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Submission + - Personal encryption tested in U.S. District Court 1

Senior Frac writes: A U.S. District Court is reviewing a case where a man has refused to give his encryption password over to authorities. This individual, from Vermont, is accused of having child porn on his laptop and is refusing to hand over his encryption password. His defense is one of self-incrimination. This ruling is one that is important beyond the child porn aspect into other, less onerous, cases, so I would encourage everyone to look past the scumbag defendant and at our own data.
Operating Systems

Gentoo in Crisis, Robbins Offers Solution 259

mrbadbar writes "Gentoo Linux founder Daniel Robbins says Gentoo's leadership is in crisis. 'the Gentoo Foundation's charter has been revoked for several weeks, which means that as of this moment the Gentoo Foundation no longer exists.' Robbins offers a solution: his return as President of the Gentoo Foundation. According to Robbins: 'If I return as President, I will preserve the not-for-profit aspect of Gentoo. Beyond this, you can expect everything to be very, very different than how things are today.'"

Submission + - What to do with old observatories?

rmpotter writes: "Now that Bill Gates and Charles Symonyi are donating megabucks for the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST) Project, it begs the question: what to do with the grand old telescopes that were built in the 1930's and earlier? While old observatories can't perform cutting edge research, they may still be suitable for specialized research (near-star spectroscopy, time-series observations) as well as for undergraduate teaching and public education. To complicate matters, however, facilities such as the U of Chicago's Yerkes Observatory in Wisconsin and the U of Toronto's David Dunlap Observatory (Richmond Hill, Ontario) are sitting on tracts of prime real-estate and have prompted their host universities to try to sell them off for quick cash.

Public pressure forced the U of Chicago to rethink the sale of Yerkes, but the University of Toronto is determined to sell the David Dunlap Observatory to the highest bidder. Bids will be accepted until February 15 through an RFP process. The DDO sale has generated a firestorm of protest by stirring up area residents, the local naturalists group and amateur and professional astronomers. Collectively, they have written hundreds of letters, planned rallies and petitions, but so far U of T has refused to reconsider the sale.

For a public institution, U of T has been heavy-handed in conducting the sale. They never consulted with local residents or the astronomers who work at the facility and are even contesting the Town of Richmond Hill's attempt to designate the property as a heritage site. In December 2007, it came to light that U of T threatened to sue the Dunlap family in order to force them to agree to the sale of the land.

Essentially, the DDO has become a large urban park in the center of the town that grew up around it and area residents and astronomers would like to preserve both the telescope and the natural heritage of the land itself. The question is: should universities fund cutting-edge research by selling off large tracts of donated land to developers, thereby contributing to urban sprawl, increased traffic, noise, pollution and greenhouse gases?"
United States

Submission + - FBI to Investigate CIA Tape Destruction

An anonymous reader writes: The US Department of Justice announced on Wednesday that the FBI will be investigating the destruction of detainee interrogation tapes by CIA personnel. CIA Director Michael Hayden claimed the tapes were destroyed to protect the identities of CIA personnel and it is widely believed these tapes showed the use of torture by the CIA. The FBI will conduct the investigation under the direction of First Assistant US Attorney John Durham instead of the US Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia who has been recused to avoid the appearance of conflict of interest.
Desktops (Apple)

Journal SPAM: Is Apple Killing Linux on the Desktop? 5

Chris Howard over at Apple Matters posits that Apple is killing Linux on the desktop. According to Chris, "Not that long ago there was almost a consensus that Linux would soon over take Apple. Several commentators suggested a few years ago that Apple's biggest threat was not Microsoft, but Linux. Apple has taken care of that threat!"

Submission + - MSNBot "MSIE 7.0" UserAgent legitimacy? 10

sinthetek writes: "I noticed today that recently (around 02:56:18 EST on New Years Eve at least by my logs) MSNBot UserAgent strings started to indicate that it's requests are coming from a an IE 7 browser rather than it's usual/previous 'msnbot' useragent string. I went through several years of logs to confirm that it has always previously been some variation of "msnbot".

My question is whether there is likely a legitimate reason for using this string (ie a mistake due to shared code etc) or if there is a more sinister agenda to corrupt web statistics in an attempt to rally more support/development for MSIE7 with the seeming obviousness as potential 'plausible deniability' escape hatch?"

Submission + - How the mighty mainframe has morphed into 2008 (

coondoggie writes: "Here it is 2008 and we have some very interesting facts about the Big Iron chugging away in many corporate businesses. First and foremost, while tons of corporate date resides on a mainframe, it is largely locked there and a huge data integration effort will be required to unlock it. But that's just the tip of the iceberg. A survey of Share's members to be released this month by Share, the largest independent IBM users group found: 1. At least 70% of the world's mission-critical business information is stored on mainframes. 2. Most mainframe data is still locked up, and most integration efforts are still done with hand coded scripting. There are proactive efforts underway to better integrate mainframe data with more distributed data environments, and to be able to deliver this data in real time, meaning within seconds. 3. Mainframes store and manage much of an organization's enterprise data. However, most of this data remains inaccessible in these environments."

Submission + - Nations and Organizations that Adopted ODF in 2007 (

christian.einfeldt writes: "The ODF Alliance has released a report on 3 January 2008 detailing the state of global adoption of ODF as a governmental policy and in deployments of software applications. The 15-page report (PDF warning) says that 2007 'ended on a high note,' with the Netherlands and South Africa joining 10 other nations that had already adopted the ODF standard, formally known as ISO/IEC 26300:2006. There are now 40 software apps supporting ODF, with dozens of those coming in September and October alone. The ODF Alliance itself now claims just under 500 member organizations in 53 countries."
United States

Submission + - California sues US over emissions

gollum123 writes: "California is suing the US federal government, in an attempt to force car makers to conform to tougher cuts in greenhouse gas emissions ( ). The lawsuit comes after the federal Environmental Protection Agency denied California a waiver from US law needed to enact its own efficiency targets. Fifteen other states or state agencies are set to join the action. It challenged the Epa's denial of California's request to implement its own emissions law — which would require a 30% reduction in motor vehicle greenhouse gas emissions by 2016 by improving fuel efficiency standards. For years, California has been allowed to set its own environmental targets in recognition of the "compelling and extraordinary conditions" the state faces — and the Epa has never before denied California a waiver request. The other states joining the fight are: Massachusetts, Arizona, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington."
It's funny.  Laugh.

Submission + - Couple Try To Name Their Baby '@'

An anonymous reader writes: A geeky couple in China have tried to name their baby '@' (at sign), the ubiquitous symbol used in email addresses. In Chinese, the at sign can be pronounced 'ai ta', which means 'love him'. But have they thought of what the baby's email address will be like? Or his Slashdot user name?

Submission + - stoners make better programmers/designers?

mektronik writes: I have recently, albeit belatedly, come across a genera of music calling itself Nerdcore. It is essentially hip hop for geeks with rappers such as MCPlus+. The interesting part to note is that MOST of them talk about getting stoned while programming, this is something that I myself have long indulged in as have many friends of mine. On the other hand I have worked with a lot of programmers that do not. I generally find a strong correlation between stoners and better coders/designers, I have historically put this down to "thinking out of the box", but may in fact be a lot deeper. Am I totally off the mark? what do you think?

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