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Music

Submission + - Multiformat Listening Test at 64kbps

Anonymous writes: The Hydrogenaudio community is conducting a "Public, Multiformat Listening Test" (http://www.listening-tests.info/mf-64-1/) to see which codecs (AAC, WMA Pro and Vorbis) provide the best sound quality when compressing samples at 64kbps.

This test is open until the 5th of August and seems to be much, much harder than what one would expect, even for experienced developers of sound codecs, at bitrates that the public would find "too little", as the comments on the thread at the discussion forums (see: http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index.php?show topic=56397).

Do you think that you have good ears? That 64kbps is "too little"? Then try it for yourself and participate. Your participation will help us improve the codecs so that they are even closer to being "transparent" at such "low" bitrates.
Software

Submission + - a real telemarketer filter

hate-those-telemarketers writes: I just had one of those telemarketers call me despite being on the do-not-call list. There's still organizations that don't need to adhere to that list. Having googled the caller-id I came accross http://www.whocalled.us/ that seems to be a very comprehensive database of annoying caller-id's calling. What's even better is that in the "about" tab there's a script for asterisk to check all calls against that database. This is like a IP-list for spammers only for real telephony. Fantastic. I've implemented this and now I wish I weren't on the do-not-call list to see telemarketers deal with the very annoying Telemarket torture script that can be found on this site: http://www.voip-info.org/wiki/view/Asterisk+Telema rketer+Torture woo-hoo!!!
Privacy

Submission + - Do Not Call Registry gets wake-up call (networkworld.com) 2

coondoggie writes: "If you signed up for the federal or your state's Do Not Call Registry a few years ago, you might want to thing about refreshing it. Pennsylvanians this week got a wake up call, so to speak from the state's Attorney General Tom Corbett who kicked off a public awareness campaign designed to remind people what many have forgotten or never knew — that the 2002 law set registrations to expire after five years. That is of course unless you want to start hearing from those telemarketers as you sit down to dinner. Corbett said about 2 million people signed up in the immediate aftermath of the law taking effect and those who do not act by Sept. 15 will have their numbers dropped from the registry on Nov. 1. The Pennsylvania action is a reminder that the National Do Not Call Registry has a five year life span as well. The Federal Trade Commission is set to being a nation campaign in Spring 2008 to remind all US citizens to refresh their federal Do Not Call Registry standing. http://www.networkworld.com/community/node/18066"
Wii

Submission + - Dual control schemes for EA Sports Wii titles (gamasutra.com)

RamblinLonghorn writes: "EA announces that the next iteration of EA Sports titles will contain dual control schemes. Madden NFL 08, NBA Live 08 and FIFA Soccer 08 will have two separate ways to control the action, with one using only the Wiimote and the other using the Nunchuck and Wiimote in tandem.

The Family Play system will utilize only the Wii Remote and will debut in the above titles as an option before each multiplayer game, with advanced combined Wii Remote and Nunchuck controls available for experienced players. EA says the Family Play controls will let younger and less experienced players use the remote's motion sensitive controls for "shooting, passing, snapping, and throwing" while "the console controls the rest.""

Sun Microsystems

Submission + - Sun releases ODF plugin for MS Office (heise.de)

extra88 writes: Heise online reported that Sun has released their OpenDocument Format (ODF) plug-in for Microsoft Office 2000, XP and 2003. The plug-in allows Microsoft Office (for Windows) users to open ODF files and save their work in ODF formats used by OpenOffice, StarOffice, and other programs. According to the ReadMe, the plug-in adds "ODF Text Document (*.odt)" as a format to Word's Open and Save dialogs and adds Import and Export options to Excel and PowerPoint. Support for Excel and PowerPoint in the Microsoft-sponsored OpenXML/ODF Translator Add-in for Office is yet completed and that Add-in supports only Office 2003 and 2007.
Education

Submission + - Students Design and Build Hybrid-Electric SUVs (ieee.org)

aegisalpha writes: "Students from 17 colleges have built and tested hybrid-electric SUVs as part of the government and GM sponsored Challenge X competition. And they will be touring the country with the vehicles next year to test the consumer acceptability of the vehicles. This could be good news for those beginning to feel the oil crunch, to quote the article: "...every team member has a future in auto engineering. And for a North American auto industry under siege, that makes Challenge X a bright beacon of hope for the future.""
Power

Submission + - A bus built like a prius?

140Mandak262Jamuna writes: Electric motors built into the hubs of car wheels can improve the efficiency of electric/hybrid vehicles, according to IEEE Spectrum.

The CEO of the company making such wheel-hub motors plugs thus: A motor housed inside a wheel hub can shunt up to 96 percent of the torque it generates directly to the patch of tire that touches the road, With a conventional drive train, roughly 20 percent of the power generated by the motor is lost to friction.

Hype and plugging aside, the company has actually built two buses that can run for 1 hour without using the diesels. It has two electric motors built into the hubs and has some pretty heavy duty batteries. In the stop-and-go city traffic the regenerative braking gives big boost to the efficiency. Still, these buses cost 250 K$ more each, and they save some 20 K liters of diesel a year or some 60 K$ a year.

IANAFinExprt but it looks like it is cost effective if the useful life of the vehicle is more than 5 years and we can assume faster than inflation rise of gas/diesel prices.
Spam

Journal Journal: Choke points for spam

A large problem with spam is the collection of zombie systems (mostly Microsoft home computers) on residential broadband lines that act as relays for spam. Most of these users have simple firewalls supplied by their broadband providers that they never really configure that provide DNS proxy services, among other services. Is it not about time to start pressuri
Space

Submission + - Geo-engineering to fend off climate change

moon_monkey writes: While cutting greenhouse gases might be the best way to halt climate change, it's reassuring to know some scientists are already thinking about ways to combat fend off runaway warming if this doesn't work. NewScientistSpace has an interesting blog post about some pretty crazy-sounding ways for combating climate change. These include pumping sulfur into the atmosphere, sending thousands of tiny mirrors into orbit and even painting all our roads white to reflect the Sun's rays. Could this be the next X-prize?
Programming

Submission + - Teaching children to write software?

Desmond Elliott writes: "I recently worked on a piece of software for an undergraduate course which involved me writing a Sudoku game using the GWT. My youngest sister (9 years old) was fascinated to know how I had done it and seems quite keen to want to know more. I know that some people say that children and fickle at that age but I'm keen to let her have the resources that she needs to learn more about programming if she wants to. Does anybody know about any good resources for children to learn more about Java?"
Mozilla

Submission + - flaw in way firefox updates extensions

Rishabh Singla writes: "mozilla firefox has a flaw in the way it tries to update extensions when there is no active internet connection. instead of simply telling the user that there is no internet connection available, firefox throws up an incorrect error message as well as removes all the available updates from the list. this could be irksome and maybe harmful to some.
check out the details here
http://rishabhsingla.blogspot.com/2007/02/mozilla- firefoxs-way-of-updating.html"

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