Activists working to develop an alternative American voting system have turned loose their first batch of software code for public review. The Open Source Digital Voting Foundation is spearheading a project to build new voting machines to replace proprietary systems currently in place. The group is in the second year of a an eight-year plan to produce a publicly-owned, open source election system.

Read more

The SenseCam is a specialized digital camera that’s been percolating in the labs of Microsoft Research U.K for about five years now. It’s designed to be worn around the neck on a lanyard. The device takes still images throughout the day, when motion is sensed or when people come into view, as often as every 30 seconds.

The camera can be used for everything from a scrapbooking tool to a medical device for patients with impaired memories. Microsoft has been able to produced only about 500 SenseCams, so it’s decided to license its technology to ramp up production.

U.K. company Vicon will begin selling the cameras, under the name Vicon Revue, to researchers this year and to the general public in 2010.

Read more

In Wired magazine, Nicholas Thompson writes about system known as “Dead Hand.” It was designed by Soviet scientists in the mid 1980s to automatically retaliate against a nuclear strike from the U.S. Thompson reports that the purpose of Dead Hand, also known as Perimeter, was to make certain the USSR could hit back after being attacked, even if the Kremlin was destroyed. Thompson says Dead Hand still exists.

Read more

Windows 7 goes on sale to the public this coming October and, based on reviews of various test versions, it’s sleeker and better performing than its predecessor, Vista.

But even as the company puts the final touches on Windows 7 some top engineers and executives are working on a replacement operating system that would relegate the aging Windows to computer history museums.

Read more