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Wireless (Apple)

Submission + - iPhone Exploit (wired.com)

dalpeh writes: "Wired has posted an article http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2009/07/sms-hijack-iphone/ about exploiting the iPhone via a text message. I found 2 settings for text on the phone. One defaults to displaying a preview of the message. You can turn this off. Other than shutting off your phone or calling ATT to cancel all text messages, your defenses seem pretty limited. Bummer....."
Patents

Submission + - Patent Reformer Becomes Troll, Sues Defunct OSS Co (arstechnica.com)

suraj.sun writes: A small Web development and open source software company called CityWare was recently named alongside Google, Yahoo, Amazon and other software giants in a patent infringement lawsuit. What makes this unusual is that CityWare has no products or customers and no longer exists. The company was formed by software developer Nate Neel in 2004, but folded soon after due to lack of customers.

The defunct company became the victim of a patent infringement lawsuit because it was operating in the Eastern District of Texas, a jurisdiction that is notoriously friendly to patent trolls. Bedrock Computer Technologies, the company that filed the patent suit, likely named CityWare in the suit solely to increase the chances of having the case heard in that region.

Bedrock Computer Technologies is owned by David Garrod, a former Goodwin Procter lawyer who is an active contributor to patent reform efforts. Garrod is leading an initiative against false patent markings in collaboration with PubPat, a nonprofit organization that was founded in 2003 to fight against abuses of the patent system.

Garrod contends that the technology companies infringe Patent 5,893,120, which describes "methods and apparatus for information storage and retrieval using a hashing technique with external chaining and on-the-fly removal of expired data." It's a textbook example of patent trolling: a lawsuit over a relatively broad and dubious patent executed by a company that makes nothing itself against a random assortment of deep-pocketed industry leaders.

ARSTechnica : http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2009/07/patent-reformer-becomes-troll-sues-defunct-oss-company.ars

Security

Submission + - SPAM: BBN turns up heat on language translation tech

coondoggie writes: "When it comes to translating languages in real time, BBN must speak the tongue as it netted a $14 million check from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) this week to continue developing its speech and text technology. BBN has now taken in over $30 million from DARPA over the past few years to fill out the agency's Global Autonomous Language Exploitation (GALE) program. The goal of GALE is to translate and distill foreign language material (television shows and newspapers) in near real-time, highlight salient information, and store the results in a searchable database — all with more than 90% accuracy by the end of the program. Through this process, GALE would help U.S. analysts recognize critical information in foreign languages quickly so they could act on it in a timely fashion. During the first three years of the GALE program, BBN met or exceeded the accuracy goals for automatic translation of Arabic newswire text and broadcast news into English. Under this latest contract award, BBN will continue to work in Arabic from both speech and text sources to meet increasingly steep accuracy goals. BBN continues to work in Chinese under a separate award, the company said. [spam URL stripped]"
Link to Original Source
Unix

Submission + - Frequency and use of Unix executables

Johnny Mnemonic writes: "I help Sys Admin a Linux setup. It has a several hundred end users, spread out in many locations and time zones. Our users often write their own bash/python/perl scripts to help with their daily duties, and other users often invoke those scripts directly from the author's home directory when they have proven interesting and useful. Also, we have perhaps a dozen directories in which reviewed scripts can be located. Some of the scripts can be quite sophisticated, and grow to multiple hundreds of lines.

We have found that when a script is useful, our users expect it to work all of the time--regardless if the original author of the tool has quit, if the code breaks, or it doesn't scale up to being used by hundreds of users due to poor design. When that happens, we are put in the awkward and frustrating position of supporting a script that was poorly designed and/or poorly documented--and often the first time we are even made aware of it is via the trouble ticket for the tool breaking. So we are in mad scramble to understand the tool, and understand why it broke--and the users that have come to depend on it are breathing down our back.

The Sys Admin team would like to know all of the scripts that these users might be using. We care less about executables that have been written but aren't actually being used--so it's not really useful to just look for files which are +x. Our users are a clever bunch, and the utilities that they build themselves serve their needs well--we generally encourage this tool creation process. We encourage this kind of self-help, so we can't simply disable the ability to run arbitrary executables altogether. We just want to know about them when they build those tools, so we can better support them should they become popular with other users and useful to the business.

How are you aware of all of the scripts and tools that your users build for each other? How and when do you accept support responsibilities for home grown tools? How do you require users who just want to get the job done to accept coding conventions and best-practices? We have tried to mandate that the user base accept these from the outset of their development--but have found that strictly enforcing good code hygiene from the outset actually results in them talking to us less, not more--and makes the problem worse, not better.

Thanks!"
Displays

Submission + - Star Wars Tech: True Green Laser Developed.

dusty writes: "Remember those green lasers from Star Wars? Turns out that faking green lasers has been easy for years , but making true green laser diodes has been the stuff of science fiction. Until recently that is. Now researchers from Japan have created the world's first true green laser diode. Until now only red and blue laser diodes were available and now with the addition of green new TV's and projectors that are more efficient can be produced. And if you were wondering how green lasers pointers are already produced, it is a hack that involved doubling the frequency of an infrared laser. The new true green laser diodes have much higher efficiency than the current 6% leading many to expect big time laser display breakthroughs in the near future. Ars Technica has a well written article on this breakthrough, and although the current lasers are no where near the power of the Death Star or Luke's lightsaber, seems anything can happen given enough research and time."
Supercomputing

Submission + - Sandia Studies Botnets in 1M OS Digital Petri Dish

Ponca City, We love you writes: "The NY Times reports that researchers at Sandia National Laboratories are creating what is in effect a vast digital petri dish able to hold one million operating systems at once in an effort to study the behavior of botnets. To stalk the botnets, Sandia Scientist Ron Minnich, the inventor of LinuxBIOS who specializes in computer security and his colleague Don Rudish have converted a Dell supercomputer to simulate a mini-Internet of one million computers. The researchers say they hope to be able to infect their digital petri dish with a botnet and then gather data on how the system behaves. "When a forest is on fire you can fly over it, but with a cyberattack you have no clear idea of what it looks like," says Minnich. "It's an extremely difficult task to get a global picture." The Dell Thunderbird supercomputer, named MegaTux, has 4,480 Intel microprocessors running virtual machines with Wine, making it possible to run 1 million copies of Windows without paying licensing fees to Microsoft. MegaTux, a reference to Tux, the penguin character that is the official mascot of the Linux operating system, is an example of a new kind of computational science, in which computers are used to simulate scientific instruments that were once used in physical world laboratories. "One of the advantages of such a system is that we can stop the simulation at any point and look for patterns," says Rudish. "It's one of the neat things you can do when you crash a simulation of a 747 on a supercomputer.""
Earth

Submission + - Classified evidence of global warming revealed (thinkprogress.org)

An anonymous reader writes: The Obama administration has released more than a thousand intelligence images of Arctic ice, following a declassification request by the National Academy of Sciences. These high-resolution spy photos of rapid sea ice loss off the northern coast of Alaska, kept classified by the Bush administration, show the devastating impact of global warming in the Arctic. The newly-declassified images also reveal the retreat of glaciers in Washington and Alaska.
The Internet

Submission + - Will 'Cloud Brokers' Be the Key to Cloud Adoption? (datacenterknowledge.com) 1

miller60 writes: "Confused by all the cloud computing hype? So are many end users who could benefit from cloud platforms. The beneficiaries of this confusion could be "cloud brokers", middlemen who help enterprises choose the right platform and deploy apps across multiple clouds, and may eventually provide cloud arbitrage services that allow users to jump between platforms to capture the best pricing. Will the winners in this space be new players like CloudKick and RightScale or established system integrators like CSC? A key battleground may be federal agencies, where Amazon Web Services Federal is already offering training for IT service providers with government ties."
Robotics

Submission + - Pitching Robot Hits Strike Zone 90% of Time

Hugh Pickens writes: "ESPN reports that University of Tokyo professor Masatoshi Ishikawa has created a pitching robot that can throw 90 percent of its pitches in the strike zone, won't need any relief from the bullpen and never asks for a pay raise. The pitching robot throws a plastic foam ball at 25 miles per hour, but Ishikawa is hoping to increase the speed to 93 mph and make it able to throw off-speed pitches like curves and sliders. Ishikawa has also created a batting robot, which has a sensor to determine if pitches are strikes or balls, hits balls in the strike zone almost 100 percent of the time, doesn't swing at pitches outside the strike zone, and is guaranteed to pass all drug tests. In a demonstration designed to showcase the speed at which multiple high-speed industrial robots can respond to external circumstances and perform activities together — the researchers placed the robot pitcher 3.5 meters away from the mechanical batter. The pitching robot's throws posed little challenge to the batter, whose 1000-frame-per-second camera eyes allow it to see the ball in super slow motion as it approaches. "The demand level of the robotics technology of each robot is very high," Ishikawa says. "What was difficult was to create a mechanism to satisfy such a high level of demand.""
Movies

Submission + - Tron Legacy exposed (kingofgng.com) 1

KingofGnG writes: "As already occurred during the past year, Disney has chosen the San Diego Comic-Con International to present its new sci-fi project. The sequel to Tron, the classic movie from 1982 dealing with videogames, virtual reality and 3D graphics when none of these three things was widely popular, has got an official title and synopsis now while the major has released (and this time without silly censorship) the very first trailer from the movie together with some concept art and the teaser poster."
GNU is Not Unix

Submission + - Stallman Says Pirate Party Hurts Free Software (gnu.org)

bonch writes: Richard Stallman has written an article on the GNU website describing the effect the Swedish Pirate Party's platform would have on the free software movement. While he supports general changes to copyright law, he makes a point that many anti-copyright proponents don't realize--the GPL itself is a copyright license that relies on copyright law to protect access to source code. According to Stallman, the Pirate Party's proposal of a five-year limit on copyright would remove the freedom users have to gain access to source code by eventually allowing its inclusion in proprietary products. Stallman suggests requiring proprietary software to also release its code within five years to even the balance of power.
Utilities (Apple)

Submission + - A Closer Look At Safari 4: Browser Speed Wars (hothardware.com)

MojoKid writes: "In early June, Apple released what is arguably its most significant upgrade to Safari yet: Safari 4. In typical Apple fashion, the company was quick to deem it the "world's fastest and most innovative browser." This performance review and showcase sets out to find if that bold claim is indeed true. Breaking down the features and performance profile of Safari 4--along with its fiercest competitors--on both the Mac and PC side, it's clear to see that Apple's web browser has come a long way and in many cases is indeed one of the fastest, though the most innovative claim is likely debatable. That said, the web browser wars are heating up and all told, it's very good for the consumer in the end."
Security

Submission + - 'Vanish' Makes Sensitive Data Self-Destruct

Hugh Pickens writes: "The NY Times reports on new software called "Vanish" developed by computer scientists at the University of Washington that makes sensitive electronic messages "self destruct" after a certain period of time. The researchers say they have struck upon a unique approach that relies on "shattering" an encryption key that is held by neither party in an e-mail exchange but is widely scattered across a peer-to-peer file sharing system. "Our goal was really to come up with a system where, through a property of nature, the message, or the data, disappears," says Amit Levy who helped create Vanish, released as a free, open-source tool that works with the Firefox browser. To work, both the sender and the recipient must have installed the tool. The sender then highlights any sensitive text entered into the browser and presses the "Vanish" button. The tool encrypts the information with a key unknown even to the sender. That text can be read, for a limited time only, when the recipient highlights the text and presses the "Vanish" button to unscramble it. After eight hours the message will be impossible to unscramble and will remain gibberish forever. Tadayoshi Kohno says Vanish makes it possible to control the "lifetime" of any type of data stored in the cloud, including information on Facebook, Google documents or blogs. "Today many people pick up the phone when they want to talk with a lawyer or have a private conversation," Kohno said. "But more and more communication is happening online. Vanish is designed to give people the same privacy for e-mail and the Web that they expect for a phone conversation.""
Earth

Submission + - Ultimate in recycled housing? Shipping containers (inhabitat.com)

waferhead writes: "Found this in a link via the "Wooden condo design survives 7.5 earthquake" article, but IMHO this has more potential for single and multi family homes.

http://www.inhabitat.com/2008/10/03/demaria-shipping-container-house/

Shipping containers as LEGO?

I've wanted to do something like this for many years, but my new house would probably end up looking like a bunch of stacked... shipping containers."

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