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Posts from April, 2009

Time Warner To Spin Off AOL

Apr 30

Hugh Pickens writes “Time Warner is inching closer to untangling one of the worst mergers in American corporate history that began with the merger of Time Warner with America Online, a deal that has resulted in the evaporation of more than $100 billion of shareholder value. “Although the company’s board of directors has not made any decision, the company currently anticipates that it would initiate a process to spin off one or more parts of the businesses of AOL to Time Warner’s stockholders, in one or a series of transactions,” Time Warner said in the filing. Tech industry analysts have speculated for years that Time Warner would spin off AOL; the two companies merged in 2001 with the idea that AOL’s strengths as a new media company could benefit an old media company like Time Warner, and vice versa. But few synergies ever arose from the marriage and even AOL founder Steve Case, who is no longer with the company, has said that he believes the two companies should be separated.”

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WHO Raises Swine Flu Threat Level

Apr 30

Solarch writes “Late in the afternoon on Wednesday, the WHO raised the pandemic threat level for H1N1 “swine flu” to 5. Global media outlets(such as CNN, Fox News, and the BBC) preempted normal broadcast coverage and immediately published stories on their websites. To clarify, the WHO’s elevation is mainly a sign to governments that the virus is spreading quickly and that steps should be taken on a governmental level to stage supplies and medicines to combat a possible pandemic. Unfortunately, broadcast coverage focused on phrases like “pandemic imminent” (CNN marquee). In other news, patient zero, the medical term for the initial human vector of a disease, has been tentatively identified in Mexico.”

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Warner Music Forces Lessig Presentation Offline

Apr 30

An anonymous reader writes “Larry Lessig, known (hopefully) to everyone around here as a defender of all things having to do with consumer rights and fair use rights when it comes to copyright, is now on the receiving end of a DMCA takedown notice from Warner Music, who apparently claimed that one of Lessig’s famous presentations violated on their copyright. Lessig has said that he’s absolutely planning on fighting this, and has asked someone to send Warner Music a copy of US copyright law that deals with ‘fair use.'” Reader daemonburrito notes that the (rehosted) “video remains available at the time of this submission.”

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Microsoft To Disable Autorun

Apr 30

jchrisos writes “Microsoft is planning to disable autorun in the next Release Candidate of Windows 7 and future updates to Windows XP and Vista. In order to maintain a ‘balance between security and usability’, non-writable media will maintain its current behavior however. In any case, if it means no more autorun on flash drives, removable hard drives and network shares, that is definitely a step in the right direction. Will be interesting to see what malware creators do to get around this …”

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Viability of Mobile Broadband For Home Use?

Apr 30

mighty7sd writes “I am about to be released from my contract with Time Warner for my home internet service, and I am evaluating alternatives to my current cable modem setup. I would love to use AT&T U-Verse or Verizon Fios, but they are not available in my area. I have a good idea of what the costs and limitations of Cable and DSL service, so I am considering using mobile broadband for my home internet connection. Most providers seems to cap the connection at 5 GB of data transfer per month. I am a relatively heavy internet user using streaming video and a web server, so I need decent down/upload speeds and a large data transfer cap. Has anyone in the /. community had a good experience using mobile broadband cards at their home, specifically with lots of streaming video or a home server? What has happened if you have gone over your data transfer limit? Cricket Wireless is available in my area for $40 per month with ‘unlimited’ service, but I am skeptical that it is truly reliable and unlimited. I also found products that act as a WiFi router for mobile broadband services, but it seems that this is against most carriers TOS. Can they really detect these, and are they comparable to a wired broadband router?”

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Scientists Build World’s Fastest Camera

Apr 30

Hugh Pickens writes “Researchers have developed a camera that snaps images less than a half a billionth of a second long and can capture over six million images in a second continuously. Dubbed Serial Time-Encoded Amplified imaging, or Steam, the technique depends on carefully manipulating so-called ‘supercontinuum’ laser pulses. While other cameras used in scientific research can capture shorter-lived images, they can only capture about eight images, and have to be triggered to do so for a given event. The Steam camera, by contrast, can capture images continuously, making it ideal for random events that cannot be triggered. Keisuke Gode, lead author of the study, and his colleagues used their camera to image minute spheres flowing along a thin tube of water in a microfluidic device.” (More below.)

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Adobe Confirms PDF Zero-Day, Says Kill JavaScript

Apr 30

CWmike writes “Adobe Systems has acknowledged that all versions of its Adobe Reader, including editions for Windows, the Mac and Linux, contain at least one, and possibly two, critical vulnerabilities. ‘All currently supported shipping versions of Adobe Reader and Acrobat, [Versions] 9.1, 8.1.4 and 7.1.1 and earlier, are vulnerable to this issue,’ said Adobe’s David Lenoe said in a blog entry yesterday. He was referring to a bug in Adobe’s implementation of JavaScript that went public early Tuesday. A “Bugtraq ID,” or BID number has been assigned to a second JavaScript vulnerability in Adobe’s Reader. Proof-of-concept attack code for both bugs has already been published on the Web. Adobe said it will patch Reader and Acrobat, but Lenoe offered no timetable for the fixes. In lieu of a patch, Lenoe recommended that users disable JavaScript in the apps. Andrew Storms, director of security operations at nCircle Network Security, said of the suggestion in lieu of patches, ‘Unfortunately, for Adobe, disabling JavaScript is a broken record, [and] similar to what we’ve seen in the past with Microsoft on ActiveX bugs.'”

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New Food-Growth Product a Bit Hairy

Apr 30

MeatBag PussRocket writes “An article from Marketplace.org reports, ‘A Florida company has developed an all-natural product that it says could revolutionize how food is grown in the US. It’s called Smart Grow, but it might be a tough sell. It’s inexpensive. It eliminates the need for pesticides, so it’s environmentally friendly, but it’s human hair. Plant pathologists at the University of Florida have found the mats eliminate weeds better than leading herbicides and can also make plants grow up to 30 percent larger.'”

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Minnesota Latest To Try To Block Gambling Sites

Apr 30

BcNexus writes “A story is developing that the state of Minnesota is contacting ISPs with a request to block about 200 gambling sites online. Minnesota is claiming authority to do so under a 1961 federal law, apparently the Federal Wire Wager Act. There are a couple interesting aspects to watch as this unfolds. Will the ISPs cooperate or will they argue about applicability to casino games, as other have? Will Minnesotans lose their money or access to their money in escrow accounts like the state is warning will happen?”

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Styling Web Pages With CSS

Apr 30

r3lody writes “Styling Web Pages with CSS: Visual QuickProject Guide, by Tom Negrino and Dori Smith, helps the beginning web designer learn how to use CSS in a simple, easy-to-follow format. This being my first exposure to one of the Visual QuickProject Guides by Peachpit Press, I was both pleased and disappointed when I received this slim volume. I was pleased in the presentation and clear descriptions given to each aspect of Cascading Style Sheets (CSS). I was disappointed in the brevity of the text, and the lack of downloadable materials to use to follow the examples in the book.” Read below for the rest of Ray’s review.

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