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Submission + - HP Webcam is Racist (csmonitor.com) 3

An anonymous reader writes: Man can't get facial-tracking recognition to work, until his white friend moves into the picture...
Image

Holy See Declares a "Unique Copyright" On the Pope 447

An anonymous reader sends in news of what must be some kind of record in overreaching intellectual property claims: the Vatican has declared that the name, image, and any symbols of the Pope are for exclusive use of the Holy See. They may have a point if, as the declaration hints, some have used "ecclesiastical or pontifical symbols and logos to attribute credibility and authority to initiatives" unrelated to the Vatican. But how much room will they allow for fair use? Will high school newspapers have to remove the Papal Coat of Arms from their Vatican news columns? The royalty schedule was not released, so it's not clear how much Slashdot will have to pay to run this story (or if there will be a penalty for the accompanying pagan idol).
Space

Big Dipper "Star" Actually a Sextuplet System 88

Theosis sends word that an astronomer at the University of Rochester and his colleagues have made the surprise discovery that Alcor, one of the brightest stars in the Big Dipper, is actually two stars; and it is apparently gravitationally bound to the four-star Mizar system, making the whole group a sextuplet. This would make the Mizar-Alcor sextuplet the second-nearest such system known. The discovery is especially surprising because Alcor is one of the most studied stars in the sky. The Mizar-Alcor system has been involved in many "firsts" in the history of astronomy: "Benedetto Castelli, Galileo's protege and collaborator, first observed with a telescope that Mizar was not a single star in 1617, and Galileo observed it a week after hearing about this from Castelli, and noted it in his notebooks... Those two stars, called Mizar A and Mizar B, together with Alcor, in 1857 became the first binary stars ever photographed through a telescope. In 1890, Mizar A was discovered to itself be a binary, being the first binary to be discovered using spectroscopy. In 1908, spectroscopy revealed that Mizar B was also a pair of stars, making the group the first-known quintuple star system."

Submission + - EU Formally Objects to Oracle's Sun Buy-out

BBCWatcher writes: More bad news in the Oracle-Sun nuptuals. Numerous press outlets (here, here, here, etc.) report that the European Commission has lodged formal objections to Oracle's planned $7.4B acquisition of Sun Microsystems. Previously the Commission planned their final ruling for January 19, 2010, but the formal objections now cast doubt on that deadline or whether Oracle can satisfy anti-trust regulators anytime soon (or ever). Says Oracle in a statement: "The commission's statement of objections reveals a profound misunderstanding of both database competition and open-source dynamics. It is well understood by those knowledgeable about open-source software that because MySQL is open source, it cannot be controlled by anyone. That is the whole point of open source." Oracle and Sun are worried about the delay, as Sun is hemorrhaging customers and employees amid the increasing uncertainty. Sun just reported fiscal 1Q2010 earnings, with total sales falling 25% and server sales plunging 31.4%. Oracle could walk away from Sun for $260M, but reports suggest no such exit at this time. Traders are still getting nervous: Sun stock has fallen away from Oracle's bid price recently.

Comment NoSQL? That'd Be DL/I, Right? (Score 4, Informative) 381

I think I've heard of non-relational databases before. There's a particularly famous one, in fact. What could it be? Let's see: first started shipping in 1969, now in its eleventh major version, JDBC and ODBC access, full XML support in and out, available with an optional paired transaction manager, extremely high performance, and holds a very large chunk of the world's financial information (among other things). It also ranks up there with Microsoft Windows as among the world's all-time highest grossing software products.

....You bet non-relational is still highly relevant and useful in many different roles. Different tools for different jobs and all.

Submission + - SPAM: Eating Soy Can Decrease Fertility

cheeka writes: According to a study involving humans, a content that is found in soybeans called genistein was able to damage the health of the sperm when they were swimming toward the egg cell (ovum). Even in small doses, if the content is found in the female urinary tract, it is enough to destroy the sperm when it swims into archegonium..
Link to Original Source
Sun Microsystems

Submission + - Sun Microsystems to cut 3,000 jobs (cnn.com)

afgun writes: Once great tech leader Sun will shed 3,000 jobs due to the delays in the Oracle acquisition; is this the first cry of the death-spiral?
Media

Submission + - Americans are Not Responsible for Saving News (openmarket.org) 1

An anonymous reader writes: Creative destruction is never easy for an economy to digest, especially when the industry involved has an exceptionally loud megaphone to amplify its screaming. In a report released on Monday, former Washington Post editor Leonard Downie Jr. (with co-author Michael Schudson) insists that Americans take “collective responsibility” for fostering journalism and news reporting (saving unprofitable, poorly-managed news outfits). Of course, Downie doesn’t directly ask citizens for money — that would be uncouth. Instead, he suggests that universities and nonprofits, internet service providers and telecoms, and (of course) the government cough up the dough.

Comment Missing Lawsuit Targets? (Score 4, Interesting) 304

I wonder why the plaintiff is not suing some obvious companies. Cisco would be an obvious candidate -- and they have deep pockets. But all of the current defendants don't actually make Ethernet equipment. They buy Ethernet chipsets from companies like Intel, Broadcom, AMD, Marvell, VIA, and NVIDIA, among many others. Why isn't the plaintiff suing them?
IBM

Arrested IBM Exec Goes MIA On the Web 185

theodp writes "Among those charged in the largest hedge-fund insider trading case in US history was IBM Sr. VP Robert W. Moffat, the heir apparent to IBM CEO Sam Palmisano and the guy behind Big Blue's 'workforce rebalancing' and the sale of IBM's PC unit to Lenovo. IBM's not talking about the incident, but it's interesting that Moffat's bio is MIA at IBM.com ('Biography you tried to access does not exist.'), and his Smarter Planet video can no longer be found ('This video has been removed by the user.') at IBM's YouTube Channel. Do you need approval from the Feds before tidying up after someone who's under investigation? BTW, if stories and comments appearing in the Times Herald-Record and Poughkeepsie Journal are any indication, Moffat may want to avoid a local jury trial. 'I have talked to a few IBMers today, and there seems to be a lot of cheering in the halls of IBM over his arrest,' said Lee Conrad of Alliance@IBM."

Comment 12 Year Old Mainframe = 20+ Other Servers (Score 5, Insightful) 152

The article notes that the House of Representatives took at least 5 years to replace the applications on its 12 year old mainframe. The costs (i.e. taxpayer funds) to perform this migration work were not disclosed, but it's a pretty safe assumption those costs dwarfed any others. Moreover, the article seems to suggest that it took at least 20 other servers to replace a single 12 year old mainframe, and that's even using virtualization on the new servers. One wonders how many (more) servers the House could have replaced with a single new mainframe.

But here's a more profound question: why is the House of Representatives running its own, separate data centers (primary and disaster)? Couldn't they at least consolidate with, oh I don't know, the Senate?!?! And, a related question: for all those 12 years, why didn't the House simply move its comparatively tiny mainframe workload to a bigger mainframe anywhere else in the federal government? (Yes, they can do that without also delegating any security control. Mainframes do that.) Quite simply, it sounds like the House was, and is, wasting a lot of taxpayer money. (Shocking, I know.)

Comment 500 Mile Range=Revolutionary (Score 2, Interesting) 650

If battery engineers can actually increase energy storage densities to allow 500 mile range electric vehicles, there will be something of a stampede among car buyers, yes. However, one key remaining factor will be the range achievable with about a 15 minute quick charge (i.e. a stop for a Slurpie). If that range is, say, about 200 miles (40% of maximum), and assuming the economics otherwise work (i.e. battery costs and durability), we may finally see the end of the internal combustion engine in widespread automotive use.

Comment It's About Interfering with Apple (Score 4, Insightful) 375

Yes, Microsoft needs staff for its stores. But Microsoft's whole "me too" retail strategy is about trying to disrupt and interfere with Apple's business model. That's the reason why Microsoft is trying to place their stores in close proximity to Apple's, for example. And if Microsoft can increase Apple's retail staffing costs, Microsoft would consider it money well spent. In short, Microsoft is all about trying to drag down Apple, not building up Microsoft.

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