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MIT Unveils Portable, Solar-Powered Water Desalination System 117

An anonymous reader writes "A team from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Field and Space Robotic Laboratory has designed a new solar-powered water desalination system to provide drinking water to disaster zones and disadvantaged parts of the planet. Desalination systems often require a lot of energy and a large infrastructure to support them, but MIT's compact system is able to cope due to its ingenious design. The system's photovoltaic panel is able to generate power for the pump, which in turn pushes undrinkable seawater through a permeable membrane. MIT's prototype can reportedly produce 80 gallons of drinking water per day, depending on weather conditions."

Woman Tells State Judiciary Committee, "DoD Implanted A Microchip Inside Me" Screenshot-sm 222

The Georgia House Judiciary Committee took up a bill that would "prohibit requiring a person to be implanted with a microchip," and would make violating the ban a misdemeanor. Things started to get weird at the hearing when a woman who described herself as a resident of DeKalb County told the committee, "I'm also one of the people in Georgia who has a microchip." Not sure of what she was trying to say, she was allowed to continue and added, "Microchips are like little beepers. Just imagine, if you will, having a beeper in your rectum or genital area, the most sensitive area of your body. And your beeper numbers displayed on billboards throughout the city. All done without your permission." Further prodding revealed that the woman's co-workers would torture her by activating the chips with their cell phones and that the chips were implanted by "researchers with the federal government." The committee thanked the woman for her input, and later approved the bill.

Disney Releases 3D Texture Mapper Source Code 83

dsavi writes "Ptex, Walt Disney Animation Studio's cutting-edge 3D texture mapping library which was first used on nearly every surface in the 2008 animated feature Bolt, was released under the BSD license on Friday. Quoting the announcement on monophyl.com: 'We expect to follow Ptex with other open source projects that we hope the community will find beneficial. We will soon be launching a new Walt Disney Animation Studios Technology page under disneyanimation.com. It will include links to our open source projects as will as a library of recent publications.' This looks good for open source 3D graphics."

Why Firefox's Future Lies In Google's Hands 346

Barence writes "Firefox has just turned five, and it now accounts for 25% of the global market, according to figures from Net Applications. Its success has forced rivals to raise their game, and the past two years have seen Microsoft, Apple, and Opera close the features gap significantly. Google is the default homepage when Firefox first opens, and the default search engine when users type something into the 'awesome bar.' The deal, which runs until 2011, was worth $66 million to Mozilla in 2007, accounting for 88% of the foundation's revenues that year (the last year for which it had published accounts). But now that Google is a competitor as well as a partner, is it really wise for Mozilla to be so dependent on Google?"

A Hyper-Velocity Impact In the Asteroid Belt? 114

astroengine writes "Astronomers have spotted something rather odd in the asteroid belt. It looks like a comet, but it's got a circular orbit, similar to an asteroid. Whether it's an asteroid or a comet, it has a long, comet-like tail, suggesting something is being vented into space. Some experts think it could be a very rare comet/asteroid hybrid being heated by the sun, but there's an even more exciting possibility: It could be the first ever observation of two asteroids colliding in the asteroid belt."

Submission + - Protesting China's Required Censorship Software (globalpost.com)

dinoyum writes: "Censorship in China is nothing new, but the level of action taken to force Chinese citizens to comply has garnered global recognition. China marked the date July 1st, 2009 as day "manufacturers will be forced to install filtering software on all new PCs". While many have resorted to digitally lashing out against Green Dam, Chinese artist and designer of famous Birds Nest at Beijing Olympics, Ai Weiwei has decided upon a different approach.

[He Wants] A general internet strike — no work, no games, no email or anything else online — for 24 hours on the date the government plans to require censorship software on all new computers, he says, will be a quiet act of rebellion. Not coincidentally, July 1 is the 88th anniversary of the Communist Party of China. Though he posted the idea, Ai wants to leave the meaning to those who participate."I gave almost no explanation about why I'm doing it," Ai said. "I just give the structure and people will fill in their own meaning. I don't want to be political first. I wanted to set up an act that everyone can easily accept, and then realize the power later. "I want people to see their own power," he said.



Submission + - Watch TV on your satnav? (pcpro.co.uk) 2

Barence writes: "Satnav firm Mio is launching a device with an integrated TV tuner. The Mio Spirit range includes a digital television tuner that is intended to be used "during breaks in the journey or at their final destination." However, safety campaigners fear there's little to stop the television being used at the wheel. When the system is first turned on a warning message is displayed, telling the user not to watch television while driving. If this is ignored, a secondary warning message kicks in if the GPS chip detects the vehicle is moving at more than 5mph. But that's it!"

Google Voice Grabs 1 Million Phone Numbers 198

alphadogg writes "Google has reserved 1 million phone numbers with Level 3, signaling that it may finally be ready to roll out its long-anticipated Google Voice service. The free service, announced in March, lets users unify their phone numbers, allowing them to have a single number through Google Voice that rings a call through to all their phones. Sources could not say when the 1 million numbers may be assigned. Level 3 has been supplying Google with phone numbers since the introduction of Google Voice, so the 1 million numbers are an indication Google is close to adding a significant number of users. A public launch has been anticipated since Google said in March the service would be 'open to new users soon.' One early user said: 'I've only been using Google Voice for a few months, but it's completely changed the way I use voicemail and communicate... When it goes public, I think the rush to grab Google Voice numbers is going to be stunning. I know some of my friends check the Google Voice page almost every day to see when they can grab a number and get started using it.'"
Social Networks

Submission + - MySpace to Layoff 400+ as Ad Sales Decline (bloomberg.com)

suraj.sun writes: June 16 (Bloomberg) — News Corp.'s MySpace social- networking unit fired almost 30 percent of its staff to save money in response to falling advertising sales and gains by larger rival Facebook Inc.

The cuts lower U.S. staffing at Los Angeles-based MySpace to 1,000, according to a statement today. The announcement suggests the company eliminated about 400 jobs. Dani Dudeck, a MySpace spokeswoman, declined to comment on the firings, severance costs or how much money may be saved.

News Corp. Chairman and Chief Executive Rupert Murdoch is retooling his Internet operation to regain momentum. The $580 million purchase of MySpace in October 2005 looked shrewd the next year when Google Inc. signed a $900 million accord to sell ads on the site. Facing the expiration of that deal and gains by Facebook, Murdoch, 78, hired former AOL chief Jonathan Miller in April to overhaul the digital operation.

Bloomberg : http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=ap6Wgh9cYOG4

Signaling the depth of its problems, MySpace on Tuesday said it was laying off 420 people — nearly one out of every three employees — as part of an aggressive restructuring that seeks to make the company smaller and more agile. The action follows a management shake-up in April, in which MySpace founder Chris DeWolfe was replaced as chief executive by Facebook's former chief operating officer, Owen Van Natta.

"Simply put, our staffing levels were bloated and hindered our ability to be an efficient and nimble team-oriented company," Van Natta said in a statement. "I understand that these changes are painful for many. They are also necessary for the long-term health and culture of MySpace."

Van Natta's comments underscore just how troubled Murdoch's big Internet gamble has become in the rapidly changing world of social media. Highly touted initiatives, such as MySpace Music, failed to live up to expectations, even as the site's developers constantly play catch-up to the technological innovations of others.

LA Times : http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-ct-myspace17-2009jun17,0,6726077.story

The Courts

Submission + - Accused Facebook spammer could face jail time (goodgearguide.com.au)

angry tapir writes: "An alleged spammer could face jail time in connection with a Facebook lawsuit after a judge referred him to the U.S. Attorney General's Office for criminal proceedings. Judge Jeremy Fogel of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California referred Sanford Wallace to the U.S. Attorney General's Office for criminal proceedings for allegedly violating an injunction that prohibited him from accessing Facebook."

FBI, US Marshals Hit By Virus 156

Norsefire writes "The FBI and US Marshals were forced to shut down part of their computer network after being hit by a 'mystery virus.' FBI spokesman Mike Kortan said, 'We are evaluating a network issue on our external, unclassified network that's affecting several government agencies.' Nikki Credic, spokeswoman for the US Marshals, said that no data has been compromised but the type of virus and its origin is unknown."

Submission + - Pirate Party Being Sabotaged in EU Elections

JoonasD6 writes: "Sweden's Pirate Party, Piratpartiet, is apparently facing sabotage in its first European Parliament elections. In his blog, Rick Falkvinge mentions reports coming that officials are refusing to accept voting ballots for Piratpartiet. It was even caught on film (in Swedish). The antagonists seem to be the members of the current parties in the Swedish parliament. The pirate movement sure seems to put the governmental and legal systems through a stress test here. Will the pirates end up being more virtuous than the current statesmen?"

RIM In Trouble For Not Violating Privacy 278

sufijazz writes "The US government is not alone in wanting to snoop on everything citizens do over email/phone. The Indian government wants that right too. RIM is stating they have no means to decrypt, no master key, and no back door to allow the government to access email." The article notes that 114,000 BlackBerries are in use on the Indian subcontinent. The government is concerned about attacks by militants and sees the BlackBerry as a security risk.

Dell Shows Off Its Eee PC Rival 250

Tom Moreland tips us to photos of Dell's answer to the Eee PC on the Direct2Dell site. Dell posted these after an attendee at the D conference spotted Michael Dell carrying one. The company hasn't released any details, so you can take these with a grain of salt — from a commenter to Dell's post: "Here are the specs for the Dell Mini Inspiron: Atom 1.6 GHz, 3 USB ports, Ethernet, Card reader, Kensington lock, Adapter socket, Mic/line-out, VGA port, screen resolution at 1280×800. Scheduled to be released before the end of June 2008. It costs less than $500."

'90s Dot-Coms — Where Are They Now? 206

An anonymous reader writes "The Industry Standard has put together a list of 10 dot-com stars from the Internet bubble of the late 1990s, and tracked down what happened to the services and their founders. A lot of the services are still around, albeit under new ownership, including eToys, Garden.com, and DrKoop.com. Others have been completely reinvented — Boo.com, an online clothing retailer that burned through $125 million in funding in the late 1990s, is now an online travel community. Of the founders, many were able to cash out early and/or achieve later online success. Excite's Joe Kraus and Graham Spencer later started JotSpot, which was bought by Google, and Kraus now directs work on Google's OpenSocial initiative. Others did not fare as well, such as two of the co-founders of Garden.com, who declined to cash out at the height of the bubble, and are currently 'between business ventures.' The insiders' post-mortems of the failed dot-coms are interesting — several suggest the concepts were good but too early for their time, while others identify specific factors that led to the failures — ranging from a lack of advertising to 'intense' greed."

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"The eleventh commandment was `Thou Shalt Compute' or `Thou Shalt Not Compute' -- I forget which." -- Epigrams in Programming, ACM SIGPLAN Sept. 1982