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Comment Heinlein "predicted" this (Score 2) 111

In 1940, Robert A. Heinlein (writing under the pseudonym of Lyle Monroe) published a story called "Let There Be Light" where the firefly's bioluminosity whas studied leading to the development of "light panels", kinda-sorta predicting LEDs. It's a nice development that now the firefly is being studied to improve those LEDs. Though the mechanism is totally different of course.

The story is apparently in the public domain now, available here.

Advertising

French ISP Blocking Web Ads By Default 317

New submitter GavrocheLeGnou writes "The french ISP 'Free.fr' is now blocking ads from Adsense and other providers by default for all its subscribers. The option can be turned off globally, but there's no whitelist (Google translation of French original). From the article: 'Because the service doesn’t offer a whitelist (contrary to Adblock, a service I’ve used for years), this means that it is an all or nothing choice, activated by default to block everything. And since it is not only internet, but TV and phone lines running through the FreeBox, it’s possible that, if left unchecked, Free could beginning blocking TV ads, or phone calls from known spam hotlines. While this seems like a potentially beneficial service, there’s no doubt that it’s biting at the heels of several sectors who rely on advertisement to make money, let alone the advertisers themselves who pay to reach an audience, and are blocked at the door.'"
The Internet

Ask Slashdot: Best Way To Monitor Traffic? 338

First time accepted submitter Shalmendo writes "My client needs to monitor traffic on his LAN, particularly going out to the internet. This will include websites like Facebook, Myspace, and similar, including from mobile devices. So far, based on the network education I have, I've concluded that it might be best to get a tap (And some kind of recording system with wireshark, probably a mini-barebone), or replace the existing Linksys router with a custom built mini barebone system with linux routing software and appropriate storage capacity etc to record traffic internally. (either way it looks like I will need to put together a mini barebone system for some purpose) My client is trying to protect his family from scammers and other unsavory types, and isn't savvy in this matter, so i'm doing it for him. What I need is a way to record the traffic at a singular point, like modem/router areas, or similar, and a way to scrape out Facebook, Myspace, and other messages. It also appears that the client's family is using iPhones and some game called 'words' which has message capability. Is it possible to scrape messages out of that game's packets, or are they obfuscated? Can I write a script? What software would you recommend? Linux routing OS? Can we sniff packets and drop them on the internal hard drive? or would a tap be better? How do I analyze and sort the data afterwards? my client needs easily read evidence (Such as text or screenshots) he can use as proof in discussion with his family to try and intercede in any potentially harmful transactions. In other words, how can I Achieve this goal? I have basic and medium training in computer networking, so I can make my own cables and such, but I've never worked on this exact kind of project before, and thought it might be better to query slashdot instead of do my own research from scratch. After days of discussion with the client, it's not plausible to put monitoring software in the devices on the network (due to legal issues and a few other factors), so I concluded a network tap or other device would be the best way to capture and study what's going on."

Comment Re:GPS reliance (Score 5, Interesting) 290

The GP's point still stands. He mentions "that the infrastructure you need to navigate without it has been neglected or even systematically dismantled". This includes lighthouses, many of which are no longer being maintained. I find this a bad idea: they offer a globally distributed and resilient fall-back option to the much more centralised (almost single-point-of-failure) technology that GPS offers.
Data Storage

Portugal Is Considering a "Terabyte Tax" 353

An anonymous reader writes "As a proposal to avoid becoming the 'next Greece', a Portuguese opposition party has proposed a tax on storage. The party claims that the tax will not effect the average citizen and is mostly levied at business users, but internal storage on mobile phones means a 64GB iPhone could be €32 more expensive. From the article: 'The proposal would have consumers paying an extra €0.2 per gigabyte in tax, almost €21 extra per terabyte of data on hard drives. Devices with storage capacities in excess of 1TB would pay an aggravated tax of 2.5 cents per GB. That means a 2TB device will in fact pile on €51.2 in taxes alone (2.5 cents times 2048GB). External drives or “multimedia drives” as the proposed bill calls them, in capacities greater than 1TB, can be taxed to the tune of 5 cents per gigabyte, so in theory, a 2TB drive would cost an additional €103.2 per unit (5 cents times 2048GB)."

Comment Re:Common Sense, anyone? (Score 1) 788

But the point is, when people just repeat their HuffPo talking points, they are really clueless about the actual numbers of who pays taxes, and so forth. Most arguments about "the disproportionate tax burden on the poor" come from SSN/Medicare withholdings, which aren't taxes, precisely, since you get the money back eventually. More like a mandatory retirement program.

(Though if you expect SSN to have totally vanished by the time you retire, then sure, it's a tax.)

Yes, thank you for that insight.

Bitcoin

Amir Taaki Answers Your Questions About Bitcoin 262

Last week, you asked questions (many rather pointed!) of Amir Taaki, co-founder of Bitcoin Consultancy, which develops Bitcoin related services, exchanges and Bitcoin itself. (They also own Britcoin.co.uk.) Says Taaki: "When creating video games I spent much time imagining tools to make artists lives easier, and how we could keep funding developers to write free software. One contribution of mine to the community was a site where developers could get funded for developing features and I'd love nothing more than to pay people to write free software." With regard to Bitcoin, similarly, "We need fulltime developers thinking about the problems and solutions needed to keep this system running. We aim to get all the creative thinkers from the community and provide a mechanism for enabling their work." Below find his answers to the questions readers raised.
Earth

Volcano Erupts In Iceland 191

Reports are coming in that a volcano in Iceland called Grimsvotn has erupted, sending plumes of smoke 15km into the air. It was accompanied by a series of earthquakes, but all of them have been minor so far, and scientists don't believe the eruption will cause problems for air travel like 2010's Eyjafjallajokull event. Local coverage in Icelandic is available, as well as early pictures of the eruption.
Microsoft

Confirmed: Microsoft Says It Will Open Source VB 6 205

msmoriarty writes "Microsoft told a group of MVPs today at Tech-Ed that it plans to take Visual Basic 6 open source and will release the source code on CodePlex. A source at the event said that Microsoft is planning to release only the VB6 language on codeplex – not Visual Studio or related tools." Update: 05/20 02:24 GMT by T : Alas, too good to be true. msmoriarty writes with an apologetic retraction: "We got it wrong — Microsoft denied and went back to our source and they pulled confirmation. Our apologies."

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