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Submission + - Are Amazon's web services going Open Source? (ostatic.com)

ruphus13 writes: Amazon has been one of the early movers in the cloud computing space, with its AWS offerings, including S3 and EC2. Now, there is a lot of chatter around the imminent open sourcing of all its APIs and services and the impact that will have on the other 'clouds' out there — public or private. From the article, "Amazon faces significant threats from open source cloud computing efforts if it pursues a purely proprietary path...Amazon can't ignore the cost advantages and diversity of product offerings that open source players are already offering in the cloud computing space. The company's best move is to open source its tools, which will end up diversifying them, play on a level field in terms of cost with the open source alternatives, and charge for services. Absent these moves, the company will lose potential customers to free, open source alternatives...Word is Amazon's legal team is currently 'investigating' open sourcing their various web services API's including EC2, S3, etc.", although these have not been confirmed by Amazon.

Submission + - Italian company proposes robot firefighter

Big Nemo '60 writes: From an Italian engineering magazine: Mr. Domenico Piatti, an engineer and fire brigade officer in Naples (Italy), developed an autonomous firefighting robot specially (but not exclusively) designed for motorway/railroad tunnels.

Named ROBOGAT, the robot moves along a lightweight monorail, that also includes mains for water (and optionally foam). It is equipped with both visible and infrared cameras. When a fire alert is triggered in the tunnel, two robots will start, one from each end of the tunnel, and traveling at up to 60 km/h they will reach the site of the fire. Once there, they will autonomously attach to the closest water/foam plug and aim to the fire with their multiple rotating nozzles. The external body is made of a ceramic/titanium composite, also once the robot is attached to the water plug, water is used to cool the "skin" of the robot before feeding the nozzles.

While the robot is fully autonomous, an operator from a control room may take over as needed. The robot runs on batteries; optionally, water from the mains can operate a small turbine recharging the batteries and extending the operating time. The whole thing is quite small, and can be easily retrofitted in existing galleries.

Company website (in English): http://www.robogat.com/home_Eng.htm

(Notice: I am not related in any way with the manufacturing company, I just found a featured article in the magazine of the Italian National Council of Engineers — only in dead tree form, sorry.)

Submission + - Obama's cybersecurity plan echoes Bush's failures (threatpost.com)

Trailrunner7 writes: President Obama on Friday presented his long-awaited cybersecurity plan, which included the establishment of a new White House office headed by a cybersecurity "coordinator" who would oversee and advise Obama on this issue. He also proposed hiring a separate official dedicated to privacy and civil liberties concerns. The proposal, which bears a striking resemblance to the six-year-old National Strategy to Secure Cyberspace, is ambitious in its scope and scale and it likely will face many of the same roadblocks that previous efforts in this area have faced. Obama should send a short and sweet memo to the heads of all of the federal agencies, saying, "This is my cybersecurity coordinator. He speaks directly for me on this issue. Listen to him. If you're not interested in helping me fix this problem--which you all helped create, by the way--then step aside. Adults are working here."

Submission + - SPAM: Green Tax Credits

welcome2green.com writes: "Get Thousands of dollars in energy-efficient tax credits for going green. If you are thinking about doing some eco-friendly home improvements or undertaking a new construction project, you may qualify for tax credits. This article lists items that qualify for the tax credits and some guidelines you need to know about. Save money — Go Green [spam URL stripped]"
Link to Original Source

Submission + - Mozilla Mulls Dropping Firefox For Win2K, Early XP (computerworld.com)

CWmike writes: "Mozilla is pondering dropping support for Windows 2000 and Windows XP without Service Pack 3 when it ships the follow-up to Firefox 3.5 in 2010, show discussions on the mozilla.dev.planning forum by developers and Mozilla executives, including the company's chief engineer and its director of Firefox. 'Raise the minimum requirements on Gecko 1.9.2 (and any versions of Firefox built on 1.9.2) for Windows builds to require Windows XP Service Pack 3 or higher,' said Michael Conner, one of the company's software engineers, to start the discussion. Mozilla is currently working on Gecko 1.9.1, the engine that powers Firefox 3.5, the still-in-development browser the company hopes to release at some point in the second quarter. Gecko 1.9.2, and the successor to Firefox 3.5 built on it — dubbed 'Firefox.next' and code named 'Namoroka' — are slated to wrap up in 'early-to-mid 2010,' according to Mozilla."

Submission + - Office 2010 will come in 32-bit and 64-bit flavors

An anonymous reader writes: It looks like Office 2010 will be the first version of Microsoft Office to come as a 64-bit flavor. Surely that will kickstart development of 64-bit applications. In an e-mail exchange with Ars today, a Microsoft spokesperson confirmed that Office 2010 will be available in both flavors: "Yes, Office will have two separate 32-bit and 64-bit versions. Office 2010 will be the first to do this."
Social Networks

Submission + - Scientists warn of Twitter dangers

Smidge207 writes: New findings show that the streams of information provided by social networking sites are too fast for the brain's "moral compass" to process and could harm young people's emotional development. Before the brain can fully digest the anguish and suffering of a story, it is being bombarded by the next news bulletin or the latest Twitter update, according to a University of Southern California study. "If things are happening too fast, you may not ever fully experience emotions about other people's psychological states and that would have implications for your morality," said researcher Mary Helen Immordino-Yang. Brain scans showed humans can process and respond very quickly to signs of physical pain in others, but took longer to show admiration of compassion. "For some kinds of thought, especially moral decision-making about other people's social and psychological situations, we need to allow for adequate time and refection," said Immordio-Yang. She said the study raises questions about the emotional cost, particularly for young people, of heavy reliance on a torrent of news snippets delivered via TV and online feeds such as Twitter. She said: "We need to understand how social experience shapes interactions between the body and mind, to produce citizens with a strong moral compass." USC sociologist Manuel Castells said the study raised more concerns over fast-moving TV than the online environment. "In a media culture in which violence and suffering becomes an endless show, be it in fiction or in infotainment, indifference to the vision of human suffering gradually sets in." Research leader Antonio Damasio, director of USC's Brain and Creativity Institute, said the findings stressed the need for slower delivery of the news, and highlighted the importance of slow-burn emotions like admiration. Damasio cited the example of U.S. President Barack Obama, who says he was inspired by his father, to show how admiration can be key to cultural success. "We actually separate the good from the bad in great part thanks to the feeling of admiration. It's a deep physiological reaction that's very important to define our humanity." Twitter, which allows users to swap messages and links of 140-characters or less, says on its Web site that it sees itself as a solution to information overload, rather than a cause of it.

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This is clearly another case of too many mad scientists, and not enough hunchbacks.