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Submission + - Skype whitewashes wiretap concerns with improved battery life and cloud services (blogspot.com.au) 3

quantr writes: In 2008, Skype said it didn't have the ability to help the government wiretap calls. The reason: the company's technology relied on peer-to-peer networks rather than servers under its control. Over the past few years, though, that has started to change, with Skype moving to a new cloud infrastructure which relies more and more on the company's own servers to do the heavy lifting. There's no question that opens up new possibilities for Skype, and that's what the company is highlighting today.
In an official blog post, Skype VP Mark Gillett explains how the move away from P2P allows everything from more battery life for smartphones (since they don't have to do as much computing locally) to persistent video and chat messages that you can receive even when you aren't logged in. Skype will also soon synchronize chat message status across devices, so you won't get bombarded anew each time you log in from a different machine.
However, it's hard to read Skype's blog post without thinking about what the company was accused of earlier this year: helping US government agencies listen to private audio and video calls via the controversial PRISM surveillance program. If it was true in 2008 that peer-to-peer technologies made such wiretaps impossible, was it worth trading that for a little additional stability and functionality? That's an legitimate question. Privacy and utility are often at odds: the more a company knows about you, the better service it can provide.

Submission + - Nokia's Elop $25M personal bonus clause .. (blogs.com)

An anonymous reader writes: Now We Know Why — Nokia's Elop had a $25M personal bonus clause from the Nokia Board if he was able to sell the handset unit to Microsoft

Ok, the truth is seeping out, and this is smelly shit. I apologize for the language. We have news about Elop and his incentives. Yes, Elop had a contract that would pay him 25 million dollars if he managed to sell Nokia's handset unit to Microsoft. This is a blatant conflict of interest, and one that incentivizes Elop for destructive behavior against Nokia. I had been trying to think of a good analogy,

Submission + - Facebook & Cisco Offer Check-In Service for Free Wifi

cagraham writes: According to TechCrunch, Facebook and Cisco are now expanding their joint "Facebook Wifi" program nationwide. The service directs customers who connect to a store's wifi to a landing page where they are encouraged to "check-in" to the business in order to be connected. While users can currently opt out of this and still be connected, the "skip this" button is noticeably difficult to find. The free software integrates with businesses existing routers and providers. Facebook provides reports to participating businesses as well, complete with anonymized aggregate data on the demographics of the customers who checked-in.

Submission + - Ancient supervolcanoes revealed on Mars (nature.com)

ananyo writes: A series of Martian craters assumed to have been formed by meteorites may actually be extinct volcanoes so massive that, when they were active billions of years ago, they could have buried Mars in ash.
The craters pepper the surface of Arabia Terra, a geologically ancient region of northern Mars. They appear as several huge circular pits that resemble Earth's calderas, in which magma beneath a volcano drains after a volcanic eruption, causing the ground above the magma chamber to collapse. Using data from several satellites orbiting Mars, researchers mapped Eden patera in detail. In a report in Nature today (abstract), they describe three separate calderas within the depression, along with possible signs of a lake of solidified lava and a volcanic vent where lava could have oozed out.

Submission + - Microsoft investors call for Bill Gates to step down as chairman

rjmarvin writes: Now that Ballmer is on his way out, flak for Microsoft's middling stock prices and lagging mobile innovation is finally starting to land on Bill Gates himself. Three of the company's top 20 investors are lobbying the Board of Directors http://sdt.bz/64169, pressing Gates to step down as chairman. The stockholders believe his presence would handcuff the next CEO's ability to re-make the company with new strategies and sweeping changes. They also think Gates wields a disproportionate amount of power relative to his financial stake and day-to-day activity within the company. No word yet from Gates or the board on this internal strife.
The Media

Submission + - Time for Newspapers to Stop Blaming Craigslist (newscloud.com)

reifman writes: "WiredMag reports, 'Revenue from newspaper classified ads is off nearly 50 percent in the past decade, a drop that comes to almost $10 billion. Only a fraction of this loss is because of Newmark's company, but as the largest online classified site, [it's] easy to blame'. More likely to blame is that community newspapers largely cede the role of online town hall to craigslist — or take the wrong approach when they do compete. With the trust and eyeballs of their communities, why is it so difficult for local newspapers to take on a site that Wired calls 'firmly stuck in 1999'?"
Graphics

Linux Port For id's Tech 5 Graphics Engine Unlikely 461

DesiVideoGamer writes "John Carmack, the lead developer for id's Tech 5 graphics engine, does not plan on making a Linux port for the new engine. From his e-mail: 'It isn't out of the question, but I don't think we will be able to justify the work. If there are hundreds of thousands of Linux users playing Quake Live when we are done with Rage, that would certainly influence our decision.' One of the reasons for not making a Linux port was due to the fact that the new engine 'pushes a lot of paths that are not usually optimized' and that the Linux port would have to use the binary blob graphics driver in order to work."
Portables (Apple)

Submission + - Apple Tablet, Iphone, coming to Verizon by Q1 2010

RAAN writes: "Can you hear me now? Good. I have learned from an unnamed source at Verizon about the plans that they have been working on for quite some time...longer than AT&T would like to believe, I think. Verizon is prepared to support both the Iphone and long-rumored-but-never-revealed-for-some-reason Tablet in Q1 2010, possibly as early as January. Both will feature dual technology, which will be compatible with Verizon's existing 3G network and it's in-the-works 4G network, which should be completed by mid-2011, and in select markets earlier. Sorry Macophiles, you won't be able to buy 3 Iphones within a few months this time.... Looks like a smart phone just got smarter. Also, I heard the tablet described to me as a "big Ipod touch," which I don't think is surprising to anyone. So there it is, you can choose to believe me or not, but I'm still happy with my enV2..."
Robotics

Submission + - High-Speed Robot Hand Shows Dexterity and Speed (hizook.com)

An anonymous reader writes: A few blogs are passing around videos of the Ishikawa Komuro Lab's high-speed robot hand performing impressive acts of dexterity and skillful manipulation. However, the video being passed around is slight on details. Meanwhile, their video presentation at ICRA 2009 (which took place in May in Kobe, Japan) has an informative narration and demonstrates additional capabilities. I have included this video below, which shows the manipulator dribbling a ping-pong ball, spinning a pen, throwing a ball, tying knots, grasping a grain of rice with tweezers, and tossing / re-grasping a cellphone!
The Internet

How Computers Transformed Baby Boomers 182

theodp writes "Newsweek's Steven Levy takes a look at how the baby boomer generation formed our tech landscape. Many of the realities boomers grew up with are today's metaphors, including cut-and-paste, the origin of which the 56-year-old Levy had to explain to 20-something Google employees. Levy cites two texts as crucial in pushing the boomers' vision toward power-to-the-people computing — Ted Nelson's Computer Lib/Dream Machines, which inspired Mitch Kapor, and the January 1975 Popular Electronics, which got Bill Gates jazzed. You kids might want to check out Dad's bookshelf — used copies of Computer Lib are going for $130-$225 at Amazon."
Programming

Submission + - GCC Compiler will finally gets replace by BSD PCC. (undeadly.org)

Sunnz writes: "A leaner, lighter, faster, and most importantly, BSD Licensed Compiler PCC has been imported into OpenBSD's CVS and NetBSD's pkgsrc.

The compiler is based on the original Portable C Compiler by S. C. Johnson, written in the late 70's. Even though much of the compiler has been rewritten, some of the basics still remain.

It is currently not bug-free, but it compiles on x86 platform, and works being done on it to take on GCC's job."

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