The Plastiki, a catamaran made with plastic bottles, has completed a 8,000 mile trip between San Francisco and Sydney. Captain David de Rothschild said, "The Plastiki is literally a metaphorical message in a bottle about beating waste and reducing our human fingerprints on our natural environment." The boat will go on display at the Australian National Maritime Museum for the next month.
John Bayko writes "Mentioned on Slashdot a couple of years ago, the drug dichloroacetate (DCA) has finally finished its first clinical trial against brain tumors in humans. Drug companies weren't willing to test a drug they could not patent, so money was raised in the community through donations, auctions, and finally government support, but the study was still limited to five patients. It showed extremely positive results in four of them. This episode raises the question of what happens to all the money donated to Canadian and other cancer societies, and especially the billions spent buying merchandise with little pink ribbons on it, if not to actual cancer research like this."
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.'"
supersloshy writes "Contrary to popular opinion, GNOME 3 will not be released in March next year. It has been delayed until September 2010, six months later. According to the news message, this is because 'our community wants GNOME 3.0 to be fully working for users and why we believe September is more appropriate.' GNOME 3's main goal is to re-define the ways people interact with the desktop, mainly through a new UI design (currently called 'GNOME Shell'), while GNOME 2.30, set for release in March, will have a focus on being stable. An early visual tour of GNOME 3 has been posted at Digitizor."
rysiek writes "Seems like there might be a revolution in the works, as far as VoIP software for Linux is concerned. After mailing Skype support about Skype providing Mandriva RPM packages, Olivier Faurax got an answer which suggests that the Linux Skype client will be open-sourced. After asking for verification of whether that was the case, the tech support answer claimed it is going to happen, and that it's supposed to happen 'in the nearest future.' Now, this probably only means the client (the underlying protocol will probably be handled by a binary-only library), but even if that's the case, it seems like there is still reason to celebrate."
palegray.net writes "The latest version of Ubuntu 9.10 (Karmic Koala) has been released. Offering numerous enhancements for both desktop and server environments, this release includes notable features like Ubuntu Enterprise Cloud images, the Ubuntu One 'personal cloud,' and Linux kernel version 2.6.31. Please be sure to use a release mirror close to your geographic location to help reduce the stress on Ubuntu's primary servers; using BitTorrent for downloads can help alleviate the load even more. If your organization has adequate network and server resources, please consider hosting a mirror as well."
nerdyH writes "The Chinese government's 'Go Rural' program offers subsidies up to 13 percent for rural residents who purchase approved nettops or netbooks. The systems come with a version of Red Flag Linux built on the Moblin stack. Along with Internet access, the software is said to provide apps for crop and livestock management, farm production marketing, remote office access/automation, and even online tour and hotel booking systems. Of course, Windows dominates the China market, and if traditional patterns hold, about 30 percent of these subsidized systems could ultimately wind up re-installed with Windows."
Westword, an "alternative" newspaper in Denver, has placed an ad for a medicinal marijuana reviewer. The paper has been running reviews by a staff writer, but the writer "wanted to return to the day job," opening up the position. Applicants must write a short essay on "What Marijuana Means To Me," and a MacGyver-like ability to make a bong out of common household objects is a plus.
GeekZilla sends coverage from Wired's Gadget Lab on the Nook, Barnes & Noble's first e-book reader. "Sleek, stylish and runs the Android OS. What's not to like about Barnes and Noble's new e-book reader? Despite the odd name, the Nook looks like an eBook reader that would actually be a worthwhile investment. Best feature? The ability to loan e-books you have downloaded to other Nook owners. The reader, named the 'Nook,' looks a lot like Amazon's white plastic e-book, only instead of the chiclet-keyboard there is a color multi-touch screen, to be used as both a keyboard or to browse books, cover-flow style. The machine runs Google's Android OS, will have wireless capability from an unspecified carrier, and comes in at the same $260 as the now rather old-fashioned-looking Kindle." Here is the B&N Nook site, which is still not visible on their front page and has a few non-working links. (Nook.com isn't set up yet.) Their comparison page takes dead aim at the Kindle. Among the advantages in the Nook's column: Wi-Fi, expandable memory via microSD, MP3 player, and PDF compatibility. (But remember the cautionary note B&N struck six years back when they got out of the e-book business.)
chrnb sends along this quote from a report at Reuters: "Filling your vehicle's tank with fuel made from algae is still as much as a decade away, as the emerging industry faces a series of hurdles to find an economical way to make the biofuel commercially. Estimates on a timeline for a commercial product, and profits, vary from two to 10 years or more. Executives and industry players who gathered at the Algae Biomass Summit this week in San Diego said they need to push for breakthroughs along the entire chain — from identifying the best organisms to developing efficient harvesting methods. ... So far on the list: finding the right strain of algae among thousands of species that will produce high yields; designing systems where the desired algae can multiply and other species don't invade and disrupt the process; and extracting its oils without degrading other parts of the algae that can be made into side products and sold as well."
myvirtualid writes "Con Kolivas has done what he swore never to do: returned to the Linux kernel and written a new — and, according to him — waaay better scheduler for the desktop environment. In fact, BFS appears to outperform existing schedulers right up until one hits a 16-CPU machine, at which point he guesses performance would degrade somewhat. According to Kolivas, BFS 'was designed to be forward looking only, make the most of lower spec machines, and not scale to massive hardware. i.e. [sic] it is a desktop orientated scheduler, with extremely low latencies for excellent interactivity by design rather than 'calculated,' with rigid fairness, nice priority distribution and extreme scalability within normal load levels.'"
Dan Jones writes "As the Linux community looks forward to another kernel release, the kernel hackers have been working on improving the memory management so that the X desktop responsiveness is doubled under high memory pressure. The result is an improved desktop experience. Benchmarks on memory-tight desktops show clock time and major faults reduced by 50 per cent, and pswpin numbers (memory reads from disk) are reduced to about one-third. Another improvement coming with 2.6.31 is kernel mode-setting support for ATI Radeon graphics cards, enabling faster user switching and a more seamless startup experience. Peripheral developments that will also improve the Linux desktop experience include support for the new USB 3.0 specification and a new Firewire stack. Even minor Linux releases have heaps of new features these days!"
An anonymous reader sends along this update to the ongoing patent battle between Microsoft and i4i involving XML formatting in Word. "Microsoft's motion to stay an injunction has been granted; the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has allowed the company to keep selling Word as it appeals a patent ruling from last month. The injunction had an effective date of October 10, but the motion to stay blocks the injunction until the appeal process is complete. If upheld, the injunction wouldn't stop existing users from using Word, but it could prevent the software giant from selling Word 2003 or Word 2007, the most common versions of Word currently on the market, and would require the company to significantly tweak Word 2010, which is slated for the first half of next year. The victory is a small one for Microsoft; the company still has the whole appeals process to go through. 'We are happy with the result and look forward to presenting our arguments on the main issues on September 23,' a Microsoft spokesperson told Ars. 'Microsoft's scare tactics about the consequences of the injunction cannot shield it from the imminent review of the case by the Federal Circuit Court of Appeal on the September 23 appeal,' said i4i chairman Loudon Owen in response to the court's decision."
consonant writes "FT is reporting that Google has reached a deal with Sony to ship Chrome on the Vaio line of PCs. Google confirmed that Sony PCs carrying Chrome had started to go on sale and said it was in talks for similar deals with other computer makers. It said the arrangement was 'experimental' and part of wider efforts to boost distribution, including a deal to make Chrome available to internet users who download the RealPlayer software and the company's first use of television advertising. While mainstream media coverage and financial details were very sparse, El Reg terms it a 'Microsoft-snubbing deal.' Google also mentioned it was pushing for similar deals with other vendors. Could this spell the beginning of the end for IE?"
galaxy writes "Nokia releases their first Linux mobile handset, the N900 The handset is based on the latest release of Maemo, the Nokia mobile Linux platform, and includes e.g. GSM and 3G access (with HSPA, giving datarates of up to 10Mbps downlink and 2Mbps uplink on suitable networks), WLAN, Bluetooth, camera, assisted GPS and, most importantly, a touchscreen complemented by a hardware QWERTY under a slider. The beast is powered by an ARM Cortex-A8 processor at 600 MHz, has PowerVR SGX with OpenGL ES 2.0 support, 32GB internal memory etc."