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The Real 'Stuff White People Like' 286

Here's an interesting and funny look at 526,000 OkCupid users, divided into groups by race and gender and all the the things each groups says it likes or is interested in. While it is far from being definitive, the groupings give a glimpse of what makes each culture unique. According to the results, white men like nothing better than Tom Clancy, Van Halen, and golfing.

Mom Arrested After Son Makes Dry Ice "Bombs" 571

formfeed writes "Police were called to a house in Omaha where a 14-year-old made some 'dry ice bombs' (dry ice in soda bottles). Since his mom knew about it, she is now facing felony charges for child endangment and possession of a destructive device. From the article: 'Assistant Douglas County Attorney Eric Wells said the boy admitted to making the bomb and that his mother knew he was doing so. The boy was set to appear Tuesday afternoon in juvenile court, accused of possessing a destructive device.'" She's lucky they didn't find the baking soda volcano in the basement.

Portal, Bioshock Lead Game Developer's Choice Nominations 71

Gamasutra is reporting that the annual Game Developer's Choice Award nominations are now available for your reading pleasure. Portal, BioShock, Mass Effect, and Call of Duty 4 are all looking pretty good, with Portal in particular sitting pretty in five separate categories. Here are a few of the nomination lists: "Best Game Design - BioShock, Call of Duty 4, Mass Effect, Portal, Super Mario Galaxy. Best Visual Art - Assassin's Creed, Team Fortress 2, Crysis, BioShock, Uncharted: Drake's Fortune. Best Writing - Portal, God of War II, Mass Effect, Half-Life 2: Episode 2, BioShock. Innovation - Rock Band, Portal, flOw, Peggle, Mass Effect." Five bucks says Portal sweeps the awards.
PC Games (Games)

Submission + - Why do games still have levels? ( 1

a.d.venturer writes: "Elite, the Metroid series, Dungeon Siege, God of War I and II, Half-Life (but not Half-Life 2), Shadow of the Colossus, the Grand Theft Auto series; some of the best games ever (and Dungeon Siege) have done away with the level mechanic and created uninterrupted game spaces devoid of loading screens and artificial breaks between periods of play. Much like cut scenes, level loads are anathema to enjoyment of game play, and a throwback to the era of the Vic-20 and Commodore 64 when games were stored on cassette tapes, and memory was measured in kilobytes. So in this era of multi-megabyte and gigabyte memory and fast access storage devices why do we continue to have games that are dominated by the level structure, be they commercial (Portal, Team Fortress 2), independent (Darwinia) and amateur (Nethack, Angband)? Why do games still have levels?"

Submission + - Microsoft Recruiting Doesn't Get the Web (

An anonymous reader writes: Microsoft has a new recruiting tactic — send a personalized message to you on a public website. They didn't bother to include any private key on the url, so if you know someone who has done an internship at Microsoft (or have Facebook), you can simply go to This link is just a random example of one, but I've found several others using Google/Facebook.

Submission + - Internet Radio Saving Bill

k-zed writes: "A bill has been introduced that will save independent internet radio by setting royalties at the same level paid by satellite radio services, a reasonable amount (7.5% of gross revenues) which will benefit the artists as well as not bankrupt net radio stations. Call your Representative right now and ask to cosponsor the "Internet Radio Equality Act", just introduced by Representative Jay Inslee. This bill will set royalty rates that internet radio pays to the same reasonable level that satellite radio pays."

Submission + - Student arrested for writing essay

mcgrew writes: "The Chicago Tribune reports that an eighteen year old straight A Cary-Grove High School student was arrested for writing a "disturbing" essay. From the Trib:

Allen Lee, an 18-year-old straight-A student at Cary-Grove High School, was arrested Tuesday near his home and charged with disorderly conduct for an essay police described as violently disturbing but not directed toward any specific person or location.
So much for freedom of speech in the US."
Wireless Networking

Submission + - VoIP Over WiFi for Businesses

Michael Talbert writes: "The convergence of data and voice networks in the business environment takes on a new twist with the emergence of wireless networking. The freedom of mobility offered to users in a wireless LAN has proven to provide a noticeable boost in productivity, efficiency, and employee morale. No longer is the work force tied to their desk when on the job. Workers can access company files and receive important communications from anywhere on the company campus that's in range of a wireless access point.

With voice communications thrown into the mix, mobile users can stay in touch while roaming the property inside or out, and even on the road. The acceptance of the fixed to mobile convergence concept by the telecommunications industry only promises to fuel the fire for the adoption of VoIP over WiFi networks.

The Challenges of Implementing VoIP over WiFi Networks

As with any emerging technology, there are challenges to overcome. The development of the converged network, i.e. data and voice on the same IP based LAN, while yet to be an established norm, is proving to be beneficial for businesses from both a cost and productivity perspective. Adding the prospect of VoIP over a wireless network brings up a whole new set of issues.

VoIP is a time sensitive technology. Calls must be set up and authenticated, and voice packets must arrive at their destination without interruption and on time. This requires a near continuous network stream, uninterrupted by less sensitive data transmissions. The implementation of Quality of Service techniques on wired LANs assure that these voice packets receive priority, and call quality issues such as latency, jitter, and packet loss have been sufficiently addressed.

Enter the standards based wireless network, a technology in an earlier stage of development, and more challenges occur. While today's wired network provides plenty of bandwidth for both voice and data to coexist, WLANs provide less bandwidth, and Quality of Service issues must be revisited. Security measures such as authentication and encryption must be implemented and can add to the problem by increasing the size of the voice packet. Additionally, users on the move will traverse wireless access points where handoffs must be quick and smooth.

The IEEE 802 standards governing wireless technology are evolving rapidly and promise to deal with a broad spectrum of WiFi issues (see sidebar). Increasing the bandwidth available, prioritizing voice packets for QoS, authentication and encryption protocols for security, and enhanced roaming techniques are all being addressed.

Also in development is the wireless technology commonly known as WiMax, providing for the implementation of high bandwidth wireless communications covering distances of up to 30 miles. The evolution of WiMax could prove of great consequence to developing countries, as well as Metropolitan LANs.

Security in a VoIP/WiFi Network

Companies wishing to implement wVoIP must take security issues into consideration from the start. As in any IP network, the dangers of hackers, denial of service, highjacking and spam, all lurk in the shadows.

Because a wireless network uses radio frequencies as its transmission media, the security normally provided by a firewall in a wired network is not sufficient, simply because of the physics. Whereas to break into a wired LAN requires hackers to either physically be inside the network or to hack in through the Internet, in a WLAN they can grab network transmissions from the air while parked across the street. The security issues that network managers must consider in a VoWLAN are the privacy of conversations, and the protection of the network infrastructure.

For WiFi networks, security has had a shaky start with the implementation of WEP as its security mechanism. WEP provides for authentication and encryption between the user and the access point, and was found to be easily hacked. The 802.11i standard, adopted as WPA2 (Wireless Protected Access), provides for more robust security by requiring two way authentication between the user and the network, and uses AES (Advanced Encryption Standard) as its encryption engine.

As network managers plan the rollout of a wireless VoIP network, the greatest security threat they face is improper implementation. Building security into the design of the initial deployment can, and should affect the network topology, as well as material costs. Failure to do so could lead to further expenses in loss of services and network redesigns in the event of compromise.

WiFi, VoIP, Fixed Lines, and the Cellular Networks

Manufacturers of cellular devices are incorporating WiFi radios into their handsets at an ever increasing rate. New versions of mobile operating systems are coming out complete with a built in VoIP stack, inviting carriers and manufacturers to add VoIP functionality to their devices. Dual and Quad band cell phones can choose between the strongest network available, cellular or WiFi, and place a call accordingly.

As cell phones become more like mobile offices, the benefits of a mobile work force become apparent. In the case of the road warrior, the ability to communicate via email, text messaging, video or voice, allows them to stay on the road longer without losing touch. In the age of instant information, mobile office applications allow files to be downloaded, edited, and uploaded, increasing the productivity of the traveler to the point where just about anything that can be done in the office can be done on the road.

A cell phone that can switch between cellular and WiFi networks can significantly reduce telecommunications costs at the corporate office. With WiFi hotspots popping up at hotels, cafes, and corporate LANs across the globe, mobile workers can stay in touch with office and family both on and off the job. With the addition of a VoIP service provider, cheaper VoIP calls can be made from any WiFi network at the push of a button.

Imagine if you will, a future where one phone, with one phone number, can seamlessly traverse cellular networks, WiFi networks, cable and PSTN landlines. Where roaming and switching between disparate networks occur without interruption or loss of call quality. Fixed Mobile Convergence (FMS) is the buzzword of the decade, and the IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) architecture is the standard that promises to get us there.

The goal of IMS is to provide all the services and applications that the Internet provides, both current, and as of yet unimagined. IP based services such as VoIP, Push to talk cellular (POC), videoconferencing, text messaging, community services, presence information and file sharing are just some of the possibilities. Designed to work with any fixed, mobile or wireless packet switched network, backwards compatibility for the legacy circuit switched phone system is provided through the use of gateways.

Although still in its infancy, IMS is already being implemented by AT&T as the platform in its newly acquired Cingular cellular network. Interest in investing in a new infrastructure by mobile and fixed operators has been up and down, as they weigh the costs and benefits of the new technology.

As the technology of VoIP over WiFi networks continues to develop, businesses of all sizes can reap the benefits of increased mobility, productivity, and significant cost savings. Standards committees are constantly working on ways to increase security and quality of service, and as fixed mobile convergence gains acceptance in the telecommunications industry, more choices in the services offered and the IP applications available to businesses are sure to follow.

What will also be interesting to watch, is how these very bandwidth intensive applications will be priced by the carrier networks, and how it will affect the neutrality of the Internet."

Submission + - Chinese develop remote controlled pigeons

KDan writes: As seen on CNN and other places, "Scientists in eastern China say they have succeeded in controlling the flight of pigeons with micro electrodes planted in their brains". Whilst everyone focuses on the weird and fun aspects of remote-controlled pigeons and points out that "The report did not specify what practical uses the scientists saw for the remote-controlled pigeons", a number of obvious uses jump out to me. Flocks of remote controlled pigeons could be used in warfare as very effective weapons delivery systems. They can take out low-flying planes and helicopters by being flown into their way. In fact they can probably be used to take out any target. Electronically controlled pigeons could lead to a new expansion of the concept of self-healing minefields... How about a patrolling flock of payloaded pigeons that target anyone identified as an "enemy"? The important factor is that whereas building a mechanical equivalent of a pigeon would be expensive, growing a pigeon and implanting some electrodes is comparatively cheap so that large numbers of RC pigeons could be "manufactured" and used for any purpose imaginable. A missile costs tens of thousands of dollars — why bother when you can raise a flock of pigeons and "upgrade" them for a fraction of that price, and proceed to send them to the target?

Perhaps most importantly, however, the remote-controlled pigeons will finally allow us to create an efficient implementation of RFC 1149 and RFC 2549.

Submission + - Real-life 'Tricorder' For Chemical Analysis

An anonymous reader writes: Purdue University researchers have created a handheld sensing system its creators liken to Star Trek's "tricorder" used to analyze the chemical components of alien worlds. But the system could have down-to-earth applications, such as testing foods for dangerous bacterial contaminants including salmonella, which was recently found in a popular brand of peanut butter.
It's funny.  Laugh.

Submission + - Cure Space Madness with Duct Tape, Tranqs

eldavojohn writes: "Concerns were raised about astronaut instability after the breakdown of Lisa Nowak but NASA already has detailed written procedures for this scenario: Duct Tape. That's right, the universal "fixes everything but marriages" silver strip of stickiness is apparently the answer when your crewmate's going ape. From the article, "The documents, obtained this week by The Associated Press, say the astronaut's crewmates should bind his wrists and ankles with duct tape, tie him down with a bungee cord and inject him with tranquilizers if necessary." Well, I'm glad NASA thought of everything!"

Reverse Hacker Awarded $4.3 Million 171

jcatcw writes "Shawn Carpenter was awarded a $4.3 million award — more than twice the amount he sought and money he thinks he'll never see. Carpenter worked for Sandia National Labs as an intrusion detection analyst. He anayzed. He detected. He reported. He was fired — in Janurary 2005 after sharing his results with the FBI and the U.S. Army. Computerworld asked him what he hoped to achieve in that investigation. Answer: 'In late May of 2004, one of my investigations turned up a large cache of stolen sensitive documents hidden on a server in South Korea. In addition to U.S. military information, there were hundreds of pages of detailed schematics and project information marked 'Lockheed Martin Proprietary Information — Export Controlled' that were associated with the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. ... It was a case of putting the interests of the corporation over those of the country.' Ira Winkler, author of Spies Among Us , said the verdict was 'incredibly justified. Frankly, I think people [at Sandia] should go to jail' for ignoring some of the security issues that Carpenter was trying to highlight with his investigation."

Submission + - Windows Vista worse for user efficiency than XP

erikvlie writes: "Pfeiffer Consulting released a report on User Interface Friction, comparing Windows Vista/Aero with Windows XP and Mac OS X. The report concludes Vista/Aero is worse in terms of desktop operations, menu latency and mouse precision than XP — which was and still is said to be a lot worse in those areas than Mac OS X. The report was independently financed. The IT-Enquirer editor has read the report and summarised the most important findings."

Submission + - UK government will not enforce US software patents

VJ42 writes: I recently signed a online petition on software patents, but instead of dismissing it the UK government sent me a reply confirming it's position against software patents.

The Government remains committed to its policy that no patents should exist for inventions which make advances lying solely in the field of software. Although certain jurisdictions, such as the US, allow more liberal patenting of software-based inventions, these patents cannot be enforced in the UK.
They also remain committed to implementing the Gowers Review of Intellectual Property which means that

The Government will implement those recommendations for which it is responsible, and will therefore continue to exclude patents from areas where they may hinder innovation: including patents which are too broad, speculative, or obvious, or where the advance they make lies in an excluded area such as software.
After all the bad press they've had, this is a welcome bit of good news for us techies.

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