UK video-on-demand venture blocked, deemed anticompetitive

Project Kangaroo, a proposed Hulu-style media site for the United Kingdom, was shut down this week after running into government concerns that the venture would reduce competitiveness. The service would have included content from ITV, Channel 4, and the BBC, provided free with advertisements. The UK Competition Commission said Project Kangaroo would have essentially gained control over the entire video-on-demand market (Ars Technica)

New supercomputer would hit 20 petaflops

IBM and the US Department of Energy are developing a new supercomputer that would easily outperform the fastest machines operating today. Codenamed “Sequoia,” the supercomputer is expected to pass 20 petaflops, which would put it ahead of Roadrunner, the current fastest supercomputer that operates at 1.7 petaflops in peak performance. The computer, to be installed at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California by 2012, is planned to have 1.6 million processing cores, 1.6 petabytes of memory, and 98,304 computing nodes. The machine will initially be used for nuclear testing and will eventually be used for weather experiments. (Wired)

South Korea blazes trail for connection speeds

South Korea is planning to build a high-speed broadband infrastructure with fiber optic cables that would hit 1 Gbyte per second for uploads and downloads by 2013. The top speeds would primarily be available in large cities, but rural areas will still get service at 50 to 100 Mbytes per second. Residents in the country already enjoy fast broadband speeds at an average of 43.3 Mbytes per second; the average US download speed is 8.9 Mbytes per second. (PC World)

Google explores oceans, Mars

The world’s oceans and Mars appear in detail in the latest version of Google Earth, unveiled Monday at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco. The program includes known topography of ocean floors, estimated at  roughly five percent of the total surface area underwater. Scientists hope that interest in the program will lead to more funding for marine exploration to map the remaining area. The program also includes a Mars feature that uses 3D images taken with NASA rovers and satellites. (The New York Times, CNet)

Researcher clones RFID tags from passports

A white hat researcher built a device to clone RFID tags from passports from common components recently, hoping to show that Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) could lead to massive security problems. Chris Paget used an RFID reader, antenna, and laptop to create a mobile cloning device, using it successfully in San Francisco without the passport owners’ knowledge. WHTI was created by the US Department of Homeland Security to make traveling easier among some western countries by putting RFID tags in passports. (Register)

Flash on slow path to iPhone

Adobe chief executive officer Shantanu Narayen said last week that Flash isn’t ready for the iPhone and implied that it could take some time before a new version is available. “It’s a hard technical challenge, and that’s part of the reason Apple and Adobe are collaborating,” Narayen said in a Bloomberg Television interview. “The ball is in our court. The onus is on us to deliver.” Last year, Apple chief executive officer Steve Jobs called Flash too cumbersome for the iPhone and dismissed the mobile version, Flash Lite, as inferior. Since then, Adobe has made upgrades to bring Flash to other mobile platforms, such as Google’s Android. (PC World)

Researcher reveals flaw in Windows 7 security

A security researcher warned Friday that the Windows 7 beta contains a flaw in its User Account Control (UAC), which would allow the feature to be turned off without a prompt, but Microsoft doesn’t believe the issue is serious and intends to release the product without changing it. Long Zheng wrote in his blog that  attackers could turn off UAC without users’ knowledge, and provided a proof of concept script that emulates keyboard inputs. Zheng said that in the absence of a Microsoft fix, users should set UAC to “always notify” to avoid the problem. (BetaNews)

Scientists wirelessly control beetle's flight path

University of California-Berkeley engineers have developed a way to wirelessly control giant flower beetles using electrical signals delivered through electrodes to the insect’s brain. The technology—consisting of a microprocessor, radio receiver, microbattery, and custom circuit board—can command beetles to take off, turn, and hover in mid-flight. Funded by the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the project could eventually lead to the use of insects for surveillance and search-and-rescue missions. (Technology Review)


Muxtape reborn as independent music host

Muxtape, which was shut down last August in response to a lawsuit from the Recording Industry Association of America, has re-emerged as a site for independent bands to offer streaming music and other information. Originally, Justin Ouellete created the site as a way for fans to upload playlists in the spirit of a mix tape. The RIAA eventually sued Ouellette, despite his stated efforts to negotiate deals with major record labels. The new site is similar to Myspace, and will offer its tools free to bands, charging only for downloading and merchandising. (Ars Technica)

Group releases net neutrality tools

Measurement Lab, a research platform created by a group that includes Google and the Open Technology Institute, released a set of tools this week designed to measure performance on Internet connections. The tools, meant to promote net neutrality, include a network diagnostic tool and a tool called Glasnost that checks for BitTorrent blockage or throttling. Another tool to determine if ISPs are giving some traffic lower priority is in development. “Transparency is our goal,” said Google project leader Vint Cerf. “Our intent is to make more [information] visible for all who are interested in the way the network is functioning at all layers.” (Good Gear Guide)

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