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Open Source

Video SCALE 11 is Coming to Los Angeles Feb. 22-24 (Video) 25

The Southern California Linux Expo (SCALE) is a venerable and-well regarded volunteer-run, regional Linux conference that draws over 2000 attendees and an amazing array of speakers and open source projects displaying their goodies in the exposition area. The tutorial and speech schedule is crazy-dense, with as many as 10 tracks going at once. Conference Chair Ilan Rabinovitch admits that there is no way you can take in all of SCALE. On the other hand, you are certain to find something new and interesting to learn if you have any interest at all in Open Source. And yes, we mean Open Source, not just Linux. This show has grown far beyond its humble roots as a get-together for a few local students interested in Linux. One last thing: When you register, if you use the promo code SLASH, the $70 pass for all three days is magically reduced to $35. And there are many other ways to get that discount or another one just like it, including affiliation with virtually any Southern California Open Source group or almost any Open Source project. SCALE is 100% non-profit, and wants to "spread the word," not make money.
Software

German City Says OpenOffice Shortcomings Are Forcing It Back To Microsoft 480

The city of Freiburg, Germany adopted OpenOffice back in 2007, mostly replacing the Microsoft Office software it had been using previously. Now, an anonymous reader tips news that the city council is preparing to abandon OpenOffice and switch back. "'In the specific case of the use of OpenOffice, the hopes and expectations of the year 2007 are not fulfilled,' the council wrote, adding that continuing use OpenOffice will lead to performance impairments and aggravation and frustration on the part of employees and external parties. 'Therefore, a new Microsoft Office license is essential for effective operations,' they wrote. ... 'The divergence of the development community (LibreOffice on one hand Apache Office on the other) is crippling for the development for OpenOffice,' the council wrote, adding that the development of Microsoft Office is far more stable. Looking at the options, a one-product strategy with Microsoft Office 2010 is the only viable one, according to the council." The council was also disappointed that more municipalities haven't adopted OpenOffice in the meantime. Open source groups and developers criticized the move and encouraged the council to consider at least moving to a more up-to-date version of the office software suite.
Security

New Jersey Residents Displaced By Storm Can Vote By Email 189

First time accepted submitter danbuter writes "In probably the most poorly thought-out reaction to allowing people displaced by Hurricane Sandy in New Jersey [to take part in the 2012 presidential election], residents will be allowed to vote by email. Of course, this will be completely secure and work perfectly!" Writes user Beryllium Sphere: "There's no mention of any protocol that might possibly make this acceptable. Perhaps the worst thing that could happen would be if it appears to work OK and gains acceptance." I know someone they should consult first.
Earth

In Time For Halloween: 9 New Tarantula Species Discovered 26

Damien1972 writes "If you suffer from acute arachnophobia, this is the perfect Halloween discovery for you: a spider expert has discovered nine new species of arboreal tarantulas in Brazil. Although tarantula diversity is highest in the Amazon rain-forest, the new species are all found in lesser-known Brazilian ecosystems like the Atlantic Forest and the cerrado."
Communications

LightSquared Wants To Share Weather-Balloon Frequencies for LTE 141

IDG News Service reports (as carried by PC World) that LightSquared, having lost some of the spectrum they'd hoped to use for a nationwide LTE network because of worries it would interfere with GPS service, has a new plan: to use some of the spectrum currently reserved by the federal government for uses like weather-balloon communications. From the article: "The new plan would give the carrier 30MHz of frequencies on which to operate the LTE network. That's 10MHz less than it had wanted but still comparable to the amount of spectrum Verizon Wireless and AT&T are using for their LTE systems, which in most areas use just 20MHz. Wireless network speeds are determined partly by how much spectrum the network uses, so LightSquared might be able to deliver a competitive service for its planned coverage area of 260 million U.S. residents."
Government

US House STEM Visa Bill Fails 133

dcblogs writes "A Republican-led effort to issue up to 55,000 STEM visas a year to students who earn advanced degrees at U.S. universities was defeated in a House vote. It needed a two-thirds vote, or about 290 ayes, for approval. Its supporters came up short, 257 to 158. Both parties support green cards for science, technology, engineering and math advanced degree grads, but can't agree on legislation. U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), who has introduced his own STEM bill, urged House leaders to seek new negotiations: 'A bipartisan compromise can easily be ready for the lame duck session. There is too broad a consensus in favor of this policy to settle for gridlock.'"
China

Why Aircraft Carriers Still Rule the Oceans 718

An anonymous reader writes "Despite being created during World War I, the modern carrier has evolved to be the pinnacle of modern warfare's best and most visible symbols of power. Nothing says 'show the flag' more than a carrier off an enemy's coast. Some, though, have called the carrier a 21st-century version of a battleship — high on looks and weapons but vulnerable to modern weapons. Critics note air-power killed the battleship; people now suggest super-sonic 'carrier-killer' missiles will make the carrier a relic of the past. With their cost in the billions of dollars, some point to killing off carriers as an obvious cost saving measure. Carriers though still have a lot of uses. Many navies, like India and China, are adding them to their arsenal, and they are still feared by many. While carriers might be old, they are a symbol of power that no missile or submarine below the surface can match yet."
Republicans

Ron Paul Effectively Ending Presidential Campaign 745

New submitter Dainsanefh sends this quote from the LA Times: "Ron Paul, Mitt Romney's lone remaining rival for the Republican presidential nomination, announced Monday that he would stop spending money on the party's 11 remaining primaries, in effect suspending his campaign. ... Apart from President Obama and Romney, Paul has raised more money than any other White House contender this year – more than $36 million. His calls for strict adherence to the Constitution and his no-nonsense manner have spawned a vocal and well organized group of followers, but not enough to give him a realistic shot at the presidency."
Privacy

CarrierIQ Hires Former Verizon Counsel As Chief Privacy Officer 45

Trailrunner7 writes, quoting Threat Post: "Carrier IQ, a startup heavily bruised last fall by harsh criticism of its handset diagnostic software, today announced it's hired a high-profile lawyer as its Chief Privacy Officer. Magnolia Mansourkia Mobley, a CIPP and former Verizon executive, will be tasked with quickly broadening the company's focus on consumer privacy. She also was named the company's General Counsel. The company became the flashpoint in a heated controversy after initial reports its analytics software, embedded in some 150 mobile phones, was capable of gathering a great deal of personal data without the customer's consent."
Privacy

Homeland Security: New Body Scanners Have Issues 181

Fluffeh writes "Although the DHS has spent around $90 million upgrading magnetometers to the new body scanners, federal investigators 'identified vulnerabilities in the screening process' at domestic airports using the new machines, according to a classified internal Department of Homeland Security report. Exactly how bad the body scanners are is not being divulged publicly, but the Inspector General's report (PDF) made eight separate recommendations on how to improve screening. To quiet privacy concerns, the authorities are also spending $7 million to 'remove the human factor from the image review process' and replace the passenger's image with an avatar."
Education

GOP Blocks Senate Debate On Dem Student Loan Bill 834

TheGift73 writes with this quote from an AP report: "Senate Republicans blocked a Democratic bill Tuesday to preserve low interest rates for millions of college students' loans, as the two parties engaged in election-year choreography aimed at showing each is the better protector of families in today's rugged economy. The 52-45 vote to begin debating the legislation fell eight votes short of the 60 needed to proceed and stalled work on an effort both parties expect will ultimately produce a compromise, probably soon. For now, each side is happy to use the stalemate to snipe at the other with campaign-ready talking points while they are gridlocked over how to cover the $6 billion cost."
Android

Smartphones Invade the Prepaid Market 173

jfruh writes "When tech geeks debate the state of the smartphone world, they usually focus on the iPhone and its high-end Android rivals from the major carriers. But Android is rapidly entering the lower-end world of contractless prepaid phones that you can buy at 7-11 or Wal-Mart. 63 percent of prepaid phones sold in 2011 were smartphones, and while they might not offer cutting-edge hardware or easy customization, they do provide a smartphone experience without an onerous contract."

U.S. Investigating Sale of Snort as Security Risk 327

msmoriarty writes "The Associated Press is reporting today that the same U.S. committee that approved the Dubai ports deal is 'strongly objecting' to Israeli-based Check Point's acquisition of Snort's parent company, Sourcefire, because it doesn't want a foreign company to own Snort's underlying technology. According to the article, the broader 45-day review process rejected for the ports deal is already underway regarding this transaction, and 'secret' meetings between the FBI, DoD and Check Point have been held."

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