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Submission + - Why LEDs don't beat CFLs, though they should (

TaeKwonDood writes: "LEDs don't beat CFLs in the home yet but it's not simply because PG&E is getting rich making people feel like they are helping the environment buying CFLs made in China that are shipped to the US using a lot more fossil fuels than they save. It's a problem of indication versus illumination. But some new discoveries are going to change all that."

Submission + - Terry Pratchett Knighted

ackthpt writes: Headlines have been popping up on Google News, again abruptly yanked from news servers, such as Times Online and International Herald Tribune. A Google News snippet for The Times Online states, "Terry Pratchett declared himself "flabbergasted" to receive a knighthood as he led a group of writers, actors and performers honoured today." The Discworld author and stalwart adversary of Alzheimers Disease has been a member of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for Services to Literature since 1998. He will be entering the new year as Knight Commander. Well done and Oook, Sir Terry.

Submission + - Sex offenders must hand over online passwords (

mytrip writes: ATLANTA — Privacy advocates are questioning an aggressive Georgia law set to take effect Thursday that would require sex offenders to hand over Internet passwords, screen names and e-mail addresses.

Georgia joins a small band of states complying with guidelines in a 2006 federal law requiring authorities to track Internet addresses of sex offenders, but it is among the first to take the extra step of forcing its 16,000 offenders to turn in their passwords as well.


Submission + - T9 Next Generation - Swype It, Don't Type It (

Iddo Genuth writes: "Cliff Kushler, the inventor of the T9 keyboard technology for numeric keypads, has developed a new alphanumeric entry technology for touch-screen laptops and Smartphone devices. This latest technology, named Swype, works with an on-screen QWERTY keyboard similar to ones found on Windows Mobile and the iPhone. The difference from the usual method of typing in the letters is that a finger or stylus is used to slide in the first letter, then without lifting the finger, the user continues writing the entire word. Only once the word is completed can the finger be lifted off. According to the developers this leads to a much faster way of "typing" or as we might call it soon swiping."

Submission + - HP accused of illegal exportation to Iran (

AdamWeeden writes: According to research done by the Boston Globe, HP has been secretly using a third-party company to sell printers to Iran. This is illegal under a ban instituted in 1995 by then U.S. President Bill Clinton. The third-party company, Redington Gulf, operates out of Dubai and previously stated on their web site that the company began in 1997 with "a team of five people and the HP supplies as our first product, we started operations as the distributor for Iran." though now the site has been changed to remove the mention of Iran. Has HP unknowingly been supplying Iran with technology or have they been trying to secretly get by the U.S. governement's export restrictions?

Submission + - Oregon Governor Proposing Vehicle Mileage Tax

tiedyejeremy writes: "As covered by the Crosscut Blog, the Governor of Oregon, Ted Kulongoski, is proposing a change in the funding of the Oregonian transportation system that drops gasoline taxes and, by way of GPS tracking, taxes the number of miles driven, to the tune of 1.2 cents per mile.. The reason for the proposed change is lower fuel consumption via fuel efficiency will leave the system underfunded. The concerns involve government tracking of the movements of vehicles within the state, though this has been denied by ODOT official, James Whitty. I'm wondering how this affects people using the Interstate System and private roads, and if the outputs can or will be used by law enforcement to check alibis."

Submission + - IBM's I'm-Sorry-Dave Patent

theodp writes: "Astronaut Dave Bowman may have found the HAL 9000 more believable had the heuristically programmed algorithmic computer been equipped with the technology described in IBM's new patent for Generating paralinguistic phenomena via markup in text-to-speech synthesis. In the patent, IBM describes how you can dupe others into believing they're dealing with a real, live human being by using markup language to feign sadness, anger, laughter, filled pauses (uh, um), breaths, coughs and hesitations (mmm). For example: <prosody style="bad news">I'm \cough sorry Dave \sigh, I'm afraid I can't do that.<\prosody>"

Submission + - SPAM: Sexy objects stimulate our brain

Roland Piquepaille writes: "According to researchers at the University of California at San Diego, visual areas of our brain respond more to valuable objects than other ones. In other words, our brain has stronger reactions when we see a diamond ring than we look at junk. Similarly, our brain vision areas are more excited by a Ferrari than, say, a Tata new Nano car. In this holiday season, I'm sure you've received gifts that excited your brain — and others that you already want to resell on an auction site. Read more for additional details, references and a picture of hot spots showing our brain's neural activity when we're excited."
Christmas Cheer

Submission + - Networked RGB Christmas lights sync'ed to music (

Miamicanes writes: "Ever want a string of Christmas lights made with RGB LEDs so all the lights can change colors? Or with their own microcontrollers, so each can act autonomously? Hell, why not go all the way, and network them while you're at it?

I did.

For the past 4 years, I've burned most of my Decembers, Novembers, and increasing chunks of October working on this project. This year, for the first time, they look like "normal" LED Christmas lights (I bought a few sets of clear LED lights on sale at Lowe's & removed the plastic diffusers from them to use on my own lights), and the controller I built last year finally works properly & reliably communicates with the lights.

Each light module has its own Atmel ATtiny25 microcontroller, linear power supply, RGB LED, and passive components. The whole thing is wired in parallel with just 3 wires... +12v, ground, and communication. One of my specific design goals was to keep the wires thin (AWG22 or smaller), which required higher supply voltage and individual power supplies for each module (not really a big deal... the regulator chip and 2 capacitors added about 50c to the cost of each light, and completely eliminated my original power problems).

The result? My favorite version of "Feliz Navidad" (recorded by Home Grown, an awesome SoCal punk band), accompanied by what's arguably one of the most sophisticated (and expensive) strings of Christmas lights in the world. Their own video ( is incredibly well made and hysterically funny, too! If Blink182 sang the song and made a video for it, it would ALMOST be as good as the one Home Grown made :-)

How expensive were the lights? I don't know. I've lost count. I've spent at least a kilobuck or two. If you assume my time is valueless, and you ignore the cost of the tools I've bought, the parts I've destroyed, and the crate of non-working light modules (roughly 3 or 4 for every working one that you see on the tree here), each light module has about $4-5 worth of parts (bought in hundred quantities from DigiKey and Futurlec). There are 36 on the tree today. Do the math. Then forget it, because it's too cool to care how expensive it was. Grossly over-engineered perhaps, but cool nonetheless."


Submission + - Most Web Browsers Fail Password Protection Testing

nandemoari writes: The password management feature in your favorite web browser could be helping identity thieves steal your personal data, according to a survey recently conducted by Chapin Information Services (CIS). Internet Explorer, Firefox, Opera, Safari and Chrome are vulnerable to a total of 20 vulnerabilities that could result in exposing your password-related information.
The Matrix

Submission + - Blind Man Navigates Obstacle Maze Unaided (

iammani writes: Nytimes runs a story about a blind man (blind because of damaged visual cortex) successfully navigating an obstacle maze, unaided. Scientists have shown for the first time, that it is possible for people who are blinded because of damage to the visual (striate) cortex can navigate by "blindsight", through which they can detect things in their vicinity without being aware of seeing them.

Submission + - Aussie Net filtering trial delayed (

hopejr writes: The Federal Opposition says it is not surprised the Government's mandatory internet filtering trial has been delayed. The trial, which was meant to begin today, has been postponed until mid-January 2009 and the internet service providers (ISPs) who will participate will be announced at the same time. ISPs iiNet and Optus both said yesterday they had not heard anything about their applications to participate in the trial, and doubted the Government would meet its own deadline.
Data Storage

Submission + - VHS finally dies a death, no really 1

thefickler writes: The last major supplier of VHS videotapes, is ditching the format in favor of DVD, effectively killing the format for good. This uncharitable commentator has this to say:"Will VHS be missed? Not ... with videos being brittle, clunky, and rather user-unfriendly. But they ushered in a new era that was important to get to where we are today. And for that reason, the death of VHS is rather sad. Almost as sad as the people still using it."

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