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External Airbag Designed to Protect Pedestrians 253

Thanks to researchers at Cranfield University, you don't have to feel bad when you plow into a group of pedestrians who are crossing the street too slowly. They have designed an external airbag that mounts to your hood at the base of the windshield. Research shows that this is the area where a pedestrian's head is most likely to hit in an accident. "Test results indicate that the system works extremely well. When fitted to a demonstrator vehicle not originally designed with pedestrian protection in mind, the results were well inside all current legal criteria for pedestrian protection currently in force in Europe," Roger Hardy of the university's Cranfield Impact Centre said.
The Courts

Supreme Court Declines Jack Thompson Appeal 100

eldavojohn writes "Jack Thompson was disbarred last year in Florida, putting a halt to annoying lawsuits targeting game makers and the constitutional rights of gamers. Well, he had appealed to the United States Supreme Court (scheduled to be heard last Friday) to get this overturned, but instead they declined to even hear his appeal. They wouldn't even give him the time to review his appeal, so it appears his disbarment for life stands. Florida had declined to file a response to Thompson's appeal, and it turns out they didn't need to. Sad day for Jack Thompson, but a great day for gamers everywhere." This comes shortly after Thompson was frustrated by the vetoing of some legislation he promoted in Utah.
Input Devices

Some of the Weirder Ideas From CHI 2009 43

An anonymous reader writes "Technology Review has a roundup of some of the weirder ideas on show at last week's Computer-Human Interaction conference in Boston. They include a trackball that heats up as you roll over different parts of an image, a pair of goggles that track eye movements using electrooculography, and a miniature robot with a cellphone for its head."
Television

Submission + - Out-of-warranty Slingboxes broken with update

fetta writes: I take back every nice thing I've ever said about the Slingbox. A recent Slingplayer update breaks some Slingboxes , including mine. After the update, all remote control settings are lost and cannot be reset. You can watch TV but not control your DVR devices.

The root cause seems to be a new DRM setting: even if the device has been used in the US since installation, you get an error about the device not being authorized for use in the USA.

"This Slingbox was not originally designed to be used in the USA. You may not be able to configure this Slingbox for some devices in this new location."

To make matters worse, Slingbox charges $29/per incident for support, even if you're still under warranty but past the first 90 days. I find it offensive to have to pay for support for a problem caused by their software update. They seem to feel free to ignore any problems that their software is causing for any customer with a box more than 12 months old — if I were more cynical, I would think that this is their version of planned obsolescence.

So, if you wanted to replace the Slingbox with a similar device, what other options exist? Is there anything open-source, or at least made by a more consumer-friendly company? I hate to buy another piece of hardware, only to have it disabled by the manufacturer after the warranty runs out.

Worms

Submission + - OpenDNS to block and monitor Conficker worm

Linker3000 writes: According to El Reg, from Monday, OpenDNS plans to introduce an new service that will prevent PCs infected with the Conficker (aka Downadup) malware from contacting its control servers, and will also make it easy for admins to know if even a single machine under their control has been infected by Conficker: "Starting Monday, any networks with PCs that try to connect to the Conficker addresses will be flagged on an admin's private statistics page. The service is available for free to both businesses and home users." Maybe this is a good time to take a look at OpenDNS if you haven't done so already.
Privacy

Submission + - tracking political donors with googlemaps (nytimes.com)

Geoffrey.landis writes: "Some donors to groups supporting the controversial measure 8 have received death threats and envelopes containing a powdery white substance, and their businesses have been boycotted. The targets of this harassment blame a controversial and provocative Web site, eightmaps.com, which has used California open disclosure laws, along with googlemaps, to publicize the names and addresses of individuals who donated money to pass the controversial Californis proposition 8.

According to the New York Times, eightmaps takes that the donation data, formerly of interest mainly to social scientists, pollsters and journalists, and publishes it in a way not foreseen when the open-government laws were passed. As a result, donors are exposed to a wide audience and, in some cases, to harassment or worse.""

Security

Submission + - Security flaws in iPhone CryptoExercise (wordpress.com)

WillerZ writes: "Apple's CryptoExercise sample for the iPhone (sorry, link only works if you have an iPhone developer account) uses the SHA-1 algorithm incorrectly, leaving significant security holes. This is a problem given the distinct lack of other documentation on the iPhone security services. You might want to read how I recommend you fix it before modelling your application on it."
Power

Submission + - nitrogen doped carbon cheaper than platinum (newscientist.com)

bond-covalent-bond writes: Fuel cells have been hailed as saviours of the environment, because they can cleanly and efficiently turn hydrogen and other fuels into electricity. But so far this technology has been hobbled by the high cost of the platinum catalysts needed to make it work. Now a new type of fuel cell based on carbon nanotubes (doped with nitrogen) promises to be much cheaper, as well as more compact and more efficient.
Games

Submission + - DRM does it again - Gears Of War for PC (arstechnica.com)

carlmenezes writes: It seems that the DRM on Gears of War came with a built-in shut off date: the digital certificate for the game was only good until January 28, 2009. Now that the game fails to work unless you adjust your system's clock, what's Epic's response? "We're working on it."
Power

Submission + - Fusion-Fission System Promises Clean Nuclear Power (dailytech.com)

Anonymous writes: A hybrid fission-fusion process has been developed that has can be used in some traditional Fission reactors to process radioactive waste and reduce the amount of waste produced by 99%. This process uses magnetic bottle techniques developed from fusion research. This seems like the first viable solution to the radioactive waste problem of traditional nuclear reactors. It will be interesting to see how the timing of this, which the article says should be ready for deployment in just a few years, works out with new pluggable hybrids and the GM Volt slated for a similar time line. This could be a bug breakthrough in the search for environmentally friendly energy sources.
Intel

Submission + - Quake Wars meets a Ray Tracer

An anonymous reader writes: Intel released the article "Quake Wars Gets Ray Traced" which details the development efforts of the research team that applied a real-time ray tracer to Enemy Territory: Quake Wars. It describes the benefits and challenges of transparency textures with this rendering technology. Further insight is given into what special effects are most costly. Examples of glass and a 3D water implementation are shown. The outlook hints into the area of freely programmable many core processors like Intel's upcoming Larrabee that might be able to handle such a workload.
Censorship

Submission + - Indymedia Server Seized by UK Police (again!) (indymedia.org.uk)

timbrown writes: "On 22 January 2009, Kent Police seized an Indymedia server hosted by Manchester-based colocation facility UK Grid and run by the alternative news platform Indymedia UK. The server was taken in relation to comments on an article regarding the convictions in the recent Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty (SHAC) trial. Seven activists were sentenced to a total of 50 years in prison.

In the morning, Kent Police had emailed Indymedia UK, an independent online news platform, requesting that personal information about Justice Neil Butterfield, the trial judge, be removed from the Indymedia website and that details of the poster be retained.

Indymedia UK volunteers had already removed the information in line with the projects own privacy policy. Indymedia UK was unable to comply with Kent Police's request to retain data relating to poster. As an open publishing project, Indymedia UK has set up Apache to not log IP addresses. Furthermore, the Police had been informed that the server in question was a mirror server and therefore not the machine that the comments were posted to. Nevertheless, Police seized the machine which was handed over by the management of UK Grid. No warrant was shown.

Dr. Lee Salter, a senior lecturer in journalism at the University of the West of England, told Indymedia "Journalistic material is protected by law, and the police should not gather more information than is relevant for their investigation — by seizing this server they are not only getting information on Indymedia but also on wholly unrelated groups. The police should know that Indymedia does not hold personal information on its participants, so it is a concern is that the police are collecting random information on participants".

The loss of a server represents serious damage to the Indymedia infrastructure in the UK. Several websites including the global Indymedia documentation project, the new website of Indymedia London, la Soja Mata (an anti-GM soya campaign focusing on South American development), Transition Sheffield and a Canadian campaign against the 2010 Olympics were affected. Most of these websites could be restored.

The present case is not the first time that Indymedia servers were seized in the UK. Shortly before the opening of the European Social Forum in 2004 in London, a main Indymedia server was seized from the hosting company Rackspace in an operation which involved an Italian Judge, an American District Court and the FBI.

In 2005, the server of Indymedia Bristol was seized under a search warrant. One Indymedia Bristol volunteer was arrested on suspicion of incitement to criminal damage, but was never charged.

As with previous cases, Indymedia UK stayed online this time. This was possible due to a system of "mirrors", which was set up to protect the technical infrastructure of the alternative media project. Despite the resource intensive interruptions caused by server seizures, the DIY-media activists continue to provide a platform for "news straight from the streets".

Info Sheet 24.01.2009 by: imc-uk press group

Notes to the editor, for further information, contact Imc-uk-contact at lists.indymedia.org.

---

I'm posting this as a concerned UK administrator who hosts a number of sites. The message appears to be clear, the UK establishment does not want political content, legitimate or otherwise hosted from these shores. The message has been noted, however free speech must be supported even where it may not be agreeable."

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