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Patents

Microsoft Patents the Crippling of Operating Systems 394

Posted by kdawson
from the can't-have-just-anybody-writing-software-no-sir dept.
theodp writes "On Tuesday, Microsoft was granted US Patent No. 7,536,726 (it was filed in 2005) for intentionally crippling the functionality of an operating system by 'making selected portions and functionality of the operating system unavailable to the user or by limiting the user's ability to add software applications or device drivers to the computer' until an 'agreed upon sum of money' is paid to 'unlock or otherwise make available the restricted functionality.' According to Microsoft, this solves a 'problem inherent in open architecture systems,' i.e., 'they are generally licensed with complete use rights and/or functionality that may be beyond the need or desire of the system purchaser.' An additional problem with open architecture systems, Microsoft explains, is that 'virtually anyone can write an application that can be executed on the system.' Nice to see the USPTO rewarding Microsoft's eight problem-solving inventors, including Linux killer (and antelope killer) Joachim Kempin, who's been credited with getting Microsoft hauled into federal court on antitrust charges." Sounds like the mechanism by which Microsoft sells one version of Vista to all users, and lets users upgrade to higher-tier flavors of the OS after cash changes hands.
Linux Business

How Long Should an Open Source Project Support Users? 272

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the no-implied-support dept.
Ubuntu Kitten writes "Since October the community-generated database of cards known to work with Ndiswrapper has been down. This is apparently due to an on-going site redesign, but right now the usual URL simply directs to a stock Sourceforge page. Without the database, the software's usability is severely diminished but this raises an interesting question: Is an open source project obliged to provide support for its users? If so, for how long should the support last? Web servers cost money, especially for popular sites. While developers can sometimes find sponsorship, is it possible to get sponsorship simply for infrastructure and user services?"
Encryption

Google's Obfuscated TCP 392

Posted by kdawson
from the shake-hands-when-you-say-that dept.
agl42 writes "Obfuscated TCP attempts to provide a cheap opportunistic encryption scheme for HTTP. Though SSL has been around for years, most sites still don't use it by default. By providing a less secure, but computationally and administratively cheaper, method of encryption, we might be able to increase the depressingly small fraction of encrypted traffic on the Internet. There's an introduction video explaining it."

Comment: Re:Premature optimization.... (Score 1) 462

by shreevatsa (#24723781) Attached to: Firefox Gets Massive JavaScript Performance Boost
I already wrote about that in my blog post linked above :) (And the text on the Wikipedia article. It's a small world.)
It seems a misattribution though, because (as you'll see if you read it) there is no textual evidence of Hoare having said it, and he himself has no recollection of any such thing.
Google

Google Crowdsources Map Editing 149

Posted by kdawson
from the don't-do-your-home-address-first dept.
An anonymous reader notes that Google now makes it possible to edit the map location designated by (almost) any address. Registered Google users in the US, Australia, and New Zealand can move incorrect markers for their homes or businesses to the correct locations. Access to some listings is restricted — hospitals, government buildings, and businesses whose listings have been claimed through Google's Local Business Center. In addition, moving a place marker more than 200 yards (or 200 meters) from its original location requires a moderator's approval before the change shows up on the map. Once a marker has been moved, a "Show Original" link will direct users to the original location.
Games

Your Mom And Gaming 76

Posted by Zonk
from the lady-bought-me-a-nes-i'm-legally-obligated-to-love-her-now dept.
Tomorrow is Mother's Day in the US, and Newsweek's N'Gai Croal rightly estimates that many gamers owe a lot to their mothers. Because they indulged what they likely initially saw as a strange choice of hobby, we have a thriving gaming industry to enjoy today. The Level Up site offers an interview with a woman on the Newsweek staff who learned to tolerate those 'console things', and another piece where N'Gai interviews his own mom about his games-related past. "N'Gai: Growing up, you allowed us kids to have a computer, but we weren't allowed to have a videogame machine. What was your thinking behind that? Yvonne Croal: Well, in my estimation at that time, videogames were just another silly game. We certainly didn't want you to be spending 24/7 playing these games that we considered not productive in any way." If you're still looking for a gift for your own mom, Pop Cap is giving away a free copy of Bejeweled to anyone that signs up for their newsletter. Worked on my mom. Happy Mother's Day.
The Courts

Apple Inc. Inks Apple Corps Deal 176

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the ways-to-get-a-better-deal dept.
Sometimes_Rational writes to mention Apple Inc. formerly (Apple Computer) has announced an agreement with The Beatles' company, Apple Corps Ltd. which settles the lawsuit brought by Apple Corps. Under the new agreement, "Apple Inc. will own all of the trademarks related to 'Apple' and will license certain of those trademarks back to Apple Corps for their continued use. In addition, the ongoing trademark lawsuit between the companies will end, with each party bearing its own legal costs, and Apple Inc. will continue using its name and logos on iTunes. The terms of settlement are confidential."
Software

Software Used To Predict Who Might Kill 361

Posted by kdawson
from the three-psychics-in-a-pool dept.
eldavojohn writes "Richard Berk, a University of Pennsylvania criminologist, has worked with authorities to develop a software tool that predicts who will commit homicide. I could not find any papers published on this topic by Berk, nor any site stating what specific Bayesian / decision tree algorithm / neural net is being implemented." From the article: "The tool works by plugging 30 to 40 variables into a computerized checklist, which in turn produces a score associated with future lethality. 'You can imagine the indicators that might incline someone toward violence: youth; having committed a serious crime at an early age; being a man rather than a woman, and so on. Each, by itself, probably isn't going to make a person pull the trigger. But put them all together and you've got a perfect storm of forces for violence,' Berk said. Asked which, if any, indicators stood out as reliable predicators of homicide, Berk pointed to one in particular: youthful exposure to violence." The software is to enter clinical trials next spring in the Philadelphia probation department. Its intent is to serve as a kind of triage: to let probation caseworkers concentrate most of their effort on the former offenders most likely to be most dangerous.

Don't Be Rude To This Robot 54

Posted by Zonk
from the real-dinosaurs-were-much-less-emo dept.
News.com is running an article on an emotionally-responsive dinosaur robot that the Ugobe company has in the works for 2007. Called 'Pleo', the animatronic Apatosaurus will respond to the vocal intonations of its owners. It won't be able to understand vocal commands; instead, its mood will be dictated by the tone of voice used at it. A terse tone can result in a depressed dino. From the article: "Ugobe will try to go beyond selling a walking/talking toy. The company will publish a developers' kit and open its source code, making the Pleo something of a cousin to the Lego Mindstorms kits or the old Radio Shack 64-in-1 electronics kits. Consumers thus will be able to download 'personality modules' and see how their Pleos react to different stimuli ... Ultimately, the company may license the technology so others can build or incorporate robots into their own products. 'We've created a toolset for making lifelike robots,' Ugobe CEO Bob Christopher said."

Viral Fossil Brought Back To Life 320

Posted by samzenpus
from the what-could-go-wrong dept.
hey hey hey writes "In a controversial study, researchers have resurrected a retrovirus that infected our ancestors millions of years ago and now sits frozen in the human genome. Published online by Genome Research this week, the study may shed new light on the history of these genomic intruders, as well as their role in tumors. Although this particular virus, dubbed Phoenix, is a wimpy one, some argue that resuscitating any ancient virus is inherently risky and that the study should have undergone stricter reviews."

Will the U.S. Lose Control of the Internet? 553

Posted by Zonk
from the could-be dept.
MattSparkes writes "The first UN-sponsored Internet Governance Forum (IGF) meeting is taking place next week in Athens, which aims to 'contribute to a better understanding of how the internet can be used to its full potential.' It is likely that several countries will object to the US monopoly on Internet governance, as they did at the last meeting, where the US cited fears of a loss of freedom of speech as the reason for retaining power. Other topics to be discussed include online security, access for non-English users and spam."

When Stallman is Attacked 562

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the problem-with-zealots dept.
writes "Linux Tech Daily has an editorial slamming a recent Forbes.com attack piece on Richard Stallman and GPLv3. Loved or hated, do you agree with the author that the piece is FUD and completely unprofessional? Love him or hate him, is this unfair treatment of rms? Does he leave himself open to these kinds of attacks with his behavior?" The problem with the editorial of course is that many of the points made in the original Forbes piece are completely valid and true. So basically you get to choose between the linux zealot, and a writer who is obviously fairly hostile towards Stallman's ideas.

Do Not Flush Your iPod 510

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the ipods-on-the-mother-fing-plane dept.
realjordanna writes "Clearly the bar for what is deemed as a security threat has had to be lowered — but should it be this low? When a rather embarrassed passenger loses his iPod in the lavatory — even admits to the crew his mistake, the plane is diverted to Ottawa and a bomb squad is brought in to investigate. Read the iPod owner's story and take one lesson from this kid's plight — clearly the iPod is not flushable."

Walmart Tries to Emulate MySpace 345

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the trying-way-to-hard dept.
mattsucks writes to tell us that according to AdAge, retail behemoth WalMart is trying desperately to target the MySpace demographic with a new, and highly sanitized, site designed to appeal to teens. From the article: "It's a quasi-social-networking site for teens designed to allow them to 'express their individuality,' yet it screens all content, tells parents their kids have joined and forbids users to e-mail one another. Oh, and it calls users 'hubsters' -- a twist on hipsters that proves just how painfully uncool it is to try to be cool."

The key elements in human thinking are not numbers but labels of fuzzy sets. -- L. Zadeh

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