Smelly Jeffrey writes: After November 11, 2010, Google's free Directory Assistance service, GOOG-411, will be switched off. Since the service launched in 2007, Google has been quietly bettering its various voice-driven systems. When Google launched its own free 4-1-1 service, the company said it planned to use the voice samples captured by the phone system to improve its voice recognition. With the imminent closing of GOOG-411, users calling from landlines have been scrambling to find other free alternatives. While the old standby of 1-800-FREE-411 remains in mediocre homeostasis, and Microsoft's relatively new BING-411 service is sure to pick up when google drops the ball.
Smelly Jeffrey writes: The BBC is reporting that the LHC has had all eight of its sectors cooled to 1.9 Kelvins. Their tagline is that it is now "colder than deep space", as caused by CMB. LHC engineers have spent nearly $40,000,000 USD on a new system to prevent the "quench" condition that caused the LHC to be down for warming, repairs, and re-cooling over the last several months. The entire LHC is now cold enough to being colliding particles in search of the Higgs Boson. High power collisions won't be started until late this December, or more likely early next January. However, some low power collisions could be begun as early as next week!
Smelly Jeffrey writes: According to a recent article, Indiana BMV Communications Director Dennis Rosebrough states that applicants for a new or renewed operator's license or state identification card will no longer be allowed to smile and say cheese. Apparently new facial recognition software being employed by the state fails to function when the face is distorted by something as innocuous as smiling. Also on the list of taboos are hats, eyeglasses, and hair that hangs down over the face. The article fails to mention, however, the legality of beards, mustaches, and bushy eyebrows.
Smelly Jeffrey writes: It looks as though the EFF has finally made some headway against the questionable searchandseizure of laptops at US borders. This article in my hometown's newspaper explains that the EFF and the Asian Law Caucus have teamed up. From the article, "These objections led the Asian Law Caucus and the Electronic Frontier Foundation to file a Freedom of Information request to obtain the federal policy on border searches of electronic devices. When the government failed to respond, the groups filed a lawsuit this year. And lawmakers began demanding answers." Congress is getting involved, now that the issue has been given some long-overdue national attention. "One measure, sponsored by Sen. Russell Feingold, D-Wis., chairman of the Constitution subcommittee, would require reasonable suspicion of illegal activity to search the contents of electronic devices carried by U.S. citizens and legal residents. It would also require probable cause and a warrant or court order to detain a device for more than 24 hours." Is this a glimmer of hope for those of us who travel with our electronics in tow?
Smelly Jeffrey writes: My current DNS server of choice is a Level 3 Communications DNS server, 188.8.131.52, because its IP is just so easy to remember. I recently started noticing that when I mistype a domain name in my web browser, I no longer receive the usual "Domain not found" message. Requests to both real TLDs like.com and.edu and nonexistent TLDs like.fake are hijacked. For example, when I type http://example.fake into Firefox, I am redirected to http://wwwwe.sitefindservice.info/search?qo=example.fake&rn=aOcZgGqN06wOSmA&rg= instead. The page has a few sponsored results and displays the Yahoo! logo on it. This response seems specific to the "Mozilla" user agent, common to Firefox, Safari, Internet Explorer, and others. Running wget -U Mozilla http://www.fake/ results in a "302 Document has Moved" message, while wget -U Opera http://www.fake/ results in a "404 Not Found" message instead. Further research shows that pings are also hijacked: ping www.fake results in replies from 184.108.40.206, which resolves to wwwe.sitefindservice.info. I imagine that somebody is getting quite rich off of this. My question to the Slashdot crowd is simple: are there any reputable public DNS servers left?
Smelly Jeffrey writes: With the release of this whitepaper, the FCC unanimously approved plans for a new technology with strong supporters and even stronger detractors. White Space Wi-Fi effectively allows manufacturers of wireless devices to incorporate transceivers that operate on unused DTV channels. Although the deregulation is new, the idea seems to have caught google's interest recently as well. It seems that this has been rather rushedthrough the normally stagnant channels at the FCC. While some view it as interference in the already crowded spectrum, it seems the FCC Chairman really likes the idea of repurposing dark parts of the newly allocated DTV bands once more.