An anonymous reader writes "The second of the two controversial bird flu studies once considered too risky to publish in fears that they would trigger a potentially devastating global influenza epidemic was published Thursday. The study describes how scientists created H5N1 virus strains that could become capable of airborne transmission between mammals. Scientists said that the findings, which had been censored for half a year, could help them detect dangerous virus strains in nature."
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snydeq writes "Law professor Tim Wu sheds light on a growing legal concern: the extent to which computers have a constitutional right to free speech. 'This may sound like a fanciful question, a matter of philosophy or science fiction. But it's become a real issue with important consequences,' Wu writes. First it was Google defending — and winning — a civil suit on grounds that search results are constitutionally protected speech. Now it is doubling down on the argument amidst greater federal scrutiny. 'Consider that Google has attracted attention from both antitrust and consumer protection officials after accusations that it has used its dominance in search to hinder competitors and in some instances has not made clear the line between advertisement and results. Consider that the "decisions" made by Facebook's computers may involve widely sharing your private information. ... Ordinarily, such practices could violate laws meant to protect consumers. But if we call computerized decisions "speech," the judiciary must consider these laws as potential censorship, making the First Amendment, for these companies, a formidable anti-regulatory tool.'"
itwbennett writes "Thanks to a new feature approved this week by the Fedora Engineering Steering Committee, you won't hear Fedora 18 users bragging about systems that have been running continuously for months on end. 'Fedora's new Offline System Update feature will change the current system to something that is more Windows- and OS X-like: while many updates can still be made on the fly, certain package updates will require the system to be restarted so the patches can be applied in a special mode, according to the Fedora wiki page on the feature,' writes blogger Brian Proffitt."
hapworth writes "Eugene Kaspersky, founder and CEO of cybersecurity firm Kaspersky Lab, has warned that one of the greatest cyber threats facing the world is the lack of effective online voting systems, claiming that unless young people can vote online they won't bother at all and the whole democratic system will collapse. Not everyone is buying that theory, however (and there's reason to suspect Kaspersky has a vested interest in online voting, which may need his firm's cybersecurity products). As producer James Lambie writes, 'Ultimately, the digital native's disenchantment with voting is based less on a lack of suitable technology and more on disillusionment with the craven and anemic political choices they are presented with.'"
derekmead writes "How, exactly, did Reddit get so big? Well, according to Reddit cofounder Steve Huffman, in the early days the Reddit crew just faked it 'til they made it.' In a video for Udacity, Huffman describes how the first Redditors populated the site's content with tons of fake accounts. These days, with the site's users are wary of people using expendable accounts to try to seed their own content. But early on, Huffman said that using fake accounts driven by the founders was key to building the tone they wanted to the site. Early on the Reddit crew could shape the discourse of the site in the direction they wanted, and as the real user base grew, those standards held allowing the fake accounts to fade away."
First time accepted submitter moj0joj0 writes "Two days after YouTube-MP3.org, a site that converts songs from music videos into MP3 files, was blocked from accessing YouTube, the RIAA has asked CNET to remove software from Download.com that performs a similar function. The RIAA focused its criticism on software found at Download.com called YouTubeDownloader. The organization also pointed out that there are many other similar applications available at the site, 'which can be used to steal content from CBS, which owns Download.com.' CNET's policy is that Download.com is not in any position to determine whether a piece of software is legal or not or whether it can be used for illegal activity." For a sufficiently broad definition of "steal," you could argue that all kinds of software (from word processors to graphics programs to security analysis tools) could be implicated.
redletterdave writes "About half of all of the languages in the world — more than 3,000 of them — are currently on the verge of extinction. Google hopes to stem the tide with its latest effort that launched Thursday, called The Endangered Languages Project. Google teamed up with the Alliance for Linguistic Diversity, a newly formed coalition of global language groups and associations, to give endangered-language speakers and their supporters a place to upload and share their research and collaborations. The site currently features posts submitted by the Endangered Languages community, including linguistic fieldwork, projects, audio interviews, and transcriptions."
hackingbear writes "While we are importing billions of 'cheap' products labeled 'Made in China,' the fastest growing export from U.S. to China does not even need a label. Chinese parents are acutely aware that the Chinese educational system focuses too much on rote memorization, so Chinese students have flocked to overseas universities and now even secondary schools, despite the high cost of attending programs in America. Chinese enrollment in U.S. universities rose 23% to 157,558 students during the 2010-2011 academic year, making China by far the biggest foreign presence. Even the daughter of Xi Jinping, the presumed next president of China, studies as an undergraduate at Harvard. This creates opportunities for universities to bring American education directly to China. Both Duke and New York University are building campuses in the Shanghai area to offer full-time programs to students there."
Nerval's Lobster writes "A day after Microsoft unveiled Windows Phone 8, a company executive explained why the company never implemented native code in Windows Phone 7, declined to say whether Windows Phone 7.x would be upgraded beyond version 7.8, and said Microsoft has no plans to acquire an OEM to manufacture smartphones in-house. Of course, in theory that wouldn't stop Microsoft from building its own hardware in-house, similar to what Google did with the Nexus One. In any case, Microsoft's decision to construct its hardware and software in-house for the Surface tablet project has led to some chatter that it could do the same for smartphones."
An anonymous reader writes "For decades, researchers have been trying to build boats, submarines, and torpedoes that make use of supercavitation — a bubble layer around the hull that drastically reduces friction and enables super-fast travel. Now a company in New Hampshire called Juliet Marine Systems has built and tested such a craft, and says it is the world's fastest underwater vehicle. The ship, called the 'Ghost,' looks like two supercavitating torpedoes with a command module on top, and can carry 18 people plus weapons and supplies. The company is in talks with the U.S. Navy to build a version of the ship that can guard the fleet against swarm attacks by small boats. The question is how well it really works, and whether it can be used reliably and effectively on the high seas."
crookedvulture writes "Hard drive prices have yet to return to normal after last year's Thailand flooding. There's good news on the solid-state front, though. The current generation of SSDs has steadily become much cheaper over the last year or so. SSD prices have dropped an average of 46% since early 2011. Intel has largely shied away from discounting its drives, but the aggressive competition between other players in the market seems to have forced its hand. There's no indication that competition is waning, suggesting the downward trend will continue. Right now, an impressive number of drives are available for less than a dollar per gigabyte."
Do you have a static IP or two? If so, you might be able to spread some Internet infrastructure well-being with very little effort. An anonymous reader writes "The NTP Pool project is turning 10 soon, and needs more servers to continue serving reasonably accurate time to anyone in the world."
First time accepted submitter Burdell writes "A new startup has technology to read fingerprints from up to 6 meters away. IDair currently sells to the military, but they are beta testing it with a chain of 24-hour fitness centers that want to restrict sharing of access cards. IDair also wants to sell this to retail stores and credit card companies as a replacement for physical cards. Lee Tien from the EFF notes that the security of such fingerprint databases is a privacy concern." Since the last time this technology was mentioned more than a year ago, it seems that the claimed range for reading has tripled, and the fingerprint reader business has been spun off from the company at which development started.
First time accepted submitter MtownNaylor writes "I graduated high school two days ago and am currently enrolled to attend college for studying Computer Science. I spent last summer working as a contractor, programming in Java doing work for a single company. I am looking to further either my career, my education, or both this summer. The problem is that I have found it difficult to find summer employment or internships programming for a multitude of reasons (lack of opportunities, lack of experience, lack of degree.) So what is a high school graduate who wants to work as a programmer to do?"
tekgoblin writes "Well this is pretty awesome, Valve has made an entrance into the education sector. They plan to release a new version of Steam for education uses in schools. Valve will call this service Steam for Schools, an education version of the Steam client that allows administrators to limit what its users can access. The idea of Steam for Schools is to use the platform as a teaching aid. Valve has already put together a number of educational lesson plans for using Portal 2 and its level editor to teach math and physics."