MojoKid writes "A few years ago, when Google was determining which city to launch its pilot Google Fiber program, cities all over the country went all-out trying to persuade the search giant to bring all that fantastical bandwidth to their neck of the woods. And with good reason: Google Fiber offers gigabit Internet speeds and even TV service, all at prices that meet or beat the competition. In fact, the lowest tier of Google Fiber service (5Mbps down, 1Mbps up) is free, once users pay a $300 construction fee. If ISPs were concerned before, they should really start sweating it now. Although Google Fiber looked like it would whip traditional ISPs in every regard, with Time Warner Cable cutting prices and boosting speeds for users in Kansas City in a desperate attempt to keep them, surely other ISPs were hoping the pilot program would flame out. Now that Austin is happening, it's clear that it's only a matter of time before Google rolls out its service in many more cities. Further, this jump from legacy Internet speeds to gigabit-class service is not just about people wanting to download movies faster; it's a sea change in what the Internet is really capable of."
jrepin writes "During Hack Week 9 at SUSE, longtime KDE hacker Will Stephenson started working on a project codenamed KLyDE. This project's aim is to bring KDE Plasma to the lightweight desktop market. It applies KDE's strengths of modularity and configurability to the challenge of making a lightweight desktop." Better said, Stephenson was able to devote lots of time to it; he's been working on the project for a few years now.
An anonymous reader writes "This weekend the National Museum of Play in Rochester, NY, will display the earliest known version of the game Dungeons & Dragons as a part of their new exhibit Game Time!. The document is on loan from the personal collection of games historian Jon Peterson (author of Playing at the World), who says the document 'captures the system at around the midpoint of development, with the core concepts of dungeon exploration and fantastic combat in place, but it lacks some features of the mature game and exhibits a few intriguing variations.' Some excerpts are up on Peterson's blog."
First time accepted submitter Benedick writes "I have a four year old desktop and a three year old notebook. Why haven't I upgraded to a new machine? Because they still work great. PC sales aren't declining because of Windows 8. They are declining because our PCs are so good, they last a lot longer. Will Oremus of Slate explains it better than I can."
Last summer we followed the odd case of lawyer Charles Carreon, as he went after Matthew Inman, creator of The Oatmeal webcomic, with legal threats. Carreon had been hired by FunnyJunk, a website Inman accused of stealing his comics. Carreon demanded $20,000 in compensation for Inman's "false accusations." Inman declined, and then used the publicity to solicit over $200,000 in donations, which he gave to charity after sending Carreon photographs. Carreon dropped the suit against Inman, but the saga continued. A satirical website was set up about Carreon, which caused him to invoke the legal system again. The article documents the absurdities, which included further legal action and a song. Now, however, Carreon is reaping what he has sown; a judge has ordered him to pay over $46,000 for his role in the legal circus.
curtwoodward writes "It's one of the biggest, scariest graveyards for Internet entrepreneurs: Small, local business. Sure, a few companies have gone public trying to harvest this huge market — Groupon and Yelp, for instance — but even those big names aren't anyone's idea of a knockout corporate success story. Consider Foursquare, the 'check-in here' smartphone app that leads the latest wave of dreamers trying to strike paydirt among the mom-and-pop set. The company has now raised more than $100 million in private investment, including a fresh $41 million loan. It's just started trying to make money. And the CEO acknowledges that it'll take a massive new product overhaul to get there. Google's tried this market too, with nothing to really show for it. Same with Facebook. If these deep-pocketed techies can't crack the local business advertising nut, is there any hope for Foursquare — not to mention the countless smaller startups?"
ananyo writes "Francis Crick's Nobel medal fetched US$2.27 million at an auction in New York yesterday. The proud new owner is Jack Wang, chief executive of 'Biomobie' a company that intends to sell walnut-sized, flying-saucer-shaped electromagnetic devices that it claims have medically regenerative powers. The closely-watched sale featured a range of Crick memorabilia that the family had kept in storage for many years. Up for auction along with the medal — awarded for Crick's role in the 1953 discovery of the structure of DNA — were his lab coat, sailing logbooks and garden journals. Expectations were high because the day before, auctioneer Christie's had brokered the sale of a letter from Crick (PDF) to his 12-year-old son for $6 million, more than triple the pre-sale estimate. The letter went to an anonymous bidder. The new owner of the Crick medal is a Chinese-born American who says his motivation for purchasing the medal was to stimulate research into the 'mystery of Bioboosti,' which, he says, produces electromagnetic stimulation that can 'control and enable the regeneration of damaged organs.' Those benefits are, needless to say, so far unproven. Crick's family has said it will donate at least 20% of the proceeds from the sale of the medal and other items to the Francis Crick Institute, a biomedical research centre scheduled to open in London in 2015."
Nerval's Lobster writes "Death is Nature's way of telling you it's time to get off the Internet. But when you finally shuffle off this mortal coil, you leave something behind: all your email and other digital assets. That's a huge problem not only for the deceased — once you're on the wrong side of the Great Beyond, there's no way to delete those incriminating messages — but also any relatives who might want to access your (former) life. And it's a problem Google's seeking to solve with the new Inactive Account Manager. (In an April 11 blog posting, Google product manager Andreas Tuerk suggested that Inactive Account Manager wasn't a 'great name' for the product, but maybe the company shouldn't be so hard on itself: it's a way better name than, say, Google Death Dashboard.) Inactive Account Manager will delete your Google-related data (Gmail, etc.) after a set amount of time, or else send that data to 'trusted contacts' you set up before your untimely demise. Which raises an interesting, semi-Google-related question: What do you want to have happen to your data after you die? Give it to loved ones, or have an automated system nuke it all? Should more companies that host email and data offer plans like Inactive Account Manager?"
New submitter NitzJaaron writes "Some of us have been experiencing attacks on Wordpress sites for the last few days, but it's now beginning to be widely reported that there's a fairly large brute force attack happening on Wordpress users on multiple hosts, including HostGator and LiquidWeb. 'This attack is well organized and again very, very distributed; we have seen over 90,000 IP addresses involved in this attack.' CloudFlare has announced that they're giving all users (free and paid) protection from said attacks with their services. 'The attacker is brute force attacking the WordPress administrative portals, using the username "admin" and trying thousands of passwords.'" Further reports available from Immotion hosting and Melbourne server hosting.
mikejuk writes "This is a strange story. AMD Vice President of Global Channel Sales Roy Taylor has said there will be no DirectX12 at any time in the future. In an interview with German magazine Heise.de, Taylor discussed the new trend for graphics card manufacturers to release top quality game bundles registered to the serial number of the card. One of the reasons for this, he said, is that the DirectX update cycle is no longer driving the market. 'There will be no DirectX 12. That's it.' (Google translation of German original.) Last January there was another hint that things weren't fine with DirectX when Microsoft sent an email to its MVPs saying, 'DirectX is no longer evolving as a technology.' That statement was quickly corrected, but without mentioning any prospect of DirectX 12. So, is this just another error or rumor? Can we dismiss something AMD is basing its future strategy on?"
astroengine writes "The International Astronomical Union (IAU) — the official body that governs the designations of all celestial bodies — in their capacity of purveyors of all things 'official' has deemed attempts at crowdsourcing names for exoplanets illegitimate. 'In the light of recent events, where the possibility of buying the rights to name exoplanets has been advertised, the International Astronomical Union wishes to inform the public that such schemes have no bearing on the official naming process,' writes Thierry Montmerle, General Secretary of the IAU in Paris, France. Although the 'schemes' are not specifically named, the most popular U.S.-based "exoplanet naming" group Uwingu appears to be the target of today's IAU statement. Set up by Alan Stern, planetary scientist and principal investigator for NASA's Pluto New Horizons mission, Uwingu encourages the public to nominate and vote (for a fee) on names for the slew of exoplanets steadily being discovered."
lkcl writes "Rhombus Tech and QiMod have working samples of the first EOMA-68 CPU Card, featuring 1GByte of RAM, an A10 processor and stand-alone (USB-OTG-powered with HDMI output) operation. Upgrades will include the new Dual-Core ARM Cortex A7, the pin-compatible A20. This is the first CPU Card in the EOMA-68 range: there are others in the pipeline (A31, iMX6, jz4760 and a recent discovery of the Realtek RTD1186 is also being investigated). The first product in the EOMA-68 family, also nearing a critical phase in its development, will be the KDE Flying Squirrel, a 7-in, user-upgradeable tablet featuring the KDE Plasma Active operating system. Laptops, desktops, game consoles, user-upgradeable LCD monitors and other products are to follow. And every CPU that goes into the products will be pre-vetted for full GPL compliance, with software releases even before the product goes out the door. That's what we've promised to do: to provide Free Software developers with the opportunity to be involved with mass-volume product development every step of the way. We're also on the look-out for an FSF-Endorseable processor which also meets mass-volume criteria, which is proving... challenging."
redletterdave writes "TechNet, the trade association representing and led by dozens of prominent technology companies including Google, Apple and Facebook, has formally come out in support of CISPA, sending a letter to the U.S. House of Representatives. The letter said: 'We commend the committee for providing liability protections to companies participating in voluntary information-sharing and applaud the committee's efforts to work with a wide range of stakeholders to address issues such as strengthening privacy protections. As the legislative process unfolds, we look forward to continuing the dialogue with you and your colleagues on further privacy protections, including discussions on the role of a civilian interface for information sharing.'" The White House won't support the bill in its current form, but they plan to work with legislators on a compromise. The current text of the bill is available online.
Zothecula writes "The Global Positioning System (GPS) has proved a boon for those with a bad sense of direction, but the satellite-based system isn't without its shortcomings. Something as simple as going indoors or entering a tunnel can render the system useless. That might be inconvenient for civilians, but it's potentially disastrous to military users, for whom the system was originally built. DARPA is addressing such concerns with the development of a self-sufficient navigation system that can aid navigation when GPS is temporarily unavailable."
damn_registrars writes "Nintendo has announced that at the end of June it will be canceling the services of several of the channels that are built in to the original Wii, including the Weather, News, Everybody Votes, and Mii Contest. This will also affect the WiiConnect24 services, though should not affect the Wii shopping channel. They added: 'Exchange of Wii messages on the Wii Message Board, exchange of Mii characters on the Mii Channel and message/data exchange within some games will be disabled.'"
gbrumfiel writes "A strange green meteorite found in Morocco caused a stir in the press earlier this month, when scientists reported that it might be the first chunk of Mercury ever found here on earth. But scientists who've been puzzling over the stone since then say the accumulating evidence may point in a different direction. The 4.56-billion-year-old rock might have come from the asteroid belt located between Mars and Jupiter. If true, then it would provide clues about the origin of the solar system as a whole instead of the origin of the innermost planet."
msm1267 writes "Microsoft announced last night that it has stopped pushing a security update originally released on Patch Tuesday because the fix is causing some PCs to blue-screen. Microsoft recommends users uninstall the patch, which is also causing compatibility issues with some endpoint security software. MS13-036 was part of this week's Patch Tuesday update. It addressed three vulnerabilities in the Windows Kernel-Mode Driver, which if exploited could allow an attacker to elevate their privileges on a compromised machine. Users began reporting issues earlier this week with some systems failing to recover from restarts, or applications failing to load, after the patch was installed."
ananyo writes "Toxic chemicals are accumulating in the ecosystems of the Himalayas and the Tibetan plateau, researchers warn in the first comprehensive study to assess levels of organic pollutants in that part of the world. Persistent organic pollutants (POPs) are carbon-based compounds that are resistant to break-down. Some originate from the burning of fuel or the processing of electronic waste, and others are widely used as pesticides or herbicides or in the manufacture of solvents, plastics and pharmaceuticals. Some POPs, such as the pesticide dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT) and the herbicide Agent Orange, can cause diseases such as cancers, neurological disorders, reproductive dysfunction and birth defects. The researchers found large amounts of POPs (including DDT) in various components of the ecosystems such as soil, grass, trees and fish in the Himalayas and in the Tibetan plateau, especially at the highest elevations."
An anonymous reader sends news that Russian President Vladimir Putin unveiled today a new $50 billion effort to maintain and extend the country's space capabilities. Part of this initiative is a new spaceport located in Russia, which will lead to the first manned launches from Russian soil in 2018. Manned launches currently originate from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. "The Russian space programme has been hurt in recent years by a string of launch failures of unmanned probes and satellites, but Putin vowed Moscow would continue to ramp up spending. He said that from 2013-2020, Russia would be spending 1.6 trillion rubles ($51.8 billion, 38 million euros) on its space sector, a growth far greater than any other space power. 'Developing our potential in space will be one of the priorities of state policy,' Putin said at a meeting in the regional capital Blagoveshchensk. ... speaking to Canadian spaceman Chris Hadfield, currently commander of the ISS, Putin hailed cooperation in space which meant world powers could forget about the problems of international relations and think 'about the future of mankind.'"
rtfa-troll writes "Microsoft Office slideware for iOS and Android has been resisting many migrations to Google Apps. Although a number of the largest companies, from KLM to Disney, have already moved to Google Apps, most large companies are still using Microsoft Office heavily. The majority of current Google users are smaller businesses. Now Microsoft has been forced to admit that its office suite for Android will be delayed by at least a year and Zdnet tells us that Google will be the big winner from that. However, they also say QuickOffice, rather than Google Apps, will be the main winner. Other Android app suites will benefit too, though currently the Android version of LibreOffice is only available as a dev build for sideloading and is having some difficulties packaging for Google Play, so it may not benefit from this delay unless more volunteers step up to help. Microsoft relies heavily on Office for revenue, so this may represent a real, long-term threat to the company."
krygny sends this quote from The Economist: "The internet browser you are using to read this blog post could help a potential employer decide whether or not you would do well at a job. How might your choice of browser affect your job prospects? When choosing among job applicants, employers may be swayed by a range of factors, knowingly and unknowingly. ... Evolv, a company that monitors recruitment and workplace data, has suggested that there are better ways to identify the right candidate for job. ... Among other things, its analysis found that those applicants who have bothered to install new web browsers on their computers (such as Mozilla's Firefox or Google's Chrome) perform better and stay in their posts for 15% longer, on average."
cylonlover writes "Just over a week ago Gizmag reported that Philips' 22 W LED light bulb, designed as a like-for-like replacement of a 100-W incandescent light bulb, was the first LED bulb of its type to receive the stamp of approval from Energy Star. But looking at the Energy Star requirements reported by Philips in its press release, it seemed a little strange that Philips' product is the only one to have been certified – given that products long on the market appear, at face value, to meet those requirements. Since then, Gizmag has spoken to LED light bulb makers Switch Lighting and other industry players to find out why they're apparently playing catch-up."
alphadogg writes "Hackers could use vulnerable charging stations to prevent the charging of electric vehicles in a certain area, or possibly even use the vulnerabilities to cripple parts of the electricity grid, a security researcher said during the Hack in the Box conference in Amsterdam on Thursday. While electric cars and EV charging systems are still in their infancy, they could become a more common way to travel within the next 10 years. If that happens, it is important that the charging systems popping up in cities around the world are secure in order to prevent attackers from accessing and tempering with them, said Ofer Shezaf, of HP ArcSight. At the moment, they are not secure at all, he said."
anderzole writes "The FDA recently gave clearance to Vital Art and Science Inc. (VAS) to market software which enables people with degenerative eye conditions such as macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy to monitor their vision at home with their iPhone. The software, which is called myVisionTrack, isn't a replacement for regular visits to the doctor, but rather allows patients to keep tabs on their vision in between visits with eye care professionals. VAS notes that retinal diseases affect approximately 40 million individuals worldwide and 13 million in the United States. While treatments have been developed to deal with degenerative eye conditions, early diagnosis is of paramount importance — which is why the software is so important."
Nerval's Lobster writes "Kaspersky Lab has completed a detailed analysis of "Winnti," a group of Asian hackers who target servers hosted by gaming companies, copying their source code and surreptitiously stealing money or virtual goods over time. In findings published April 10, the security firm said it had completed the latest phase of its eighteen-month investigation. A more detailed account of an actual attacks was published separately (PDF). Winnti has attacked two gaming companies in North America, two in Germany, two in Russia, and fourteen in South Korea. Although the Winnti group has been around for years, it first came to light in 2011, when Trojans began appearing on the PCs of users playing MMORPGs, online computer games which usually require a monthly subscription. Those Trojans, which included RAT (Remote Administration Tool) functionality, had been "signed" with the digital certificate of KOG, a South Korean gaming company. In the course of its investigation, Kaspersky discovered that the gaming companies (which often share resources, partner, and subcontract out work to one another) had provided an opportunity for the Winnti team to secure access to otherwise legitimate digital certificates, which could be used to sign malware. Malware signed by Japanese gaming company YNK Japan was used to attack the servers of social networks Cyworld and Nate in South Korea in 2011."