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New Moon Found Orbiting Neptune 120

Dave Knott writes "A tiny, previously unknown moon circling Neptune has been spotted by astronomers using the Hubble telescope. The moon, which is currently known as S/2004 N1, was found on July 1 by Mark Showalter of the SETI Institute in Mountain View, Calif., NASA announced Monday. It is less than 20 kilometres wide and its orbit is 105,000 kilometres from Neptune, between those of Larissa and Proteus, two of Neptune's other 14 known moons. It circles Neptune once every 23 hours."

iRacing World Champion Gets a Shot At the Real Thing Screenshot-sm 168

jamie sent in a link to the story of iRacing World Champion Greger Huttu, who caught the attention of the Top Gear guys and got a chance to drive a real Star Mazda racer. iRacing is a realistic driving simulator that recreates the exact physics of race cars and tracks from around the world, and nobody is better than Greger. Top Gear wanted to see how the virtual champion would do with the real thing. Even though he was eventually unable to put up with the physical demands, Greger drove really well.
Social Networks

Leaving a Comment? That'll Be 99 Cents, and Your Name 377

netbuzz writes "Anxious to lift a ban on comments brought about by incessant trolling and anonymous slander, a Massachusetts newspaper has begun requiring two things of online readers who want to leave their thoughts on stories: a one-time fee of 99 cents and a willingness to use their real names. Says the publisher: 'This is a necessary step, in my opinion, if The Attleboro (MA) Sun Chronicle is going to continue to provide a forum for comments on our websites.'"

Drupal's Dries Buytaert On Drupal 7 55

itwbennett writes "The Drupal community has been working on Drupal 7 for two years, and there are 'hundreds of changes' to show for it, says Drupal creator Dries Buytaert in an interview with ITworld's Esther Schindler on the occasion of Drupal 7 going into Alpha test this week. Most notable for end users are 'some massive usability improvements,' says Buytaert, while site builders will see the greatest changes in the Drupal Content Construction Kit (CCK), which has been moved into the Drupal core. But one thing that hasn't changed is the not-so-easy upgrade path. 'The upgrade path for a Drupal site has never been really easy, to be honest,' Buytaert says. 'We do break backwards compatibility. It's a little bit painful because it requires all of the contributed modules — and there's 4,000-5,000 of them — to make changes.' But Buytaert doesn't think that's all bad. 'Innovation is key. Backwards compatibility limits innovation,' Buytaert contends. 'The rule we have is: We'll break the API if it makes a better API, and if it allows good innovation and progress to be made. Also: The second rule is that we'll never break people's data. We'll always provide an upgrade path for the data.'"
Operating Systems

Try Out Chrome OS In a Virtual Machine 289

itwbennett writes "Some very generous Alpha OS geeks have snagged the Chrome OS source code and compiled a version to share with the rest of us, writes blogger Peter Smith. 'The build comes in the form of a virtual machine, which means you'll need VMWare or VirtualBox running, and of course the image of Chrome OS itself. The folks at gdgt are distributing the latter, and they've set up a page with all the links you'll need. You'll need to create a gdgt account if you don't have one yet. The Chrome OS image is only a bit over 300 megs, so it's a fast download. If you need a little more handholding, TechCrunch has a step-by-step guide to getting Chrome OS installed and running using VirtualBox, and a Chrome OS torrent they link to.'"

Irish ISP To Block Access To Pirate Bay 169

flynn writes "Ireland's oldest and largest ISP will be blocking access to The Pirate Bay from September 1st, while other ISPs have rejected the request to block TPB. From the Irish Times: 'Under an out-of-court agreement with EMI Records, Sony Music, Universal Music and Warners in January, Eircom agreed to cut off customers found to be repeatedly downloading music illegally. The deal also required Eircom to cut off access to Pirate Bay if requested. Yesterday, cable TV operator UPC, which has more than 120,000 broadband subscribers, announced it would not comply with a request to block access to Pirate Bay.'"

Mars Robot May Destroy Life It Was Sent To Find 129

Hugh Pickens writes "New Scientist reports that instead of identifying chemicals that could point to life, NASA's robot explorers may have been toasting them by mistake. Even if Mars never had life, comets and asteroids that have struck the planet should have scattered at least some organic molecules over its surface but landers have failed to detect even minute quantities of organic compounds. Now scientists say they may have stumbled on something in the Martian soil that may have, in effect, been hiding the organics: a class of chemicals called perchlorates. At low temperatures, perchlorates are relatively harmless but when heated to hundreds of degrees Celsius perchlorates release a lot of oxygen, which tends to cause any nearby combustible material to burn. The Phoenix and Viking landers looked for organic molecules by heating soil samples to similarly high temperatures to evaporate them and analyse them in gas form. When Douglas Ming of NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, and colleagues tried heating organics and perchlorates like this on Earth, the resulting combustion left no trace of organics behind. "We haven't looked the right way," says Chris McKay of NASA's Ames Research Center. Jeffrey Bada of the University of California, San Diego, agrees that a new approach is needed. He is leading work on a new instrument called Urey which will be able to detect organic material at concentrations as low as a few parts per trillion. The good news is that, although Urey heats its samples, it does so in water, so the organics cannot burn up."

Skype Billing Gone Haywire For Some Users 154

Cousin Scuzzy writes "This morning I awoke to 26 e-mail messages from Skype and PayPal notifying me of multiple payments for my Skype account that had been charged to my credit card and subsequently refunded. At first I suspected that this was a new wave of spam that had slipped through my defenses, but it quickly became apparent that they were legitimate messages. I then began to worry that my Skype account had been compromised. The first message from Skype thanked me for setting up their "Auto-Recharge" service which automatically purchases Skype credit when the balance falls below a certain amount. This was very suspicious, as I had never requested this service. Based on posts to Skype's forum, it now appears that there have been serious billing problems at Skype relating to Auto-Recharge for over a month. Although I believe that all unauthorized charges to my credit card have been refunded, it is worrisome that Skype, or anyone, would charge my account erroneously. Skype, for their part, has not yet e-mailed me an explanation or posted one online. This problem reinforces my aversion to automatic bill payment services that give companies the authority to draw money from my bank account at their discretion." For all the Skype users out there, have you experienced this? For what it's worth, the company's own response on the linked forum thread says that the problem is now solved.

New Pattern Found In Prime Numbers 509

stephen.schaubach writes "Spanish Mathematicians have discovered a new pattern in primes that surprisingly has gone unnoticed until now. 'They found that the distribution of the leading digit in the prime number sequence can be described by a generalization of Benford's law. ... Besides providing insight into the nature of primes, the finding could also have applications in areas such as fraud detection and stock market analysis. ... Benford's law (BL), named after physicist Frank Benford in 1938, describes the distribution of the leading digits of the numbers in a wide variety of data sets and mathematical sequences. Somewhat unexpectedly, the leading digits aren't randomly or uniformly distributed, but instead their distribution is logarithmic. That is, 1 as a first digit appears about 30% of the time, and the following digits appear with lower and lower frequency, with 9 appearing the least often.'"

The Grid, Our Cars, and the Net 222

Wired is running a piece on the big idea of Robin Chase — the founder of Zipcar — that we need to build our smart power grid on open standards and include cars as nodes in a mesh network. "'Today in Iraq and Afghanistan, soldiers and tanks and airplanes are running around using mesh networks,' said Chase. 'It works, it's secure, it's robust. If a node or device disappears, the network just reroutes the data.' And, perhaps most important, it's in motion. ... Build a smart electrical grid that uses Internet protocols and puts a mesh network device in every structure that has an electric meter. Sweep out the half dozen networks in our cars and replace them with an open, Internet-based platform. Add a mesh router. A nationwide mesh cloud will form, linking vehicles that can connect with one another and with the rest of the network. It's cooperative gain gone national, gone mobile, gone open."

Apple Eyeing EA? 151

yerktoader writes "There are rumors that Apple might buy EA, but some interesting counterpoints abound. File this one firmly under 'unconfirmed,' but it's nevertheless a tantalizing rumor. According to Fast Money's Guy Adami, Apple is 'eyeing Electronic Arts as a takeover target.' EA is currently the second-largest games publisher in the world and owner of the smash hit NFL-licensed series of football games. Could we be facing the possibility of an iMadden? Well, probably not. Apple has indeed been bolstering its games know-how, hiring a major Xbox strategist away from Microsoft in recent weeks. And EA is no stranger to Apple platforms: in the last year it's brought several of its major franchises to the iPhone (with more on the way), including Sim City, Tiger Woods, and Spore, with considerable success. But it's a far cry from there to a takeover, and that's putting it mildly. Video games analyst Michael Pachter seems to agree. Speaking to Gamasutra, he pointed out that if Apple was looking to make some entertainment acquisitions, it could buy Warner Music — which controls 20% of the music industry — for roughly half of EA's estimated price."

German Gov To Ban Paintballing After Shooting Screenshot-sm 580

whoever57 writes "In response to the school shooting in March in which 16 people were killed, the German Government plans to ban all games in which players shoot at each other with pellets. The rationale for this is that 'paintball trivializes violence and risks lowering the threshold for committing violent acts.' Fines could be up to 5,000 euros."

Preparing To Migrate Off of SHA-1 In OpenPGP 152

jamie found a note on, the first in a promised series on migrating off of SHA-1 in OpenPGP. "Last week at eurocrypt, a small group of researchers announced a fairly serious attack against the SHA-1 digest algorithm, which is used in many cryptosystems, including OpenPGP. The general consensus is that we should be 'moving in an orderly fashion toward the theater exits,' deprecating SHA-1 where possible with an eye toward abandoning it soon (one point of reference: US govt. federal agencies have been directed to cease all reliance on SHA-1 by the end of 2010, and this directive was issued before the latest results). ... So what can you do to help facilitate the move away from SHA-1? I'll outline three steps that current gpg users can do today, and then I'll walk through how to do each one..."
The Internet

New Irish Internet Tax? 242

MarkDennehy writes "The Broadcasting Bill 2009 (currently in the last stages of becoming the Broadcasting Act 2009 and then being commenced into law in Ireland) has thrown up a rather unpleasant little nugget for broadband users in Ireland. It now defines a television set as being an electronic apparatus able to receive TV signals or 'any software or assembly comprising such apparatus' which would mean that even if you haven't got a television set, even if you don't watch streaming content from (the state broadcaster's website), you'd still have to pay 160 euro a year for a television license for your iPhone, or netbook, or laptop or desktop if you have fixed or mobile broadband."
Operating Systems

LKML Summary Podcast 41

Jon Masters writes "I've started recording a daily summary podcast of Linux Kernel Mailing List (LKML) traffic. It's in MP3 format (for the benefit of car stereos, including my empeg, and iPhone/iPod users) with an Ogg Vorbis format version to follow next week, and text versions of the script I read from will be available too for those who want to help with translation — or just prefer not listening to audio. It's an experiment at this stage and may not continue to be daily in the longer term unless I can build a team of willing volunteers to help find items worth including from the day's traffic, write the daily script, record it, and so forth. But it's proving to be a useful exercise in forcing myself to be up to date with LKML. I've had around 5,000 downloads in a first several days, and a lot of positive feedback, so I think this is filling a void and may prove to be useful. If you'd like to help get involved drop me a line at, or tweet @kernelpodcast."

"What people have been reduced to are mere 3-D representations of their own data." -- Arthur Miller