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Programming

Submission + - New Leader in Netflix Prize Race with 1 Day to Go (techcrunch.com)

brajesh writes: "Netfix Prize, an algorithm competition to improve The Netflix Cinematch recommendation system by more than 10% has a new leader — The Ensemble, just one day before the competition ends. The 30 day race to the end was kicked off after BellKor's Pragmatic Chaos submitted the first entry to break the 10% barrier with the results showing 10.08% improvement. The Ensemble, made up of three teams who chose to join forces: "Grand Prize Team", "Opera Solutions", and "Vandelay United", has managed to overtake BellKor with a score of 10.09% — an improvement of .01% over the former leaders. From the article on Techcrunch —

The competition will end tomorrow morning, so teams still have a little bit of time left to make their last-second submissions, but things are looking good for The Ensemble. This has to be absolutely brutal for team BellKor.

"

Programming

Submission + - Amazon Offers Pay As You Go Windows Server on EC2 (typepad.com)

brajesh writes: "Amazon Web Services Blog has an announcement that Amazon will now offer Windows server on its web service for virtual computing ("teh cloud") environment — EC2. From the post — "Beta level support for Microsoft Windows is now available on EC2, in the form of 32 and 64 bit AMIs, with pricing starting at $0.125 per hour. Microsoft SQL Server is also available in 64 bit form.". Significantly, ZDnet says "Amazon has made a few tweaks and additions to its Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) infrastructure just days before Microsoft is expected to launch its head-to-head competitive service at its Professional Developers Conference (PDC).""
Space

Submission + - India's First moon Mission Chandrayan-I Launched (bbc.co.uk)

milindss writes: The BBC Reports: "India has successfully launched its first mission to the Moon. The unmanned Chandrayaan 1 spacecraft blasted off smoothly from a launch pad in southern Andhra Pradesh to embark on a two-year mission of exploration. The robotic probe will orbit the Moon, compiling a 3-D atlas of the lunar surface and mapping the distribution of elements and minerals. The launch is regarded as a major step for India as it seeks to keep pace with other space-faring nations in Asia." Read the rest of the story here.
Cellphones

Software Holds Cell Phone Calls While Driving 452

An anonymous reader writes "Canadian company Aegis Mobility has developed software that detects if a cell phone is moving at 'car' speeds. If so, the software, DriveAssistT, will alert the cellular network, telling it to hold calls and text messages until the drive is over. Calls are not blocked entirely; callers will be notified that the person appears to be driving, but they can still leave an emergency voice mail, which will be sent through immediately."
Software

Submission + - Report: Pure Open Source Not Viable Business (readwriteweb.com)

technirvana writes: How do you make money if you give your software away for free? That's the classic question asked of Open Source software vendors and the expected reply is that they charge customers for software customization and support. That's not the way it works anymore, though, according to a report published today by analyst firm The 451 Group. Titled "Open source is not a business model", the report challenges some long held beliefs about the technology business. Of course not everyone accepts the 451 Group's conclusions. Marcus Estes of open source development shop OpenSourcery contested the report's premise and says that a long tail of purists is doing serious business.
Software

How To Kill an Open Source Project With New Funding 187

mir42 writes "The OpenSource multimedia authorware project Sophie, formerly hosted by USC Los Angeles, may just have been killed by new funding. The original funding organization, Mellon Foundation, approved a grant to redevelop the four year project from scratch in Java. The grant was awarded to a Bulgarian company based on their proposal, which is simply an exact description, including the UI and the artwork, of the current Sophie. Being an OpenSource project, this isn't strictly illegal, but let's say, not nice and definitely not innovative, coming from a former sub-sub-contractor on the project. Some of the original, now laid-off developers started OpenSophie.org trying to salvage the project. As the current version is still somewhat buggy and slow, it might just be enough to alienate all potential users of Sophie to the point that nobody will even try to use the next version. Have others faced similar situations? How would you deal with a situation like this?"
Cellphones

3G iPhone Going Into Production In May 269

A few folks noted the rumor mill churning over 3G iPhones coming soon. Apparently they might be going into production as early as May, and announced somewhere in the 2nd quarter. Hopefully they manage to stick a GPS and another 16 gigs of memory in this one.
Programming

Submission + - Martian Headsets and The State of Web Standards (joelonsoftware.com)

brajesh writes: "Joel on Software has a very lengthy but extremely insightful article on the state of web standards today. Joel writes — "Why are 'web standards' so frigging messed up? (It's not just Microsoft's fault. It's your fault too. And Jon Postel's [Robustness Principle]...". He quotes Eric Bangeman of ars technica — "The IE team has to walk a fine line between tight support for W3C standards and making sure sites coded for earlier versions of IE still display correctly. This is incorrect. It's not a fine line. It's a line of negative width. There is no place to walk. They are damned if they do and damned if they don't." Joel puts forth an example — "Look at the scenario from the customer's standpoint. You visit 100 websites a day. You then upgraded to IE 8. On half of them, the page is messed up, and Google Maps doesn't work at all. You're going to tell your friends, "Don't upgrade to IE 8. It messes up every page, and Google Maps doesn't work at all." Are you going to View Source to determine that website X is using nonstandard HTML, and Google Maps doesn't work because it is using non-standard JavaScript objects from old versions of IE that were never accepted by the standards committee? Of course not. You're going to uninstall IE 8." In essence it's a struggle between the pragmatists and the idealists, "precisely on the fault line smack in the middle of two different ways of looking at the world. It's the difference between conservatives and liberals, it's the difference between "idealists" and "realists," it's a huge global jihad dividing members of the same family, engineers against computer scientists, and Lexuses vs. olive trees.""
Music

Submission + - comScore: 38% Downloaders Paid for Radiohead Album (comscore.com)

brajesh writes: "It was reported earlier that Radiohead may have made $6-$10 Million on Name-Your Cost Album "In Rainbows" with average price between $5 and $8. Now comScore has come out with some numbers. FTA — "During the first 29 days of October, 1.2 million people worldwide visited the "In Rainbows" site, with a significant percentage of visitors ultimately downloading the album. The study showed that 38 percent of global downloaders of the album willingly paid to do so, with the remaining 62 percent choosing to pay nothing. [...] Of those who were willing to pay, the largest percentage (17 percent) paid less than $4. However, a significant percentage (12 percent) were willing to pay between $8-$12, or approximately the cost to download a typical album via iTunes, and these consumers accounted for more than half (52 percent) of all sales in dollars.""
Software

Submission + - Skype blames Microsoft Patch Tuesday for Outage (skype.com)

brajesh writes: "Skype has blamed its outage over the last week on Microsoft's Patch Tuesday. FTA — "The abnormally high number of restarts affected Skype's network resources. This caused a flood of log-in requests, which, combined with the lack of peer-to-peer network resources, prompted a chain reaction that had a critical impact." Previsously, it was speculated that Skype outage may have been caused by a Russian hack attempt. Further FTA- "The issue has now been identified explicitly within Skype. We can confirm categorically that no malicious activities were attributed or that our users' security was not, at any point, at risk." Butterfly effect?"
Java

Submission + - Java Urban performance legends

An anonymous reader writes: Pop quiz: Which language boasts faster raw allocation performance, the Java language, or C/C++? The answer may surprise you — allocation in modern JVMs is far faster than the best performing malloc implementations. This article pokes some holes in the oft-repeated Java performance myth of slow allocation in JVMs.
Enlightenment

Submission + - Desktop vs Web Applications - Round n

brajesh writes: "The Internet browser is the new OS. What if a "thin client application" becomes thicker than the "Thick"s of the lot. The problem with web applications- "[...]is that they have tried too hard to make the web into a complete application platform, to the point where they don't even bother holding themselves to the same standards by which desktop application developers are judged.""
Businesses

Submission + - Study contradicts RIAA on cause of CD sales drop

IBuyManyCd writes: A new research paper (PDF) published in the Journal of Political Economy contradicts the RIAA claim that illegal downloading is the main reason for the 25% drop in CD sales.
A quick overview of the article is presented on the University of Chicago Press site: Downloads are not the primary reason for the decline in music sales. "Researchers from Harvard and Kansas find that impact of P2P sharing on U.S. music sales is "statistically indistinguishable from zero".
The overview also quotes:
"We match an extensive sample of downloads to U.S. sales for a large number of albums", write Felix Oberholzer-Gee (Harvard University) and Koleman Strumpf (University of Kansas). "While file sharers downloaded billions of files in 2002, the consequences for the industry amounted to no more than 0.7% of sales."
The author compiled data on nearly 50,000 music downloads of popular songs (on pop charts) and across eleven genre from 2 major P2P servers. They then compared these with the same pop chart songs CD sales, "it is striking to see that more than 60% of the songs in our sample are never downloaded".
This underlines what many online users have lived first hand. If an album is good enough, reaching the pop chart, it will gladly be bought by fans.

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