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Submission Summary: 0 pending, 42 declined, 6 accepted (48 total, 12.50% accepted)

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Submission + - 16 year old girl's beating for piracy sweeps the b (

vaporland writes: In 2004, Aransas County Court-At-Law Judge William Adams took a belt to his own teenage daughter as punishment for using the internet to download music and games.

His daughter finally posted the video of the beating to YouTube last month, and condemnation has swept the blogosphere.

Strangely, many comments posted by viewers say she got what she deserved.

Should a family's dirty laundry be posted for all the world to see? Is the "crime" of downloading justified by a seven-minute long Texas-style belt-whupping?


Submission + - Scheiner Says "Open-Source Software Feels Insecure (

vaporland writes: "Noted security expert Bruce Schneier's Crypto-Gram Newsletter for June states the following:

"At first glance, this seems like a particularly dumb opening line of an article:
Open-source software may not sound compatible with the idea of strong cybersecurity, but....
But it's not. Open source does sound like a security risk. Why would you want the bad guys to be able to look at the source code? They'll figure out how it works. They'll find flaws. They'll — in extreme cases — sneak back-doors into the code when no one is looking.
Of course, these statements rely on the erroneous assumptions that security vulnerabilities are easy to find, and that proprietary source code makes them harder to find. And that secrecy is somehow aligned with security. I've written about this several times in the past, and there's no need to rewrite the arguments again.
Still, we have to remember that the popular wisdom is that secrecy equals security, and open-source software doesn't sound compatible with the idea of strong cybersecurity.""


Submission + - Comcast offering home security bundle ( 2

vaporland writes: "Bloomberg reports that media giant and MPAA enabler Comcast has begun offering home security bundles with cable or phone service in selected markets. From the article:

The Philadelphia-based company is starting Xfinity Home Security in seven markets for $39.95 a month. It lets users remotely adjust lights and thermostats, watch cameras, and get e-mail or text alerts when doors and windows are opened and closed. Customers can watch live video of their homes on an Xfinity website or with an Apple Inc. iPad application.

If someone hacks my Comcast security system, does their transmission of images from my bedroom count against my monthly 2.5GB quota?"

Submission + - Smash Putt is killer fun (waiver required!) (

vaporland writes: Imagine a collision of TV's "Mythbusters" science series and Myrtle Beach's summer tourist attractions, and you'll arrive at an approximation of Smash Putt, the temporary lounge sport/art installation/robotics experiment open in Denver's River North warehouse district through Feb. 6. The 13-hole mini golf course is an adults- only, rules-free take on the sport that encourages and actually demands interactivity.

"We want people to engage each other in a playful manner in a way that people don't get to do very often," said Jeremy Franklin-Ross, the Seattle-based artist who calls himself "the instigator" of Smash Putt. "We often get groups of people who don't know each other at all, glomming together and playing together all night long."

Franklin-Ross' intentions are clear. Smash Putt is art that requires some play to enjoy. And yet it's also a sport that requires plenty of thought and creativity.

What it's not: your parents' mini-golf.

Submission + - Smithsonian to celebrate 50 years of COBOL (

vaporland writes: According to the SD Times website, ( the Smithsonian is preparing a new exhibit to celebrate 50 years of COBOL. Before that actual, physical exhibit goes up, the national museums have put together an online history site for the language.

From the site:

Fifty years ago, each computer maker used its own programming languages to tell a computer what to do. In 1959, a group of programmers devised COBOL, a COmmon, Business-Oriented Language. Programs written in COBOL could run on more than one manufacturer's computer. In a 1960 test, the same COBOL programs ran successfully on two computers built by different manufacturers.


Submission + - Bell Systems Technical Journals Published (

vaporland writes: Benjamin Scott sent an email around today stating that Alcatel/Lucent had published all the old Bell System Technical Journals from 1922 to 1983 online and freely accessible. As Ben said:

"Bell Labs practically invented much of our recent civilization (communications theory, transistor, laser, microchip, Unix, the list goes on). The public switched telephone network, before the Internet came along, was probably the most complicated system in human existence. They documented a lot of it in these journals. Making them available like this is a huge boon to technology historians.

Bell System Technical Journal Volume 57.6 was published in August of 1978. In it were a series of articles from the people who developed the first UNIX systems. Not only were these articles written "first hand" at a time when people could both formulate clearly the reasons why they created UNIX the way they did, but at the same time it was not so long after they had created the system to have forgotten some of the details.

A small example of this exists in the name UNIX itself. Most people today write "UNIX" as "Unix", but in these original typeset and scanned PDFs, you can see that the developers consistently spelled it "UNIX", with all capital letters.

Other gems that are available from these documents include a specification of an early PDP-11/70 computer where Ken Thompson programmed Unix, stating that Ken's system had 768K bytes of core memory, acknowledging that this system was very generously configured, that as a minimal system you could have as little as 90K bytes of core and (as Dennis Ritchie points out) be purchased for as little as 40 thousand dollars (in 1978) of hardware investment. Ken's "very generously configured machine" also had two 200 Mbyte disk drives, 20 dial-up modem lines and 12 hard-wired serial port lines, as well as several interfaces for "machine to machine transfer", a phototypesetter, a voice synthesizer and a chess machine.

Steve Bourne writes about the original Bourne shell while Dennis Ritchie, Steve Johnson, Brian Kernighan and M.E. Lesk write about the early "C" compiler, and there are some early works about Programmer's
Workbench and document preparation. There is even a discussion about the trade-offs of putting UNIX on a "microprocessor" of the day, an LSI-11 computer from Digital that only had 40K bytes of RAM.

Some of the problems they were investigating in 1978 are eerily similar to the problems (and solutions) that we have today. MERT was a real-time and (more-or-less) "virtualized" system, and the papers
even address issues in using the computer to control devices.

Take a look at these articles of history, both to find out how UNIX derived and why some things remain the same, even more than thirty years later."

Submission + - Monsanto says "let them eat tech" to Haiti relief ( 1

vaporland writes: Monsanto's announcement that it is donating $4 million worth of GMO seeds and supplies to the Haiti relief effort should be accepted for what it really is: a shameless attempt to spread the GMO agenda to a country which is ill-equipped to deal with the ramifications. The Psychic Politics blog points out that there is no infrastructure available in Haiti for monitoring the effects of GMO farming, that much of the seed will likely end up being diverted as food, and that it is absurd to expect environmentally responsible farming to take place in a country which has denuded their countryside to the extent that the resulting damage can be seen from outer space...

Submission + - iPredator exits beta, offers true net anonymity (

vaporland writes: I received notice today from iPredator that their anonymizing VPN service was out of beta and available to the citizens of the world. This is a service that was originated by the owners of The Pirate Bay. I've been using it for a while and it seems to work as advertised. The letter they sent me is copied below:


A while ago you showed an interest in our VPN service, Ipredator (!

The service was at that time in a beta phase and we hope that you got a chance to use the service already. If not, we would like to tell you that it's now open for everyone!

For only 149 SEK (that's about 15 EUR / 21 USD) per 3 months you will get safe, encrypted communication between you and the internet, with no logging of the data transferred. It's of our utmost concern that you can use the network without anyone deciding what you're can communicate about.

Ipredator is not only another VPN-service. It's also a statement. Right now we're developing a new tool to make it harder (or impossible) for the government of Sweden to tap into their citizens traffic. Our goal is making people have the ability to use their democratic rights, without a fear of repression.

So, the more people that actually use the service, the better. We will get funds to build more tools and at the same time the users clearly show that they want to be anonymous. It sends a very clear message to the politicans!

Please invite your friends if they need a service like Ipredator, and tell people about the reasons why they should be allowed to communicate without a third party listening to their conversations... The most important thing is to actually make people aware of the situation.

Best regards, the folks at


Submission + - Porn Downloads Strain Japan Mobile Phone Network (

vaporland writes: "This story explains how pornography fans are feeding a surge in demand for movie downloads in Japan, home to the world's first third-generation wireless network. While profiting from the traffic, Tokyo-based mobile carriers DoCoMo and KDDI Corp. say they've been forced to impose limits on the heaviest users as the $74 billion network feels the strain.

Japan's top two pornography providers, Hokuto and Soft on Demand Co., said sales to mobile phone users are driving revenue growth. "Pornography will eventually open a debate about how carriers should modify their business model as data traffic swells," said Yusuke Tsunoda, a telecommunications analyst at Tokai Tokyo Securities Co. "It may prompt even tighter access restrictions."

Tighter, swelling, surging, the market for mobile porn is obviously red hot. However, there's probably little chance this type of growth will ever be felt in the United States, given the ability of puritanical forces to influence cellular carriers... (see Apple, AT&T, iPhone)"

The Almighty Buck

Submission + - BSA Piracy Fight Makes Enemies of Entrepreneurs (

vaporland writes: "An analysis by The Associated Press reveals that targeting small businesses is lucrative for the Business Software Alliance, the main copyright-enforcement watchdog for such companies as Microsoft, Adobe, Symantec and Apple. For example, BSA claimed that a 10-person architectural firm in Galveston, Texas, was using unlicensed software, and demanded $67,000 — most of one year's profit — or else it would seek more in court.

The AP found that, of the $13 million that the BSA reaped in software violation settlements with North American companies last year, almost 90 percent came from small businesses. The BSA considers software pirated if a receipt cannot be produced, no matter how old it is, and even if a company possesses the original media. MPAA, RIAA take note!

The BSA generally demands at least twice the retail price, charging the "unbundled" price for software that may have originally come bundled with a computer, like Microsoft Office.

Kudos to the AP for uncovering this story (and the story of Comcast's P2P IP "traffic shaping") and explaining it in a way that the common businessman can understand."

The Military

Submission + - The real Mother Of All Bombs - 46 years ago today (

vaporland writes: "Tsar Bomba is the Western name for the RDS-220, the largest, most powerful weapon ever detonated.

The bomb was tested on October 30, 1961, in an archipelago in the Arctic Sea. Developed by the Soviet Union, the bomb had a yield of about 50 megatons. Its detonation released energy equivalent to approximately 1% of the power output of the Sun. The device was scaled down from its original design of 100 megatons to reduce the resulting nuclear fallout.

The detonation of Tsar Bomba qualifies as being the single most powerful device ever utilized throughout the history of humanity."


Submission + - Compressed air car from India could kill GM, EXXON

vaporland writes: "This article in Business Week describes a car that runs on compressed air, ready for production in India. The fiberglass MiniC.A.T. runs on compressed air, and offers zero pollution and very low running costs. It is expected that US politicians will be able to easily refuel it by speaking into a hose located in the passenger compartment . . ."
The Courts

Submission + - Kiddie Porn Crackdown Stings Fraud Victims

vaporland writes: "This story in the Guardian UK details how thousands of credit fraud victims were unfairly branded as child porn customers when their cards were used by third party scammers to charge them to different porn portals, usually for amounts of less than $50 — small enough that unwary people might not spot them on a credit card statement. Customers had to provide name, address, card details, and email address and password. The criminals then reused the data or traded them online with other fraudsters. Some British victims of card fraud who later suffered from police mistakes believe their troubles began after they bought bicycle parts — or even a honeymoon hotel stay — over the internet or on the phone from the US."

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