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Lies, Damned Lies and Cat Statistics Screenshot-sm 175

spopepro writes "While un-captioned cats might be of limited interest to the /. community, I found this column on how a fabricated statistic takes on a life of its own interesting. Starting with the Humane Society of the United States' (HSUS) claim that the unsterilized offspring of a cat will '...result in 420,000 cats in 5 years,' the author looks at other erroneous numbers, where they came from and why they won't go away."

Submission + - Making Sense of Microsoft's Mobile OS Strategy (

snydeq writes: "InfoWorld's Galen Gruman takes a closer look at the four-way mobile OS strategy evolving at Microsoft — one that finds the company touting four different 'Windows' mobile options, none of which is compatible with the others. 'Of the four Windows-derived mobile operating systems, only two might make sense for slates and iPad-wannabe devices: Windows 7 and Windows Embedded Compact 7. Windows Phone 7 applies solely to smartphones, as does Windows Phone (Kin), so they ultimately matter just for smartphone-only applications,' Gruman writes. 'What Microsoft should do, of course, is either extend Windows Phone 7 to multiple devices as Apple did with the iOS or create a "platform" version of WEC7 for devcies such as slates, while keeping the existing customizable WEC7 for those embedded devices such as set-top boxes — Microsoft could have its cake and eat it too.'"

Submission + - Spanish Judges Liken File Sharing to Lending Books (

Dan Fuhry writes: "A judicial panel in the Provincial Court of Madrid has closed a case that has been running since 2005, ruling that the accused are not guilty of any copyright infringement on the grounds that their BitTorrent tracker did not distribute any copyrighted material, and they did not generate any profit from their site. The article notes, "[t]he judges noted that all this takes places between many users all at once without any of them receiving any financial reward." This implies that the judges are sympathetic to file sharers. The ruling essentially says that file sharing is the digital equivalent of lending, selling or sharing books or other media. Maybe it's time for all of them rowdy pirates to move to Spain?"

Submission + - Twitter Bans 'Obvious' Passwords 1

Hugh Pickens writes: "President Obama and CNN reporter Rick Sanchez were among dozens of Twitter accounts compromised in January, 2008 after hackers managed to crack their passwords, forcing Twitter to reevaluate its sign-up process and technologies. Now bloggers have discovered that Twitter has a list of banned passwords when new users sign up for the service which is embedded in the source code of the page itself. Banned terms include commonly chosen generic passwords, such as “123456”, “password” and “password1”, as well as car names (“porsche”, “ferrari”) and football teams (“Chelsea”, “arsenal”). Perhaps predictably for a website popular with technology fans, science fiction terms figure in the list too. “THX1138”, the title of the first feature film directed by George Lucas of Star Wars fame, is banned, as is “NCC1701” – the registry number of Star Trek’s starship Enterprise – and “trustno1”, which was Fox Mulder’s password in The X-Files."

Analyzing Microsoft's Linux Lawsuit 297

jammag writes "Open source advocate Bruce Perens takes a close look at Microsoft's lawsuit against TomTom (discussed here last week), which involves an implementation of the Linux kernel, and calls it essentially a paper tiger. He notes: 'the technologies claimed in the 8 patents involved are so old and obvious that it's fair to say they have a high "Duh!" factor. There's an anti-trust angle to this suit that could blow up in Microsoft's face. And there's a high probability that some or all of the patents involved are invalid, due to recent court decisions.' Although the legal expense for TomTom to defend itself in court could be astronomical — meaning they may be forced to settle — in Perens' view Microsoft is aware its case is weak, yet hopes for a PR victory at limited cost." And reader nerdyH adds speculation from Open Innovation Network CEO Keith Bergelt that Redmond's action could be retaliation for TomTom's spurning a Microsoft acquisition bid in 2006.

Japanese "Hate" For the iPhone All a Big Mistake 327

MBCook writes "AppleInsider has posted a great article explaining that Wired's story about Japanese iPhone hate was completely false and has been edited at least twice. The comments in the article were recycled and taken out of context, with those interviewed blogging about the mistakes. The piece then goes on to analyze the iPhone's standing in Japan, as well as some of the major factors working for and against it. At last it points out that the Wall Street Journal tried the same myth of failure just after the phone's launch in Japan, recycled from a myth the year before, pushed by a research company with a possible anti-Apple agenda."

"Microsaccades" Help To Refresh Your Field of View 96

Ponca City, We love you writes with news of research from the Salk Institute into small, unconscious eye movements called "microsaccades," the purpose of which has been in question for many years. A recent study showed that those movements were essentially responsible for maintaining a coherent image for interpretation by the brain. They are also the cause of a famous optical illusion in which a still image appears to move. '"Because images on the retina fade from view if they are perfectly stabilized, the active generation of fixational eye movements by the central nervous system allows these movements to constantly shift the scene ever so slightly, thus refreshing the images on our retina and preventing us from going 'blind,'" explains Hafed. "When images begin to fade, the uncertainty about where to look increases the fluctuations in superior colliculus activity, triggering a microsaccade," adds Krauzlis.'"

How Google Decides To Cancel a Project 75

The New York Times is running a story about the criteria involved when Google scraps one of their projects. While a project's popularity among users is important, Google also examines whether they can get enough employees interested in it, and whether it has a large enough scope — they prefer not to waste time solving minor problems. The article takes a look at the specific reasons behind the recent cancellation of several products. "Dennis Crowley, one of two co-founders who sold Dodgeball to Google in 2005 and stayed on, said that he had trouble competing for the attention of other Google engineers to expand the service. 'If you're a product manager, you have to recruit people and their "20 percent time."' ... [Jeff Huber, the company's senior vice president of engineering] said that Google eventually concluded that Dodgeball's vision was too narrow. ... Still, Google found the concepts behind Dodgeball intriguing, and early this month, it released Google Latitude, an add-on to Google Maps that allows people to share their location with friends and family members. It's more sophisticated than Dodgeball, with automatic location tracking and more options for privacy and communication."

Internet Killed the Satellite Radio Star 368

theodp writes "As Sirius XM faces bankruptcy, Slate's Farhad Manjoo reports that the company has bigger problems than just the end of cheap credit. While it has what seems like a pretty great service — the world's best radio programming for just a small monthly fee — Sirius XM has been eclipsed by something far cheaper and more convenient: the Internet. Load up Pandora or the Public Radio Tuner on your iPhone, and you've got access to a wider stream of music than you'll ever get through satellite. So forget the satellites, the special radios, and the huge customer acquisition costs, advises Manjoo, and instead focus on getting Howard Stern, Oprah, the NFL, and MLB on every Internet-connected device on the market at very low prices."
United States

New Bill Would Repeal NIH Open Access Policy 223

pigah writes "The Fair Copyright in Research Works Act has been reintroduced into Congress. The bill will ban open access policies in federal agencies, such as the National Institutes of Health (NIH). These policies require scientists to provide public access to their work if it has been funded with money from an agency with an open access policy. Such policies ensure that the public has access to read the results of research that it has funded. It appears that Representative John Conyers (D-MI), the author of the bill, is doing the bidding of publishing companies who do not want to lose control of this valuable information that they sell for exorbitant fees thereby restricting access by the general public to an essentially public good."

In Leaked Email, NASA Chief Vents On Shuttle Program's End 424

jerryasher writes "In a leaked memo, NASA Administrator Mike Griffin discusses 'the jihad' to prematurely terminate the Shuttle and what that means for the International Space Station. One implication: there may come a long interval when only our Russian Allies are aboard the Space Station. Add that bit of irony to your new cold war kit and then wonder why Griffin discusses why we wouldn't sabotage the Space Station, and how and why the memo got leaked in the first place."

Google Pulls Map Images At Pentagon's Request 217

Stony Stevenson alerts us to a little mixup in which a Google Street View crew requested and was granted access to a US military base. Images from inside the base (which was not identified in press reports) showed up online, and the Pentagon requested that they be pulled. Google complied within 24 hours. The military has now issued a blanket order to deny such photography requests in the future; for its part Google says the filming crew should never have asked.

The trouble with money is it costs too much!