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Entertainment

Marvel's New Thor Will Be a Woman 590

An anonymous reader writes: Marvel Comics has announced that Thor, the thunder god whose story has been told in comic books, movies, and TV shows since the 1960s, will fall from grace, and no longer be able to wield his hammer Mjolnir. A brand new female character will take up the name Thor and continue the series. Jason Aaron, the series writer, said, "This is not She-Thor. This is not Lady Thor. This is not Thorita. This is THOR. This is the THOR of the Marvel Universe. But it's unlike any Thor we've ever seen before." Marvel's Wil Moss added, "The new Thor continues Marvel's proud tradition of strong female characters like Captain Marvel, Storm, Black Widow and more. And this new Thor isn't a temporary female substitute — she's now the one and only Thor, and she is worthy!"
Cellphones

Microsoft Drops Price on Nokia's 41-Megapixel Phone 197

TechRadar reports today the first major public-facing move that Microsoft has made with its newly acquired Nokia devices business: "The headline-making Nokia Lumia 1020 smartphone-cum-camera is now available for $100 less in the United States, potentially a sign that Microsoft is already ringing the changes at Nokia. The Microsoft Store stateside is now selling the 41-megapixel Windows Phone 8 handset for $199 (around £127, AU$216) on a two-year contract, compared with Nokia's lofty $299 (around £191, AU$325) launch price. The price is being matched by the AT&T network, but Microsoft is going one better (for a limited time) and chucking in the camera grip accessory for everyone who picks up the device. Early indications are that the heavily-hyped Lumia 1020 hasn't been flying off the shelves, so perhaps this price cut can offer Microsoft a boost in the early stages of its Nokia stewardship."
Ubuntu

Ubuntu Developing Its Own Package Format, Installer 466

An anonymous reader writes "While complementing Debian APT/DPKG, Canonical is now developing their own package format. The new package format has promised highlights of having no dependencies between applications, each package would install to its own directory, root support wouldn't always be required, and overall a more self-contained and easier approach for developers than it stands now for Debian/Ubuntu packages. The primary users of the new packaging system would be those distributing applications built on the Ubuntu Touch/Phone SDK. The initial proof-of-concept package management system is written in Python and uses JSON representation." This quote from the post by Canonical's Colin Watson bears repeating: "We'll continue to use dpkg and apt for building the Ubuntu operating system, syncing with Debian, and so on."
DRM

W3C Declares DRM In-Scope For HTML 290

FredAndrews writes "The W3C has ruled DRM in-scope for their HTML standard. A lot of big businesses have supported advancing the Encrypted Media Extension, including Google, Microsoft, and Netfix. The BBC calls for a solution with legal sanctions. The EME could well be used to implement a DRM HTML engine. A DRM-enabled web would break a long tradition of the web browser being the User's Agent, and would restrict user choice and control over their security and privacy. There are other applications that can serve the purpose of viewing DRM video content, and I appeal to people to not taint the web standards with DRM but to please use other applications when necessary." Looks like the web is becoming more like Xanadu, but not in a good way.
Microsoft

Microsoft Reveals More Windows 8 Details 538

Barence writes "Microsoft has released the first full details of Windows 8, with an all-or-nothing approach to touchscreen technology. All versions of Windows 8 — whether used on a touchscreen device or not — will use the operating system's new Metro interface, which was first developed for Windows Phone 7 devices. The advent of Windows 8 sees Microsoft introduce a new style of application, dubbed Metro Style apps, and its own app store. The company also claims to have boosted Windows 8 performance with fast boot/shutdown times, a new Task Manager and the option to refresh a PC with a clean install of the OS with apps and settings left intact."
Transportation

US Contemplating 'Vehicle Miles Traveled' Tax 1306

dawgs72 writes "This week the Congressional Budget Office released a report saying that taxing people based on how many miles they drive is a possible option for raising new revenues, and that these taxes could be used to offset the costs of highway maintenance. The proposed tax would be enforced through the use of electronic metering devices installed on all vehicles. The mileage tax is being considered instead of an increase in the gas tax in order to tax hybrids, EVs, and conventional automobiles equally."
United States

New Hampshire Bill Could Lead To Adoption of Approval Voting 416

Okian Warrior writes "The people at FreeKeene report: 'Four Republican state representatives have sponsored a bill that would replace first-past-the-post voting with approval voting for all state offices and presidential primaries. Under this system, voters would select every candidate they approve of (regardless of party), and the candidate with the highest overall vote total wins. This reduces strategic voting, and would often make elections easier for moderate and libertarian candidates. The bill, HB240, will have a public hearing Tuesday, February 1st, with the House Election Law committee.'"
Education

What If We Ran Universities Like Wikipedia? 380

Pickens writes "Do university bureaucracies still make sense in the era of networks? At the recent Educause conference, David J. Staley laid out the findings of a focus group he conducted asking educators what a college would look like if it operated like Wikipedia. The 'Wiki-ized University' wouldn't have formal admissions, says Staley; people could enter and exit as they wished and the university would consist of voluntary and self-organizing associations of teachers and students 'not unlike the original idea for the university, in the Middle Ages.' In addition, the curriculum of the 'Wiki-ized University' would be intellectually fluid, and instead of tenure, professors' longevity 'would be determined by the community.' Staley predicts that a new form of academic organization is emerging that will be driven by volunteerism. 'We do see some idea today of how "volunteer teaching" might look: think of the faculty at a place like the University of Phoenix. Most teaching faculty have day jobs — and in fact are hired because they have day jobs — and teach at the university for a nominal stipend,' writes Staley. 'If something like the Phoenix model is what develops in a wiki-ized university setting, this would suggest that a new type of "professorate" will emerge, consisting of those who teach or publish or conduct research for their own personal or professional satisfaction or for some other nonmonetized benefit.'"
Cellphones

Microsoft To Charge Phone Makers a Licensing Fee 225

angry tapir writes "Microsoft may be one of the only remaining mobile operating-system providers that charges handset makers a licensing fee, but in exchange vendors get at least one important benefit: protection from intellectual property worries. 'Microsoft indemnifies its Windows Phone 7 licensees against patent infringement claims,' the company said. 'We stand behind our product, and step up to our responsibility to clear the necessary IP rights.'" In related news, Windows Phone 7 will be exclusive to AT&T at launch, and it seems Microsoft is counting on Xbox Live integration to be the "hook" that gets people interested in the new devices.
Cellphones

Software Holds Cell Phone Calls While Driving 452

An anonymous reader writes "Canadian company Aegis Mobility has developed software that detects if a cell phone is moving at 'car' speeds. If so, the software, DriveAssistT, will alert the cellular network, telling it to hold calls and text messages until the drive is over. Calls are not blocked entirely; callers will be notified that the person appears to be driving, but they can still leave an emergency voice mail, which will be sent through immediately."

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