implemented method for use in conjunction with a computing device with a touch screen display comprises: detecting one or more finger contacts with the touch screen display, applying one or more heuristics to the one or more finger contacts to determine a command for the device, and processing the command. The one or more heuristics comprise: a heuristic for determining that the one or more finger contacts correspond to a one-dimensional vertical screen scrolling command, a heuristic for determining that the one or more finger contacts correspond to a two-dimensional screen translation command, and a heuristic for determining that the one or more finger contacts correspond to a command to transition from displaying a respective item in a set of items to displaying a next item in the set of items.' As Apple seems eager to defend their intellectual property, what will this mean to other touch developers?"
The Internet

We're In Danger of Losing Our Memories 398

Hugh Pickens writes "The chief executive of the British Library, Lynne Brindley, says that our cultural heritage is at risk as the Internet evolves and technologies become obsolete, and that historians and citizens face a 'black hole' in the knowledge base of the 21st century unless urgent action is taken to preserve websites and other digital records. For example, when Barack Obama was inaugurated as US president last week, all traces of George W. Bush disappeared from the White House website. There were more than 150 websites relating to the 2000 Olympics in Sydney that vanished instantly at the end of the games and are now stored only by the National Library of Australia. 'If websites continue to disappear in the same way as those on President Bush and the Sydney Olympics... the memory of the nation disappears too,' says Brindley. The library plans to create a comprehensive archive of material from the 8M .uk domain websites, and also is organizing a collecting and archiving project for the London 2012 Olympics. 'The task of capturing our online intellectual heritage and preserving it for the long term falls, quite rightly, to the same libraries and archives that have over centuries systematically collected books, periodicals, newspapers, and recordings...'" Over the years we've discussed various aspects of this archiving problem.
Input Devices

Quantum Camera On a Silicon Chip 42

stefanparvu14 writes "Physicists in Switzerland and California have developed a new type of camera capable of imaging quantum correlations between pairs of photons. The details are presented in the current issue of the open-access publication New Journal of Physics. Unlike a conventional camera with a CCD imager, this camera is composed of Single Photon Avalanche Diode (SPAD) pixels implemented on a high-performance CMOS chip. One of the authors has provided more background for the non-physicist. Apparently, it could be used to verify the existence of Bose-Einstein condensates that are now starting to be produced in new ways."
Social Networks

Social Networking Spurs Activism Against Repression 303

The New York Times Magazine is running a story about the rise in political activism in Egypt through sites like Facebook, which allow citizens to gather and share ideas in ways they otherwise aren't allowed. A state-of-emergency law has been active in Egypt since 1981, which, among other things, "allows the government to ban political organizations and makes it illegal for more than five people to gather without a license from the government." As affordable internet access has spread throughout the country, the government is having a much harder time keeping wraps on the ideas of dissidents. Blocking access to the sites isn't a good solution for the government, because many non-dissidents use it for mundane communications. As Harvard's Ethan Zuckerman puts it, "...doing so would alert a large group of people who they can't afford to radicalize."
The Almighty Buck

PwC Auditors Arrested In Satyam Fraud Inquiry 158

theodp writes "Indian police arrested two employees from the affiliate of PricewaterhouseCoopers who audited Satyam Computer Services, the IT outsourcing giant at the center of the nation's largest fraud inquiry. The move comes after Satyam founder Ramalinga Raju said he had fabricated $1 billion of assets and confessed to making up more than 10,000 employees to siphon money from the software company. State Farm Insurance has severed its ties with Satyam, citing uncertainty about the company's future as 'the only factor responsible for the termination of the contract,' which will reportedly affect at least 400 on-site Satyam employees. Other customers, including GE, are standing by Satyam, one of the top recipients of H-1B and L visas (so much for those $500 Fraud Prevention and Detection fees!)."

National Censorship Plan Offensive, Says Aussie Shadow Minister 116

downundarob writes "Senator Nick Minchin, the Australian Shadow Minister for broadband, communications and the digital economy, has written (or more likely a staffer has written) this interesting article on the Australian Federal Government's continued zeal to enforce ISP-level filtering in Australia. In the article he posits that 'Underlying the Rudd Government's plan to screen the internet is an offensive message: that parents cannot be trusted to mind their children online.' Meanwhile, we wait for filtering trials to start, trials that have been delayed and which have next-to-no support among the industry. Telstra BigPond — Australia's largest ISP — has refused to take part, comparing internet filtering to 'like trying to boil the ocean.' The third largest, iiNet, is prepared to participate to highlight flaws."
It's funny.  Laugh.

After Monty Python Goes YouTube, Big Jump In DVD Sales 281

An anonymous reader writes "Apparently it with the release of all of Monty Python's material on YouTube, their sales have blown through the roof on Amazon.com. It is too bad there isn't any proper news article about this, but I think it bodes well for those who champion free content. More importantly, it forces the MPAA's feet into their mouths." Not every performer (or group of performers) has the decades-strong appeal of Monty Python, but this is a great thing to see. The linked article claims that the sales increase in the Python DVDs is 23,000 percent; there are probably some other ways to figure the numbers, but a big increase is easy to see.

Microsoft 'Vista Capable' Settlement Cost Could Be Over $8 Billion 313

bk- writes with news that documents from the "Vista Capable" class-action lawsuit against Microsoft indicate the software giant could be on the hook for as much as $8.52 billion in upgrade costs. "[University of Washington economist Keith] Leffler came up with his total upgrade costs by calculating how much it would cost to upgrade each of the 19.4 million PCs with 1 GB of memory and graphics cards or onboard chipsets able to run Aero, according to Keizer. Leffler put the maximum cost of upgrading the desktops at $155, while positing that the notebooks' integrated graphics would be more tricky to replace and would cost between $245 and $590 per unit. The total price tag for Microsoft would thus range from $3.92 billion to $8.52 billion and in some cases would include complete replacements of notebooks that could not be feasibly upgraded, Leffler testified. Microsoft in its response argued that giving litigants 'a free upgrade to Premium-ready PCs would provide a windfall to millions.'"

Comcast's Congestion Catch-22 177

An anonymous reader sends us to Telephony Online for a story about Comcast's second attempt at traffic management (free registration may be required). After the heavy criticism they received from customers and the FCC about their first system, they've adopted a more even-handed "protocol agnostic" approach. Nevertheless, they're once again under scrutiny from the FCC, this time for the way their system interacts with VOIP traffic. By ignoring specific protocols, the occasional bandwidth limits on high-usage customers interferes with those customers' VOIP, yet Comcast's own Digital Voice is unaffected. Quoting: "The shocking thing is just how big a Pandora's box the FCC has appeared to open — and it just keeps getting bigger. When the FCC first started addressing bandwidth usage and DPI issues, it quickly found itself up to its knees in network management minutia. Not long after that, it followed another logical path of the DPI question and asked service providers and Web companies about their use of DPI for behavioral targeting. Now it seemingly has opened up huge questions about what it means to be a voice carrier in the age of IP. It's not hard to imagine the next step: What about video? Telco IPTV services are delivered in roughly the same way as carrier VoIP services — via packets running on the same physical network but a prioritized logical signaling stream. Is that fair to over-the-top video service providers?"

Texas Board of Education Supports Evolution 344

somanyrobots writes with this excerpt from the Dallas News: "In a major defeat for social conservatives, a sharply divided State Board of Education voted Thursday to abandon a longtime state requirement that high school science teachers cover what some critics consider to be 'weaknesses' in the theory of evolution. Under the science curriculum standards recommended by a panel of science educators and tentatively adopted by the board, biology teachers and biology textbooks would no longer have to cover the 'strengths and weaknesses' of Charles Darwin's theory that man evolved from lower forms of life. Texas is particularly influential to textbook publishers because of the size of its market, so this could have a ripple effect on textbooks used in other states as well."
The Internet

Network Solutions Under Large-Scale DDoS Attack 139

netizen writes "CircleID is reporting a large-scale DDoS attack affecting all of Network Solutions' name servers for the past 48 hours, potentially affecting millions of websites and emails around the world hosting their domain names on the company's servers. The NANOG mailing list indicates that it is due to a very large-scale UDP/53 DDoS which Network Solutions has also confirmed: 'There is a spike in DNS query volumes that is causing latency for the delay in web sites resolving. This is a result of a DDOS attack. We are taking measures to mitigate the attack and speed up queries.""
The Courts

Televised RIAA Hearing Adjourned, Briefs Scheduled 72

NewYorkCountryLawyer writes "After the lower court adjourned the hearing scheduled to be televised in SONY BMG Music v. Tenenbaum, in order to give the appeals court time to determine the RIAA's petition for a writ of 'mandamus or prohibition', the appeals court set a briefing schedule. Apparently expecting amicus curiae briefs to be submitted, the appellate court set January 29th as a deadline for filing of amicus briefs. One commentator opines that 'the last thing Vivendi Universal, EMI, Warner Music and Sony BMG RIAA attack lawyers want is for people to see them live and in full, glorious color', while another noted Judge Gertner's observation that the arguments raised by the RIAA in the appeals court, relating to the manner of administering the broadcast, had never been raised in the lower court."

Mars, Mercury May Have Formed From Earth and Venus 73

goran72 sends along a report on a radical new theory of planet formation that suggests that Mars and Mercury were formed from the scraps of Earth and Venus. The theory has testable predictions — for example that the compositions of the rocky inner planets should be more similar than the current theory of planet formation would have them.

Black Holes From the LHC Could Last For Minutes 672

KentuckyFC writes "There is absolutely, positively, definitely no chance of the LHC destroying the planet (or this way either) when it eventually switches on some time later this year. And yet a few niggling doubts are persuading some scientists to run through their figures again. One potential method of destruction is that the LHC will create tiny black holes that could swallow everything in their path, including the planet. Various scientists have said this will not happen because the black holes would decay before they could do any damage. But physicists who have re-run the calculations now say that the mini black holes produced by the LHC could last for seconds, possibly minutes. Of course, the real question is whether they decay faster than they can grow. The new calculations suggest that the decay mechanism should win over and that the catastrophic growth of a black hole from the LHC 'does not seem possible' (abstract). But shouldn't we require better assurance than that?"

Bugs In Microsoft Technical Documentation Rising 146

snydeq writes "The number of bugs in technical documentation for Microsoft communication protocols continues to grow, according to court documents filed for ongoing antitrust oversight of the company in the US. Problems with the technical documentation — which includes 1,660 identified bugs as of Dec. 31, up from 1,196 bugs on Nov. 30 — remain the major complaint from lawyers representing the group of 19 states that joined the US Department of Justice's antitrust lawsuit against Microsoft. Lawyers for the states have complained repeatedly that technical documentation issues are opening faster than Microsoft can close them. Nearly 800 Microsoft employees are working on the more than 20,000 pages of technical documentation, according to the court documents filed Wednesday."

The clothes have no emperor. -- C.A.R. Hoare, commenting on ADA.