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The Almighty Buck

Driver's License to be the Next Debit Card 394

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the marks-of-the-beast dept.
prostoalex writes "Your US driver's license has a magnetic stripe with unique ID in it, and your debit card carries a magnetic stripe with account information on it, so why not link the two together and allow people to use their driver's licenses as debit cards? That's precisely what a young company National Payment Card is doing in select locations, according to Business Week: 'Gas-station owners are pleased with the program too. Because NPC processes the payment as an e-check with the Automated Clearing House (ACH), a network most commonly used for direct deposits, participating retailers bypass credit card companies such as Visa and Mastercard.'"
XBox (Games)

+ - Microsoft starts banning modified 360 consoles.

Submitted by Tiger Nachos
Tiger Nachos (666) writes "Microsoft has started to ban XBOX 360 consoles with modified drive firmware. Posts on the official XBOX.com site confirm the bans. It appears that there are some glitches, as some users with modified firmware claim not to be banned, and other users with unmodified systems also claim to be banned. Like the original wave of bans on the original XBOX console, Microsoft only appears to be banning the modified system, and not the user account. Moving the user account to an unmodified system allows users to continue playing online over the Xbox LIVE service. http://gamerscoreblog.com/team/archive/2007/05/17/ 545414.aspx and http://www.xbox-scene.com/xbox1data/sep/EEZAuFAEuA jENKDCMV.php discuss the ban."
Microsoft

+ - Microsoft bans modified Xbox 360s from Xbox Live

Submitted by
An anonymous reader writes "Microsoft has now officially started banning Xbox 360s that have had their DVD drive firmware modified from Live, possibly using information brought in by the Crackdown-originated Halo 3 beta downloads. Scene site forums have already collapsed under traffic, and Microsoft has officially confirmed that they are banning modded Xbox 360s to keep the online playing field fair and level."
Google

Google Wins Nude Thumbnail Legal Battle 204

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the over-for-now dept.
eldavojohn writes "Google is currently fighting many fronts in its ability to show small images returned in a search from websites. Most recently, Google won the case against them in which they were displaying nude thumbnails of a photographer's work from his site. Prior to this, Google was barred from displaying copyrighted content, even when linking it to the site (owner) from its search results. The verdict: "Saying the District Court erred, the San Francisco-based appeals court ruled that Google could legally display those images under the fair use doctrine of copyright law." This sets a rather hefty precedence in a search engine's ability to blindly serve content safely under fair use."
Data Storage

+ - Holographic storage to be commercialized this fall

Submitted by
prostoalex
prostoalex writes "The Guardian takes a look at the current developments in the world of holographic storage. Despite being available in research for over 40 years, the technology is getting commercialized only now, with InPhase Technologies launching its 600 GB write-once disk and a drive this fall. What avout the price? "The first holographic products are certainly not mass-market — a 600GB disc will cost around $180 (£90), and the drive costs about $18,000. Potential users include banks, libraries, government agencies and corporations.""
Robotics

A Robotic Cable Inspection System 65

Posted by Zonk
from the amazing-voyage-only-without-guts dept.
Roland Piquepaille writes "In a short article, Popular Science reports that researchers at the University of Washington have built a robotic cable inspection system. This system should help utility companies to maintain their networks of subterranean cables. The robot, dubbed Cruiser, is about 4-feet-long and is designed like a snake. When it detects an anomaly on an underground cable, it sends a message to a human operator via Wi-Fi. The first field tests took place in New Orleans in December 2006. But a commercial version should not be available before 2012."
Games

ESA Names New President 14

Posted by Zonk
from the top-of-the-heap dept.
Former Assistant Secretary of Commerce Mike Gallagher, it has been announced, will be filling the shoes left empty by Doug Lowenstein when he left the Entertainment Software Association late last year. GameDaily had a talk with Gallagher and ESA Chair (and Microsoft front man) Robbie Bach. "Although Gallagher does not have a video game industry background, during a conference call he talked about how he's been a lifelong gamer, still plays games by himself and with his kids, and he's enjoyed watching the game industry grow over the years. Gallagher also has a strong background in technology in general. During his over four-year tenure at the Department of Commerce, he led successful efforts to pave the way for a number of new technologies and services, such as ultrawideband, broadband over powerlines, advanced wireless services, and millimeter wavelength networks."
The Internet

Is Dedicated Hosting for Critical DTDs Necessary? 140

Posted by Cliff
from the might-the-W3C-be-interested dept.
pcause asks: "Recently there was a glitch, when someone at Netscape took down a page that had an important DTD (for RSS), used by many applications and services. This got me thinking that many or all of the important DTDs that software and commerce depend on are hosted at various commercial entities. Is this a sane way to build an XML based Internet infrastructure? Companies come and go all of the time; this means that the storage and availability of those DTDs is in constant jeopardy. It strikes me that we need an infrastructure akin to the root server structure to hold the key DTDs that are used throughout the industry. What organization would be the likely custodian of such data, and what would be the best way to insure such an infrastructure stays funded?"
Editorial

+ - Guilty Based on False Statistics?

Submitted by
jellie
jellie writes "An advisory judicial committee, the Dutch Posthumus II Committee, will be reviewing the case of Lucia de Berk, a.k.a the "Dutch 'Killer' Nurse". In 2003, she was sentenced to life imprisonment for the murders of seven patients and the attempted murder of three more, based on the probability of "1 in 342 million" that all those deaths would coincide with a nurse's shifts. However, as detailed in a page by a Dutch mathematician Richard D. Gill, many of been questioning the statistics used in the case. From the article: "Curious that a mass murderer could kill so many people and simultaneously take care that the total number of deaths on the ward is actually lower than in a similar period before she worked at this hospital: this data is not incorporated in the analysis or even made available!" and "[The expert for the prosecution] apparently does not know the meaning of p-value. He multiplies three independent p-values... and appears to present the product as a p-value." Statistics are often used in courts to convince the judge or jury, but what happens when unreliable or inaccurate methods have been used in generating those numbers?

Other commentary can be found on Bad Science and on Mark Buchanan's blog (NYT TimesSelect req'd)."
Data Storage

The First Terabyte Hard Drive Reviewed 495

Posted by Zonk
from the that-is-a-lot-of-dvd-rips dept.
mikemuch writes "ExtremeTech has a review and benchmarks of the Hitachi Deskstar 7K1000 1TB Hard Drive, which ushers in the terabyte age. It performs well on HDTach and PCMark benchmarks, though not as speedily as professional-grade drives. It could be just the ticket for digital media junkies. 'One of the first issues to note is that you may not see an actual one terabyte capacity on your system. First, the formatted capacity is always less than the raw space available on the drive. Directory information and formatting data always take up some space. Second, the hard drive industry's definition of a megabyte differs from the rest of the PC business. One megabyte of hard drive space is 1,000,000 bytes: 10^6 bytes. Operating systems calculate one megabyte as 2^20 bytes, or 1,048,576 bytes. Once installed and set up, Hitachi's 1TB hard drive offers up an actual formatted capacity of about 935GB, as measured by the OS. That's still a lot of space, by anyone's definition.'" Update: 05/17 21:52 GMT by Z : Adding '^s' missing from article.
Mozilla

Firefox Going the Big and Bloated IE Way? 653

Posted by Zonk
from the dinosaur-needs-a-diet dept.
abhinav_pc writes "Wired is carrying an article pondering whether Firefox has become big and bloated, much like IE. As the browser's popularity has risen, the interest in cramming more features into the product has as well. Slowdowns and feature creep have some users asking for a return to the days of the 'slim and sexy' Firefox. 'Firefox's page-cache mechanism, for example, introduced in version 1.5, stores the last eight visited pages in the computer's memory. Caching pages in memory allows faster back browsing, but it can also leave a lot less memory for other applications to use. Less available RAM equals a less-responsive computer. Firefox addresses this issue somewhat, setting the default cache lower on computers with less than a gigabyte of RAM. Though the jury is still out on where the perfect balance between too many and too few features lies, one truth is apparent: The new web is pushing our browsers to the limit.'"
Security

AACS Revision Cracked A Week Before Release 346

Posted by Zonk
from the damned-time-traveling-pirates dept.
stevedcc writes "Ars Technica is running a story about next week's release of AACS, which is intended to fix the currently compromised version. The only problem is, the patched version has already been cracked. From the article: 'AACS LA's attempts to stifle dissemination of AACS keys and prevent hackers from compromising new keys are obviously meeting with extremely limited success. The hacker collective continues to adapt to AACS revisions and is demonstrating a capacity to assimilate new volume keys at a rate which truly reveals the futility of resistance. If keys can be compromised before HD DVDs bearing those keys are even released into the wild, one has to question the viability of the entire key revocation model.'"

Comment: Re:Buzzwords aplenty (Score 1) 236

by noone42 (#15624411) Attached to: Using Agile Methodologies To Make Games?
I see what you're saying, and I understand where you're coming from. I wrote air traffic management software for a while, and if you want to talk 'zero bug tolerance', that's their highest priority. I now work in an agile shop, and while it is more chaotic than traditional practices, there are ways to direct agile methods so that you get clean, solid, and documented software. We're a small (35 person) company that writes an on-demand enterprise system. We've got a couple thousand customers and our app has had 4-5 nines uptime over the last three years.

The key is to have one or two guys in charge who look at the big picture and decide how the program will be designed. We've got an architect managing interaction of all the hardware and software pieces. We've also got a project manager that goes more specifically into what is going to be done and which functionality will go into which components. At the start of a project, we get together, divide up user stories, and discuss generally how things are going to be implemented. This keeps your cowboy developers from throwing code into places it shouldn't be.

After the initial planning, it's on the developers to keep the quality and documentation going. Pair programming helps make sure that people aren't deviating from the plan. Two practices that make keep code clean and reduce bugs are unit tests and code documenting. If you design unit tests before you start coding, it's easy to see if your code is breaking some other piece of the app. One other key is that you actually have to use those tests. There are tons of places that write tons of unit tests, but don't make it easy to test the whole system at once. Get a daily or, better yet, hourly build and unit test run going so problems show up while you're working on the code. If you document the code as it's written and in the code, you not only help other people know what's going on, you make sure YOU know what's going on. Our rule of thumb is that if you can't understand what's going on from the comments, you either wrote lousy code or commented it poorly. At the same time, the architect is documenting the big picture, so both the general view and the specific code are maintainable.

We've got a small team and an app that we're adding to incrementally, but I think the same practices can be applied to larger projects. If you divide your group into teams and use agile practices on a small scale, having architects and management coordinate between them, a lot of these practices will still be valid.

That's my spin on it, I'm curious to hear from people who have used agile on large scale apps.

Computer Science as a Major and as a Career 578

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the people-too-worried-about-everything dept.
An anonymous reader writes "IBM DeveloperWorks is running an interesting Q&A with Director of IBM's Academic Initiative, Gina Poole. In the article she talks specifically about taking computer science as a major and ultimately as a career. From the article: 'There are a couple of reasons [for the decline in science and engineering degrees]: one is a myth, believed by parents, students, and high school guidance counselors, that computer science and engineering jobs are all being outsourced to China and India. This is not true. The percentage of the total number of jobs in this space is quite small -- less than 5%. According to a government study, the voluntary attrition in the U.S. has outpaced the number of outsourced jobs to emerging nations. Further, for every job outsourced from the U.S., nine new jobs are actually created in the U.S.'"

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