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Vista Security The 'Longest Suicide Note in History'? 467

rar42 writes "The Inquirer is reporting on an analysis of Vista by Peter Gutmann — a medical imaging specialist. This isn't the usual anti-Microsoft story — just a professional looking at what is going to happen to his computer if it is upgraded to Microsoft Vista. From the article: 'Windows Vista includes an extensive reworking of core OS elements in order to provide content protection for so-called "premium content", typically HD data from Blu-Ray and HD-DVD sources. Providing this protection incurs considerable costs in terms of system performance, system stability, technical support overhead, and hardware and software cost,' says Gutmann."
Christmas Cheer

America's Worst Christmas Parties 406

Ant writes "Slate Magazine asked its readers to submit reports of horrible office Christmas parties, gifts, and bonuses. Of nearly 200 submissions, they've chosen quite a few tales for The Corporate Scrooge Contest Results ... and they're not pretty. From the article: 'A contract consultant sends word that the company to which he is currently assigned recently sent out an e-mail to some 2,000-odd consultants. The company would give away two $100 gift cards--to two of the brave souls who would commit to work 80 hours between Dec. 18 and Dec. 31. As our correspondent noted: "Hey, if you work Christmas, we'll put you in a pool of 2,000 other folks to maybe win a hundred bucks."'"

Robots Could Some Day Demand Legal Rights 473

Karrde712 writes "According to a study by the British government, as reported by the BBC, robots may some day improve to a level of intelligence where they might be able to demand rights, even 'robo-healthcare'." From the article: "The research was commissioned by the UK Office of Science and Innovation's Horizon Scanning Centre. The 246 summary papers, called the Sigma and Delta scans, were complied by futures researchers, Outsights-Ipsos Mori partnership and the US-based Institute for the Future (IFTF) ... The paper which addresses Robo-rights, titled Utopian dream or rise of the machines? examines the developments in artificial intelligence and how this may impact on law and politics." I'd better get started on my RoboAmerican studies degree.
The Internet

HR 5252 Bill Dies 121

Oronar writes to mention a post on the 'Save the Internet' site applauding the death of Ted Stevens' bill. From the post: "The fate of Net Neutrality has now been passed to what appears to be a more Web-friendly Congress ... The end of this Congress -- and death of Sen. Ted Stevens' bad bill -- gives us the chance to have a long overdue public conversation about what the future of the Internet should look like. This will not only include ensuring Net Neutrality, but making the Internet faster, more affordable and accessible."

Former Spy Poisoned By Radiation In UK 432

An anonymous reader writes "BBC new is reporting the death of the ex-Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko with a major dose of radioactive polonium-210. But nobody knows how it got there. Suspicions have fallen upon the Russian security services (who deny involvement). The task of the pathologists now is to unpick what really killed him and how it was administered. Quite what techniques they will use to solve this puzzle is unclear." From the article: "A post-mortem examination on Mr Litvinenko has not been held yet. The delay is believed to be over concerns about the health implications for those present at the examination. But Roger Cox from the HPA said a large quantity of alpha radiation emitted from polonium-210 had been detected in Mr Litvinenko's urine."

Laser Turns All Metals Black 333

Roland Piquepaille writes "Researchers at the University of Rochester have found a way to change the properties of almost any metal by using a femtosecond laser pulse. This ultra-intense laser blast creates true 'black metal' from copper, gold or zinc by forming nanostructures at the surface of the metal. As these nanostructures capture radiation, the metals turn black. And as the process needs surprisingly low power, it could soon be used for a variety of applications, such as stealth planes, black jewels or car paintings. But read more for additional references and a picture of this femtosecond laser system."

U.S. Classrooms Torn Between Science and Religion 1115

Dystopian Rebel writes "A New Jersey public-school history teacher was recorded telling his students that they 'belong in Hell' if they do not accept Jesus. The teacher, who is also a Baptist Pastor, lied later when he was asked by the school principle what he said to the students. Unfortunately for this dodge, a student recorded the teacher's 'lesson'." From the article: "The student and his parents have requested that the teacher's anti-scientific remarks be corrected in open class, and that the school develop quality control procedures to ensure that future classes are not proselytized and misinformed. They have also referred the matter for disciplinary action. No apology has been forthcoming from the teacher or from the school."

Birmingham Drops Open Source Initiative 275

eldavojohn writes "Birmingham, England put a stop to a half million pound project to put Linux and open source applications on library access PCs across the city. From the article, 'The council planned to roll out Linux software and applications on 1,500 desktops in libraries across the city, but in the end went no further than a 200-desktop project. Several industry watchers have voiced their concerns about the project, particularly around the number of PCs rolled out. Birmingham's expenditure averaged over 2,500 pounds per PC.' Why did they stop after 200 PCs? Because they claimed with Windows, the project would have been 100,000 pounds cheaper. One may wonder if they paid for initial training of their workforce making the first 200 more expensive than the rest but the article does not say whether or not this occurred."

NASA Making Plans To Save the Earth 226

aluminumangel writes, "Taking a page out of a Michael Bay movie, NASA is considering a manned mission to land on an asteroid, 'poke one with a stick,' and see how feasible it would be to deflect it from its course. Obviously, the application would be valuable in a doomsday situation and hopefully could keep us from going wherever the dinosaurs went." The article makes oblique reference to another goal such a mission could serve: giving us something to do in space, something to engage the paying public, between the time we return to the Moon and the time we get to Mars.

Facing the Dangers of Nanotech 172

bethr writes "Technology Review has a Q&A with Andrew Maynard, the science advisor for the Woodrow Wilson International Center's nanotechnology project regarding the dangers of nanomaterials and why we have to act now." From the article: "Individual experiments have indicated that if you develop materials with a nanostructure, they do behave differently in the body and in the environment. We know from animal studies that very, very fine particles, particles with high surface area, lead to a greater inflammatory response than the same amount of larger particles. We also know that they can enter the lining of the lungs and get through to the blood and enter other organs. There is some evidence that nanoparticles can move into the brain along the olfactory nerve, so this is completely circumventing the blood-brain barrier."

Robot Identifies Human Flesh As Bacon 312

Jearil writes "Wired's 'Table of Malcontents' blog links to an article about a wine-tasting robot that thinks humans taste like bacon. The Japanese robot is intended to act as a personal sommelier, suggesting wines, cheeses, and hors d'oeuvres based on its owners personal tastes. It also apparently thinks humans would be tasty as part of a sandwich." From the article: "Let the robot holocaust commence: robots think we taste like bacon ... Upon being given a sample, he will speak up in a childlike voice and identify what he has just been fed. The idea is that wineries can tell if a wine is authentic without even opening the bottle, amongst other more obscure uses ... like 'tell me what this strange grayish lump at the back of my freezer is/was.' But when some smart aleck reporter placed his hand in the robot's omnivorous clanking jaw, he was identified as bacon. A cameraman then tried and was identified as prosciutto." This is most distressing.

An Open Letter To Diebold 266

jcatcw writes "Computerworld's Rob Mitchell tells Diebold President and CEO Thomas Swidarski how to regain Diebold's reputation instead of throwing in the e-voting towel. He recommends full disclosure of all existing problems, a process for disclosure of future problems, hiring of some real professionals as CTO and as an advisory group, and public testing. 'Surely if Diebold can make a secure ATM there is no reason why it cannot make secure and reliable e-voting apparatus in which the public has confidence.'"

Spam That Delivers a Pink Slip 160

alphadogg wrote in with a Network World story that begins: "Last week, a handful of employees at Dekalb Medical Center in Decatur, Ga., received e-mails saying they were being laid off. The subject line read 'Urgent — employment issue,' and the sender listed on the message was at dekalb.org, which is the domain the medical center uses. The e-mail contained a link to a Web site that claimed to offer career-counseling information. And so a few employees, concerned about their employment status and no doubt miffed about being laid off via e-mail, clicked on the link to learn more and unwittingly downloaded a keylogger program that was lurking at the site. Score another one for spammers."

Microsoft Will Allow Vista Reinstalls 349

Claus Valca writes "I just spotted over on the Windows Vista Team Blog the news that the Windows Vista retail licensing terms are being revised. Looks like PC home-brew system builders have been let back into the Vista party!" From the article: "Our intention behind the original terms was genuinely geared toward combating piracy; however, it's become clear to us that those original terms were perceived as adversely affecting an important group of customers: PC and hardware enthusiasts. You who comprise the enthusiast market are vital to us for several reasons, not least of all because of the support you've provided us throughout the development of Windows Vista. We respect the time and expense you go to in customizing, building and rebuilding your hardware and we heard you that the previous terms were seen as an impediment to that — it's for that reason we've made this change."

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