Official: Syria destroys chemical arms equipment

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — An official at the global chemical weapons watchdog said Thursday Syria has completed destruction of critical equipment for producing chemical weapons and filling munitions with poison gas.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons had not yet made the announcement public.

The announcement comes one day ahead of the Nov. 1 deadline set by the Hague-based organization for Damascus to destroy or “render inoperable” all chemical weapon production facilities and machinery for mixing chemicals into poison gas and filling munitions.

Destruction of the equipment means that Syria can no longer produce new chemical weapons. However Damascus still has to start destroying existing weapons and stockpiles. The country is believed to have around 1,000 metric tons of chemicals and weapons including mustard gas and the nerve agent sarin.

Completion of the initial stage of destruction, overseen by a joint United Nations-OPCW team in Syria, is a significant milestone in an ambitious timeline that aims to destroy all of Damascus’ chemical weapons by mid-2014.

Inspectors said earlier this week they had completed their first round of verification work, visiting 21 of 23 sites declared by Damascus. Inspectors were unable to visit two sites because of security concerns, underscoring the risky nature of a mission to destroy Syria’s chemical arsenal in the midst of an ongoing civil war.

Syria has submitted a plan for the total destruction of its chemical weapons that has to be approved next month by the OPCW’s executive committee.

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Samsung’s takes baby steps in touting Tizen OS to developers

The open source Tizen mobile operating system is one of the most visible examples that Samsung isn’t completely dependent on the Android mobile OS.

At the Samsung Developer Conference in San Francisco this week, Samsung held a single breakout session on developing apps using Tizen. The session was led by two engineers from Intel, which is working jointly with Samsung to create code to enable Tizen to run across multiple hardware platforms, including tablets, smartphones, cars and smart TVs.

[ Also on InfoWorld: The 8 mobile OS upstarts that want to topple iOS and Android. | InfoWorld presents the Bossies 2013, the best open source software for clouds, mobile, developers, and more. | Track trends in open source with InfoWorld’s Open Sources blog and Technology: Open Source newsletter. ]

Most of Samsung’s smartphones and tablets today run Android or the company’s own Bada OS. In fact, Samsung is by far the largest Android smartphone maker globally, as well as the largest maker of smartphones overall, according to IDC and others.

The company does make Windows Phone smartphones as well, though a Windows Phone session wasn’t among among the 50 scheduled at the developer conference. Nearly all of the sessions focused on applications or services that work on Android.

Tizen has a modern Internet interface for use on devices, supporting HTML 5 and other Web technologies, so developers can theoretically write applications once to work on many devices. A Samsung roadmap for Tizen rollouts hasn’t been announced.

At the Tizen session on Tuesday, two developers in the audience said they had different experiences with their early Tizen development efforts. Developers at MightyMeeting, a maker of business collaboration applications, have been using Tizen with promising results because of its use of HTML 5 across platforms, said Mighty Meeting CEO Dmitri Tcherevik.

On the other hand, Shivakumar Mathapathi, COO at Dew Mobility, said his company tried Tizen with Windows Phone devices and found it wasn’t very stable on the Microsoft mobile OS. He didn’t provide any details.

Tcherevik said that Samsung’s interest in Tizen demonstrates that it’s “willing to try many different things” even as a large company.

Some attendees at Samsung’s first developer conference said they were glad to see Samsung to show off its distinctive features with Android at an event other than Google I/O. Here, Samsung could separate itself from other Android smartphone and tablet makers.

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Peripheral Vision 009: Jesse Thorn on using the internet to create something meaningful

“The fact that I’m an independent media businessman is because no one was interested in co-opting me,” Jesse Thorn laughs. It’s plenty easy to make light of with a decade’s distance and a sunny office overlooking MacArthur Park and the skyscrapers of downtown Los Angeles. Maximum Fun’s Westlake …

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Historical Software Archive lets you use vintage software in your browser

The Internet Archive’s new Historical Software Archive brings old software to your browser through the magic of JSMESS emulation.

The Internet Archive has protected and preserved old software for a while now; archivist Jason Scott claimed back in April that the organization possessed the largest historical software collection in the world.

[ Find out the latest craziness in the world of technology: Read InfoWorld’s Notes from the Field blog or newsletter by our man on the street, Robert X. Cringely. ]

Software is so transient, though. It’s sometimes hard to get a program from 2003 to run on a modern machine, let alone a program from 1983. For most people it wouldn’t be worth the trouble to, as the Internet Archive puts it, “track down the hardware and media to run [old software], or download and install emulators and acquire/install cartridge or floppy images as you boot up the separate emulator program, outside of the browser.”

An easier way
The Historical Software Archive, announced Friday, changes that. There’s no need to fuss with stand-alone emulators. Instead, the Internet Archive runs MESS (short for Multi Emulator Super System) with Javascript in Chrome, Firefox, Safari — any modern browser.

“Turning computer history into a one-click experience bridges the gap between understanding these older programs and making them available in a universal fashion,” says the Internet Archive’s announcement. “Acquisition, for a library, is not enough — accessibility is where knowledge and lives change for the better.”

Of course, this isn’t the first time someone has emulated old software in a browser. Look around the Internet, and you’ll find plenty of sites that allow you to play Gameboy and SNES games.

The difference, presumably, is twofold. One is that the Historical Software Archive is for all types of software — not just games. Go ahead and check out Apple Presents the IIc, a series of instructional guides that introduced users to their new computer. Then make a spreadsheet in VisiCalc, the 1979 Apple II program that pioneered the computer spreadsheet.

The second difference is legality. The Internet Archive is a reputable organization with a clean website and a name you can trust. That site where you found all those Nintendo ROMs? Yeah, not so much.

The unfortunate problem with legality, however, is it limits your scope. Hopefully more developers will open up their software for emulation through the archive, as it has the potential to make preservation more than an academic exercise. The full list is only 28 programs for now, but expect that number to grow soon.

For now you can always play E.T., the Atari game that reputedly caused the video game industry to crash and burn in 1983 — and you can understand why E.T. caused the video game industry to crash. Spoiler: it’s abysmal.

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Marcia Wallace dies, voice of ‘Simpsons’ Krabappel

FILE – This Sept. 5, 2007 file photo shows Marcia Wallace during TV Land’s 35th anniversary tribute to “The Bob Newhart Show” in Beverly Hills, Calif. Wallace, who played a receptionist on the show, and the voice of Edna Krabappel on “The Simpsons,” died Saturday Oct. 26, 2013. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill, file)

FILE – This Sept. 5, 2007 file photo shows Marcia Wallace during TV Land’s 35th anniversary tribute to “The Bob Newhart Show” in Beverly Hills, Calif. Wallace, who played a receptionist on the show, and the voice of Edna Krabappel on “The Simpsons,” died Saturday Oct. 26, 2013. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill, file)

FILE – In this Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2007 file photo, actors Marcia Wallace and Bill Daily arrive for TV Land’s 35th anniversary tribute to “The Bob Newhart Show” in Beverly Hills, Calif. Wallace, who played a receptionist on the show, and the voice of Edna Krabappel on “The Simpsons,” died Saturday Oct. 26, 2013. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

FILE – This 1972 file photo made available by CBS Television shows Marcia Wallace. Wallace, who played a receptionist on “The Bob Newhart Show” and the voice of Edna Krabappel on “The Simpsons” died Saturday Oct. 26, 2013. (AP Photo/CBS)

(AP) — Marcia Wallace, the voice of scoffing schoolteacher Edna Krabappel on “The Simpsons,” whose wise-cracking characters on “The Bob Newhart Show” and other prime-time hits endeared her to generations of TV viewers, has died.

“Simpsons” executive producer Al Jean called said in a statement Saturday that her “irreplaceable character,” the fourth-grade teacher who contended with Bart Simpson’s constant antics, would be retired from the show. Wallace was 70.

“I was tremendously saddened to learn this morning of the passing of the brilliant and gracious Marcia Wallace. She was beloved by all at The Simpsons,” Jean said. It’s “a terrible loss for all who had the pleasure of knowing her.”

The statement did not provide a date for her death, or a cause.

The longtime TV actress’ credits ranged from playing a receptionist on “The Bob Newhart Show” to appearances on Candice Bergen’s “Murphy Brown.”

On “The Simpsons,” Wallace provided the voice for world-weary Edna Krabappel (cru-BOP’-pul), who smoked cigarettes, made sarcastic comments and finally found love in the arms of Simpson’s neighbor Ned Flanders after fans voted online at the end of season 22 to keep the unlikely couple together.

Wallace’s trademark “Ha!” punctuated Krabappel’s frequent wisecracks, and her character was also known for the catchphrase, “Do what I mean, not what I say.”

Harry Shearer, the voice of Ned Flanders on the show, said Wallace “brought this huge, positive energy” to her work on “The Simpsons.”

“She was just a warm and wonderful person,” Shearer told The Associated Press.

Associated PressSource:
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Florida’s attorney general challenges medical marijuana initiative

By Bill Cotterell

TALLAHASSEE, Florida (Reuters) – Florida’s attorney general told the state’s high court on Thursday that supporters of medical marijuana want to mislead voters into approving a proposal to legalize the use of pot for anyone who can convince a doctor they might benefit from it.

In a court filing, Attorney General Pam Bondi challenged a proposed ballot initiative seeking to put the issue of legalizing medical marijuana on a state ballot next year.

A petition drive called People United for Medical Marijuana, organized by Florida lawyer John Morgan, is trying to round up the nearly 700,000 voter signatures required by February 1.

The Florida Legislature earlier this year refused to take up a statutory change proposing to allow doctors to prescribe marijuana under controlled conditions.

Bondi is required by law to ask Florida’s Supreme Court to review proposed ballot initiatives, called the medical marijuana initiative deceptive.

“The ballot title and summary suggest that the amendment would allow medical marijuana in narrow, defined, circumstances, and only for patients with ‘debilitating diseases.’ But if the amendment passed, Florida law would allow marijuana in limitless situations,” Bondi wrote in a letter filed to the court.

“So long as a physician held the opinion that the drug use ‘would likely outweigh’ the risks, Florida would be powerless to stop it,” she said.

Ben Pollara, the campaign manager of People United for Medical Marijuana, said Bondi is “out of touch” with the plight of desperately ill patients.

“Attorney General Bondi wants to deny Floridians the opportunity to even vote on this issue,” Pollara said in a statement.

A poll commissioned by People United found support in Florida for medical marijuana at 70 percent. To win approval, constitutional amendments require 60 percent support from voters.

Organizers of the campaign so far have 94,541 valid signatures, according to paperwork filed with the court.

California was the first state to legalize pot for medical purposes, and nearly 20 other states and the District of Columbia have enacted similar statutes, although marijuana is classified as an illegal narcotic under federal law.

Florida’s Supreme Court does not endorse or oppose constitutional amendments, but rules on two factors – whether they deal with a single subject and whether the written summaries appearing on the ballot are clear enough to let people know what they are voting on.

The proposed amendment states that its passage would not authorize recreational pot use or any violation of federal drug laws.

Bondi, a Republican, said that is deceptive because no state law or constitutional amendment could override any federal act.

“Because of how the amendment is presented, its true scope and effect remain hidden,” Bondi wrote.

“And because Florida voters deserve the truth, this court has long rejected proposals that ‘hide the ball’ as to the amendment’s true effect,” she argued.

(Editing by Kevin Gray)

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You Can Now Get HBO GO Without Paying for Other Channels

You Can Now Get HBO GO Without Paying for Other Channels

Fans of Game of Thrones, Boardwalk Empire, The Wire, and Girls can finally get their HBO fix without being forced to subscribe to 15 different versions of MTV and other wallet-sucking basic cable networks. And it’s coming from an unlikely …

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