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Privacy

Homeland Security Department Testing "Pre-Crime" Detector 580

holy_calamity writes "New Scientist reports that the Department of Homeland Security recently tested something called Future Attribute Screening Technologies (FAST) — a battery of sensors that determine whether someone is a security threat from a distance. Sensors look at facial expressions, body heat and can measure pulse and breathing rate from a distance. In trials using 140 volunteers those told to act suspicious were detected with 'about 78% accuracy on mal-intent detection, and 80% on deception,' says a DHS spokesman."
Google

Submission + - Forget iPhone, the Gphone is here (rediff.com)

gambit3 writes: "Google, the nearly $13.5 billion search engine major, is believed to be a fortnight away from the worldwide launch of its much-awaited Google Phone (Gphone) and has started talks with service providers in India for an exclusive launch on one of their networks. One big obstacle to the gPhone: the name has already been applied for as a trademark, and not by Google. Micro-g LaCoste, Inc., a company in Lafayette, Colorado, applied back on March 5 for a gPhone trademark, according to Realtechnews.com."
Microsoft

Submission + - Implementing OOXML: One Developer's Nightmare (arstdesign.com)

Just Some Nobody writes: "While Microsoft likes to play up just how well-documented the 6,000+ page OOXML specification is, the independent developers implementing it don't have things so easy. Stéphane Rodriguez, one of the top non-Microsoft experts on the binary Excel file format, has been documenting the difficulties in working with the new OOXML format for Excel. It seems that one of the biggest difficulties is that Excel-produced documents don't even conform to Microsoft's own OOXML standard, ECMA 376."
Hardware Hacking

Submission + - Making a inertial navigation system?

An anonymous reader writes: Hi guys, I am interested in making an inertial navigation system using the now common embedded accelerometers. The problem is, I can't find any specs on what the sensitivity or accuracy of those sensors are. What kind of accuracy should I expect out of one of the laptop embedded accelerometers, and how much out of one of the embedded systems like Gumstix that cost a few hundred dollars? I will probably be using it in a car, if you need to know the operating enviroment. Horizontal X and Y axis required, vertical axis optional.
Space

Submission + - Gamma Ray Anomaly Could Test String Theory (sciam.com)

exploder writes: String theory is notorious for its lack of testable predictions. But if the MAGIC gamma-ray telescope team's interpretation is correct, then a delay in the arrival of higher-energy gamma rays could point to a breakdown of relativity theory. A type of "quantum lensing effect" is postulated to cause the delay, which is approximateley four minutes over a half-billion year journey.
Power

Generating Nano Oscillatory Motion 70

KentuckyFC sends us to arxivblog.com, where he summarizes (in prose that is somewhat more twee than we usually encounter in writing about physics) the conversion of a constant force into oscillatory motion on the nano scale. Here is the article preprint. A research group at the University of Wisconsin-Madison has made mushroom-shaped nano-pillars that oscillate in a constant DC field, like metronomes.
Software

Submission + - Latest US OOXML Vote on OOXML is Yes - And More (consortiuminfo.org) 3

Andy Updegrove writes: "The latest step in the US voting on OOXML was to circulate two ballots — one to approve, with comments, and one to abstain, with comments. Those votes are now back in, with the approval vote getting enough to pass (12), plus three "nos" and one abstention. The ballot to abstain with comments came back unanimously approved. A "resolution meeting" will be held on August 29, at which the approval vote may stand, or one or more votes may switch. Meantime, as votes (yes and no) begin to be announced around the world, there has been a sudden, last minute influx of countries that have suddenly decided that they want to upgrade their status within ISO/IEC JTC1 in order to be be able to vote on specifications — such as OOXML. Six so far, in fact: Cypress, Ecuador, Pakistan, Trinidad/Tobago, Uruguay, and Venezuela, with perhaps more on the way. Under the rules, they will be able to exercise their new rights immediately. Coincidence? http://www.consortiuminfo.org/standardsblog/articl e.php?story=2007082413463944"
Windows

Submission + - Windows Vista Home Makes Hidden File Backups

Overly Critical Guy writes: "Previous Versions" is a feature of Windows Vista Business, Enterprise, and Ultimate that uses Shadow Copy to allow users to restore past versions of a file like Apple's Time Machine. It turns out Vista Home also makes file backups but does not allow the user to access them. This means you automatically lose 15 percent of your drive to backups you can't access until you upgrade to Business, Enterprise, or Ultimate. Worse yet, disabling the "Previous Versions" service also disables System Restore and removes all restore points.
The Gimp

Submission + - Gimp VS Photoshop - Bloody battle of the giants

Rea Maor writes: "Do you want to edit bitmap images on the home desktop? It's surprising, but really the choice of image editing applications comes down to just two: Gimp and Photoshop. And therein lies a dilemma.

Photoshop costs around $600 these days, and Gimp is free, so of course if cost is a factor you're going to swerve towards Gimp. But — and you knew there was a 'but' coming — it's not that simple. Photoshop has two leads over Gimp: (1) patented features, and (2) the interface that everyone is used to. Most especially, Gimp is out of the running for professional print shop editing, thanks to the patent lock on industrial features such as color correction and CMYK. Gimp can emulate these features with work-arounds, or it can get sued, and that's all there is to it.

A common misconception is that Gimp lacks many more features that Photoshop has. In fact, with the exception of features that depend on patented algorithms, Gimp is 99% on par with Photoshop in capabilities. It's just that Photoshop users try Gimp, are immediately lost in the baroque interface, and leave in terror. Having the features doesn't do you much good if you can't find them!

That's the real hanger is the user interface. Unlike other professions which happen to take place on a computer, graphics artists are almost never geeks. Geeks explore an interface, practice with it, read the manual on it, and when they discover the scripting language buried within (Gimp has scheme), they're bowled over at how cool it is. Graphics artists aren't like that. They're right-brained all the way; they're here to draw, not write programs. And when they learn one way to make the computer do what they want, that's a sacrifice of time which they can never again be asked to do. Learning a new interface is painful for anybody, but it seems to be simply unacceptable for the graphics artist.

For instance, let's say you want to draw a beard on a face. In both Photoshop and Gimp it is straight-forward enough to create a custom brush shaped like a few hair follicles. But to draw the beard on and have it come out looking like natural hair, in Photoshop you would open the brush dialog and change the shape and color dynamics, tweaking switches and knobs in each and setting them to randomize. In Gimp, however, you would create a layered brush (called an "image pipe") which is similar to how you would do an animated gif, then just tell it to use the brush layers in random order. You could manually set up the brush layers to be lighter, darker, and rotated and resized — in effect giving yourself more control over the final effect. It is possible to get the exact same effect in both programs, with even some room to argue that one result looks better than the other.

But what good is that going to do if you're used to the Photoshop interface? Nothing. In a nutshell, Photoshop is for linear thinkers, and Gimp is for lateral thinkers. Both of them can arrive at very nearly the same result, so close that it's a neck and neck race. Bottom line, for website graphics and simple editing jobs it's almost insane to spend the money to use Photoshop. And Gimp is likewise inadequate for the needs of a professional print shop.

Unless, of course, you're already a geek. Then it won't matter, because you learn new programs just for fun anyway. The only problem with that is... have you ever met a geek with good artistic skills?"
Windows

Submission + - Vista Sales Numbers Don't Add Up

Overly Critical Guy writes: Vista's sales numbers don't add up according to Joe Wilcox of Microsoft-Watch. Going through the numbers and citing NPD, Gartner, and IDC, Wilcox describes the difference between licenses sold to manufacturers and actual consumer purchases, noting that there haven't been 20 million PCs sold since Jan. 30, contrary to Microsoft's numbers. In fact, only 3 million PCs have been sold since the start of the year.
Security

Submission + - Sen McCain's MySpace page gets hacked

An anonymous reader writes: http://www.computerworld.com/action/article.do?com mand=viewArticleBasic&articleId=9014483&intsrc=hm_ list Visitors to Sen. John McCain's MySpace page were likely surprised today by a statement that the Senator has reversed his position on gay marriage and "come out in full support of gay marriage ... particularly marriage between passionate females." Most won't be surprised that the statement was apparently posted as a prank. The co-founder of an online news site, who said he designed the MySpace template used for McCain's page, claimed responsibility for changing the site . Mike Davidson, cofounder of Newsvine, said on his Web site that he commandeered the MySpace page because McCain's office used a design template of his without providing him credit. Davidson also said his imagery was used on the page and his server is used serve up McCain's MySpace images.

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