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Transportation

Submission + - Google Secretly Tests Autonomous Cars in Traffic (nytimes.com)

Hugh Pickens writes: "Autonomous cars are years from mass production, but technologists who have long dreamed of them believe that they can transform society as profoundly as the Internet has. Now the NY Times reports that Google has been working in secret on vehicles that can drive themselves, using artificial-intelligence software that can sense anything near the car and mimic the decisions made by a human driver. With someone behind the wheel to take control if something went awry and a technician in the passenger seat to monitor the navigation system, seven test cars have driven 1,000 miles without human intervention and more than 140,000 miles with only occasional human control. One even drove itself down Lombard Street in San Francisco, one of the steepest and curviest streets in the nation. The only accident, engineers said, was when one Google car was rear-ended while stopped at a traffic light."
Security

Submission + - New Tool Blocks Downloads from Malicious Sites

Hugh Pickens writes: "Science Daily Headlines reports that a new tool has been developed funded by the National Science Foundation, U.S. Army Research Office and US Office of Naval Research to prevent "drive-by downloads" where by simply visiting a website, malware can be silently installed on a computer to steal a user's identity and other personal information, launch denial-of-service attacks, or participate in botnet activity. The software called Blade — short for Block All Drive-By Download Exploits — is browser-independent and designed to eliminate all drive-by malware installation threats by tracking how users interact with their browsers to distinguish downloads that received user authorization from those that do not. "BLADE monitors and analyzes everything that is downloaded to a user's hard drive to cross-check whether the user authorized the computer to open, run or store the file on the hard drive. If the answer is no to these questions, BLADE stops the program from installing or running and removes it from the hard drive," says Wenke Lee, a professor in the School of Computer Science in Georgia Tech's College of Computing. Blade's testbed automatically harvests malware URLs from multiple whitehat sources on a daily basis and has an interesting display of the infection rate of different browsers, the applications targeted by drive-by exploits, and the anti-virus detect and miss rates of drive-by binaries."

Submission + - Amazon Quietly Censoring Bookcovers 1

Nom du Keyboard writes: It seems that Amazon has embarked on a new policy of quiet bookcover censorship. It's possible that they were spooked by this hit piece in Slate, or there may be some other reason, but bookcovers featuring even tasteful nudity have been removed from the "All Departments" general search. Of course they never made this a public announcement; books just started disappearing from their general search without notice. Authors and publishers are being left with two choices: 1) Redo the cover to remove the nudity. 2) Have your title relegated to only Erotica searches for now. Their alleged excuse is that some minor might accidentally stumble upon an offending cover, but this seems to overlook the obvious fact that even with the cover changed Amazon is still selling the same unaltered content to that, or any other, purchaser. And is this only the first step for them? So far this hasn't apparently spread to other eTailers such as Fictionwise, making it possible to compare erotic titles on the two sites and see the Amazon required censorship in the changed cover art. So how do you feel about Amazon setting these rules for everyone?
It's funny.  Laugh.

Submission + - The Lost Tribes of Radio Shack (wired.com)

reifman writes: This month's Wired has a nice homage to the DIY days at Radio Shack before the company turned itself into a cell phone pitching matrix. It reminded me of my TRS-80 days and many many hours spent hanging out at two different L.A.-area Radio Shacks and the incredibly tolerant and supportive sales folks there. I was raised in part, at Radio Shack. At one point, a Radio Shack manager paid me $10/hr to manually re-type private investigator Gavin De Becker's client database from Profile Plus to DBase II — pretty much a catalog of all the psychos chasing his clients. One of my fellow traveler's at Radio Shack was Josh Milrad, childstar of Beastmaster. Radio Shack launched me on a computing career. Thanks for reminding me Wired.
GNU is Not Unix

Submission + - HTC Delays Release of GPL'ed Linux Kernel Source (ginkel.com)

Specialist2k writes: Apparently, HTC have been busy these days signing patent deals, so that they have forgotten about the true origins of the Android operating system running on many of their mobile phones. While these phones are running a customized version of the GPL'ed Linux kernel, HTC has been unwilling to provide the corresponding source code for the HTC Desire's Linux kernel for nearly a month now. Unfortunately, HTC already have a well-known history of GPL violations with no apparent signs of any improvement.
Google

Submission + - Google to Announce Broad Support for VP8 (streamingmedia.com)

An anonymous reader writes: According to Dan Rayburn from streamingmedia.com, in addition to an open source release of VP8 on the 19th of May Google will also announce support for VP8 video from a variety of vendors and major content owners. He writes on his blog: 'Once the On2 deal was finalized, Google has been hard at work meeting with many different vendors in the online video ecosystem including video platform providers, encoding companies, hardware vendors and others to convince them to support VP8 in their product lines. So far, they have been successful in their efforts and have quite a few vendors who have agreed to support VP8 have been busy over the past few months building that support into their platforms. In addition, I've also learned that some major content owners also plan to support VP8 soon after it becomes open-sourced and that while Google is not working directly with them, they are using the vendors in the video space to help convince them to encode to VP8.' So ends the Flash video hegemony?
Books

Submission + - Ursula Le Guin Wins 6th Nebula at the 2009 Awards (fictioncircus.com)

Miracle Jones writes: "At the 2009 Nebula Awards in Los Angeles, Ursula Le Guin took home her 6th prize for her new novel called "Powers" about a slave boy in a mystic land who can "remember" the future. The other winners in the shorter categories were Catherine Asaro, John Kessel, and Nina Kiriki Hoffman (included are links to their podcasts and stories so you can read them or listen to them for free)."

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