An anonymous reader writes: The U.S. Postal Service may face insolvency by 2011 (it lost $8.5 billion last year). An op-ed piece in today's New York Times proposes an interesting business idea for the Postal Service: use postal trucks as a giant fleet of mobile sensor platforms. (Think Google Streetview on steroids.) The trucks could be outfitted with a variety of sensors (security, environmental, RF...) and paid for by businesses. The article's author addresses some of the obvious privacy concerns that arise.
geegel writes: In a statement on their Delicious official blog, Yahoo now claims that: "No, we are not shutting down Delicious. While we have determined that there is not a strategic fit at Yahoo!, we believe there is a ideal home for Delicious outside of the company where it can be resourced to the level where it can be competitive".
What that means can be everyone's guess, but at least for now, your delicious accounts are safe.
Pinckney writes: A paper by Leon Kaufman and Joseph W. Carlson in the Journal of Transportation Security asserts that x-ray backscatter machines are not very effective even in their intended role. While carelessly placed contraband will be detected, the machines have glaring blind-spots and have difficulty distinguishing explosives from human tissue. As they write, "It is very likely that a large (15–20 cm in diameter), irregularly-shaped, cm-thick pancake [of with beveled edges, taped to the abdomen, would be invisible to this technology... It is also easy to see that an object such as a wire or a boxcutter blade, taped to the side of the body, or even a small gun in the same location, will be invisible."
The Firefox startup performance issue has finally blown up. In browser performance benchmarks conducted by Gizmodo, Firefox 4 Beta 7 came dead last in browser startup speed. It was taking upwards of 20 seconds on cold startups which is nearly twice as slow as Firefox 3.6. Is this the end of Firefox?
angkor writes: "ISIS sent out an email to its mailing list directing readers to a page covering the ISIS analysis of the leaks. As U.S. government employees have apparently been ordered not to read about the leaks in an format, receiving such email with a link to a page discussing the leaked document alarmed some. Later ISIS sent another email to apologize:
ISIS would like to apologize for any consternation that a mass e-mail sent out this morning about recently released State Department cables may have caused for federal government employees, contractors, or other readers who subscribe to our mailing list. We did not carefully think through the implications of sending out this e-mail to our mass reader list. We do hope that since the subject line of our e-mail clearly indicated that "State Dept. cables" would be discussed, anyone concerned was able to delete it or avoid reading it. We also did not link to any actual cables in the mass e-mail. Nevertheless, we understand that simply having an e-mail with this content in a government e-mail inbox is potentially problematic. We will not be sending out further mass e-mails containing cable related information. ISIS recognizes that there is an ongoing debate about the administration's policy regarding employee reading of these documents. We hope the administration works out fairly and pragmatically how it will deal with this issue so that employees are not in conflict. We believe the government should recognize that inadvertent leaks do happen, and now that the material is public, its employees may need to be informed about content. An irony of this policy is that one assumes government employees are now restricted in their reading of the New York Times, El Pais, Le Monde, Der Spiegel, the Guardian, and any other news publication which happens to cover and quote the cable content. This seems an overly broad restriction which we hope the administration will address..."
dcblogs writes: Students in a George Washington University graduate program are being told that using WikiLeaks diplomatic cables may hurt their chances for a security clearance and job in government. A university memo advises students to avoid using the leaked cables as sources in their bibliographies and citations and as a workaround it suggest "using the filter" of media reports, meaning that it is ok to cite an AP account of a WikiLeaks cable, just not the cable itself. The memo said: “Students who hold or are seeking security clearances potentially risk losing that those privileges (or jobs). Those of you familiar with form SF-86 will recognize a question about unauthorized access to computer systems, and using Wikileaks may fall under that provision. Additionally, questions may arise during background interviews or polygraphs.”
thecarchik writes: On full display on Google’s Street View in a back street in Richmond CA is a silver EV1. What’s more, using the history function of Google Earth, we can make out the solitary electric car in two different locations on the property between 2007 and 2010. Is it serendipity or a more carefully timed disclosure to coincide with the release of Revenge of The Electric Car, the much-hyped premiere sequel to Who Killed The Electric Car? We’re not sure, but the über rare and unexplained presence of the two-seat all-electric car on a project Google didn’t launch until 2007 has got many Internet forums buzzing. Is it a careful electric vehicle activist plant, a relic from the past, or the final resting place for GM’s last EV?
Pickens writes: "It wasn't easy being Isaac Newton because he didn't like wasting time: Newton didn't play sports or a musical instrument, gamble at whist or gambol on a horse. Newton was unmarried, had no known romantic liaisons and may well have died, at the age of 85, with his virginity intact. But, as Natalie Angier writes in the NY Times, it is now becoming clear that Newton had time to spend night upon dawn for three decades of his life slaving over a stygian furnace in search of the power to transmute one chemical element into another. "How could the ultimate scientist have been seemingly hornswoggled by a totemic psuedoscience like alchemy, which in its commonest rendering is described as the desire to transform lead into gold," writes Angier. Now new historical research describes how alchemy yielded a bounty of valuable spinoffs, including new drugs, brighter paints, stronger soaps and better booze. "Alchemy was synonymous with chemistry," says Dr. William Newman, "and chemistry was much bigger than transmutation." Newman adds that Newton's alchemical investigations helped yield one of his fundamental breakthroughs in physics: his discovery that white light is a mixture of colored rays that can be recombined with a lens. “I would go so far as to say that alchemy was crucial to Newton’s breakthroughs in optics,” says Newman. “He’s not just passing light through a prism — he’s resynthesizing it.”"
SciNye writes: Physicists are searching for the fingerprints of cosmic strings and are hot on the trail of one of strangest theorized structures in the universe. They think are the first indirect observations of ancient cosmic strings, bizarre objects thought to have contributed to the arrangement of objects throughout the universe.
CWmike writes: As high-performance computing (HPC) becomes more important in helping financial services companies deal with a rising tsunami of data, there's growing angst on Wall Street about a dearth of skilled programmers who can write for multicore chip architectures and parallel computing systems. Jeffrey Birnbaum, chief technology architect at Bank of America/Merrill Lynch notes 'a sea change that's coming — parallel computing, multicore processers,' which makes 'the skill of the programmer [matter] more.' As many as 98% of programmers still rely on serial coding methods, he says. The main issue is this: Programming for parallel architectures is complicated. 'The underlying machinery is changing, and if you don't relearn how to take advantage of it, you're going to be the person they write about in the New York Times about the people in their 60s who can't find a job because their skills are outdated,' Birnbaum said.
An anonymous reader writes: After 5 months of development, Jonathan Thomas has released the next version of OpenShot Video Editor, version 1.2.2. New features include 3D animated titles, custom transitions, DVD exporting, and improved stability. Version 1.2 will be included in the next release of Ubuntu (Maverick Meerkat). A video demonstration of the new features is also available.
chicksdaddy writes: Early versions of the Stuxnet worm used a novel and cunning method to manipulate Windows Autorun feature in order to spread, according to information published by a Symantec Researcher who helped analyze the worm after it was first identified. Murchu revealed in a blog post Friday that a zero day exploit of a Windows LNK vulnerability , which received much of the early attention in coverage of Stuxnet, was a later addition to the worm. Earlier versions of the worm used a different method to jump from USB drives to vulnerable Windows systems, which O Murchu describes as a 'cunning' misappropriation of the AutoRun feature, a standard component on Windows systems since Windows 95.
An anonymous reader writes: The collection society SGAE in Spain (like ASCAP in the US) apparently is not a fan of Creative Commons or other "copyleft" licenses. A group called EXGAE was set up to advice content creators on other options and hep more people understand these alternative license offerings. In response, SGAE is threatening to sue EXGAE, claiming that it's trying to "smear" it and "undermine its reputation." Apparently offering musicians choices to be more fan friendly undermines the reputation of the recording industry.