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GNU is Not Unix

RMS Says "Software As a Service" Is Non-free 715

BillyG noted an RMS interview where he says "'Software as a service' means that you think of a particular server as doing your computing for you. If that's what the server does, you must not use it! If you do your computing on someone else's server, you hand over control of your computing to whoever controls the server. It is like running binary-only software, only worse: it's even harder for you to patch the program that's running on someone else's server than it is to patch a binary copy of a program running on your own computer. Just like non-free software, 'software as a service' is incompatible with your freedom."
Google

Chrome EULA Reserves the Right To Filter Your Web 171

An anonymous reader writes "Recently, I decided to try out Google Chrome. With my usual mistrust of Google, I decided to carefully read the EULA before installing the software. I paused when I stumbled upon this section: '7.3 Google reserves the right (but shall have no obligation) to pre-screen, review, flag, filter, modify, refuse or remove any or all Content from any Service. For some of the Services, Google may provide tools to filter out explicit sexual content. These tools include the SafeSearch preference settings (see google.com/help/customize.html#safe). In addition, there are commercially available services and software to limit access to material that you may find objectionable.' Does this mean that Google reserves the right to filter my web browsing experience in Chrome (without my consent to boot)? Is this a carry-over from the EULAs of Google's other services (gmail, blogger etc), or is this something more significant? One would think that after the previous EULA affair with Chrome, Google would try to sound a little less draconian." Update: 04/05 21:14 GMT by T : Google's Gabriel Stricker alerted me to an informative followup: "We saw your Slashdot post and published the following clarification on the Google Chrome blog."
Microsoft

A Real Bill Gates Rant 293

lou ibmix XI submitted an email written by Bill Gates a few years ago and turned over to the feds as part of the government's antitrust case. Great quotes like 'Someone decided to trash the one part of Windows that was usable?' and 'The lack of attention to usability represented by these experiences blows my mind.' We like to think of him as an abstract, but I think this is interesting stuff. Also, this might seem familiar. Oops.
Earth

Leap Second To Be Added Dec 31, 2008 255

ammorris writes "Don't be the laughingstock of your friends when you shout 'Happy New Years' a second too early ... The International Earth Rotation and Reference Systems Service has announced that a leap second will be added on December 31, 2008 at 23h 59m 60s, meaning that this year will be exactly one second longer. The last leap second occurred Dec 31, 2005; they are added due to fluctuations in the rotational speed of the earth. You can read all about leap seconds on Wikipedia."
The Almighty Buck

Computer Models and the Global Economic Crash 361

Anti-Globalism passes along a review in Ars of some recent speculation on the role of interconnected computer models in the global economic crash. "If Ritholtz, Taleb, Mandelbrot, and the rest of the computer modeling and financial engineering naysayers are correct about the big picture, then we really are arguably in the midst a bona fide computer crash. Not an individual computer crash, of course, but a computer crash in the sense of Sun Microsystems' erstwhile marketing slogan, 'the network is the computer.' That is, we have all of these machines in different sectors of the economy, and we've networked all of them together either directly (via an actual network) or indirectly (by using the collective 'output' of machines in one sector as input for the machines in another sector), and like any other computer system the whole thing hums along nicely... up until the point when it doesn't."
Earth

Birth of a New African Ocean 261

Khemisty writes "Formation of an ocean is a rare event, one no scientist has ever witnessed. Yet this geophysical nativity is unfolding today in one of the hottest and most inhospitable corners of the globe. Africa is splitting apart at the seams. From the southern tip of the Red Sea southward through Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, and Mozambique, the continent is coming unstitched along a zone called the East African Rift." This stretching of the earth's crust has been going on for 20 million years, and within another 10 million the Red Sea will have broken through to create a new sea.
Biotech

Cooking Stimulated Big Leap In Human Cognition 473

Hugh Pickens writes "For a long time, humans were pretty dumb, doing little but make 'the same very boring stone tools for almost 2 million years,' says Philipp Khaitovich of the Partner Institute for Computational Biology in Shanghai. Then, 150,000 years ago, our big brains suddenly got smart. We started innovating. We tried different materials. We started creating art and maybe even religion. To understand what caused the cognitive spurt, researchers examined chemical brain processes known to have changed in the past 200,000 years. Comparing apes and humans, they found the most robust differences were for processes involved in energy metabolism. The finding suggests that increased access to calories spurred our cognitive advances, although definitive claims of causation are premature. In most animals, the gut needs a lot of energy to grind out nourishment from food sources. But cooking, by breaking down fibers and making nutrients more readily available, is a way of processing food outside the body. Eating (mostly) cooked meals would have lessened the energy needs of our digestion systems, thereby freeing up calories for our brains. Today, humans have relatively small digestive systems and allocate around 20% of their total energy to the brain, compared to approximately 13% for non-human primates and 2-8% for other vertebrates. While other theories for the brain's cognitive spurt have not been ruled out, the finding sheds light on what made us, as Khaitovich put it, 'so strange compared to other animals.'"
Communications

Al-Qaeda's Growing Online Offensive 369

andy1307 brings us a story from the Washington Post about al-Qaeda's technological capabilities and the methods they use to protect themselves and their networks from opposing military forces. Quoting: "US and European intelligence officials attribute the al-Qaeda propaganda boom in part to the network's ability to establish a secure base in the ungoverned tribal areas of western Pakistan. Analysts said that as-Sahab (AQ's propaganda network) is outfitted with some of the best technology available. Editors and producers use ultralight Sony Vaio laptops and top-end video cameras. Files are protected using PGP, or Pretty Good Privacy, a virtually unbreakable form of encryption software that is also used by intelligence agencies around the world. [Al-Fajr, a propaganda distribution network] is heavily decentralized, with its webmasters generally unaware of one another's true identities for security reasons, intelligence analysts said. It also has separate 'brigades' devoted to hacking, multimedia, cybersecurity and distribution."
Windows

Mass Effect DRM Still Causing Issues 593

An anonymous reader writes "There was some discussion last month about the proposed DRM for Mass Effect and Spore that required the game to phone home every ten days. They backed down from that, but have left in that a user is only allowed 3 activations per license key. A license key is burned up when the O/S is reinstalled, when certain hardware is upgraded (EA refuses to disclose specifics of what), and possibly when a new user is set up in Windows. Only in its first month, some users are already locked out of their games from trying troubleshooting techniques to get the game running."
It's funny.  Laugh.

Geohashing Meets an Angry Rancher With Firearms 800

katicli writes "Geohashing, an obscure xkcd pastime which involves going to random coordinates generated by md5 hashing, the date, and the opening status of the stock market, appears to have just gotten far more interesting. The official wiki reports a warning for other geohashers intending to go to the spot designated for June 14th in the San Francisco area, as several avid fans of xkcd were met by an angry rancher and firearms."

Cloverfield Discussion 511

I don't get to see many movies with a 4 month old in the house, but I managed to escape to see Cloverfield. Stop reading immediately if you don't want spoilers. It's Blair Witch's first person camera work, applied to a small (for the genre) budget monster movie. The monster is cool. The little monsters are cool. The acting is sometimes good, sometimes awkward. The action is often great and very intense. And it will undoubtedly be the most hyped movie of 2008 until the spring blockbusters arrive. I really enjoyed the movie, but I'm posting this so you guys can have a place to talk amongst yourselves about this movie. Groundbreaking movie-making or just hype-making? I'm not sure. I'm also not sure my skull can handle watching it again- that jerky camera action gave me a headache. (Also, there was a Star Trek teaser trailer attached, and I'm almost ashamed to admit that I want it so badly it made me hurt. Please Abrams, don't screw it up)
It's funny.  Laugh.

XKCD Inadvertently Causes Googlebomb 221

MrCopilot writes "As I noted yesterday (and was joined by many others)... in an offhand observation xkcd has singlehandedly changed a small section of the Internet. Changing the results from a Google search for "Died in a Blogging Accident" from 2 to (at this writing) over 7,170 in a little more than 24 hours." If you aren't reading xkcd, you're missing out.
Bug

Data Loss Bug In OS X 10.5 Leopard 603

An anonymous reader writes "Leopard's Finder has a glaring bug in its directory-moving code, leading to horrendous data loss if a destination volume disappears while a move operation is in progress. This author first came across it when Samba crashed while he was moving a directory from his desktop over to a Samba mount on his FreeBSD server."

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