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Author Topic: Tech News Weekly: Edition 33-09  (Read 3765 times)


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Tech News Weekly: Edition 33-09
« on: August 16, 2009, 06:24 AM »
The Weekly Tech News
TNWeekly01.gifHi all.
Enjoy :)
As usual, you can find last week's news here.

1. Combining Onion Juice and Bacteria to Produce Power
This is one of those not-quite-tech stories that I just had to include 'coz the coolness factor was off the chart. America's largest onion producer is using its waste onion clippings to generate power, saving money off of what used to be a $400k/year expense. Too cool.

Gills Onions, which both grows the eponymous crop and claims to operate the largest onion processing facility in the US, doesn't do things on a small scale. The cost of removing the onion waste left over after packaging was costing it over $400,000 a year, so the company looked for a way to reduce or eliminate that waste. Through a partnership with the Southern California Gas Company, Gills eventually found a way to turn this waste stream into 600kw of electricity. We talked with Hal Snyder, the VP of Customer Solutions for SoCalGas, to get the details on this project.

Snyder said that Gills had a history of working with SoCalGas on energy efficiency work, and the collaboration on this project was an extension of that relationship. The onion waste—the tops, bottoms, and skins left over after an onion is cut for packaging—provided a tempting target. "Any organic material has the potential for creating energy," as Snyder put it. The initial thought was that all of the onion could be processed for fuel, but cellulose bioreactors are still very much at the developmental stage.

2. 1 Machine, 4 Weeks Now Enough to Sequence Human Genome
The headline's not entirely true, but apparently it's now possible to map 90% of an individual's DNA sequence in 4 weeks using a single, specially designed, machine. ScaaaREH.

When planning first started for the completion of the human genome, some argued that we would need an entirely new approach to DNA sequencing in order to get things done within a reasonable time span. Instead, success came via a brute force approach: robots prepared DNA samples 24 hours a day and fed the results to machines that could perform a hundred traditional sequencing reactions in parallel.

Now, one machine can do the job in a single month.

3. RealNetworks Court Loss a Reminder About Limits of "fair Use"
Sales of RealNetwork's RealDVD DVD ripping software have, after almost a year on the market, been halted by a court order after a judge found that the software was indeed in breach of a contract signed by RealNetworks with the DVD Copy Control Association.

RealNetworks suffered a serious blow late Tuesday night in its ongoing DMCA drama with the movie studios. Judge Marilyn Patel granted a temporary injunction against the company, barring it from selling its RealDVD copying software thanks to language in Real's license with the DVD Copy Control Association (DVD CCA). Patel did not directly include the issue of fair use as part of her ruling, though she did make an observation about its relevance to the DMCA, asserting that it can't be used as a defense against DMCA circumvention violations.

This case addresses both RealDVD (a software package) and, to a lesser extent, a prototype hardware product that would have ripped DVDs directly to a hard drive and hosted the files as a media server. Real originally tried to launch RealDVD in September of 2008 as a product which could rip DVDs to a user's hard drive and play them back, while leaving CSS encryption intact. The software did not modify or change the files, and—unlike similar software packages—Real had even obtained an official license from the DVD CCA to do so. Sounds like everything was on track, right? Wrong.

4. Killing the Cash Cow: Microsoft Ordered to Stop Selling Word
FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, WHEN WILL IT END!? In yet another example of the utter absurdity that is patent law, Microsoft have been ordered to stop selling copies of Microsoft Word within 60 days due to an (outrageously generic) patent infringed upon by the product.

Yesterday, a judge issued an injunction that, if it remains in force, would compel Microsoft to stop selling recent versions of its phenomenally popular program, Word.

The injunction is the latest round in an intellectual property battle that's been brewing since May, when a jury found Microsoft guilty of infringing a patent held by a Canadian company called i4i. Ironically, the patent in question covers a method of separating formatting information from runs of text when documents are written to files—something Microsoft itself received a patent for just this week. Unfortunately, the folks in Redmond filed theirs six months behind the competition.

The i4i patent in question was filed in June of 1994 (and granted in 1998), whereas Microsoft's dates from December of that year. It describes a general method of handling the formatting information in documents by separating it out from the text that's being formatted. In this sense, it's a superset of Microsoft's new patent, which claims similar capabilities but is exclusively targeted to XML file formats.

5. Man Gets 3 Years in Prison for Stealing IDs Over LimeWire
A man has been sentenced to 3 years in prison after copping to theft of sensitive personal documents from (let's be blunt, really stupid) people who permitted LimeWire to index their entire hard drives.

A Washington state man who admitted using the LimeWire file-sharing program to steal tax returns and other sensitive documents has been sentenced to more than three years in federal prison.

Frederick Eugene Wood of Seattle was ordered to serve 39 months for a fraud scheme that prosecutors said was a "particularly pernicious and devious one." In it, Wood would search the hard drives of LimeWire users for files that contained words such as "statement," "account" and "tax.pdf." He would then download tax returns, bank statements, and other sensitive documents and use them to forge counterfeit checks and steal the identity of the individuals who filled out the documents.

6. Bug Exposes Eight Years of Linux Kernel
Post on fulldisclosure:
A null-pointer dereference has been discovered in the Linux kernel which, if exploited locally on a machine, could lead to the attackers code being executed with kernel privileges.

Linux developers have issued a critical update for the open-source OS after researchers uncovered a vulnerability in its kernel that puts most versions built in the past eight years at risk of complete takeover.

The bug involves the way kernel-level routines such as sock_sendpage react when they are left unimplemented. Instead of linking to a corresponding placeholder, (for example, sock_no_accept), the function pointer is left uninitialized. Sock_sendpage doesn't always validate the pointer before dereferencing it, leaving the OS open to local privilege escalation that can completely compromise the underlying machine.

7. Facebook in Challenge to Google
A sensationalist headline, to be sure, but it's an interesting take that many seem to have on Facebook's recent aquisition of the FriendFeed service. Apparently, many see this as a shot at Google... I can't quite see it myself, but it's an interesting theory nonetheless.

Many expected Google or even Twitter to buy the company, which has been praised for its "real-time" search engine.

This type of search is valuable because it lets you know what is happening right now on any given subject.

"Google look out, Facebook knows the real money is in real-time search," said respected blogger Robert Scoble.

8. New Google 'puts Bing in Shade'
Google will be launching a new engine in the near future, apparently in response to feedback from users of Bing. It will improve search speed, and will introduce real-time searching capabilities to Google's existing platform.

Although still in the testing phase, the firm says it is the "first step in improving the speed, accuracy and comprehensiveness of search results".

The new engine will replace Google's current one after tests are complete.

Martin McNulty of search marketing specialist Trafficbroker said the upgrade threatened to put Microsoft's new engine, Bing, "in the shade".

9. Palm Criticised Over Pre Privacy
A software developer for the Palm Pre has discovered that the handset sends daily updates to Palm regarding, among other things, the device's location and a list of all 3rd party applications installed on it.

The company issued a statement after one owner discovered his phone was sending data every day back to Palm.

The information included the current location of the phone and how long each application was used for.

In its statement, Palm said it took users' privacy "seriously" and said it gave phone owners ways to turn features on and off.

10. Mac Vs. PC 2.0 (Thanks Joshua)
The Mac vs. PC ads are starting to get a little old, so here's a new take on the big debate.




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Re: Tech News Weekly: Edition 33-09
« Reply #1 on: August 16, 2009, 12:42 PM »
Nice edition  :up: