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VeriSign Granted a Patent Covering SiteFinder 85

An anonymous reader writes "Remember VeriSign's SiteFinder? Turns out that a couple of months back VeriSign was granted a patent on resolving unregistered domains. This came about thanks to its acquisition of eNic, operator of the .CC Domain. How long before Verizon, Earthlink, and OpenDNS are hit up for licensing fees?"

How Microsoft Dropped the Ball With Developers 814

cremou writes "As part of an Ars Technica series on how one developer migrated from Windows to OS X (and why), this second article concentrates on how Microsoft bungled the transition from XP to Vista. The author looks at some unfortunate decisions Microsoft made that have made Windows an unpleasant development platform. 'So Windows is just a disaster to write programs for. It's miserable. It's quite nice if you want to use the same techniques you learned 15 years ago and not bother to change how you do, well, anything, but for anyone else it's all pain... And it's not just third parties who suffer. It causes trouble for Microsoft, too. The code isn't just inconsistent and ugly on the outside; it's that way on the inside, too. There's a lot of software for Windows, a lot of business-critical software, that's not maintained any more. And that software is usually buggy. It passes bad parameters to API calls, uses memory that it has released, assumes that files live in particular hard-coded locations, all sorts of things that it shouldn't do.'"

War Brewing on the Inexpensive Laptop Front 370

The Christian Science Monitor has an interesting look at the war brewing on the inexpensive laptop front. With everything from the Eee PC to the OLPC, the trend in slimming and trimming seems to be continuing. "The market segment is so new it doesn't have a name yet or even an agreed-upon set of specifications. Intel, the chipmaker, calls the category "netbooks," recognizing that much of what people do on their laptops involves going on the Net. The new machines are also being called ultra-low-cost PCs, mininotebooks, or even mobile Internet gadgets. In appearance, they have the familiar clamshell design, but they're smaller, with seven- to 10-inch screens. They offer full keyboards (albeit with smaller keys) and weigh less than three pounds. Perhaps most important, the majority cost less than $500 - some as little as $299. Intel says it expects more than 50 million of these netbooks to be sold by 2011. It's introduced a tiny, low-power processor to run them called Atom, which puts 47 million transistors on a chip about the size of a penny."

How Water Forms in Interstellar Space at 10K 270

KentuckyFC writes "Water is the most abundant solid material in space. But although astronomers see it on planets, moons, in comets and in interstellar clouds, nobody has been able to show how it forms. In theory, it should form easily when oxygen and atomic hydrogen meet. The problem is that there is not enough of it floating around as gas in interstellar dust clouds. So instead, the thinking is that water must form when atomic hydrogen interacts with frozen solid oxygen on the surface of dust grains in these clouds. Now Japanese astronomers have demonstrated this process for the first time in the lab in conditions that simulate interstellar space. That's cool because all the water in the solar system, including almost every drop you drink on Earth today, must have formed in exactly this way more than 5 billion years ago in a pre-solar dustcloud (abstract)."

Use BitTorrent To Verify, Clean Up Files 212

jweatherley writes "I found a new (for me at least) use for BitTorrent. I had been trying to download beta 4 of the iPhone SDK for the last few days. First I downloaded the 1.5GB file from Apple's site. The download completed, but the disk image would not verify. I tried to install it anyway, but it fell over on the gcc4.2 package. Many things are cheap in India, but bandwidth is not one of them. I can't just download files > 1GB without worrying about reaching my monthly cap, and there are Doctor Who episodes to be watched. Fortunately we have uncapped hours in the night, so I downloaded it again. md5sum confirmed that the disk image differed from the previous one, but it still wouldn't verify, and fell over on gcc4.2 once more. Damn." That's not the end of the story, though — read on for a quick description of how BitTorrent saved the day in jweatherley's case.

Electronic Warfare Insects Coming Soon 187

Mike writes "British defence giant BAE Systems is creating a series of tiny electronic spiders, insects and snakes that could become the eyes and ears of soldiers on the battlefield, helping to save thousands of lives, and they claim that prototypes could be on the front line by the end of the year. A fascinating development to be sure, but who thinks this won't be misused domestically for spying and evidence gathering?" Included in the story is a link to a creepy little (scripted, rendered) demo video of these robots in action.

DARPA Working On Arthur C. Clarke Weapon Idea 453

holy_calamity writes "DARPA is working on a weapon which is similar to one first described by Arthur C. Clarke in his 1955 novel Earthlight — firing jets of molten metal using strong electromagnetic fields. The Magneto Hydrodynamic Explosive Munition (MAHEM) will function on a smaller scale than Clarke's fictional blaster. DARPA's write-up says it could be 'packaged into a missile, projectile or other platform and delivered close to target for final engagement and kill.' Clarke is also widely credited with suggesting geostationary communications satellites — what other ideas of his will come to pass?"

"Evolution of the Internet" Powers Massive LHC Grid 93

jbrodkin brings us a story about the development of the computer network supporting CERN's Large Hadron Collider, which will begin smashing particles into one another later this year. We've discussed some of the impressive capabilities of this network in the past. "Data will be gathered from the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), which hosts the collider in France and Switzerland, and distributed to thousands of scientists throughout the world. One writer described the grid as a 'parallel Internet.' Ruth Pordes, executive director of the Open Science Grid, which oversees the US infrastructure for the LHC network, describes it as an 'evolution of the Internet.' New fiber-optic cables with special protocols will be used to move data from CERN to 11 Tier-1 sites around the globe, which in turn use standard Internet technologies to transfer the data to more than 150 Tier-2 centers. Worldwide, the LHC computing grid will be comprised of about 20,000 servers, primarily running the Linux operating system. Scientists at Tier-2 sites can access these servers remotely when running complex experiments based on LHC data, Pordes says. If scientists need a million CPU hours to run an experiment overnight, the distributed nature of the grid allows them to access that computing power from any part of the worldwide network"

EMI Says Online File Storage Is Illegal 405

WiglyWorm writes "MP3tunes CEO Michael Robertson sent out an email to all users of the online music backup and place-shifting service, asking them to help publicize EMI's ridiculous and ignorant lawsuit against the company. EMI believes that consumers aren't allowed to store their music files online, and that MP3tunes is violating copyright law by providing a backup service."

Office 2007 Fails OOXML Test With 122,000 Errors 430

I Don't Believe in Imaginary Property writes "Groklaw is reporting that some people have decided to compare the OOXML schema to actual Microsoft Office 2007 documents. It won't surprise you to know that Office 2007 failed miserably. If you go by the strict OOXML schema, you get a 17 MiB file containing approximately 122,000 errors, and 'somewhat less' with the transitional OOXML schema. Most of the problems reportedly relate to the serialization/deserialization code. How many other fast-tracked ISO standards have no conforming implementations?"

Patent Chief Decries Continued Downward Spiral of Patent Quality 179

Techdirt is reporting that Jon Dudas, head of the US Patent Office, is lamenting the continuing quality drop in patent submissions. Unfortunately, while this problem is finally getting the attention it deserves, the changes being implemented don't seem to be offering the correct solution. "When you set up a system that rewards people for not actually innovating in the market (but just speculating on paper), then of course, you're going to get more of that activity. When you set up a system that rewards those people to massive levels, well out of proportion with their contribution to any product, then of course you're going to get more of that activity. When you set up a system that gives people a full monopoly right that can be used to set up a toll booth on the natural path of innovation, then of course you're going to get more of that activity. When the cost of getting a patent is so much smaller than the potential payoff of suing others with it, then of course you're going to get more of that activity. The fact that Dudas is just noticing this now, while still pushing for changes that will make the problem worse, is a real problem. Patents were only supposed to be used in special cases. The fact that they've become the norm, rather than the exception, is a problem, and it doesn't seem like anyone is seriously looking into fixing that."

Ben Stein's 'Expelled' - Evolution, Academia and Conformity 1766

eldavojohn writes "Painting the current scientific community as just as bad as the Spanish Inquisition, an extended trailer of Ben Stein's "Expelled" has a lot of people (at least that I know) talking. It looks like his movie plans to encourage people to speak out if they believe intelligent design or creationism to be correct. In the trailer he even warns you that if you are a scientist you may lose your job by watching 'Expelled.' Backlash to the movie has started popping up and this may force the creationism/evolutionist debate to a whole new level across the big screen and the internet." adholden points out a site called Expelled Exposed, which asserts that 'Expelled' "is simply an anti-science propaganda film aimed at creating controversy where none exists, while promoting poor science education that can and will severely handicap American students."

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