Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Google

Google Looked Into Space Elevator, Hoverboards, and Teleportation 98

Posted by Soulskill
from the go-big-or-go-home-on-your-hoverboard dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Google has a huge research budget and an apparent willingness to take on huge projects. They've gotten themselves into autonomous cars, fiber optic internet, robotics, and Wi-Fi balloons. But that raises a question: if they're willing to commit to projects as difficult and risk as those, what projects have they explored but rejected? Several of the scientists working at Google's 'innovation lab' have spilled the beans: '[Mag-lev] systems have a stabilizing structure that keeps trains in place as they hover and move forward in only one direction. That couldn't quite translate into an open floor plan of magnets that keep a hoverboard steadily aloft and free to move in any direction. One problem, as Piponi explains, is that magnets tend to keep shifting polarities, so your hoverboard would constantly flip over as you floated around moving from a state of repulsion to attraction with the magnets. Any skateboarder could tell you what that means: Your hoverboard would suck. ... If scaling problems are what brought hoverboards down to earth, material-science issues crashed the space elevator. The team knew the cable would have to be exceptionally strong-- "at least a hundred times stronger than the strongest steel that we have," by Piponi's calculations. He found one material that could do this: carbon nanotubes. But no one has manufactured a perfectly formed carbon nanotube strand longer than a meter. And so elevators "were put in a deep freeze," as Heinrich says, and the team decided to keep tabs on any advances in the carbon nanotube field.'"
United States

Study Finds US Is an Oligarchy, Not a Democracy 810

Posted by Soulskill
from the cats-and-dogs-governing-together dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Researchers from Princeton University and Northwestern University have concluded, after extensive analysis of 1,779 policy issues, that the U.S. is in fact an oligarchy and not a democracy. What this means is that, although 'Americans do enjoy many features central to democratic governance,' 'majorities of the American public actually have little influence over the policies our government adopts.' Their study (PDF), to be published in Perspectives on Politics, found that 'When the preferences of economic elites and the stands of organized interest groups are controlled for, the preferences of the average American appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy.'"
Open Source

How Does Heartbleed Alter the 'Open Source Is Safer' Discussion? 582

Posted by Soulskill
from the or-at-least-marginally-less-unsafe dept.
jammag writes: "Heartbleed has dealt a blow to the image of free and open source software. In the self-mythology of FOSS, bugs like Heartbleed aren't supposed to happen when the source code is freely available and being worked with daily. As Eric Raymond famously said, 'given enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow.' Many users of proprietary software, tired of FOSS's continual claims of superior security, welcome the idea that Heartbleed has punctured FOSS's pretensions. But is that what has happened?"

Comment: Re:google has no choice, like many others before t (Score 1) 128

Basically you have to pay them money in order to be allowed to do things that are already ethical, perhaps even legal to do. If you already can do these things, then you often have to put up lobbying efforts to make sure that you can continue doing them.

Paying for extortion is unethical and illegal too. Laws punish both the extorter and who omits to denounce.

For example, recall how after Google introduced gmail, California senator Liz Figueroa wanted to ban it.

Presumably she was afraid of the fact that the average Gmail user wouldn''t be aware that Google (and Google's unfaithful employees, and hackers, and the NSA, ...) would be able to read his email, and continue to be able to do so for an unspecified amount of time after that mail was "deleted". Which is what actually happens today, but to a much wider extent, with people using the services of Google (Facebook, Bing, ...) without being aware of the massive and uncontrollable espionage that supports them, because the terms of service are explained in EULAs which are effectively not understandable by those users. Banning Gmail would have been unuseful and unjust, I'd have regulated them to explain this policy to the users by using the same font size that they use when they advertise the size of the storage space they're offering, before the user signs the contract.

In that case, it took some heavy lobbying in order to keep gmail legal.

You mean that Google overrode the people's sovereign will, that they had expressed democratically by electing Liz Figueroa, by corrupting other politicians? If so, it's highly immoral and Google deserves to be punished for this. The government has the monopoly of coercion in modern democracies, and this privilege stems from the fact that it represents the will of the people. Altering this fact is one of the most serious crimes that an entity can stain itself with.

Before gmail they used to suck horribly, the good ones gave you a whopping 10MB of storage

In 2005 my ISP gave me 300 MB of storage which, in a time of 56K modem dialup connections, was plenty. The free offer from the same provider was 100MB, which is still ten times bigger than 10MB.

and each action you took required an entire page reload, making them slow as fuck.

Did your webmail work like that? The one of my ISP looked like MS Outlook and wasn't bad. Why, AJAX was invented by Microsoft for that exact purpose.

Google

Mr. Schmidt Goes To Washington: A Look Inside Google's Lobbying Behemoth 128

Posted by samzenpus
from the mr.-president-we-seem-to-be-alone dept.
barlevg (2111272) writes "In May 2012, in the midst of an FTC investigation into Google's search practices, the law school at George Mason University in Northern Virginia hosted a conference attended by congressmen, regulators and staffers. The topic: competition, search and social media. What none of the attendees of the conference knew was that Google was pulling many of the strings behind the event, even going so far as to suggest invited speakers. This event, as documented in The Washington Post is just a snapshot of the operations of one of the largest and highest spending lobbying entities in DC, a far cry from the one-man shop it started out as nine years ago, from a company "disdainful" of Washington's "pay-to-play" culture."

Comment: Re:I'm disapointed in people (Score 1) 691

by peppepz (#46741193) Attached to: The GNOME Foundation Is Running Out of Money

when what their user base wanted was yet another rehash of the win 95 desktop layout. The Gnome developers actually tried to do something new in desktop UIs, they actually tried to innovate

Even Windows 8, with all of Microsoft's economical and political prowess behind it, failed, because UI designers decided to drop the excellent "Windows 95 desktop layout" without having a proper replacement for it (Metro solved a different problem). Microsoft's remedies for this situation have all gone in the direction of restoring elements of the Windows 95 desktop layout.

Perhaps so many people want the "Windows 95 desktop layout" not because they dislike change or are irrational beings. Perhaps they want it because it works, and as is the case for most things that work, perhaps its form follows its function, and this could be the reason why most traditional desktop environments tend to appear similar. Most airplanes look like the same, even though aviation is characterized by strong innovation.

Windows

IRS Misses XP Deadline, Pays Microsoft Millions For Patches 322

Posted by Soulskill
from the your-tax-dollars-at-work dept.
An anonymous reader writes "When Microsoft terminated official support for Windows XP on April 8th, many organizations had taken the six years of warnings to heart and migrated to another operating system. But not the U.S. Internal Revenue Service. Only 52,000 of their 110,000 Windows-powered computers have been upgraded to Windows 7. They'll now be forced to pay Microsoft for Custom Support. How much? Using Microsoft's standard rate of $200 per PC, it'll be $11.6 million for one year. That leaves $18.4 million of their $30 million budget to finish the upgrades themselves, which works out to $317 per computer."
Microsoft

The New 'One Microsoft' Is Finally Poised For the Future 270

Posted by Soulskill
from the future!-future!-future! dept.
redletterdave writes: "The stodgy old enterprise company whose former CEO once called open source Linux a 'cancer' is gone. So is its notorious tendency to keep developers and consumers within its walled gardens. The 'One Microsoft' goal that looked like more gaseous corporate rhetoric upon its debut last summer now is instead much closer to actual reality. No longer are there different kernels for Windows 8, Windows Phone or Windows RT it's now all just One Windows. As goes the Windows kernel, so goes the entire company. Microsoft finally appears to have aimed all its guns outside the company rather than at internal rivals. Now it needs to rebuild its empire upon this new reality."

Comment: Open Source commercial (Score 1) 144

And while Apple can readily fix a bug in its own software, at least for users who keep up on patches, "Linux" refers to a broad range of systems and vendors, rather than a single company, and the affected systems include some of the biggest names in the Linux world, like Red Hat, Debian, and Ubuntu.

And thanks to the LGPL license of GnuTLS, all the users have the possibility to upgrade their systems, independently of whether Red Hat, Debian, Ubuntu, Apple, Microsoft believe that maintaining those systems is still commercially convenient or not. GPLv3 would be better, as it would give the users the warranty of being able to actually install the updated code into their devices, which is important for non-PCs.

Sony

Blender Foundation Video Taken Down On YouTube For Copyright Violation 306

Posted by timothy
from the now-it's-ours dept.
An anonymous reader writes "As if the automated take downs on Youtube weren't already bad enough, today fans of the popular open source 3D software Blender were greeted by a copyright take down notice for their third open movie, Sintel, despite it being released under a Creative Commons license: 'This video contains content from Sony Pictures Movies & Shows, who has blocked it on copyright grounds.' It is believed that the takedown was a result of Sony Electronics adding Sintel to their official 4k demo pool."
Windows

Microsoft's Security Products Will Block Adware By Default Starting On July 1 177

Posted by timothy
from the why-not-sooner dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Microsoft [Thursday] announced a change to how it handles adware, a form of malware that pushes unwanted advertisements to the user. As of July 1, the company's security products will immediately stop any adware they detect and notify the user, who can then restore the program if they wish. Currently, when any of Microsoft's security products (including Microsoft Security Essentials and Microsoft Forefront) detects a program as adware, it will alert the user and offer them a recommended action. If the user doesn't do anything, the security product will let the program continue to run until the user makes a decision." If adware is malware, why wait until July?
United Kingdom

UK Government Pays Microsoft £5.5M For Extended Support of Windows XP 341

Posted by timothy
from the ok-but-only-if-you-pay-nicely dept.
whoever57 (658626) writes "The UK Government has signed a contract worth £5.5M (almost $9M) for extended support and security updates for Windows XP for 12 months after April 8. The deal covers XP, Exchange 2003 and Office 2003 for users in central and local government, schools and the National Health Service. The NHS is in need of this deal because it was estimated last September that 85% of the NHS's 800,000 computers were running XP."
Security

TCP/IP Might Have Been Secure From the Start If Not For the NSA 149

Posted by Soulskill
from the another-lash-for-the-whipping-boy dept.
chicksdaddy writes: "The pervasiveness of the NSA's spying operation has turned it into a kind of bugaboo — the monster lurking behind every locked networking closet and the invisible hand behind every flawed crypto implementation. Those inclined to don the tinfoil cap won't be reassured by Vint Cerf's offhand observation in a Google Hangout on Wednesday that, back in the mid 1970s, the world's favorite intelligence agency may have also stood in the way of stronger network layer security being a part of the original specification for TCP/IP. (Video with time code.) Researchers at the time were working on just such a lightweight cryptosystem. On Stanford's campus, Cerf noted that Whit Diffie and Martin Hellman had researched and published a paper that described the functioning of a public key cryptography system. But they didn't yet have the algorithms to make it practical. (Ron Rivest, Adi Shamir and Leonard Adleman published the RSA algorithm in 1977). As it turns out, however, Cerf did have access to some really bleeding edge cryptographic technology back then that might have been used to implement strong, protocol-level security into the earliest specifications of TCP/IP. Why weren't they used? The crypto tools were part of a classified NSA project he was working on at Stanford in the mid 1970s to build a secure, classified Internet. 'At the time I couldn't share that with my friends,' Cerf said."
Open Source

Linus Torvalds Suspends Key Linux Developer 641

Posted by Soulskill
from the arguing-about-penguins dept.
alphadogg writes: "An argument between developers of some of the most basic parts of Linux turned heated this week, resulting in a prominent Red Hat employee and code contributor being banned from working on the Linux kernel. Kay Sievers, a well-known open-source software engineer, is a key developer of systemd, a system management framework for Linux-based operating systems. Systemd is currently used by several prominent Linux distributions, including two of the most prominent enterprise distros, Red Hat and SUSE. It was recently announced that Ubuntu would adopt systemd in future versions as well. Sievers was banned by kernel maintainer Linus Torvalds on Wednesday for failing to address an issue that caused systemd to interact with the Linux kernel in negative ways."

"Atomic batteries to power, turbines to speed." -- Robin, The Boy Wonder

Working...