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Microsoft

Submission + - Russia Uses Microsoft to Suppress Dissent (nytimes.com)

Omniscientist writes: "The New York Times reports of a growing trend in Russia where authorities are silencing the opposition through the confiscation of computers under the pretext of searching for pirated Microsoft software. Although these raids would seem to be a tactic for squashing dissent, lawyers retained by Microsoft have been fully supporting the police throughout the course of these events. Microsoft has submitted numerous statements supporting these actions, going so far as to make an accusation that one of the advocacy groups 'purchased and installed legal Microsoft software specifically to deny the authorities an excuse to raid them'."
Microsoft

Submission + - Microsoft helps Russia pursue opposition (nytimes.com)

asaz989 writes: The New York Times reports that Russia selectively pursues software piracy complaints from Microsoft in order to suppress the opposition — confiscating computers for evidence, searching offices, and the like. Microsoft lawyers usually back the authorities in such cases, even when cases such as that of the environmentalist group Baikal Waves, which went out of its way to buy licenses to prevent police harassment and nevertheless had its offices raided, and its computers confiscated. Microsoft participated in this legal process. Published alongside this story, under the same byline, is a related piece on the collusion of Microsoft lawyers with corrupt Russian police in extorting money from the targets of software piracy investigations. In a responding press release, the company states, 'Microsoft antipiracy efforts are designed to honor both [antipiracy concerns and human rights], but we are open to feedback on what we can do to improve in that regard.'
Microsoft

Submission + - Microsoft aids persecution of Russian activists

jmcbain writes: The NY Times is reporting that Microsoft directly aided the arrest of Russian evenvironmental activists. The Baikal Environmental Wave was organizing protests against Prime Minister Vladimir V. Putin's decision to reopen a paper factory that had polluted nearby Lake Baikal. Instead, the group fell victim to one of the authorities' newest tactics for quelling dissent: confiscating computers under the pretext of searching for pirated Microsoft software. As the ploy grows common, the authorities are receiving key assistance from an unexpected partner: Microsoft itself. Baikal Wave, in fact, said it had purchased and installed legal Microsoft software specifically to deny the authorities an excuse to raid them. The group later asked Microsoft for help in fending off the police. "Microsoft did not want to help us, which would have been the right thing to do," said Marina Rikhvanova, a Baikal Environmental Wave co-chairwoman.
Idle

Submission + - Archbishop Bans Pop Music at Funerals (nytimes.com)

pickens writes: The NY Times reports that the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Melbourne has announced a ban on the playing of pop music at funerals, which, he said, are not to be described as “a celebration of the life of” the deceased. According to new guidelines published on Archbishop Denis Hart’s Web site: "Secular items are never to be sung or played at a Catholic funeral, such as romantic ballads, pop or rock music, political songs, football club songs." According to a cemetery contacted by Melbourne's Herald Sun, a list of more unusual songs played at Australian funerals includes: “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” by Monty Python, “Another One Bites the Dust” by Queen, “Highway to Hell,” by AC/DC and “Ding Dong the Witch is Dead” from “The Wizard of Oz.”
Hardware Hacking

The Chipophone — an 8-Bit Chiptune Organ 84

adunk writes "Linus Åkesson has built an 8-bit synthesizer inside an old electric organ case. 'All the original tone-generating parts have been disconnected, and the keys, pedals, knobs and switches rerouted to a microcontroller which transforms them into MIDI signals. Those are then parsed by a second microcontroller, which acts as a synthesizer.' The Chipophone is perfect for playing classics such as the Super Mario Bros in-game music or Rob Hubbard's Spellbound. A description of the build process, with photos, is available."
Software

Submission + - Top-notch tweaking software shut down (kingofgng.com) 1

KingofGnG writes: The month of June started with a bad news for all the Windows systems power users and personalizations fans: X-Setup Pro, a long-history tweaking software with unique features, reached the end of its lifetime. Because of its financial problems, the company behind X-Setup interrupted the program’s development giving away the latest version with a serial code useful for its registration.

Submission + - German Publishers Want Monopoly on Sentences (blogspot.com)

Glyn Moody writes: You think copyright can't get any more Draconian? Think again: in Germany, newspaper publishers are lobbying for "a new exclusive right conferring the power to monopolise speech e.g. by assigning a right to re-use a particular wording in the headline of a news article anywhere else without the permission of the rights holder. According to the drafts circulating in the internet, permission shall be obtainable exclusively by closing an agreement with a new collecting society which will be founded after the drafts have matured into law. Depending on the particulars, new levies might come up for each and every user of a PC, at least if the computer is used in a company for commercial purposes." Think that will never work because someone will always break the news cartel? Don't worry, they've got that covered too: they want to "to amend cartel law in order to enable a global 'pooling' of all exclusive rights of all newspaper publishers in Germany in order to block any attempt to defect from the paywall cartell by single competitor." And rest assured, if anything like this passes in Germany, publishers everywhere will be using the copyright ratchet to obtain "parity".
Power

Submission + - Swedish nuclear ban lifted (nuclearpoweryesplease.org) 1

DrKnark writes: After 30 years (since the public vote in 1980) the ban on nuclear power in Sweden has been lifted. The decision means a maximum of 10 reactors in Sweden will be allowed, meaning old ones have to be shut down to start a new reactor. No government funds will be allowed to be used to subsidize any nuclear power endeavors.
However, the opposing parties have promised to reverse the decision if they gain power in the September election.

Submission + - Why are digital hearing aids so expensive? 4

sglines writes: Over the last couple of years I've been slowly getting deaf. Too much loud rock and roll I suppose. After flubbing a couple of job interviews because I couldn't understand my inquisitors I had a hearing test which confirmed what I already knew, I'm deaf. So I tried on a set of behind the ear hearing aids, wow, my keyboard makes clacks as I type and my wife doesn't mumble to herself. Then I asked how much: $3700 for the pair. Hey I'm unemployed. The cheapest digital hearing aids thy had were $1200 each. WYF? If you look at the specs they are not very impressive. A digital hearing aid has a low power A to D converter. Output consists of D to A conversion with volume passing through an equalizer that inversely matches your hearing loss. Most hearing loss, mine included, is frequency dependent so an equalizer does wonders. The "cheap" hearing aids had only 4 channels while the high end one had 12. My 1970 amplifier had more than that. I suppose they have some kind of noise reduction circuitry too but that's pretty much it. So my question is this — when I can get a very good netbook computer for under $400 why do I need to pay $1200 per ear for a hearing aid? Alternatives would be welcome.
Space

Submission + - Meteor may have hit international space station (yahoo.com)

adnd74 writes: "Two astronauts on the International Space Station will make a spacewalk next week to find out if a micrometeoroid strike damaged a critical part of the outpost's power system, officials said on Thursday. The station is not in any danger and is still producing enough power to support the arrival of a Russian cargo ship this month, said station deputy program manager Kirk Shireman."
Enlightenment

A Review of the $200 Wal-Mart Linux PC 235

bcrowell writes "Wal-Mart's new $200 Linux PC has generated a lot of buzz in geek circles. Although they're sold out of stores, I bought one for my daughter via mail order, and have written up a review of the system. The hardware seems fine for anyone but a hardcore gamer, but the pre-installed gOS flavor of Ubuntu has a lot of rough edges."

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