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Officials Sue Couple Who Removed Their Lawn 819

Hugh Pickens writes "The LA Times reports that Orange County officials are locked in a legal battle with a couple accused of violating city ordinances for replacing the grass on their lawn with wood chips and drought-tolerant plants, reducing their water usage from 299,221 gallons in 2007 to 58,348 gallons in 2009. The dispute began two years ago, when Quan and Angelina Ha tore out the grass in their front yard. In drought-plagued Southern California, the couple said, the lush grass had been soaking up tens of thousands of gallons of water — and hundreds of dollars — each year. 'We've got a newborn, so we want to start worrying about her future,' said Quan Ha, an information technology manager for Kelley Blue Book. But city officials told the Has they were violating several city laws that require that 40% of residential yards to be landscaped predominantly with live plants. Last summer, the couple tried to appease the city by building a fence around the yard and planting drought-tolerant greenery — lavender, rosemary, horsetail, and pittosporum, among others. But according to the city, their landscaping still did not comply with city standards. At the end of January, the Has received a letter saying they had been charged with a misdemeanor violation and must appear in court. The couple could face a maximum penalty of six months in jail and a $1,000 fine for their grass-free, eco-friendly landscaping scheme. 'It's just funny that we pay our taxes to the city and the city is now prosecuting us with our own money,' says Quan Ha."

Pluto — a Complex and Changing World 191

astroengine writes "After 4 years of processing the highest resolution photographs the Hubble Space Telescope could muster, we now have the highest resolution view of Pluto's surface ever produced. Most excitingly, these new observations show an active world with seasonal changes altering the dwarf planet's surface. It turns out that this far-flung world has more in common with Earth than we would have ever imagined."

Japan Will Start 3D TV Programming This Summer 105

An anonymous reader writes "Japan HD TV operator Sky Perfect will start 3D programming this summer, with focuses on live events and sports events. As more Hollywood movies are shot in 3D, and 3D TVs are expected to come onto the market in the very near future, Sky Perfect is hoping that people will switch to 3D TV just like people switched from black and white to color. How about 3D TV in other countries?"

Amazon Pulls Book Publisher's Listings; Ebook Wars Underway? 297

As of last night, Amazon stopped listing all books from Macmillan Publishers, referring searches to other sellers instead. According to the New York Times, this is because Macmillan is one of the companies that now has an agreement to sell ebooks through Apple's new iBooks store, and asked Amazon to raise the price of their ebooks from $9.99 to $15. An industry source told the Times that the de-listing is Amazon's way of "expressing its strong disagreement" with the idea of a price hike. Gizmodo suggests this is the first volley in an Apple-Amazon ebook war. Quoting: "It feels like a repeat of the same s*** Universal Music, and later, NBC Universal pulled with iTunes, trying to counter the leverage Apple had because of iTunes' insane marketshare. Same situation here, really: Content provider wants more money/control over their content, fights with the overwhelmingly dominant, embedded service that's selling the content. Last time, everybody compromised and walked away mostly happy: Universal and NBC got more flexible pricing, iTunes got DRM-free music and more TV shows for its catalog to sell. ... The difference in this fight is that Macmillan is one of the publishers signed to deliver books for Apple's iBooks store. They have somewhere to run. And credibly. That wasn't really the case with record labels, who tried to fuel alternatives to dilute iTunes power, and failed."

Police Called Over 11-Year-Old's Science Project 687

garg0yle writes "Police in San Diego were called to investigate an 11-year-old's science project, consisting of 'a motion detector made out of an empty Gatorade bottle and some electronics,' after the vice-principal came to the conclusion that it was a bomb. Charges aren't being laid against the youth, but it's being recommended that he and his family 'get counseling.' Apparently, the student violated school policies — I'm assuming these are policies against having any kind of independent thought?"

Comment Re:How do people pay eachother? (Score 1) 796

But Christ-on-a-fucking-wheel, why did it take until 2009 to be able to move money instantly from one account to another? And it's still only certain banks that do the same-day transfers. These guys are absolutely retarded. With the billions they make every second, you'd think they'd be able to install a few broadband lines between their offices and make it so money can get transferred quickly. Three days - seriously?!

My bank takes two days to do an internal transfer and three for external. What's happening is that the bank is still using my money to make more money during those three days, but not paying anyone interest on the deposit. It's only pennies to we poor peons, but it adds up pretty quickly for the bank.

It's not that the bank couldn't make the transfer immediately, they just didn't/don't want to lose that little cash cow.


94 New Species Described By CA Academy of Sciences 52

An anonymous reader writes "Researchers at the California Academy of Sciences traversed four continents and two oceans to uncover 94 new species in 2009, proving that while sometimes in this digital age the world can feel like a small place, much of it has yet to be explored. Among the 94 discoveries were 65 arthropods, 14 plants, 8 fishes, 5 sea slugs, one coral, and one fossil mammal. Why does it matter? As Dr. David Mindell, Dean of Science and Research Collections at the Academy, explained, 'Humans rely on healthy ecosystems, made up of organisms and their environments. Creating a comprehensive inventory of life on our planet is critical for understanding and managing resources. Yet a great many life-forms remain to be discovered and described.'"

Comment Re:What about the banks? (Score 1) 422

It seems to me that they only need to present you with a single convincing page to get you to give them a one-time pad that can be used to drain your account (at least up to your withdrawal limit, if you have one).

One-time pad was perhaps the wrong wording. It's a list of 200 or so numbered 6-digit numbers that are used a single time to authenticate a single transaction.

Though I realize people are dumber than I expect, who would enter 200 6-digit numbers into a form from the bank? The bank sent you the numbers in the first place.

The point is that you're only ever asked for a specific number once, and if you mess up three times they lock your account. The attacker would need a good part of the unused list to have a chance at having the right number at the right time.

Comment Re:What about the banks? (Score 1) 422

This is why German banks use a one-time pad system at the actual transaction itself. I can log in with a single password. To process an actual transaction though, I need to enter a randomly selected code from a piece of paper they sent me or the code they send me in an SMS. Since it's only good for the transaction at hand and only ever used once, there's no way for it to be used by someone who's intercepted it.

Though, I suppose the attacker could try and get me to go through the entire TAN list, faking failures every time. I don't know how many people would go through 200 failures before calling the bank though.

Comment Re:Bluetooth is the way to go (Score 1) 519

I'm using a Notebook Mouse 5000 right now with OS X. I also use it with Ubuntu on another partition. Works perfectly, and you can even set the thumb button (button 4) up just like any other mouse.

I Windows Vista and 7 I have to delete the mouse and re-add it every time I restart the computer. For some reason it won't stay paired. Odd that an MS mouse doesn't work with Windows, but does with everything else.


Submission + - Chain-mail could connect wearable gadgets

MattSparkes writes: "Microscopic chain mail has been made by US researchers, which could ultimately be used to create textiles with sensors and other electronics built in. The links are about 500 microns across, and the fabric has a similar tensile strength to nylon. It can be bent around any shape and stretches to increase its length by one-third, and readily conducts electricity. Microchip-scale electronic components could perhaps also one day be built directly into the links of the chain-mail."
Linux Business

Submission + - Which Embedded Linux Distribution?

Abhikhurana writes: I work for a company which designs a variety of video surveillance devices (such as MPEG4 video servers). Traditionally, these products have been based on proprietory OSs such as Nucleus and VxWorks. Now we are redesigning a few of our products and I am trying to convince my company to go down the Linux route. Understandably, our management is quite sceptical about that and so I was asked by our CTO to recommend a few RTOSs which have mature Networking stacks and which work well on ARM platform. I know that there are many embedded linux based distributions out there. There are commerical ones such as Montavista, LynuxWorks, free ones such as uclinux, muLinux and some Linux like distros such as Ecos, but which is the most stable and best community supported embedded Linux distribution out there?

Submission + - Astronaut to undertake record breaking spacewalk

MattSparkes writes: "Two residents of the International Space Station will take a spacewalk tomorrow to try to jam a stuck antenna on a docked cargo ship back into place. The spacewalk will set a US record of over 65 hours spacewalk experience. During the spacewalk, the astronauts will "use a hammer and a chisel to try to pound the antenna into place". Precision engineering at its very best I'm sure you'll agree."

Submission + - Debian Founder visits MicroSoft to Talk Shop

wellingj writes: As reported on ZDNet, Debian founder and chief technology officer of the Linux Foundation, Ian Murdock will be giving a 'Power Lunch' presentation at MicroSoft. On the table for discussion is the origins of Debian and it's community development model. The talk is being put on by Bill Hilf, former director of the Linux Lab at Microsoft. Microsoft Employee Rocky Heckman's blog might bring an cynical insider look of the talk. Stay tuned.

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