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Windows

Behind the 4GB Memory Limit In 32-Bit Windows 756

An anonymous reader points us to a very detailed post by Geoff Chappell, first put up early this year, explaining how the 4GB memory limit commonly bandied about for 32-bit Windows (he is writing mainly about Vista) is more of a licensing preference than an architectural limit. The article outlines how Chappell unlocked his system to use all the memory that is present, but cautions that such hackery is ill-advised for several reasons, including legal ones. "If you want [to be able to use more than 4GB in Vista] without contrivance, then pester Microsoft for an upgrade of the license data or at least for a credible, detailed reasoning of its policy for licensing your use of your computer's memory. ... [C]onsider Windows Server 2008. For the loader and kernel in Windows Vista SP1 (and, by the way, for the overwhelming majority of all executables), the corresponding executable in Windows Server 2008 is exactly the same, byte for byte. Yet Microsoft sells 32-bit Windows Server 2008 for use with as much as 64GB of memory. Does Microsoft really mean to say that when it re-badges these same executables as Windows Vista SP1, they suddenly acquire an architectural limit of 4GB? Or is it that a driver for Windows Server 2008 is safe for using with memory above 4GB as long as you don't let it interact with the identical executables from Windows Vista SP1?"
Music

RIAA Awarded $675,000 In Tenenbaum Trial 492

NewYorkCountryLawyer writes "The jury awarded the record company plaintiffs $675,000 in the Boston trial defended by Prof. Charles Nesson, SONY BMG Music Entertainment v. Tenenbaum. I was not surprised, since exactly none of the central issues ever even came up in this trial. The judge had instructed the jurors that Mr. Tenenbaum was liable, and that their only task was to come up with a verdict that was more than $22,500 and less than $4.5 million. According to the judge, her reason for doing so was that, when on the stand, the defendant was asked if he admitted liability, and he said 'yes.' The lawyers among you will know that that was a totally improper question, and that the Court should not have even allowed it, much less based her holding upon the answer to it."
PC Games (Games)

Gaming On Windows 7 554

Jason Wilson writes "Windows 7 comes out Oct. 22, and many gamers are wondering whether it will be a boon for gaming, as Microsoft promised Vista would, or a disappointment (like Vista was at its launch). Former ExtremeTech editor Jason Cross, who's covered games and tech for 13 years, discusses the pluses and minuses of Windows 7 for gamers — how it differs from Vista, if it'll run older games, and the benefits of 64-bit computing. 'Windows 7 basically takes the Vista codebase and rewrites, refines, optimizes, and overhauls most of the internal stuff without making dramatic changes to the driver stacks that Vista did over WinXP. The changes to the fundamental driver models are small and mostly serve to improve performance. Plus, the hardware makers — especially the graphics guys — are on top of the changes this time around. Nvidia and ATI have been shipping quite good Win7 graphics drivers for months now.'"
Image

Kingston Unveils $1000 USB Flash Drive 119

Barence writes "Kingston has unveiled the 'world's first' 256GB flash drive, raising flash drive storage to the kind of capacity you normally associate with laptop hard disks. Kingston claims the drive is 'ideal for netbook users who want to extend the limited capacity of their machines,' although given that the device costs about twice as much as a netbook, buyers could probably get more storage by purchasing two of the cheap ultraportables. The device is made on a build-to-order basis, with a suggested UK retail price of £650.52 including VAT — that's an astonishing $1074.69 at current exchange rates. Not exactly cheap and cheerful."
The Courts

Music Industry Wants a Cut of Pirate Bay Sale 214

suraj.sun writes "The music industry will attempt to seize money paid to acquire the Pirate Bay. A couple of weeks back the Global Gaming Factory, a Swedish software company, announced that it would acquire the Pirate Bay for $7.8 million. Since then the company has been touting a new business model and even hiring executives, such as Wayne Rosso, the former Grokster president, to legally obtain content from film and music industries. What remains to be seen is how that sale might be affected by attempts by the music industry to collect the $3.6 million damages that a Swedish court awarded it in April. Alex Jacob, a spokesman for the IFPI, said that the group has always intended to collect the damages award, but now, should the sale go through, music execs know that the original Pirate Bay operators have access to the money." According to CNet, the four original Pirates claim they no longer own the company and that no money from the sale will go to them.
Privacy

Facebook Violates Canadian Privacy Law 179

Myriad and a number of other readers passed along the news that the Canadian Privacy Commissioner has made a determination that Facebook violates Canadian privacy law in four different respects. Canada has the highest per-capita facebook participation in the world — about a third of the population — according to coverage in The Star. The EU is also expressing similar privacy concerns, though Canada's action "represents the most exhaustive official investigation of Facebook privacy practices anywhere in the world," says Michael Geist. The CBC's coverage spells out the areas of privacy concern, in particular that nearly a million developers of Facebook apps in 180 countries have full access to the entirety of users' private data. Also of concern: Facebook holds on to your data indefinitely after you quit the site. The BBC notes that Facebook is working with the privacy commission to resolve the issues, and quotes a Facebook spokesman thus: "Overall, we are looking for practical solutions that operate at scale and respect the fact that people come to share and not to hide." (Schneier recently blogged about research on "privacy salience," and cited Facebook's practices among others' as practical examples of how social networking sites have learned not to push the privacy issue in users' faces.)
Graphics

What's the Importance of Graphics In Video Games? 506

An anonymous reader writes "I develop games as a hobby. I've experimented with games on almost every platform available. For me, the gameplay is the most influential factor of a game, with history and graphics dividing second place. But, for some reason, it's not the technical beauty of the graphics that appeal to me. I have played Crysis, and I've played Pokémon games. The graphics of the Pokémon games entertain me as much as the graphics of Crysis. I think both are beautiful. So, why is the current generation of games giving so much importance to the realism in graphic games? I think it is sufficient for a game to have objects that are recognizable. For example, while the water in some games may not look as good as in Crysis, I can still tell it's water. What are your opinions on the current direction of game graphics? Do you prefer easy-to-render 3D scenes that leave space for beautiful effects, like with Radiosity, or more complex 3D scenes that try to be realistic?"
Security

PC Invader Costs a Kentucky County $415,000 192

plover recommends a detailed account by Brian Krebs in the Washington Post's Security Fix column of a complex hack and con job resulting in the theft of $415,000 from Bullitt County, Kentucky. "The crooks were aided by more than two dozen co-conspirators in the United States, as well as a strain of malicious software capable of defeating online security measures put in place by many banks. ...the trouble began on June 22, when someone started making unauthorized wire transfers of $10,000 or less from the county's payroll to accounts belonging to at least 25 individuals around the country... [T]he criminals stole the money using a custom variant of a keystroke logging Trojan known as 'Zeus' (a.k.a. 'Zbot') that included two new features. The first is that stolen credentials are sent immediately via instant message to the attackers. But the second, more interesting feature of this malware... is that it creates a direct connection between the infected Microsoft Windows system and the attackers, allowing the bad guys to log in to the victim's bank account using the victim's own Internet connection."
Image

Comic Artist Detained For Script Containing 9/11 Type Scenarios 441

Comics writer Mark Sable was detained by security at Los Angeles International Airport because he was carrying a script for a new issue of his comic miniseries, Unthinkable. Unthinkable follows members of a government think tank that was tasked with coming up with 9/11-type "unthinkable" terrorist scenarios that now are coming true. Sable wrote about his experience saying, "...I was flagged at the gate for 'extra screening.' I was subjected to not one, but two invasive searches of my person and belongings. TSA agents then 'discovered' the script for Unthinkable #3. They sat and read the script while I stood there, without any personal items, identification or ticket, which had all been confiscated. The minute I saw the faces of the agents, I knew I was in trouble. The first page of the Unthinkable script mentioned 9/11, terror plots, and the fact that the (fictional) world had become a police state. The TSA agents then proceeded to interrogate me, having a hard time understanding that a comic book could be about anything other than superheroes, let alone that anyone actually wrote scripts for comics. I cooperated politely and tried to explain to them the irony of the situation. While Unthinkable blurs the line between fiction and reality, the story is based on a real-life government think tank where a writer was tasked to design worst-case terror scenarios. The fictional story of Unthinkable unfolds when the writer's scenarios come true, and he becomes a suspect in the terrorist attacks." It's too bad that the TSA can't protect us from summer blockbuster movies and not just graphic novels.
Displays

A Widescreen Laser Projector In Your Pocket 189

Edis Krad writes "Redmond based company Microvision is in the last stages of developing and releasing a portable, laser-based projector, code-named 'Show WX.' The projector has a resolution of 848 by 400 pixels (WVGA) and, since it uses laser-scanning rather than LCD to form the images, it does not require a lens to focus, allowing it to display images virtually in any surface. The device comes with its own user-replaceable battery, which means you could take it with you anywhere you want. Although there is no pricing information on their website, according to this local news video, it could cost at least $200."
Privacy

FCC Reserves the Right To Search Your Home, Any Time 589

mikesd81 writes "Wired.com reports that you may not know it, but if you have a wireless router, a cordless phone, remote car-door opener, baby monitor or cellphone in your house, the FCC claims the right to enter your home without a warrant at any time of the day or night in order to inspect it. FCC spokesman David Fiske says 'Anything using RF energy — we have the right to inspect it to make sure it is not causing interference.' The FCC claims it derives its warrantless search power from the Communications Act of 1934, though the constitutionality of the claim has gone untested in the courts. 'It is a major stretch beyond case law to assert that authority with respect to a private home, which is at the heart of the Fourth Amendment's protection against unreasonable search and seizure,' says Electronic Frontier Foundation lawyer Lee Tien. 'When it is a private home and when you are talking about an over-powered Wi-Fi antenna — the idea they could just go in is honestly quite bizarre.'"
Games

When Does Gore Get In the Way of Gameplay? 141

Wired is running a story inspired by the level of gore in the recent Wolverine game that wonders: how much is too much? It mentions a study we discussed in February which indicated that violence tended to interest gamers less than other characteristics. "... the longer you play a 'twitch' action game, the less you notice the cultural content — the gushing blood, the shrieks of agony. You're too busy focusing on the gameplay. I noticed this with Wolverine. For the first hour, I found the deranged bloodshed both shocking and exciting; it made me feel like I 'was' Logan, the grunting, killing-machine character from Marvel Comics' X-Men universe. But as I became more expert, the cultural shell of the game boiled away. In a sort of staring-into-the-cascading-numbers-of-the-Matrix way, I found myself looking past the visible aspects of the game and savoring the underlying, invisible mechanics of play. ... The game became pure physics and algorithms: Vectors, speed and collision detection. The gore had become mostly irrelevant."
Security

Infrared Fibers Can Protect Against Chemoterrorism 71

Hugh Pickens writes "Although most Americans take the safety of their drinking water for granted, ordinary tap water can become contaminated within minutes, says Prof. Abraham Katzir of Tel Aviv University's School of Physics and Astronomy who has developed a fiber-optic system that can detect poisons such as pesticides in water in amounts well below the World Health Organization safety threshold using 'colors' in the infrared spectrum which distinguish between pure and contaminated water. 'With our naked eyes we can't distinguish between pure water and water that contains a small amount of alcohol or acetone. They're all clear,' says Katzir. 'But we can clearly distinguish between liquids using an infrared spectrometer which can distinguish between "colors" in the invisible infrared spectrum.' Connected to a commercial infrared spectrometer, the fibers serve as sensors that can detect and notify authorities immediately if a contaminant has entered a water reservoir, system, building or pipeline. 'Toxic materials are readily available as pesticides or herbicides in the agriculture industry, and can be harmful if consumed even in concentrations as low as few parts per million,' says Katzir. Cities like New York are especially susceptible to a chemoterrorist threat. With many skyscrapers holding water reserves on the top of the building, a terrorist only needs to introduce poison into a tank to wreak havoc. 'A terrorist wouldn't have to kill tens of thousands of people. Only 50 deaths — as horrible as that would be — would cause nationwide panic,' says Katzir."
GNU is Not Unix

Why Linux Is Not Yet Ready For the Desktop 1365

An anonymous reader writes "Every now and then a new- or old-media journalist tries to explain to everyone why Linux is not yet ready for the desktop. However all those men who graduated from their engineering universities years ago have only superficial knowledge about operating systems and their inner works. An unknown author from Russia has decided to draw up a list of technical reasons and limitations hampering Linux domination on the desktop." Some of the gripes listed here really resonate with me, having just moved to an early version of Ubuntu 9.10 on my main testing-stuff laptop; it's frustrating especially that while many seemingly more esoteric things work perfectly, sound now works only in part, and even that partial success took some fiddling.

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