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Patents

Seagate May Sue if Solid State Disks Get Popular 242

tero writes "Even though Seagate has announced it will be offering SSD disks of its own in 2008, their CEO Bill Watkins seems to be sending out mixed signals in a recent Fortune interview 'He's convinced, he confides, that SSD makers like Samsung and Intel (INTC) are violating Seagate's patents. (An Intel spokeswoman says the company doesn't comment on speculation.) Seagate and Western Digital (WDC), two of the major hard drive makers, have patents that deal with many of the ways a storage device communicates with a computer, Watkins says. It stands to reason that sooner or later, Seagate will sue — particularly if it looks like SSDs could become a real threat.'"
It's funny.  Laugh.

Nuclear Scanning Catches a Radioactive Cat On I-5 594

Jeff recommends Seattle Times columnist Danny Westneat's story from a community meeting with Northwest border control agents. Seems their monitoring for dirty bombs from the median of Interstate 5 caught a car transporting a radioactive cat. "It turns out the feds have been monitoring Interstate 5 for nuclear 'dirty bombs.' They do it with radiation detectors so sensitive it led to the following incident. 'Vehicle goes by at 70 miles per hour... Agent is in the median, a good 80 feet away from the traffic. Signal went off and identified an isotope [in the passing car]. The agent raced after the car, pulling it over not far from the monitoring spot.' Did he find a nuke? 'Turned out to be a cat with cancer that had undergone a radiological treatment three days earlier.'"
Media

Blu-ray BD+ Cracked 521

An anonymous reader writes "In July 2007, Richard Doherty of the Envisioneering Group (BD+ Standards Board) declared: 'BD+, unlike AACS which suffered a partial hack last year, won't likely be breached for 10 years.' Only eight months have passed since that bold statement, and Slysoft has done it again. According to the press release, the latest version of their flagship product AnyDVD HD can automatically remove BD+ protection and allows you to back-up any Blu-ray title on the market."
The Courts

FBI Posts Fake Hyperlinks To Trap Downloaders of Illegal Porn 767

mytrip brings us a story from news.com about an FBI operation in which agents posted hyperlinks which advertised child pornography, recorded the IP addresses of people who clicked the links, and then tracked them down and raided their homes. The article contains a fairly detailed description of how the operation progressed, and it raises questions about the legality and reliability of getting people to click "unlawful" hyperlinks. Quoting: "With the logs revealing those allegedly incriminating IP addresses in hand, the FBI sent administrative subpoenas to the relevant Internet service provider to learn the identity of the person whose name was on the account--and then obtained search warrants for dawn raids. The search warrants authorized FBI agents to seize and remove any "computer-related" equipment, utility bills, telephone bills, any "addressed correspondence" sent through the U.S. mail, video gear, camera equipment, checkbooks, bank statements, and credit card statements. While it might seem that merely clicking on a link wouldn't be enough to justify a search warrant, courts have ruled otherwise. On March 6, U.S. District Judge Roger Hunt in Nevada agreed with a magistrate judge that the hyperlink-sting operation constituted sufficient probable cause to justify giving the FBI its search warrant."
Space

Cassini Finds Evidence For Ocean Inside Titan 79

Riding with Robots writes "NASA reports that by using data from the Cassini probe's radar, scientists established the locations of 50 unique landmarks on the surface of Saturn's planet-size moon Titan. They then searched for these same lakes, canyons and mountains in the data after subsequent Titan flybys. They found that the features had shifted from their expected positions by up to 30 kilometers. NASA says a systematic displacement of surface features would be difficult to explain unless the moon's icy crust was decoupled from its core by an internal ocean, making it easier for the crust to move. If confirmed, this discovery would add to the growing list of moons in the solar system that are icy on the outside and warm and liquid inside, providing potential habitats. We've previously discussed Titan's hydrocarbon lakes and potential cryovolcano."
Privacy

Would a National Biometric Authentication Scheme Work? 178

Ian Lamont writes "The chair of Yale's CS department and Connecticut's former consumer protection commissioner are calling for the creation of a robust biometric authentication system on a national scale. They say the system would safeguard privacy and people's personal data far more effectively than paper-based IDs. They also reference the troubled Real ID program, saying that the debate has centered around forms of ID rather than the central issue of authentication. The authors further suggest that the debate has led to confusion between anonymity and privacy: 'Outside our homes, we have always lived in a public space where our open acts are no longer private. Anonymity has not changed that, but has provided an illusion of privacy and security. ... In public space, we engage in open acts where we have no expectation of privacy, as well as private acts that cannot take place within our homes and therefore require authenticating identity to carve a sphere of privacy.' The authors do not provide any suggestions for specific biometric technologies, nor do they discuss the role of the government in such a system. What do you think of a national or international biometrics-based authentication scheme? Is it feasible? How would it work? What safeguards need to be put in place?"
Wireless Networking

Google a "Happy Loser" In Spectrum Auction 162

Large cell service providers won almost all of the licenses in the recently concluded FCC spectrum auction. Google didn't get any and won't be entering the wireless business. Verizon Wireless was the big winner, laying out $9.4 billion for enough regional licenses in the "C" block to stitch together nationwide coverage, except for Alaska. On this spectrum Verizon will have to allow subscribers to use any compatible wireless device and run any software application they want. AT&T paid $6.6 billion, Qualcomm picked up a few licenses, and Paul Allen's Vulcan Spectrum LLC won a pair of licenses in the "A" block. One analyst called Google a "happy loser" because it got the openness it had pushed for. The AP's coverage does some more of the numbers.
Biotech

Self-Healing Artificial Muscles 90

Valor1016 writes "Researchers in California have developed an artificial muscle that heals itself and generates electricity. 'We've made an artificial muscle that, when you apply electricity to it, it expands, more than 200 percent, the motion and energy is a lot like human muscles,' said Qibing Pei, a scientist at UCLA and study author. The researchers used flexible carbon nanotubes as electrodes. If an area of the carbon nanotube fails, the region around it seals itself by becoming non-conductive and prevents the damage from spreading to other areas. This material also conserves about 70% of the energy you put into it. As the material contracts after an expansion the rearranging of the carbon nanotubes generates a small electric current that can be captured and used to power another expansion or stored in a battery. The research appeared in the January issue of Advanced Materials."
The Internet

Comcast Says FCC Powerless to Stop P2P Blocking 377

Nanoboy writes "Even if the FCC finds that Comcast has violated its Internet Policy Statement, it's utterly powerless to do anything about it, according to a recent filing by the cable giant. Comcast argues that Congress has not given the FCC the authority to act, that the Internet Policy Statement doesn't give it the right to deal with the issue, and that any FCC action would violate the Administrative Procedures Act of 1946. '"The congressional policy and agency practice of relying on the marketplace instead of regulation to maximize consumer welfare has been proven by experience (including the Comcast customer experience) to be enormously successful," concludes Comcast VP David L. Cohen's thinly-veiled warning to the FCC, filed on March 11. "Bearing these facts in mind should obviate the need for the Commission to test its legal authority."'"
The Media

One Minute of Science Per Five Hours of Cable News 184

ideonexus writes "The Pew group has released its annual study into the state of news media. They conclude that science and technology content is a rare treat for cable newscast viewers; some five hours of programming could pass with the average viewer seeing only one minute of science news coverage."
Data Storage

State Agency to Destroy Unauthorized USB Drives 179

Lucas123 writes "The State of Washington's Division of Child support has forced hundreds of workers to turn in personal USB flash drives and has instead begun issuing corporate-style USB drives. The goal is to centrally monitor, configure and prevent unauthorized access to storage devices. So far about 150 common drives have been issued. The agency eventually plans to destroy all existing thumb drives collected as part of the security policy change."
Space

UK Reconsiders 1986 Decision To Ban Astronauts 279

An anonymous reader writes "The British space agency, BNSC, is reconsidering its 1986 decision to reject all human space missions. The decision has dominated British space policy ever since, leaving Britain out of many American and European space projects. The UK is the only nation in the G8 group of leading economies that does not have a human space flight program. But space enthusiast groups like the British Interplanetary Society are trying to persuade the British government to participate in both manned and unmanned space activities."
Privacy

UK's MI5 Wants Oyster Card Travel Data 291

Boiled Frog from a Nation of Suspects writes "The Oyster card, an RFID single-swipe card (which was recently cracked), was introduced to London's public transport users purportedly to make their lives easier. Now, British Intelligence services want some of the benefits by trawling through the travel data amassed by the card to spy on the 17 million Britons who use it. The article notes, "Currently the security services can demand the Oyster records of specific individuals under investigation to establish where they have been, but cannot trawl the whole database. But supporters of calls for more sharing of data argue that apparently trivial snippets — like the journeys an individual makes around the capital — could become important pieces of the jigsaw when fitted into a pattern of other publicly held information on an individual's movements, habits, education and other personal details. That could lead, they argue, to the unmasking of otherwise undetected suspects."
Hardware

Wikileaks Releases Early Atomic Bomb Diagram 429

An anonymous reader writes "Wikileaks has released a diagram of the first atomic weapon, as used in the Trinity test and subsequently exploded over the Japanese city of Nagasaki, together with an extremely interesting scientific analysis. Wikileaks has not been able to fault the document or find reference to it elsewhere. Given the high quality of other Wikileaks submissions, the document may be what it purports to be, or it may be a sophisticated intelligence agency fraud, designed to mislead the atomic weapons development programs of countries like Iran. The neutron initiator is particularly novel. 'When polonium is crushed onto beryllium by explosion, reaction occurs between polonium alpha emissions and beryllium leading to Carbon-12 & 1 neutron. This, in practice, would lead to a predictable neutron flux, sufficient to set off device.'"
Space

Cassini Geyser-Tasting a Bust 95

Maggie McKee writes "The Cassini spacecraft flew into the icy geysers erupting from Saturn's moon Enceladus on Wednesday in an attempt to figure out what they were made of, but a glitch prevented the probe from actually 'tasting' the plumes. An 'unexplained software hiccup' put the Cosmic Dust Analyzer (CDA) out of commission. Ironically, new software designed to improve the ability of the CDA to count particle hits may be to blame. Mission managers may try to re-attempt the plume fly-through later this year."

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