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Microsoft

Craig Mundie Wants "Internet Driver's Licenses" 427

I Don't Believe in Imaginary Property writes "Craig Mundie, Microsoft's Chief Research and Strategy Officer, called for the creation of an 'Internet Driver's License' at the World Economic Forum in Davos, saying, 'If you want to drive a car you have to have a license to say that you are capable of driving a car, the car has to pass a test to say it is fit to drive and you have to have insurance.' Of course, there are quite a few problems with this. For starters, internet use cannot yet cause death or dismemberment like car accidents can; and this would get rid of most of the good of internet anonymity while retaining all of the bad parts, especially in terms of expanding the market for stolen identities. Even though telephone networks have long been used by scammers and spammers/telemarketers, we've never needed a 'Telephone Driver's License.'"
Books

Novelist Blames Piracy On Open Source Culture 494

joeflies writes "CNN published an article entitled 'Digital Piracy Hits the e-Book Industry.' It quotes the following statement by novelist Sherman Alexie: 'With the open-source culture on the Internet, the idea of ownership — of artistic ownership — goes away. It terrifies me.'" The article also points out a couple of interesting statistics for a "slumping" industry beset by piracy: "Sales for digital books in the second quarter of 2009 totaled almost $37 million. That's more than three times the total for the same three months in 2008, according to the Association of American Publishers," and "consumers who purchase an e-reader buy more books than those who stick with traditional bound volumes. Amazon reports that Kindle owners buy, on average, 3.1 times as many books on the site as other customers."

Comment Citation Needed (Score 1) 113

You say that as if you need no facts to back it up. Looking around, the best estimates I could find were 3 to 5 percent of the cost of a plane are litigation and litigation-prevention costs. There's also a fairly significant amount for insurance, some of which goes to paying for litigation, but all totaled it still seems to be less than either of the two largest costs, parts and labor.

So, please stop pulling numbers out of your ass.

Earth

The Environmental Impact of PHP Compared To C++ On Facebook 752

Kensai7 writes "Recently, Facebook provided us with some information on their server park. They use about 30,000 servers, and not surprisingly, most of them are running PHP code to generate pages full of social info for their users. As they only say that 'the bulk' is running PHP, let's assume this to be 25,000 of the 30,000. If C++ would have been used instead of PHP, then 22,500 servers could be powered down (assuming a conservative ratio of 10 for the efficiency of C++ versus PHP code), or a reduction of 49,000 tons of CO2 per year. Of course, it is a bit unfair to isolate Facebook here. Their servers are only a tiny fraction of computers deployed world-wide that are interpreting PHP code."
Science

Tapering Waveguide Captures a Rainbow 72

SubComdTaco passes along news of researchers in the US who have trapped a rainbow in a tapering waveguide. The research is described (PDF) on the arXiv. "In 2007, Ortwin Hess of the University of Surrey in Guildford, UK, and colleagues proposed a technique to trap light inside a tapering waveguide [made of metamaterials]... The idea is that as the waveguide tapers, the components of the light are made to stop in turn at ever narrower points. That's because any given component of the light cannot pass through an opening that's smaller than its wavelength. This leads to a 'trapped rainbow.' ... Now Vera Smolyaninova of Towson University in Baltimore, Maryland, and colleagues have used a convex lens to create the tapered waveguide and trap a rainbow of light. They coated one side of a 4.5-mm-diameter lens with a gold film..., and laid the lens — gold-side down — on a flat glass slide which was also coated with film of gold. Viewed side-on, the space between the curved lens and the flat slide was a layer of air that narrowed to zero thickness where the lens touched the slide — essentially a tapered waveguide. When they shone a multi-wavelength laser beam at the... gilded waveguide, a trapped rainbow formed inside. This could be seen as a series of colored rings when the lens was viewed from above with a microscope: the visible light leaked through the thin gold film."

Submission + - Depeche Mode's Martin Gore subpoenaed in WoW Suit (guardian.co.uk)

slick_shoes writes: Having unsuccessfully tried to sue (among others) Microsoft for "undue stress" over a broken Xbox 360 and Sony for banning him from the PSN, therefore violating his First Amendment rights in the past, Erik Estavillo has now filed suit against the makers of World of Warcraft. He is claiming that the game is a "harmful virtual environment" and its developers follow "sneaky and deceitful practices". Despite this, Estavillo admits he "relies on videogames heavily for the little ongoing happiness he can achieve in this life".

More bizzarely, he has subpoenaed the guitarist of UK gloom merchants Depeche Mode as an 'expert witness on melancholy' as "he himself has been known to be sad, lonely, and alienated, as can be seen in the songs he writes". Winona Ryder's love of Catcher in the Rye has also landed her with a subpoena to testify about "how alienation in the book can tie to alienation in real life videogames such as World of Warcraft.".

Estavillo is seeking $1m in damages.

Software

Microsoft COFEE Leaked 171

54mc writes "Crunchgear reports that Microsoft's long-searched-for forensics tool, COFEE, has been leaked. The tool started on a small, private tracker, but has since worked its way to The Pirate Bay. Not all those who have gotten hold of it are enthused, and reviews have ranged from 'disappointing' to 'useless.' From the article: 'You have absolutely no use for the program. It's not something like Photoshop or Final Cut Pro, an expensive application that you download for the hell of it on the off-chance you need to put Dave Meltzer's face on Brett Hart's body as part of a message board thread. No, COFEE is 100 percent useless to you.'"
Privacy

Kaspersky CEO Wants End To Online Anonymity 537

Andorin writes "Eugene Kaspersky, CEO of well-known computer security company Kaspersky Labs, is calling for an end to the anonymity of the Internet, and for the creation of mandatory 'Internet passports' for anyone who wishes to browse the Web. Says Kaspersky, 'Everyone should and must have an identification, or internet passport ... the internet was designed not for public use, but for American scientists and the US military. Then it was introduced to the public, and it was wrong ... to introduce it in the same way.' He calls anonymity 'the Internet's biggest security vulnerability' and thinks any country that doesn't follow this regime should be 'cut off.' The EFF objects, and it's likely that they won't be the only ones."
Real Time Strategy (Games)

Command & Conquer MMO a Possibility? 159

TheProphet92 sends along a speculative piece about the future of EA's popular RTS franchise, writing: "EA's real-time strategy games don't have the luxury of extensive funding the way some other franchises do. EA has been milking their game engines for all they're worth and then some. They have been using various versions of the 'Sage' engine for the past half-dozen or so RTS games, and they need money to make a new one. Perhaps an MMO is the way to go for EA, using none other than their famous Command & Conquer franchise."
Data Storage

Australian Researchers Demo Random Access Quantum Optical Memory 74

nuur writes "Researchers at the Australian National University have developed a new form of optical memory that allows random access to stored optical quantum information. Pulses of light are stored on a kind of 'optical conveyor-belt' that is controlled with a magnetic field. By manipulating the magnetic field, the conveyor-belt can be moved, allowing the recall of any part of the stored optical information. The research is published in Nature." You'll probably know after reading the abstract linked whether you'd be in the market to pay for the whole thing.
Education

All-You-Can-Eat College For $99-a-Month 272

theodp writes "Writing in Washington Monthly, Kevin Carey has seen the future of college education. It costs $99-a-month, and there's no limit on the number of courses you can take. Tiny online education firm StraighterLine is out to challenge the seeming permanency of traditional colleges and universities. How? Like Craigslist, StraighterLine threatens the most profitable piece of its competitors' business: freshman lectures, higher education's equivalent of the classified section. It's no surprise, then, that as StraighterLine tried to buck the system, the system began to push back, challenging deals the company struck with accredited traditional and for-profit institutions to allow StraighterLine courses to be transferred for credit. But even if StraighterLine doesn't succeed in bringing extremely cheap college courses to the masses, it's likely that another player eventually will."
Communications

Utah Law Punishes Texters As Much As Drunks In Driving Fatalities 620

The NY Times reports on legislation in Utah which harshly penalizes people who cause fatal car accidents while texting. Instead of merely facing a fine, offenders may now get up to 15 years in jail — the same as drunk drivers. "In effect, a crash caused by such a multitasking motorist is no longer considered an 'accident' like one caused by a driver who, say, runs into another car because he nodded off at the wheel. Instead, such a crash would now be considered inherently reckless. 'It's a willful act,' said Lyle Hillyard, a Republican state senator and a big supporter of the new measure. 'If you choose to drink and drive or if you choose to text and drive, you're assuming the same risk.' The Utah law represents a concrete new response in an evolving debate among legislators around the country about how to reduce the widespread practice of multitasking behind the wheel — a topic to be discussed at a national conference about the dangers of distracted driving that is being organized by the Transportation Department for this fall."

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