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Open Source

Is the Rise of Wearable Electronics Finally Here? 98

ptorrone writes "MAKE Magazine takes a look at the last ten years or so of 'wearable electronics.' From wireless watches to LCD goggles, MAKE predicts we are collectively entering a new era of wearables. As the price for enabling components drops, always-on connectivity in our pockets and purses increases, and access to low-cost manufacturing resources and know-how rises, we'll see innovation continue to push into these most personal forms of computing."

Astrium Hopes To Test Grabbing Solar Energy From Orbit 144

goldaryn writes "Word from the BBC today is that Europe's biggest space company is seeking partners to help get a satellite-based solar power trial into orbit: 'EADS Astrium says the satellite system would collect the Sun's energy and transmit it to Earth via an infrared laser, to provide electricity. Space solar power has been talked about for more than 30 years as an attractive concept because it would be 'clean, inexhaustible, and available 24 hours a day.' However, there have always been question marks over its cost, efficiency and safety. But Astrium believes the technology is close to proving its maturity.'"

Steve Ballmer Directing "House Party 7" 359

theodp writes "What are you doing on Oct. 22? Microsoft is putting a Tupperware-style twist on the upcoming Windows 7 rollout, launching a new initiative to encourage thousands of employees, partners and technology enthusiasts to throw parties in their homes and communities to demonstrate and help spread the word about its new OS. People accepted as official launch party hosts will get their own copy of Windows 7 Ultimate Edition, and a chance to win a computer. Host spaces are very limited, so apply now, kids. Hey, what could possibly go wrong?"

Introducing the Warpship 361

astroengine writes "Dr. Richard Obousy, a guy who has put modern science into the warp drive, has designed his very own warpship. Now, for the first time, he's shared it with the world. It might not be the sleek Starship Enterprise, but its structure has been optimized to harness local 'dark energy,' generating a warp bubble so faster-than-light velocities are possible." Now, the only question is: will the ship achieve faster-than-light travel ... or will the company hit those speeds once it has enough money from investors?

220-mph Solar-Powered Train Proposed In Arizona 416

Mike writes "An ambitious Arizona company has recently revealed plans for a solar powered bullet train that will streak across the desert at 220 mph, traveling from Tuscon to Phoenix in 30 minutes flat. Proposed by Solar Bullet LLC, the system comprises a series of tracks that would serve stations including Chandler, Casa Grande, Red Rock, and Marana, and may one day be extended to Flagstaff and Nogales. The train would require 110 megawatts of electricity, which would be generated by solar panels mounted above the tracks." Local coverage of the plan takes a harder look, noting that Solar Bullet LLC is two guys who are now asking local governments in the towns at which such a train would potentially stop for $35K for a legal and feasibility study. Total cost is estimated at $27B.

Coders, Your Days Are Numbered 305

snydeq writes "Fatal Exception's Neil McAllister argues that communication skills, not coding skills, are a developer's greatest asset in a bear economy. 'Too many software development teams are still staffed like secretarial pools. Ideas are generated at the top and then passed downward through general managers, product managers, technical leads, and team leads. Objectives are carved up into deliverables, which are parceled off to coders, often overseas,' McAllister writes. 'The idea that this structure can be sustainable, when the US private sector shed three-quarters of a million jobs in March 2009 alone, is simple foolishness.' Instead, companies should emulate the open source model of development, shifting decision-making power to the few developers with the deepest architectural understanding of, and closest interaction with, the code. And this shift will require managers to look beyond résumés 'choked with acronyms and lists of technologies' to find those who 'can understand, influence, and guide development efforts, rather than simply taking dictation.'" Update: 04/04 19:52 GMT by T : InfoWorld's link to the archived version of the story on open source development no longer works; updated with Google's cached version.

Microsoft To Open Retail Stores 535

chaz373 writes "CNET reports that Microsoft is going retail. In the 'Beyond Binary' blog Ina Fried reports, 'After years of brushing off the notion, Microsoft said on Thursday that it will open up its own line of retail stores. Without detailing the plans, Microsoft said it has hired David Porter, a 25-year Wal-Mart veteran, to lead the effort. Sources say that Porter's mission will be to develop the company's retail plans and that the effort is likely to start small with just a few locations.'"
United States

Iowa Seeks To Remove Electoral College 1088

Zebano writes "Since changing the US constitution is too much work, the Iowa senate is considering a bill that would send all 7 of Iowa's electoral votes to the winner of the national popular vote in a presidential election. This would only go into affect after enough states totaling 270 electoral votes (enough to elect a president) adopted similar resolutions."

New Law Will Require Camera Phones To "Click" 1235

An anonymous reader writes "A new bill is being introduced called the Camera Phone Predator Alert Act, which would require any mobile phone containing a digital camera to sound a tone whenever a photograph is taken with the phone's camera. It would also prohibit such a phone from being equipped with a means of disabling or silencing the tone."
The Internet

Protection From Online Eviction? 296

AOL has been shutting down its free Web services, in some cases with little or no notice to users, and they are not the only ones. This blog post on the coming "datapocalypse" makes the case that those who host Web content should be required to provide notice and access to data for a year, and be held strictly accountable the way landlords are before they can evict a tenant. Some commenters on the post argue that you get what you pay for with free Web services, and that users should be backing up their data anyway. What do you think, should there be required notice and access before online hosts take user data offline for good?

Talk-Powered Cell Phones Won't Need Batteries 197

alphadogg writes "It's possible that in the future conversations on your cell phone could generate enough electrical power to run the phone, without batteries. That's one possible outcome of recent work by a team of Texas researchers, who appear to have discovered that by building a certain type of piezoelectric material to a specific thickness (about 21 nanometers, compared to a typical human hair of 100,000 nanometers), you can boost its energy production by 100 percent. And the technology could power not just phones, but a whole range of low-power mobile devices and sensors. The breakthrough is an example of 'energy harvesting' that can convert one kind of energy, such as vibrations or solar rays, into electricity."
The Courts

RIAA Litigation May Be Unconstitutional 281

dtjohnson writes "A Harvard law school professor has submitted arguments on behalf of Joel Tenenbaum in RIAA v. Tenenbaum in which Professor Charles Nesson claims that the underlying law that the RIAA uses is actually a criminal, rather than civil, statute and is therefore unconstitutional. According to this article, 'Nesson charges that the federal law is essentially a criminal statute in that it seeks to punish violators with minimum statutory penalties far in excess of actual damages. The market value of a song is 99 cents on iTunes; of seven songs, $6.93. Yet the statutory damages are a minimum of $750 per song, escalating to as much as $150,000 per song for infringement "committed willfully."' If the law is a criminal statute, Neeson then claims that it violates the 5th and 8th amendments and is therefore unconstitutional. Litigation will take a while but this may be the end for RIAA litigation, at least until they can persuade Congress to pass a new law."
PC Games (Games)

EA Hit By Class-Action Suit Over Spore DRM 538

The ever-growing unrest caused by the DRM involved with EA's launch of Spore came to a head on Monday. A woman named Melissa Thomas filed a class-action lawsuit against EA for their inclusion of the SecuROM copy-protection software with Spore. This comes after protests of the game's DRM ranged from a bombardment of poor Amazon reviews to in-game designs decrying EA and its policies. Some of those policies were eased, but EA has also threatened to ban players for even discussing SecuROM on their forums. The court documents (PDF) allege: "What purchasers are not told is that, included in the purchase, installation, and operation of Spore is a second, undisclosed program. The name of the second program is SecuROM ... Consumers are given no control, rights, or options over SecuROM. ... Electronic Arts intentionally did not disclose to any such purchasers that the Spore game disk also possessed a second, hidden program which secretly installed to the command and control center of the computer."

HP May Be Developing Its Own Version of Linux 303

vondiggity writes to tell us that HP is working on several different ways to make an end run around Vista. Among the plans is also a supposed rumor that certain factions within HP are developing their own flavor of Linux. Executives at HP deny that any meaningful amount of resources are being directed into plans for a mass-market operating system, stating their main goal is to innovate on top of Vista. "Still, the sources say employees in HP's PC division are exploring the possibility of building a mass-market operating system. HP's software would be based on Linux, the open-source operating system that is already widely available, but it would be simpler and easier for mainstream users, the sources say. The goal may be to make HP less dependent on Windows and to strengthen HP's hand against Apple (AAPL), which has gained market share in recent years by offering easy-to-use computers with its own operating system."

DIY Hybrid Car Kit 309

Hybride And The Groom writes "Building hybrids uses machinery that pollutes the environment. The solution? Ship the parts of a hybrid individually and get your customers to put the car together themselves. That's exactly what Robert Q Riley Enterprises is doing, according to a story on CNet today, with its XR-3 hybrid. It'll cost you $25,000 for the bits, plus zero dollars in manufacture, I hope. Better yet, cough up $200 for the blueprints and schematics and even build the parts yourself. It's no secret that many hybrid drivers are smug enough as it is. Allow them to brag about having built the damn cars themselves and we might be entering obscenely smug territory."

"The Avis WIZARD decides if you get to drive a car. Your head won't touch the pillow of a Sheraton unless their computer says it's okay." -- Arthur Miller