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VeriSign Granted a Patent Covering SiteFinder 85

An anonymous reader writes "Remember VeriSign's SiteFinder? Turns out that a couple of months back VeriSign was granted a patent on resolving unregistered domains. This came about thanks to its acquisition of eNic, operator of the .CC Domain. How long before Verizon, Earthlink, and OpenDNS are hit up for licensing fees?"

How Microsoft Dropped the Ball With Developers 814

cremou writes "As part of an Ars Technica series on how one developer migrated from Windows to OS X (and why), this second article concentrates on how Microsoft bungled the transition from XP to Vista. The author looks at some unfortunate decisions Microsoft made that have made Windows an unpleasant development platform. 'So Windows is just a disaster to write programs for. It's miserable. It's quite nice if you want to use the same techniques you learned 15 years ago and not bother to change how you do, well, anything, but for anyone else it's all pain... And it's not just third parties who suffer. It causes trouble for Microsoft, too. The code isn't just inconsistent and ugly on the outside; it's that way on the inside, too. There's a lot of software for Windows, a lot of business-critical software, that's not maintained any more. And that software is usually buggy. It passes bad parameters to API calls, uses memory that it has released, assumes that files live in particular hard-coded locations, all sorts of things that it shouldn't do.'"

War Brewing on the Inexpensive Laptop Front 370

The Christian Science Monitor has an interesting look at the war brewing on the inexpensive laptop front. With everything from the Eee PC to the OLPC, the trend in slimming and trimming seems to be continuing. "The market segment is so new it doesn't have a name yet or even an agreed-upon set of specifications. Intel, the chipmaker, calls the category "netbooks," recognizing that much of what people do on their laptops involves going on the Net. The new machines are also being called ultra-low-cost PCs, mininotebooks, or even mobile Internet gadgets. In appearance, they have the familiar clamshell design, but they're smaller, with seven- to 10-inch screens. They offer full keyboards (albeit with smaller keys) and weigh less than three pounds. Perhaps most important, the majority cost less than $500 - some as little as $299. Intel says it expects more than 50 million of these netbooks to be sold by 2011. It's introduced a tiny, low-power processor to run them called Atom, which puts 47 million transistors on a chip about the size of a penny."

ISPs & P2P, Getting Along Without Getting Cozy 118

penguin-geek writes "Researchers at Northwestern University have discovered a way to ease the tension between ISPs and P2P users. As we all know, there's been a growing tension between Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and their customers' P2P file-sharing services, and this has driven service providers to forcefully reduce P2P traffic at the expense of unhappy subscribers and the risk of government investigations. Recently, some ISPs have tried to fix the problem through partnerships with certain P2P applications. The Ono project represents an alternative solution: a software service that allows P2P clients to efficiently identify nearby peers, without requiring any kind of cozy relationship between ISPs and P2P users. Using results collected from over 150,000 users, they have found that their system locates peers along paths that have two orders of magnitude lower latency and 30% lower loss rates than those picked at random by BitTorrent, and that these high-quality paths can lead to significant improvements in transfer rates. In challenged settings where peers are overloaded in terms of available bandwidth, Ono provides a 31% average download-rate improvement; in environments with large available bandwidth, Ono increases download rates by 207% on average (and improves median rates by 883%). Ono is available as a plugin for the Azureus BitTorrent client, an open tracker and an standalone service you can integrate into any P2P system."

How Water Forms in Interstellar Space at 10K 270

KentuckyFC writes "Water is the most abundant solid material in space. But although astronomers see it on planets, moons, in comets and in interstellar clouds, nobody has been able to show how it forms. In theory, it should form easily when oxygen and atomic hydrogen meet. The problem is that there is not enough of it floating around as gas in interstellar dust clouds. So instead, the thinking is that water must form when atomic hydrogen interacts with frozen solid oxygen on the surface of dust grains in these clouds. Now Japanese astronomers have demonstrated this process for the first time in the lab in conditions that simulate interstellar space. That's cool because all the water in the solar system, including almost every drop you drink on Earth today, must have formed in exactly this way more than 5 billion years ago in a pre-solar dustcloud (abstract)."

China Wants US-Owned Hotels to Censor Internet 279

jp_papin writes "The Chinese government is demanding that US-owned hotels there filter Internet service during the upcoming Olympic Games in Beijing, US Senator Sam Brownback has alleged. The Chinese government is requiring US-owned hotels to install Internet filters to 'monitor and restrict information coming in and out of China,' Brownback said Thursday. 'This is an insult to the spirit of the games and an affront to American businesses,' he said. 'I call on China to immediately rescind this demand.' US State Department spokesman Tom Casey said he wasn't aware of those specific requests from the Chinese government, but Brownback said he got the information on Internet filtering from 'two different reliable but confidential sources.' The State Department is apparently continuing dialog with China about freedom of expression."

2 Finds Add To Giant Earthworm Science In Northwest 39

According to an article at Science Daily, "Native, possibly giant, earthworm science in the Pacific Northwest is advancing with the discovery of two new specimens from opposite sides of the interior Columbia River basin. University of Idaho soil scientist Jodi Johnson-Maynard, an associate professor in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, said an earthworm that was most likely a giant Palouse earthworm was found in early March near Moscow [Idaho]." I have trouble with the idea that worms of merely a foot long have trouble meeting the designation "giant" outside of Tremors or Arrakis. Update: 05/06 17:44 GMT by T : Correction: That's Moscow, Idaho, rather than Washington. Thanks to the alert reader who spotted this.

Google Pulls Open Source CoreAVC Project Over DMCA Complaint 207

rippe77 writes "Google has taken down the open-source project CoreAVC for Linux due to a DMCA complaint. The CoreAVC codec is a commercial high-definition H.264 DirectShow filter for windows provided by CoreCodec Inc.. The CoreAVC for Linux project provided various patches for Linux applications (mplayer, MythTV, xine) to use these DirectShow decoder filters in Linux. The takedown is quite controversial, as the CoreAVC project did not provide any copyrighted material — only the means to use the DirectShow filters in Linux." (The takedown notice is not yet up at Chilling Effects, but Google's page has a link that will take you there when it is.)

Use BitTorrent To Verify, Clean Up Files 212

jweatherley writes "I found a new (for me at least) use for BitTorrent. I had been trying to download beta 4 of the iPhone SDK for the last few days. First I downloaded the 1.5GB file from Apple's site. The download completed, but the disk image would not verify. I tried to install it anyway, but it fell over on the gcc4.2 package. Many things are cheap in India, but bandwidth is not one of them. I can't just download files > 1GB without worrying about reaching my monthly cap, and there are Doctor Who episodes to be watched. Fortunately we have uncapped hours in the night, so I downloaded it again. md5sum confirmed that the disk image differed from the previous one, but it still wouldn't verify, and fell over on gcc4.2 once more. Damn." That's not the end of the story, though — read on for a quick description of how BitTorrent saved the day in jweatherley's case.

Electronic Warfare Insects Coming Soon 187

Mike writes "British defence giant BAE Systems is creating a series of tiny electronic spiders, insects and snakes that could become the eyes and ears of soldiers on the battlefield, helping to save thousands of lives, and they claim that prototypes could be on the front line by the end of the year. A fascinating development to be sure, but who thinks this won't be misused domestically for spying and evidence gathering?" Included in the story is a link to a creepy little (scripted, rendered) demo video of these robots in action.

DARPA Working On Arthur C. Clarke Weapon Idea 453

holy_calamity writes "DARPA is working on a weapon which is similar to one first described by Arthur C. Clarke in his 1955 novel Earthlight — firing jets of molten metal using strong electromagnetic fields. The Magneto Hydrodynamic Explosive Munition (MAHEM) will function on a smaller scale than Clarke's fictional blaster. DARPA's write-up says it could be 'packaged into a missile, projectile or other platform and delivered close to target for final engagement and kill.' Clarke is also widely credited with suggesting geostationary communications satellites — what other ideas of his will come to pass?"

"Evolution of the Internet" Powers Massive LHC Grid 93

jbrodkin brings us a story about the development of the computer network supporting CERN's Large Hadron Collider, which will begin smashing particles into one another later this year. We've discussed some of the impressive capabilities of this network in the past. "Data will be gathered from the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), which hosts the collider in France and Switzerland, and distributed to thousands of scientists throughout the world. One writer described the grid as a 'parallel Internet.' Ruth Pordes, executive director of the Open Science Grid, which oversees the US infrastructure for the LHC network, describes it as an 'evolution of the Internet.' New fiber-optic cables with special protocols will be used to move data from CERN to 11 Tier-1 sites around the globe, which in turn use standard Internet technologies to transfer the data to more than 150 Tier-2 centers. Worldwide, the LHC computing grid will be comprised of about 20,000 servers, primarily running the Linux operating system. Scientists at Tier-2 sites can access these servers remotely when running complex experiments based on LHC data, Pordes says. If scientists need a million CPU hours to run an experiment overnight, the distributed nature of the grid allows them to access that computing power from any part of the worldwide network"

Next-Generation CAPTCHA Exploits the Semantic Gap 327

captcha_fun writes "Researchers at Penn State have developed a patent-pending image-based CAPTCHA technology for next-generation computer authentication. A user is asked to pass two tests: (1) click the geometric center of an image within a composite image, and (2) annotate an image using a word selected from a list. These images shown to the users have fake colors, textures, and edges, based on a sequence of randomly-generated parameters. Computer vision and recognition algorithms, such as alipr, rely on original colors, textures, and shapes in order to interpret the semantic content of an image. Because of the endowed power of imagination, even without the correct color, texture, and shape information, humans can still pass the tests with ease. Until computers can 'imagine' what is missing from an image, robotic programs will be unable to pass these tests. The system is called IMAGINATION and you can try it out." This sounds promising given how broken current CAPTCHA technology is.

EMI Says Online File Storage Is Illegal 405

WiglyWorm writes "MP3tunes CEO Michael Robertson sent out an email to all users of the online music backup and place-shifting service, asking them to help publicize EMI's ridiculous and ignorant lawsuit against the company. EMI believes that consumers aren't allowed to store their music files online, and that MP3tunes is violating copyright law by providing a backup service."

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IBM Advanced Systems Group -- a bunch of mindless jerks, who'll be first against the wall when the revolution comes... -- with regrets to D. Adams