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Comment Re:Neuromorphic CPUs (Score 2) 320

While processing speeds are certainly linked to Moore's law, it is really only about the bi-yearly doubling of the transistor count while keeping prices roughly the same. Increasing the amount of cores and adding more on-die memory are easy ways to keep Moore's law going.

...well, easier than decreasing the half-pitch below 12nm.

By the way, Moore's law applies to memory density and CCD properties as well, neither of which appear to be close to their limits.


ACTA Is Backta, New Round of Talks Start Today 73

An anonymous reader writes "Negotiations on the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement resume today in Lucerne, Switzerland, with the ninth round of talks. The Toronto Star highlights the mounting opposition to the deal from developing world countries such as India and China, while Michael Geist has posted a video of a recent lecture that provides background on the agreement and where things currently stand."

Comment Re:The End Of The Abandonware Golden Age? (Score 3, Interesting) 147


The titles you see appearing in places like GOG and Steam are almost all well-known big titles by companies that still exist. This is only a very small part of what most abandonware websites offer. There's a huge number of great games that never gained any real following due to various reasons, or are owned by companies which no longer exist now.

In short, the real meaning of "abandonware" is exactly what its name implies: software which can be considered abandoned, preferably because there is no (clear) copyright holder anymore.

Then again, I can probably be considered biased, since I am webmaster of an abandonware site myself :)

Submission + - NASA budget cut $3 billion

dsmall writes: "CBS NEWS Coverage of Breaking Space News
Posted: 4:30 PM, 5/8/09

By William Harwood
CBS News Space Consultant

Changes and additions:

04/15/09 (12:45 PM): Station crew says lab ready for six full-time crew members
05/07/09 (06:55 PM): Obama orders independent review of manned space operations; NASA 2010 budget unveiled
05/08/09 (04:30 PM): Reeling from projected budget cuts, NASA braces for manned space flight review


4:30 PM, 5/8/09, Update: NASA braces for manned space flight review

Reeling from projected budget cuts totaling more than $3 billion through 2013, NASA managers and engineers working to build a post-shuttle rocket system for an eventual return to the moon are bracing for a critical review ordered by the Obama administration that could set the agency on a different course.

The chairman of an independent review panel charged with evaluating NASA's post-shuttle manned space program said Friday he will bring an open mind and "go where the facts lead" in assessing the technical and economic feasibility of the space agency's current manned space program.

Norman Augustine, former chief executive officer of Lockheed Martin Corp., said the Review of United States Human Space Flight Plans Committee also will assess alternatives, including different rocket systems and alternative targets for exploration. The team's report is expected by August.

"We are planning to spend billions of dollars on the human space flight program and it's wise to be sure we're spending that the way we should," he told reporters in a teleconference. "New information becomes available all the time. And similarly, we have a new administration and it would probably be imprudent on their part not to examine this major of a program to be sure such a long term undertaking is still on a course that makes sense to them."

The cost of NASA's manned space program — and ongoing efforts by the Office of Management and Budget to cut spending — is at the heart of the review, announced Thursday when the Obama administration's fiscal 2010 budget request was unveiled.

"I think what it boils down to is we're being told there's no sense in being unrealistic and putting together a program that can't possibly be afforded, and we've been given some guidance," Augustine said. "I think one of the chronic problems NASA's encountered over the years has been that it usually had more programs than it had money. That can be dangerous when you're doing something as difficult as NASA does.

"So as we go through this evaluation, if we were to find there were reasons the budget didn't make sense in any way, I can assure you we would not be bashful about pointing that out, and I suspect the administration would want to know that anyway."

The Obama administration is asking Congress for $18.7 billion in funding for NASA in 2010, a watershed year for the civilian space agency as it tries to complete assembly of the International Space Station and retire the space shuttle fleet after just nine more flights.

NASA is designing a new rocket, called the Ares 1, and an Apollo-style Orion capsule to replace the shuttle, but the new system will not be ready for routine use until 2015. During the five years between the shuttle's retirement next year and the debut of Ares 1/Orion, NASA will be forced to buy seats on Russian Soyuz rockets to get U.S. astronauts to and from the space station.

NASA's long-range goal, set by the Bush administration, is to return to the moon by 2020, using Ares 1/Orion spacecraft to carry astronauts to orbit and then new heavy-lift Ares 5 rockets to boost the astronauts and lunar landers to the moon. The new rocket systems are the central elements of what NASA calls the Constellation program.

But funding has been a critical issue from the beginning. Congress and the Bush administration, which put NASA on its current course, did not provide the funding necessary to significantly reduce the gap between shuttle retirement and first flight of Ares 1/Orion.

The Obama administration's 2010 budget includes a near-term funding boost of $630 million for Constellation, thanks in part to about $1 billion routed to NASA as part of the economic Recovery Act.

But the administration's predicted budgets through 2013 show an overall cut of $3.1 billion for the exploration systems directorate in charge of Constellation, cuts that have sent shock waves through the NASA community.

"That's the real story," a senior space manager, who asked not to be named, said of NASA's Thursday budget briefing. "It's like that Sherlock Holmes thing, the real story is the dog that didn't bark in the night. ... If the three-plus billion dollars in the out years, if that cut stands, then there's no moon by 2020 and maybe none at all."

NASA officials said Thursday the budget numbers may change depending on the results of the Augustine review. But the agency turned down a request Friday for an interview with Jeff Hanley, Constellation program manager at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, to discuss the potential impacts of the projected cuts.

Against this backdrop, the Obama administration ordered the Augustine review of NASA's ongoing manned space exploration program, prompting speculation that budget pressures could lead to a major change of course. It's not yet known how any such a change might affect the gap between shuttle and any follow-on spacecraft, or whether the moon will even remain NASA's primary target.

"I must confess, as an individual I'm not thrilled with the fact that we have a gap," Augustine said. "But we have what we have. ... There are things that could be done, probably, that would shorten the gap, there are some things one might do that would lengthen the gap. But certainly, an objective, I think, of anybody would be to balance the various pros and cons of whatever is proposed against the impact on the gap, among other things, and recognizing that extending the gap is probably not a desirable thing. On the other hand, and I'm not making predictions here because I don't know the outcome, it's not something that's written in stone, either."

John Holdren, director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, said the administration's objective "is to ensure that these programs remain on a strong and stable footing well into the 21st Century, and this review will be crucial to meeting that goal."

An OSTP statement said Augustine's panel will "assess a number of architecture options, taking into account such objectives as: 1) expediting a new U.S. capability to support use of the International Space Station; 2) supporting missions to the Moon and other destinations beyond low Earth orbit; 3) stimulating commercial space flight capabilities; and 4) fitting within the current budget profile for NASA exploration activities."

While the review is underway, NASA was told to continue work on Ares 1/Orion.

Augustine said he planned to assemble a team of experts with a broad range of space experience to evaluate the Constellation program and alternative architectures "both from an economic and a technical standpoint."

"We have a rather short time period to conduct our review, to be completed in August, and because of that we're drawing heavily on prior work and on our own experience as well as analyses ... from NASA and possibly others."

He said the panel's instructions are "to take a fresh, independent look at the human spaceflight program and go where the facts lead. And that's what we'll try to do. Obviously, the U.S. has excelled in the exploration and utilization of space for a long time. It's a source of great pride to our nation as well as, I might say, to myself.

"I also have long believed it should be a balanced program that includes both robotics and human involvement. Our focus will be on the human spaceflight aspect. The president has made rather clear he's very supportive of human spaceflight, he believes it's important from an economic and technical and scientific leadership standpoint. I certainly share that view and I believe this is an important task and I look forward to leading it."


Quick-Launch Web Links:

CBS News Space Shuttle Status Reports:

CBS News Space Shuttle Quick-Look Page:

CBS News Breaking Space News Page:

NASA Shuttle Web:
NASA Station Web:
Spaceflight Now:

Hubble Space Telescope Background:

HST Overview:
Servicing Missions:
Space Telescope Science Institute:
Hubble Site:
NASA HQ Hubble Page:
Goddard Hubble Page:
Ball Aerospace Hubble Page:

Emulation (Games)

Submission + - Project of the month on DOSBox ( 1

KingofGnG writes: "DOSBox, the emulator designed to run DOS games on modern operating systems (and not necessarily on a PC), has been chosen as project of the month for May 2009 on the open source platform It's the latest award granted to a software that "simply does what it is supposed to do", as the authors state, and that after having summed up more than 10 millions downloads is ready for an update awaited since almost two years."

Interest Growing For Pre-Paid Game Cards 70

Worlds in Motion is running an interview with GMG Entertainment, a company finding success marketing pre-paid "digital currency cards" used online for games and other entertainment services. Customers and retailers alike are enjoying the simplicity and utility of the cards, and GMG suggests that this segment of the industry will only continue to grow: "I estimate this year that you'll see EA enter this space for some of their games, and a few other big names are absolutely interested. In fact we're in final negotiations with a couple of recognizable names. We tend to estimate the size of the total pre-paid gaming card business when we do our numbers, and this year we're looking to something between $75-100 million dollars in sales across North America. We see that going to $250-300 million in 2009 and being in the region of a half-billion by 2010. We see this market growing dramatically in the next two to five years."
The Internet

Belgian ISP Scores Victory In Landmark P2P Case 76

secmartin writes "Belgian ISP Scarlet scored an important victory in the first major European test of copyright law. The interim decision forcing them to block transfers of copyrighted materials via P2P has been reversed, because the judge agreed with Scarlet that the measures the Belgian RIAA proposed to implement proved to be ineffective. A final decision is expected next year."

Submission + - Office 2003SP3: Old file formats, now unavailable! 3

time961 writes: "In Service Pack 3 for Office 2003, Microsoft has disabled support for many older file formats, so if you have old Word, Excel, 1-2-3, Quattro, or Corel Draw documents, watch out! They did this because the old formats are "less secure", which actually makes some sense, but only if you got the files from some untrustworthy source.

Naturally, they did this by default, and then documented a mind-bogglingly complex workaround (KB 938810) rather than providing a user interface for adjusting it, or even a set of awkward "Do you really want to do this?" dialog boxes to click through. And, of course, because these are, after all, old file formats, many users will encounter the problem only months or years after the software change, while groping around in dusty and now-inaccessible archives.

One of the better aspects of Office is its extensive compatibility mechanisms for old file formats. At least the support isn't completely gone—it's just really hard to use. Security is important, but there are better ways to fulfill this goal.

This was also covered by the Windows Secrets newsletter, although I can't find a story URL for it."

Submission + - Linus Chats with the Kazakhstan President (

zhennian writes: "Okay, this is a little left field, but I did a search and couldn't find the story elsewhere. I'm currently in Kazakhstan, Almaty (old capital) for three months (accompanying my wife on her PhD research). While trolling the un-sub-domained .kz webspace, I came across a free-for-all on-line question and answer session hosted by the Kazakh President. President Nazarbaev, while in the same region as some #1 nutters, is a shrewd, well respected leader struggling to cope with a cut and run by the crumbling Russian regime in 1991, and a population inexperienced in dealing with billions of dollars in oil income. The interesting bit is that I found a question posted by Linus Torvalds asking the president's opinion on open source software. His answer was the evasive but valid response that all types of software should compete in the open market. A question springs to mind, "does Linus spend his time trolling 1-2.5 world countries searching for web forums hosted by leaders attempting to appear internet-savy?".
If the answer is yes, then my respect for the illustrious prince (RMS the father course) of OS freedom has significantly increased, he has time to keep the kernel alive and run global PR as well. The website seems to be only available at the google cache and no longer accessible from I think the forum was held in 2006, but it isn't clear from the website. Kazakhstan is certainly an exercise in weirdness, mixing the left-overs of soviet suppression with a widening poverty gap and ridiculous wealth in the hands of a few. The result is pollution, poverty and crumbling infrastructure next to the construction of an arboretum to hold 'all the trees in the world', a temple for 'all the worlds religions' and the construction of numerous other grandiose buildings in the middle of the Steppe. Obligatory Travel Blog here."

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