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Government

Ireland's Blasphemy Law Goes Into Effect 845

stereoroid writes "As of January 1, it is a crime in Ireland to commit Blasphemy. The law was changed in July 2009 to fill a gap in the Irish Constitution, which states that it is a crime but does not define what it is, an omission highlighted in a Supreme Court decision in 1999. To mark the occasion, Atheist Ireland published a list of 25 blasphemous quotations on the blasphemy.ie website, from such controversial figures as Bjork, Frank Zappa, Richard Dawkins, Randy Newman, and Pope Benedict XVI. (The last-mentioned was quoting a 14th Century Byzantine Emperor, but that's no excuse.)"
Government

TSA Nominee's Snooping Raises Privacy Concerns 134

Hugh Pickens writes "The Washington Post reports that Erroll Southers, President Obama's nominee to head the Transportation Security Administration, gave Congress misleading information about incidents in which he inappropriately accessed a federal database, possibly in violation of privacy laws. Southers accepted full responsibility for a 'grave error in judgment' when he accessed confidential criminal records twenty years ago about his then-estranged wife's new boyfriend. Southers's admission that he was involved in a questionable use of law enforcement background data has been a source of concern among civil libertarians, who believe the TSA performs a delicate balancing act in tapping into passenger information to find terrorists while also protecting citizens' privacy."
Science

Top Scientific Breakthroughs of 2009 57

Wired has posted their favorite scientific breakthroughs of the past year. The feats include things like the confirmation of element 114, a cancer-detecting breathalyzer, the power of jellyfish and more. What other discoveries should have made the list and what might we look forward to in 2010? "Also this year, researchers at the University of Washington cured two adult monkeys of colorblindness by giving them injections of a gene that produces pigments necessary for color vision. After the treatment, the animals scored higher on a computerized color blindness test. In the coming years, gene therapy will be tested as a remedy for all sorts of inherited diseases, cancer, viral infections and even high cholesterol."
Businesses

Codeplex 100 Day Deadline Passes Unremarked 106

Andy Updegrove writes "As you may recall, Microsoft announced back on September 10 that it had launched a new, open source organization called the CodePlex Foundation. Since then, it has announced Project Acceptance and Operation Guidelines, its first 'Gallery' (a project area), supporting Microsoft's ASP.NET, and two projects in that gallery. But it had also launched in a 'less than open' state with an interim Board of Directors, and a promise to elect a permanent one in 100 days. Problem is, December 19 — the 100 day mark — passed quietly, with no announcement of a new Board or a status update on the other goals it had set for the launch period. So what's up with the CodePlex Foundation, and its pledge to promptly transition into a more independent organization?"
Data Storage

Phase Change Memory vs. Storage As We Know It 130

storagedude writes "Access to data isn't keeping pace with advances in CPU and memory, creating an I/O bottleneck that threatens to make data storage irrelevant. The author sees phase change memory as a technology that could unseat storage networks. From the article: 'While years away, PCM has the potential to move data storage and storage networks from the center of data centers to the periphery. I/O would only have to be conducted at the start and end of the day, with data parked in memory while applications are running. In short, disk becomes the new tape."
Businesses

The Twelve Most Tarnished Brands In Tech 430

harrymcc writes "Polaroid, Netscape, CompuServe, Westinghouse, Heathkit — these were once among the most respected names in the technology business. They're still around, but what's happened to them is just plain sad. I took a look at the tragic fates of a dozen mighty brands that have, in one way or another, fallen on hard times."
Communications

AT&T Readying For the End of Analog Landlines 426

nottheusualsuspect writes "AT&T, in response to a Notice of Inquiry released by the FCC to explore how to transition to a purely IP-based communications network, has declared that it's time to cut the cord. AT&T told the FCC that the death of landlines is a matter of when, not if, and asked that a firm deadline be set for pulling the plug. In the article, broadband internet and cellular access are considered to be available to everyone, though many Americans are still without decent internet access."
Encryption

Quantum Encryption Implementation Broken 133

I Don't Believe in Imaginary Property writes "Professor Johannes Skaar's Quantum Hacking group at NTNU have found a new way to break quantum encryption. Even though quantum encryption is theoretically perfect, real hardware isn't, and they exploit these flaws. Their technique relies on a particular way of blinding the single photon detectors so that they're able to perform an intercept-resend attack and get a copy of the secret key without giving away the fact that someone is listening. This attack is not merely theoretical, either. They have built an eavesdropping device and successfully attacked their own quantum encryption hardware. More details can be found in their conference presentation."
GUI

IDEs With VIM Text Editing Capability? 193

An anonymous reader writes "I am currently looking to move from text editing with vim to a full fledged IDE with gdb integration, integrated command line, etc. Extending VIM with these capabilities is a mortal sin, so I am looking for a linux based GUI IDE. I do not want to give up the efficient text editing capabilities of VIM though. How do I have my cake and eat it too?"
Google

Google Nexus Rumored To Cost $530 Or $180 w/Plan 284

wkurzius writes "The new Google phone, the Nexus One, is rumored to cost $530 unlocked and will work on any GSM network. A subsidized version is also available for $180 and will get you a T-Mobile Even More Individual 500 Plan for 2-years with a $350 termination fee. Access to the phone is supposed to be invite only at first, with January 5th being the supposed release date."
Programming

5th Underhanded C Contest Now Open 162

Xcott Craver writes "The next Underhanded C Contest has begun, with a deadline of March 1st. The object of the contest is to write short, readable, clear and innocent C code that somehow commits an evil act. This year's challenge: write a luggage routing program that mysteriously misroutes a customer's bag if a check-in clerk places just the right kind of text in a comment field. The prize is a gift certificate to ThinkGeek.com."
Security

GSM Decryption Published 299

Hugh Pickens writes "The NY Times reports that German encryption expert Karsten Nohl says that he has deciphered and published the 21-year-old GSM algorithm, the secret code used to encrypt most of the world's digital mobile phone calls, in what he called an attempt to expose weaknesses in the security system used by about 3.5 billion of the 4.3 billion wireless connections across the globe. Others have cracked the A5/1 encryption technology used in GSM before, but their results have remained secret. 'This shows that existing GSM security is inadequate,' Nohl told about 600 people attending the Chaos Communication Congress. 'We are trying to push operators to adopt better security measures for mobile phone calls.' The GSM Association, the industry group based in London that devised the algorithm and represents wireless operators, called Mr. Nohl's efforts illegal and said they overstated the security threat to wireless calls. 'This is theoretically possible but practically unlikely,' says Claire Cranton, a GSM spokeswoman, noting that no one else had broken the code since its adoption. 'What he is doing would be illegal in Britain and the United States. To do this while supposedly being concerned about privacy is beyond me.' Simon Bransfield-Garth, the chief executive of Cellcrypt, says Nohl's efforts could put sophisticated mobile interception technology — limited to governments and intelligence agencies — within the reach of any reasonable well-funded criminal organization. 'This will reduce the time to break a GSM call from weeks to hours,' Bransfield-Garth says. 'We expect as this further develops it will be reduced to minutes.'"
Earth

North Magnetic Pole Moving East Due To Core Flux 346

National Geographic is reporting that the migration of Earth's magnetic pole has accelerated again and is now racing in Russia's direction at a blazing 40 miles per year. This movement began in earnest around 1904 at about 9 miles per year and has been accelerating since. "Geologists think Earth has a magnetic field because the core is made up of a solid iron center surrounded by rapidly spinning liquid rock. This creates a 'dynamo' that drives our magnetic field. Scientists had long suspected that, since the molten core is constantly moving, changes in its magnetism might be affecting the surface location of magnetic north. Although the new research seems to back up this idea, Chulliat is not ready to say whether magnetic north will eventually cross into Russia. 'It's too difficult to forecast,' Chulliat said. Also, nobody knows when another change in the core might pop up elsewhere, sending magnetic north wandering in a new direction."

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