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State of Virginia Technology Centers Down 190

bswooden writes "Some rather important departments (DMV, Social Services, Taxation) in the state of Virginia are currently without access to documents and information as a technology meltdown has caused much of their infrastructure to be offline for over 24 hours now. State CIO Sam Nixon said, 'A failure occurred in one memory card in what is known as a "storage area network," or SAN, at Virginia's Information Technologies Agency (VITA) suburban Richmond computing center, one of several data storage systems across Virginia.' How does the IT for some of the largest departments in a state come to a screeching halt over a single memory card? Oh, and also, the state is paying Northrup Grumman $2.4 billion over 10 years to manage the state's IT infrastructure." Reader miller60 adds, "Virginia's IT systems drew scrutiny last fall when state agencies reported rolling outages due to the lack of network redundancy."

Submission + - Federal Family Education Loan Consolidation Helps

Jeff Mictabor writes: "Federal Family Education Loan Consolidation Helps Students Save:

The Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFELP) helps students and their families save money by bundling multiple student loans into a single student loan, locking in the new student loan at a low interest rate and offering benefits in the form of interest rate reductions. H.R. 5, a bill recently passed by the House of Representatives and now being debated in the senate, will have a negative impact on Federal Consolidation Loans if it is approved by the senate and becomes law.

This legislation doubles the fees paid by FFELP lenders to provide federal student loans, which may eliminate the incentive benefits offered by FFELP lenders. It also encourages colleges to participate in the Direct Lending Program, which does not offer many interest rate reduction benefits to students when they do a student loan consolidation on their student loans.

Loss of Benefits Costs Students

According to NextStudent, the Phoenix-based premier education funding company, over the past three years, 4,653,000 students consolidated their federal student loans through FFELP lenders. As result of the interest rate reductions offered by FFELP lenders, such as NextStudent, a borrower who consolidated $30,000 last year could save $3,513 more than a borrower who consolidated with the Direct Lending Program. Additionally, a medical student could save more than $47,512 over the life of his or her student loan by consolidating with FFELP. These would be the savings lost if the current legislation becomes law.

Student Loan Consolidation Locks In Interest Rates

Federal student loan consolidation is free of charge and can lower monthly payments by up to 60 percent. Also, there are no prepayment penalties. NextStudent offers some of the most aggressive benefits in the industry including a discount of .25 percent for Auto-Debit and a 1 percent LOCKED interest rate reduction after the first 36 on-time payments. These benefits can save borrowers thousands of dollars over the life of their consolidated student loan.

Other packages include the Google Package: a discount of .25 percent for Auto-Debit, a .375 percent discount after six months of on-time payments and a 1 percent discount after 36 on-time payments (not locked). The 2% Package features a discount of .25 percent for Auto-Debit and a 2 percent discount after 36 on-time payments (not locked).

Qualify over the phone in as little as five minutes. NextStudent’s personally assigned Education Finance Advisors will walk you through the student loan consolidation process from start to finish.

NextStudent believes that getting an education is the best investment you can make, and it is dedicated to helping you pursue your education dreams by making college funding simple. Learn more about Student Loans and Student Loan Consolidation at NextStudent.com."
The Internet

Wikipedia May Require Proof of Credentials 317

narramissic writes "According to Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales, a new policy is currently under discussion by the community of users who regularly write and maintain Wikipedia that would require contributors to the site who claim certain credentials to prove they really have them. The new policy comes after one of Wikipedia's most prolific and respected editors, who went by the pseudonym 'Essjay,' was found not to be the 'tenured professor of theology' he claimed to be but a run-of-the-mill 24 year-old from Kentucky. Said Wales, 'To discover that someone had been deceiving the community for a long time really was a bit of a blow to our trust. Wikipedia is built on the idea of trusting other people and people being honest and we find that in the most part everyone is, so it was a real disappointment.'"

Submission + - Microsoft move could be the end of the JPEG

wilsonthecat writes: Computer world reports that Microsoft will soon submit to an international standards organization a new photo format, HD Photo, that offers higher-quality images with better compression. HD Photo's lightweight algorithm causes less damage to photos during compression, with higher-quality images that are half the size of a JPEG.
Operating Systems

Submission + - Linux Kernel

Tokimasa writes: "Are there any good tutorials on how to use the Linux kernel to build an OS? I would really like to learn more about operating system design and implementation, and that seems like a fairly straightforward way to go about it."

Submission + - Memo confirms Dept of Transportation Vista ban

Rob writes: A leaked memo has confirmed that the US Department of Transportation has placed a ban on the deployment of Microsoft Corp's Windows Vista, Office 2007 and Internet Explorer 7 on the grounds there are good reasons to avoid an upgrade. In fact, as the memo explains, "there appears to be specific reasons not to upgrade". Those include upgrade costs, compatibility concerns, limited funding, and a forthcoming move to a new headquarters.

Microsoft Takes a 'Patch Tuesday' Break 151

Phill0 submitted a ZD story about Microsoft's week off which says "Microsoft has no new security updates planned for Tuesday, despite at least five zero-day vulnerabilities that are waiting to be fixed. The patch break could be a welcome respite for IT managers still busy testing the dozen fixes Microsoft released last month. Also, many IT pros may be occupied with the switch to daylight saving time, which at the behest of Congress, is happening three weeks earlier this year. "

Spielberg Working on Wii Exclusive 36

GameDaily is reporting on comments made to them by EA Los Angeles General Manager Neil Young, stating that Steven Spielberg is working on a Wii title. Spielberg's relationship to the games giant is well known; we discussed it last year during E3. The site promises a more thorough interview next week, but for now just offers the promise of a Wii title with Spielberg's storytelling magic. "The first one, what I can tell you is what you'd expect, sort of, from a Steven Spielberg production. Steven's stories are intimate stories that take place around huge, world-changing events... sort of, big stories shown through the eyes of a small group. Doug Church is producing it... The second project is something Lou Castle is producing, one of the great producers in this industry, and that's one of the products we're building for the Wii. Very exciting and interesting..."

The Reinvention of Zelda 74

Gamespot reports on a lecture at GDC on Thursday, with commentary from Nintendo's manager of software development Eiji Aonuma. Aonuma went through the very long process involved in bringing Twilight Princess to the American audience. Realistic graphics were chosen for the US playerbase, but many other decisions came about via unorthodox thinking and the intervention of a higher power. "It was around this stage that Aonuma was talking to Nintendo senior managing director Shigeru Miyamoto, who told him something along the lines of, 'It's as though the Revolution (later renamed the Wii) was designed just for Zelda! Why don't you try making a Zelda for the Revolution?' In the end, believes Aonuma, the kind of direct control offered by the Wii Remote was exactly what was needed to breathe life into the game."

A Glimpse Into The Long Development of Final Fantasy XII 65

In a talk Thursday at the Game Developer's Conference, attendees were exposed to a rare treat: technical information behind development at Square/Enix. Programming supervisor Taku Murata, co-director Hiroshi Minagawa, and lead realtime rendering programmer Yoshinori Tsuchida were onhand to shed some light on a game many years in the making. Though the session didn't provide any dirt on those interested in the departure of game designer Yasumi Matsuno, there was plenty to take away from the highly focused discussion. "Final Fantasy games require a lengthy development process, and this presents the very real threat of being obsolete by the time it ships. To combat this the team allocated its resources with a heavy emphasis on art."

Homeland Security Tests Snoop Computer System 233

Parallax Blue writes "The Washington Times reports that Homeland Security has developed and is testing a new computer system called ADVISE (Analysis, Dissemination, Visualization, Insight and Semantic Enhancement) that collects and analyzes personal information on US citizens. Relevant data 'can include credit-card purchases, telephone or Internet details, medical records, travel and banking information.' The program apparently uses the same process as the Pentagon's Total Information Awareness project, which was aborted in 2003 due to privacy concerns."

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