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Math Prof Uncovers Secret Chord 177

chebucto writes "The opening chord to A Hard Day's Night is famous because for 40 years, no one quite knew exactly what chord Harrison was playing. Musicians, scholars and amateur guitar players alike had all come up with their own theories, but it took a Dalhousie mathematician to figure out the exact formula. Dr. Brown used Fourier transforms to find the notes in the chord, and deduced that another George — George Martin, the Beatles producer — also played on the chord, adding a piano chord that included an F note impossible to play with the other notes on the guitar."
Role Playing (Games)

Further Details On the Star Wars MMO 129

Now that the recent announcement about Star Wars: The Old Republic has had time to sink in, specific details about the game are beginning to come to light. Massively, in particular, has a variety of interviews and in-depth looks at the classes, the combat, and the setting of the game. "When you play like a Jedi from 1 to max, and then decide to start as a Sith, you won't see any content that will be the same." They also discuss the leveling, questing and companion characters. "We want you to think of them as actual companions on your journeys throughout the game. Your actions are going to change how your companion characters develop." Eurogamer is running a preview of the game, and a wiki has sprung up to catalog all of the new information. Other tidbits: support for Star Wars Galaxies will continue; the new game will be PC only; and LucasArts is hoping to snipe some of the World of Warcraft customer base.
The Internet

The Effects of the Cloud On Business, Education 68

g8orade points out two recent articles in The Economist about the rise of cloud computing. The first discusses how software-as-a-service has come to pervade online interactions. "Irving Wladawsky-Berger, a technology visionary at IBM, compares cloud computing to the Cambrian explosion some 500m years ago when the rate of evolution sped up, in part because the cell had been perfected and standardised, allowing evolution to build more complex organisms." The next article examines how the cloud will force a "trade-off between sovereignty and efficiency." Reader pjones contributes news that the Virtual Computer Lab will be supplementing more traditional computer labs at North Carolina State University, and adds, "NCSU's Virtual Computing Lab and IBM are offering the VCL code as a software 'appliance' for use in schools to link to the program. Downloads are available at ibiblio at UNC-Chapel Hill. The VCL also is partnering with Apache.org to make the software available and to allow further community participation in future development."
Portables (Apple)

Doing the Math On the New MacBook 783

Technologizer writes "Apple's new MacBook is a significantly different machine than its predecessor — a slicker laptop at a higher price point. But does it carry a large price premium over similar Windows PCs? I did a painstaking spec-by-spec comparison versus three roughly comparably-configured Windows machines, and came to the conclusion that the value it offers for price paid is not out of whack with the Windows world." The article uses the phrase "Mac tax," which one commenter points out is a recent Microsoft marketing canard.
Software

Generic VMs Key To Future of Coding 139

snydeq writes "Fatal Exception's Neil McAllister calls for generic VMs divorced from the syntactic details of specific languages in order to provide developers with some much-needed flexibility in the years ahead: 'Imagine being able to program in the language of your choice and then choose from any of several different underlying engines to execute your code, depending upon the needs of your application.' This 'next major stage in the evolution of programming' is already under way, he writes, citing Jim Hugunin's work with Python on the CLR, Microsoft's forthcoming Dynamic Language Runtime, Jython, Sun's Da Vinci Machine, and the long-delayed Perl/Python Parrot. And with modern JITs capable of outputting machine code almost as efficient as hand-coded C, the idea of running code through a truly generic VM may be yet another key factor that will shape the future of scripting."
Windows

Submission + - Vista Windows Genuine Advantage(WGA) is down (microsoft.com) 1

z3razerviper writes: "It appears that Vista's Windows Genuine Advantage seems to be down causing all sorts of problems for Vista users trying to download patches for their shiny OS. Oddly enough things get much less shiny when WGA disables Aero and other features once it decides your copy of Vista is invalid. Microsoft WGA Vista Forum: http://forums.microsoft.com/Genuine/"
Patents

Submission + - Apple's Billion Dollar Patent Bluster

DECS writes: "It has been widely reported that Apple secured a patent worth a "billion dollars." According to a patent attorney involved in the issue, Apple will be "after every phone company, film maker, computer maker and video producer to pay royalties." The good news is that all the news reports were based on misleading hyperbole. Apple's Billion Dollar Patent Bluster"
Censorship

Gracenote Founder Rewriting History At Wikipedia 201

An anonymous reader writes "Gracenote founder Steve Scherf is busy again in his attempts to rewrite history after his recent interview at Wired. This time around he is aggressively deleting or seeking removal of any content on Wikipedia that discusses the controversy behind the commercialization of the formerly GPL'd cddb. Slashdotters may remember when cddb joined the Bad Patent Club back in 2000. Gracenote followed up by filing lawsuits against its customers for trying to switch to freedb and for alleged patent violations. Are there any Slashdotters out there who know the facts about Gracenote — its history, its business practices, its lawsuits? Wikipedia needs your help."
Education

Submission + - Is gpa important for a MS degree?

Jack writes: "I will be completing my MS in Network Security in 2007. My BS is in Systems and Networking. If I get an A for my last graduate course I will be able to graduate with high honor (gpa 3.845). I will miss graduating with highest honor by .005 points. If I retake the course I got a B in and this time get an A I can graduate with distinction (gpa 3.90 or better). My question is will either of these titles help me? Does anyone care about GPAs anymore? I am a network and systems administrator with almost 10 years of experience, 3 MCSEs, and soon a MS. I left my job last year to work on my Master's full time (that and that my former boss was a self-centered egotistical fool that I could stand no longer)."
Unix

Submission + - Is OSS GUI innovation the linux weak spot?

hedgehog writes: "Looking at Ubuntu this evening, and having been an on-again / off-again Linux user for about eight years now, I'm often struck by how dated some of the design aspects to most desktop environments feel. This isn't intended to troll.

From early 90s icon design (though Gnome arguably looks a bit fresher) to nearly every distro sporting some kind of start button / taskbar interface, Linux always seems to be playing a game of catchup in this regard.

I understand the argument that grandpa wants something that looks familiar, but thinking of another OSS project — Firefox — won its audience on tabbed browsing. There was a feature that probably wasn't familiar to most novice users who switched. Yes everything else looked familiar, but where's the tabbed browsing equivalent on the desktop environment side? Arguably our elders are also not the only ones that should be courted into the Linux camp.

Skinnable apps often go the route of clunky, flawed usability on any OS, because there's no QA for zeeb69's manga skin. What about default, modern UI that sports a "killer app" feature?

I realize this is a number of visual aspects not-so-neatly rolled into one for purpose of discussion, but what's the Slashdot community's opinion on the state of UI? Is this a problem? If so, are distros simply not courting the right designers? What can be done to improve upon this? If my assumption is flawed, what might be done to change that stigma?"
Privacy

Submission + - MPAA Kills Anti-Pretexting Bill

Lawst writes: Wired is reporting how a "tough California bill that would have prohibited companies and individuals from using deceptive "pretexting" ruses to steal private information about consumers was killed after determined lobbying by the motion picture industry."

The bill won, which approval in three committees and sailed through the state Senate with a 30-0 vote encountered unexpected, last-minute resistance from the Motion Picture Association of America.

From the article: "The MPAA has a tremendous amount of clout and they told legislators, 'We need to pose as someone other than who we are to stop illegal downloading'"

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