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Announcements

Submission + - Scientists get plastic from trees (pressesc.com)

amigoro writes: "Scientists have found a method to replace crude oil as the root source for plastic, fuels and scores of other industrial and household chemicals with inexpensive, nonpolluting renewable plant matter. They directly converted sugars ubiquitous in nature to an alternative source for those products that make oil so valuable, with very little of the residual impurities that have made the quest so daunting."
Privacy

Submission + - IBM loses tapes with former employees' data (ibm.com)

An anonymous reader writes: I was an intern with IBM ten years ago and just today received a letter informing me that tapes containing my and other former employees' data (including social security numbers) were lost on February 23, 2007 while being transported by a vendor. IBM is offering free membership with the ID TheftSmart Enhanced Identity Theft Restoration and Continuous Credit Monitoring program from Kroll Inc for one year for everyone affected. It just goes to show that no matter how long it's been, your personal information in someone else's hands is never safe.

The full text of the letter can be found here.

Media

Submission + - Kodak unveils brighter CMOS color filters (eetimes.com)

brownsteve writes: Eastman Kodak Co. unveiled what it says are "next-generation color filter patterns" designed to more than double the light sensitivity of CMOS or CCD image sensors used in camera phones or digital still cameras. The new color filter system is a departure from the widely used standard Bayer pattern — an arrangement of red, green and blue pixels — also created by Kodak. While building on the Bayer pattern, the new technology adds a "fourth pixel, which has no pigment on top," said Michael DeLuca, market segment manager responsible for image sensor solutions at Eastman Kodak. Such "transparent" pixels — sensitive to all visible wavelengths — are designed to absorb light. DeLuca claimed the invention is "the next milestone" in digital photography, likening its significance to ISO 400 color film introduced in the mid-1980's.
Space

Submission + - Baby monitor picks up NASA's live shuttle video

Digitus1337 writes: FTA: "Since Sunday, one of the two channels on Natalie Meilinger's baby monitor has been picking up black-and-white video from inside the space shuttle Atlantis. The other still lets her keep an eye on her baby. Live video of the mission is available on NASA's Web site, so it's possible the monitor is picking up a signal from somewhere. "It's not coming straight from the shuttle," NASA spokeswoman Brandi Dean said. "People here think this is very interesting and you don't hear of it often — if at all." Meilinger silenced disbelieving co-workers by bringing in a video of the monitor to show her class on Tuesday, her students' last day of school. At home, 3-month-old Jack and 2-year-old Rachel don't quite understand what their parents are watching." Full story available here.
Privacy

Submission + - AT&T Announces Alliances with MPAA and RIAA

i)ave writes: More documents in the AT&T/NSA warrantless wiretapping campaign were unsealed today. Meanwhile, AT&T announced a new policy to spy on customers for signs of copyright violations. They credited their new television service as moving them into the same camp as the RIAA and MPAA. How long before they change names from AT&T to 00&7?
Programming

Submission + - Fun With Redistricting! (nationaljournal.com)

CrabbMan writes: ""The Redistricting Game" was developed at the University of Southern California to help teach voters that "mapmakers" can have more control over an election outcome than candidates or issues. Politically engineered redistricting, which can protect incumbents and party dominance even if voters are inclined differently, was most recently a hot topic in a Supreme Court decision last year and in the political fall of former GOP top dog Tom DeLay. Lawmakers concerned "the system is out of whack" invited the game's developers to the Hill yesterday."
Software

Submission + - Pidgin 2.0 Released

An anonymous reader writes: After nearly two years of development, Pidgin 2.0 has finally been released! Originally called Gaim, Pidgin is a powerful and robust open source instant messaging client that supports many protocols. Pidgin 2.0 features a completely redesigned interface with attractive new icons and and a new status management system that was designed for optimal usability. Pidgin 2.0 also adds support for universal buddy icon management and smooth-scroll functionality for conversation windows. A comprehensive review at Ars Technica explores the new features in Pidgin 2.0 and demonstrates how to use the new D-Bus bindings with Python to make Pidgin's status system send updates to Twitter.
The Internet

Submission + - Virtual rape is traumatic but is it a crime ?

cyberianpan writes: Wired is carrying commentary on the story that Brussels police have begun an investigation into a citizen's allegations of rape — in Second Life. For reasons of civil liberty & clarity we'd like to confine criminal law to physical offences rather than thought crimes but already threats , menace & conspiracy count as crimes. Could we see a situation where our laws extend ? What if people started signing contracts that made Second Life criminal law "real" ?
Google

Submission + - Google Rebrands Personalized Homepage as iGoogle

rm69990 writes: Google has officially rebranded their personalized homepage as iGoogle. According to Marissa Mayer, Google's VP of search products and user experience, iGoogle was floated as a name for the Personalized Homepage back in 2005 when the service was being assembled. One of the major new features of iGoogle is the ability to build gadgets without any prior programming experience. For those not in the know, Gadgets are similar to widgets on Apple's Dashboard or... gadgets on Vista's toolbar.
Power

Submission + - Heating Your Home With A Geothermal Pump

Makarand writes: This article in the Chronicle describes how geothermal pumps could be used to heat our homes instead of natural gas or electricity. These pumps rely on the fact that regardless of what the surface temperature of the earth is, it is always 60 degrees a few hundred feet below. You have to drill a few holes 200 feet deep and insert U-shaped tubes in them and connect these to a heat exchanger. The tubes are filled with a solution of water and alcohol to prevent corrosion. Circulation pumps drive the water solution through the tubes in the ground and when the solution comes up from underground it is warm because it has passed through an environment of about 60 degrees.The heated liquid then is passed through the heat exchanger which takes care of the business of heating your home.

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