Drunk drivers ask judge to open breathalyzer source code

“A group of more than 150 defendants accused of driving under the influence of alcohol are asking a judge to give them the source code of the device that police used to prove their guilt…

“The DUI case is real, and will come before panel of Florida judges this Friday. But surely the state of Florida has certified these Intoxilyzer 5000 machines? “Yes, back in 1993 they have. The manufacturer, CMI (with the great URL: Alcoholtest.com) has since made changes to both the hardware and the software…

“Theoretically a judge could force CMI to open the application’s source code, but this is highly unlikely. The company, which refused to discuss the case, instead claims that the software code for the 25-year-old device is a trade secret. Never mind that the actually application is less than 24 kilobytes in size (yes, kB) and still runs on z80 processors that were introduced in 1976.”

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A new folk version of “Baby Got Back”

“This week is a cover of Baby Got Back by Sir Mix-a-Lot (note: he is not an actual knight). Had to activate the whole team for this one – guitar, mandolin, banjo and even some shakers and tambourines and other things lying around the house. I’ve wanted to cover this song for a long time, because it is excellent – there’s a wonderful message in there for those of you who have big butts. In the proud tradition of many white Americans who came before me I hereby steal and white-ify this thick and juicy piece of black culture. Watch for my album ‘Jonathan Coulton Sings Songs by Black People.’

“Here is the song: link

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With pressure and perseverance, pumpkins do fly

“CULPEPER, Va., Oct. 14 — There once was a time when Ray Tolson thought the sport of ‘Punkin Chunkin’ sounded as crazy as can be, when the notion of spending as much as $200,000 to build a 100-foot-long ‘gun’ designed to fire a pumpkin nearly a mile seemed silly.

“But that was another Ray Tolson, a Ray Tolson who didn’t study air pressure and cloud speed in search of the perfect ‘air shelf’ where an 8- to 10-pound pumpkin could sail perfectly. Who didn’t commission university horticulturists to breed pumpkins that are precisely 9.5 inches in diameter, round and with a thick skin — the perfect projectile.

“Photo Ray Tolson removes a bucket protecting the muzzle of Second Amendment Too.

“Photo Credit: By Margaret Thomas — The Washington Post
Related Article: With Pressure and Perseverance, Pumpkins Do Fly, page A01”

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One-fifth of human genes are patented, study reveals

This stylistic schematic diagram shows a gene in relation to the double helix structure of DNA and to a chromosome (right). Introns are regions often found in eukaryote genes which are removed in the splicing process: only the exons encode the protein. This diagram labels a region of only 40 or so bases as a gene. In reality many genes are much larger.“A new study shows that 20 percent of human genes have been patented in the United States, primarily by private firms and universities.

“The study, which is reported this week in the journal Science, is the first time that a detailed map has been created to match patents to specific physical locations on the human genome.

“Researchers can patent genes because they are potentially valuable research tools, useful in diagnostic tests or to discover and produce new drugs.

“‘It might come as a surprise to many people that in the U.S. patent system human DNA is treated like other natural chemical products,’ said Fiona Murray, a business and science professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, and a co-author of the study.

“‘An isolated DNA sequence can be patented in the same manner that a new medicine, purified from a plant, could be patented if an inventor identifies a [new] application.'”

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US scientists resurrect deadly 1918 flu

“In a surprise announcement, scientists in the US say they have recreated the influenza virus that killed at least 50 million people in 1918, and they have infected mice with it.

“They say the need to understand how flu viruses cause lethal pandemics outweighs any safety risks. But the risks may not be negligible.

“By painstakingly piecing together viral fragments from hospital specimens and a victim buried in Alaskan permafrost, Jeff Taubenberger and colleagues at the US Armed Forces Institute of Pathology in Rockville, Maryland, have now sequenced all eight coding regions of the 1918 flu virus’s genome. They published the last three – coding for the polymerase complex that allows the virus to replicate – on Wednesday”.

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The Nokia 888 phone “bracelet”

“The Nokia 888 concept transcends conventional design and allows you to morph into any design you wish, roll it, bend it, clip it, whatever.

“I think specs are peripheral to the topic here. We have all seen great innovation with Nokia’s phone designs especially with the Nokia 7280 . Yanko Design features the Nokia 888 which is a lightweight communication device with a totally flexible form factor. What does that mean? you can roll it, you can make it a wrist band, you can straighten it, however you want it. The site mentions use of liquid battery and flexible touch screens for the concept. Lets wait and see, when Nokia picks it up and I would have it in my hands.”

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