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Google Caffeine Drops MapReduce, Adds "Colossus" 65

An anonymous reader writes "With its new Caffeine search indexing system, Google has moved away from its MapReduce distributed number crunching platform in favor of a setup that mirrors database programming. The index is stored in Google's BigTable distributed database, and Caffeine allows for incremental changes to the database itself. The system also uses an update to the Google File System codenamed 'Colossus.'"
Hardware Hacking

Grad Student Invents Cheap Laser Cutter 137

An anonymous reader writes "Peter Jansen, a PhD student and member of the RepRap community, has constructed a working prototype of an inexpensive table-top laser cutter built out of old CD/DVD drives as an offshoot of his efforts to design an under $200 open-source Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) 3D printer. Where traditional laser cutters use powerful, fixed-focus beams, this new technique dynamically adjusts the focal point of the laser using a reciprocating motion similar to a reciprocating saw, allowing a far less powerful and inexpensive laser diode to be used. The technique is currently limited to cutting black materials to a depth of only a few millimeters, but should still be useful and enabling for Makers and other crafters. The end-goal is to create a hybrid inexpensive 3D printer that can be easily reconfigured for 2D laser cutting, providing powerful making tools to the desktop."

Nokia Releases Qt SDK For Mobile Development 76

An anonymous reader writes "Nokia has released its unified Qt-based SDK for cross-platform development for Symbian and MeeGo (plus Maemo) devices. The blurb reads: 'Today sees the release of the Nokia Qt SDK, a single easy-to-use software development kit (SDK) for Symbian and Meego application development. Developers can now develop, test, and deploy native applications for Nokia smartphones and mobile computers. The beta version of the SDK is available for download from today, ready for developers to kick off development for new devices, including the just-announced Nokia N8.'"

Ubuntu LTS Experiences Memory Leak 320

MonsterTrimble writes "Ubuntu 10.04 LTS Beta 2 is experiencing a major memory leak due to patches for 'An X.Org Server update that was pushed into the Lucid repository last week has resulted in the system being slower and slower as it is left on, until it reaches a point where the system is no longer usable. ... In order to make the Ubuntu 10.04 LTS deadline, the developers are looking at just reverting three of the patches, which brings the GLX version back to 1.2. Ubuntu developers are now desperate for people willing to test out this updated X.Org Server package so they can determine by this Friday whether to ship it with Ubuntu 10.04 LTS or doing an early SRU (Stable Release Update). Right now this X.Org Server that's being tested is living in the ubuntu-x-swat PPA.'"

New Europe-Wide Radio Telescope To Look For ET 49

astroengine writes "A new radio telescope is under construction, consisting of 44 stations (each consisting of several antennae) spread across Europe. The pan-European Low Frequency Array is half built and already returning unprecedented observations of cosmic radio sources. The best thing is, when it's complete, SETI will be able to use the array to seek out transmitting extraterrestrial civilizations in these untapped low radio frequencies."

Submission + - SPAM: Conficker worm hasn't gone away, survey shows

alphadogg writes: Variants of the Conficker worm were still active and spreading during the third quarter, accounting for much of attack traffic on the Internet, according to Akamai Technologies. "Although mainstream and industry media coverage of the Conficker worm and its variants has dropped significantly since peaking in the second quarter, it is clear from this data that the worm (and its variants) is apparently still quite active, searching out new systems to infect," Akamai said in its State of the Internet report for the third quarter. While Microsoft has issued a patch that fixes the vulnerability exploited by earlier versions of Conficker, experts believes the worm remains active because many infected machines are running unlicensed copies of Windows and don't have access to security updates.
Link to Original Source

Submission + - Feds Hold Open Competition for Hash Standard (

blee37 writes: The federal government is holding an open competition to decide the next secure hash standard, which will be called SHA-3. The winner will be specified as one of a handful of secure hash algorithms approved for use by all federal agencies for digital signatures, secure key-exchange, and similar protocols. With SHA-1 on the way out and SHA-2 having never gained wide adoption, it is likely that a good SHA-3 algorithm would become the de facto standard. The competition is in the second round and 14 algorithms remain.

The feds have used open competitions to select encryption algorithms in the past — for example DES and AES were chosen this way. The open process makes perfect sense because the government wants as many smart people as possible to submit and try to break each other's codes. Modern encryption algorithms no longer rely on the secrecy of their source code because it is assumed that source code will fall into the wrong hands anyway. Furthermore, the open process creates a perception of greater legitimacy. A hash algorithm handed down directly by the government would be suspected of having a "backdoor" allowing national security agencies to read your messages.


App Store Piracy Losses Estimated At $459 Million 202

An anonymous reader passes along this quote from a report at 24/7 Wall St.: "There have been over 3 billion downloads since the inception of the App Store. Assuming the proportion of those that are paid apps falls in the middle of the Bernstein estimate, 17% or 510 million of these were paid applications. Based on our review of current information, paid applications have a piracy rate of around 75%. That supports the figure that for every paid download, there have been 3 pirated downloads. That puts the number of pirate downloads at 1.53 billion. If the average price of a paid application is $3, that is $4.59 billion dollars in losses split between Apple and the application developers. That is, of course, assuming that all of those pirates would have made purchases had the application not been available to them for free. This is almost certainly not the case. A fair estimate of the proportion of people who would have used the App Store if they did not use pirated applications is about 10%. This estimate yields about $459 million in lost revenue for Apple and application developers." A response posted at Mashable takes issue with some of the figures, particularly the 75% piracy rate. While such rates have been seen with game apps, it's unclear whether non-game apps suffer the same fate.

Submission + - Tech NGOs working in Haiti

d5w writes: There are a thousand and one NGOs responding in some way to the disaster in Haiti, but the necessary infrastructure is usually overlooked when people give charity donations. (In fact, some popular sites actively downgrade charities for spending on infrastructure.) Here are two organizations responding to Haiti, though, that have a purely tech infrastructure focus:

Télécoms Sans Frontières brings mobile telecom rigs and satellite phones to disaster sites, making sure that responders on the ground can communicate with each other and that individuals can contact families abroad.

MapAction sends experienced GIS people and GPS equipment to provide up-to-date mapping, which is important when the landscape has just changed drastically.

Any others?

The Best Robots of 2009 51

kkleiner writes "Singularity Hub has just unveiled its second annual roundup of the best robots of the year. In 2009 robots continued their advance towards world domination with several impressive breakouts in areas such as walking, automation, and agility, while still lacking in adaptability and reasoning ability. It will be several years until robots can gain the artificial intelligence that will truly make them remarkable, but in the meantime they are still pretty awesome."
Linux Business

Submission + - Why non-programmers use Linux

An anonymous reader writes: Author Keir Thomas is not a programmer but both uses and advocates Linux through his books. On the PC World blog, he explains why he loves Linux — everything from the practical and obvious (no viruses), to the more inspirational (Linux fosters communities that bring the best out in people). In a world where developers rule the roost, it's rare to hear the views of humble end-users. If you're not a programmer, what are your reasons for using Linux? Is it just because it's free?

Feed Engadget: HP's UMPC 2133 revealed (

Filed under: Laptops

We've just received these images of HP's rumored UMPC. Honestly, we have no reason to doubt their authenticity. The HP Compaq 2133 "lifestyle accessory" features a big, scratch resistant 8.9-inch 1366 x 766 (WXGA) display, ExpressCard/54 slot, Wireless LAN, nearly full-sized QWERTY (95% of full), integrated webcam, and optional SSD in a 2.5-pound anodized aluminum sex pot running Vista or Linux. Or so say the tipped images. Funny how the once keyboard-less UMPC-class device has now morphed into an Eee PC-like mini. Still, if this is what we can expect from the UMPC crowd come Silverthorne then you can count us in, HP.

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Wireless Networking

Submission + - Researchers Develop Wireless, Battery-less Sensor ( 1

s1axter writes: "If we need power for a device, most of us will place it near a power outlet in a building. When we want power on the move, we charge a storage battery and run the device until the battery is depleted, then charge it back up again. But what do you do when you want to run hundreds of devices, for decades, with no power outlet, in the frigid cold of upper New York state? You build your device with its own unlimited power generator. This is exactly what two graduate students have done at Clarkson University in Potsdam, NY."

All power corrupts, but we need electricity.