Apple quietly disposes of Classic in Leopard

If, like me, you came to the Mac in the past five years or so, you may not be aware of the fact that “Mac OS” wasn’t always followed by the letter “X”—sorry, the number ten. But the Mac did have a long and illustrious life before it gained its current UNIX underpinnings. Part of this legacy has lived on—on PowerPC Macs, at least—in the Classic environment. HangZhou Night Net

Classic is to Mac OS 9 what Parallels is to Windows in Coherence mode: it runs a separate operating system in the background and makes the applications that run under that OS (Mac OS 9.2 in the case of Classic) seem just like native applications. As I said, I never used a pre-OS X Mac, so I never had any legacy applications that require Classic. However, a year ago, I went on a browser downloading spree and tried to find the oldest possible browsers that still worked. It was kind of fun to see Netscape 3.0 start and immediately crash and burn because of the multitude of Javascript errors on the netscape.com homepage.

Classic has never been available on Intel Macs, but as of Leopard, PowerPC Macs will also have to do without Classic, according to this Apple support page, which I’ll quote for you in its entirety:

Classic applications do not work on Intel processor-based Macs or with Mac OS X 10.5.

Upgrade your Mac OS 9 applications to Mac OS X versions. Check with an application’s manufacturer for more information.

So, if you have a PowerPC Mac that still has some Classic applications on it and you intend to go out and get the new cat tomorrow, I suggest that tonight, you pour a tall glass of your beverage of choice. Then, sit down in front of your Mac, and start those trusty Mac OS 9 applications up one more time, and remember the good times. After that, start your overnight full backup and turn in early, because Leopard will be your middle-aged PowerPC Mac’s last chance to be a youthful kitten again: few people expect the next Mac OS X after 10.5 to run on the PowerPC.

Judge: Educational privacy law not sufficient to block RIAA’s subpoenas

In August, we reported on a University of Tennessee student targeted by the RIAA for file-sharing who had attempted to quash a subpoena by arguing that the Federal Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) prevented the release of his name, addresses, and phone numbers. The identity of Doe 28 in Virgin v. Does 1-33 will soon be known to the RIAA, as a judge denied the student's motion to quash the subpoena. HangZhou Night Net

Doe 28 had argued that the RIAA's request was "unreasonable on its face" and that it should be denied because he had also not waived his right to privacy under FERPA. The privacy law bars the release of educational records without the consent of the students or parents, but "directory information," such as the student's name, address, phone number, and e-mail address can be released without permission.

Most of the information sought by the RIAA "falls within the category of Directory Information under FERPA, which according to the university’s policy, does not require defendant's consent to provide to a third party," wrote Magistrate Judge H. Bruce Guyton in his opinion.

Judge Guyton also ruled that the school must provide the RIAA with Doe 28's MAC address, which, as the Jammie Thomas trial demonstrated, will be used by the RIAA to tie specific computers to file-sharing activity. A computer's MAC address doesn't qualify as an "educational record" under FERPA, according to the judge, and is therefore not protected.

Since the RIAA began ratcheting up its battle against on-campus file sharing last spring, the industry has filed hundreds of lawsuits against college students, all via the John Doe route. In contrast to the thousands of other P2P lawsuits, the RIAA has run into some roadblocks in its attempts to finger college students for copyright infringement. Some judges have blocked the RIAA's ex parte discovery, with one ruling that the 1984 law cited by the RIAA as the authority for its ex parte subpoenas didn't give the record labels that authority after all.

Still, it's going to be difficult for college Does to hide behind FERPA. As Judge Guyton pointed out, the info sought by the RIAA is not protected by the law, so it's likely that other motions to quash based on FERPA will also fail.

Motorstorm upgrade adds rumble support

Motorstorm is still cranking along as one of the PlayStation 3's better racing games, and a new update available today in Europe will make things even better by adding rumble support. Of course, we still have to wait until next year to actually get our DualShock 3s, but with the Ratchet and Clank Future disc including the PS3 1.94 firmware update that adds rumble support, I wouldn't be surprised if we saw a healthy market for import controllers. HangZhou Night Net

What else does the Motorstorm update add?

Added vibration support for DUALSHOCK 3 controller with adjustable sensitivity settings.Grid order has been randomised for first race in any online lobby.Finishing positions in your last race now determine your starting grid position in the next race within the same online lobby.On-screen indicator has been added to show whether voice comms are issuing from TV or headset – As before, please press and hold L1 (R1 if using control scheme 'B') to toggle headset output through TV or Headset.Sensitivity Settings for SIXAXIS™ Motion Sensor control have been added.'Gloating Index' has been added to the Stats card – The Gloating index gives guidance as to a racer's online prowess. It takes into account the number of people you’ve beaten in each race and the number of people that have beaten you. Use the gloating index to spot the players to beat in each race! Try and rank your Gloating Index up to the perfect '10'!Several causes for an occasional snagging issue which would destroy vehicles on suspension impact have been addressed.Further fixes to prevent the occasional statistics reset issue have been applied.Fixed an occasional issue with inaccuracies in Eliminator finishing results.Fixed an issue where winners leaving Eliminator before race completed could cause issues for other players in lobby.

Quite an extensive update, and I'm glad to see the game continue to have strong support. With games getting updated with rumble support, and new games being released that already include rumble, the wait for the DualShock 3 just got a little longer.

I'm not seeing the update yet in America, but I'm hoping we get it very soon.

Half of all Americans support government regulation of Internet video

24 percent of Americans say that the Internet can function, for a short time, as a replacement for a significant other. 20 percent are open to "chipping" their own children in order to track their location. 11 percent would be willing to surgically implant a device inside their brains that would allow direct mental access to the Internet. Does that make us, collectively, a crazy-ass country? Or does it say something profound about the current state of polling? HangZhou Night Net

The results come from a new poll on Internet attitudes done by 463 Communications and Zogby International, whichalso revealed that young people of both genders find Scarlett Johansson sexier than an iPhone. (This is, in fact, the correct answer.)

The poll did reveal a more interesting result as well, namely that three-quarters of those over 70 support government regulation or a rating system for online video. That number decreases sharply as the age range decreases, but more than half of all Americans thought that the government should be involved in at least some form of Internet video monitoring.

This is the sort of finding thatfeels like a stake through the heart to libertarians. Writing at the Tech Liberation Front, Adam Thierer of the Progress & Freedom Foundation argued that policymakers will eventually jump on the lightly regulated Internet and start gorging their regulatory appetites, saying to themselves, "We must grow regulation! We must expand the tentacles of the regulatory state to include all those new technologies of freedom! We cannot let people think and act for themselves!"

In case it wasn't clear from the quote, Thierer considers this a Bad Thing.

Certainly, there's reason to think that such a scenario will eventually play out in Washington. The FCC is currently trying to decide if it can come up with a working definition for violent content in order to regulate it on both broadcast TV and even cable. Sexual content and language are already regulated by the agency, and as the Internet becomes an increasingly-capable substitute for (or complement to) television, calls for ratings and regulation will no doubt arise.

Such calls have been resisted successfully by videogame makers, who have used a voluntary rating system to head off increased government controls. But Internet video is already coming under attack around the world, and it does raise some provocative questions for society. Should user-generated content sites, for instance, block the viewing of clips of vandalism or violence? UK school officials are already trying to address the issue after vandals began posting their work on YouTube.

And then there are privacy concerns. Few broadcast networks (at least in the US) would show video of a couple cavorting in the ocean, buta clip of a Brazilian model having sex on the beach with her boyfriend was widely available through YouTube. The case even prompted a Brazilian ban on the site for some time.

How these issues will play out in the US is anyone's guess, but at some point, talk of regulation and ratings will probably enter the picture. When that happens, it appears that a sizable number of Americans will support it.

Australians urged to take risks in business

In December, the federal government will release an innovation statement aimed at overturning what some see as an inward-looking corporate culture, but some in the industry are sceptical about what it will offer.

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Chief executives in the industry are concerned Australians might be losing sight of what true innovation is, amid the chatter of start-ups and technology.

Since being sworn in, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has said innovation is at the top of his agenda.

His changes included appointing 25-year-old Wyatt Roy as Assistant Minister for Innovation, and calling for Australians to abandon a fear of the future and technology.

The innovation rhetoric has been similar for past two months.

The CEO of Sydney start-up Local Measure, Jonathan Barouch, has raised concerns about “start-up fever” and the level of community optimism in the lead up to the announcement.

“I think the word start-up and innovation and disruption are being used interchangeably by people in the community and the media.

“And I think we risk misinterpreting what a start-up or what a true disruptive innovation is. I mean it’s not the butcher or the baker or the florist, they’re completely vital to the Australian economy, but those are small businesses,” Mr Barouch said.

He added that differentiating between small business and innovative business will allow for smarter policies.

Mr Roy says more talk about start-ups and innovation can only be a good thing.

“Innovation has obviously become a cornerstone of what we’re trying to achieve… If people are frustrated that we’re talking too much about innovation then I must’ve done my job, I’ve hit my KPI, and it’s a very good thing for our country,” he said.

During question time on Wednesday Industry Minister Christopher Pyne hinted at the shape of the policy.

Commercialising research and raising capital were listed high on the agenda, but equally important was his emphasis on a culture shift- away from fear- which would encourage Australians to take risks and build entrepreneurship.

“The whole purpose of the innovation and science agenda in December will be about creating the kind of structure in the Australian economy that encourages innovation, technology, research and development, commercialiseing research, talents and skills,” he said.

The Great Mod Challenge announces winners

One of my favorite Apple-related contests of the year has not only come to an end, it has also announced the winners. The Great Mod Challenge, hosted by MacMod, wrapped up last week. While number of entrants seemed to be down this year, the quality and ingenuity did not.HangZhou Night Net

This year, the winner of Mod of the Year and two other awards (Most Creative Mod and Best Looking Mod) was the ElectroNumeroGraph, an almost purely aesthetic mod based upon a Quicksilver G4. It is pretty remarkable to look at and has some added bonuses. This includes fan speed controllers and volume, fan voltage, and CPU temperature meters. While I'm not entirely sure the blue lighting was the color to suit this mod, it is still very deserving of the accolades it received.

Runner Up and third place went to the "Black PowerMac" and "iPod Mix 'n Mash" respectively. The Wackiest Mod this year went to the "Apple IIg4" (a PowerBook in an Apple IIe), the Most Useless Mod went to the "Transformer iBook" (Transformer logo cut into an iBook's lid), and the Best Mod Guide went to the aforementioned "Black PowerMac."

With 11 mods in total, I'm not going to talk about them all (you should check out the iPod Video CF). However, my two favorites have to be the "iVHS" and the "Set Top 'Book." While the iVHS isn't the prettiest mod in the world, it brought me back to the days when the modifying community attempted to get a CRT iMac to run off an ATX power supply. It was a common problem in those days to have an iMac's analog board die and rendered lifeless, so alternative methods of powering the machines were hot topics. The mod guide details not only how to modify the iMac to run off an ATX power supply, but also how to convert the video to VGA. These were plans people charged for back in the day.

The Set Top 'Book is a mod based upon one of my favorite pieces of Apple kit: the prototype set-top box. I'll spare you the details, but Apple almost came out with a set-top box during the 1990s in partnership with telecom companies. The case is dead sexy and sturdy, made of black painted metal. While originally it sported a Motorola 6840 processor, the modern in this instance replaced the antiquated with a somewhat-less-antiquated iBook 500MHz G3 processor. While the mod is more or less just "stick the bottom of the iBook into a STB case," I still love it and have dreamed of doing something similar with a MicroATX board myself. Perhaps with a fabricated back panel and a third-party IR receiver mounted in the original IR receiver's spot, this could have been the winner.

Now go forth, look upon the modified machines, be inspired, and create. I love this stuff.

Russian crackers throw GPU power at passwords

Russian-based cracking "password recovery" company Elcomsoft hasn't really been in the news since 2003, when Adobe helped make "Free Dmitry" the new "Free Kevin" by having one of the company's programmers, Dmitry Sklyarov, arrested for cracking its eBook Reader software. But Elcomsoft has remedied the lack of press attention this week with its announcement that it has pressed the GPU into the service of password cracking. HangZhou Night Net

With NVIDIA and AMD/ATI working overtime to raise the GPU's profile as a math coprocessor for computationally intensive, data-parallel computing problems, it was inevitable that someone would make an announcement that they had succeeded in using the GPU to speed up the password-cracking process. Notice that I said "make an announcement," because I'm sure various government entities domestic and foreign have been working on this from the moment AMD made its "close-to-metal" (CTM) package available for download. The Elcomsoft guys didn't use CTM, though. They opted to go with NVIDIA's higher-level CUDA interface, a move that no doubt cut their development time significantly.

Elcomsoft's new password cracker attacks the NTLM hashing that Windows uses with a brute force method. The company claims that its GPU-powered attack speeds up the time it takes to crack a Vista password from two months to a little over three days.

Elcomsoft claims that they've filed for a US patent on this approach, but it's not clear what exactly they're attempting to patent. A search of the USPTO's patent database turned up nothing, but that could be because the patent hasn't made it into the database yet.

Ultimately, using GPUs to crack passwords is kid's stuff. The world's best password cracker is probably the Storm Worm, assuming that its owners are using it for this. As many as ten million networked Windows boxes—now that's parallelism.

Electronic Arts to undergo empire-wide restructuring, layoffs

When you're on top, the only place to go is down. In the face of stiff competition, EA's profits have begun to drop. Destructoid is reporting that job cuts and branch restructuring have already begun taking place, with extensive changes being made to many different studios under EA's umbrella, including Mythic. HangZhou Night Net

Word of these changes came from an internal EA e-mail. CEO John Riccitiello has begun taking precautions to ensure that the current state of affairs of his company doesn't continue. This follows a previous restructuring meant to rebalance staff across the many branches of the company. To quote the e-mail:

Given this, John Riccitiello, our CEO, has tasked the company to get its costs in line with revenues… Every studio, group and division of the company has been tasked to review its overall headcount and adjust its organization to meet the needs of the business moving forward.

The changes to Mythic appear to be only the first in what will be a long line of changes. Certain teams, such as the Ultima Online group, will be relocated. Competitive employment strategies will also be enforced to keep employees working hard if they want to keep their jobs: "attrition, performance management, stricter hiring guidelines, and layoffs" will purportedly keep workers in check.

Given the state of EA's multiplatform competitors, including Activision, which is set to release one of the assured hits of the winter in Call of Duty 4, and long-time rival Ubisoft, which is sitting on Assassin's Creed, the company will be pressed to start taking more risks like skate if it hopes to stay fresh in this increasingly competitive development scene.

Climate change mega-post

This week there seems to be a lot of climate news around, some good, some bad, and some that is just ugly. Rather than putting up a plethora of posts and getting accused of being Ars Climactica, we thought we would combine them into a single mega post for your consumption. HangZhou Night Net

The first paper, published in Science1, looks at the prospects for narrowing the range of estimates for the future climate. In doing so, they note that the climate is a system that consists of many physical processes that are coupled together nonlinearly. This has led to climate modelers focusing on physical mechanisms and fundamentals of nonlinear dynamics to understand and improve their models. Notably, the specific inclusion of many physical mechanisms has not led to a significant decrease in the range of climate predictions. Most of the blame for this has fallen on the nature of nonlinear systems. Essentially, to obtain a small increase in predictive ability, one needs a very large increase in the accuracy of the initial conditions. We are stuck because we can’t improve the accuracy of our ancestor’s weather stations and other methods, such as ice core samples, will only ever yield averages. But as our earlier coverage on the nature of climate modeling explains, this isn’t really the heart of the issue. Climate models use a range of initial conditions and measure the probability of certain climatic conditions occurring based on those modeling results.

Instead of focusing on the physics of the climate or the dynamical system, Roe and Baker look at the behavior of a simple linear equilibrium system with positive feedback. All the physics is replaced with a simple gain parameter, which describes how an increase in average temperature leads to a further increase in temperature. Although this does not describe the physics, it does encompass what we measure, so the model is valid for their purposes. They then explore how the uncertainty in the gain parameter changes the rate of temperature increase. The positive feedback system has the effect of amplifying the uncertainties (just like a nonlinear system), meaning that it is practically impossible to improve climate estimates. This is not really derived from the initial conditions (e.g., the starting climatic conditions) but rather focuses on the natural uncertainty in physical mechanisms, which is a major focus of current modeling efforts and includes such things as cloud cover. Basically, the amplifying of the uncertainties, and the timescales involved mean that the smallest uncertainties blow out to give the large range of temperatures predicted by climate researchers.

This news will not call off the search for parts of the environment that influence our climate because, if we are to mitigate global warming, then we must know which bits of the environment are the best to change. This obviously includes human behavior, but that covers a whole gamut from urban lifestyles through to farming practices. Part of this picture is soil erosion, which removes carbon from the soil and deposits it elsewhere. The question isn’t so much as where but what happens to that carbon on route and once it arrives. It was thought that perhaps soil erosion contributed carbon dioxide to the atmosphere by opening up new mechanisms for the decomposition of organic matter. Alternatively, it has been argued that soil erosion deposits organic carbon in places—like the bottom of the sea, for instance— where it is effectively stored. However, testing these hypotheses has been problematic.

Nevertheless, problematic is what a good scientist looks for, so, with fortitude and dedication to the cause, scientists from the EU and US have collaborated to measure the uptake and removal of carbon over ten sites. They report in Science2 this week that, like normal land, eroding land also acts as a carbon sink. They do note that in eroding landscapes, the carbon is likely to more laterally more, but is no more likely to enter the atmosphere as carbon dioxide than on healthy pastureland. Of course the amount of carbon stored is slightly less, so these soils are perhaps not as efficient as normal soils as carbon sinks. Some research is needed to determine if there are differences in the long-term destination of carbon between normal pasture and eroding soils—however, until that research is done, we can cross soil erosion off the list of things to worry about in terms of global warming.

On the bad news, rapid industrialization in the developing world and the lack of action in the developed world is now measurably increasing the rate at which we deposit carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. This is the conclusion of a paper to be published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science. Essentially, they have looked at estimates for anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions and compared that to the measured concentration in the atmosphere and determined from the time series that the natural carbon sinks are either already saturated or are nearing saturated. The conclusion from this is that the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is likely to increase faster than predicted in most scenarios. This is especially true since most scenarios assume that we will take some action to keep the rate of increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide (as a percentage) below the rate of economic growth (also as a percentage). Not the best news.

Possible UK P2P legislative crackdown faces privacy, technological hurdles

A Labour Party politician in the UK has threatened legislation to crack down on file-sharing if British ISPs don't take measures of their own. Concerned that ISPs aren't doing enough to stem the traffic in copyrighted video and music, parliamentary Undersecretary for Innovation, Universities, and Skills Lord Triesman believes that laws mandating a crackdown may be the only option. HangZhou Night Net

Lord Triesman's comments come in the wake of this week's arrest of the administrator of popular P2P site OiNK and the seizure of its servers. OiNK was shut down after a two-year investigation by the IFPI and UK music trade group BPI.

Lord Triesman holds out hopes that negotiations between rights holders and British ISPs will produce some sort of voluntary agreement in the near future. "Our preferred position is that we shouldn't have to regulate," he told the BBC. "If we can't get voluntary arrangements, we will legislate."

Predictably, the BPI is over the moon at the thought of tough copyright legislation. "We greatly welcome the government reiterating its view that ISPs should work with us to tackle the problem of internet piracy, or else face legislation," BPI CEO Geoff Taylor told the BBC.

At the other end of the spectrum, the UK-based Internet Service Providers Association is vehemently opposed to any such legislation. While pointing out that the group is opposed to copyright infringement, a spokesperson told the BBC that any such legislation would be infeasible. "ISPs are no more able to inspect and filter every single packet passing across their network than the Post Office is able to open every envelope."

Actually, it may not be that far-fetched. Deep packet inspection tools have become increasingly sophisticated. DPI products from the likes of Procera Networks and Ellacoya are capable of extracting IP addresses, filenames, and URLs, as well as filtering out BitTorrent traffic for up to 900,000 simultaneous users—all in real time.

P2P traffic blocking can be much more subtle than that, as the recent discovery that Comcast isdisrupting BitTorrent traffic indicates. Using a DPI tool from Sandvine, Comcast at times sends forced TCP reset packets, which have the effect of disrupting P2P transfers in certain situations.

There are difficulties standing in the way of the kind of monitoring envisioned by Lord Triesman, however. As is the case with the kind of video fingerprinting tools envisioned by a new copyright consortium, DPI tools can't tell the difference between legitimate and infringing content. There's also the matter of privacy. Although UK residents have proven themselves willing to accept a large degree of closed-circuit TV monitoring, the thought of having all of their traffic thoroughly checked by their ISPs for copyright infringement is likely to be as appetizing as a pub restroom on a Sunday morning.