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Space

Astronomers Dissect a Supermassive Black Hole 77

Matt_dk sends along a piece from the European Southern Observatory, which reports on observations of the so-called "Einstein Cross," a fortuitous conjunction of a nearby galaxy and a distant black hole. A team of researchers from Europe and the US combined the effects of macrolensing (from the intervening galaxy) and microlensing (from stars in that galaxy), captured by an earth-bound telescope. "Combining a double natural 'magnifying glass' with the power of ESO's Very Large Telescope, astronomers have scrutinized the inner parts of the disc around a supermassive black hole 10 billion light-years away. They were able to study the disc with a level of detail a thousand times better than that of the best telescopes in the world, providing the first observational confirmation of the prevalent theoretical models of such discs."
The Courts

Four Google Officials Facing Charges In Italy For Errant Video 153

mikesd81 writes to tell us that four Google employees may be facing charges of defamation and failure to control personal data simply because they didn't remove a video of a boy with Down's Syndrome being harassed and eventually hit over the head with a box of tissue, from Google Video. The video was posted in September of 2006 and was removed by Google within a day of receiving the initial complaints, but apparently that isn't fast enough. "Google maintains charges against the employees are unwarranted, Pancini said. Europe's E-commerce Directive exempts service providers from prescreening content before it is publicly posted, he said. Also, the video was technically uploaded to a Google server in the US, not in Italy, Pancini said. 'It was a terrible video,' Pancini said, adding that Google is concerned about the case's impact on censorship on the Internet. The defendants include David C. Drummond, a Google senior vice president, corporate development and chief legal officer. Pancini said Drummond did paperwork to create Google Italy, but has never lived in the country."
The Almighty Buck

Fuel Efficiency and Slow Driving? 1114

vile8 writes "With the high gas prices and ongoing gas gouging in my hometown many people are trying to find a reasonable way to save gas. One of the things I've noticed is people driving exceptionally slow, 30mph in 45mph zones, etc. So I had to take a quick look and find out if driving slow is helpful in getting better mileage. I know horsepower increases substantially with wind resistance, but with charts like this one from truckandbarter.com it appears mileage is actually about the same between 27mph and 58mph or so. So I'm curious what all the drivers out there with the cool efficiency computers are getting ... of specific interest would be the hemis with MDS; how do those do with the cylinder shutoff mode at different speeds?" Related: are there any practical hypermiling techniques that you've found for people not ready to purchase a new car, nor give up driving generally?
Microsoft

Microsoft Bids To Take Over Open Document Format 256

what about sends in a Groklaw alert warning that, by PJ's reading, Microsoft may be trying to take over ODF via a stacked SC 34 committee. The article lists the attendees at an SC 34 meeting in July and gives their affiliations, which the official meeting materials do not. (The attendees of the October 1 meeting, which generated a takeover proposal to OASIS, are not known in full.) "Why do I say Microsoft, when this is SC 34? Look at this ... list of participants in the July meeting in Japan of the SC 34 committee. The committee membership is so tilted by Microsoft employees and such, if it were a boat, it would capsize ... Of the 19 attendees, 8 are outright Microsoft employees or consultants, and 2 of them are Ecma TC45 members. So 10 out of 19 are directly controlled by Microsoft/Ecma ... [I]f the takeover were to succeed, SC 34 would get to maintain ODF as well as Microsoft's competing parody 'standard,' OOXML. How totally smooth and shark-like. Under the guise of 'synchronized maintenance,' without which they claim SC 34 can't fulfill its responsibilities, they get control of everything." A related submission from David Gerard points out that BoycottNovell has leaked the ISO OOXML documents, which ISO has kept behind passwords.
Editorial

Linux Needs More Haters 617

Corrupt brings us a ZDNet column by Jeremy Allison, who says Linux could benefit from more "tough love" in order to improve its functionality and popularity. Excerpting: "As Elie Wiesel said, 'the opposite of love is not hate, it is indifference.' LinuxHater really doesn't hate Linux, despite the name. No one takes that much time to point out flaws in a product that they completely loathe and despise. The complaints are really cries of frustration with a system that just doesn't quite do what is desired (albeit well disguised). A friend pointed out to me that the best way to parse LinuxHaters blog is to treat it as a series of bug reports. A perl script could probably parse out the useful information from them and log them as technical bug reports to the projects LinuxHater is writing about. Deep down, I believe LinuxHater really loves Linux, and wants it to succeed."
Databases

MagLev, Ruby VM on Gemstone OODB, Wows RailsConf 132

murphee ends along a report from InfoQ: "Gemstone demoed [MagLev,] their Ruby VM built on their GemStone S64 VM, to an ecstatic audience. Gemstone's Smalltalk VM allows OODBs of up to 17 PetaBytes, with none of the old ActiveRecord nonsense: the data is persisted transparently. The Gemstone OODB also takes care of any distribution, allowing the Ruby VM and data to scale across many servers (Cheerio, memcached!). There's also an earlier quite technical interview with Gemstone's Bob Walker and Avi Bryant about MagLev."
Portables

PC Superstore Admits Linux Hinge Repair Mistake 193

Erris writes "PC Superstore says their store manager was wrong to turn away a client with a broken hinge whose machine should have been repaired. 'El Reg put a call in to the DSGi-owned retail giant to get some clarification on PC World's Linux support policy. A spokesman told us that there had simply been a misunderstanding at the store and that, in fact, the normal procedure would be for the Tech Guys to provide a fix. [PC World] will provide a full repair once the firm has made contact with Tikka.'
BSD

OpenBSD Foundation Announced 151

OpenBDSfan writes "KernelTrap is reporting on the creation of the OpenBSD Foundation, a Canadian not-for-profit corporation intended to support OpenBSD and related projects, including OpenSSH, OpenBGPD, OpenNTPD, and OpenCVS. The announcement explains, "the OpenBSD Foundation will initially concentrate on facilitating larger donations of equipment, funds, documentation and resources. Small scale donations should continue to be submitted through the existing mechanisms.""
PlayStation (Games)

Alternative Uses and Interesting Mods for a PS1? 48

carolinamagi asks: "I've got an original Playstation collecting dust in my garage that I only use when I've got a fix for Final Fantasy VII. I know the original Playstation is a dated system but I can't help but wonder if there are any 'after market' or non-game mods which others have tried (with success) to give their Playstation some new life. The catch is that I'm a total novice when it comes to mods (although I am handy around the house and around a computer) and I would still like the ability to play games with my modded Playstation. Any ideas?"
Biotech

Scientists Map DNA of Rhesus Monkeys 104

KingKong writes "Scientists have unraveled the DNA of another of our primate relatives, this time a monkey named the rhesus macaque — and the work has far more immediate impact than just to study evolution. These fuzzy animals are key to testing the safety of many medicines, and understanding such diseases as AIDS, and the new research will help scientists finally be sure when they're a good stand-in for humans. 'Having a third primate will allow scientists to compare the three genomes, with an added emphasis on singling out the genes possessed by humans alone. The end goal is to reconstruct the history of every single one of the approximately 20,000 genes, to determine when they first appeared in history, and in what species. All of this requires an extraordinary amount of information.'"

A Free XML-Based Operating System 175

Dotnaught writes "For the past five years, Xcerion has been working on an XML-based Internet operating system (XIOS) that runs inside a Web browser and promises radically reduced development time. To provide developers with an incentive to write for the platform, Xcerion's back-end system is designed to route revenue, either from subscription fees or from ads served to users of free programs, to application authors. Think of it as Google AdSense, except for programmers rather than publishers. Is it absurd to think this poses a threat to Google and Microsoft?"
Encryption

Submission + - Legal Battle For AACS Begins

henrypijames writes: As widely expected, the MPAA has learned nothing from the debacle of its failed prosecution against DVD Jon (of DeCSS) and is now releasing its army of lawyers to fight against the circumvention of AACS (the successor of CSS): Upon the reception of a DMCA takedown notice, SourceForge has immediately terminated its hosting of BackupHDDVD (a tool to backup HD DVD movies, as its suggestes). The project leader is seeking advice on how to proceed.
Microsoft

Apple, the New Microsoft? 703

VE3OGG writes "Apple, the ultimate source of cool. The marketers of slick. The next 'evil empire'? While it might sound goofy at first, Rolling Stone magazine is running an article that summarizes some very interesting points that detail how Apple could become the next technology bad guy. Among the reasons given: Apple's call to be rid of DRM (while continuing to use it in iTunes); Apple's perceived arrogance when they warned consumers not to upgrade to Vista, while not rushing to fix the problem themselves; and Apple's seemingly unstoppable market dominance in the form of the iPod. The iPhone featured heavily as well, a product that is months from release but steals the press from more competitive products. What do you think, could Apple eventually take the place of Microsoft?"

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