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[#] Sat Mar 28 2009 17:02:00 EDT from rss

Subject: Charter Files For "Prearranged Bankruptcy"

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jamie points out news that Charter Communications filed for "prearranged" Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Friday, primarily to reorganize some of the $21.7 billion in debt it has accrued. Quoting: "The St. Louis-based company seeks to emerge from bankruptcy as early as the end of summer and doesn't plan on selling any of its assets to competitors. After Chapter 11, interest costs at Charter, which has never posted a profit since going public in 1999 due to massive debt interest payments, will be cut in half to $830 million a year. The filing restructures about $8 billion of debt at Charter, which is controlled by Microsoft Corp. co-founder Paul Allen, but leaves about $13 billion of debt on its books. Allen will control 35 percent of the votes in the reorganized company. In the bankruptcy, Allen's 51 percent equity stake in the cable operator will be wiped out, along with shares of other stockholders. Allen also holds some debt and preferred stock."

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http://rss.slashdot.org:80/~r/Slashdot/slashdot/~3/46eDrP-lpRY/article.pl

[#] Sat Mar 28 2009 15:46:00 EDT from rss

Subject: Mozilla First To Patch Pwn2Own Browser Vulnerability

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Constantine the Less writes "Mozilla has released Firefox 3.0.8 to fix a pair of code execution holes that put users of the browser at risk of drive-by download attacks. It includes a fix for one of the flaws exploited during this year's CanSecWest Pwn2Own hacker contest. The update also fixes a separate zero-day flaw disclosed earlier this week on a public exploit site. Both issues are rated 'critical,' Mozilla's highest severity rating."

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http://rss.slashdot.org:80/~r/Slashdot/slashdot/~3/Cz2mtuYlV_c/article.pl

[#] Sat Mar 28 2009 14:30:00 EDT from rss

Subject: New Speed Record Set For Wind-Powered Vehicles

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Hugh Pickens writes "Richard Jenkins reached 126.1mph in his Greenbird car on the dry plains of Ivanpah Lake in Nevada, setting a new world land speed record for a wind-powered vehicle. 'It's great; it's one of those things that you spend so long trying to do and when it actually happens, it's almost too easy,' says Jenkins. The Greenbird is a carbon fiber composite vehicle that uses wind (and nothing else) for power. The designers describe it as a 'very high performance sailboat,' but one that uses a solid wing, rather than a sail, to generate movement. Due to the shape of the craft, especially at such high speeds, the wings also provide lift; a useful trait for an aircraft, but very hazardous for a car. To compensate for this, the designers have added small wings to 'stick' the car to the ground, in the same way Formula 1 cars do. 'Greenbird weighs 600kg when it's standing still,' says Jenkins. 'But at speed, the effect of the wings make her weigh just over a ton.' Jenkins has also built a wind-powered craft that travels on ice, rather than land. 'Now that we've broken the record, I'm going back on to the ice craft. There's still some debate as to whether traveling on ice or land will be faster.'"

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http://rss.slashdot.org:80/~r/Slashdot/slashdot/~3/YfL4NSNiQmQ/article.pl

[#] Sat Mar 28 2009 13:17:00 EDT from rss

Subject: iPhone App Refund Policies Could Cost Devs

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CBRcrash writes "Apparently, if iPhone users decide that they want a refund for an app (users can get a refund within 90 days, according to Apple policy), Apple requires that developers give back the money they received from the sale. But, here's the kicker: Apple will refund the full amount to the user and says that it has the right to keep its commission. So, the developer not only has to return the money for the sale, but also has to reimburse Apple for its commission."

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http://rss.slashdot.org:80/~r/Slashdot/slashdot/~3/t5y-1BKlY6U/article.pl

[#] Sat Mar 28 2009 10:13:00 EDT from rss

Subject: Windows 7 Touchscreen Details Emerging

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nandemoari writes "Microsoft has revealed more about Windows 7 and its support for touch screen technology. The system sounds impressive, however, reports suggest it appears to have a high error rate. In an early version of the system, Microsoft found some problems. For example, both the zoom and rotate functions worked less than 75% of the time, often because the computer confused the two. To rectify this, engineers redesigned the system so that it only looks out for gestures specifically relevant to the program being used. This made a significant improvement: the zoom gesture was now recognized 90% of the time. The problem is that even a 90% success rate may be too low. If you can imagine how frustrating it would be if one in ten keystrokes or mouse movements didn't do what you intended, you can see why touch screen technology will need to be even more reliable if it's to truly improve the user experience. PC Authority has a related story about statements from HP, who don't expect such technology to replace keyboards and mice any time soon."

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http://rss.slashdot.org:80/~r/Slashdot/slashdot/~3/14qcO7TP2Yc/article.pl

[#] Sat Mar 28 2009 07:10:00 EDT from rss

Subject: Growing Plants In Lunar Gravity

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smooth wombat writes "If everything goes according to plan, an experiment designed to test whether plants can grow in the limited lunar gravity will hitch a ride with a competitor for the Google Lunar X Prize. 'The current prototype for the greenhouse is a 15-inch-high (37.5-centimeter-high) reinforced glass cylinder that's about 7 inches (18 centimeters) wide on the bottom. Seeds for a rapid-cycle type of Brassica plant — basically, mustard seeds — would be planted in Earth soil within the container.' The press release from Paragon Space Development Corporation outlines its partnership with Odyssey Moon to be the first to grow a plant on another world. In addition to the experiment, Paragon will be helping Odyssey with the thermal control system and lander design. To win the prize, Odyssey must land its craft on the lunar surface by the end of 2014."

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http://rss.slashdot.org:80/~r/Slashdot/slashdot/~3/66lxxju8YRw/article.pl

[#] Sat Mar 28 2009 04:47:00 EDT from rss

Subject: Red Hat --- Stand Alone Or Get Bought?

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head_dunce writes "It seems that this economy has inspired a lot of businesses to move to Linux, with Red Hat posting profits that beat everyone's expectations. There's a dark side to being a highly profitable company in a down economy, though — now there are talks of Citigroup and Oracle wanting to buy Red Hat. For a while now, we've been watching Yahoo fend off Carl Icahn and Steve Ballmer so that they could stay independent, but the fight seems to be a huge distraction for Yahoo, with lots of energy (and money) invested. Will Red Hat stay independent? What potential buyer would make for a good parent company?"

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http://rss.slashdot.org:80/~r/Slashdot/slashdot/~3/67xV64cf8-M/article.pl

[#] Sat Mar 28 2009 02:16:00 EDT from rss

Subject: 3D-Based CAPTCHAs Become a Reality

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mateuscb writes "A new way of creating a CAPTCHA using 3D objects has become a reality. The idea was thought up independently by blogger Taylor Hayward and by the folks at YUNiTi.com. 'Similar to Hayward's idea, this new technology relies on our ability to identify objects in 3D instead of using alphanumeric characters. YUNiti's 3D Captcha, however, has three objects in the challenge and extends the list of images to any object, not limiting it to animals as in Hayward's idea. This increases the challenge's level of complication to prevent computers from successfully making the correct guesses.' I, for one, welcome the thought of not having to read more and more complex CAPTCHA. Lately, I've been having a hard time getting CAPTCHA to work the first time."

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http://rss.slashdot.org:80/~r/Slashdot/slashdot/~3/z8TZ8iqXRn0/article.pl

[#] Sun Mar 29 2009 04:55:00 EDT from rss

Subject: Graphic Artists Condemn UK Ban On Erotic Comics

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mdwh2 writes "Graphic artists, publishers and MPs have condemned the UK's Coroners and Justice Bill, which will criminalize possession of sexual depictions that appear to show someone under 18 (the age of consent is 16 in the UK), as well as adults where the 'predominant impression conveyed' is of someone under 18, and even if they are merely drawn as being present whilst sexual activity took place between adults. The definitions could include Lost Girls, Watchmen, and South Park. The Comic Book Alliance has launched a petition against the law."

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http://rss.slashdot.org/~r/Slashdot/slashdot/~3/mRury8s3ZZY/article.pl

[#] Sun Mar 29 2009 04:55:00 EDT from rss

Subject: Graphic Artists Condemn UK Ban On Erotic Comics

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mdwh2 writes "Graphic artists, publishers and MPs have condemned the UK's Coroners and Justice Bill, which will criminalize possession of sexual depictions that appear to show someone under 18 (the age of consent is 16 in the UK), as well as adults where the 'predominant impression conveyed' is of someone under 18, and even if they are merely drawn as being present whilst sexual activity took place between adults. The definitions could include Lost Girls, Watchmen, and South Park. The Comic Book Alliance has launched a petition against the law."

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http://rss.slashdot.org:80/~r/Slashdot/slashdot/~3/mRury8s3ZZY/article.pl

[#] Sun Mar 29 2009 07:38:00 EDT from rss

Subject: Why Toddlers Don't Do What They're Told

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Hugh Pickens writes "New cognitive research shows that 3-year-olds neither plan for the future nor live completely in the present, but instead call up the past as they need it. 'There is a lot of work in the field of cognitive development that focuses on how kids are basically little versions of adults trying to do the same things adults do, but they're just not as good at it yet. What we show here is they are doing something completely different,' says professor Yuko Munakata at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Munakata's team used a computer game and a setup that measures the diameter of the pupil of the eye to determine mental effort to study the cognitive abilities of 3-and-a-half-year-olds and 8-year-olds. The research concluded that while everything you tell toddlers seems to go in one ear and out the other, the study found that toddlers listen, but then store the information for later use. 'For example, let's say it's cold outside and you tell your 3-year-old to go get his jacket out of his bedroom and get ready to go outside,' says doctoral student Christopher Chatham. 'You might expect the child to plan for the future, think "OK it's cold outside so the jacket will keep me warm." But what we suggest is that this isn't what goes on in a 3-year-old's brain. Rather, they run outside, discover that it is cold, and then retrieve the memory of where their jacket is, and then they go get it.'"

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http://rss.slashdot.org/~r/Slashdot/slashdot/~3/bMV6_N7CVJ4/article.pl

[#] Sun Mar 29 2009 10:23:00 EDT from rss

Subject: HIV Transmission Captured On Video

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Technology Review has promising news on the AIDS front: researchers have captured HIV T cell transmission on video. The upshot could be new avenues of treatment. "The resulting images and videos show that, once an infected cell adheres to a healthy cell, the HIV proteins... migrate within minutes to the contact site. At that point, large packets of virus are simultaneously released by the infected cell and internalized by the recipient cell. This efficient mode of transfer is a distinct pathway from the cell-free infection that has been the focus of most prior HIV studies, and reveals another mechanism by which the virus evades immune responses that can neutralize free virus particles within the body."

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http://rss.slashdot.org/~r/Slashdot/slashdot/~3/Vobc-aXCF-c/article.pl

[#] Sun Mar 29 2009 13:08:00 EDT from rss

Subject: Games As Transformative Works

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Deepa Sivarajan sends word that the journal Transformative Works and Culture has published an issue that focuses on games, containing a variety of articles which examine how games interact with modern culture. One essay takes a look at how developers gain an understanding of the systems and structures that drive gameplay, and another discusses motivation and "participatory culture" in games that have a substantial degree of user design involvement, such as mods and addons. There's also an evaluation of how the enthusiast press affects the perceived value of games. The issue includes game-related book reviews and interviews, which can be found at the bottom of the full list of articles.

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http://rss.slashdot.org/~r/Slashdot/slashdot/~3/f2nz8nIVQqE/article.pl

[#] Sun Mar 29 2009 14:26:00 EDT from rss

Subject: AT&T Won't Terminate User Service For RIAA Without a Court Order

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On Wednesday, we discussed news that AT&T had begun sending takedown notices to users whom the RIAA has accused of illegally downloading copyrighted works. Cox and Comcast are both cooperating with the RIAA in that regard as well. However, while Cox seems willing to shut off service in the case of repeat offenders, Comcast denied that it was considering a similar penalty, and AT&T said they'll flat out refuse to terminate service on the RIAA's word alone; it will take a court order. They seem satisfied with the effect letters have had on inhibiting such downloads: "'It's a standard part of everybody's terms of service,' [AT&T senior executive vice president Jim Cicconi] said. 'If somebody is engaging in illegal activity, it basically gives us the right to do it...We're not a finder of fact and under no circumstances would we ever suspend or terminate service based on an allegation from a third party. We're just simply reminding people that they can't engage in illegal activity.' Cicconi said the company began testing this kind of 'forward noticing' late last year and even experimented with sending certified letters. Cicconi said the notices worked. The company saw very few repeat offenders."

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http://rss.slashdot.org/~r/Slashdot/slashdot/~3/Xy--r-7mXHs/article.pl

[#] Sun Mar 29 2009 15:47:00 EDT from rss

Subject: UK Libel Law Is a Global Threat To Web Free Speech

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uctpjac writes "London media lawyer Emily MacManus argues that UK libel law has three features which make it the 'defamation tourism' capital of the world and a serious threat to web free speech. First, there is no free speech presumption in the UK as there is, for example, in the US. Second, every access of a web page is considered to be a separate act of publication in the UK (unlike the US, where 'original publication' holds). Third, 'no-win-no-fee' libel litigation is now allowed in the UK. If any blog, anywhere, publishes something you'd like taken down, threaten libel action in the UK: no one except the super-rich can afford to even take these cases to court, so media lawyers advise publishers to 'take it down, take it down quickly, take it down again.' There's not much chance that the judges will move the law any time soon because they just aren't seeing the cases that could cause them to set new precedent."

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http://rss.slashdot.org/~r/Slashdot/slashdot/~3/7BezcevYVAI/article.pl

[#] Sun Mar 29 2009 17:05:00 EDT from rss

Subject: Best Grad Program For a Computer Science Major?

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ryanleary writes "I am currently a junior computer science major at a relatively competitive university. I intend to remain here for some graduate work, and I would like to get a master's degree. What would be a good field to study? An MS in computer science appears to be highly theoretical, while an MS in IT seems more practical due to its breadth (covering some management, HCI, and design). What looks best on a resume, and where might I expect to make more money in the not-too-distant future? Computer Science, Information Technology, or something different altogether — perhaps an MBA?"

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http://rss.slashdot.org/~r/Slashdot/slashdot/~3/oyfTwLaWbJw/article.pl

[#] Sun Mar 29 2009 18:24:00 EDT from rss

Subject: New Security Concerns Raised For Google Docs

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TechCrunch is running a story about three possible security issues with Google Docs recently uncovered by researcher Ade Barkah. It turns out that an image embedded into a protected document is given a URL which is not protected, allowing anyone who knows or guesses it to see the image regardless of permissions or even the existence of the document. Barkah also pointed out that once you've shared a document with another person, that person can see diagram revisions from any point before they gained access, forcing you to create a new document if you need to redact something. The last issue, the mechanics of which he disclosed only to Google, affects the document-sharing invitation forwarding system, which can allow somebody access to your documents after you've removed their permissions. Google made a blog post to respond to these concerns, saying that they "do not pose a significant security risk," but are being investigated. We previously discussed a sharing bug in Google Docs that was fixed earlier this month.

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http://rss.slashdot.org/~r/Slashdot/slashdot/~3/VJznzKGEgRo/article.pl

[#] Sun Mar 29 2009 19:38:00 EDT from rss

Subject: Researchers Identify Phantom Limb Brain Activity

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mmmscience writes "Researchers in Switzerland think they had identified the regions of the brain responsible for creating phantom limbs and the senses that go along with them. Scientists studied a stroke victim who claimed that the phantom limb of her now-paralyzed left arm could do a number of things a normal limb could do, including 'scratch an itch on her head, with an actual sense of relief.'"

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http://rss.slashdot.org/~r/Slashdot/slashdot/~3/yCOAlf--zDU/article.pl

[#] Sun Mar 29 2009 20:50:00 EDT from rss

Subject: Simonyi Arrives At the ISS After Shuttle Lands

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RobGoldsmith writes in with news of the further adventures of Charles Simonyi, whose first trip to the ISS we discussed a couple of years ago. The Russian Soyuz vehicle carrying Simonyi and two others docked a day after the US space shuttle Discovery landed in Florida. "Space Adventures, Ltd. ... announced today that its orbital client Charles Simonyi and his crew successfully arrived at the International Space Station after launching on-board the Soyuz TMA-14 spacecraft from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on March 26. The spacecraft docked to the ISS at 9:05 am (EDT) with Dr. Simonyi and Expedition 19 crew members Russian cosmonaut Gennady Padalka and NASA astronaut Michael Barratt. They were greeted at approximately 12:30 p.m. (EDT) by the Expedition 18 crew..."

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http://rss.slashdot.org/~r/Slashdot/slashdot/~3/VVtbZ_mLlvg/article.pl

[#] Sun Mar 29 2009 22:06:00 EDT from rss

Subject: Experimental MacRuby Branch Is 3x Faster

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An anonymous reader writes "Zen and the Art of Programming published an article about MacRuby's new experimental 0.5 branch (project blog entry here). According to the included benchmarks, Apple's version of Ruby could already, at this early stage of its development, be about three times as fast as the fastest Ruby implementation available elsewhere."

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http://rss.slashdot.org/~r/Slashdot/slashdot/~3/ycOGWreG-zI/article.pl

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