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Books

Submission + - Global Christianity and the Rise of the Cellphone

Hugh Pickens writes writes: "Alan Jacobs writes in the Atlantic about "Every Tribe Every Nation" (ETEN) an organization whose mission is to produce and disseminate Bibles in readable mobile-ready texts for hundreds of languages including Norsk, Potawatomie, Bahasa Indonesia, and Hawai'i Pidgin as the old missionary impulse is being turned towards some extremely difficult technical challenges. The Bible is a large, complicated text containing three quarters of a million words and the typesetting is quite complex because of the wide range of literature types found in scripture and the need for several types of note. "For all the issues that are still to be solved, ETEN is trying to do things that the world's biggest tech companies haven't cracked yet, such as rendering minority languages correctly on mobile devices," says Mark Howe. "There's a unity among Bible translators and publishers that stands in stark contrast to the fractured, fratricidal smartphone industry." But once these technical challenges are met, it won't be only Bibles only that people can get on their mobile devices: but whole textual worlds will open up for them. "So whatever your views about the Christian missionary enterprise, it's safe to say that insofar as people like Howe succeed in solving these problems, some of the world's smaller "heart languages" will stand a better chance of surviving, and maybe even thriving, in an increasingly digitized world," writes Jacobs. "And that's pretty cool.""
Microsoft

Submission + - Microsoft to acquire Skype for $8.5 billion (bbc.co.uk)

An anonymous reader writes: According to BBC news "Microsoft has confirmed that it has agreed to buy internet phone service Skype. The deal will see Microsoft pay $8.5bn (£5.2bn) for Skype, making it Microsoft's largest acquisition."

What will this mean for Mac OS X and linux versions of Skype? Does this confirm the rumors that Skype is evil?

Linux

Submission + - Red Hat CEO: Software vendor model is broken (networkworld.com)

alphadogg writes: The current model of selling commercial enterprise software is broken, charged the CEO for Red Hat. It is too expensive, doesn't address user needs and, worst of all, it leaves chief information officers holding all the risk of implementing new systems.

"The business models between customer and vendors are fundamentally broken," said Jim Whitehurst, speaking Wednesday at the Interop conference in New York. "Vendors have to guess at what [customers] want, and there is a mismatch of what customers want and what they get. Creating feature wars is not what the customer is looking for."

Whitehurst estimated that the total global IT market, not including telecommunications, is about $1.4 trillion a year. Factor in the rough estimates that half of all IT projects fail or are significantly downgraded, and that only half of all features in software packages are actually used, then it would follow that "easily $500 billion of that $1.4 trillion is fundamentally wasted every year," he said.

Of course, being an executive of an open-source software company, Whitehurst would naturally be critical of the standard model of software sales, and he has spoken critically of the model in the past. In his presentation at Interop, however, he also discussed how cloud computing could offer a break from this routine, depending on how it is implemented.

"People say [they are interested in the] cloud but what they are really espousing are frustrations with existing IT business models," Whitehurst said in an interview with IDG News Service after the presentation.

Windows

Fresh Air For Windows? 645

jmcbain writes "The NY Times has an opinion piece on how the next Windows could be designed (even through Microsoft has already laid plans for Windows 7). The author suggests 'A monolithic operating system like Windows perpetuates an obsolete design. We don't need to load up our machines with bloated layers we won't use.' He also brings up the example of Apple breaking ties with its legacy OS when OS X was built. Can Windows move forward with a completely new, fast, and secure OS and still keep legacy application support?"
Books

Douglas Hofstadter Looks At the Future 387

An anonymous reader writes with a link to this "detailed and fascinating interview with Douglas Hofstadter (of Gödel Escher Bach fame) about his latest book, science fiction, Kurzweil's singularity and more ... Apparently this leading cognitive researcher wouldn't want to live in a world with AI, since 'Such a world would be too alien for me. I prefer living in a world where computers are still very very stupid.' He also wouldn't want to be around if Kurzweil's ideas come to pass, since he thinks 'it certainly would spell the end of human life.'"
Security

Spit Will Be Worse Than Spam 248

KentuckyFC writes "A team of German computer scientists has developed a program that reproduces all the known forms of spit (spam over internet telephony) attack. Their plan is to make the spitting software available to computer security experts wanting to test antispit strategies. Developing these won't be easy. There are various antispit techniques, such as white lists that allow only calls from predetermined callers, Turing tests such as audio CAPTCHAs that make a caller prove he or she is human and payment-at-risk services where the caller makes a small payment in advance and is refunded immediately if the receiver acknowledges the call as legitimate. But all have weaknesses, say the researchers. The main difference between junk calls and junk email is that the email arrives at your mail server before you access it. This gives the server time to analyze its content and filter out the junk before it gets to you. Not so with internet telephony, which is why radically different strategies are needed."
Math

First "Observation" of Hawking Radiation 86

KentuckyFC writes "Italian physicists are claiming the first observation of Hawking radiation, but not from a black hole. Instead they've spotted it streaming from a sonic horizon in a Bose Einstein Condensate (abstract on the arXiv). That's consistent with previous predictions but they're claiming the 'first' even though the experiment was only a numerical simulation. Does that really count?"
Space

Statue of Galileo Planned for Vatican 333

Reservoir Hill writes "Four hundred years after it put Galileo on trial for heresy the Vatican is to complete its rehabilitation of the scientist by erecting a statue of him inside Vatican walls. The planned statue is to stand in the Vatican gardens near the apartment in which Galileo was incarcerated. He was held there while awaiting trial in 1633 for advocating heliocentrism, the Copernican doctrine that the Earth revolves around the Sun. The move coincides with a series of celebrations in the run-up to next year's 400th anniversary of Galileo's development of the telescope. In January Pope Benedict XVI called off a visit to Sapienza University, Rome, after staff and students accused him of defending the Inquisition's condemnation of Galileo. The Vatican said that the Pope had been misquoted and since the episode, several of the professors have retracted their protest."

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