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Comment Re:Defensive patent (Score 1) 191

If the Google patent is truly for something that is already known then it should not have been issued. I did not read the whole patent. Patents always have to be for something new that is not yet known by others: If what Google patent was already known (and I'm not saying that it is because I didn't read the whole thing) then it can be challenged and overturned in court. It can be challenged in federal district court, appealed to the Federal Circuit, and appealed to the Supreme Court.

Submission + - Apple's TV/DVR iPod is Patent Pending (

blee37 writes: The USPTO has published a patent application by Apple for technology to enable a TV / DVR iPod. It suggests that an iPod would be able to switch between different content streams like terrestial TV, satellite TV, and HDTV. The diagrams also show an external device that could be connected to older iPods to enable TV/DVR capability.

Submission + - How the Great Firewall Works, and Evading It ( 1

blee37 writes: This article describes the nuts and bolts of the Great Firewall of China. Surprisingly, it "censors" sites by sending TCP reset requests to the client and server and relies on these endpoint computers to comply with the reset request. It is shown that using a one line Unix command to ignore TCP resets defeats the Great Firewall. Original analysis done by Dr. Richard Clayton of the University of Cambridge.

Comment Re:already been done (Score 2, Informative) 148

Cyc is a controversial project in the AI community, and I'm glad that you brought it up. I don't think anyone yet knows how to use a database of commonsense facts, which is what Cyc is (though limited - the open source version only has a few hundred thousand facts) and which is one thing NELL could create. However, researchers continue to think about ways that an AI could use knowledge of the real world. There are numerous publications based on Cyc:

CMU Web-Scraping Learns English, One Word At a Time 148

blee37 writes "Researchers at Carnegie Mellon have developed a web-scraping AI program that never dies. It runs continuously, extracting information from the web and using that information to learn more about the English language. The idea is for a never ending learner like this to one day be able to become conversant in the English language." It's not that the program couldn't stop running; the idea is that there's no fixed end-point. Rather, its progress in categorizing complex word relationships is the object of the research. See also CMU's "Read the Web" research project site.

Comment Unfortunate (Score 1) 178

It's unfortunate that the Chinese government continues to spy on the population. Many text messages that people send are quite personal.

Text message technology actually makes it easier to spy on people because you can just filter for words like "democracy" rather than actually having to pay an operator to listen to people's phone conversations. Many human rights activists in China had previously reported having their phones tapped.

China Begins Monitoring Billions of Text Messages 178

eldavojohn writes "The Telegraph is reporting that China has begun monitoring 'billions of text messages' in order to increase censorship. However, a People's Daily article claims they only monitor users who have been reported, and only shut down their message service if the complaints are true. Anything considered pornographic will require the user to bring a letter of guarantee to the local public security bureau promising to never again send such messages before service can be reactivated."

Submission + - Web Scraping AI Lives Forever ( 1

blee37 writes: Researchers at Carnegie Mellon have developed a web-scraping AI program that never dies. It runs continuously, extracting information from the web and using that information to learn more about the English language. The idea is for a never ending learner like this to one day be able to become conversant in the English language.

Protecting At-Risk Cities From Rising Seas 243

Hugh Pickens writes "BBC reports that with about 10 million people in England and Wales living in flood risk areas, rising sea levels and more storms could mean that parts of at-risk cities will need to be surrendered to protect homes and businesses, and that 'radical thinking' is needed to develop sea defenses that can cope with the future threats. 'If we act now, we can adapt in such a way that will prevent mass disruption and allow coastal communities to continue to prosper,' says Ruth Reed, President of the Royal Institute of British Architects. 'But the key word is "now."' Changing sea levels is not a new phenomenon. In the Netherlands, for example, with 40% of its surface under sea level, water management and water defense have been practiced since time immemorial; creating mounds and dykes, windmills, canals with locks and sluices, the Delta Works and the Afsluitdijk, all to keep the water out. Similar solutions to protect British cities are based on three themes (PDF): moving 'critical infrastructure' and housing to safer ground, allowing the water into parts of the city; building city-wide sea defenses to ensure water does not enter the existing urban area; and extending the existing coastline and building out onto the water (using stilts, floating structures and/or land reclamation)."

Submission + - Feds Hold Open Competition for Hash Standard (

blee37 writes: The federal government is holding an open competition to decide the next secure hash standard, which will be called SHA-3. The winner will be specified as one of a handful of secure hash algorithms approved for use by all federal agencies for digital signatures, secure key-exchange, and similar protocols. With SHA-1 on the way out and SHA-2 having never gained wide adoption, it is likely that a good SHA-3 algorithm would become the de facto standard. The competition is in the second round and 14 algorithms remain.

The feds have used open competitions to select encryption algorithms in the past — for example DES and AES were chosen this way. The open process makes perfect sense because the government wants as many smart people as possible to submit and try to break each other's codes. Modern encryption algorithms no longer rely on the secrecy of their source code because it is assumed that source code will fall into the wrong hands anyway. Furthermore, the open process creates a perception of greater legitimacy. A hash algorithm handed down directly by the government would be suspected of having a "backdoor" allowing national security agencies to read your messages.

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