Ezratrumpet writes "A recent PC World article notes that 20 percent of the U.S. population has never sent an email. Does this number over- or underestimate the actual number of people who know nothing of email? What are the implications of this statistic to our society? Or are these people just Luddites who mourned the demise of the telegraph and have also never used a telephone?"
Armed jackalopes are even more ornery.
An anonymous reader writes "According to the Hollywood Reporter and news.com, Blockbuster will soon be announcing yet another reason not to go to a rental store. A media-delivering set-top box is in the works for the company, leveraging the store's existing competence in the industry to provide a viable alternative to iTunes, Xbox Live, and Amazon. 'There was no mention of price or how such a service would work in the report. But let's think about this: to compete with Apple TV or Vudu, the device would have to cost around $200, and rentals of movies and TV shows should be around $3 to $4 each, which would be slightly cheaper than rentals of new releases from Blockbuster currently. The big advantage Blockbuster would enjoy over Apple TV, Vudu, and TiVo, it seems, would be selection.'" I still think they're kinda doomed.
Roland Piquepaille writes "According to Haaretz, an Israeli team of computer scientists has developed software that ranks facial attractiveness of women. Instead of identifying basic facial characteristics, this software has been designed to make aesthetic judgments — after training. The lead researcher said this program 'constitutes a substantial advance in the development of artificial intelligence.' It is interesting to note that the researchers focused on women only. Apparently, men' faces are more difficult to grade."
Spuddly writes with links to Daniel Philips and his work on the Ramback patch, and an analysis of it by Jonathan Corbet up on LWN. The experimental new design for Linux's virtual memory system would turn a large amount of system RAM into a fast RAM disk with automatic sync to magnetic media. We haven't yet reached a point where systems, even high-end boxes, come with a terabyte of installed memory, but perhaps it's not too soon to start thinking about how to handle that much memory.
Mark Graham writes "All this week, UK games development site Develop has been running a series of articles under its 'WiiWare Week' banner, analyzing developer's affections for, and the potential success of Nintendo's upcoming WiiWare digital distribution platform. Most revealing is the claim that Nintendo has been secretly 'waging war' on the likes of Sony and Microsoft by capitalizing on frustrations over cuts to the Xbox Live Arcade royalty rate (down from 70% to 35% for any game making under $4m in revenue) and talking up the service's access to a wide audience to win over development support. It features commentary from both established developers (such as David Braben, creator of Elite, and Scott Orr, creator of Madden) — and indie teams (developers of new WiiWare games Pop and Gravitronix) making launch games for the service."
museumpeace writes "In the NYTimes book review blog, David Itzkoff takes a look at a new book devoted to predicting which 'science fiction' technologies may really fly some day. The author is Michio Kaku, one of the inventors of string theory, so he bears a hearing. His picks include light sabers, invisibility and force fields." Which sci-fi tech do you think needs to get invented over the weekend?
seattle-pk writes to let us know about the discovery in the Pacific island nation of Palau of thousands of human bones, some quite diminutive. The find is likely to rekindle the debate about how to classify the remains found on the Indonesian island of Flores in 2003. "Some of the bones are ancient and indicate inhabitants of particularly small size, scientists announced today. The remains are between 900 and 2,900 years old and align with Homo sapiens, according to a paper on the discovery. However, the older bones are tiny and exhibit several traits considered primitive, or archaic, for the human lineage."
Bruce G Charlton writes "A new paper in Medical Hypotheses suggests that very big cash prizes could specifically be targeted to stimulate 'revolutionary' science. Usually, prizes tend to stimulate 'applied' science — as in the most famous example of Harrison's improved clock solving the 'longitude' problem. But for prizes successfully to stimulate revolutionary science the prizes need to be: 1. Very large (and we are talking seven figure 'pop star' earnings, here) to compensate for the high risk of failure when tackling major scientific problems, 2. Awarded to scientists at a young enough age that it influences their behavior in (about) their mid-late twenties — when they are deciding on their career path, and: 3. Include objective and transparent scientometric criteria, to prevent the prize award process being corrupted by 'political' incentives. Such mega-cash prizes, in sufficient numbers, might incentivize some of the very best young scientists to make more ambitious, long-term — but high-risk — career choices. The real winner of this would be society as a whole; since ordinary science can successfully be done by second-raters — but only first-rate scientists can tackle the toughest scientific problems."
yorugua writes "Furniture trembled as Steve Ballmer was to be interviewed by InformationWeek. He then went on to talk about Linux: 'How does Microsoft beat Linux? The same way "you beat any other competitor: You offer good value, which in this case means good total cost of ownership," Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer says.', Embrace-Extend-Extinguish: 'We say when we embrace standards, we'll be transparent about how we're embracing standards. [...] If we have deviations, we'll be transparent about the deviations.'"
stoolpigeon writes "The X Window System has been around for over twenty years and is the display system for an incredibly wide range of operating systems. With the number of Linux users growing, there are more people working with X than ever before. Most modern desktop environments provide user friendly interfaces that make modifying X rather simple. There is not a need to dig into config files and settings as in the past. For those environments without such tools or for the user who loves to dig deep into their environment, this book can be a simple way to understand how X works and how to tweak it in any number of ways. If you want things that 'just work' and have no interest in digging around below the surface this book is not for you. On the other hand, if you think the best thing to do with a shiny new tool is to take it apart, well "X Power Tools" by Chris Tyler may be just for you." Read on for the rest of JR's thoughts on this book.
dionysus writes "Last April, Microsoft was sued over its 'Vista Capable' labeling, and in hearing last week, attorneys for the plaintiffs presented evidence that Microsoft employees were skeptical about the 'Vista Capable' marketing. Some of the most damning evidence comes from Microsoft executives: 'Mike Nash, currently a corporate vice president for Windows product management, wrote in an e-mail, "I PERSONALLY got burnt ... Are we seeing this from a lot of customers? ... I now have a $2,100 e-mail machine." Jim Allchin, then the co-president of Microsoft's Platforms and Services Division, wrote in another e-mail, "We really botched this ... You guys have to do a better job with our customers."' The judge in the case is currently considering the plaintiffs' request to make it a class-action lawsuit."
KrispySausage writes "One of the big features discussed in early speculation of Windows Vista SP1 was the kernel upgrade, which was supposed to bring the operating system into line with the Longhorn kernel used in Windows Server 2008. With Vista SP1 going RTM, there hasn't been so much as a peep from Microsoft about the mooted kernel update. Has it happened? Well the answer is yes it has. Presumably the main reason for Microsoft's silence on the subject is that as they're keen to promote the improvements and enhancements to Vista, rather than placing emphasis on a kernel upgrade, which some people might see as a risk of newly-introduced instability."
no_pets writes "As do most people, I like to shop and order things online. Unlike many, I also verify page encryption before sending sensitive info. Lately I've come across websites for smaller or medium sized businesses (as well as occasional larger companies) that I would like to do business with online but their order page is only partially encrypted. From their point of view there is no need to encrypt images, etc. but from my end it makes verifying that sensitive fields (i.e. credit card #, or social security #) are encrypted much harder or impossible. Any suggestions on verifying encryption of certain fields? Or do I just take my business elsewhere?"