elrous0 writes: Solar panel maker Solyndra today said that it will file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, after failing to successfully compete against lower-cost Chinese manufacturers. It is one of largest failures ever suffered by venture capitalists, and a major black eye for a U.S. Department of Energy that loaned the company more than $500 million.
elrous0 writes: As was previously reported, President Obama mentioned back in October that he would be appearing on a upcoming episode of the popular Discovery Channel series Mythbusters. Well, the episode is finally airing tonight. In the episode, the President helps Jamie and Adam test the "Archimedes Death Ray" myth for a 3rd time (the myth having been "busted" the first time, and that bust surviving a challenge from MIT students the second time out). Though the President only appears in a couple of brief scripted segments, the actual test (using 500 schoolkids doubling as mirror-bearing soldiers) is purportedly pretty interesting. Early reviews of the episode are positive. But then, even a bad Mythbusters episode is better than just about any of the other sludge passing for "reality" TV these days.
elrous0 writes: According to a recent article in Wired, consumers of many new Android devices (including Samsung’s Vibrant and HTC's EVO) are complaining about the increasing presence of something that has plagued consumer PC's for years: Bloatware (or, to use the more kind euphemism, "Pre-installed software" that the computer manufacturer gets paid to include on a new PC). Unfortunately the bloatware (aka "crapware") that comes with these phones has a nasty quality not found on even the most bloated PC: it can't be removed. Many angry consumers have begun to complain openly about this disturbing trend. Is bloatware going to become a standard annoyance on our locked-down mobile devices, or will consumers ultimately revolt?
elrous0 writes: Thomas Andrews Drake, a former NSA official, was charged Thursday in the U.S. District Court of Maryland with allegedly leaking classified National Security Agency (NSA) documents to an unnamed reporter during his time with the agency. It is widely believed that Drake was one of the unnamed whistleblowers who revealed the NSA's secret (and illegal) warrantless wiretapping program to New York Times reporters in 2005 (along with Justice Department lawyer Thomas Tamm). “Our national security demands that the sort of conduct alleged here — violating the government’s trust by illegally retaining and disclosing classified information — be prosecuted and prosecuted vigorously,” said Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer in a statement.
elrous0 writes: Scott Gilbertson over at Monkey Bites recently pointed to flaws in the increasingly popular assumption that the lack of support for Flash in the iPad and the increasing buzz around HTML5 means that Flash is on its way out anytime soon:
While some proponents of the open web would have you believe that a viable replacement for Flash is already here — in the form of HTML5 –that’s not exactly the case. The HTML5 video tag does indeed allow you to embed videos in web pages without Flash, but it’s up to the browser to actually play that video. And that’s where the problem arises — what video codec should the browser use? Apple, with the iPad, iPhone and its desktop apps, is pushing the H.264 codec. But the H.264 video codec has licensing requirements and is not free in any sense of the word. Moving from the Flash plug-in to the H.264 codec is like moving backward — from Flash to a more expensive Flash. . . . Ogg Theora, which Mozilla has elected to support, is an alternative set of video codecs which might overcome some of the problems with H.264. But while Ogg is open source and free, there is some possibility that elements of it may be encumbered by patents.
elrous0 writes: Retail giant Circuit City asked a Virginia bankruptcy court for permission today to close its remaining 567 U.S. stores and sell all its merchandise. The retailer had went into bankruptcy earlier in the year and already announced plans to close many of its stores. Circuit City, in addition to its retail store business, is also credited with creating the CarMax no-haggling used car retailer and the infamous Divx disc format (an early competitor of DVD and the scorn of many a videophile). Circuit City currently has some 30,000 employees.
elrous0 writes: The Mythbusters are once again putting the much-disputed claim of Archimedes' famous "heat ray" to the test, and they're looking for 300 volunteers in the San Francisco area to help. As many of you may recall, the pair originally dispelled the ray as a myth, only to face a challenge from students at MIT, who claimed they could replicate the ancient superweapon. Unfortunately, the MIT students were unable to recreate the experiment under real-world conditions when the Mythbusters put them to the test in 2005. Now it looks like Adam and Jamie are back to the myth once again and need your help to put the issue to rest once and for all (or at least until the next group of would-be math geniuses comes along). Will you be one of the 300 to defend Greece?
elrous0 writes: As part of a "Revenge of the Nerds"-inspired PR stunt, a Washington Linux user group is holding a "Nerd Auction" and appealing to local sororities to exchange dates and makeover advice for their computer skills and homework assistance. "The problem is that we're all still nerds. Let's face it, guys. If anyone's going to bid on us, we'll need some spicing up," writes Washington State Linux Users Group president Ben Ford on the group's website. "And who better to help with that than sorority girls who like nothing better than a makeover?" So far there has been no comment on how a Linux user group is going to help sorority girls with their Windows machines.
elrous0 writes: Denis Kvasov, former head of the infamous Russian music download site "allofmp3.com" was acquitted by a Russian court today for alleged copyright infringement stemming from the site's sales of unlicensed music.
"The prosecution did not succeed in presenting persuasive evidence of his involvement in infringing copyright law," said judge Yekaterina Sharapova. "Everybody who uses soundtracks has to pay a certain amount of their income to the rights holders and this company has done that," she said. "MediaServices has paid a certain amount of money to ROMS."
A local official with the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI), which is representing copyright holders in the case, said it would appeal the decision.
elrous0 writes: CNN, the Inquirer, et. al. are reporting that Europe's "Galileo" program is facing a serious financial and technical crisis and may be permanently stalled. The European program, designed to be a superior answer to the United States' "Global Positioning System" (GPS), has faced numerous hurdles since its incenption. To date, the Galileo program has succeeded in launching only one of its 30 planned satellites and has been beset by delays and cost overruns. Apparently, squabbling between the eight companies in the consortium behind the project is responsible for many of the problems. The project is now threatened with an EU takeover. But many are skeptical that even the EU can save the flagging program.