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USPTO Awards LOL Patent To IBM Screenshot-sm 274

theodp writes "Among the last batch of patents granted in 2009 was one for IBM's Resolution of Abbreviated Text in an Electronic Communications System. The invention of four IBMers addresses the hitherto unsolvable problem of translating abbreviations to their full meaning — e.g., 'IMHO' means 'In My Humble Opinion' — and vice versa. From the patent: 'One particularly useful application of the invention is to interpret the meaning of shorthand terms ... For example, one database may define the shorthand term "LOL" to mean "laughing out loud."' USPTO records indicate the patent filing was made more than a year after Big Blue called on the industry to stop what it called 'bad behavior' by companies who seek patents for unoriginal work. Yet another example of what USPTO Chief David Kappos called IBM's apparent schizophrenia on patent policy back when he managed Big Blue's IP portfolio."
Medicine

WHO Says Swine Flu May Have Peaked In the US 138

Hugh Pickens writes "The World Health Organization says that there were 'early signs of a peak' in swine flu activity in parts of the Northern Hemisphere, including the US. The American College Health Association, which surveys more than 250 colleges with more than three million students, said new flu cases had dropped 27 percent in the week ending on November 13th from the week before, the first drop since school resumed in the fall. Nonetheless, Dr. Anne Schuchat, the director of vaccination and respiratory disease at the CDC, chose her words carefully. 'We are in better shape today than we were a couple of weeks ago,' she says. 'I wish I knew if we had hit the peak. Even if a peak has occurred, half the people who are going to get sick haven't gotten sick yet.' Privately, federal health officials say they fear that if they concede the flu has peaked, Americans will become complacent and lose interest in getting vaccinated, increasing the chances of another wave. However, Dr. Lone Simonsen, a former CDC epidemiologist, says she expects a third wave in December or January, possibly beginning in the South again. Based on death rates in New York City and in Scandinavia, Simonsen argues that both 1918 and 1957 had mild spring waves followed by two stronger waves, one in fall and one in midwinter, adding that in the pandemic of 1889, the bulk of the deaths occurred in the third wave. 'If people think it's going away, they can think again.'"
Earth

NASA Attempts To Assuage 2012 Fears 881

eldavojohn writes "The apocalyptic film 2012 has dominated the box office, taking in $65 million on opening weekend. But with all those uninformed eyeballs watching the film, NASA has found itself answering so many common questions that their Ask an Astrobiologist blog offers calming, professional reassurance that there is no planet Nibiru, nor will it collide with Earth (although I do recall a massive solar storm forecast). NASA's main site even offers a FAQ answering similar questions. NPR has more on NASA scientist David Morrison and his efforts to calm the ensuing public hysteria, but survivalists are already planning for the big one. Pretty funny, right? Not according to Morrison: 'I've had three from young people saying they were contemplating committing suicide. I've had two from women contemplating killing their children and themselves. I had one last week from a person who said, "I'm so scared, my only friend is my little dog. When should I put it to sleep so it won't suffer?" And I don't know how to answer those questions.'"
Worms

First iPhone Worm Discovered, Rickrolls Jailbroken Phones 215

Unexpof writes "Users of jailbroken iPhones in Australia are reporting that their wallpapers have been changed by a worm to an image of '80s pop icon Rick Astley. This is the first time a worm has been reported in the wild for the Apple iPhone. According to a report by Sophos, the worm, which exploits users who have installed SSH and not changed the default password, hunts for other vulnerable iPhones and infects them. Users are advised to properly secure their jailbroken iPhones with a non-default password, and Sophos says the worm is not harmless, despite its graffiti-like payload: 'Accessing someone else's computing device and changing their data without permission is an offense in many countries — and just as with graffiti there is a cost involved in cleaning-up affected iPhones. ... Other inquisitive hackers may also be tempted to experiment once they read about the world's first iPhone worm. Furthermore, a more malicious hacker could take the code written by ikee and adapt it to have a more sinister payload.'"

Comment Interesting thought (Score 2, Interesting) 183

The max ground distance for unamplified WiFi is about 200km. The ISS orbits between 340 and 350km, therefore I say we all point our collective WiFi antennae up and try and see the first person to connect up to their network. Of course, you'd only have about 90 minutes of access as I recall; the ISS orbits too fast for much more access time.
Science

Submission + - New superconductor world record (superconductors.org)

myrrdyn writes: Superconductors.ORG reports the observation of record high superconductivity near 254 Kelvin (-19C, -2F). This temperature critical (Tc) is believed accurate +/- 2 degrees, making this the first material to enter a superconductive state at temperatures commonly found in household freezers.

This achievement was accomplished by combining two previously successful structure types: the upper part of a 9212/2212C and the lower part of a 1223. The chemical elements remain the same as those used in the 242K material announced in May 2009. The host compound has the formula (Tl4Ba)Ba2Ca2Cu7Oy and is believed to attain 254K superconductivity when a 9223 structure forms.

Privacy

Submission + - Tennessee woman arrested for Facebook "poking" (go.com)

An anonymous reader writes: This story caught my attention and thought I would share it. From TFA; "According to an affidavit filed with the Sumner County General Sessions Court on Sept. 25, Shannon D. Jackson of Hendersonville, Tenn., allegedly violated a legal order of protection that had been previously filed against her when she sent a virtual "poke" to another woman on Facebook." Ms. Jackson's defense attorney Mr. Lassiter said "The only evidence that I'm aware of is a printout of a screen[.]" and later added "I'm trying to get my hands on some Facebook documentation so we can better assess the situation."

So is this the first time you have heard of someone being arrested for poking someone on Facebook? What do you think of this?

Comment When I think of Comcast, I think of progress. (Score 5, Insightful) 304

"The new service will eventually be rolled out in the rest of the country, replacing the phone calls Comcast has been using to notify customers to security problems, Opperman said."

So wait, instead of a personal phone call (which they apparently had been doing before anyway), now it'll be a popup just like the 50 other ones the user sees because he or she's infected with malware to begin with?

Nice.
Security

FBI Cracks "Largest Phishing Case Ever" 132

nk497 writes "The FBI and Egyptian authorities have arrested 100 people in what they're calling 'the largest international phishing case ever conducted' as part of a wide-scale investigation called Operation Phish Phry. The criminals used phishing to get access to hundreds of bank accounts, stealing $1.5 million. 'This international phishing ring had a significant impact on two banks and caused huge headaches for hundreds, perhaps thousands of bank customers,' said Acting US Attorney George S. Cardona."
The Military

Soviets Built a Doomsday Machine; It's Still Alive 638

An anonymous reader points out a story in Wired introducing us to the Doomsday Machine built by the Soviet Union in the 1980s — and that remains active to this day. It was called "Perimeter." The article explains why the device was built, and why the Soviets considered it to be something that kept the peace, even though they never told the US about it. "[Reagan's] strategy worked. Moscow soon believed the new US leadership really was ready to fight a nuclear war. But the Soviets also became convinced that the US was now willing to start a nuclear war. ... A few months later, Reagan... announced that the US was going to develop a shield of lasers and nuclear weapons in space to defend against Soviet warheads. ... To Moscow it was the Death Star — and it confirmed that the US was planning an attack. ... By guaranteeing that Moscow could hit back, Perimeter was actually designed to keep an overeager Soviet military or civilian leader from launching prematurely during a crisis. The point, [an informant] says, was 'to cool down all these hotheads and extremists. No matter what was going to happen, there still would be revenge. Those who attack us will be punished.'"
Medicine

Researcher Dies After Studying Plague Bacteria 143

Malcolm J. Casadaban, a molecular genetics professor at the University of Chicago, died last Sunday, seemingly from an infection of a weakened form of Yersinia pestis, the bacteria that causes the plague. "Because this form of the bacteria is not known to cause problems in healthy people, special safety procedures are not required to handle it, said Dr. Kenneth Alexander, a virologist and chief of pediatric infections at the U. of C. Medical Center. Lab researchers who work with the bacteria would typically wear gloves, a lab coat and protective goggles, and the bacteria would be disposed of in a biohazard bag and heated for about two hours, Alexander said. Two key questions in Casadaban's death will be whether there was anything different about the strain of bacteria he was handling and whether Casadaban had any underlying conditions that may have made him more susceptible to infection."
Chrome

IE8 Beats Other Browsers In Laptop Battery Life 263

WARM3CH writes "AnandTech tested a laptop with an AMD CPU, a laptop with an Intel CPU, and a netbook to compare battery life while running Internet Explorer 8, Opera 10, Firefox 3.5, Safari 4, and Chrome. They tested on simple web pages and flash-infested ones. IE8 had the best battery life on both laptops (followed by FF + AdBlock), and Safari had the worst battery life. On the netbook, Chrome was slightly ahead of IE8. The report concludes: 'Overall, Internet Explorer and Firefox + AdBlock consistently place near the top, with Chrome following closely behind. Opera 10 Beta 3 didn't do as well as Opera 9.6.4, and in a couple quick tests, it doesn't appear that the final release of Opera 10 changes the situation at all. Opera in general — version 9 or 10 — looks like it doesn't do as well as the other major browsers. Safari is at the back, by a large margin, on all three test notebooks. We suspect that Safari 4 does better under OS X, however, so the poor Windows result probably won't matter to most Safari users.'"

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