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Hollywood Nervous About Kagan's Fair Use Views
Posted by News Fetcher on May 11 '10 at 04:15 AM
By kdawson from Slashdot's fair's-fair deptartment:
Of the many commentaries and analyses springing up about Obama's Supreme Court nominee, this community might be most interested in one from the Hollywood Reporter. Reader Hugh Pickens notes that Hollywood may have reason to be nervous about the nomination of Elena Kagan to be the next US Supreme Court justice. "As dean of Harvard Law School from 2003 to 2009, Kagan was instrumental in beefing up the school's Berkman Center for Internet & Society by recruiting Lawrence Lessig and others who take a strongly liberal position on fair use in copyright disputes. And Kagan got an opportunity to showcase her feelings on intellectual property when the US Supreme Court asked her, as US Solicitor General, to weigh in on the big Cablevision case. 'After Cablevision announced in 2006 that it would allow subscribers to store TV programs on the cable operator's computer servers instead of on a hard-top box, Hollywood studios went nuts, predicting that the days of licensing on-demand content would be over,' writes Gardner. Kagan's brief compared remote-storage DVRs to VCRs (PDF), brought up the Sony/Betamax case, and lightly slapped Cablevision on the wrist for not making fair use a bigger issue. 'It sounds to us like Kagan would love the Court to determine when customers have a fair-use right to copy, which should cheer those on the copy-left at the EFF, and worry many in the entertainment industry.' On the minus side, Kagan has surrounded herself with entertainment industry advocates in the Justice Department."

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EA Introduces "Online Pass" To Get In On Used Games Market
Posted by News Fetcher on May 11 '10 at 02:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's gee-thanks deptartment:
EA Sports has unveiled a new feature that they hope will help them get a piece of the lucrative used games market: the Online Pass. Each of their new titles will come with a one-time code that allows access to "premium" content and features. Players who buy the games used can get the same content, but will need to pay $10 for the privilege. "According to EA, the content can include anything from title updates and downloads to features like online leagues — and even online gameplay and multiplayer modes. ... EA will offer 10-day trials of Pass content so that users can see what they would be getting. So far, EA seems to be limiting the premium add-on experiment to its sports portfolio. ... The company has apparently gained the support of retailer GameStop, which has been watching with a close eye efforts on the part of publishers to discourage its thriving used games business. According to the retailer, encouraging premium content add-ons still benefits GameStop, since it sells PlayStation Network and Microsoft Points cards. It praised EA's Online Pass as 'forward-thinking.'"

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Seeing the Forest For the Trees
Posted by News Fetcher on May 11 '10 at 01:30 AM
By kdawson from Slashdot's i-can-see-clearly-now deptartment:
swframe writes "A new object recognition system developed at MIT and UCLA looks for rudimentary visual features shared by multiple examples of the same object. Then it looks for combinations of those features shared by multiple examples, and combinations of those combinations, and so on, until it has assembled a model of the object that resembles a line drawing. Popular Science has a summary of the research. I've been working on something similar and I think this accomplishment looks very promising."

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MythTV 0.23 Released
Posted by News Fetcher on May 11 '10 at 01:00 AM
By kdawson from Slashdot's record-with-daring-and-whimsey deptartment:
An anonymous reader writes "After six months of our new accelerated development schedule, MythTV 0.23 is now available. MythTV 0.23 brings a new event system, brand new Python bindings, the beta MythNetvision Internet video plugin, new audio code and surround sound upmixer, several new themes (Arclight and Childish), a greatly improved H.264 decoder, and fixes for analog scanning, among many others. Work towards MythTV 0.24 is in full swing, and has be progressing very well for the last several months. If all goes according to plan, MythTV 0.24 will bring a new MythUI OSD, a nearly rewritten audio subsystem capable of handling 24- and 32-bit audio and up to 8 channels of output, Blu-ray disc and disc structure playback, and various other performance, usability, and flexibility improvements."

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Can Employer Usurp Copyright On GPL-Derived Work?
Posted by News Fetcher on May 10 '10 at 10:45 PM
By kdawson from Slashdot's tangled-web deptartment:
An anonymous reader writes "I am a recent graduate, and I've been working on my own on a project that uses GPL-licensed libraries. Later a university department hired me, on a part-time basis, to develop this project into a solution that they needed. The project's size increased over time and soliciting help from the open source community seemed like the obvious thing to do. However, when I suggested this, my boss was not interested, and it was made clear to me that the department's position was that copyright of the whole thing belonged to them. Indeed, by default work created for an employer belongs to the employer, so I may have gotten myself in the same trap discussed here years ago. Even though I want to release my code to the public I don't know whether I have the legal right to do so. I did start the project on my own. And, since no written or verbal agreement was ever made to transfer copyright over to my employer, I question whether they can claim that they now own the extended version of the project. Also, the whole project relies on GPL libraries, and without those libraries it would be useless. Can they still claim copyright and prevent me from publishing the source code even though it is derived from GPL software?" Some early commenters on the submission pointed out that it matters whether the libraries were licensed under the LGPL vs. the GPL.

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Google Defends Privacy Policies
Posted by News Fetcher on May 10 '10 at 07:45 PM
By kdawson from Slashdot's data-liberation-front deptartment:
adeelarshad82 writes "Google responded to a letter from 10 international privacy commissioners who criticized the company's approach to privacy, insisting that Google protects its customers and has moved quickly to make changes regarding Google Buzz. In a letter to the commissioners, global privacy counsels for Google stated, 'We are committed to being transparent with our users about the information that we collect when they use our products and services, why we collect it, and how we use it to improve their experience.' The April inquiry from the officials included privacy commissioners from Canada, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Ireland, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Spain, and the UK."

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13 Open Source Hardware Companies Make $1+ Million
Posted by News Fetcher on May 10 '10 at 06:00 PM
By kdawson from Slashdot's make-it-up-on-volume deptartment:
kkleiner writes "Selling products whose design anyone can access, edit, or use on their own is pretty crazy. It's also good business. At the annual hacker conference Foo Camp East this year, Phillip Torrone and Limor Fried from Adafruit Industries gave a rapid fire five-minute presentation on thirteen companies with million+ dollar revenues from open source hardware. The thirteen add up to $50 million this year. While this business model is counterintuitive for those accustomed to our current system, patent- and copyright-encrusteded system as it is, Torrone and Fried estimate that the industry will reach a billion dollars by 2015."

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Methane-Trapping Ice May Have Triggered Gulf Spill
Posted by News Fetcher on May 10 '10 at 04:15 PM
By kdawson from Slashdot's packs-a-punch deptartment:
sciencehabit writes with an excerpt from Science that begins: "Methane-trapping ice of the kind that has frustrated the first attempt to contain oil gushing offshore of Louisiana may have been a root cause of the blowout that started the spill in the first place, according to [UC Berkeley] professor Robert Bea, who has extensive access to BP p.l.c. documents on the incident. If methane hydrates are eventually implicated, the US oil and gas industry would have to tread even more lightly as it pushes farther and farther offshore in search of energy."

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Biggest Detector To Look For Gravitational Waves
Posted by News Fetcher on May 10 '10 at 03:30 PM
By kdawson from Slashdot's mission-of-gravity deptartment:
Hugh Pickens sends in coverage in the Telegraph of a joint NASA-ESA experimental mission, to launch around 2020. It involves three spacecraft orbiting the Sun, separated by 3 million miles, each with a payload of two lasers and a 4.6-cm cube of gold-platinum alloy. The point of it all is to look for gravitational waves. The mission is called LISA, a reasonably non-strained acronym for Laser Interferometer Space Antenna. The Telegraph makes a point of LISA being the largest experiment ever constructed (in terms of its dimensions). Neither that newspaper nor the project page at NASA mentions how much the experiment will cost, but it's almost certainly an order of magnitude or more above the $66 million estimated for a gravitational wave detector the size of the galaxy, which we discussed last fall.

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"Serious Games" Industry Gains Traction
Posted by News Fetcher on May 10 '10 at 02:45 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's insert-serious-business-joke-here deptartment:
schliz writes "So-called 'serious games' are gaining traction in military, business, education, and medical applications as Gen X and Y come into power, iTnews reports. While game developers acknowledge the risk of trivializing real-world issues (as in the Six Days in Fallujah controversy), intelligently designed 'serious games' could allow complex situations to be presented in a simple way. Cisco, for example, has an amusing online games arcade that prepares networking professionals for a variety of certifications."

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Bill Gates Funds Seawater-Spraying Cloud Machines
Posted by News Fetcher on May 10 '10 at 01:45 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's blue-sky-of-death deptartment:
lucidkoan writes "Environmentalists have long argued about whether geoengineering (using technology to alter the climate) is a good way to tackle climate change. But the tactic has some heavy hitters on its side, including Bill Gates. The Microsoft founder recently announced plans to invest $300,000 into research for machines that suck up seawater and spray it into the air, seeding white clouds that reflect rays of sunlight away from Earth. The machines, developed by a San Francisco-based research group called Silver Lining, turn seawater into tiny particles that can be shot up over 3,000 feet in the air. The particles increase the density of clouds by increasing the amount of nuclei contained within."

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Canonical Bringing an Instant-On Ubuntu
Posted by News Fetcher on May 10 '10 at 01:00 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's feeling-the-heat-from-chrome-os deptartment:
Today at the Ubuntu Developers Summit, Mark Shuttleworth presented a few upcoming Ubuntu projects, including "Light" versions of the operating system for "both netbook and desktop, that are optimized for dual-boot scenarios." Shuttleworth also took the wraps off Unity, a new lightweight interface that will be included in Ubuntu Light and eventually in Ubuntu Netbook Edition as well. "First, we want to move the bottom panel to the left of the screen, and devote that to launching and switching between applications. That frees up vertical space for web content, at the cost of horizontal space, which is cheaper in a widescreen world. ... Second, we'll expand that left-hand launcher panel so that it is touch-friendly. With relatively few applications required for instant-on environments, we can afford to be more generous with the icon size there. ... Third, we will make the top panel smarter." Ars got a chance to try out a prototype of Unity, saying, "Its unique visual style melds beautifully with Ubuntu's new default theme and its underlying interaction model seems compelling and well-suited for small screens."

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Android Sales Surpass iPhone OS Sales
Posted by News Fetcher on May 10 '10 at 12:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's battle-for-second-place deptartment:
gollum123 writes with this excerpt from VentureBeat: "Smartphones based on Google's Android mobile operating system have outsold Apple's iPhone in the US during the first quarter of 2010, according to a report by research firm The NPD Group. The data places Android, with 28 percent of the smartphone market [last quarter], in second place behind RIM's Blackberry smartphone market share of 36 percent. Apple now sits in third place with 21 percent. NPD points to a Verizon buy-one-get-one-free promotion for all of its smartphones as a major factor in the first quarter numbers. Verizon saw strong sales for the Motorola Droid and Droid Eris Android phones, as well as the Blackberry Curve, thanks to its promotional offer. Verizon launched a $100 million marketing campaign for the Droid when it hit the market in November 2009, which likely attributed to strong sales in the first quarter as well." Preston Gralla notes that it's not all bad news for Apple; this report could help their case in upcoming antitrust discussions.

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Businesses Struggle To Control Social Networking
Posted by News Fetcher on May 10 '10 at 11:15 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's some-struggles-are-doomed-to-failure deptartment:
Lucas123 writes "Businesses in highly regulated industries are trying to strike a balance between workers who use social networking sites such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn to communicate and trying to satisfy federal requirements to monitor, capture and audit all forms of electronic communications. As with instant messaging a decade ago, corporations are first blocking all access to the applications, and then considering what tools may be available to control them in the future. A cottage industry is being built around software that can not only control access to social networking websites but also ensure conversations over those websites can be stored for electronic discovery purposes."

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Hacking Vim 7.2
Posted by News Fetcher on May 10 '10 at 10:45 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's read-all-about-it deptartment:
briancarper writes "Vim is an open-source text editor with a power and flexibility matched only by the steepness of its learning curve. As the author of this book states, 'Vim Can Do Everything' but configuring it to do so is sometimes daunting. Hacking Vim 7.2 aims to help the average Vimmer get the most out of customizing Vim, for fun and productivity." Read on for the rest of briancarper's review.

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Twitter Bug Lets Users Force Others To Follow Them
Posted by News Fetcher on May 10 '10 at 09:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's take-that-conan deptartment:
Several readers have sent word of a Twitter bug which has been allowing users to make any other user follow them by simply tweeting "accept (username)". People have been abusing it to make the accounts of various celebrities and publications follow them. Twitter acknowledged the bug and disabled the follow/unfollow system until they can get it fixed.

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Record-Breaking Galaxy Cluster Found
Posted by News Fetcher on May 10 '10 at 08:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's deeper-field deptartment:
The Bad Astronomer writes "Astronomers are reporting that they have detected the most distant cluster of galaxies ever seen: a mind-smashing 9.6 billion light years away, 400 million light years more distant than the previous record holder. The cluster, handily named SXDF-XCLJ0218-0510, was seen in infrared images by the giant Subaru telescope, and confirmed with spectroscopy and the X-ray detection of million-degree gas (a smoking gun of clusters). Every time astronomers push back the record for clusters, they learn more about the early conditions of the Universe, so this cluster will provide insight into how the Universe itself changed over the first few billion years after the Big Bang."

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HP's Slate To Be Replaced By WebOS Tablet?
Posted by News Fetcher on May 10 '10 at 08:00 AM
By CmdrTaco from Slashdot's mondays-can-be-so-boring deptartment:
itwbennett writes "Last week the rumor mill was rumbling about the demise of HP's Slate. 'This past weekend brought fresh rumors to the surface,' writes blogger Peter Smith. 'Now the insiders are saying that the Slate will be reborn as the HP Hurricane, and it will run WebOS. That makes perfect sense given HP's recent purchase of Palm and HP's declaration that they were 'doubling down on WebOS.' More surprising is the rumored launch date of Q3 of this year, which seems like a pretty fast turn-around. Particularly so if HP ditches the Atom and goes with an ARM processor, which Electronista suggests it would have to do.'"

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Defense Chief Urges Big Cuts In Military Spending
Posted by News Fetcher on May 10 '10 at 07:30 AM
By CmdrTaco from Slashdot's nasa-quick-get-in-there deptartment:
Hugh Pickens writes "The NY Times reports that US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates says the Pentagon is wasting money it will no longer get, and focused on targets as diverse as the large number of generals and admirals, the layers of bureaucracy in the Pentagon, and the cost of military health care. 'The attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, opened a gusher of defense spending that nearly doubled the base budget over the last decade,' Gates says. 'Military spending on things large and small can and should expect closer, harsher scrutiny. The gusher has been turned off, and will stay off for a good period of time.' Gates, a Republican who was carried over as Defense Secretary from the Bush administration, has already canceled or trimmed 30 weapons programs with long-term savings predicted at $330 billion, but is now seeking to convert as much as 3% of spending from 'tail' to 'tooth' — military slang for converting spending from support services to combat forces. While this may not seem like a significant savings in the Pentagon's base budget, cuts of any size are certain to run hard against entrenched constituencies. Gates's critique of top-heavy headquarters overseas was underscored by the location of the speech — the Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum. President Eisenhower, the supreme allied commander in Europe during World War II, warned the nation of the menacing influence of an emerging 'military-industrial complex' in his farewell address as president in 1960. 'Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals,' said Eisenhower, 'so that security and liberty may prosper together.'"

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3rd-Grader Busted For Jolly Rancher Possession
Posted by News Fetcher on May 10 '10 at 07:15 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's step-away-from-the-candy deptartment:
theodp writes "A third-grader in a small Texas school district received a week's detention for merely possessing a Jolly Rancher. Leighann Adair, 10, was eating lunch Monday when a teacher confiscated the candy. Her parents said she was in tears when she arrived home later that afternoon and handed them the detention notice. But school officials are defending the sentence, saying the school was abiding by a state guideline that banned 'minimal nutrition' foods. 'Whether or not I agree with the guidelines, we have to follow the rules,' said school superintendent Jack Ellis."

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