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The Almighty Buck

Paypal Reverses Payments Made To Indians 509

bhagwad writes "Beginning January 28, Paypal has been reversing the payments made to any Indian provider of services. In addition, Indian users have been unable to withdraw their money to their bank accounts. As a result, a large number of Indian Paypal accounts have negative balances running into the thousands of dollars. The worst part is that users weren't informed beforehand — the funds were just whisked away. Indian providers have gone ballistic, with over 2,000 posts on a thread on the reversal of payments and over 700 posts on this thread about the delay in transfers. Paypal hasn't given any explanation to this behavior other than they're looking into it. Although Paypal claims in the above blog post that payments made for 'Services' are not being reversed, this is not true. All payments not made for 'Goods' with a shipping address have been reversed — in fact, the Paypal e-mail tells the Indian sellers to encourage their clients to lie and claim that they're paying for goods with a shipping address instead."

NASA's IBEX Ready For Launch 28

dj writes "NASA has designed a mission to map the boundary of the solar system. The mission is called IBEX (Interstellar Boundary Explorer) and it is ready to launch. The data collected by IBEX will allow scientists to understand the interaction between our Sun and the galaxy for the first time. Understanding this interaction will help us protect future astronauts from the danger of galactic cosmic rays." The IBEX Launch Blog will go active "about 2 hours before launch scheduled for 1:48 p.m. EDT," and the Southwest Research Institute will be running webcasts of the event. The IBEX fact sheet provides more details about the mission (PDF). IBEX will reach space via a Pegasus rocket launched from an L-1011 "Stargazer" carrier plane. You can see the launch countdown schedule at NASA's site.
GNU is Not Unix

Bringing OSS Into a Closed Source Organization? 427

Piranhaa writes "At the major corporation I work for, there is currently a single person who decides what software to approve and disapprove within the organization. I've noticed that requests from users for open source Windows programs get denied, nearly instantaneously, on a regular basis. Anything from Gimp, to Firefox, even to Vim don't make the cut due to the simple fact that they are open source. Closed source programs from unknown vendors have a much better chance at approval than Firefox does. The whole mentality here is that anybody can change the source of a project, submit it, and you never know what kind of compiled binary you're going to get. I'm a firm believer in open source code, but I also know closed source has its place. So what would be the best way for me to argue, with all the facts, to allow these people to come to their own conclusion that open source is actually good? Would presenting examples of other big companies moving to open source work, and if so what are some good examples? Or can you suggest any other good approaches?"
The Courts

Oz High Court Hears Landmark TV Guide Copyright Case 156

highways writes "It's rare that that a copyright case is heard in the Australian High Court, let alone a case heard by all seven sitting judges. At stake is a small company IceTV (which we discussed when it launched four years back) taking on Australia's largest television station, the Nine Network, over the copyright status of the weekly broadcast schedule. That is, the schedule itself, not any synopsis or description of the individual programs. Users of PVRs such as MythTV will be well aware of the hassle it is to get a reliable program schedule stream to use for recordings. The saga has gone on for more than two years with Nine unsuccessfully suing IceTV, but later winning on appeal. At issue is whether a list of facts like an electronic program guide is a 'compilation' protected under Australian copyright law. This has implications for the copyright status of many publicly available databases and the limits to which the information can be distributed."

Al-Qaeda Web Sites Go Offline 284

thefickler writes "Four out of the five Al-Qaeda online forums have disappeared. The terrorist group used these forums to relay messages to its supporters. The four that have gone missing seem to have taken a hit back on September 10, the day before the annual video marking the 9/11 attacks was due to be disseminated. No one knows who is responsible for the sites' disappearance."

B&W TV Generation Has Monochrome Dreams 343

Ant writes "The Telegraph reports that people over 55 who were brought up watching a monochrome TV set are more likely to dream in black and white, even years later. New research suggests that the type of television you watched as a child has a profound effect on the color of your dreams. While almost all under-25s dream in color, many over-55s, all of whom were brought up with B&W sets, often still dream in monochrome. The study, out ot Dundee University, used a small number of subjects under 25 or over 55 and the results suggest that '... there could be a critical period in our childhood when watching films has a big impact on the way dreams are formed ... [B]efore the advent of black and white television all the evidence suggests we were dreaming in color.'"

S3 Jumps On GPGPU Bandwagon 86

arcticstoat writes "It's sometimes easy to forget that the PC graphics market isn't owned by ATI and Nvidia, and the company that first gave us 3D acceleration, S3, is very much still around. So much so, in fact, that it's now even developed its own GPGPU technology. S3 claims that its Chrome 400 chips can accelerate gaming physics, HD video transcoding/encoding and photo enhancement. To demonstrate the latter, S3 has released a free download called S3FotoPro, which enhances color clarity and reduces haze in photos. However, the company hasn't yet revealed whether it plans to support OpenCL in the future." The Tech Report also points out that this could allow S3's parent company, VIA, to compete with Intel and AMD in graphics processing technology.

Linux As a Model For a New Government? 509

An anonymous reader writes "The hedge fund investor who prided himself on achieving 1000% returns, Andrew Lahde, wrote a goodbye letter to mark his departure from the financial world. In it, he suggests people think about building a new government model, and his suggestion is to have someone like George Soros fund a new government that brings together the best and brightest minds in a manner where they're not tempted by bribery. In doing so, he refers to how Linux grows and competes with Microsoft. An open source government. How would such a system work, and could it succeed? How long before it became corrupt? Would it need a benevolent dictator (Linus vs. Soros)?"

Researchers Build Logic Gates With RNA 58

Ars Technica reports on research out of Cal Tech where scientists were able to create logic gates out of RNA molecules. Thus far, they've demonstrated AND gates and OR gates, with work proceeding on more complicated systems. The work shows promise for ability to easily detect the presence of particular chemicals. The abstract from the scientists' paper is available at Science. Quoting Ars: "Detecting tetracycline isn't especially interesting, but RNA that binds to specific small molecules is actually relatively easy to make; repeated rounds of amplification and selection for binding can evolve these RNAs in a couple of days. This means that, in a matter of days, researchers can grow yeast colonies that glow in response to a variety of chemicals, or even to combinations of chemicals. More complicated circuits should be possible if the ribozymes are inserted into messenger RNAs that encode transcription factors, which could, in turn, regulate genes that encode yet other ribozymes."

Lunar Spacecraft Compete For $2 Million NASA Prize 48

coondoggie writes "Nine rocket-powered vehicles will compete for NASA's $2 million, 2008 Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge, Oct. 24-25. The goal is to accelerate development of commercial Lunar Landers capable of bringing payloads or humans back and forth between lunar orbit and the lunar surface. NASA of course would expect to use some of the technology developed at the Challenge. To win the prize, teams must demonstrate a rocket-propelled vehicle and payload that takes off vertically, climbs to a defined altitude, flies for a pre-determined amount of time, and then land vertically on a target that is a fixed distance from the launch pad. After landing, the vehicle must take off again within a pre-determined time, fly for a certain amount of time and then land back on its original launch pad." Details about the teams involved with the competition are available at the X-Prize website. The event will be broadcast live via webcast next weekend.

Researchers Claim To Be Able To Determine Political Leaning By How Messy You Are Screenshot-sm 592

According to a study to be published in The Journal of Political Psychology, you can tell someone's political affiliation by looking at the condition of their offices and bedrooms. Conservatives tend to be neat and liberals love a mess. Researchers found that the bedrooms and offices of liberals tend to be colorful and full of books about travel, ethnicity, feminism and music, along with music CDs covering folk, classic and modern rock, as well as art supplies, movie tickets and travel memorabilia. Their conservative contemporaries, on the other hand, tend to surround themselves with calendars, postage stamps, laundry baskets, irons and sewing materials. Their bedrooms and offices are well lit and decorated with sports paraphernalia and flags — especially American ones. Sam Gosling, an associate professor of psychology at the University of Texas at Austin, says these room cues are "behavioral residue." The findings are just the latest in a series of recent attempts to unearth politics in personality, the brain and DNA. I, for one, support a woman's right to clean.
The Military

New Rifle Tech Offers Variable Muzzle Speed 443

Ponca City, We love you writes "A gun that fires variable-speed bullets that can be set to kill, wound, or just inflict a bruise is being built by a Lund and Company Invention, a toy design studio that makes toy rockets powered by burning hydrogen obtained by electrolyzing water. The company is being funded by the US Army to adapt the technology to fire bullets instead. The new weapon, called the Variable Velocity Weapon System or VWS, lets the soldier use the same rifle for crowd control and combat, by altering the muzzle velocity. It could be loaded with 'rubber bullets' designed only to deliver blunt impacts on a person, full-speed lethal rounds, or projectiles somewhere between the two. Bruce Lund, the company's CEO, says the gun works by mixing a liquid or gaseous fuel with air in a combustion chamber behind the bullet. This determines the explosive capability of the propellant and consequently the velocity of the bullet. 'Projectile velocity varies from non-lethal at 10 meters, to lethal at 100 meters or more, as desired,' says Lund. The existing VWS design is a .50 caliber (12.7 mm) rifle weapon, but Lund says the technology can be scaled to any size, 'handgun to Howitzer.'"

UOF Vies to Be a Third Contender in ODF–OOXML Battle 166

Andy Updegrove writes "Long-time followers of the ODF-OOXML story will recall that there is a third editable, XML-based document format in the race to create the documentary record of history. That contender is called UOF, for Uniform Office Format, and it has been under development in China since 2002. Last summer, UOF was adopted as a Chinese National Standard, and on Friday the first complete office suite based upon UOF was released. It's called Evermore Integrated Office 2009 (EIOffice 2009 for short). How successful could this new entrant be in China? For starters, Evermore Software Co. Ltd., its developer, is reportedly the largest software vendor to the Chinese government. And then there's price: Evermore's professional edition is less than a quarter of the price of the comparable version of Office 2007. And finally, it's clearly no coincidence that on July 11, Evermore Vice President Cao Shen called for Microsoft to be the first target for China's new anti-monopoly law, which will take effect in just ten days' time. Whether Shen is speaking to, or for, the government remains to be seen."

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