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The Media

BBC's iPlayer Chief Pushes Tiered Charging For ISPs 172

rs232 writes with a link to a story at The Register which begins: "The executive in charge of the BBC iPlayer has suggested that internet users could be charged £10 per month extra on their broadband bill for higher quality streaming." The article suggests (perhaps optimistically) that "after years of selling consumers pipes, not what they carry, [tiered, site-specific pricing] would be tough to pull off."
Biotech

Resurrecting the Mighty Mammoth, Cheaply 322

somanyrobots writes with an interesting followup in the New York Times to the earlier-reported substantial reconstruction of the woolly mammoth genome: "Scientists are talking for the first time about the old idea of resurrecting extinct species as if this staple of science fiction is a realistic possibility, saying that a living mammoth could perhaps be regenerated for as little as $10 million. The same technology could be applied to any other extinct species from which one can obtain hair, horn, hooves, fur or feathers, and which went extinct within the last 60,000 years, the effective age limit for DNA." (The Washington Post article linked from the earlier post was much more skeptical, calling such an attempt "still firmly the domain of science fiction." The New York Times article, while describing the process in similar terms, also calls attention to recent advances in sequencing DNA, as well as recoding DNA for cloning.)
Sci-Fi

Ray Kurzweil Wonders, Can Machines Ever Have Souls? 630

Celery writes "There's an interview with Ray Kurzweil on silicon.com talking up the prospects of gene therapy as a means to reverse human aging, discussing different approaches to developing artificial intelligence, and giving his take on whether super intelligent machines could ever have souls. From the interview: 'The soul is a synonym for consciousness ... and if we were to consider where consciousness comes from we would have to consider it an emerging property. Brain science is instructive there as we look inside the brain, and we've now looked at it in exquisite detail, you don't see anything that can be identified as a soul — there's just a lot of neurons and they're complicated but there's no consciousness to be seen. Therefore it's an emerging property of a very complex system that can reflect on itself. And if you were to create a system that had similar properties, similar level of complexity it would therefore have the same emerging property.'"
Books

Which Computer Books For Prisoners? 257

Brian D. writes "I've recently begun working with a group that sends books to prisoners in federal and state prisons. We try to match their requests as well as we can. One request that we consistently have trouble filling is for computer books. This is not for lack of books, but because the prisoners' requests tend to be vague and their computer resources are obviously severely limited. Keep in mind that we send prisoners all types of books — from gardening and landscaping to cooking and sailing — about topics they don't have the resources to experiment with. With basically one shelf devoted to books on computing, what types of books should I tell them we should keep? What are the best types of books to send a prisoner who requests a book on 'computer repair?'"
Education

Royal Society "Creationist" Resigns 658

Chris_Keene writes in to let us know that the Prof. Michael Reiss, who recently caused a storm with comments about teaching creationism in schools, has resigned from his post as director of education at the Royal Society in the UK. This news coincides with word out of the Anglican church that it is ready to apologize to Charles Darwin, 150 years after it poured scorn on his theory of evolution by natural selection. "The Church of England will concede in a statement that it was over-defensive and over-emotional in dismissing Darwin's ideas. It will call 'anti-evolutionary fervor' an 'indictment' on the Church."
Patents

Scribbling On Digital Photos 134

JagsLive notes a patent application filed in the US by Nokia for a way to 'scribble on the back' of digital photos. Nokia's approach is similar to the iPod's Cover Flow, except that Nokia users will be able to flip through their snaps, select one, and then turn it over and annotate the back just using SMS-like text entry. The scribble becomes an integral part of the saved photo.
Windows

Black Screens For Unauthorized Copies of Windows 762

arcticstoat writes "In a bid to deter people from using pirate versions of Windows XP, Microsoft is now updating its Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA) tool to introduce a few uncomfortable niggles for users of pirated versions of Windows. These include replacing the desktop wallpaper with a black screen every 60 minutes, although you can still replace it with your wallpaper of choice in the intervening period. As well as this, copies of Windows deemed to not be genuine will also have a translucent watermark above the system tray, which Microsoft calls a 'persistent desktop notification.'"
Google

Is Google Making Us Stupid? 636

mjasay writes "Is Google making us stupid? Following a growing body of research within neuroscience, Carr argues that as we use the Web 'we inevitably begin to take on the qualities of those technologies.' This sounds great: Who wouldn't want to have the 'recall' capacity of Google? But, as Carr writes: 'The Internet promises to have particularly far-reaching effects on cognition. ... The Internet, an immeasurably powerful computing system, is subsuming most of our other intellectual technologies. It's becoming our map and our clock, our printing press and our typewriter, our calculator and our telephone, and our radio and TV. When the Net absorbs a medium, that medium is recreated in the Net's image.' In other words, as we 'go online' in increasing numbers and to an increasing degree, are we losing our ability to think coherently and deeply, preferring instead to process byte-sized information quickly, regurgitate 140-character 'tweets,' and skim thought? Is the concern overblown, or are we becoming the Web that we created?"
Google

YouTube Refuses To Remove Terrorist Videos 676

hhavensteincw writes "YouTube has declined a request from Sen. Joe Lieberman remove videos from terrorist organizations. Lieberman said that the videos made by groups like Al-Qaeda show assassinations, attacks on US soldiers leading to injuries and death, and weapons training, 'incendiary' speeches, and other material intended to 'encourage violence against the West.' YouTube said that while it removed some of the videos highlighted by the Senator, most were allowed to stay because they did not violate YouTube's community guidelines. YouTube went on to note that they are strong supporters of free speech."
Power

Hairy Solar Cells Could Mean Higher Efficiency 203

kitzilla writes "Two research groups working independently have come up with what they say are cheap processes for growing nanowires to be used with solar cells. The 'hairy' cells provide a direct path for electrons collected at the panel face to reach an electrode, something which has the potential to dramatically improve system efficiency."
Patents

IBM Trying To Patent Timed Code Inspection 146

theodp writes "A just-published IBM patent application for a Software Inspection Management Tool claims to improve software quality by taking a chess-clock-like approach to code walkthroughs. An inspection rate monitor with 'a pause button, a resume button, a complete button, a total lines inspected indication, and a total lines remaining to be inspected indication' keeps tabs on participants' progress and changes color when management's expectations — measured in lines per hour — are not being met."
Space

NASA Wants its MMO Created for Free 217

fyc writes "It seems that the educational MMORPG NASA's proposing will no longer have a budget of $3 million. Instead, any prospective development partner is being asked to create and maintain the MMORPG for free under a 'non-reimbursable Space Act Agreement'. It won't be a one-sided agreement, though. From NASA's RFP: 'In exchange for a collaborator's investment to create and manage a NASA-based MMO game for fun and to enhance STEM [science, technology, engineering and mathematics], NASA will consider negotiating brand placement, limited exclusivity and other opportunities.'"

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