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Comment DVD drive (Score 1) 715

I voted "hamster", as I suppose that's the thing they put in DVD drives that die so easily. On my last 3 laptops, the first thing that stopped working well was DVD drives. Then, in quick order:
- the connector for AC adapter and/or the adapter itself;
- a random key on the keyboard;
- the battery.

I keep replacing parts, but eventually I buy a new laptop because the current one seems to have seen too many wars.
Only once (HP laptop, AMD processor) did it really go beyond: the hard drive, then a couple of months later, the motherboard, so ill-designed it died from overheating.

I guess all that says a lot about how I use my laptops: I travel a lot, to dusty places with bad electricity supply, and use them 14 hours a day (eating, drinking, smoking). Will soon have to replace the wetware as well, I guess.

Comment Re:Client side? Good luck. (Score 1) 212

The idea is not to force everybody to install it, but only propose it to users who have been spotted "illegally sharing protected content".

Users are supposed to install this software suite after the first or second "strike", so that they can't claim their internet access has been used by someone else for illegal purposes without their knowledge. If they don't, they're liable to be prosecuted for negligence in securing their internet access and computer.

On top of the classic spam control, anti-virus, parental control and firewall, the system is meant to warn users if they perform "suspicious actions", and generate an encrypted log of warnings and whereas they stopped after the warning or ignored them.

I for one would welcome such a (very stupid) scheme, as it shouldn't be too difficult to bypass, providing a "good faith certificate" for cheap. But for many users, it is very probably going to prove extremely annoying (remember Windows User Account Control), if not dangerous.

Comment Re:Longevity (Score 1) 280

NASA and their contractors have shown they can build stuff that lasts (like the Mars Rovers, Voyager, the Space Shuttle or any of the hundreds of satellites).

Most of these probes and their instruments far outlive their original mission duration -- Voyager 1 being the best known example. I've always wondered what part of that extended lifetime could be reasonably expected, and what part really comes as a surprise.

I guess engineers compute probability of failure for various instruments: any idea if they are usually right?


Submission + - Mozilla Delivers A Faster Firefox 3.5 Beta 4 (

CWmike writes: "Mozilla late yesterday fired the latest shot in the browser wars by releasing Firefox 3.5 Beta 4, the newest development preview of the company's next-gen browser, which has been delayed several times and now is tentatively slated to ship before the end of June. Computerworld's tests showed that Firefox 3.5 Beta 4 is about 19% faster than Beta 4 in the SunSpider JavaScript benchmark; both betas were considerably faster than the production browser, Firefox 3.0.10, which was also released yesterday."

Submission + - Most Distant Known Object in Universe (

G3CK0 writes: "Scientists at NASA's Swift satellite and Gemini Observatory on Mauna Kea have observed the most distant object in our universe. The object, a Gamma ray burst, has been measured at a redshift of z = 8.2. The light from this object has been traveling over 13 of the estimated 13.7 billion year age of the universe. An interesting note, this observation falls under what is know as a TOO (Target of Opportunity). Normal observations at Gemini are carried out via queue mode. When time sensitive events happen, a decision can be made to suspend the queue (and classical observing) in order to observe the TOO."
It's funny.  Laugh.

Submission + - Staying fit?

Death Metal writes: "Hey all,

The more hours I spend at the desk, the fatter I get. I'm not an overeater, but when you come home at eight or ten at night every night all week, you're unlikely to get much exercise or sleep. I used to ride my mountain bike for a twenty-five mile jaunt twice a week and that did the trick, but it's dusty and going to stay that way until our next development cycle is over. I'm living on caffeine but not cigarettes and am wondering if other developers out there have a suggestion for fast, intensive, effective workouts. Bonus points for workouts that can be done in a normal-size office."
Social Networks

Submission + - World maps made using Flickr photo geotags

holy_calamity writes: Researchers at Cornell University used the data from 35 million geotagged photos on Flickr to create accurate global and city maps. For example, the street grid of New York and the river Thames and bridges in London are accurately recreated by the traces of photos, and the maps also show which places globally and locally are most popular with photographers. Here's a slideshow of their maps.

Submission + - Kyoto Box Wins Climate Change Challenge (

Jason Sahler writes: "Made out of basic materials that your 5th grade science experiment could have consisted of, the [Kyoto Box] solar cooker offers a life-altering solution for thousands of people: the ability to cook and heat water. So how does it work? Inventor John Bohmer says the box uses "the greenhouse effect for something good." It consists of two cardboard boxes, one which Bohmer's own 5-year-old daughter helped him paint black, and another covered with tin foil to help concentrate the sun's rays. A plexiglass cover is used to trap heat inside making it possible for the box to boil and bake, but not fry, so it is arguable that it is healthy as well."

Submission + - Church files complaint against online blogger. (

Scr3wFace writes: "After a church filed a complaint about a blog, a police detective — who also is a member of the pastor's security detail — opened an investigation. The detective got a subpoena from the State Attorney's Office requiring Google Inc. to provide information about whoever was behind the site. Names, addresses, etc. It's important to note that the blog never threatened violence. Was it harshly critical? Sarcastic? Unfair? That's a matter of opinion. But it never threatened violence. And the detective closed the investigation, finding no criminal wrongdoing.He also provided the church, his church, the identity of the blogger. The church then issued a trespass warning against Thomas A. Rich and his wife. Most chilling about all of this: Those in power — from the police to the church leaders — not only defend this chain of events, they say it's how things should work. The Sheriff's Office says there wasn't a conflict of interest and that the detective did the right thing by passing along the blogger's identity to the church. The State Attorney's Office says there wasn't anything unusual about the subpoena, which made it possible to figure out who was tapping away at a computer keyboard. Happens all the time. Not just with blogs. With e-mails, text messages, etc. And I'm not sure what to make of one detail of the saga, other than perhaps the irony of it, but one form of communication that wasn't part of this investigation — face-to-face talking with the blogger. This isn't necessarily unusual, police say, especially considering that no criminal wrongdoing was found. But what if, as the blogger believes, the ultimate goal of this process wasn't to find wrongdoing but to find him? More details to this can be found here."

Submission + - Microsoft's 'Pseudotransparent' and Fold-Up PCs (

waderoush writes: "At the CHI 2009 conference, which wrapped up yesterday in Boston, Microsoft researchers showed off two radical prototypes that push the boundaries of user interfaces. One was a 'pseudotransparent' iPhone-like device called nanoTouch, which has a trackpad on the back rather than a traditional touch screen and gives visual feedback in the form of a simulated image of the user's finger (the effect is like looking straight through the device). The other was a folding dual-screen device called Codex that can switch automatically between landscape, portrait, collaborative, or competitive modes depending on its 'posture' or orientation. If Microsoft doesn't build such devices itself, 'somebody else will, so it's really important to understand what the issues are,' said researcher Ken Hinckley."

Submission + - Leg-paralysis stimulation, sensing device steps up (

AndreV writes: "After 30 years of development, a device developed at Simon Fraser University that assists people who have paralysis in one leg to walk will soon be on the market in Europe and, eventually, in the U.S. and Canada. The pacemaker-like Neurostep uses nerve cuffs to sense and stimulate nerve activity in the paralyzed leg, allowing greater mobility for those suffering from neurological disabilities such as stroke, multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injury or cerebral palsy. About the size of a cell phone, the "brain" integrates three digital modules: the neurosensing module (receives nerve impulses), real-time adaptive control module (interrogates the signals and identifies physical events), and neurostimulation module (delivers stimulation to the target nerve). It was recently approved for use in Europe, the first of its kind, and they are working to begin clinical trials and introduce the device in the U.S."

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