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Submission + - Life-like, Digital Head May be Your New Personal Assistant

An anonymous reader writes: Ever wondered what Siri would look like? Now she may have the possibility of receiving a face to go with her voice. New research conducted at Cambridge Research Lab and the University of Cambridge's Department of Engineering has resulted in Zoe: a digital, talking head that can express a range of human emotions on demand. The virtual face can display emotions such as happiness, anger and fear, and can even suit its voice to any feeling that the user wants it to simulate. Creepily life-like, the face is based on actress Zoe Lister, best known for her role in the Channel 4 series, Hollyoaks.

Submission + - New Radar Device Helps Blind People "See" (inhabitat.com)

greenrainbow writes: Students in Israel at the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev have developed new technology that allows blind people to “see” objects around them through a simple radar system. The device consists of a computer, two video cameras and a scanning light source that audibly alerts the individual of objects that are close in proximity. The system scans surrounding objects and their distance from two points, much like the human eyes. Unlike current sensor canes, this new light scanning device is a hands free system that can sense objects on the ground, overhead and in the periphery.

Submission + - New Handheld Computer is 100% Open-Source (linux.com)

metasonix writes: While the rest of the industry has been blubbering about the iPad and imitations thereof, Qi Hardware is actually shipping a product that is completely open-source and copyleft. The Ben NanoNote is a handheld computer that apparently contains no proprietary technology. It uses a 366 MHz MIPS processor, 32MB RAM, 2 GB flash, a 320x240 pixel color display, and a Qwerty keyboard. No network built in, though it is claimed to accept SD-card WiFi or USB-Ethernet adapters. Included is a very simple Linux OS based on the OpenWrt distro installed in Linksys routers, with Busybox GUI. It's apparently intended primarily for hardware and software hackers, not as a general-audience handheld. The price is right, though: $99.

Submission + - Hackers Find Home in Amazon EC2 Cloud (infoworld.com)

snydeq writes: Security researchers have spotted the Zeus botnet running an unauthorized command and control center on Amazon's EC2 cloud computing infrastructure. This marks the first time Amazon Web Services' cloud infrastructure has been used for this type of illegal activity, according to threat researcher Don DeBolt. The hackers got onto Amazon's infrastructure by hacking into a Web site hosted on Amazon's servers and then secretly installing their command and control infrastructure.

US Amazon.com Website Down For Over 1 Hour 228

CorporalKlinger writes "CNET News is reporting that Amazon's US website, Amazon.com, has been unreachable since 10:30 AM PDT today. As of posting, visiting www.amazon.com produces an 'Http/1.1 Service Unavailable' message. According to CNET, "Based on last quarter's revenue of $4.13 billion, a full-scale global outage would cost Amazon more than $31,000 per minute on average." Some of Amazon's international websites still appear to be working, and some pages on the US Amazon.com site load if accessed using HTTPS instead of HTTP."

McCain Supports Warrantless Domestic Surveillance 650

I Don't Believe in Imaginary Property writes "While there have been shifting reports about McCain's view on warrantless wiretapping, nothing could be clearer than the latest comment by McCain adviser Doug Holtz-Eakin, who said, 'We do not know what lies ahead in our nation's fight against radical Islamic extremists, but John McCain will do everything he can to protect Americans from such threats, including asking the telecoms for appropriate assistance to collect intelligence against foreign threats to the United States as authorized by Article II of the Constitution.' Article II, of course, is what Bush has argued gives the President virtually unlimited power during war, and McCain has already voted in favor of Telecom Immunity, though he sometimes mentions, to those asking for accountability, wanting to hold hearings about what the telecoms did."

New Superconductor Found "Immune To Magnetism" 201

Lisandro sends in news that testing of the new class of superconductors we discussed a while back (compounds of iron, lanthanum, and rare earths) has turned up a major surprise: magnetism doesn't shut off the superconducting state. Magnetic fields represent one of three factors that limit expanded applications for superconductors (the others are current density and temperature dependence.) The research will appear in Nature; here's a preprint (PDF).

I've got a bad feeling about this.