NewYorkCountryLawyer writes "Based upon a quick examination of the records in PACER, I detected 62 new cases brought by the RIAA against individuals in the month of April alone. In December, 2008, the RIAA had represented to Congress that they had 'discontinued initiating new lawsuits in August .'"
DesScorp writes "The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Energy Secretary Steven Chu is endorsing 'clean coal' technology and research, and is taking a pragmatic approach to coal as an energy supply. '"It absolutely is worthwhile to invest in carbon capture and storage because we are not in a vacuum," Mr. Chu told reporters Tuesday following an appearance at an Energy Information Administration conference. "Even if the United States or Europe turns its back on coal, India and China will not," he said. Mr. Chu added that "quite frankly I doubt if the United States will turn its back on coal. We are generating over 50% of our electrical energy from coal."' The United States has the world's largest reserves of coal. Secretary Chu has reversed his positions on coal and nuclear power, previously opposing them, and once calling coal 'My worst nightmare.'"
Hodejo1 writes "Steve Jobs vowed weeks ago that when iTunes shifted to a tiered price structure in April, older tracks priced at $0.69 would outnumber the contemporary hits that are rising to $1.29. Today, several weeks later, iTunes made the transition. While the $1.29 tracks are immediately visible, locating cheaper tracks is proving to be an exercise in futility. With the exception of 48 songs that Apple has placed on the iTunes main page, $0.69 downloads are a scarce commodity. MP3 Newswire tried to methodically drill down to unearth more of them only to find: 1) A download like Heart's 34-year-old song Barracuda went up to $1.29, not down. 2) Obscure '90s Brit pop and '50s rockabilly artists — those most likely to benefit from a price drop — remained at $0.99. 3) Collected tracks from a cross-section of 1920s, '30s, and '40s artists all remained at $0.99. Finally, MP3 Newswire called up tracks in the public domain from an artist named Ada Jones who first recorded in 1893 on Edison cylinder technology. The price on all of the century-old, public-domain tracks remained at $0.99. (The same tracks are available for free on archive.org.) The scarcity of lower-priced tracks may reflect the fact that the labels themselves decide which price tier they want to pursue for a given artist; and they are mostly ignoring the lower tier. Meanwhile, Amazon's UK site has decided to counter-promote their service by dropping prices on select tracks to 29 pence ($0.42)."
An anonymous reader writes "My father is a veterinarian with a small private practice. He runs all his patient/client/financial administration on two simple workstations, linked with a network cable. The administration application is a simple DOS application backed by a database. Now the current systems, a Pentium 66mhz and a 486, both with 8MB of RAM and 500MB of hard drive space, are getting a bit long in the tooth. The 500MB harddrives are filling up, the installed software (Windows 95) is getting a bit flakey at times. My father has asked me to think about replacing the current setup. I do know a lot about computers, but my father would really like the new setup to last 10-15 years, just like the current one has. I just dont know where to begin thinking about that kind of systems lifetime. Do I buy, or build myself? How many spare parts should I keep in reserve? What will fail first, and how many years down the line will that happen?"
thefickler writes "Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are now using viruses to build cathodes for Lithium-Ion batteries. Three years ago these same researchers found they could build an anode using viruses. Creating both the anode and cathode using viruses will make batteries easy to build. This nanoscale battery technology will allow batteries to be lightweight and to 'take the shape of their container' rather than creating containers for the batteries, which could open up new possibilities for car and electronics manufacturers."
netbuzz sends along a piece from Network World reporting that the number of computer science majors enrolled at US universities increased for the first time in six years, according to new survey data out this morning. The Taulbee Study found that the number of undergraduates signed up as computer science majors rose 8% last year. The survey was conducted last fall, just as the economic downturn started to bite. The article notes the daunting competition for positions at top universities: Carnegie Mellon University received 2,600 applications for 130 undergrad spots, and 1,400 for 26 PhD slots. "...the popularity of computer science majors among college freshmen and sophomores is because IT has better job prospects than other specialties, especially in light of the global economic downturn. ... The latest unemployment numbers for 2008 for computer software engineers is 1.6%... That's beyond full employment. ... The demand for tech jobs may rise further thanks to the Obama Administration's stimulus package, which could create nearly 1 million new tech jobs."
An anonymous reader writes "After many years of release-free development, FFmpeg, the most widely used audio and video codec library, has finally returned to a regular release schedule with the long-awaited version 0.5. While the list of changes is far too long to list here, some high-profile improvements include the reverse-engineering of all Real video formats, WMV9/VC-1 support, AAC decoding, and of course vast performance improvements across the board. To commemorate the 'lively' discussions predating the release, 0.5 is codenamed 'half-way to world domination A.K.A. the belligerent blue bike shed.' The new version can be downloaded from the official website." As another reader points out, FFmpeg is what makes some open source multimedia apps (like MPlayer, Xine, VLC and Kdenlive) so versatile.
eirikso writes with an interesting story from Norway; the state broadcaster there has decided to put up some of its content on BitTorrent. "The tracker is based on the same OpenTracker software that the Pirate Bay has been using for the last couple of years. By using BitTorrent we can reach our audience with full quality, unencrypted media files. Experience from our early tests show that if we're the best provider of our own content we also gain control of it."
An anonymous reader writes "Steve Bourne, the creator of the Bourne shell, or sh, talks about its history as the default Unix shell of Unix Version 7. Bourne worked on the shell in 1975 and said the process took no more than 6 months. Sh aimed to improve on the Thompson shell. 'I did change the shell so that command scripts could be used as filters. In the original shell this was not really feasible because the standard input for the executing script was the script itself. This change caused quite a disruption to the way people were used to working. I added variables, control flow and command substitution. The case statement allowed strings to be easily matched so that commands could decode their arguments and make decisions based on that. The for loop allowed iteration over a set of strings that were either explicit or by default the arguments that the command was given. I also added an additional quoting mechanism so that you could do variable substitutions within quotes. It was a significant redesign with some of the original flavor of the Thompson shell still there. Also I eliminated goto in favour of flow control primitives like if and for. This was also considered rather radical departure from the existing practice. Command substitution was something else I added because that gives you very general mechanism to do string processing; it allows you to get strings back from commands and use them as the text of the script as if you had typed it directly. I think this was a new idea that I, at least, had not seen in scripting languages, except perhaps LISP,' he says."
CWmike writes "A just-leaked build of Windows 7 lets users remove Internet Explorer, the first time that Microsoft has offered the option since it integrated the browser with Windows in 1997, two bloggers reported today. The move might have been prompted by recent charges by the European Union that Microsoft has stifled browser competition by bundling IE with its operating system, the bloggers speculated. One solution under consideration by the EU would require Microsoft to disable IE if the user decided to install a different browser, such as Mozilla's Firefox or Google's Chrome. Microsoft had no comment when asked to confirm whether Windows 7 will let users dump IE8 or whether the option was in reaction to the EU charges."
olddotter writes "A 24-page paper on a reverse brain drain from the US back to home countries (PDF) is getting news coverage. Quoting: 'Our new paper, "America's Loss Is the World's Gain," finds that the vast majority of these returnees were relatively young. The average age was 30 for Indian returnees, and 33 for Chinese. They were highly educated, with degrees in management, technology, or science. Fifty-one percent of the Chinese held master's degrees and 41% had PhDs. Sixty-six percent of the Indians held a master's and 12.1% had PhDs. They were at very top of the educational distribution for these highly educated immigrant groups — precisely the kind of people who make the greatest contribution to the US economy and to business and job growth." Adding to the brain drain is a problem with slow US visa processing, since last November or so, that has been driving desirable students and scientists out of the country.
darthcamaro writes in with an interview with Markus Rex, Novell's top Linux exec and the former CTO of the Linux Foundation. While some open source vendors see the current economy as a boon to open source, the interview concludes with Rex's speculation on the contrary possibility. "The other thing is in both Europe and the US the rise of the unemployment rate is something that is rather unprecedented... The open source community to a certain degree is dependent on the willingness of people to contribute. We see no indication that anything might change there, but who knows? People need something to live off." Have you thought about scaling back open source work as the economy continues to contract?
theodp writes "For a medium in which mediocre singing has never been a bar to entry, a lot of pop vocals suddenly sound better than great — they're note- and pitch-perfect. It's all thanks to Auto-Tune, the brainchild of Andy Hildebrand, who realized that the wonders of autocorrelation — which he once used to map drilling sites for the oil industry — could also be used to bestow perfect pitch upon the Britney Spears of the world. While Auto-Tune was intended to be used unnoticed, musicians are growing fond of adjusting the program's retune speed to eliminate the natural transition between notes, which yield jumpy and automated-sounding vocals. 'I never figured anyone in their right mind would want to do that,' says Hildebrand." As these techniques improve and become more popular, it makes me wonder what music produced twenty or fifty years from now will sound like, and how much authenticity will be left.
An anonymous reader writes "Following the appointment of RIAA's champion Donald Verrilli as associate deputy attorney general, here's a complete roundup of all the RIAA and BSA-linked lawyers comfortably seated at top posts at the Department of Justice by the new government. Not strange, since US VP Joe Biden is well known for pushing the copyright warmongers' agenda in Washington. Just in case you don't know, Verrilli is the nice man who sued the pants off Jammie Thomas."