Roadrunner still fastest supercomputer

IBM’s Roadrunner supercomputer held off a challenge by the Cray XT5 Jaguar for the title of fastest in the world, as determined by Top 500. The Roadrunner, devoted to classified nuclear weapons research at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, was clocked at 1.105 petaflops per second for the biannual ranking, with one petaflop equaling one quadrillion mathematical computations per second. The Jaguar, which was upgraded last week by the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee, performed at 1.059 petaflops per second. (CNet)

Firefox 2 support to end in December

The Mozilla Foundation is moving forward with plans to end support for Firefox 2 in mid-December despite some complaints that version 3, released in May, has significant flaws. Mozilla will also stop supporting Gecko 1.8, the layout engine for Firefox 2 and the Thunderbird 2 e-mail client, although support for Thunderbird will continue. Some users have said that Firefox 3 crashes more than the previous version and uses too much memory. (ZNet)

Software puts video within video

New software called ZunaVision, developed by Stanford University researchers, lets users easily alter video to realistically embed images and other video. The software uses an algorithm called 3D Surface Tracker Technology to identify pixels in the foreground and background and keep pace with camera movements. ZunaVision’s creators acknowledged that similar tricks are already available – such as the yellow first-down lines placed in televised football games – but say that its technology is more user-friendly. Stanford set up a Web site to let users try out the technology. (Stanford)

Microsoft relaxed Vista requirements to accommodate Intel, e-mails show

E-mails between Microsoft and Intel executives reveal that Microsoft relaxed system requirements for Windows Vista after it pushed up the OS’s release date, a change made because Intel complained that it didn’t have enough high-end chips to meet anticipated demand. The messages were revealed as part of a class action lawsuit against Microsoft and its “Vista Capable” marketing program. Plaintiffs allege that machines equipped with Intel’s 915 chip sets – lacking the Windows Device Driver Model – could only run Vista’s most basic version, which didn’t include its touted Aero graphics interface. Some Microsoft executives, including the then-head of Windows development, were unhappy with the change and wrote that the “Vista Capable” logo would be misleading. (Computerworld)

Alkaline earth metals proposed for quantum computing

The unique atomic properties of alkaline earth metals are more advantageous than alkali atoms for quantum computing, a team of physicists theorize in Physical Review Letters. The team proposed a quantum computing scheme that would use optical lattices, favoring alkaline earth atoms because they have two weakly-bound electrons as opposed to one electron in alkali atoms. “Even though the system is a little more complicated, there are some very nice properties,” physicist Andrew Daley said. (PhysOrg)

Flaws found in Microsoft VoIP apps

Vulnerabilities in Microsoft voice-over-IP applications could lead to denial-of-service attacks, researchers at VoIPshield Laboratories found. According to Dark Reading, the vulnerabilities affect applications that use media stream protocols such as Real-time Transport Protocol (RTP), a popular standardized packet format. “Until now, the media stream has been largely ignored by the security community as a source of malicious activity,” VoIPshield Labs director Andriy Markov said. “But attacks from these vectors have the potential to be dangerously persistent and widespread.” (Dark Reading)

Congress might address net neutrality

US Senator Byron Dorgan (D-S.D.), plans to introduce a bill in January that would prevent ISPs from blocking Web content, according to reports. The bill would reopen the network neutrality debate, which is already an issue in a legal case between the US Federal Communication Commission and AT&T. A Dorgan aide said at a Nebraska telecom conference that the legislation is necessaryto ensure free Web principles. ISP representatives responded that the FCC’s regulation is enough to enforce net neutrality and that companies can police themselves and filtering content would drive away customers. (Reuters)

IBM to try broadband over power lines

IBM is resurrecting the idea of broadband supplied through power lines by partnering with International Broadband Electric Communications to provide service in rural US communities. The company is targeting areas that aren’t serviced by major ISPs by enlisting electricity cooperatives to install Broadband over Power Lines (BPL) equipment on their lines. According to The Associated Press, devices would be clamped every half-mile on the lines to relay data, and customers could plug a modem into a wall outlet to get an Internet connection. However, similar attempts to provide broadband were beset by technological problems and complaints by amateur radio operators who said the technology interfered with their signals. (The Associated Press)

Software fixes virtual configuration problems

A start-up called Replicate Technologies is aiming to reduce downtime in virtual environments by introducing software that fixes configurations errors and reduces faults. The software, Replicate Datacenter Analyzer (RDA), installs on an ESX server and integrates with VMWare Infrastructure 3 environments, then sends out software probes to collect data for IT managers. “We can be so detailed about the nature of the problem that the IT organization can cut back on determining where the root of the problem is and who is responsible for fixing it,” chief operating officer Rich Miller said. (Network World)

ICANN to revoke registrar’s credentials

ICANN announced that it will terminate registrar EstDomains’ credentials effective 24 November because the company was involved in credit card fraud, money laundering, and forgery through Web sites it hosted. EstDomains manages roughly 281,000 domain names, and ICANN published a Request for Information to find a different registrar to manage them. (The Register

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