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Comment So what. (Score 1) 129

So they got BitTorrent to do what VLC has been able to do all along? BFD. I think someone is drinking a little too much Kool-Aid. I can also do math in the sand with pebbles and sticks, but different isn't necessarily better. It's just a different way of solving an already solved problem. Weeeeee! When will this roller coaster of excitement end?!

Youngest Planet Discovered 182

qazsedcft writes "BBC is reporting that Astronomers have discovered what appears to be the youngest planet, being less than 2000 years old. If this proves to be true it could challenge our models of solar system formation."
The Courts

U. Maine Law Students Trying To Shut RIAA Down 229

NewYorkCountryLawyer writes "Remember those pesky student attorneys from the University of Maine School of Law's Cumberland Legal Aid Clinic, who inspired the Magistrate Judge to suggest monetary fines against the RIAA lawyers? Well they're in the RIAA's face once again, and this time they're trying to shut down the RIAA's whole 'discovery' machine: the lawsuits it files against 'John Does' in order to find out their names and addresses. They've gone and filed a Rule 11 motion for sanctions (PDF), seeking — among other things — an injunction against all such 'John Doe' cases, arguing that the cases seek to circumvent the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act which protects student privacy rights, are brought for improper purposes of obtaining discovery, getting publicity, and intimidation, and are in flagrant violation of the joinder rules and numerous court orders. If the injunction is granted, the RIAA will have to go back to the drawing board to find another way of finding out the identities of college students, and the ruling — depending on its reasoning — might even be applicable to the non-college cases involving commercial ISPs."

Open Source Patent Donations? 185

patspam writes "As a software engineer I come up with patentable ideas every now and then, ideas which I'm not interested in pursuing myself but which I'd like to keep out of the hands of private entities/patent trolls in my own personal effort to defeat software patents. Should I patent the ideas and donate them to some sort of open source foundation? Or just blog about the ideas so that the 'prior art' exists in the public domain? What's your strategy for fighting against restrictive software patents?"

Users Know Advertisers Watch Them, and Hate It 243

Chris Blanc tips an Ars writeup on a survey of consumer attitudes toward targeted advertising. The results of the survey, conducted for TRUSTe, confirm that advertisers are in a tough spot. "[The survey company] randomly selected 1,015 nationally representative adults... Although only 40 percent of the group was familiar with the term 'behavioral targeting,' most users were well aware of the practice. 57 percent reported that they weren't comfortable their activities [were being] tracked for advertising purposes, even if the information couldn't be tied to their names or real-life identities. Simultaneously, 72 percent of those surveyed said that they find online advertising annoying when the ads are not relevant to their needs..."

Summer of Code Deadline Extended 6 Days 38

mithro writes "If you thought that you had missed out on applying to the Google Summer of Code, you've just gotten a reprieve. The deadline for student submissions has been extended from the original April 1 to Monday April 7, 2008. To quote Leslie Hawthorn: 'This year, we experimented with the Google Summer of Code program timeline, providing one week for students to discuss project ideas with their mentors and then a single week to submit applications. The good news is that we've heard that overall application quality is much higher this year and that students have really benefited from the opportunity to have extra time to discuss their ideas with their potential mentors. However, we've still heard feedback from the community that it would be useful to provide more time for students to submit their applications, so we've done just that.'"

NXP RFID Cracked 111

kamlapati sends us to EETimes for news that the Chaos Computer Club in Germany and researchers from the University of Virginia have cracked the encryption scheme used in a common RFID chip, NXP's Mifare Classic. According to the article the device is used in many contactless smartcard applications including fare collection, loyalty cards, and access control cards. NXP downplays the significance of the hack, saying that that model of RFID card uses old technology and they do a much better job these days.
The Courts

RIAA "Making Available" Theory Rejected 168

NewYorkCountryLawyer writes "In a 25-page decision (PDF) which has been awaited for two years in Elektra v. Barker, Judge Kenneth M. Karas has rejected the RIAA's 'making available' theory and its 'authorization' theory, but sustained the sufficiency of the complaint's allegations of 'distribution' and 'downloading,' and also gave the RIAA 30 days to cure the defects in its complaint by filing a new complaint. The judge left it open for the RIAA to allege that defendant made an 'offer to distribute,' and that the offer was for "'the purpose of further distribution,' which, the judge held, would be actionable."

Augmenting Data Beats Better Algorithms 179

eldavojohn writes "A teacher is offering empirical evidence that when you're mining data, augmenting data is better than a better algorithm. He explains that he had teams in his class enter the Netflix challenge, and two teams went two different ways. One team used a better algorithm while the other harvested augmenting data on movies from the Internet Movie Database. And this team, which used a simpler algorithm, did much better — nearly as well as the best algorithm on the boards for the $1 million challenge. The teacher relates this back to Google's page ranking algorithm and presents a pretty convincing argument. What do you think? Will more data usually perform better than a better algorithm?"

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