Demographic breakdowns are shown below.
Arithmetic mean = 4.8. Median = 2
This page is updated daily.
Demographic breakdowns are shown below.
Arithmetic mean = 4.8. Median = 2
This page is updated daily.
The design, which has been produced by EADS Astrium, is based on the unmanned "Jules Verne" freighter recently sent to the International Space Station.
Astrium says a crewed version of the truck is a logical evolution, and could fly in the next decade if it received support from European governments.Key states - Germany, France, and Italy - are said to be very interested.
Google's claim follows Viacom's move to sue the video sharing service for its inability to keep copyrighted material off its site.
Viacom says it has identified 150,000 unauthorised clips on YouTube.In court documents Google's lawyers say the action "threatens the way hundreds of millions of people legitimately exchange information" over the web.
It is hoped the successor will have a better reception than the much-maligned Vista OS, released last year.
Scheduled for release in 2009 the new fingertip interface lets users enlarge and shrink photos, trace routes on maps, paint pictures or play the piano.
"The way you interact with the system will change dramatically," said Microsoft chairman Bill Gates.
Speaking at the All Things Digital conference in San Diego, the Microsoft Chairman said Windows 7 would incorporate new forms of communication and interaction.
"Today almost all the interaction is keyboard-mouse. Over years to come, the role of speech, vision, ink - all of those things - will be huge."
Chief executive Steve Ballmer described the limited demo of the multi touch screen at the conference as "a small snippet" of the next version of Windows after admitting he wants "to do better" than Vista.
Even though Vista has suffered from a poor public image and a lukewarm welcome from many firms and users, Mr Ballmer said the company has shipped 150 million copies of the programme.
Former White House press secretary Scott McClellan writes in a new memoir that the Iraq war was sold to the American people with a sophisticated "political propaganda campaign" led by President Bush and aimed at "manipulating sources of public opinion" and "downplaying the major reason for going to war."
McClellan includes the charges in a 341-page book, "What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington's Culture of Deception," that delivers a harsh look at the White House and the man he served for close to a decade. He describes Bush as demonstrating a "lack of inquisitiveness," says the White House operated in "permanent campaign" mode, and admits to having been deceived by some in the president's inner circle about the leak of a CIA operative's name.
Owners of such images would face up to three years in prison under the plans.
Under the Obscene Publications Act it is illegal to possess photos of child abuse but it is legal to own drawings and computer-generated images.
Ms Eagle said the proposed move would "help close a loophole that we believe paedophiles are using".
The plans are part of the government's response to a public consultation exercise carried out last year.
If we do not address the issues these images raise now it is likely their availability will continue to grow
Ministry of Justice
The government has acknowledged that paedophiles may be circumventing the law by using computer technology to manipulate real photographs or videos of abuse into drawings or cartoons.
A Ministry of Justice spokeswoman said the authorities had "noticed an increase in the existing availability of these images on the internet".
She said: "If we do not address the issues these images raise now it is likely their availability will continue to grow.
"They are often advertised as a legitimate depiction of child sexual abuse."
The spokeswoman said police and child welfare groups had expressed concern at the "growing increase in availability of these depictions of child sexual abuse".
Ms Eagle said the plans were "not about criminalising art or pornographic cartoons more generally, but about targeting obscene, and often very realistic, images of child sexual abuse which have no place in our society".
Shaun Kelly, safeguarding manager for children's charity NCH, said the proposals were a step in the right direction.
He said: "This is a welcome announcement which makes a clear statement that drawings or computer-generated images of child abuse are as unacceptable as a photograph."It adds to the range of measures to help ensure the safeguarding of children and young people."
By Mark Ward
Technology correspondent, BBC News website
Second Life has long been seen as as the bell-wether for the growing interest in virtual spaces. Here, founder Philip Rosedale talks about the past and future of the parallel world he is helping to create.
These are interesting times for Second Life. In the four short years it has existed, it has seen media coverage go from hysterical to hectoring. It has been hailed as both a harbinger of the next big thing and a brake on the burgeoning development of virtual worlds.
Speculation about its future has intensified as news emerged that chief technology officer Cory Ondrejka, who helped design and build Second Life, has left the company.
But said Philip Rosedale, one of the founders of Linden Lab which oversees the running of Second Life, the departure will not dent the vision all the original engineers had for their creation.
"Cory is a fantastic guy, he's fantastically capable and we will miss him a lot," said Mr Rosedale.
"There's not a shift in direction in the company that I wanted to make or Cory wanted to make that was incompatible," he told the BBC News website.
"We are a core of technologists in our heart," he said. "The first 10 people that joined, there are only two that have left, they are all engineers."
For the near future, Linden Lab is looking at ways of making the technology behind Second Life much more open and easy to use.
"We are still in the early days so the things that are wrong are still wrong," he said, "It is still hard to figure out how to use Second Life and how to find things."
In many respects, he said, online virtual worlds are at the point now that the web reached in the early 1990s.
"We have often had fun in the office finding quotes from the early 90s that map exactly to what they say about Second Life now, " he said, "that it's disorganised, you cannot find anything and there is a lot of crap."
"Virtual worlds are inherently comprehensible to us in a way that the web is not," said Mr Rosedale. "They look like the world we already know and take advantage of our ability to remember and organise."
"Information is presented there in a way that matches our memories and experiences," he said. "Your and my ability to remember the words we use and the information we talk about is much higher if it's presented as a room or space around us."
Equally important, he said, was the visibility or presence that being in a virtual world bestows on its users.
By contrast, he said, when visiting a website people are anonymous and invisible.
Shopping on Amazon might be much easier and enjoyable if you could turn to one of the other 10,000 or so people on the site at the same time as you and ask about what they were buying, get recommendations and swap good or bad experiences.
For virtual worlds to be able to extend this usefulness to the mass of people a lot of work has yet to be done, said Mr Rosedale.
What it might take, he said, was software that would let people browse virtual worlds like they do webpages. Built in to that software would be an identity management system that re-drew yourself to match those different spaces.
"I think it is going to happen, that kind of portability of identity is important but I could not hazard a guess right now about how quickly it will happen," he said.
"But," he said, "with a sufficiently open platform then people will move into it quite rapidly."
It might, he speculated, one day outstrip the web as a means for people to communicate and work together."Because virtual worlds like Second Life do not impose language barriers like the web does - that almost certainly means their ultimate utility range is larger," he said. "We are at the very early stages of something very big."
For many years the average video gamer has been male and aged 24 or more.
These young men typically have the disposable income and time needed to support a gaming habit and, it has to be said, many of the titles being released were designed to appeal to such folk.
But casual games and the appearance of the Nintendo Wii have changed that profile and now it looks like it is about to change again.
Research suggests that there are about
158 online games and virtual worlds in development or up and running designed specifically for children.
While some of that total are recognisable games, most should be classified as virtual worlds, said Joey Seiler, editor of Virtual Worlds News, who drew up the exhaustive list.
Although these worlds, such as Club Penguin and Neopets, have games in them they are more an environment children can explore via their avatar.
"There are things to play with, like monkey bars or virtual snowballs, but it's up to the kids to figure out what to do with them," said Mr Seiler.
VIRTUAL WORLD NUMBERS
Habbo - 90m accounts
NeoPets - 45m accounts
IMVU - 20m accounts
Club Penguin - 15m accounts
Star Doll - 15m accounts
Gaia - 12m accounts
Barbie Girls - 12m accounts
Source: K Zero
For Mr Seiler this popularity is based on three factors: friends, freedom and fun.
"One reason virtual worlds are extremely compelling is that they offer a way to get out of the house and reconnect with friends after their curfew hours," said Mr Seiler.
The virtual worlds also give kids great freedom to express themselves.
"For kids, though, when they don't have as many options in real life to decide what their house looks like, what type of clothes to wear, or where they go, virtual worlds must seem like a whole new land of opportunity," he said.
Finally, he said, these virtual worlds are enjoyable places to be.
"Successful virtual worlds encourage creativity, imagination, and fun," he said. "That's pretty appealing to any kid."
But, said Lane Merrifield co-founder of Club Penguin, creating a game that appeals to children is not easy because they are both technologically adept and very critical consumers.
Respect for the audience, said Mr Merrifield, was vital for that success.
Many virtual worlds aimed at children are tied to toys
"Kids are so perceptive," he said. "Those that enter this space for financial or business benefits, I think kids are going to see through that and there's potential for them to shun those products."
Mr Merrifield added that while children had to be engaged by the world, there was also a job to do to re-assure parents these places were safe.
Club Penguin has a limited chat system and a large number of moderators monitoring interaction in the virtual world to ensure there is no inappropriate contact.
Karla Buchl, a spokeswoman for Burda:ic which runs Hello Kitty online in Europe, said all those overseeing virtual worlds aimed at children had a duty of care for their users.
"It's in our interest to have the sites stay safe," she said, "given our target groups we really need to do that."
But, she added, virtual worlds had to walk a fine line between giving people enough freedom to communicate and limiting the potential for abuse.
Bought and sold
Beyond safety many parents are also worried about the commercial connections of many virtual worlds.
Nic Mitham, head of the K Zero consultancy which watches this industry sector, said entry to many of the virtual worlds was via the purchase of a toy or game.
For instance, he said, the Barbie Girls was won when a child got hold of the Barbie MP3 player. Similarly access to Webkinz is based around purchase of a soft toy.
That trend was only going to grow over the next few years, he said adding that soon it would be hard to name a toy that didn't have some kind of web content associated with it.
Lego Universe will builds on the success of other Lego video games
To pay their way some virtual worlds, such as Club Penguin, offer access to more content for a small subscription fee.
Others use adverts on a home page or portal to offset running costs and some use make money by asking users to pay for the virtual goods used to adorn their in-game homes or avatars.
But, said Mr Mitham, there was no doubt that this stampede to entice children into virtual worlds associated with products, be they books, soft toys or films, would create casualties.
"I expect to see the first signs of fall out next year," he said. By that time the seed cash from venture capitalists behind many of the worlds will have dried up and it will be obvious which ones have managed to grab a significant audience.
"We will see some worlds closing and some acquisitions take place," he said. "In the place of the more generic virtual worlds will come those allied to a particular genre or interest group - such as Lego Universe.
For Mr Mitham there is nothing virtual about this phenomenon.
Adventure Rock is a large scale world that children can explore
Virtual worlds can be valuable places where children rehearse what they will do in real life, reveals research.
They are also a "powerful and engaging" alternative to more passive pursuits such as watching TV, said the BBC-sponsored study.
The research was done with children using the BBC's Adventure Rock virtual world, aimed at those aged 6-12.
The researcher said the BBC should have involved children early on to guide development and provide feedback.
Carried out by Professor David Gauntlett and Lizzie Jackson of the University of Westminster, the research surveyed and interviewed children who were the first to test Adventure Rock.
The online world is a themed island built for the BBC's CBBC channel by Belgian game maker Larian.
Children explore the world alone but it uses message boards so children can share what they find and what they make in the various creative studios dotted around the virtual space.
The research looked at the ways the children used the world and sought feedback from them on its good and bad aspects.
ROLES ADOPTED DURING PLAY
Life system builders
At times children were explorers and at others they were social climbers keen to connect with other players. Some were power users looking for more information about how the workings of the virtual space.
Prof Gauntlett said online worlds were very useful rehearsal spaces where children could try all kinds of things largely free of the consequences that would follow if they tried them in the real world.
For instance, he said, children trying out Adventure Rock learned many useful social skills and played around with their identity in ways that would be much more difficult in real life.
Prof Gauntlett said what children liked about virtual worlds was the chance to create content such as music, cartoons and video and the tools that measured their standing in the world compared to others.
"Virtual worlds can be a powerful, engaging and interactive alternative to more passive media," he said.
He urged the BBC and other creators of virtual spaces for children to get young people involved very early on.
"They really do have good ideas to contribute and they are very good critical friends," said Prof Gauntlett.
"The kids know what they are doing and are very good at telling you in a brutally honest and forthright manner about what they want to see," said Wil Davies, a teacher at Peterston Super Ely primary in Glamorgan, from where some of the research subjects were drawn.Irene Sutherland, a teacher at Merrylee primary, which also took part, said: "Children were adamant about the bits they did not play but were full of ideas about how to improve them."
America bears much of the blame for its waning global clout.
Abstract for "Self-similarity of complex networks and hidden metric
spaces" authored by M. Ángeles Serrano, Dmitri Krioukov, and Marián
Boguñá. Published in Physical Review Letters in 2008.
| View full paper: PDF |
We demonstrate that the self-similarity of some scale-free networks with respect to a simple degreethresholding
renormalization scheme finds a natural interpretation in the assumption that network
nodes exist in hidden metric spaces. Clustering, i.e., cycles of length three, plays a crucial role in this
framework as a topological reflection of the triangle inequality in the hidden geometry. We prove that
a class of hidden variable models with underlying metric spaces are able to accurately reproduce the
self-similarity properties that we measured in the real networks. Our findings indicate that hidden
geometries underlying these real networks are a plausible explanation for their observed topologies
and, in particular, for their self-similarity with respect to the degree-based renormalization.
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Margate, FL
By Maggie Shiels
Technology reporter, BBC News, Silicon Valley
Shareholders are angry that directors rejected Microsoft's bid to buy the firm
Yahoo faces a proxy fight for control of the company by a billionaire activist with a history of closing controversial corporate deals.
Carl Icahn has announced he will file a slate of alternate directors to replace the present board when it gets together for its shareholder meeting on 3 July.
Mr Icahn purchased 50 million shares in Yahoo after Microsoft walked away from talks in May to buy the net portal.
Yahoo told the BBC it would "pass" on the opportunity to comment on the move.
Mr Icahn has been unavailable to discuss his plans but news reports say he has lined up at least 12 potential board candidates. The deadline for nominating a dissident board is 15 May.
Mr Icahn's manoeuvre follows much anger and criticism over Yahoo's decision, led by co-founder and chief executive Jerry Yang, to turn down Microsoft's $47.5bn (£24.4bn) offer earlier this month to buy the company. Yahoo had wanted Microsoft to increase its bid of $33 a share to $37.
The Wall Street Journal says that over the last few days some large Yahoo shareholders have contacted Mr Icahn, urging him to get involved.
Bill Miller of Legg Mason, Yahoo's second largest shareholder, says he is eager to see what Mr Icahn and other activists can do.
"To the extent he can get the parties back to the table I'd be all in favour of that."
But he maintains that unless that happens, "it will be a lot of wasted time and effort".
News of Mr Icahn's involvement in the "Yahoo soap opera certainly raises the heat of the situation" says Shirley Westcott, managing director of policy at Proxy Governance, an independent proxy advisory firm.
Mr Icahn has a history of waging corporate battles
She told the BBC she believes his emergence as a player will add to the pressure the Yahoo board is being put under to go back to Microsoft and restart talks.
"When Microsoft backed off there was a lot of investor anger and now Carl Icahn is sabre rattling there will now be more pressure on Yahoo to renegotiate with Microsoft. There needs to be a meeting of minds."
For the last 24 hours, Silicon Valley and the investor community have been waiting on tenterhooks to see if Mr Icahn would go ahead with a decision to launch a proxy fight to oust Yahoo's current board.
Now that he has, the focus will shift to Microsoft - which has already said talks with Yahoo are over and that it will go it alone in trying to establish a presence in the world of search.
As Bill Gates and executives of the Redmond-based company played host at a CEO summit, the only word from the company was: "Microsoft does not comment on rumour or speculation".
Mr Icahn's proxy fight is not the only effort being waged to replace the present board of directors at Yahoo.
Disgruntled investor Eric Jackson is launching his own grassroots "vote no" campaign urging shareholders to oust all 10 directors on 3 July.
Yahoo's stock has essentially been flat for the last four years... the board has not been doing its job
Mr Jackson, who runs Ironfire Capital, had originally threatened to run a proxy campaign to elect new members. He says a million-dollar fight that he could not afford forced him to switch tack.
"I want to send a message to all board directors that they are accountable and need to be replaced."
In an interview with BBC News, Mr Jackson claims there is a "high level of anger and confusion at the board's decision to turn down Microsoft's offer".
This, he contends, was a major mistake and one of many the board has made over the years.
"Yahoo's stock has essentially been flat for the last four years while the market has gone up over 30% and Google has gone up 440%. So the comparisons are stark and the board has not been doing its job."
Over the next seven weeks, Mr Jackson's "vote no" campaign will rally support through the web and by hitting the phones.
Ms Westcott at Governance Proxy says while Mr Jackson's campaign will fire up small shareholders, the vote that will really count is that of the big players.
"I think there are plenty of shareholders who will oppose the re-election of this board, and this grassroots campaign will have a lot of success, but it is the institutional investors who will carry the day."
And it is those investors that Mr Icahn is expected to carry.
For any director to be voted off or on to the board, all it takes is a simple majority vote.
"If there is no progress between Yahoo and Microsoft over a deal you could end up with enough angry shareholders and institutions voting the whole board out of office," Ms Westcott says.
"And that would be a horrible scenario for Yahoo."
Mr Icahn is no stranger to such battles. Earlier this year he was instrumental in persuading BAE Systems, a San Jose software maker, to accept an offer to be bought by Oracle for $8.5bn. In March he pressured Motorola to split into two companies.
While he has a reputation for shrewd deals, even he cannot win over management all the time. But he mostly always makes money.
In 2006 he unsuccessfully pushed for the break up of Time Warner. In a recent interview on America's 60 Minutes programme he said: "Maybe I made a mistake, but I made $300m on it. So is that so bad?"
Hewlett-Packard (HP) has confirmed that it is in talks to buy the information technology provider Electronic Data Systems (EDS).
It followed a report in the Wall Street Journal, which said that HP was close to a deal to buy EDS for between $12bn (£6.1bn) and $13bn.
EDS is a Texas-based information technology services company, of which HP is among the biggest customers.
EDS shares closed up 27.9% while HP shares ended the day down 4.7%.
HP issued a short statement after the market closed.
"HP today confirmed that it is engaged in advanced discussions with Electronic Data Systems Corporation regarding a possible business combination involving the two companies," it said.
Some analysts were uncertain about the logic of the potential deal.
"Unless HP has some synergies where they can dramatically impact earnings growth of EDS, I'm not sure why they'd want to buy it," said Jim Huguet of Great Companies in Tampa.
"Earnings growth has averaged 2.8%, so it's not a major earnings growth company."
But others saw the potential deal as a chance for HP to become a big IT services provider.
"EDS has been relatively stagnant over the past few years," said Chad Hersh from Novarica.
"HP has been trying to promote themselves as a major services organization over the past few years."This will certainly help them with that."
Mr Sharif has staked his name on restoring the judges to their jobs
One of the main parties in Pakistan has announced it is pulling out of the government, just three months after landmark general elections.
Ex-PM Nawaz Sharif says his PML-N is quitting because of differences over the reinstatement of judges sacked by President Pervez Musharraf.
Mr Sharif wants the judges, who became a focus of opposition to Mr Musharraf, to get all their old powers back.
But the biggest party, the PPP, wants limitations on their powers.
Both sides were eager to avoid the appearance of a major rift, but analysts called the pull-out a huge set-back that could lead to growing instability.
The BBC's Barbara Plett in Islamabad says further cracks in the alliance may give a lease of life to pro-Musharraf parties which were defeated in recent elections.