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Submission + - Burj Dubai - The new world's tallest building ( 2

MoNSt3r writes: "Now coming back to the topic, Burj Dubai is being constructed in "New Downtown" of Dubai and on Saturday, 21 July 2007, the developers reported it's height as 512.1 metres with 141 completed floors surpassing the Taipei 101 (509.2 m) as the tallest high-rise building in the world. Amazing isn't it? :)"

Submission + - Mac users' Internet experience to remain seamless 2

thefickler writes: Mac users will continue to see the Internet as it was intended, thanks to the renewal of a font licensing agreement between Microsoft and Apple. At TypeCon2007 Microsoft and Apple announced they have renewed their font licensing agreement, giving Apple users ongoing use of the latest versions of Microsoft Windows core fonts.

Back in 1996 Microsoft started the "Core fonts for the Web" initiative. The idea of this initiative was to create a a standard pack of fonts that would be present on all or most computers, allowing web pages to be displayed consistently on different computers. While the project was terminated in 2002, some of the fonts defined as core fonts for the web have gone on to become known as "web safe fonts", and are therefore widely used by Internet developers.

Introducing the Slashdot Firehose 320

Logged in users have noticed for some time the request to drink from the Slashdot Firehose. Well now we're ready to start having everybody test it out. It's partially a collaborative news system, partially a redesigned & dynamic next-generation Slashdot index. It's got a lot of really cool features, and a lot of equally annoying new problems for us to find and fix for the next few weeks. I've attached a rough draft of the FAQ to the end of this article. A quick read of it will probably answer most questions from how it works, what all the color codes mean, to what we intend to do with it.

Submission + - Eminem Sues Apple for iTunes Sales (

puk writes: MacWorld UK is reporting that Eminem's publisher is suing Apple, alleging that his publisher did not have the right to authorize Apple's online sales of digital versions of Eminem's music through the iTunes Music Store and that therefore Apple is violating Eminem's copyright by doing so.

Of course, if this turns out to be the case, Universal may also be on the hook for the damages, if indirectly. Looks like another more case of trying to figure out whether old contracts authorize new activities...

Desktops (Apple)

Submission + - The Mac vs PC debate gets started up again

Novotny writes: "Charlie Brooker, writing for the Guardian, takes a complete freaker over the new UK Mac ads, which feature fairly well known comedians undermining the PC as compared to the 'fun' and 'it just works' Mac. Amusing, this is todays most hottly debated subject on the busy Guardian comments site. Is this endless debate actually going mainstream now?"

Biology Could Be Used To Turn Sugar Into Diesel 355

ABCTech has an interesting article about an Emeryville-based tech startup, Amyris Biotechnologies, that is planning to use microbes to turn sugar into diesel. Ethanol is made by adding sugar to yeast, but Amyris believes that it can reprogram the microbes to make something closer to gasoline. The company was initially given a $43 million grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to attempt to research the applications of Synthetic Biology for making a cost-effective malaria drug. Jack Newman, the Vice-President of Amyris said, "Why are we making ethanol if we're trying to make a fuel? We should be making something that looks a lot more like gasoline. We should be making something that looks a lot more like diesel. And if you wanted to design, you name it, a jet fuel? We can make that too."

Submission + - Blu-ray/HD DVD Disc Sales Numbers Revealed

An anonymous reader writes: The High-Def format wars finally have yardstick against which to measure who's winning with the first public release of VideoScan sales figures for both HD DVD and Blu-ray. The first two weeks worth of data seem to back up what many predicted — that the Blu-ray enabled PS3 is helping Sony quickly close the gap with HD DVD, with almost three Blu-ray discs sold for every one HD DVD during the first week of January. HD DVD still leads in overall discs sold since inception, but that lead looks to be quickly dwindling...

Submission + - PHP 5 in Practice

Michael J. Ross writes: "Computer programming books come in all varieties, but there are at least four general categories: introductory texts, which typically have the lowest content per page; language references, which have become increasingly supplanted by online sources; "advanced" treatments, which are often a mishmash of errata-riddled articles; and "how-to" books, usually at the intermediate level, and sometimes presented as "cookbooks." It is that last category that has been growing in popularity, and for good reason: When an experienced software developer needs assistance, it is rarely for language syntax, but instead a desire to see how someone else solved a specific problem. For solutions using the PHP language, one source of information is PHP 5 in Practice.

The book was authored by Elliott White III and Jonathan D. Eisenhamer, and put out in July 2006 by Sams Publishing (an imprint of Pearson Education), under the ISBN 0672328887. Given today's standards of hefty technical books, this particular one is relatively light, weighing in at 456 pages, which are organized into an introduction, numerous chapters, and three appendices.

Its introduction is more interesting than that of most similar books, whose introductions usually consist of formatting conventions and explanations as to why the book was written — all such content providing little to no value to the impatient programmer facing a deadline, and invariably ignored (the content, that is, not the deadline).

White and Eisenhamer took a refreshingly different tack, and chose instead to explain their use of coding standards, comments and whitespace, braces and parentheses, PHP short tags, PHP mode, and other language considerations that are more useful than the typical rundown of somewhat childish icons used in other texts, such as light bulbs and red warning signs.

Switching to the other end of the book, we find three appendices. The first one briefly discusses issues one might face in migrating from PHP version 4 to 5. The second introduces the Standard PHP Library (SPL), and the objects related to its primary design pattern, the Iterator. The third appendix discusses what composes the bulk of output from my PHP programs: error messages. Seriously, this appendix is worth reading, if only for the suggestions as to what to look for when you encounter some of the most common PHP error messages.

The bulk of the book's material is divided into 20 chapters, which are themselves divided into two parts: PHP internals, and applications. The internals are: strings, numbers, time and date, variables, arrays, functions, classes and objects, and files and directories. Starting off with a discussion of strings, might seem odd to the neophyte programmer, but to the veteran who has had to learn several languages during their career, the choice makes a lot of sense. There must be countless developers out there who, being fluent in the C language and object-oriented concepts, jumped into writing their first C++ program, and had to hit the books for the first time when they wanted to do some non-array-based string handling.

The book's second part covers some of the most common applications in PHP programming: Web page creation (using XHTML and CSS), Web form handling, data validation and standardization, sessions and user tracking, Web services and other protocols, relational databases and other data storage methods, e-mail, XML, images, error reporting and debugging, and user authentication and encryption. That last chapter, in the next edition, should be relocated so that it precedes or follows the chapter on sessions and user tracking.

Many of the chapters begin with a "Quick Hits" section, which briefly summarizes how to perform many of the most common and essential tasks related to that chapter's topic. For instance, in the chapter covering the use of variables, this first section explains how to: check if a variable has no value or if it is empty (not synonymous in PHP), undefine a variable, cast it to a certain data type, and do the same thing for a value. There is one minor erratum that should be noted: On page 71, in the first "Quick Hit," it reads "a variable has bee. given a value." ("been"'s "n" ended too soon.)

Each section within the chapter briefly explains the problem domain, and then presents sample code to solve the given problem. The code itself is fairly well commented, and the variable names are adequately descriptive (unlike in some programming books, whose coding standards border on the criminal).

All in all, the book offers a lot of worthwhile solutions to a wide range of problems, and does so in a straightforward manner. It is for this reason that it is not evident as to why this particular PHP title has received so little notice. For instance, on, it has received only one reader review, as of this writing, and does not even make it into the top quarter million books ranked in sales by It is a pity, because the book deserves much more attention.

Even though this book is to be recommended, and is packed with code and text that are well worth studying, it has one unmistakable weakness for which this writer can think of no adequate justification. The book contains almost no illustrations, even when they are clearly called for — in fact, especially in those cases. For instance, the section that shows how to generate a calendar, does not show a calendar! The code is present, but the sample output — which is what the poor reader would appreciate, to see the results of the code — is missing.

Granted, an absence of figures and screenshots might be understandable for the first part of the book, which covers the PHP language itself. But the second part, covering applications, has far too many unillustrated PHP scripts. These include sections focusing on drop-down menus, progress bars, and graphical charts Web forms. In the last chapter, there is a section with code that generates captchas, but the reader is not shown what they look like. The entire 18th chapter is devoted to images, but contains not a single one! I cannot imagine why the authors and/or publisher chose to leave out these essential graphics. Was it to save money? Whatever the reason, it was a significant mistake, and one that should be corrected in the next edition.

Readers who agree with this assessment, or who have other thoughts concerning this otherwise excellent book, can leave feedback via the book's Web page on the Web site for Sams Publishing. This page offers details on the book, a description and table of contents, links for requesting instructor or review copies, and a tool for searching the book's contents within the Safari online technical library. The book's introduction states that the Web site hosts all of the code listings, as well as a list of errata. Yet, I was unable to find either one. (Sadly, the Pearson Education sites are still some of the least usable in the technical book publishing world.) Much better results were obtained on Eli White's site.

Despite an inexcusable and almost complete lack of needed illustrations, PHP 5 in Practice is possibly one of the most meaty, immediately useful, and fluff-free PHP books available. No serious PHP programmer should be without it.

Michael J. Ross is a Web consultant, freelance writer, and the editor of's free newsletter. He can be reached at, hosted by SiteGround."

Submission + - Migrating radio station to Linux

allikat_uk writes: I'm a DJ for a net radio station (amongst other hobbies). I want to migrate from an XP platform running (SAM Broadcaster) to a Linux based solution. I don't need to host the server, as the station does that, I just need a nice graphical interfaced solution to stream the MP3 files to the server. I need to run 2 streams, 64k stereo, and 22k mono in MP3 to a shoutcast clone server. My current software has a nice MySQL database to make finding the tracks I want quickly, dual playback "decks" and easy voiceovers. Is there a Linux equivalent available under GPL?
Helpful replies appreciated.

Submission + - Choosing a video codec that will work anywhere

bruguiea writes: "Hi all, For a project, I need to distribute a 3 minute video to people who will not be able to contact me for feedback or help. It is a cartoon-like animation made of moving circles of various sizes and colors (800x600). I tried Google video, but the rendering is of poor quality. I also tried an AVI/XVID but it doesn't work on every Windows machine. Any suggestion about what codec to use? I would like it to run on the vast majority of MS and MacOS machines."

Submission + - FCC To Drop Amateur Radio Morse Code Requirements

An anonymous reader writes: The FCC announced it will drop all morse code requirements for amateur radio communications. Currently only the lowest class of licenses are exempt from morse code testing. This move allows many ham radio operators access to wider ranges of spectrum, and marks the end of a technology more than a century old. More details at the ARRL site.

Submission + - Please Turn Off Your Computers Over Vacation

mikesd81 writes: "Over there is an article about how much power is wasted leaving PC's and printers on over the holisdays. From the article: "The amount of energy wasted by UK office equipment left on standby over the ten-day Christmas period would be enough to roast 4.4 million turkeys, predicts hardware maker Canon."

Apparently, the study by Canon determined the devices left running over the holiday system will user 43.6 million kWh of electricity totaling £8.66 million dollars ($16,800,976.80 USD). In enviromental terms, Canon's research suggests that around 19,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide will be produced unnecessarily — enough to fill the same number of 25-metre (~82 feet) swimming pools. Canon determines the unattended PC's use 37.8 million kWh of energy. David Smith, marketing director at Canon UK, said the figures show that "businesses that don't turn off their PCs and printers are literally throwing money away as well as damaging the environment over the festive period". The research was carried out by Canon and partially based on figures from the National Energy Foundation, Infosource and the Carbon Trust."

Microsoft Deems Emotiflags Patent-Worthy 157

theodp writes "Microsoft said you could count on them to improve patent quality. For an example of how they're raising the bar on innovation, check out this just-published patent application for Emotiflags, which Microsoft explains solves the problem of indicating an emotion associated with an email message. At the risk of infringing on the patent, this one Makes Me Mad!"

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As in certain cults it is possible to kill a process if you know its true name. -- Ken Thompson and Dennis M. Ritchie