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Sales of new homes
collapsed in May, sinking 33 percent to the lowest level on record as potential buyers stopped shopping for homes once they could no longer receive government tax credits.
The bleak report from the Commerce Department is the first sign of how the end of federal tax credits could weigh on the nation's housing market.
The credits expired April 30. That's when a new-home buyer would have had to sign a contract to qualify.
"We fear that the appetite to buy a home has disappeared alongside the tax credit," Paul Dales, U.S. economist with Capital Economics," wrote in a note. "After all, unemployment remains high, job security is low and credit conditions are tight."
Not to make this too political, but there have been many free market economists predicting that this exact event would happen for some time. They have been warning that housing may not have bottomed out yet and that the apparent recovery was just government stimulus in the form of tax credits, and that the house of cards would come crashing down when the tax credits expired, just like cash for clunkers did. Given that this US administration frequently calls on its critics to "listen to science" (global warming, etc), should they be called out and held accountable for ignoring good economic science? And is this also a sign that we ought to do an about face on our economic policy and return to capitalism?" Link to Original Source
Crazy Taco (1083423) writes "The "Computer Nerds Acronym" quiz gives you four minutes to define twenty computer related acronyms. I would be willing to wager that a higher percentage of/.s will be able to get a perfect score than the general population, but that most won't have the breadth of experience to get them all.
Crazy Taco (1083423) writes "Ars Technica has a story about a patent lawsuit by an obscure company that has resulted in Microsoft being court ordered to stop selling word.
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.
So the 10,000 dollar question: Is this a legitimate case, or another case of a patent troll just waiting to sue somebody?" Link to Original Source
Crazy Taco (1083423) writes "p>Tom's Hardware is reporting that Microsoft is finally giving something to Linux for free: 20,000 lines of code released under the GPLv2. According to the article:
The code is for three Linux device drivers, which will enhance the performance of the Linux operating system when virtualized on Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V or Windows Server 2008 R2 Hyper-V.
"This is a significant milestone because it's the first time we've released code directly to the Linux community. Additionally significant is that we are releasing the code under the GPLv2 license, which is the Linux community's preferred license," said Tom Hanrahan, director of Microsoft's Open Source Technology Center (OSTC). "Our initial goal in developing the code was to enable Linux to run as a virtual machine on top of Hyper-V, Microsoft's hypervisor and implementation of virtualization."
In all likelihood, this will be a win for Microsoft as well as Linux, because it allows companies to settle on a single virtual machine platform (Microsoft's) and consolidate all their Linux and Windows servers on top of it." Link to Original Source
Crazy Taco (1083423) writes "Tom's Hardware reports on newly discovered screenshots that reveal that Microsoft is planning to release their newest version of Windows in multiple confusing versions... again. The information comes from the latest version of the Windows 7 beta, build 7025 (the public beta is build 7000), and shows a screen during installation that asks the user which version of the OS he or she would like to install. Who's up for guessing what the difference is between Windows 7 "Starter" and Windows 7 "Home Basic"?" Link to Original Source top
Crazy Taco (1083423) writes "Researchers at UCLA discovered the 46th known Mersenne prime last month on a network of 75 computers running Windows XP. This particular prime number is a whopping 13 million digits long, and is the eighth Mersenne prime discovered at UCLA. The discovery makes them eligible for a 100,000 dollar prize which could be awarded when the new prime is published, probably next year." Link to Original Source top
Crazy Taco (1083423) writes "The heavy Amazon.com protest of Spore's DRM appears to have caught the attention of executives at EA. After receiving a 1 star rating for Spore on Amazon, ign.com reports that the DRM for the soon to be released Command and Conquer Red Alert 3 will be scaled back. Unlike previous Command and Conquer games, the CD will not be required to be placed in the drive to play, the online authentication will be one time (rather than periodic phone calls home), and up to five installations will be allowed, as opposed to three for Spore.
While I still think 5 installations is too small (I've probably re-installed Command and Conquer Generals 20 times over the years due to PC reformats, getting a new PC, etc), EA says they will have staff standing by to grant more installations as necessary on a case by case basis. So while this isn't optimal, at least we are getting a compromise, and hopefully if the piracy rate for the game is low, perhaps EA will get comfortable enough to ship with even less DRM in the future." Link to Original Source top
Crazy Taco (1083423) writes "The chrome browser has only been out one day and already a vulnerability has been found. Interestingly enough, the bug is in the webkit rendering engine, which is used by both Chrome and Apple's Safari. However, Apple's browser, despite having been out for much longer, is actually more current than Chrome. Safari uses the newer version of webkit (which incidentally is patched for this), whereas Chrome uses an older version and remains wide open to the exploit.
This problem brings up the question of why people still haven't gotten their act together when it comes to patching in a timely fashion. Especially in this case, since there is no easier time to fix problems than BEFORE you launch and put something into production." Link to Original Source top
Crazy Taco (1083423) writes "According to a review done by Peter Svensson, the performance of Flash may be the biggest driver of IE 8 adoption, and the lack of performance in Firefox and Chrome may be deal killers for those platforms.
Flash is a tremendous resource hog in Firefox, eating up processor time to the point where there is nothing left for other programs. It does this even if you're not actively doing anything. Merely having a YouTube page open on your screen will suck power from your computer's central processing unit, or CPU. This is outrageous behavior for a browser. It's my CPU and I want it back.
When playing a YouTube video, Firefox 3 took up 95 percent of the CPU time on a three-year old laptop running Windows XP. Chrome came in at 60 percent — still too much. Especially since Google owns YouTube! You'd think it could make its browser work well with that site in particular. Internet Explorer barely broke a sweat, taking up just a few percent.
Hackers took over and defaced Comcast Corp.'s Web portal for several hours overnight, leaving a cryptic message on the site that the company's 14.1 million subscribers use to access e-mail, news and technical support.
The front page of Comcast.net went down shortly before 11 p.m. EDT Wednesday and was replaced with a note saying the hackers had "RoXed" Comcast, according to postings at BroadbandReports.com.
While the main page is back up, some users apparently remain unable to access their email. No definitive word yet on what else the hackers might have done besides the defacing." Link to Original Source top
Crazy Taco (1083423) writes "A Minneapolis based company has been able to recover almost all scientific data on one of the hard drives from Columbia. The scorched, partially melted drive was found in Texas, and recovery certainly appeared to be a longshot. However, the fact that the computer was running DOS saved the data from destruction.
However, at the core of the drive, the spinning metal platters that actually store data were not warped. They had been gouged and pitted, but the 340-megabyte drive was only half full, and the damage happened where data had not yet been written.
Edwards attributes that to a lucky twist: The computer was running an ancient operating system, DOS, which does not scatter data all over drives as other approaches do.
Crazy Taco (1083423) writes "The olympic torch is having a difficult march this year, as it faces human rights protests in every major city. In Paris, police had to extinguish the torch five times and put it on a protective bus, eventually giving up on the march and just driving it to the final destination, where an athlete carried it the final 15 feet. The protests center on Chinese censorship, jailing of political prisoners and the current crackdown in Tibet. From Yahoo! News:
In various locations throughout the city, activists angry about China's human rights record and crackdown on protesters in Tibetan areas carried Tibetan flags and waved signs reading "the flame of shame." Riot police squirted tear gas to break up a sit-in protest by about 300 demonstrators who blocked the torch route.
The torch disappeared back inside the bus a fourth time shortly after a protester approached it with a fire extinguisher near the Louvre art museum. Police grabbed the demonstrator before he could start to spray.
Crazy Taco (1083423) writes "The Lakota Indians have just delivered a message to the state department saying they are unilaterally withdrawing from all treaties signed with the US government, some of them more than 150 years old. According to the article:
The group also visited the Bolivian, Chilean, South African and Venezuelan embassies, and would continue on their diplomatic mission and take it overseas in the coming weeks and months.
Lakota country includes parts of the states of Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota, Montana and Wyoming.
The new country would issue its own passports and driving licences, and living there would be tax-free — provided residents renounce their U.S. citizenship, Mr Means said.
The article also states that:
The Lakota relaunched their journey to freedom in 1974, when they drafted a declaration of continuing independence — an overt play on the title of the United States' Declaration of Independence from England.
Thirty-three years have elapsed since then because "it takes critical mass to combat colonialism and we wanted to make sure that all our ducks were in a row,'' Means said.
One duck moved into place in September, when the United Nations adopted a non-binding declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples — despite opposition from the United States, which said it clashed with its own laws.
Somehow I doubt this is going to get very far, especially with the people who live in Wyoming, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Nebraska. I haven't been hearing a lot of agitating from those states for forming the Confederate States of Lakota, v 2.0." top
Crazy Taco (1083423) writes "It looks as though the next meeting of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) is about to descend into another heated debate about U.S. control of key Internet systems. Although the initial purpose of this year's summit was to cover such issues as spam, free speech and cheaper access, it appears nations such as China, Iran, and Russia, among others, would rather discuss US control of the Internet. In meetings leading to up to the second annual meeting of the IGF in Rio de Janiero on Monday, these nations won the right to hold an opening-day panel devoted to "critical Internet resources." While a number of countries wanting to internationalize Internet control simply want to have more say over policies such as creating domain names in languages other than English, we can only speculate what additional motives might be driving leaders such as China, Iran, and Russia, nations which specialize in censoring the Internet and locking down the flow of information across it." Link to Original Source top
Last August, an astronomer at the University of Arizona at Tucson and his colleagues reported that a collision between two huge clusters of galaxies 3 billion light-years away, known as the Bullet Cluster, had caused clouds of dark matter to separate from normal matter.
Many scientists said the observations were proof of dark matter's existence and a serious blow for alternative explanations aiming to do away with dark matter with modified theories of gravity.
Crazy Taco (1083423) writes "According to Yahoo! News, the mystery of one response to a lawsuit against God has been solved. Eric Perkins, an attorney in Corpus Christi, Texas, said Friday he filed a response to the lawsuit from Nebraska State Sen. Ernie Chambers. "It's kind of a turn on 'What would Jesus do?'" Perkins said. "I thought to myself, "what would God say?"
"Defendant denies that this or any court has jurisdiction... over Him any more than the court has jurisdiction over the wind or rain, sunlight or darkness," according to Perkins' response.
As for Chambers' contention that God made terroristic threats, inspired fear and caused "widespread death, destruction and terrorization," Perkins wrote that God "contends that any harm or injury suffered is a direct and proximate result of mankind ignoring obvious warnings."" Link to Original Source top
Crazy Taco (1083423) writes "This has to be the most ridiculous lawsuit ever filed in the history of the United States court system. Apparently a South Carolina inmate wants to sue Michael Vick for 63,000,000,000 billion dollars (and I don't believe the amount is a typo). He claims Michael Vick stole two white mixed pit bull dogs from his home in Holiday, Fla., used them for dogfighting operations in Richmond, Va., and then "used the proceeds to purchase missiles from the Iran government." His complaint alleges Vick would need the missiles because he pledged allegiance to Al Qaeda in February of this year. The complaint goes on to state that "Michael Vick has to stop physically hurting my feelings and dashing my hopes" and requests that the money, "backed by gold and silver," be delivered to the front gates of the Williamsburg Federal Correctional facility in South Carolina." Link to Original Source top
Two deep-diving Russian mini-submarines descended more than 2 1/2 miles under North Pole ice to stake a flag on the ocean floor Thursday, part of a quest to bolster Russian claims to much of the Arctic's oil-and-mineral wealth.
So, according to Russian thought in this article, does the United States just get the moon then? After all, we went there and planted our flag. Should that be ours? Should we just give in and accept that the Russians get the Arctic for planting a flag, since that gives us the moon (which is WAY better in the long run)?" Link to Original Source top
Crazy Taco (1083423) writes "Researchers at Carnegie Mellon have discovered a way to use the popular CAPTCHA puzzles as a method to digitize books. While books are ordinarilly digitized using scanners and then turned into readable text using optical character recognition, some books are too old or faded for this technique to work. In that case, humans are needed to help decipher the text so that it can be digitized. This particular method can harness many humans to help in this time consuming process.
"Humanity is wasting 150,000 hours every day on these [CAPTCHAs]," said Luis von Ahn, an assistant professor of computer science at Carnegie Mellon. He helped develop the CAPTCHAs about seven years ago. "Is there any way in which we can use this human time for something good for humanity, do 10 seconds of useful work for humanity?"
Apparently he found the answer to his own question."