PCM2 writes: Residents of California who participate in the Amazon Associates Program received an email today warning them that the program will be terminated as soon as a new California law goes into effect. The law, which CA governor Jerry Brown signed today, would require online retailers to collect sales tax on purchases. According to Amazon's statement, 'We oppose this bill because it is unconstitutional and counterproductive. It is supported by big-box retailers, most of which are based outside California, that seek to harm the affiliate advertising programs of their competitors.'
PCM2 writes: The Register is reporting that Oracle has decided not to allow Solaris 11 to install on older Sparc hardware, including UltraSparc-I, UltraSparc-II, UltraSparc-IIe, UltraSparc-III, UltraSparc-III+, UltraSparc-IIIi, UltraSparc-IV, and UltraSparc-IV+ processors. The Solaris 11 Express development version released in November did not have this restriction, which suggests that the OS would likely run on these models. Unfortunately, the installer won't. All generations of Sparc T series processors and Sparc Enterprise M machines will be able to install and run Solaris 11, however.
PCM2 writes: "If you thought Microsoft's days of strongarming the PC industry were over, think again. As Windows 8 approaches, Microsoft wants to "work more closely" with hardware vendors to make sure their products are aligned with Redmond's expectations. Among the things Microsoft wants its say in are "such details as the aspect ratio they choose for displays, where buttons and radio antennas are located, and even the width of the bezel, or rim, around the edge of the screen.""
PCM2 writes: Recently, Anonymous took down the Web sites of network security firm HBGary. Ars Technica has the scoop on how it happened. Turns out it wasn't any one vulnerability, but a perfect storm of SQL injection, weak passwords, weak encryption, password re-use, unpatched servers, and social engineering. The full story will make you wince — but how many of these mistakes is your company making?
PCM2 writes: ABC News is reporting that the U.S. Secret Service is in dire need of server upgrades. "Currently, 42 mission-oriented applications run on a 1980s IBM mainframe with a 68 percent performance reliability rating," says one leaked memo. That finding was the result of an NSA study commissioned by the Secret Service to evaluate the severity of their computer problems. Curiously, upgrades to the Service's computers are being championed by Senator Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, who says he's had "concern for a while" about the issue.
PCM2 writes: Whether it’s free laundry service, a loaner umbrella when it’s raining, a loaner bicycle to get from building to building, or a help-yourself bucket of gummi worms, Google provides everything — if you're a Google employee, that is. But as I learned last week, visitors aren't so lucky — especially if all you want is a drink of water. It seems Google has 'gone Green,' and the rest of us should just shut up and drink our juice.
PCM2 writes: Variety is reporting that an upcoming comedy special featuring Family Guy stars Seth McFarlane and Alex Borstein has lost sponsorship from Microsoft over 'content concerns.' According to the article, 'The program included MacFarlane and Alex Borstein — the voice of "Family Guy" matriarch Lois — pitching Windows 7. For most of the special, however, MacFarlane and Borstein made typical "Family Guy"-style jokes, including riffs on deaf people, the Holocaust, feminine hygiene and incest. Such material was apparently a bit much for Microsoft.' More interesting, perhaps, is the revelation that Microsoft has inked a deal with "a wide range of News Corp. properties to promote the launch of the computer giant's Windows 7 operating system."
PCM2 writes: "Film critic Roger Ebert has posted a long, scathing, often hilarious editorial lambasting game show host Ben Stein and "Expelled," the pro-Intelligent Design film he helped to produce. It's well worth a read (as Ebert's work often is). From the editorial: "Ben Stein, you hosted a TV show on which you gave away money. Imagine that I have created a special edition of 'Who Wants to be a Millionaire' just for you... you are faced with two choices: (A) Darwin's Theory of Evolution, or (B) Intelligent Design. Because this is a special edition of the program, you can use a Hotline to telephone every scientist on Earth who has an opinion on this question. You discover that 99.975 of them agree on the answer (A). A million bucks hangs in the balance. The clock is ticking. You could use the money. Which do you choose? You, a firm believer in the Constitution, are not intimidated and exercise your freedom of speech. You choose (B).""
PCM2 writes: "InfoWorld is running a massive round-table discussion on the past, present, and future directions for open source software. It suffers somewhat from strange pagination, but it consists of seven individual questions/topics that span several pages each (printer-friendly versions available). Among the participants are Bruce Perens, Eric Raymond, and representatives from a number of companies, including MySQL's Zack Urlocker, Google's Chris DiBona, and even Microsoft's Sam Ramji. It's interesting reading with plenty of nuggets — ESR can't resist a dig on the FSF, for example, while DiBona thinks Ubuntu is just about perfect."
PCM2 writes: "New Scientist reports that, like checkers before it, the Rubik's Cube has now been 'solved' via computer analysis. According to scientists at Boston's Northeastern University, any Rubik's Cube position can be returned to a fully-solved state in just 26 moves. Pretty amazing for an object that has a reported 43 quintillion combinations — but then again, not necessarily surprising if you've ever watched a Rubik's Cube competition."
PCM2 writes: "Scientists from Nasa say that Mars has warmed by about 0.5C since the 1970s. This is similar to the warming experienced on Earth over approximately the same period. Since there is no known life on Mars it suggests rapid changes in planetary climates could be natural phenomena."
PCM2 writes: "Debian founder Ian Murdock has taken a job at Sun Microsystems. 'While Ian is not giving out too much information yet about what he will be doing, we can tell you that he will be responsible for building a new strategy to evolve both Sun's Solaris and GNU/Linux,' says Sun PR rep Bob Wientzen. More info on Ian's own blog."
PCM2 writes: "The Associated Press is reporting that Robert Santangelo, a 16-year-old who has been sued by the RIAA for file sharing and piracy, has raised 32 defenses to the organization's claims, including that 'the record companies, which have filed more than 18,000 piracy lawsuits in federal courts, "have engaged in a wide-ranging conspiracy to defraud the courts of the United States."' The documents go on to suggest that the music industry is "a cartel" and is in violation of U.S. anti-trust laws. Santangelo has also filed a counter-claim against the RIAA for defamation and legal fees."
PCM2 writes: "Old-time Mac OS programmers will remember when Apple first released its groundbreaking Human Interface Guidelines, which described how developers could give a consistent UI to their Mac software. Fast-forward to today and Microsoft is doing something similar with its much-touted new UI for Office. Only in Redmond's case, the UI must be licensed to each developer. Among the terms of the license: 'The Design Guidelines are Microsoft's confidential information. As long as they remain confidential, you cannot disclose them to anyone else without Microsoft's prior written approval... This license contains no sub-license rights.' Apparently the UI is valuable Microsoft intellectual property."
PCM2 writes: "Novell CEO Ron Hovsepian has issued an open letter to the press and Linux community addressing some of the concerns about his company's recent deal with Microsoft. From the letter: "We disagree with the recent statements made by Microsoft on the topic of Linux and patents. Importantly, our agreement with Microsoft is in no way an acknowledgment that Linux infringes upon any Microsoft intellectual property. When we entered the patent cooperation agreement with Microsoft, Novell did not agree or admit that Linux or any other Novell offering violates Microsoft patents.""