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The Broken Design of Microsoft's "Fix it" Tool 165

$luggo writes "Curious about MS Fix It, I recently went hunting in the MS knowledge base for articles that provide the new EZ-button. After locating on few, I decided to click the button to download the Microsoft Installer package containing the executable and/or files that automatically enable the DVD Library feature in Windows Vista Home Premium and Ultimate — on my XP Media Center. 'Surely, MS will use some scripting, HTTP User-Agent sniffing, or even Genuine Windows validation to verify that I am running Vista,' I thought. It did not and I canceled the download when I received the prompt to save the file. So, I wonder: is there a Fix-it for Fix it? Because I can easily imagine someone doing what I did without scrolling to the bottom of the KB article and verifying that the article applies to their OS/version. This is a great example poor design. Why not simply use the download approach that other articles / fixes / service packs use, whereby the user must select the appropriate OS?"

New Paper Offers Additional Reasoning for Fermi's Paradox 774

KentuckyFC writes "If the universe is teeming with advanced civilizations capable of communicating over interstellar distances, then surely we ought to have seen them by now. That's the gist of a paradoxical line of reasoning put forward by the physicist Enrico Fermi in 1950. The so-called Fermi Paradox has haunted SETI researchers ever since. Not least because if the number of intelligent civilizations capable of communication in our galaxy is greater than 1, then we should eventually hear from them. Now one astrophysicist says this thinking fails to take into account the limit to how far a signal from ET can travel before it becomes too faint to hear. Factor that in and everything changes. Assuming the average communicating civilization has a lifetime of 1,000 years, ten times longer than Earth has been broadcasting, and has a signal horizon of 1,000 light-years, you need a minimum of over 300 communicating civilizations in the Milky Way to ensure that you'll see one of them. Any less than that and the chances are that they'll live out their days entirely ignorant of each other's existence. Paradox solved, right?"

Wolfram Research Releases Mathematica 7 234

mblase writes "Wolfram Research has released the seventh version of Mathematica, and it does a lot more than symbolic algebra. New features range from things as simple as cut-and-paste integration with Microsoft Word's Equation Editor to instant 3D models of mathematical objects to the most expensive clone of Photoshop ever. Full suites of genome, chemical, weather, astronomical, financial, and geodesic data (or support for same) is designed to make Mathematica as invaluable for scientific research as it is for mathematics."

Achieving Mathematical Proofs Via Computers 209

eldavojohn writes "A special issue of Notices of the American Mathematical Society (AMS) provides four beautiful articles illustrating formal proof by computation. PhysOrg has a simpler article on these assistant mathematical computer programs and states 'One long-term dream is to have formal proofs of all of the central theorems in mathematics. Thomas Hales, one of the authors writing in the Notices, says that such a collection of proofs would be akin to the sequencing of the mathematical genome.' You may recall a similar quest we discussed."

How To Deploy a Game Console In the Office? 310

SkydiverFL writes "Does anyone have an idea for a good solution for using a game console (Xbox 360, PS3, etc.) with a laptop and / or external monitor? I am planning to set up each of my developers at the office with a shiny new Xbox 360, surround headphones, and Gold memberships. The only catch is that I have to do it 'gracefully.' I would be grateful for any input on the technical setup and politics (how to get it in and how to work through the politics)." Read on for further details on the situation.

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How can you do 'New Math' problems with an 'Old Math' mind? -- Charles Schulz