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Submission + - NASA Upgrades Mars Curiosity Software ... From 350M Miles Away (

CWmike writes: "Picture doing a remote software upgrade. Now picture doing it when the machine you're upgrading is a robotic rover sitting 350 million miles away, on the surface of Mars. That's what a team of programmers and engineers at NASA are dealing with as they get ready to download a new version of the flight software on the Mars rover Curiosity, which landed safely on the Red Planet earlier this week. 'We need to take a whole series of steps to make that software active. You have to imagine that if something goes wrong with this, it could be the last time you hear from the rover,' said Steve Scandore, a senior flight software engineer at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. 'It has to work,' he told Computerworld. 'You don't' want to be known as the guy doing the last activity on the rover before you lose contact.'"

Submission + - Microsoft developer tools abandon Windows XP suppo (

GigaplexNZ writes: Earlier this year a bug was filed against the developer preview of the next version of Visual Studio complaining that applications built with it are incompatible with Windows XP. Pat Brenner from Microsoft Visual C++ Libraries Development issued a response: "Thanks for the report. This behavior is by design in MFC and CRT for Visual Studio vNext. The minimum supported operating systems are Windows Server 2008 SP2 and Windows Vista. Windows XP is not a supported operating system for the release (design-time or run-time)." Can Microsoft seriously be considering preventing early adopters of the next version of Visual Studio from supporting a large portion of their existing customer base?

Submission + - MIT Unveils Sun-Free Photovoltaics (

An anonymous reader writes: Researchers at MIT just unveiled a new solar power generator that doesn't need sunlight to function. The button-sized power generator can tap energy from heat, the sun’s rays, a hydrocarbon fuel, or a decaying radioisotope, and it can run three times longer than a lithium-ion battery of the same weight. It is hoped that the technology may one day be used to generate power for spacecraft on long-term missions where sunlight may not be available.

Submission + - Microsoft Tries Patenting Lots of Gestures ( 1

bizwriter writes: A set of four patent applications made public today show how Microsoft is working to protect what little position it currently has in mobile from Apple and other rivals. The applications, which hint at additional ones to come, cover using gestures to perform basic operations in a touch interface.

Submission + - Can you afford modular code? (

An anonymous reader writes: When you divide, do you conquer? This article questions the disfavour into which integral and compiled code has fallen, in the wake of Adobe's lament about Mac OSX Lion breaking its older applications. There's nothing wrong with modularity as a concept, and even in spite of the occasional bout of 'DLL hell', there's much to be said for libraries and classes. No, the problem, as usual, is the boss...

Submission + - Robot gets rid of landmines -- by crushing them ( 1

derGoldstein writes: Discovery has an article about a robot that gets rid of landmines, not by using sensors to pinpoint their location, but by rotating a giant cylinder covered in tungsten hammers to smash them and blow them up: "An operator commands this beast from a safe distance using a remote control unit. The hull of the robot is made up of hardened steel plates in a "V" shape to help limit any damage from antitank mines and unexploded shells of sizes up to 3 inches, and the D-3 has been able to successfully ingest mines containing as much as 17.6 pounds of explosive, which is nothing to sneeze at.". A video of the beast in action can be found here.
Desktops (Apple)

Submission + - Apple Mac OS Lion To Launch Tomorrow on The App St (

gallagherl29 writes: The big cat is in the house! According to the CFO Peter Oppenheimer, during the Quarterly Earnings Call today, the new Mac OS will hit the App Store tomorrow. The new operating system commonly known as Lion, will cost $30 to download.

The features of the new OS has been fairly easy to come by since it’s original announcement late last year. As soon as the new download is available tomorrow, we will run a complete review of all the new features for everyone to see.

In the meantime, this might be a good time to back-up all your stuff before the upgrade tomorrow – in case you hit a booboo during the process.


Submission + - Carmack Takes Aim at 'Snooty' Developers (

donniebaseball23 writes: id Software co-founder John Carmack defended the creativity of first-person shooter games in a new interview with IndustryGamers. The legendary programmer, who was a pioneer in the shooter genre with Doom and Quake, said he doesn't like hearing from developers that shooters aren't good because they're not reinventing the wheel. "I am pretty down on people who take the sort of creative auteurs' perspective. It's like 'Oh, we’re not being creative.' But we're creating value for people — that’s our job! It’s not to do something that nobody’s ever seen before. It’s to do something that people love so much they’re willing to give us money for... you see some of the indie developers that really take a snooty attitude about this," he lamented.

Submission + - NH Man Arrested for Videotaping Police.. Again ( 1

OhPlz writes: Back in 2006, a resident of New Hampshire's second largest city was arrested while at the police station attempting to file a complaint against officers. His crime? He had video tape evidence of the officers' wrongdoings. According to the police, that's wiretapping.

After world wide attention, the police dropped the charges. His complaint was found to be valid, but the evidence never saw the light of day.

Well, guess what? Round two. There are differing reports, but again the police arrested Mr. Gannon and again, they seized his video camera. This time it's "falsifying evidence" because he tried to hand off the camera, most likely to protect its contents.

Once again, if the police are free to videotape us, why aren't we free to videotape them? If there's the potential of police wrongdoing, how is it that the law permits the police to seize the evidence?

Submission + - Netflix Streaming Service Suffers 5 Hour Outage (

techtribune writes: Just a few days after Netflix announced price increases outraging customers, the Netflix streaming service goes offline for more than five hours. The five hour outage affected U.S. customers on Sunday night from about 6PM CST to about 11PM CST. A few minutes after 11:00PM CST, the services began coming back up for most users and on most devices. Netflix posted about the outage stating "For those of you having difficulty streaming tonight, our apologies — we're aware of the issue and working to fix it as quickly as possible".

Submission + - NIH-Backed Study Examined Effects of Penis Size ( 2

An anonymous reader writes: The federal government helped fund a study that examined what effect a gay man's penis size has on his sex life and general well-being.

The study was among several backed by the National Institutes of Health that have come under scrutiny from a group claiming the agency is wasting valuable tax dollars at a time when the country is trying to control its debt.


Submission + - Facial Recognition Tech Failure Implications (

An anonymous reader writes: John H. Gass hadn’t had a traffic ticket in years, so the Natick resident was surprised this spring when he received a letter from the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles informing him to cease driving because his license had been revoked.

It turned out Gass was flagged because he looks like another driver, not because his image was being used to create a fake identity. His driving privileges were returned but, he alleges in a lawsuit, only after 10 days of bureaucratic wrangling to prove he is who he says he is.

And apparently, he has company. Last year, the facial recognition system picked out more than 1,000 cases that resulted in State Police investigations, officials say. And some of those people are guilty of nothing more than looking like someone else. Not all go through the long process that Gass says he endured, but each must visit the Registry with proof of their identity.

Massachusetts began using the software after receiving a $1.5 million grant from the US Department of Homeland Security as part of an effort to prevent terrorism, reduce fraud, and improve the reliability and accuracy of personal identification documents that states issue.

At least 34 states are using such systems. They help authorities verify a person’s claimed identity and track down people who have multiple licenses under different aliases, such as underage people wanting to buy alcohol, people with previous license suspensions, and people with criminal records trying to evade the law. Lisa Cradit, a spokeswoman for L-1 Identity Solutions, the largest developer of the software, said it can reduce fraud by 80 percent.


Submission + - Security consultants warn about PROTECT-IP Act (

epee1221 writes: Several security professionals released a paper (PDF) raising objections to the DNS filtering mandated by the proposed PROTECT-IP Act. The measure allows courts to require Internet service providers to redirect or block queries for a domain deemed to be infringing on IP laws. ISPs will not be able to improve DNS security using DNSSEC, a system for cryptographically signing DNS records to ensure their authenticity, as the sort of manipulation mandated by PROTECT-IP is the type of interference DNSSEC is meant to prevent. The paper notes that a DNS server which has been compromised by a cracker would be indistinguishable from one operating under a court order to alter its DNS responses. The measure also points to a possible fragmenting of the DNS system, effectively making domain names non-universal, and the DNS manipulation may lead to collateral damage (i.e. filtering an infringing domain may block access to non-infringing content). It is also pointed out that DNS filtering does not actually keep determined users from accessing content, as they can still access non-filtered DNS servers or directly enter the blocked site's IP address if it is known.

A statement by the MPAA disputes these claims, arguing that typical users lack the expertise to select a different DNS server and that the Internet must not be allowed to "decay into a lawless Wild West."

Paul Vixie, a coauthor of the paper, elaborates in his blog.


Submission + - Security computer at San Onofre shuts down (

mdsolar writes: "A security computer at the San Onofre nuclear generating plant near San Clemente mysteriously shut down early Saturday morning, prompting the plant manager to issue an "unusual event" report.

The computer, which monitors gates and doors as one part of the plant’s overlapping security systems, was restarted 45 minutes later without incident, and there were no threats to the plant’s security, officials said."

Never appeal to a man's "better nature." He may not have one. Invoking his self-interest gives you more leverage. -- Lazarus Long