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Submission + - Steve "CyanogenMod" Kondik contemplates "The Death of Root" on Android

c0d3g33k writes: Prompted by the addition of new security features in Android 4.3 that limit the effectiveness of elevated privileges, Kondik wonders which uses really require full root. Most common activities that prompt owners to root their devices (backup/restore tools, firewall/DNS resolver management, kernel tuning), could be accomplished without exposing root, argues Kondik, by providing additional APIs and extensions to the user. This would improve security by limiting the exposure of the system to exploits.
Reasonable enough, on the face of it. The title of the post, however, suggests that Kondik believes that eventually all useful activities can be designed into the system so the "dangerous and insecure" abilities provided by root/administrator privileges aren't needed. This kind of top-down thinking seems a bit troubling because it leads to greater control of the system by the developer at the expense of the owner of the device. It's been said that the best tools are those that lend themselves to uses not anticipated by the creator. Reducing or eliminating the ability of the owner to use a device in ways that are unanticipated ultimately reduces its potential power and usefulness. Perhaps that's what is wanted to prevent an owner from using the device in ways that are inconvenient or contrary to an established business model.

Submission + - UPDATED EDIT: A Circular New York City Subway Map to Straighten Things Out (vice.com)

Daniel_Stuckey writes: The U.K.'s Max Roberts, a mapmaker and critic, has created a map that sees this problem and then solves it by adopting a similar distortion strategy to the MTA map, but to a far greater degree. The map heads in the direction of a diagram and away from a map representing features. It may be the most lucid reinterpretation of the New York City subway map I've seen yet.

Submission + - A sneak preview of new OpenOffice 3.2 (linuxcrunch.com)

omlx writes: The last developer milestone ( DEV300m60) of OpenOffice.org has been released. The next version of OpenOffice.org 3.2 has more than 42 features and 167 enhancements . The final version is expected to be available at the end of November 2009.
Many companies have contributed to this version like RedHat , RedFlag and IBM, making OpenOffice more stable and useful. I couldn't stop myself from seeing new features and enjoying them. So I downloaded DEV300m60 version. After playing with it for many days I could say that OpenOffice developers have done very good work in it. Well done !
  A sneak preview of new OpenOffice 3.2 : more secure , faster , easier and more international.

Government

Submission + - Big Brother Wants Radio-control of your thermostat (nytimes.com) 3

Malachi Constant writes: "Californian bureaucrats appear likely to approve a proposal to allow utility companies to control your thermostat's temperature via radio during those nasty rolling blackout periods. The FM radio transmissions used to control temperature are described as "encrypted and encoded." I, for one, am hoping that the algorithm that protects them is another A5/1 or CSS."
Software

Submission + - Web Services Without Pain: gSOAP Writes Your XML (technocrat.net)

Bruce Perens writes: "The downside to web services is that they look as if they were designed by Bertrand Russell and Donald Knuth, from first principles as if they were a theorem in Principia Mathematica. Their rampant anal-retentiveness enables machine analysis and machine generation, at the cost of making any human who writes them work like a machine. But now we are freed from this toil: there's Open Source software that will write them for us."
Programming

Submission + - Don't invent; evolve (economist.com) 1

mlimber writes: The Economist is running a story on evolutionary programming, which takes its starting point from evolutionary biology in trying random mutations on a design to generate a better version of that design. It takes a lot of computing power to use these techniques effectively because the mutations cause so many bad mutations that have to be weeded out, but as the price of supercomputing has come down, the usefulness of this technique has risen. The article describes several innovations brought about by evolutionary means, such as changing the pattern of air holes in an optical fibre: "Normally, these holes are arranged in a hexagonal pattern, but the algorithm generated a bizarre flower-like pattern of holes that no human would have thought of trying. It doubled the fibre's bandwidth."
Microsoft

Microsoft Agrees to Release Work Group Protocols 143

UnknowingFool writes "Groklaw is reporting that the Protocol Freedom Information Foundation (PFIF) has signed an agreement with Microsoft to release their protocols relating to Windows Work Group Server. The Foundation agrees to pay MS $10,000, and the agreement does not cover patents. This agreement apparently was made to somewhat satisfy the EU Commission complaints. With PFIF's objective to aid open source, this agreement means that the Samba Team may finally get the information they need to fully interoperate with Windows AD servers."
Google

Submission + - Google returns bad results in top 10 (blogspot.com)

Aravind Ranganathan writes: "Google consistently returns bad results in the top 10 if the search keywords happen to be in the text of a blog post even though the blog (or that post) is on a totally irrelevant topic. I found this first hand when someone Googled "flight from cincinnati to mumbai" and was directed to one of my blog posts on the problems I once had during my travel from Mumbai to Cincinnati. Google returned my post as the 2nd in its search results!! The question is, is this a flaw in the page ranking algorithm? Or is Google just giving more importance to Blogger pages than necessary?"
Software

Submission + - Predicting drug side effects

Roland Piquepaille writes: "It would certainly be nice for the pharmaceutical industry to identify potential side effects of a drug before it starts to be tested on humans. Now, a research team at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) might have found a solution. They have developed a new computational technique to predict drug side effects. Besides identifying adverse effects of a new drug before human clinical trials, this method can also be used to explain the known side effects of drugs already on the market. But read more for additional references and pictures showing how drugs can bind to several proteins."
Censorship

Submission + - Wikipedia COO was Convicted Felon (theregister.co.uk) 4

An anonymous reader writes: From the Register:

"For more than six months, beginning in January of this year, Wikipedia's million-dollar check book was balanced by a convicted felon. When Carolyn Bothwell Doran was hired as the Chief Operating Officer (COO) of the Florida-based Wikimedia Foundation, she had a criminal record in three other states — Virginia, Maryland, and Texas — and she was still on parole for a DUI (driving under the influence of alcohol) hit and run that resulted in a fatality. Her record also included convictions for passing bad checks, theft, petty larceny, additional DUIs, and unlawfully wounding her boyfriend with a gun shot to the chest."

Media

Submission + - Why are some HD shows S T R E T C H E D? (newteevee.com) 1

Chris Albrecht writes: "There's some science behind some TV networks distorting their shows to fit a widescreen format. TBS uses an algorithm to determine where the action is taking place. It keeps that ratio normal and stretches the rest of the image to fit the screen. Research also says people prefer the stretched image to the original. What do you think?"
Networking

Submission + - Time Warner Cable Wins State-Wide Cable Franchise (state.oh.us) 1

An anonymous reader writes: Time Warner Cable has received the second state-wide franchise agreement, covering 260 communities, in 60 of Ohio's 88 counties, for 10 years. AT&T was the first to earn a state-wide franchise contract, after a law was passed in September that allowed operators to negotiate a single state-wide agreement. Normally operators negotiate franchise agreements at the local level.
Businesses

Submission + - The Epic Battle between Microsoft and Google 1

Hugh Pickens writes: "There is a long article in the NYTimes well worth reading called "Google Gets Ready to Rumble With Microsoft" about the business strategies both companies are pursuing and about the future of applications and where they will reside — on the web or on the desktop. Google President Eric Schmidt thinks that 90 percent of computing will eventually reside in the Web-based cloud and about 2,000 companies are signing up every day for Google Apps, simpler versions of the pricey programs that make up Microsoft's lucrative Office business. Microsoft faces a business quandary as they to try to link the Web to its desktop business — "software plus Internet services," in its formulation. Microsoft will embrace the Web, while striving to maintain the revenue and profits from its desktop software businesses, the corporate gold mine, a smart strategy for now that may not be sustainable. Google faces competition from Microsoft and from other Web-based productivity software being offered by start-ups but it is "unclear at this point whether Google will be able to capitalize on the trends that it's accelerating." David B. Yoffie, a professor at the Harvard Business School, says the Google model is to try to change all the rules. If Google succeeds, "a lot of the value that Microsoft provides today is potentially obsolete.""
Cellphones

Submission + - The Twitter/T-Mobile Battle (bibleboy.org)

bblboy54 writes: "Starting Sunday December 9th, many T-Mobile customers began having issues sending SMS messages to the Twitter service. Initially this was thought to be a bug but customers began investigating and received very strong e-mail responses from T-Mobile's President's office. On Thursday, AlternaGeek reported the speculation. It was then later confirmed by the emails customers were receiving from T-Mobile and TechCrunch picked up the story. After a huge outcry from the Twitter community, it was just reported by a representative of Twitter that the problem was found to be technical and not political but this is not only after the direct emails from T-Mobile but also Biz Stone, co-founder of Twitter, announced T-Mobile was blocking Twitter. The motives and actions of what happened are up for debate but, at the very least, T-Mobile owes their customers and explanation for the way they were treated."

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