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How a Leather Cover Crashes the Kindle 280

An anonymous reader writes "Amazon has started offering refunds to Kindle owners who own the unlit leather case who claim that it causes their Kindles to reboot, but are playing dumb on the cause: "our engineering team is looking into this." People have been wondering how a leather cover could possibly crash an electronic device, and why is Amazon offering money back if they don't think there's a problem? It seems that some of the folks over at Connectify have figured it out, and it's a doozy!"
Communications

Consumer Reports Gives AT&T Lowest US Carrier Rank 187

tekgoblin writes "Consumer Reports has just released results for consumer satisfaction across all US cell phone carriers. The survey covered around 58,000 Consumer Reports subscribers. Over half of the respondents who used AT&T used the iPhone when taking the survey. According to Consumer Reports, iPhone users were less satisfied with AT&T than other users with different phones. An AT&T spokesman responded by citing independent speed tests, as well as higher subscriber numbers and a dropped call rate within 0.1% of the industry leader." Update: 12/07 01:49 GMT by S : Corrected last sentence to indicate the 0.1% dropped call rate statistic is the difference between AT&T and another carrier, not 0.1% overall.
Botnet

Researchers Tracking Emerging 'Darkness' Botnet 85

Trailrunner7 writes "Researchers are tracking a new botnet that has become one of the more active DDoS networks on the Internet since its emergence early last month. The botnet, dubbed 'Darkness,' is being controlled by several domains hosted in Russia and its operators are boasting that it can take down large sites with as few as 1,000 bots. The Darkness botnet is seen as something of a successor to the older Black Energy and Illusion botnets and researchers at the Shadowserver Foundation took a look at the network's operation and found that it is capable of generating large volumes of attack traffic. 'Upon testing, it was observed that the throughput of the attack traffic directed simultaneously at multiple sites was quite impressive,' Shadowserver's analysts wrote in a report on the Darkness botnet. 'It now appears that "Darkness" is overtaking Black Energy as the DDoS bot of choice. There are many ads and offers for DDoS services using "Darkness." It is regularly updated and improved and of this writing is up to version 7. There also appear to be no shortage of buyers looking to add "Darkness" to their botnet arsenal.'"
The Military

Explosive-Laden California Home To Be Destroyed 424

wiredmikey writes with this snippet from an AP report: "Neighbors gasped when authorities showed them photos of the inside of the Southern California ranch-style home: Crates of grenades, mason jars of white, explosive powder and jugs of volatile chemicals that are normally the domain of suicide bombers. ... Now authorities face the risky task of getting rid of the explosives. The property is so dangerous and volatile that they have no choice but to burn the home to the ground this week in a highly controlled operation involving dozens of firefighters, scientists and hazardous material and pollution experts. ... Some 40 experts on bombs and hazardous material from across the country and at least eight national laboratories are working on the preparations. They have analyzed wind patterns to ensure the smoke will not float over homes beyond the scores that will be evacuated. They have studied how fast the chemicals can become neutralized under heat expected to reach 1800 degrees and estimate that could happen within 30 minutes, which means most of the toxins will not even escape the burning home."
NASA

NASA Launches Micro Solar Sail 90

greyarea67 writes with news that NASA has successfully used a "microsatellite" (a term given to satellites weighing between 10kg and 100kg) to deploy a "nanosatellite" (a term given to satellites weighing between 1kg and 10kg). The deployed object, the first of six in the microsatellite's payload, was the NanoSail-D flight unit. NanoSail-D masses 4kg and is "about the size of a loaf of bread" until it deploys its solar sail. "...when the NanoSail-D sail is deployed it will use its large sail made of thin polymer material, a material much thinner than a single human hair, to significantly decrease the time to de-orbit the small satellite without the use of propellants as most traditional satellites use. The NanoSail-D flight results will help to mature this technology so it could be used on future large spacecraft missions to aid in de-orbiting space debris created by decommissioned satellites without using valuable mission propellants."
Programming

Sorting Algorithms — Boring Until You Add Sound 118

An anonymous reader writes "Anyone who's ever taken a programming course or tried to learn how to code out of a book will have come across sorting algorithms. Bubble, heap, merge — there's a long list of methods for sorting data. The subject matter is fairly dry. Thankfully, someone has found a way to not only make sorting more interesting, but easier to remember and understand, too."
Java

Introducing JITB — a Flash Player Built On the JVM 126

MBCook writes "Joa Ebert has started working on a new program called JITB. Announced in a talk at FITC San Fran, it's a Flash player written to use the Java JVM to run ActionScript, and in a simple graphics test case (making 1 million calls to flash.geom.Point) was 30x faster than Adobe's Flash player. There is an impressive demo video on YouTube showing the point test."

Submission + - UbuntuWomen International Women's Day Competition (ubuntu.com)

elkbuntu writes: There's a competition going for Women Ubuntu users to tell the tech community how they discovered Ubuntu. By doing so they can help to raise the visibility of women within the Ubuntu community, celebrate International Women's Day 2010, oh, and win one of 2 cool prize packs.
Security

Norton Users Worried By PIFTS.exe, Stonewalling By Symantec 685

An anonymous reader writes that "[Monday] evening, on systems with Norton Internet Protection running, users began to see a popup warning about an executable named PIFTS.exe trying to access the internet. The file was shown to be located in a non-existent folder inside the Symantec LiveUpdate folder. There were several posts about this to the Norton customer forums asking for help or information on this mysterious program. The initial thread received several thousand views and several pages of replies in a few short hours before being deleted. Several subsequent posts to the Norton forum were deleted much more quickly. These actions — whether actively covering up, or simply not well thought through — have spurred people to begin crafting conspiracy theories about the purposes of this PIFTS program. I for one am blocking the program until more information becomes available." The current top link on Google for "PIFTS.exe" links to one of these deleted questions on Norton's support boards, which sounds innocent enough: "I searched this forum but did not see PIFTS.exe. Any idea what this is?"
The Courts

Breathalyzer Source Code Ruling Upheld 520

dfn_deux writes "In a follow up to a 2005 story where Florida judge Doug Henderson ruled that breathalyzer evidence in more than 100 drunk driving cases would be inadmissible as evidence at trial, the Second District Court of Appeal and Circuit Court has ruled on Tuesday to uphold the 2005 ruling requiring the manufacturer of the Intoxilyzer 5000, Kentucky-based CMI Inc, to release source code for their breathalyzer equipment to be examined by witnesses for the defense of those standing trial with breathalyzer test result being used as evidence against them. '"The defendant's right to a fair trial outweighed the manufacturer's claim of a trade secret," Henderson said Tuesday. In response to the ruling defense attorney, Mark Lipinski, who represents seven defendants challenging the source codes, said the state likely will be forced to reduce charges — or drop the cases entirely.' ... What this really means is that outside corporations cannot sell equipment to the state of Florida and expect to hide the workings of their machine by saying they are trade secret. It means the state has to give full disclosure concerning important and critical aspects of the case."
Role Playing (Games)

Cyan Worlds To Open-Source Myst Online: Uru Live 39

644bd346996 writes "Cyan Worlds, Inc., creators of the Myst franchise, has decided to make their unsuccessful MMORPG Myst Online: Uru Live into an open source game. They will release all the source code for the client, server, and tools. They will continue to host the data on their own servers. Uru was originally intended to be an online-only game. The publisher, Ubisoft, requested that a single-player version be made as well. They then canceled the online version in February 2004, while it was still in a closed beta. Cyan allowed fans to run their own servers as part of a completely unsupported service known as Until Uru. In February 2007, GameTap picked up Uru as one of their biggest games, only to cancel it a year later."
Operating Systems

FreeBSD 6.4 Released 64

hmallett writes "FreeBSD 6.4-RELEASE, the fifth release from the 6-STABLE branch of FreeBSD development, is now available. In addition to being hosted at many FTP sites, ISO images can be downloaded via the BitTorrent tracker, or for users of earlier FreeBSD releases, FreeBSD Update can be used to perform a binary upgrade."
Games

The Importance of Procedural Content Generation In Games 160

Gamasutra reports on a talk by Far Cry 2 developer Dominic Guay in which he discussed why procedural content generation is becoming more and more important as games get bigger and more complex. He also talks about some of the related difficulties, such as the amount of work required for the tools and the times when it's hard to retain control of the art direction. Quoting: "Initially, the team created a procedural sky rendering approach based on algorithms — which led to a totally unconvincing skybox that was clearly inferior to what a hand-authored skybox would be. 'We considered it to be a total failure,' he said. He explained that a great deal of focus must be put on the tools that surround the algorithms, to allow the systems to be properly harnessed. In the end, the game shipped with a revamped procedural sky system that ended up much more effective than the first attempt."
PHP

Submission + - PHP V5 and object-oriented programming (ibm.com)

jmalasko writes: "PHP V5.3 is designed to prepare developers for PHP V6 when it comes by adding new features, cleaning up existing features by tweaking the functionality, fixing platform-specific issues, and deprecating old features that won't be in future versions of PHP. In this "What's new in PHP V5.3" series, discover the new features and see how they can be used in your Web application."

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