Archive for June 28th, 2006
My God man, haven’t these people seen Highlander 2?
Straight from Slashdot: “Ashtangiman writes to tell us The New York Times is running an article about geoengineering in which many solutions to global warming include decreasing the amount of sunlight that the planet sees. The ideas are not new, many have been around for quite some time, however they have been relegated to the fringes of science and many have never been published because of this. From the article:
“Geoengineering is no magic bullet, Dr. Cicerone said. But done correctly, he added, it will act like an insurance policy if the world one day faces a crisis of overheating, with repercussions like melting icecaps, droughts, famines, rising sea levels and coastal flooding.”
More on discoloration problems for the new MacBooks:
Straight from Engadget: “Either TUAW readers have especially sweaty, acidic, bacteria-ridden palms, or they’re being hit hard by the MacBook discoloration issue so many have dreaded might strike their own smooth, plastic Apple laptops. Granted, you can’t really take a poll with 1,556 votes to mean anything about a problem of this nature — especially with so many haters and fanboys out there just waiting to bust out a script and tilt the scales — but there’s one company that knows just how many MacBooks have been seeing this issue, and until that one company issues a recall it’s unlikely we’re going to know just how severe this problem really is.”
"However, because the original packets are passed through the firewall unscathed, if both of the endpoints were to completely ignore the firewall’s reset packets, then the connection will proceed unhindered! We’ve done some real experiments on this — and it works just fine!! Think of it as the Harry Potter approach to the Great Firewall — just shut your eyes and walk onto Platform 9¾."
Straight from Slashdot: "rs232 writes to tell us The Register is reporting on a publishing firm that got fined for using unlicensed fonts. The firm claimed to only be actively using one font, but was found to be using approximately 11,000. In addition to their font headaches, the firm was also found to be unlicensed on 95% of their Adobe software and 75% of their Microsoft software — talk about a bad week."
Straight from Slashdot: "Just read on Zeropaid that Spain has recently voted in compulsory copyright licensing, levying a tax on all blank media. This includes cd-r, dvd-r, flash media, printers, scanners, cell phones, everything. The tax will be collected by the government and ‘given to the copyright holder.’"
Straight from Ars Technica: "If the broad rewrite of US telecommunications laws (the Communications, Consumer’s Choice, and Broadband Deployment Act of 2006) that we have been reporting on for the past several days makes it to the Senate floor, it will include the broadcast flag. Despite objections voiced by Sen. John Sununu (R-NH), the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation has left both the audio and video broadcast flags unmolested."
What’s that I hear? Perhaps yet another nail in the Sony PS3 coffin?
Straight from Joystiq: "Are you of the mind that $60 is too much to spend for a video game? According to Spong, they say that Sony exec Kaz Hirai has told PlayStation Magazine that anything over $59 should be expected as far as pricing goes for their next-generation games. Spong quotes Hirai in PSM:
"I don’t think consumers expect software pricing to suddenly double. So, the quick answer is that we want to make it as affordable as possible, knowing that there is a set consumer expectation for what software has cost for the past twelve years. That’s kind of the best answer I can give you. So, if it becomes a bit higher than $59, don’t ding me, but, again, I don’t expect it to be $100."
So, really, how much should we all be spending on games? I’ve had many a casual gamer come up and mention that they heard the PS3 games will cost upwards of $80. I don’t think we will see that this generation, but it’s certainly not out of the realm of possibility. Is Metal Gear Solid 4 worth $80-$90? How about $70?"
Straight from Slashdot: "As reported by KATU in Portland, Oregon, a man was arrested for parking outside a coffee shop in nearby Vancouver, Washington, and using their open wireless AP — for three straight months. ‘"He doesn’t buy anything," Manager Emily Pranger says about the man she ended up calling 911 about. "It’s not right for him to come and use it."’ Turns out the guy was a registered sex-offender as well."
Straight from Joystiq: "Sony is so confident that their next-gen console is going to be such a smash hit, that the loss of exclusivity of their huge PS2 and PSP top-seller, Grand Theft Auto, will be no skin off their bones. In an interview with TheStreet.com, Jack Tretton, executive vice president of Sony Computer Entertainment America, was asked if the loss of GTA as an exclusive franchise would hurt the PS3. His response: "There’s no question that having the Grand Theft Auto franchise helped us a lot and helped us sell some units, but I don’t think the battle would be any different with or without Grand Theft Auto."
Completely dumbfounded by Tretton’s response, TheStreet asked one more time, just to be sure. "No, I don’t think it hurts us. No, I really don’t," Tretton said. Whatever the execs at Sony are smokin’, please let me know because I would love some of that. Exclusivity is pretty much the one thing that Sony really has going for it. To dismiss the true effectiveness of holding titles in your hands like Grand Theft Auto, Final Fantasy or God of War is just complete ignorance. I don’t believe for one second, however, that Tretton or any Sony exec truly doesn’t care about losing GTA. Whether they want to admit it or not, it hurts."
Straight from Ars Technica: "Ever wonder how pirates get their hands on the latest movies before the public even gets to see them? One method has been revealed by Variety (subscription required). Movie critic Paul Sherman was arrested and charged with selling over 100 "screeners"—preview copies of movies on DVD handed out to reviewers—to various pirate and warez groups over the last few years.
Sherman, no relation to the animated Jay Sherman of FOX’s short-lived The Critic, did not exactly get rich from his piratical dealings. He received a mere US$4,714 for the use of his screeners. If convicted, he could face a maximum penalty of US$250,000 and a three-year prison term."
Straight from Ars Technica: "The US is unprepared to deal with a major cyber emergency. That’s the conclusion of a new report from the Business Roundtable, a group of 160 CEOs from the nation’s largest companies. Their concern about the issue is largely economic, since the Internet is now a key element of so much business activity. The group spent the last year looking at Internet safety and disaster recovery and concluded that a major strike (involving hackers, malicious software, natural disaster, or physical attack) on the basic fabric of the Internet could bring the US economy to a halt.
The Hurricane Katrina disaster was a wake-up call to Americans who believed that the country’s wealth, ingenuity, and "can-do" attitude could fix a problem of any scale in a short period of time. The reality of the situation was that without preparation and proper coordination, even the US was incapable of responding to a disaster in a timely fashion. That lesson was not lost on the Business Roundtable; Katrina is cited several times in the report."
Straight from Ars Technica: "The inventor of the WWW has a short, to-the-point post that explains exactly why supporting real, bona fide net neutrality is the Right Thing to Do. I absolutely encourage you to read the entire post, but really he sums up the whole argument for net neutrality in his opening sentence:
When I invented the Web, I didn’t have to ask anyone’s permission.
If you think about it in terms of start-ups having to ask the permission of AT&T to innovate, then the whole net neutrality issue becomes less complicated."
Straight from Slashdot: “The Hubble’s Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS) went offline on June 19, 2006. The cause is yet undetermined, although engineers suspect that the culprit may be a bad transistor in the ACS’s electronic control board or possibly a memory corruption event due to energetic particle bombardment. Since a backup electronic controller is available for service, this incident is not very likely to lead to the end of the Hubble’s Advanced Camera in any event. But, before any attempt to reactivate the camera, engineers are cautiously evaluating and isolating the probable cause of this incident in order to avoid any further incident.”
Straight from Slashdot: “NASA hopes the private-sector vehicles can bridge an expected gap between when the space shuttle fleet is grounded in 2010 and the crew exploration vehicle is flying in 2014. A thriving commercial space transportation industry also can offer researchers, and others, opportunities to send payloads into space without relying on NASA’s crowded space shuttle schedule or worrying ‘that the government will decide next month or next year not to launch,’ Griffin said.”
Straight from Slashdot: “According to DistroWatch, Damn Small Linux (DSL) is currently the most popular microLinux distribution. Linux.com (Also owned by VA) takes a look at why this might be the case, and how you can best take advantage of it. From the article: ‘What began as a toy project to stuff the maximum software inside a 50MB ISO file has matured into a refined community project known for its speed and versatility. DSL includes the ultra-lightweight FluxBox window manager, two Web browsers, Slypheed email client and news reader, xpdf PDF viewer, XMMS with MPEG media file support for playing audio and video, BashBurn CD burner, XPaint image editing, VNCViewer and rdesktop to control Windows and Linux desktops remotely, and more. If they could do all this in 50 megs, imagine what they could do in more space. Last month the DSL developers released DSL-Not, a.k.a. DSL-N 0.1 RC1. It’s 83.5MB of DSL coated with GTK sugar. Yummy!’”
Why, exactly, weren’t they doing this long ago?
Straight from Slashdot: “Stung by a series of data losses or disclosures at federal agencies over the past month, the White House is requiring all agencies to follow new guidelines when allowing employees to carry sensitive data on laptops or access the information from afar, according to the Washington Post. From the article: ‘To comply with the new policy, agencies will have to encrypt all data on laptop or handheld computers unless the data are classified as “non-sensitive” by an agency’s deputy director. Agency employees also would need two-factor authentication — a password plus a physical device such as a key card — to reach a work database through a remote connection, which must be automatically severed after 30 minutes of inactivity. Finally, agencies would have to begin keeping detailed records of any information downloaded from databases that hold sensitive information, and verify that those records are deleted within 90 days unless their use is still required.’”
Straight from Ars Technica: “Like the Little Engine that Could, for the past year, a group of four librarians have chugged on against the might of the FBI in a case against the Patriot Act. In spite of the best efforts of the Justice Department, the librarians have struck a blow for free speech and won.Our tale begins on February 15, 2005, in a still-undisclosed small town library in Connecticut. Between 4:00 and 4:45pm on that day, a patron apparently accessed a computer and used it to announce some sort of terrorist threat. The FBI swung into gear, tracked the source of the threat to a particular computer, and sent a National Security Letter (NSL) to several librarians associated with Library Connection, Inc.—a service which supplies Internet access to 26 public libraries, including the one in question.
The NSL is a legal oddity of the Patriot Act, and it allows the FBI to make a unilateral demand which would usually require court oversight. In effect, an NSL requires the FBI to police itself, making it similar to asking the fox to watch a mirror. Although exact figures are impossible to come by, it is estimated that some 30,000 NSLs are now sent out each year. An NSL also comes with the added
bonus onus of never allowing the recipient to publicly discuss its contents, topic, or even existence. In other words, the recipient is supposed to get the NSL, comply with it, and pretend nothing ever happened.”
Straight from Ars Technica: “Time Warner is leaving no stone unturned in its experiments in online video sales. After last month’s BitTorrent distribution announcement, the studio has now followed up with another nontraditional video reseller known as Guba. Time Warner has released an initial batch of about 200 TV episodes and feature movies, including The Matrix, Good Night, and Good Luck, Babylon 5, and The Flintstones. The selection is expected to grow over time.For many years, Guba.com has provided a simple way to access videos from Usenet discussion groups. For US$15 a month, the service used to let you categorize, organize, and transcode Usenet videos for your viewing pleasure. If you’re thinking about viewing pleasure of the more adult variety, that branch of the operation was spun off into sister site Skin Video last year. What remains under the Guba banner is pretty clean, and the staff is scrubbing it daily to keep it that way.”
Straight from Slashdot: “Google is set to introduce a test version of its GBuy online-payment service as early as this week, presaging a shake-up in the online-payments market now dominated by eBay’s PayPal, the Wall Street Journal reports. From the article: ‘Here is how the service will work: Consumers who search for items like “shoes” or “strollers” on Google’s search site will see text ads with a symbol or icon designating advertisers that accept GBuy payments. Shoppers normally would have clicked on an ad and been linked to that merchant’s Web site. Now, while they will still be linked to the merchant’s site, they will go through a different checkout process integrated with Google if they choose GBuy for their transaction. Details of the service could still change before Google’s official GBuy announcement.’”
Our current patent system is in dire need of an overhaul. Perhaps this is the beginning.
Straight from Ars Technica: “In a move that could have huge implications for the US patent system, the Supreme Court has agreed to hear arguments in the case of KSR v. Teleflex. The case centers on the question of obviousness: when is a patent so… patently obvious that it should not be granted?
KSR International manufactures gas pedals for a number of GM trucks and SUVs. A few years ago, it came up with an electronic sensor that could automatically adjust the height of a vehicle’s pedals to the height of a driver. Teleflex sued KSR, saying that the adjustable pedals infringed on its patent for a similar product.
Over the course of the litigation, KSR raised the question of obviousness. According to a 1952 federal patent law, an invention cannot be patented if a “person having ordinary skill in the art” would consider it obvious. KSR won in the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, but made the unusual move of appealing the decision to the Supreme Court on the basis that the appeals court did not apply the test of obviousness, and furthermore, has been misapplying federal patent law for years.
Instead, KSR argues that the US Patent and Trademark Office should deny patents in cases where the invention merely combines components performing functions that they were previously known to do.”