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United States

Submission + - Believing in Medical Treatments That Don't Work

Hugh Pickens writes: "David H. Newman, M.D. has an interesting article in the NY Times where he discusses common medical treatments contradicted by the best available evidence e.g. for decades doctors have administered "beta-blockers" to heart attack victims although studies show that the early administration of beta-blockers does not save lives; patients with ear infections are more likely to be harmed by antibiotics than helped — the infections typically recede within days regardless of treatment and the same is true for bronchitis, sinusitis, and sore throats; no cough remedies have ever been proven better than a placebo; back surgeries to relieve pain are, in the majority of cases, no better than nonsurgical treatment; and knee surgery is no better than sham knee surgery where surgeons "pretend" to do surgery while the patient is under light anesthesia. Newman says that treatment based on ideology is alluring "but the uncomfortable truth is that many expensive, invasive interventions are of little or no benefit and cause potentially uncomfortable, costly, and dangerous side effects and complications." The Obama administration's plan for reform includes identifying health care measures that work and those that don't and there are signs of hope for evidence-based medicine: earlier this year hospital administrators were informed by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services that beta-blocker treatment will be retired as a government indicator of quality care, beginning April 1, 2009. "After years of advocacy that cemented immediate beta-blockers in the treatment protocols of virtually every hospital in the country," writes Newman. "the agency has demonstrated that minds can be changed.""

Submission + - Google purges thousands of suspected malware sites ( 1

Stony Stevenson writes: "In response to a concerted effort by cyber criminals to infect the computers of Google users with malware and make them unwitting partners in crime, Google has apparently purged tens of thousands of malicious Web pages from its index. Alex Eckelberry, CEO of Sunbelt Software, noted that many search results on Google led to malicious Web pages that expose visitors to exploits that can compromise vulnerable systems. Sunbelt published a list of search terms that returned malicious pages, the result of search engine optimization (SEO) campaigns by cyber criminals to get their pages prominently ranked in Google — Sunbelt refers to this as "SEO poisoning."

Let's hope Google has done its research and hasn't purged legitimate sites."


Submission + - Google Launches "My Location" in Mobile Ma (

wbates writes: Google today announced the release of version 2.0 of Google Maps for mobile, its innovative and widely used mobile mapping and local search application. New in v2.0 is a beta version of Google's "My Location" technology, which uses cell tower ID information to provide users with their approximate location, helping them determine where they are, what's around them, and how to get there.
Linux Business

Submission + - Torvalds on where Linux is headed in 2008

Stony Stevenson writes: In this new interview, Linus Torvalds is excited about solid-state drives, expects progress in graphics and wireless networking, and says the operating system is strong in virtualisation despite his personal lack of interest in the area.

From the article: "To get some perspective on what lies ahead in 2008, we caught up with Linus Torvalds via email. His responses touched on the Linux development process, upcoming features, and whether he's concerned about potential patent litigation."

Torvalds on Linux biggest strength: "When you buy an OS from Microsoft, not only you can't fix it, but it has had years of being skewed by one single entity's sense of the market. It doesn't matter how competent Microsoft — or any individual company — is, it's going to reflect that fact. In contrast, look at where Linux is used. Everything from cellphones and other small embedded computers that people wouldn't even think of as computers, to the bulk of the biggest machines on the supercomputer Top-500 list. That is flexibility. And it stems directly from the fact that anybody who is interested can participate in the development, and no single entity ends up being in control of where it all goes.

Submission + - IBM files DVD SPAM patent application 2

An anonymous reader writes: Mark Wilson of reports that IBM is applying for a patent for DVDs that contain or download "on demand" commercials that cannot be skipped. Consumers would be able to purchase these DVDs at a lower price than regular DVDs and pay extra to enjoy their purchase ad-free without having to buy a second DVD. Perhaps this is part of the massive shift in advertising that IBM predicts.

Submission + - Japan's Apollo-era like "Earth-rise" photo

An anonymous reader writes: The Kaguya spacecraft, also called Selene, has replicated the famous Apollo-era "Earth-rise" photograph with modern high-definition imaging. The new Earth-rise image shows our blue world floating in the blackness of space. Released today, it is a still shot taken from video made by the craft's high-definition television (HDTV) for space. A second image, taken from a different location in the lunar orbit, has been dubbed Earth-set. In the Earth-set image, Earth appears upside-down; visible are Australia and Asia. A region near the moon's south pole is seen in the foreground. The footage was taken Nov. 7 using equipment provided by the Japan Broadcasting Corporation (NHK).

Submission + - Ham Radio Operator Finds Cure For Cancer ( 5

CirReal writes: "John Kanzius, K3TUP, himself suffering from cancer with nine months to live, used nanotechnology and a radio transmitter to kill cancer cells. "Kanzius did not have a medical background, not even a bachelor's degree, but he knew radios. He had built and fixed them since he was a child, collecting transmitters, transceivers, antennas and amplifiers, earning an amateur radio operator license. Kanzius knew how to send radio wave signals around the world. If he could transmit them into cancer cells, he wondered, could he then direct the radio waves to destroy tumors, while leaving healthy cells intact?" Reseachers "recently killed 100% of cancer cells grown in the livers of rabbits, using Kanzius' method.""
Operating Systems

MIT Releases the Source of MULTICS, Father of UNIX 276

mlauzon writes "Extraordinary news for computer scientists and the Open Source community was announced over the weekend, as the source code of the MULTICS operating system (Multiplexed Information and Computing Service), the father of UNIX and all modern OSes, has finally been opened. Multics was an extremely influential early time-sharing operating system and introduced a large number of new concepts, including dynamic linking and a hierarchical file system. It was extremely powerful, and UNIX can in fact be considered to be a 'simplified' successor to MULTICS. The last running Multics installation was shut down on October 31, 2000. From now on, MULTICS can be downloaded from an official MIT site (it's the complete MR12.5 source dumped at CGI in Calgary in 2000, including the PL/1 compiler). Unfortunately you can't install this on any PC, as MULTICS requires dedicated hardware, and there's no operational computer system today that could run this OS. Nevertheless the software should be considered to be an outstanding source for computer research and scientists. It is not yet known if it will be possible to emulate the required hardware to run the OS."

Feed The Register: After months of denial, Microsoft cops to IE vulnerability (

URI handling lockdown coming soon

Microsoft has finally accepted responsibility for its role in a security weakness that allows malicious websites to run harmful code on an end user's machine. The acknowledgment of the vulnerability in Internet Explorer comes after three months of saying the burden lay with third-party software makers whose programs actually accepted the nasty payloads.

The Internet

Submission + - Chinese internet censorship machine revealed

Stony Stevenson writes: The Chinese government has instituted an elaborate system for Internet censorship that employs tens of thousands of censors and police responsible for maintaining control over the flow of information, a report released by international free press advocates showed. Entitled "China: Journey To The Heart Of Internet Censorship," the report issued by Reporters Without Borders outlines the inner workings of a bureaucracy that effectively clamps down on dissent, quashes articles the communist government deems unsuitable for publication, and uses online companies to distribute its own propaganda.

The report, much of which is based on information provided by an unidentified Chinese technician who works for the government's Internet sector, reveals that to control the information flow over such a vast network, three leading government agencies have evolved over the last several years: the Internet Propaganda Administrative Bureau, the Bureau of Information and Public Opinion, and the Internet Bureau, the report said. In Beijing, where most of China's leading commercial Web sites are based, a powerful local agency has been established called the Beijing Internet Information Administrative Bureau.

In general, the Internet Propaganda Administrative Bureau issues licenses to commercial Web sites, which entitles them to provide news stories and reproduce reports disseminated by official media. The licenses, however, do not allow for independent news gathering and publishing.

Submission + - In Case of Death, Disclose Passwords

cdoggyd writes: Last year, a man, who kept his address book strictly online, died without telling anyone his passwords. This caused problems for his daughter when she tried to notify his contacts. I remember discussion of a "death clock" system that required user interaction at specific intervals to prevent it from disclosing information like passwords. This would have solved the problem for Mr. Talcott's daughter. Does anyone have the actual name and additional information on this system?

"I've seen the forgeries I've sent out." -- John F. Haugh II (jfh@rpp386.Dallas.TX.US), about forging net news articles