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Mississippi Makes Caller ID Spoofing Illegal 258

marklyon writes "HB 872, recently signed into law by Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour, makes Caller ID spoofing illegal. The law covers alterations to the caller's name, telephone number, or name and telephone number that is shown to a recipient of a call or otherwise presented to the network. The law applies to PSTN, wireless and VoIP calls. Penalties for each violation can be up to $1,000 and one year in jail. Blocking of caller identification information is still permitted."

China To Tap Combustible Ice As New Energy Source 185

lilbridge writes "Huge reserves of "combustible ice" — frozen methane and water — have been discovered in the tundra of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau in China. Estimates show that there is enough combustible ice to provide 90 years worth of energy for China. Burning the combustible ice may be a far better alternative than letting it just melt, releasing tons of methane into the air."

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."

Dinosaur Feather Color Discovered 219

anzha writes "Do you remember being a kid and told we'd never know what colors the dinosaurs were? For at least some, that's no longer true. Scientists working in the UK and China have closely examined the fossils of multiple theropods and actually found the colors and patterns that were present in the fossilized proto-feathers. So far, the answer is orange, black and white in banded and other patterns. The work also thoroughly thrashes the idea that fossils might not be feathers, but collagen fibers instead. If this holds up, Birds Are Dinosaurs. Period. And colorful!"

Visual Studio 2010 Forces Tab Indenting 390

An anonymous reader writes "For years, Microsoft has allowed Visual Studio users to define arbitrary tab widths, often to the dismay of those viewing the resultant code in other editors. With VS 2010, it appears that they have taken the next step of forcing tab width to be the same as the indent size in code. Two-space tabs anyone?"

Man Sues Neighbor For Not Turning Off His Wi-Fi 428

Scyth3 writes "A man is suing his neighbor for not turning off his cell phone or wireless router. He claims it affects his 'electromagnetic allergies,' and has resorted to being homeless. So, why doesn't he check into a hotel? Because hotels typically have wireless internet for free. I wonder if a tinfoil hat would help his cause?"

EVE Online Battle Breaks Records (And Servers) 308

captainktainer writes "In one of the largest tests of EVE Online's new player sovereignty system in the Dominion expansion pack, a fleet of ships attempting to retake a lost star system was effectively annihilated amidst controversy. Defenders IT Alliance, a coalition succeeding the infamous Band of Brothers alliance (whose disbanding was covered in a previous story), effectively annihilated the enemy fleet, destroying thousands of dollars' worth of in-game assets. A representative of the alliance claimed to have destroyed a minimum of four, possibly five or more of the game's most expensive and powerful ship class, known as Titans. Both official and unofficial forums are filled with debate about whether the one-sided battle was due to difference in player skill or the well-known network failures after the release of the expansion. One of the attackers, a member of the GoonSwarm alliance, claims that because of bad coding, 'Only 5% of [the attackers] loaded,' meaning that lag prevented the attackers from using their ships, even as the defenders were able to destroy those ships unopposed. Even members of the victorious IT Alliance expressed disappointment at the outcome of the battle. CCP, EVE Online's publisher, has recently acknowledged poor network performance, especially in the advertised 'large fleet battles' that Dominion was supposed to encourage, and has asked players to help them stress test their code on Tuesday. Despite the admitted network failure, leaders of the attacking force do not expect CCP to replace lost ships, claiming that it was their own fault for not accounting for server failures. The incident raises questions about CCP's ability to cope with the increased network use associated with their rapid growth in subscriptions."

10 Worst Evolutionary Designs 232

JamJam writes "Besides my beer gut, which I'm sure has some purpose, Wired is running a story on the 10 Worst Evolutionary Designs. Ranging from baby giraffes being dropped 5-foot during birth to Goliath bird-eating spiders that practically explode when they fall from trees."

Comparing the MMO Industry With the Silver Screen 95

Karen Hertzberg writes "With video gaming — specifically the massively multiplayer online titles — quickly surpassing Hollywood's cash flow, it seems logical that the silver suits at Tinsel Town would begin paying attention to their digital brethren. On the same line of thought, Hollywood provides the MMO industry with a history in the entertainment medium that we simply don't have. Ten Ton Hammer's Cody Bye sat down with four industry experts to draw together some similarities between MMOs and films, and he attempted to use those points to draw out some predictions for the future of the MMO gaming industry."

Comment Re:Games (Score 1) 1365

I have a server-grade Dell Precision 690 with two monitors. I had been using XP Pro for years and didn't have any really serious complaints with it until I tried to run multiple Eve Online instances. It became obvious that I needed to move up to a 64-bit OS, and for Eve, it would have to be Windows. I didn't consider Vista due to all the bad press it was getting. I bought WinXP Pro 64-bit.

I knew the Dell Precision would require some Dell drivers. The SATA disk driver was needed at the beginning of the install (F6?) and the NIC and audio drivers were needed for everything to work. The NVIDIA 64-bit driver was needed for the 8800 GT 512 MB vid card.

One install, no glitches, and everything worked. Even better, 64-bit XP is cleaner and better behaved than the 32-bit, and lets me use the 8 GB I have on the Dell. I can now run all nine Eve accounts on the 4-core, 3.0 GHz Dell. Joy, joy.

Oddly, every single app I have installed that I was accustomed to using on the old XP works, whether 32-bit or not. Except one, and the irony is that the one is my company's product with a crappy installer.

This system is extremely stable, has BSoD'd just once since installing 64-bit XP Pro, and I only reboot it to reduce the application footprints of all the crap that clogs memory, and only do that when I want to run those nine Eve instances. The system just works, and all my apps work.

I should point out that I have never liked MS and have never liked, have even hated, Windows, but it's certainly true that I have installed XP 32 many times without any difficulty and have only had to install XP 64 once because it went perfectly and there has been no need to reinstall it.

Meanwhile, over on the job side, we make a software product that runs only in Linux. We never even considered making our product work with Windows. After trying Mandrake we finally settled on SUSE, and eventually SLES to satisfy customers who wanted to run enterprise backup products.

Working with SUSE and SLES has been a total horror. Fortunately our app uses Linux as an appliance and no other apps are allowed to run on our customers' boxes. Any update of Linux is likely to break something, and our app is mission critical, often running entire enterprises. Nothing can be allowed to break it. Novell displays total lack of comprehension of what they claim is their enterprise Linux distribution. Even in service packs they change stuff we are using, breaking it. From major version to major version they are likely to change components in ways that not only would break our customers' systems but would require us to do major work to accommodate what they have changed.

This is SO bad that we have to consider rolling our own Linux distribution just to get away from Novell breaking stuff with each and every new version. Not to mention that even SLES is bloated with tons of stuff we don't want or need.

In principle I favor open source and Linux. As a practical matter I have been appalled at how much of open source software is broken, how bad the documentation is (if and where it even exists) and how little the folks distributing the stuff understand about "mission critical." Aside from tons of little stuff that doesn't work, perhaps the worst thing about Linux is the dependency hell that arises almost anytime we have tried to install something that didn't come packaged in the distribution. An example is trying to get WINE working in SLES. WINE is packaged in SUSE, but not in SLES. Eventually we gave up. We've run into that a number of times with various packages.

I was a happy user of IBM's AIX on RS/6000 from late 1999 onward. As AIX versions progressed and eventually stopped supporting the affordable 43P machines I used, I developed a severe dislike of IBM and proprietary OS software. I will never use AIX again, nor recommend it. But while AIX supported my favored RS/6000 models I never ran into any of the difficulties I've seen in Linux or Linux apps. I've installed AIX on bunches of 43P machines with never a hitch. I only turned my back on it when IBM turned its back on me and helped me make up my mind about proprietary OSs in general.

So I'm stuck... in principle I like open source and Linux and detest closed source OS software, but WinXP 64 works perfectly for my personal PC (with no other MS software -- I use Firefox and Thunderbird) and SUSE and SLES, while they work for our business product when used as appliances, have shown serious problems of QA and distro sanity. We actually have to prohibit our customers from doing any Linux updates.

It's very clear that the Linux / desktop discussion is crippled by the Linux fanbois not understanding what makes the consumer tick. Until and unless Linux can be used, even installed by Grandma and Joe Sixpack, it's not going to win the desktop. No, children, Grandma is NOT going to be compiling her Linux kernel. No, kids, Joe is not going to be hunting down drivers and dependencies and scouring the Internet for solutions to hair-pulling install problems. It's not going to happen.

Linux has certainly come a long way since the early days when one had to know all the details of all the chipsets in the PC to have a chance of a successful install, but it's not ready for consumer prime time. Not even close. It has its uses, but those uses are inherently limited.


The Taste Of Space 81

It turns out that space tastes like raspberries and not Tang or freeze-dried ice cream as one might suspect. Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy were searching for evidence of amino acids in space when they found ethyl formate, the chemical used in to make raspberry flavoring. The astronomers used the IRAM telescope in Spain to analyze electromagnetic radiation emitted by a hot and dense region of Sagittarius B2 that surrounds a newborn star. Astronomer Arnaud Belloche said, "It [ethyl formate] does happen to give raspberries their flavour, but there are many other molecules that are needed to make space raspberries."

Comment This is really weird (Score 1) 267

I work in the Wang VS world, a type of system originally patterned after the IBM 360/370 but with an OS designed from the ground up to be interactive. We have multiple file types at the OS file system level... consecutive, indexed, object, print, relative, etc. Indexed files not only store data retrievable by a key, but by up to 17 keys. Unlike some juvenile "database" products that stored data in a .DAT file and indices in separate files, our indexed files contain a mini-db structure inside, with chains of data blocks, index blocks and free blocks, all managed by the file system. It's impossible for the various parts to get out of sync because they are all integrated within the indexed file.

We also have file compression at the OS file system level. Most file types except object can be tagged to be compressed and some are compressed by default. The OS file system uses machine instructions to compress before writing and expand after reading. It's completely transparent to the app code.

We also have PACE, a native 4GL / RDBMS that was developed by Wang in the mid-1980s and had referential integrity rules in the data dictionary and distributed database with two-phase commit, all from the beginning.

I used Oracle 5.1 from 1989 through 1992 and was shocked to learn that Oracle had no referential integrity at the time. What Oracle did was fake it by generating SQL*Forms triggers in their CASE tool. Heaven help anyone trying to build apps without the CASE tool or anyone touching any of the generated triggers.

I also recall reading of the struggles of the mainstream db vendors with distributed database technology and the eventual development and adoption of two-phase commit, many years after Wang had it as a standard feature in their clustered environments.

In 2004 I co-founded a company to virtualize the aging Wang VS. We have been very successful and are now the official source for all Wang VS systems and software. Our virtual Wang VS ranges up to 220% of the performance of the legacy high-end VS18950 released in 1999 and runs in Linux mostly on Dell PowerEdges. The high end supports 500-1000 users, not quite in the IBM mainframe arena but far, far easier to program, operate and use.

The original Wang VS80, released in 1977, supported up to 32 users and scores of devices in no more than 512KB of memory. Right... KiloBytes. Half a MegaByte. Later models grew to be much more capacious but try to imagine supporting 32 connected users running real apps and manipulating real data in half a MB of memory.

All of this reminds me of the horrible disconnect that occurred with the introduction of microcomputers. The folks who worked in the microcomputer field either didn't know about or ignored all the existing OS technologies and reinvented everything. PC users had to wait 10-15 years before MS discovered "pre-emptive multitasking," which was the rule in large systems, even in minicomputers, from the 1960s forward.

Microcomputers, while very enabling of individuals, actually took us backward in OS technology and caused us to have to live through a 10-15 year hiatus while the microcomputer engineers and OS developers rediscovered things that had been standard stuff in the mini and mainframe worlds.

Comment BSG an epic fail (Score 1) 852

BSG was a total bust and the end was unbelievably bad. For the effort invested in it, BSG might even be the most epic fail in the history of TV.

BSG wasn't sci-fi... it was a soap opera against a little-used space background. Anytime I tuned in it was just like a daytime soap.

I think they got way too full of themselves and lost all perspective. I saw a documentary about the show and couldn't believe the extent to which they patted themselves on their backs while an objective look at the production revealed it to be a mess of a dreary soap opera -- all talk and little action.

And any series that has to resort to promos like "All will be revealed" or "All will be explained" has clearly overcomplicated itself to the point where it can't be understood.

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