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Music By Natural Selection 164

maccallr writes "The DarwinTunes experiment needs you! Using an evolutionary algorithm and the ears of you the general public, we've been evolving a four bar loop that started out as pretty dismal primordial auditory soup and now after >27k ratings and 200 generations is sounding pretty good. Given that the only ingredients are sine waves, we're impressed. We got some coverage in the New Scientist CultureLab blog but now things have gone quiet and we'd really appreciate some Slashdotter idle time. We recently upped the maximum 'genome size' and we think that the music is already benefiting from the change."

Submission + - Digital content in conservative countries

Builder writes: "I'm going to be travelling in some interesting parts of Africa for the next 6 months (Niger, CAR, Gabon, etc.) Having read some of the 'What gadgets to take on my travels?' Ask Slashdot stories, I believe that a number of readers are very familiar with wandering around the world, so I'm throwing myself on your not so tender mercies and asking for the wisdom of your miles.

I'm ok with the 'what to take' bit, and I've limited the technology down to just what I need to do my job. I'm not carrying any creature comfort devices and I've minimised what I need for work. But I am taking a laptop. I need it to do my job, so I figure I may as well get some personal use out of it too.

So here comes my question... Some of the countries I'm visiting have large Muslim populations and are not entirely secular. Should I avoid taking ripped copies of some of my DVDs and TV shows with me? While acceptable for most western TV stations to show, I'm concerned that some shows might be suitably offensive to my host country and I could find myself in a difficult position. I'm not talking about anything particularly controversial, only stuff that has aired on UK television during prime time viewing.

There's not a lot of clarity to be found on Google about taking digital content for personal use into these countries, but with some stricter countries banning Christian bibles and so on, I'd rather seek advice.

I can't just setup a Truecopy partition because I'm using OS X, and Apple's home directory encryption doesn't give me plausible deniability in any form."
Operating Systems

Submission + - First look at the Zonbu, a $99 Linux Computer 1

Esther Schindler writes: "The company is positioning this diminutive device (in late beta) as a consumer product. But with its out-of-the-box simplicity, says's review, the Zonbu is an excellent choice for enterprise IT departments that want a Gentoo-based desktop Linux distribution, very little fuss and a price that won't raise eyebrows on an expense report."
The Almighty Buck

Submission + - Domain Name '' - only $400 million (

Raver32 writes: "According to an ad... er, story that ran in the Wall Street Journal today, the domain name/business known as is on the block and could fetch as much as $400-million. Where did the paper come up with that number? Good question. The reporter says that it came from "people familiar with the matter," which could mean anything from "the lawyer brokering the deal" to "my neighbour, who is in the domain-parking business." Ashkan Karbasfrooshan at HipMojo, who knows a thing or two about advertising, argues that this isn't just another dot-com bubblicious domain-name scam, since has actual revenues and has cash flow (or EBITDA, which is short for "earnings before bad stuff") of $15-million. He even takes Adario Strange of Wired's Epicenter blog to task in a comment for making it look like the domain itself is for sale at a price of $400-million. But really, would whoever buys the site (assuming Dow Jones or the NYT really want to) actually keep any of that pay-per-click, link-spam directory-scam business? I doubt it. And 25 times EBITDA is a heck of a multiple for any business like that, let alone a domain name."
Input Devices

Submission + - Vertical Mouse Aims to Hit the Mainstream

ThinSkin writes: "People normally rule out ergonomic mice because these mice are just plain kooky, or their features don't extend beyond two buttons and a scroll wheel. The VerticalMouse 3 is doing everything it can do to break into mainstream use by offering a very familiar shape that resembles an ordinary mouse turned 90 degrees, while also providing five buttons and four one-the-fly dpi modes (up to 2600 dpi). ExtremeTech's review of the VerticalMouse 3 cites very positive experiences with the mouse, although warns users that it slightly errs from a true, 90 degree handshake position."

Submission + - Is Open Source Dying? (

jeevesbond writes: "With companies like IBM publically supporting Open Source but quietly scuttling it in the background, suffocating attacks from Microsoft, the impending approval of the OOXML specification as an ISO standard, Dell refusing to sell Linux to businesses, failed legislation in many states, and the 'pissing match' over GPLv3, eWeek asks: 'Is Open Source dying?'"

Submission + - Nanobes - The Lack of Research (

Undead_Kangaroo writes: "I was reading through an old Discover of mine from 2001 and saw an article about some proposed nano-scale microbes called "nanobes." Apparently they were discovered in 1996 — 11 years ago — but upon looking online today I see no new research on these things, even though they appear to be a new form of life. Seven years have gone by since that article was published, yet the information I'm finding online says nothing about any new research on these things — what the hell? Where is the new research? Why aren't these things being scutinized by biologists the world over?"

Submission + - Vonage spams customers, burns biggest fans (

Andy Sernovitz writes: "Vonage is harvesting names from their refer-a-friend program for spam. This is happening to thousands of subscribers. This doozy combines spam, theft of customer data, and an incredibly stupid way to turn your loyal fans into enemies. Details here: tml

I am a Vonage customer. In December, 2004 I entered 18 friends' email addresses in their refer-a-friend program. This was clearly intended to be a one-time referral, on an opt-in basis, from me to my friends. 30 months later ....

Vonage crossed all lines of good taste, privacy, and ethics. They send a mass email to my friends — USING MY NAME — in a shameless promotion. In fact, my name was used in the email 3 times, as if I had endorsed the message and gave permission to use my friends' names.
  • Vonage is harvesting names from their refer-a-friend program to send spam promotions.
  • Vonage is violating their customers privacy by using data from customer accounts for a marketing campaign.
  • Vonage has used their customers names for testimonials without permission of the customers.

Wow. Vonage is so evil on so many levels. And stupid.

What they did ...
  • creates massive, insane anger
  • is illegal — violates both CAN-SPAM and privacy statutes
  • perverts the trust of their best customers, those who were willing to recommend them to their friends
  • turns influentials into enemies

(The saddest thing is that Vonage could have been a truly great company. Google great, great. All they had to do was not be the phone company — a very low bar. But they are so much more horrible that even the phone companies ever were. Worse service, worse support, and a crappy attitude. What a shame.)"


Submission + - Teach high school kids all they need in 4 hours

mshuflin writes: I am going to be volunteering in a couple of weeks to teach computer classes for a program with works with students doing community service and/or restitution. They want me to teach 4 sessions of 1 hour each, and they want me to choose things which will be helpful skills for school or a job. Given this limited time, and considering that the students vary in age from 13 to 18, as well as skill level with technology, What should I focus on?
First Person Shooters (Games)

Submission + - EA's Battlefield 2 Stats Blowup

Llamakiller-4 writes: It hasn't had the press of a "World of Warcraft" or "Everquest" breakdown, but one of EA's online jewels, the "Battlefield 2" series is experiencing some severe problems with the managing of their precious Statistics system. A breakdown which has lasted over a week is infuriating players by the thousands and casting skepticism on EA's marketing model for the game. Details are sparse from EA and this is fueling player discontent. Server operators are paying for "ranked" servers licensed thru EA, which allows players to accumulate points for play that are then used to achieve promotions, weapon unlocks etc. Battlefield 2 is a very closeknit community involving large amounts of "clan players" who pay the server operators to help subsidize the cost of their server. EA recently admitted that it's possible that all points accumulated during the Stat Server meltdown period may be lost once the servers are restored. The EA "Battlefield 2" forums are abuzz with complaints and some topics are being locked as a result. This is highlighting the need for gaming companies, which are attempting to create new revenue streams, to maintain those networks and staff against the risk of bad "PR" and having demanding gamers take their money to competitors games.

Feed Cyber-Attack (

Last month Marine General James Cartwright told the House Armed Services Committee that the best cyber defense is a good offense. As reported in Federal Computer Week, Cartwright said: "History teaches us that a purely defensive posture poses significant risks,"...

Decent Co-Location or Virtual Server Hosting? 145

gclef writes "Speakeasy announced recently that they're being bought by Best Buy. Despite all the promises to the contrary, I suspect my ability to host servers in my home is going away soon. Does anyone have hints as to where I can get a reasonable co-lo space or virtual hosting? I don't want to outsource the management of my domains entirely, nor will 'webhosting' be good enough, since I like having control of my own stuff (and like running my own DNS, IMAPS, and other assorted network services). Is there some place that will give me a blank box with an unfiltered connection to the net?"

Feed Analyst Says Yahoo Not Buying Facebook Is Akin To It Passing On Google (

Late last year, takeover talks between Yahoo and Facebook fell apart after the social-networking site rejected Yahoo's $1 billion offer. Yahoo was reportedly prepared to offer up to $1.62 billion, but a Wall Street analyst says that valuation was based on far too conservative estimates, and that Yahoo's failure to seal the Facebook deal could be on par with its infamous decision to not buy Google when it had the chance. His analysis is based on Facebook's high levels of traffic and the demographics of its users, and based on that he says "Facebook is no doubt one of the most important Internet companies to have been created in the last five years." He apparently avoids mentioning how much he thinks the site is worth, but numbers from $3.2 billion to the previously mentioned $8 billion get tossed around. Noticeably absent, however, is any mention of the revenues Facebook is generating. Like fellow social-networking site MySpace, Facebook has plenty of traffic, but it's really not clear how successfully the sites can monetize it, even when they're under the arm of a bigger corporate parent. What's even less clear is if these sites will have any more staying power than previous social-networking stalwarts, which have turned out to be little more than fads over the longer term. While Yahoo's shareholders probably do regret it passing on buying Google, it's pretty doubtful all that many of them would regret the company not dropping a few billion dollars on Facebook.

Submission + - Modern Java web development

Dr.X writes: "I've recently decided to take the plunge back into the Java world after spending the better part of the last decade in the Perl and .NET world. As part of my CompSci degree, we covered Java applets back in the late nineties in one of our courses but taking a look at what is available today is like drinking from a fire hose of information! JSP,JSF,Eclipse,Struts,Spring,Hibernate,GWT,EJB3,J DBC,J2EE,JBoss,Servlet,etc... My question to the slashdot community is "What are some of the more practicle approaches to modern Java web development and how does all this new technology fit together?""

Submission + - Wep security cracked even quicker

Madas writes: Researchers in Technical University Darmstadt have managed to crack Wep security faster than ever before. It's all done with some tool called aircrack-ptw. They only need 40,000 packets to find the key and that only takes a minute (it used to take about 40 minutes). Is anyone still using WEP? They shouldn't be after reading this!

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