Archive for January 11th, 2007
Straight from the BBC News: “US forces have stormed a building in the northern Iraqi town of Irbil and seized six people said to be Iranians, prompting a diplomatic incident. Iranian and Iraqi officials said the building was an Iranian consulate and the detainees its employees.
The US military said it was still investigating, but that the building did not have diplomatic status.
The troops raided the building at about 0300 (0001GMT), taking away computers and papers, according to local media.
AFP news agency quoted Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman as saying he did not know the nationality of the six but said they were “suspected of being closely tied to activities targeting Iraq and coalition forces”.
“I can confirm for you through our forces there that this is not a consulate or a government building,” he said.”
Straight from Ars Technica: “It didn’t take long for network neutrality to reappear before Congress. Only days into the new session, two sentors have teamed up to re-introduce net neutrality legislation that failed to get a hearing last year, and the bill is already sparking very public debate.Known as the Internet Freedom Preservation Act (S.215), the bill would require network operators to run their network in a “nondiscriminatory manner”—certain types of traffic or traffic from certain sources could not be hampered or prioritized, but operators would still be free to offer different tiers of service. The bill would also require broadband operators to offer “naked” DSL and cable modem service that does not require the purchase of other services.
The bill has a pair of bipartisan sponsors, Senators Byron Dorgan (D-ND) and Olympia Snowe (R-ME), but the six co-sponsors are all Democrats. While the same bill was introduced last year, Senate leaders did not allow it to come to a vote. With new leadership in place, the two senators hoped to make more progress with the legislation this year. And, just as net neutrality supporters predicted, AT&T’s concessions to the FCC are already playing a role in the debate.”
Straight from Ars Technica: “Senator John Sununu (R-NH) has just announced that his office is working on legislation that would prevent the FCC from creating specific technology mandates that have to be followed by consumer electronics manufacturers. What’s his target? The broadcast flag.Television and movie studios have wanted a broadcast flag for years. The flag is a short analog or digital signal embedded into broadcasts that specifies what users can do with the content. It would most often be used to prevent any copying of broadcast material, but there’s an obvious problem with the plan: it requires recording devices to pay attention to the flag. Because no consumers wander the aisles at Best Buy thinking, “You know, I would definitely buy this DVD recorder, but only if it supported broadcast flag technology,” the industry has asked the federal government to step in and simply require manufacturers to respect the flag.
At first they approached the FCC, and the FCC complied by dutifully trotting out some new broadcast flag regulations. Unfortunately for the content industry, the FCC doesn’t generally have the right to tell manufacturers how to build their products. The rules were thrown out by an appeals court in 2005.
Undaunted, the industry tried again in Congress. Last year, when a rewrite to the 1996 Telecommunications Act was being considered, broadcast flag legislation was in fact attached to the bill and even made it through committee before bogging down.
Sununu’s bill will attempt to rein in the FCC and prevent it from reviving the broadcast flag without Congressional authorization to do so. “The FCC seems to be under the belief that it should occasionally impose technology mandates,” Sununu said in a statement. “These misguided requirements distort the marketplace by forcing industry to adopt agency-blessed solutions rather than allow innovative and competitive approaches to develop. We have seen this happen with the proposed video flag, and interest groups are pushing for an audio flag mandate as well. Whether well-intentioned or not, the FCC has no business interfering in private industry to satisfy select special interests or to impose its own views.”
Straight from Engadget: “Well-known theoretical physicist and all-around geek hero Stephen Hawking has told the press he plans to undertake a zero-gravity flight this year in preparation for a hopeful berth on Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic space tourist service when it launches in 2009. Hawking, who has the neurological disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, communicates via a blink-controlled computer and uses a high-tech wheelchair for mobility, making space flight somewhat challenging — but Virgin Galactic spokesperson Stephen Attenborough said in a statement Monday that Branson is committed to working through the issues that need to be addressed in order to accomodate people with disabilities on his company’s trips into suborbit. Cost of a two-hour suborbital spaceflight? $200,000. The look on the most famous cosmologist’s face upon actually making it into space? Priceless.”
Straight from Engadget: “Oh no they didn’t! By now you already know it’s on, and the latest round in the iPhone v. iPhone dance-off comes from Apple spokesman Steve Dowling, who was quoted as saying the Cisco lawsuit is “silly” and that several companies are already using the term iPhone for VoIP products. He called Cisco’s trademark “tenuous at best” and noted his company was the first to ever use the name for a cellphone. He goes on to boast that Cisco is gonna totally get served: “if Cisco wants to challenge us on it, we’re very confident we’ll prevail.” Oh yeah — Apple to Cisco: let’s see you dance, sucka!”
Straight from Ars Technica: “Cisco has sued Apple over the iPhone name a day after media reports suggested that Apple was licensing the name from the networking giant. Cisco acquired the trademark “iPhone” in 2000 from InfoGear Technology (which itself filed in 1996), and was apparently unable to reach an agreement with Apple. It now appears as though Cisco is going to force Apple’s hand.”
Straight from Joystiq: “Yesterday, Microsoft’s Chris Satchell and Peter Moore offered up an old-fashioned bitch slap at Sony’s burgeoning online service, saying the PlayStation Network was “pretty much a disaster,” in an interview with GamesIndustry.biz. The war of words has now been joined by SCEA’s Dave Karraker, who told GamePro, basically, “Um, hey, we’ve sold a lot of systems.”Karraker said the over 200 million PlayStation branded products sold to date were proof that consumers worldwide support Sony’s ability to “deliver hardware, software and services to suit this industry.” Um, sure, but what do historic sales have to do exactly with a brand new online network? Karakker then trotted out Gran Turismo HD as an example of “the potential of the PlayStation Network and the kind of ground breaking content we plan to offer.” Really? Your big defense of your online service is a game demo? Xbox Live has been offering those for over a year now. What else you got?
Apparently not much, at least not much that made it into the “in-depth rebuttal” GamePro printed. If Sony is counting on brand recognition and past sales to carry it through this generation, they’ve got a long, disappointing fight ahead of them.”
Straight from Digg: “Konami has stopped development on 5 PS3 titles, one of them being Gradius. No word on if they completely stopped all development on the titles, or if they’re moving the titles over to the Xbox 360, but either way it’s five more games that the PS3 won’t be getting.”
Straight from Kotaku: “So when given another chance at CES to try out the dragon-flying PS3 exclusive I jumped on it. Unfortunately, my latest impressions were underwhelming. From an artistic standpoint, the game looks fabulous. You are given huge areas within which to fly, with typically no HUD whatsoever obscuring the screen.The game starts to lose its luster is in a number of places. The framerate is just not up to par. During the training missions and the initial fly through, it held up at an decent level. But during dragon-to-dragon battles and the scorching and clawing of thousands of troops while on foot, it sank to rates that I’d consider bordering on unplayable.
The game also appeared to be heavily aliased, with jagged edges most noticeable on dragon wings and when viewing the hordes of troops from above. This may have been due to the monitor set up, but these were Sony Bravias. Not exactly entry-level.”
Straight from Digg: “Sony sold 466,716 PlayStation 3 units in Japan from its Nov. 11 domestic launch date to the end of December. The figures fall short of the 1 million consoles Sony predicted it would sell domestically by year’s end which helped send Sony shares plummeting Wednesday on the Tokyo Stock Exchange.”