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Government

Dutch Hotels Must Register As ISPs 152

hankwang writes "The Dutch telecommunications authority OPTA has announced that Dutch hotels must register as internet providers (original version, in Dutch) because that is what they formally are, according to Dutch laws. It is well possible that once hotels are officially internet providers, they will also have to abide by the European regulations on data retention and make efforts to link email headers and other data traffic to individual hotel guests. Could this also happen in other European countries? This is probably not likely to lead to a more widespread adoption of free WiFi services in hotels."
Image

Doctors Seeing a Rise In "Google-itis" Screenshot-sm 368

It's one of the fastest-growing health issues that doctors now face: "Google-itis." Everyone from concerned mothers to businessmen on their lunch break are typing in symptoms and coming up with rare diseases or just plain wrong information. Many doctors are bringing computers into examination rooms now so they can search along with patients to alleviate their fears. "I'm not looking for a relationship where the patient accepts my word as the gospel truth," says Dr. James Valek. "I just feel the Internet brings so much misinformation to the (exam) room that we have to fight through all that before we can get to the problem at hand."
Education

NZ School Goes Open Source Amid Microsoft Mandate 305

Dan Jones writes "Kiwis have built an entire school IT system out of open source software, in less than two months, despite a deal between the New Zealand government and Microsoft that effectively mandates the use of Microsoft products in the country's schools. Albany Senior High School in the northern suburbs of Auckland has been running an entirely open source infrastructure since it opened in 2009. It's using a range of applications like OpenOffice, Moodle for education content, Mahara for student portfolios, and Koha for the library catalogue. Ubuntu Linux is on the desktop and Mandriva provides the server. Interestingly, the school will move into new purpose-built premises this year, which include a dedicated server room design based on standard New Zealand school requirements, including four racks each capable of holding 48 servers for its main systems. The main infrastructure at Albany Senior High only requires four servers, suggesting an almost 50-fold saving on hardware requirements."
Input Devices

Does Your PC Really Need a SysRq Button Anymore? 806

An anonymous reader writes "Ever wondered what the SysRq key on your keyboard does? Lenovo has decided it's so rarely used that it has started removing the key from some new Thinkpad Edge laptops. We already know that Lenovo are something of the fastidious scientists when it comes to keyboard design. Last time they fiddled with the age-old key layout, it was after painstaking research to count exactly how many times users press the Delete and Escape keys. Now it seems another relic of computer keyboards is starting to disappear."
Image

TV Show Seeks Terminally Ill Volunteer for Mummification Screenshot-sm 262

Terminal illness got you down? Does your future seems bleak? Channel 4 and production company Fulcrum TV would like to brighten your day by making you the star of an upcoming documentary. They would like to offer you the chance to be mummified on TV and maybe even displayed in a museum afterward. An advertisement for the project reads: "We are currently keen to talk to some one who, faced with the knowledge of their own terminal illness and all that it entails, would nonetheless consider undergoing the process of an ancient Egyptian embalming."
Games

How To Judge Legal Risk When Making a Game Clone? 270

An anonymous reader writes "I'm an indie game developer making a clone of a rather obscure old game. Gameplay in my clone is very similar to the old game, and my clone even has a very similar name because I want to attract fans of the original. The original game has no trademark or software patent associated with it, and my clone isn't infringing on the original's copyright in any way (all the programming and artwork is original), but nevertheless I'm still worried about the possibility of running afoul of a look and feel lawsuit or something similar. How do I make sure I'm legally in the clear without hiring an expensive lawyer that my indie developer budget can't afford?"
Privacy

Facebook's Zuckerberg Says Forget Privacy 415

judgecorp writes "Privacy is no longer a social norm, according to the founder of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg. Speaking at the Crunchie awards in San Francisco, the entrepreneur said that expectations had changed, and people now default to sharing online, not privacy. It's all right for him, but does he mean it's ok for bodies like the UK government to monitor all citizens' Internet use?"
Android

Futuristic Sex Robots Now Just "Sex Robots" 602

High-C writes "With apologies to Futuristic Sex Robotz, the future is here, and her name is Roxxxy. Truecompanion.com has revealed their answer to the Real Doll, and it looks nice. The site is short on details, pictures, pricing info, but wow." NOTE: some of the above links are not work-safe, for many values of work. I stopped by this exhibit today at the AVN Expo (not officially a part of CES, but by curious coincidence scheduled to coincide; the old saw that porn drives tech isn't without merit). Roxxxy, though, was rather unsexily posed on a couch, not moving a bit — downright creepy, in fact.
Games

Whatever Happened To Second Life? 209

Barence writes "It's desolate, dirty, and sex is outcast to a separate island. In this article, PC Pro's Barry Collins returns to Second Life to find out what went wrong, and why it's raking in more cash than ever before. It's a follow-up to a feature written three years ago, in which Collins spent a week living inside Second Life to see what the huge fuss at the time was all about. The difference three years can make is eye-opening."
Patents

Submission + - HP Patents Bignum Implementation From 1912 (blogspot.com)

I Don't Believe in Imaginary Property writes: "The authors of GMP (the GNU Multiple Precision Arithmetic Library) were invited to join Peer-to-Patent to review HP's recent patent on a very old technique for implementing bignums because their software might infringe. Basically, the patent claims choosing an exponent based on processor word size. If you choose a 4-bit word size and a binary number, you end up working in hexadecimal. Or for a computer with a 16-bit word and a base-10 number, you use base 10,000 so that each digit of the base-10,000 number would fit into a single 16-bit word. The obvious problem with that is that there's plenty of prior art here. Someone who spent a few minutes Googling found that Knuth describing the idea in TAOCP Vol 2 and other citations go back to 1912 (which did the same algorithm using strips of cardboard and a calculating machine). None of this can be found in the 'references cited' section. Even though the patent examiner did add a couple of references, they appear to have cited some old patents. The patent issued a few months ago, was filed back in October of 2004, and collected dust at the USPTO for some 834 days. It might seem amazing that there's prior art for a software patent from a time so long before computers as we know them existed, but it's not so amazing if you realize that computers are just automatic mathematicians that perform software as a mathematical calculation."

Submission + - EVE Online Battle Breaks Records (And Servers) (kugutsumen.com) 2

captainktainer writes: "In one of the largest tests of Eve Online's new player sovereignty system in the Dominion expansion pack, a fleet of ships attempting to retake a lost star system was effectively annihilated amidst controversy. Defenders IT Alliance, a coalition succeeding the infamous Band of Brothers alliance (whose disbanding was covered in a previous story), effectively annihilated the enemy fleet, destroying thousands of dollars' worth of in-game assets. A representative of the alliance claimed to have destroyed a minimum of four, possibly five or more of the game's most expensive and powerful ship class, known as Titans. Both official and unofficial forums are filled with debate about whether the one-sided battle was due to difference in player skill or the well-known network failures after the release of the expansion. One of the attackers, a member of the GoonSwarm alliance, claims that because of bad coding, "Only 5% of [the attackers] loaded," meaning that lag prevented the attackers from using their ships, even as the defenders were able to destroy those ships unopposed. Even members of the victorious IT Alliance disappointment at the outcome of the battle. CCP, Eve Online's publisher, has recently acknowledged poor network performance, especially in the advertised "large fleet battles" that Dominion was supposed to encourage, and has asked players to help them stress test their code on Tuesday. Despite the admitted network failure, leaders of the attacking force do not expect CCP to replace lost ships, claiming that it was their own fault for not accounting for server failures. The incident raises questions about CCP's ability to cope with the increased network use associated with their rapid growth in subscriptions"
Security

Online Services Let Virus Writers Check Their Work 61

An anonymous reader writes "Former Washington Post Security Fix blogger Brian Krebs has launched a new blog at krebsonsecurity.com, and his first story highlights a pair of underground antivirus scanning services that cater to virus writers. Scanning services like virustotal.com scan submitted files against dozens of antivirus products, and share the results with each of the vendors so that all benefit from learning about threats they don't yet detect. But there are number of budding online services that allow customers to pay per scan, and promise that the results will never get reported back to the antivirus companies. One service even tests how well web site 'exploit packs' are detected, while others promise additional layers of protection. 'The service claims that it will soon be rolling out advanced features, such as testing malware against anti-spyware and firewall programs, as well as a test to see whether the malware functions in a virtual machine.'"
Games

An Inside Look At Warhammer Online's Server Setup 71

An article at Gamasutra provides some details on the hardware Mythic uses to power Warhammer Online, courtesy of Chief Technical Officer Matt Shaw and Online Technical Director Andrew Mann. Quoting: "At any given time, approximately 2,000 servers are in operation, supporting the gameplay in WAR. Matt Shaw commented, 'What we call a server to the user, that main server is actually a cluster of a number of machines. Our Server Farm in Virginia, for example,' Mann said, 'has about 60 Dell Blade chassis running Warhammer Online — each hosting up to 16 servers. All in all, we have about 700 servers in operation at this location.' ... 'We use blade architecture heavily for Warhammer Online,' Mann noted. 'Almost every server that we deploy is a blade system. We don't use virtualization; our software is somewhat virtualized itself. We've always had the technology to run our game world across several pieces of hardware. It's application-layer clustering at a process level. Virtualization wouldn't gain us much because we already run very close to peak CPU usage on these systems.' ... The normalized server configuration — in use across all of the Mythic-managed facilities — features dual Quad-Core Intel Xeon processors running at 3 GHz with 8 GB of RAM."
Games

Revisiting the "Holy Trinity" of MMORPG Classes 362

A feature at Gamasutra examines one of the foundations of many MMORPGs — the idea that class roles within such a game fall into three basic categories: tank, healer, and damage dealer. The article evaluates the pros and cons of such an arrangement and takes a look at some alternatives. "Eliminating specialized roles means that we do away with boxing a class into a single role. Without Tanks, each class would have features that would help them participate in and survive many different encounters like heavy armor, strong avoidance, or some class or magical abilities that allow them to disengage from direct combat. Without specialized DPS, all classes should be able to do damage in order to defeat enemies. Some classes might specialize in damage type, like area of effect (AoE) damage; others might be able to exploit enemy weaknesses, and some might just be good at swinging a sharpened bit of metal in the right direction at a rapid rate. This design isn't just about having each class able to fill any trinity role. MMO combat would feel more dynamic in this system. Every player would have to react to combat events and defend against attacks."
Security

Gravatars Can Leak Users' Email Addresses 170

abell writes "Gravatar offers a global avatar service, using an MD5 hash of the user's email as avatar ID. This piece of information in some cases is enough to retrieve the original email address. Testing a simple attack on stackoverflow.com, I was able to determine the email addresses of more than 10% of the site's users."

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