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The Internet

Submission + - Firefox 3 Plans and IE8 Speculation

ReadWriteWeb writes: "Information about the next versions of Firefox and Internet Explorer suggest that the two biggest browsers are heading in different directions. Mozilla has published a wiki page detailing its plans for the next version of Firefox, codenamed "Gran Paradiso". Among the mandatory requirements listed for FF3 are improving the add-on experience, providing an extensible bookmarks back-end platform, adding more support for web services "to act as content handlers" — all of which show that Firefox wants to be an independent information broker rather than a simple HTML renderer in its next version. Also in the works is Microsoft's IE8. According to ActiveWin.com, a Microsoft official at CES told them that work has already begun for IE 8 and it may be released as a final product "within 18-24 months". Looking ahead, it's obvious that IE will continue to hook into the advanced functionality that Vista offers.

So while IE7 and Firefox 2 were more alike than different (feature-wise they're practically identical!), with IE8 and FF3 we will likely see the two biggest browsers head off into different directions."
Patents

Submission + - IBM breaks patent record, wants patent reform

An anonymous reader writes: IBM set the record for most patents granted in a year for 2006. At the same time, IBM points out that small companies earn more patents per capita than larger enterprises and pushes for reform to address shortcomings in the process of patenting business methods: "The prevalence of patent applications that are of low quality or poorly written have led to backlogs of historic proportions, and the granting of patents protecting ideas that are not new, are overly broad, or obvious." And it's been committing itself to a new patent policy: "Key tenets of the policy are that patent quality is the responsibility of the applicant; that patent applications should be open to public examination and that patent ownership should be transparent; and that business methods without technical content should not be patentable."
Microsoft

Submission + - UK schools at risk of Microsoft lock-in

Robert writes: UK schools and colleges that have signed up to Microsoft Corp's academic licensing programs face the 'significant potential' of being locked in to the company's software, according to an interim review by the UK government agency responsible for technology in education. The British Educational Communications and Technology Agency report also states that most establishments surveyed do not believe that Microsoft's licensing agreements provide value for money.
It's funny.  Laugh.

Journal Journal: You have been... Goatsed?

About 2,500 people have had a (very) nasty surprise recently when they looked at their MySpace page. Let's just say a small image was replaced by... another small image. Only, the second one was from the infamous "Goatse.cx" (You remember THAT one, don't you?). But what exactly happened? Jason Scott, the owner of textfiles.com explains all -- or is it confesses all?. The email received are hilarious. Well worth a read and a chuckle

Microsoft

Microsoft Worried OEM 'Craplets' Will Harm Vista 527

elsilver writes "An article at the CBC indicates that Microsoft is worried that the assorted crap most OEM companies load onto a new machine may affect users' opinion of Vista. An unnamed executive is concerned that the user will conclude the instability of the non-MS-certified applications is Vista's fault. Is this a serious concern, or is MS trying to bully OEMs into only including Vista-certified apps? As for the OEMs, one "removed older DVD-writing software they found was incompatible and replaced it with Vista's own software." — do they get points for realizing it was both buggy AND redundant?"
Power

Submission + - Will Nuclear Fusion Fill the Gap Left by Peak Oil?

clv101 writes: "The Oil Drum has a comprehensive review of the current state of nuclear fusion research and development addressing the question of whether fusion can fill the energy gap left by the depletion of traditional fossil fuels this century.

The project timetable is outlined along will all outstanding scientific and engineering challenges and how they are being tackled.

So Will Nuclear Fusion Fill the Gap Left by Peak Oil?"
Links

Submission + - Tragic Early Death of Boy Genius

BayaWeaver writes: Is there a moral to this tragic story? Boy goes to Caltech at the age of 12, gets his Ph.D from Cornell in string theory (under Brian Greene, a boy genius himself), and then things seem to have gone downhill after that. He is treated in a hospital for depression at 25, dies at age 30 and his family won't say why. Here is the story from the New Straits Times in Malaysia.
"Boy genius Chiang Ti Ming, who died on Saturday, was buried yesterday at the Jalan Sikamat Christian Cemetery. The cause of his death is unknown and family members were tight-lipped at the funeral. Chiang made the headlines in 1989 when, as a 12-year-old, he was accepted into the prestigious California Institute of Technology (Caltech) to study physics. He went on to pursue a doctorate in the field of Super String Theory in 1992 at Cornell University, an Ivy League institution.Not much was known about Chiang after his initial "fame", though in 1993, he suffered a personal tragedy when his four-year-old sister Eei Wern drowned at the swimming pool of the Seremban International Golf Club. In 2002, it was reported that he was admitted to a hospital in Kuala Lumpur after suffering from depression."
If there a lesson to be learnt here, what would that be? Don't go to Caltech when you are 12yo? Don't waste the best years of your life doing string theory? Was the poor kid pushed too far too fast? One can only imagine the overwhelming pressure the boy must have felt to perform. Perhaps he should have been left alone to find his way and not be pushed to what is very possibly a dead end
Media

Submission + - Senior PC World Editor Shot to Death

Dekortage writes: "According to CNN this morning, "A senior editor for PC World Magazine was fatally shot in his home in what authorities said Wednesday was a drug-related attack. Rex Farrance, 59, the San Francisco, California-based magazine's senior technical editor, was shot in the chest after four masked men broke into his home Tuesday evening." Farrance's wife was also beaten. Police suggest the Farrances were involved in illegal drugs; Farrance's teenage son grew medical marijuana in the home with his parent's permission and a doctor's prescription."
NASA

Submission + - Software Error Likely Killed MGS Spacecraft

Aglassis writes: NASA investigators have determined that a software update performed in June of 2006 may have doomed the 10 year old spacecraft. Apparently the software error caused the solar arrays to drive against a mechanical stop which then forced the spacecraft into safe mode. Unfortunately, after that the spacecraft's radiator was pointed at the sun which overheated the battery and destroyed it. Contact was lost with the Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft in November of 2006. NASA will form an internal review board to formally determine the cause of the loss of the spacecraft and what remedial actions are needed for future missions.
Security

Submission + - Hotel WiFi Tracks You as You Surf

saccade.com writes: "During my last hotel stay, I thought it was a pretty strange that it took two browser re-directs before the hotel's Wi-Fi would show me the web page I browsed to. Picasa developer Michael Herf noticed the same the thing and dug a little deeper. He discovered: "...their page does some tracking of each new page you visit in your browser, outside what a normal proxy (which would have access to all your cookies and other information it shouldn't have, anyway) would do. This "adlog" hit appears to also track a "hotel ID" and some other data that identifies you more directly. Notably, I've observed these guys tracking HTTPS URLs, and of course you can't track those through a proxy.". Herf notes the WiFi service provider, SuperClick, advertises that it "allows hoteliers and conference center managers to leverage the investment they have made in their IP infrastructure to create advertising revenue, deliver targeted marketing and brand messages to guests and users on their network...""
Hardware Hacking

Submission + - What's not standard, and in your geek tool kit?

Kwiik writes: Aside from the standard screw drivers, multi tools, flash lights, collapsible chopsticks, bootable usb drives with linux, spyware software/hijackthis etc. what do you have in your tool kit? What do you have for repairing software, versus repairing hardware? Do you have a separate tool kit for Windows, Linux and OS-X? What do you recommend for a hardware tech/contracter getting started on his own and stepping away from the world of IT powerhouses? I'm trying to find "one of those things" that will make a client go "wow", and he'll know he found the right tech.
United States

Submission + - How can we convert the US to the metric system?

thesolo writes: "Despite past efforts of the 1970s and 1980s, the United States remains one of only three countries (others are Liberia and Myanmar) that does not use the metric system. Staying with imperial measurements has only served to handicap American industry and economy. Attempts to get Americans using the Celsius scale or putting up speed limits in kilometers per hour have been squashed dead. Not only that, but some Americans actually see metrication efforts as an assault on "our way" of measuring.

I personally deal with European scientists on a daily basis, and find our lack of common measurement to be extremely frustrating. Are we so entrenched with imperial units that we cannot get our fellow citizens to simply learn something new? What are those of us who wish to finally see America catch up to the rest of the world supposed to do? Are there any organizations that we may back, or any pro-metric legislators who we can support?"
Microsoft

Submission + - Microsoft Breaks HTML Email Rendering in Outlook

sochdot writes: It seems Microsoft has decided to use Word as the HTML engine in their upcoming Outlook 2007 email client. From the piece [sitepoint.com]: "At the risk of turning this newsletter into a biweekly Microsoft bash, Redmond has done it again. While the IE team was soothing the tortured souls of web developers everywhere with the new, more compliant Internet Explorer 7, the Office team pulled a fast one, ripping out the IE-based rendering engine that Outlook has always used for email, and replacing it with ... drum roll please ... Microsoft Word."

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