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Comment Re:WHY? (Score 1) 439

Relaxing your requirements reduces cost. This is a basic principle of engineering. (It may also show up as "increases your reliability / something else desirable at the same cost".)

It sounds from the article like they were previously doing enough maintenance, design work, and fiddling around to keep the frequency at 60.000 +/- 0.001 Hz, and now they've decided they only need to keep it within 60.000 +/- 0.010 Hz . Those aren't the correct numbers (I couldn't find them in any of the articles), but that's the idea. They're going to worry less about the exact frequency, because it makes the system cheaper to run, and nothing cares except 1980's VCR clocks.

Comment Most computers can't read microSD without help (Score 1) 322

I've been away from cutting-edge technology for a while (poor graduate student), so I had to look up whether microSD cards are compatible enough to be useful here.

SD cards are a type of memory card that come in three basic sizes: SD cards, miniSD, and microSD. The microSD cards are indeed ridiculously tiny, and can fit in a hollow coin. Many computers today (particularly laptops) do come with integrated SD readers, but they can't fit the microSD cards without an adapter (microSD in a normal SD slot) or a USB reader.

So you can carry around a liveboot linux distribution in your "lucky half-dollar", full of awesome spy tools, but it won't work on most computers unless you're also carrying around a microSD reader. So you're a lot better off buying one of the tiny or pre-disguised USB drives (pen, cigarette lighter, etc.). ThinkGeek has plenty.

Comment Paper summary (Score 5, Informative) 201

As a comp sci grad student, here's what I got from a quick reading of this paper:

Imagine that you're a content provider, with paying users. You've decided to distribute content to your users by running a Gnutella-style network. How do we make sure that only paying users can get our content? After all, it's an open network.

We start by sending some sort of magic timestamp-thing to all of the paying users. I didn't read this part in much detail. Anyway, the paying users can all identify each other somehow. They mention that it maintains privacy.

Some of your paying users (the "Clients") are good, virtuous folk, and they're running the Happy Authorized Gnutella software you gave them. Others (the "Colluders") are running Evil Hacked software. No matter what you do, the Colluders are going to send chunks of your precious data to the "Pirates" (anyone who hasn't paid you).

Normally, we'd expect our Clients to ignore requests from our Pirates. This paper instead suggests: let's obligate the Clients to send poison data to the Pirates! The Pirates won't know which chunks are bad; they'll only find out that the file is corrupt once it's finished downloading. The Pirates won't be able to get a good copy, and they'll give up and go away.

And there's one other great thing: we can set up *fake* Pirates, and check which users aren't giving out the poison they're supposed to! So we've served data to all of the Clients; we've identified all of the Colluders; and we've defeated all of the Pirates.

(Bittorrent has data integrity checks for every chunk, instead of every file; that's why it's not vulnerable to this attack...I mean business model).

In summary: This paper describes a way that a company can charge for distributing their own content on a peer-to-peer network. It only works if they control a centralized "transaction server" thThat's why no one has ever at organizes the entire network, and if they control the software of all the "honest" people. They can't destroy our existing networks with it, and it doesn't prevent anyone from turning around and posting the file to BitTorrent once it's downloaded.

The tone of the paper is definitely not as neutral as I feel it should be. What they're trying to say is "there's no obvious way to charge people for running a Gnutella server, because pirates will eat your lunch. But we think we have a way." But it definitely feels like they're putting moral force behind what's really a network algorithms result.


FDA Could Delay Adult Stem Cell Breakthroughs 261

destinyland writes "A Colorado medical advocate says, 'The FDA contends that if one cultures stem cells at all...then it's a prescription drug,' in arguing that revolutionary new treatments could be delayed by 20 years — even using cells extracted from your own body. According to the FDA, even therapies that simply re-inject your body's adult stem cells could be prohibited without five years of clinical trials and millions of dollars of research. How useful are cultured stem cells? 'In animal models, they routinely cure diabetes.'"

Feed Science Daily: 'Wake-Up Pill' Under Study To Treat Patients With Bipolar Disorder (sciencedaily.com)

A preliminary study of 85 patients with bipolar disorder shows that a drug used to treat patients with sleep disorders might also control the depressive symptoms associated with bipolar disorder. At least 44 percent of the participants in the study reported improved symptoms, a noteworthy improvement for a disorder in which new treatments are needed.

Creationism Museum Opening in Kentucky 1166

Noel Linback writes "A new creationism-espousing museum is opening in the state of Kentucky. According to a New York Times article the museum depicts humans and dinosaurs living together in traditional 'diorama' style exhibit. 'Whether you are willing to grant the premises of this museum almost becomes irrelevant as you are drawn into its mixture of spectacle and narrative. Its 60,000 square feet of exhibits are often stunningly designed by Patrick Marsh, who, like the entire museum staff, declares adherence to the ministry's views; he evidently also knows the lure of secular sensations, since he designed the Jaws and King Kong attractions at Universal Studios in Florida. For the skeptic the wonder is at a strange universe shaped by elaborate arguments, strong convictions and intermittent invocations of scientific principle. For the believer, it seems, this museum provides a kind of relief: Finally the world is being shown as it really is, without the distortions of secularism and natural selection. '"

Why "Yahoo" Is The #1 Search Term On Google 347

An anonymous reader writes "Google Trends indicates that over the course of the past year the search term "Yahoo" became more popular than "sex", making it the #1 query on Google. Yahoo apparently faces a similar dilemma with roles reversed: When you search for "Google" on Yahoo, Yahoo thoughtfully displays a second search box as if to tell you, "Hey cutie, you have a search engine right in front of you!" A puzzling phenomenon? An strange aberration?"
The Internet

Wikipedia Founder to Give Away Web Hosting 108

eldavojohn writes "Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales is going to be giving away free web hosting from his company's site Wikia. The company announced this 'free culture' movement at the current Le Web 3 conference in Paris. They somehow received a $4 million dollar investment package from Bessemer Venture Partners, Omidyar Network and individual investors with no business model. Is this a dotcom bubble style mistake or just proof of Jimmy Wales' golden touch?" From the article: "Openserving will go further than Wikia's current services, by giving away hosting services and bandwidth, in addition to allowing site creators to keep the advertising revenue generated by the site. 'If we give away the bandwidth and the storage, and we get none of the advertising revenue, what's the business model? Well, I don't know yet,' Penchina said. The software acquired with ArmchairGM will let Openserving customers create collaborative publishing sites, combining elements of blogs and wikis."
The Internet

Map of the Internet 186

Wellington Grey writes "Author of the popular webcomic xkcd has put up a hand made map of the internet as today's comic. He also has an interesting blog entry detailing some of the work that went into it, such a pinging servers and creating a method of fractal mapping to display related regions as contiguous sections on the grid." The drawing is pretty damn impressive; somebody get on making that thing a giant wall poster so I can paper over Taco's office door.

Comment How can a language be open-source? (Score 3, Insightful) 453

I'm very confused by both the article from Gosling and the discussion here.

"Java" is a programming language, right? Programming langagues doesn't have source code, they have specifications. Are they talking about open-sourcing a specific compiler for Java? Or are they talking about releasing or loosening license restrictions on the specifications for the language?

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The only possible interpretation of any research whatever in the `social sciences' is: some do, some don't. -- Ernest Rutherford