Submission + - End the Ethanol Insanity

theodp writes: It's now conceivable, says BusinessWeek's Ed Wallace, that the myth of ethanol as the salvation for America's energy problem is coming to an end. Curiously, the alternative fuel may be done in by an unlikely collection of foes. Fervidly pro-ethanol in the last decade of his political career, former VP Al Gore reversed course in late November and apologized for supporting ethanol, which apparently was more about ingratiating himself to farmers. A week later, Energy Secretary Steven Chu piled on, saying: 'The future of transportation fuels shouldn't involve ethanol.' And in December, a group of small-engine manufacturers, automakers, and boat manufacturers filed suit in the U.S. Court of Appeals to vacate the EPA's October ruling that using a 15% blend of ethanol in fuel supplies would not harm 2007 and newer vehicles. Despite all of this, the newly-elected Congress has extended the 45 cent-per-gallon ethanol blending tax credit that was due to expire, a move that is expected to reduce revenue by $6.25 billion in 2011. 'The ethanol insanity,' longtime-critic Wallace laments, 'will continue until so many cars and motors are damaged by this fuel additive that the public outcry can no longer be ignored. Adding an expensive, harmful, useless filler to gasoline just to win farmers' gratitude is not remotely the same as having a legitimate national energy policy.'
Electronic Frontier Foundation

Submission + - What is Traitorware?

theodp writes: The EFF's Eva Galperin offers a brief primer on Traitorware, devices that act behind your back to betray your privacy. 'Your digital camera may embed metadata into photographs with the camera's serial number or your location,' writes Galperin. 'Your printer may be incorporating a secret code on every page it prints which could be used to identify the printer and potentially the person who used it. If Apple puts a particularly creepy patent it has recently applied for into use, you can look forward to a day when your iPhone may record your voice, take a picture of your location, record your heartbeat, and send that information back to the mothership.' She concludes: 'EFF will be there to fight it [Traitorware]. We believe that your software and devices should not be a tool for gathering your personal data without your explicit consent.' Can we get an Amen, Alex Tapanaris?

Submission + - IBM Brings Holographic Phones, Air-driven Battery (

geek4 writes: hjhjhIBM predicts holographic phones by 2015, batteries charged by air, cities heated by servers, and more

In 2015, we will be using mobile phones that will project a 3D holographic image of callers, claims IBM in a list of predictions of future technologies culled from a survey of 3,000 IBM scientists. 3D displays are also the focus of work between Intel and Nokia in the development of a holographic interface.

Cities heated by servers and advanced city traffic monitoring are also listed as being among the prevalent technologies of the next five years, according to a Bloomberg article.

Submission + - After IPv4, how will the internet function? ( 1

An anonymous reader writes: There are 36 countries in the world that have over 100% per-capita usage of mobile phones, this is driving a real crunch on IPv4 addresses as more and more of these devices are data capable. The mobile network operators are acting fast to deploy IPv6 , and T-Mobile USA has had an IPv6-only trial going on for over 9 months now that only uses IPv6 addresses and NAT64 to bridge to IPv4 internet content. It is interesting to note that the original plan for IPv6 transition, dual-stack , has failed since IPv4 addresses are effectively already exhausted for many people that want them. Dual-stack also causes many other issues that has forced the IETF to generate work-arounds for end users called happy eyeballs , which conversely implies eyeballs are not happy with dual-stack, and a big stink around DNS white-listing . How will you ensure that your network, users, and services continue to work in the address fractured world of the future where some users only have IPv4 ( AT&T ), some users only have IPv6 (mobile and machine to machine as well as developing countries) and other internet nodes have both?

Submission + - Joel Test updated (

An anonymous reader writes: In 2000, Joel Spolsky wrote the Joel Test, an excellent and simple way to evaluate a software company. While the test is still used, it's getting outdated, as many companies are moving to web technologies, and new development tools exist. In his blog, Marc Garcia wrote about what could be an update to Joel Test.

Submission + - Tax Credits Slashed for Boosting Energy-Efficiency

Ponca City writes: "The LA Times reports that the $858-billion federal tax bill signed into law by President Obama on December 17 slashes the popular tax credits for energy-efficient remodeling from 30% of an improvement's cost ($1,500 maximum per taxpayer) to just a 10% credit with a $500 maximum for expenditures on insulation materials, exterior windows and storm doors, skylights, and metal and asphalt roofs that resist heat gain. The net effect of all this, say home building and remodeling experts, will be to severely diminish consumers' interest in energy-efficient home improvements. The gutting of energy-efficiency credits "is a big step backward. It's bad for the environment, bad for consumers and, of course, bad for jobs in our industry," says contractor Donna Shirey. "We're heading the wrong way here, sending absolutely the wrong message." Builder Barb Friedman adds that 70% of all housing units in the country are 30 years old or older, and that most have significant energy inefficiencies caused by their age alone. "The $1,500 credit was a step in the right direction" toward providing owners financial incentives to reduce some of these inefficiencies, "but $500 is more like a drop in the bucket.""

Submission + - African Villages Glow with Renewable Energy

Peace Corps Online writes: "Elisabeth Rosenthal writes that as small-scale renewable energy becomes cheaper, more reliable and more efficient, it is providing the first drops of modern power to people who live far from slow-growing electricity grids and fuel pipelines in developing countries playing an epic, transformative role. With the advent of cheap solar panels and high-efficiency LED lights, which can light a room with just 4 watts of power instead of 60, these small solar systems now deliver useful electricity at a price that even the poor can afford. "You're seeing herders in Inner Mongolia with solar cells on top of their yurts," says energy adviser Dana Younger. In addition to small solar projects, renewable energy technologies designed for the poor include simple subterranean biogas chambers that make fuel and electricity from the manure of a few cows, and “mini” hydroelectric dams that can harness the power of a local river for an entire village. "It’s a phenomenon that’s sweeping the world; a huge number of these systems are being installed," says Younger."

Submission + - Almost '11 Whats the oldest file you can restore? 2

turtleshadow writes: Now that Its almost '11 who kept backups since before the Y2K non-event: Have you personally/professionally had to recover something from 10+ years ago?

If so share the interesting "hows" especially if you had to do multiple media transfers and file formats to get it "usable file format" on a modern hardware platform of your choice?
Native solutions are rated higher than Emulation. Also whats your plans for recovering in 2021?

Street cred goes to the oldest, most technical and complex restores... that are of course successful.

I'm working the night shift Christmas/NewYears, I ask everybody still stirring and hardcore SysOPs

Submission + - North magnetic pole racing toward Siberia (

RogerRoast writes: The north magnetic pole (NMP) drifts from year to year. The NMP, also known as the dip pole, is the point on Earth where the planet's magnetic field points straight down into the ground. Scottish explorer James Clark Ross first located the NMP in 1831 on the Boothia Peninsula in what is now northern Canada, and with the planting of a flag claimed it for Great Britain.

Submission + - Study Determines How to be Popular on Facebook

Hugh Pickens writes: "Network World reports that Facebook has just released an analysis of the word usage for about one million status updates from its US English speakers with the words in updates organized into 68 different word categories based on the Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count (LIWC)--a text analysis software program that calculates the degree to which people use different categories of words across a wide array of texts. The results? To be popular on Facebook all you have to do is write longer status updates, talk about music and sports, don't be overly emotional, don't talk about your family, don't refer to time and use the word "you" a lot. Facebook's study also confirms something that bloggers and Fox News have known for years: negative comments produce more online activity. Sure, Facebook users might click the like button more often on updates expressing positive emotion. But Facebook found you can't beat negativity for user engagement, as dismal status updates garnered more comments than positive ones."

Submission + - Florida Sheriff attacks Free Speech 1

Baldur_of_Asgard writes: When Phillip Greaves' electronic book was censored by Amazon this exceptional act was considered a private matter by most people and no great loss, but now a freedom-hating sheriff in Florida is trying to gut the 1st Amendment to the detriment of us all. Free speech is ultimately about unpopular speech, after all. Popular beliefs don't need defending.

Submission + - An FBI-Mozilla Connection? ( 1

AHuxley writes: Is a former Animal Liberation Front prisoner and FBI informant now working for Mozilla?
The article has a link to grand jury testimony and notes the exchange for a reduced sentence.


Submission + - The Wrong Way to Weaponize Social Media (

BorgiaPope writes: NYU's Clay Shirky, in the new issue of Foreign Affairs, calls the U.S. government's approach to social media "dangerous" and "almost certainly wrong," as in its favoring Haystack over Freegate. The Political Power of Social Media claims that the freedom of online assembly — via texting, photo sharing, Facebook, Twitter, humble email — is more important even than access to information via an uncensored Internet. Countering Malcolm Gladwell in the New Yorker, Shirky looks at recent uprisings in the Philippines, Moldova, and Spain to make his point that, instead of emphasizing anti-censorship tools, the U.S. should be fighting Egypt's recent mandatory licensing of group-oriented text-messaging services.

Submission + - If the FCC had regulated the Internet ( 2

An anonymous reader writes: A counterfactual history of the internet, but one that is all too plausible. Unfortunately, I can see this happening under the new "Net Neutrality".

Submission + - Does Typing Speed Matter?

theodp writes: 'I can't take slow typists seriously as programmers,' wrote Coding Horror's Jeff Atwood last fall. 'When was the last time you saw a hunt-and-peck pianist?' Atwood's rant prompted John Cook to investigate just how important it is to be able to type quickly. 'Learning to type well is a good investment for those who are physically able to do so,' concludes Cook, 'but it's not that important. Once you reach moderate proficiency, improving your speed will not improve your productivity much. If a novelist writing 1000 words per day were able to type infinitely fast, he or she could save maybe an hour per day.' At 150 WPM, notes Cook, the world's fastest typist was still only 10x faster than Stephen Hawking.

Submission + - VLC For Android May Arrive In Early 2011 (

dkd903 writes: The development of an Android client for VLC has been going on for months now, but it has been slowed down by the fact that Android’s multimedia output libraries are in JAVA. VLC itself is based on C and so translating them to JAVA is difficult and takes time.

With the newer Android NDK, however, using native codes for Android apps has been becoming easier. So, the VLC developers have developed two basic modules for audio and video output based on the new NDK and most of the VLC libraries has been ported to Android.


Submission + - UN Supports WikiLeaks' Right To Publish ( 6

geek4 writes: A UN statement argues the human right to publish in the public interest, but restraint should be exercised
Following a bad few weeks for WikiLeaks, Santa seems to have arrived early to deliver a surprise gift in the form of backing from the United Nations.

In a joint statement by two UN officials, member states have been reminded of their duty to observe citizen rights to access information held by national authorities.

The rebuke from Frank LaRue, the UN special rapporteur on the promotion and protection on the right to freedom of opinion and expression, and Catalina Botero Marino, the inter-American commission on human rights special rapporteur for freedom of expression, will upset the right wing faction in the US government and provide support for WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Julian Assange as court proceedings are ranged against him.


Submission + - Google Discontinues On2 Flix Engine Video Encoder (

trawg writes: Google have recently discontinued sales of the Flix Engine, the last remnants of the purchase of On2 that they were selling directly to users. On2, developers of the VP8 video codec that formed the basis of their new WebM video format, was bought by Google early in 2010. The Flix Engine was a comprehensive API for Windows and Linux that allowed integration of On2 encoders directly into any software product. While you can still buy some On2 products from another company, it's not clear what effect this will have on Google's ultimate video strategy.

Submission + - UK Banks Attempt to Censor Academic Publication (

An anonymous reader writes: Representatives of the UK banking industry have sent a take-down notice (PDF link) to Cambridge University, demanding that they censor a student's webpage as well as his masters thesis. The banks' objection is that the information contained in the report might be used to exploit a vulnerability Chip and PIN system, used throughout Europe and Canada for credit and debit card payments. The system was revealed to be fundamentally flawed earlier this year, as it allowed criminals to use a stolen card with any PIN. Cambridge University has resisted the demands and has sent a response to the bankers explaining why they will keep the page online.
United Kingdom

Submission + - 'Eternal' Solar Plane's Records are Confirmed (

An anonymous reader writes: The BBC has a story on the confirmation of the record breaking flight of Qinetiq's Zephyr UAV: 'The UK-built solar-powered Zephyr aeroplane has been confirmed as a record-breaker following its non-stop two-week flight earlier this year. The world governing body for air sports records, the Federation Aeronautique Internationale (FAI), gave Zephyr three records including longest time aloft. Built by defence technology company Qinetiq, the craft completed its two-week flight in the US in July. The company sees applications in surveillance and communications. The July feat led to Zephyr being dubbed the "eternal plane".' YouTube has some footage of the Zephyr in action.

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