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Is the Tide Turning On Patents? 172

Glyn Moody writes "The FSF has funded a new video, 'Patent Absurdity: how software patents broke the system,' freely available (of course) in Ogg Theora format (what else?). It comes at a time when a lot is happening in the world of patents. Recent work from leading academics has called into question their basis: 'The work in this paper, and that of many others, suggests that this traditionally-struck "devil's bargain" may not be beneficial.' We recently discussed how a judge struck down Myriad Genetics's patents on two genes because they involved a law of Nature, and were thus 'improperly granted.' Meanwhile, the imminent Supreme Court ruling In re Bilski is widely expected to have negative knock-on effects for business method and software patents. Is the tide beginning to turn?"

2010 Will Be the Year of Sandboxing Apps 203

Trailrunner7 writes "In a guest editorial on Threatpost, Mac hacker and security researcher Dino Dai Zovi writes that 2010 will be the year that software vendors get religion about sandboxing untrusted data in desktop apps. 'Instead of the usual top ten lists that are all-too-common with predictions for the new year, I have just one: 2010 will be the year of desktop applications handling untrusted data in sandboxed processes, and it will be about time. The largest Internet security threats now arrive through malicious web pages or e-mail attachments. This is because attackers are opportunistic and these are the weakest links especially because they easily pass through every firewall. Security is not and never was about SYN packets, it is about data: the software attack surface that attacker-controlled data interacts with and what sensitive data the attacker can get a hold of if they can exploit vulnerabilities in that software.'"

Why Windows Must (and Will) Go Open Source 555

Attila Dimedici writes "Charles Babcock of Information Week published an interesting article suggesting that Microsoft will have to at least to some degree take Windows open source if they want to stay in business. He suggests that the money to be made from the things MS builds on top of Windows (Office, Server, SQL Server, Exchange, Sharepoint, etc.) is so much greater than what can be made from Windows itself that MS will have to give up the revenue stream from Windows in order to maintain these other, more valuable, revenue streams."
Data Storage

"Magnetic Tornadoes" Could Offer New Data Storage Tech 109

coondoggie writes to tell us about the latest technique researchers are investigating as a possible means to store data, magnetic tornadoes. "Conventional computer memories store data in "bits" that consist of two magnetic elements that record data in binary form. When these elements are magnetized in the same direction, the computer reads the bit as a '0'; when magnetized in opposite directions, the bit represents a '1,' researchers stated. According to scientists, a vortex forms spontaneously — one vortex per disk — in a small magnetic disk when the disk's diameter falls below a certain limit. Although the vortex does not whirl about like a meteorological tornado, the atoms in the material do orient themselves so that their magnetic states, or 'moments,' point either clockwise or counterclockwise around the disk's surface. At the center of the disk, the density of this rotation causes the polarity of the vortex core to point either up out of the disk or down like a tornado's funnel, researchers stated. Because the vortices that form on the disks contain two independently controllable and accessible magnetic parameters, they could form the basis for quaternary bits that would contain data written as a 0, 1, 2, or 3."

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