Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!


Forgot your password?

Comment Re:Free trade of ideas, anyone? (Score 2, Informative) 687

You might want to read Google's Blog post about the introduction of google.cn: http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2006/02/testimony-internet-in-china.html

The short of it is that since google.com wasn't self-filtering, the government was filtering at the border, which led to slow and unreliable service, in addition to the filtering. Google decided that on the whole, it was better to provide an additional filtered local (and thus reliable) service than to leave the chineese with only a service that didn't work well (from the user's standpoint). And since it was additional, they didn't take away anything.

That, and it was good for business.

From the 2006 post, edited for length:

[In the fall of 2002, Google suddenly became completely unreachable from within China. Google did nothing, and about two weeks later, it could be reached again.]

However, we soon discovered new problems. Many queries, especially politically sensitive queries, were not making it through to Google’s servers. And access became often slow and unreliable, meaning that our service in China was not something we felt proud of. Even though we weren’t doing any self-censorship, our results were being filtered anyway, and our service was being actively degraded on top of that. Indeed, at some times users were even being redirected to local Chinese search engines Nevertheless, we continued to offer our service from outside China while other Internet companies were entering China and building operations there.

[much later in the testimony]

Since 2000, Google has been offering a Chinese-language version of Google.com, designed to make Google just as easy, intuitive, and useful to Chinese-speaking users worldwide as it is for speakers of English. Within China, however, Google.com has proven to be both slow and unreliable. Indeed, Google’s users in China struggle with a service that is often unavailable. According to our measurements, Google.com appears to be unreachable around 10% of the time. Even when Chinese users can get to Google.com, the website is slow (sometimes painfully so, and nearly always slower than our local competitors), and sometimes produces results that, when clicked on, stall out the user’s browser. The net result is a bad user experience for those in China.

The cause of the slowness and unreliability appears to be, in large measure, the extensive filtering performed by China’s licensed Internet Service Providers (ISPs). ... China has nine licensed international gateway data carriers, and many hundreds of smaller local ISPs. Each ISP is legally obligated to implement its own filtering mechanisms, leading to diverse and sometimes inconsistent outcomes across the network at any given moment. For example, some of Google’s services appear to be unavailable to Chinese users nearly always, including Google News, the Google cache..., and Blogspot... . Other services, such as Google Image Search, can be reached about half the time. Still others, such as Google.com, Froogle, and Google Maps, are unavailable only around 10% of the time.

Even when Google is reachable, the data indicates that we are almost always slower than our local competitors. Third-party measurements of latency ... suggest that the average total time to download a Google webpage is more than seven times slower than for Baidu, the leading Chinese search engine.


Based on our analysis of the available data, we believe that the filtering performed by the international gateway ISPs is far more disruptive to our services than that performed by smaller local ISPs. Because Google’s servers have, to date, been located exclusively outside China, all traffic to and from Google must traverse at least one of China’s international gateway ISPs. Accordingly, Google’s access problems can only be solved by creating a local presence inside China.

Operating without a local presence, Google’s slowness and unreliability appears to have been a major – perhaps the major – factor behind our steadily declining market share. According to third-party estimates, Baidu has gone from 2.5% of the search market in 2003 to 46% in 2005, while Google has dropped to below 30% (and falling). ...the leading cause seems to be the Chinese users’ annoyance at the persistent slowness and unreliability of Google.


EMI Only Selling CDs To Mega-Chains From Now On 334

farrellj writes "According to Zeropaid, record company EMI has been notifying small music stores that they will no longer be able to buy EMI CDs from EMI, and will have to buy product from mega-chains like Walmart. Independent record store customers are some of the most loyal music buyers around. You are not going to find the back catalog, what used to be the staple of the music business, at your local Walmart. One wonders when the music business is going to run out of feet to shoot?"
The Internet

The Web of Data, Beyond What Google and Yahoo Show 50

jccq writes "Both Google and Yahoo have been supporting Semantic Web markup (RDFa, RDF and Microformats) for weeks and months respectively. What they do, at the moment, is use the markup only for visual feedback by returning better looking, more functional 'page snippets.' But how would it look if you could get all these bits and compose them automatically to form a single structured information page about what you're searching for? The folks at the DERI institute have just released Sig.ma, a visual browser and mashup generator that will go all over the web of data and find dozens of sources to combine together when answering a user query. It also comes in API mode to reuse the information Sig.ma finds inside applications. Here are a screencast and a blog post, with semantic-web-geek details."

Comment Re:At least you'll have options (Score 1) 378

No, you've missed the point.

The current situation, if you wanted a stylized block of text, it had to be a graphic--which can't be searched, screen-read, or indexed. In short, the text and the presentation are stuck together.

With the new font-face concept, you now have the text in the source (which CAN be searched, indexed, and read by a screen-reader) and the presentation controlled by the CSS. So I guess, yes, you can get features that previously required a graphic, but now allow text-search, too.


Google Summer of Code Announces Mentor Projects 44

mithro writes "As everyone should already know, Google is running the Summer of Code again this year. For those who don't know, GSoC is where Google funds student's to participate in Open Source projects and has been running for 5 years, bringing together over 2600 students and 2500 mentors from nearly 100 countries worldwide. Google has just announced the projects which will be mentor organizations this year. It includes a great list of Open Source projects from a wide range of different genres, include content management systems, compilers, many programming languages and even a bunch of games!"

Microsoft Shoots Own Foot In Iceland 476

David Gerard writes "The Microsoft Certified Partner model is: an MCP buys contracts from Microsoft and sells them to businesses as a three-year timed contract, payable in annual installments. Iceland's economy has collapsed, so 1500 businesses have gone bankrupt and aren't paying the fees any more. But Microsoft has told the MCPs: 'Our deal was with you, not them. Pay up.' The MCPs that don't go bankrupt in turn are moving headlong to Free Software, taking most of the country with them. (Warning: link contains strong language and vivid imagery.)"

Comment Re:Body Mass Index?!? (Score 2, Informative) 66

...I don't believe that even the most magical of algorithms can derive player body mass indexes or whether they're "slightly more depressed than average" from it. I call bullshit.

TFA also states that the user data "was followed up with demographic surveys of the users." I'd wager that among the demographic information collected was height and weight, as well as some mental health type questions. Admittedly, those aren't questions I'd expect if someone was surveying me, but I'd probably ask them if I were surveying a group of Everquest players...


Canon Tries To Shut Down "Fake" Canon Blog 125

Thomas Hawk writes "An interesting twist over at the Fake Chuck Westfall Blog. Fake Chuck (like Fake Steve before him) has a blog out parodying Canon's real Technical Information Advisor Chuck Westfall. It seems that Canon and their lawyers over at Loeb & Loeb are none too fond of all the fun that Fake Chuck and DSLR geeks everywhere have been having at their expense and have sent Fake Chuck's blog hosting company, WordPress, a notice to take the blog down. Canon's lawyers cite that Fake Chuck's blog is 'calculated to mislead recipients,' even though the blog has 'fake' in the title, 'fake' in the URL and 'fake' just about everywhere else in the blog. What in the heck is wrong with Canon? Do they really think that trying to shut down a parody blog is going to make their new 5D Mark II ship any faster?" After Fake Chuck removed the Canon logo from his site, WordPress is standing behind him and has rebuffed Canon's demand.

Palm Pulls the Plug On Palm OS 300

BobB-nw writes to tell us that Palm has decided to kill their PalmOS operating system and is instead betting their future on a still mostly unknown Palm webOS. Very little is known about the new Palm webOS, but it will supposedly support HTML5 and enable a local data store so that applications can be used both online and off. All of this is rolled into a Linux framework with a message bus based on JSON. Will be interesting to see where they take it.

Why Do We Name Servers the Way We Do? 1397

jfruhlinger writes "If you use a Unix machine, it probably has a funny name. And if you work in an environment where there are multiple Unix machines, they probably have funny names that are variations on a theme. No, you're not the only one! This article explores the phenomenon, showing that even the CIA uses a whimsical server naming scheme." What are some of your best (worst?) naming schemes?

Scientists Solve Century-Old Optics Mystery 265

evan_arrrr! writes "From the article: Since the early 20th century physicists have known that light carries momentum, but the way this momentum changes as light passes through different media is much less clear. Two rival theories of the time predicted precisely the opposite effect for light incident on a dielectric: one suggesting it pushes the surface in the direction light is traveling; the other suggesting it drags the surface backwards towards the source of light. After 100 years of conflicting experimental results, a team of experimentalists from China believe they have finally found a resolution."

The Post-Bilski Era Gets Underway 94

bfwebster writes "A set of pharmaceutical process patents for 'evaluating and improving the safety of immunization schedules' (Classen v. Biogen et al.; see US Patents 6,420,139; 6,638,379; 5,728,385; 5,723,283) were held to be invalid due to unpatentability. The decision was appealed to the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, but was upheld with a terse citation to In re Bilski (which decision we discussed here). Here's the entire text of the appeals decision: 'In light of our decision in In re Bilski, 545 F.3d 943 (Fed. Cir. 2008) (en banc), we affirm the district court's grant of summary judgment that these claims are invalid under 35 U.S.C. 101. Dr. Classen's claims are neither "tied to a particular machine or apparatus" nor do they "transform a particular article into a different state or thing." Bilski, 545 F.3d at 954. Therefore we affirm.' It will be interesting to see what happens when these same standards start getting applied to software-related patents."

Scientist Patents New Method To Fight Global Warming 492

SUNSTOP writes to tell us that a relatively unknown Maryland scientist has proposed a public patent that he claims could combat global warming. The proposed plan would require massive amounts of water to be sprayed into the air in an effort to bolster the earth's existing air conditioning system. "First, the sprayed droplets would transform to water vapor, a change that absorbs thermal energy near ground level; then the rising vapor would condense into sunlight-reflecting clouds and cooling rain, releasing much of the stored energy into space in the form of infrared radiation. Kenneth Caldeira, a climate scientist for the Carnegie Institution's Department of Global Ecology at Stanford University whose computer simulation of Ace's invention suggests it would significantly cool the planet. The simulated evaporation of about one-half inch of additional water everywhere in the world produced immediate planetary cooling effects that were projected to reach nearly 1 degree Fahrenheit within 20 or 30 years, Caldeira said."

Scientists Find Hole In Earth's Magnetic Field 200

Velorium writes "The Earth's magnetic field has been found to have two large holes that are making Earth's surface vulnerable to solar winds. Despite what scientists originally thought, these holes allow 20 times the normal amount of solar particles through when they are facing away from the sun. This is the opposite of what the scientists had first speculated."

Retirement means that when someone says "Have a nice day", you actually have a shot at it.