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Submission + - Sears.com Squelches Web Programming Blunder (foxnews.com)

blitzkrieg3 writes: Earlier today someone made public a trivial exploit on the Sears.com website. Sears was storing page paramaters from the client editable url into the catagory of the page, leading to some pretty funny results. Once the catagories were loaded into the cache, every subsequent hit would pull up the same user submitted catagories, even without any page paramaters. TMZ and Fox News have their own reports. Reddit has since been forced to take the post off of their front page by their parent Conde Nast, but the page can still be accessed via permalink.

Submission + - Life on Mars (Maybe) (thesun.co.uk) 3

dfarrow writes: "The Sun reports that: ALIEN microbes living just below the Martian soil are responsible for a haze of methane around the Red Planet, Nasa scientists believe. The gas, belched in vast quantities in our world by cows, was detected by orbiting spacecraft and from Earth using giant telescopes. Nasa are today expected to confirm its presence during a briefing at their Washington HQ. And the find is seen as exciting new evidence that Martian microbes are still alive today. Some scientists reckon methane is also produced by volcanic processes. But there are NO known active volcanoes on Mars. Also see http://www.marstoday.com/news/viewpr.html?pid=27336."

Comment Re:Who could've guessed!? (Score 1) 426

I was disappointed by the remote also. It was much less precise than I had hoped or had been lead to believe in a lot of the reviews. The local BestBuy happened to get a shipment last Friday so I picked one up since there were a couple on the shelf. I played the sports package for about 45 minutes. Now, a week later, I haven't touched the system once - and really don't have any desire to do so. I'll likely just pack it back up and return it so it'll have a better home. I think it's a reasonably good attempt for the first generation of motion sensing controllers, but it's not good enough for me (personally) to find it an enjoyable experince.
Data Storage

Submission + - Just how delicate are modern hard drives?

RedBear writes: "Recently I've been researching the idea of setting up a computer system like the Mac mini on small to medium-size boats, for use as on-board entertainment centers and/or computer navigation systems. One of my main concerns has been figuring out whether the hard drive will need to be replaced with solid-state media in order to be completely reliable. Having been conditioned by various information sources over the years to treat a spinning hard drive like a baby made of eggshells, I was surprised to find many "car PC" enthusaists commenting in forums that they've had absolutely no problems using desktop hard drives in moving vehicles for years. I've also been surprised to find very little information about or mounting systems for "ruggedizing" hard drives for mobile use, besides some references to sticking a bit of rubber between the drive and the mounting frame, which really seems inadequate. So I'm left wondering, just how delicate is the modern hard drive, really? Are they hardier than I've always been led to believe? Is a modern hard drive ever actually likely to die from just being bumped around a bit, or do they usually die nowadays for other, more mysterious reasons?

Here's the scenario: A small boat (15-35ft) traveling on choppy or rough seas at various speeds can encounter several different kinds of motion, and that motion can shift very suddenly from going in one direction to going in a perpendicular or opposite direction. With the wrong hull design, cruising speeds or wave crest spacings, resonant vibrations can develop that can practically shake your teeth out of your head at times. Go over a big wave the wrong way and you can find yourself doing a belly-flop or nose-dive a dozen or more feet down into the trough behind it, with a nice resounding thump. Again entirely dependent on hull design and angle of incidence, but the harder you hit the water, the harder it hits back. Then there is the lovely continuous rocking (technically, pitching) and rolling that never really stops when you're in unprotected waters, and can vary from -85 to 85 degrees from one moment to the next. I can't imagine any of this motion being good for any kind of hard drive.

Now, a computer like a laptop or the Mac mini has a notebook-size 2.5" hard drive, which by all accounts will be more resistant to G-force shocks than a typical desktop-size 3.5" hard drive. I've read that this is mostly because of their use of "ramp load/unload" technology, where the drive head never touches the platters. Recently some desktop hard drives have started to use this ramp loading technology, so does that mean those desktop drives will be just as shock-resistant as notebook drives, or is the size difference also important? And just how motion resistant are the notebook drives, in a practical outside-the-testing-lab sense?

Some laptops and even drives these days also have motion sensors that will trigger the drive to park the heads during excessive movement, like when a laptop gets pulled off a table onto the floor. I have to guess on this but I'm suspecting these motion sensing systems would get triggered far too often, possibly interrupting the computer during important read or write activities, at best causing a performance hit and at worst crashing the system if it happens too often. So this doesn't seem like the ultimate solution for a drive that may be affected by nearly continuous strong G-forces.

Is anyone here experienced with building systems like this? I'm not talking about a typical car-PC traveling around on mostly paved city streets, I'm talking about a system that will stay functional and reliable while strapped in the back of a racing pickup while it goes through a thousand-mile off-road race through the Mojave desert. Does any company make mounting systems specifically for this kind of use, or is it totally nonsensical to expect any hard drive to survive under such conditions? My Google-fu may not be the best in the world, but I can usually ferret out what I'm looking for, and I've found basically zilch on ruggedized hard drives or mounting systems for either hard drives or computers in high G-force environments.

Keep in mind, one of my main goals is to keep costs as low as possible, so it would be interesting but pointless to discuss commercial solutions that cost a small fortune. The available specialized marine computer systems I saw seem to be designed for large commercial vessels and are horrendously expensive. We aren't talking about military clients here, just regular people who happen to live and/or work on boats. I just want to be able to take a regular computer and make a few ehancements that would allow it to be used on a boat reliably for years under any possible circumstances. Thus one of the main problems with solid-state media, it would cost 3-5 times as much to get 1/10th to 1/5th of the storage capacity, and that's comparing it to notebook hard drives. 160GB notebook HDD = $110, 16GB UDMA CompactFlash card = $300. With desktop hard drives the cost vs. capacity gap widens even further.

This is even more of a problem because one of the main advantages to using a system like the Mac mini would be its ability to run Windows in a virtual machine for access to a lot of Windows-only navigation, mapping/charting and GPS software as well as Windows-only drivers for GPS hardware, while still having access to the great stability and usability experience of Mac OS X, including the multimedia aspects like gigs of music and MP4/DivX rips of movies. The most recent versions of Parallels Desktop and VMware Fusion both have snapshotting and reversion capabilities which would make it incredibly simple for non-technical users to recover from Windows software glitches while out at sea, and keep their software navigation systems working under almost any circumstances. But installing multiple operating systems (and keeping backups) and having access to all those multimedia files means you need plenty of disk space. For most people, obtaining an adequate amount of solid-state storage to really replace a 100+ gigabyte hard drive would be very cost-prohibitive.

If you were tasked with "ruggedizing" a computer system for use under similar circumstances, how would you go about it? How would you make a mounting system to protect a computer from G-forces that may sometimes be the equivalent of, let's say, being dropped on a carpeted floor from about desk height, over and over again? I don't think a couple of rubber feet will be quite enough, and I'm very interested in hearing ideas on simple padding and suspension systems that could isolate a computer from this level of G-shock. A bungie-cord type suspension system would probably just exacerbate the bouncing motion. It would need to be something different, something that would really dampen sudden motion rather than reacting to it. My only idea so far is complicated, probably expensive, and has something to do with counterweights, pulleys, copper tubing and neodymium magnets. Alternatives are welcome, as are any comments pointing out that I'm being ridiculous for thinking computers are so delicate. Am I? Please back up any such statements with references, of course."

Submission + - Do patents stop people creating 'perfect' devices?

Chris M writes: In a recent CNET article, the mobile phone editor writes about what he thinks would make a perfect phone. Unfortunately, as someone in the comments section points out, much of the technology that is used in this concept phone belongs to separate companies. 'Im sorry to be the devils advocate here, but most of those things are patented to separate companies. So it would require almost all the major manufacturers to do this, which is highly unlikely.' Do you think patents are stopping companies from creating devices or is it just a lack of imagination?

Submission + - Saving Secondary Science (wellingtongrey.net)

Wellington Grey writes: "I'm a physics teacher who is appalled at what I see in science education today. Aside from years of dumbing down courses, current exams are filled with vagueness, politics and non-science. Science is no longer a refuge for precision-minded students. I've tried to work with the system, but have been ignored or advised to write letters of complaint that sit on desks unread. As someone who cares deeply about science education, what can be done?"
It's funny.  Laugh.

Who Needs a Satellite Dish When You Have a Wok? 250

An anonymous reader writes "Why pay $20,000 for a commercial link to run your television station when a $10 kitchen wok from the Warehouse is just as effective? This is exactly how North Otago's newest television station 45 South is transmitting its signal from its studio to the top of Cape Wanbrow, in a bid to keep costs down."

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If computers take over (which seems to be their natural tendency), it will serve us right. -- Alistair Cooke