redletterdave writes "After blocking Google's Gmail service for a little more than a week, the Iranian government has decided to remove the digital barrier after a barrage of complaints, some of which came from Iran's own parliament. While the Iranian government has released no official statement as to why Google's Gmail service was blocked in the first place, several Iranian news agencies reported the ban was connected to the inflammatory anti-Islam film 'The Innocence of Muslims,' which had been uploaded to YouTube, one of Google Inc.'s many subsidiaries."
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FatLittleMonkey writes "You may recall Cody Wilson's project to create a 3D printed gun, mentioned previously on Slashdot. Well, the Defense Distributed project has suffered a decidedly non-technical setback, with printer manufacturer Stratasys revoking the lease and repossessing the printer (presumably prying it from plastic models of Cory's cold dead hands). According to New Scientist, the manufacturer cited his lack of a federal firearms manufacturer's license as their reason for the repossession, adding that it does not knowingly allow its printers to be used for illegal purposes." Homemade firearms are not (in the U.S.) per se illegal on a federal basis, though states have varying degrees of regulation. It would be helpful if anyone more conversant with firearms law than me can point out what law or laws this project might be breaking.
black6host writes "Humans have reached the moon and are planning to return samples from Mars, but when it comes to exploring the land deep beneath our feet, we have only scratched the surface of our planet. This may be about to change with a $1 billion mission to drill 6 km (3.7 miles) beneath the seafloor to reach the Earth's mantle — a 3000 km-thick layer of slowly deforming rock between the crust and the core which makes up the majority of our planet — and bring back the first ever fresh samples."
An anonymous reader writes "In December the nations of the world will gather in Dubai for the UN-convened World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT – pronounced 'wicket'). The topic of the meeting is nothing less than the regulation of the Internet. Under the auspices of the International Telecommunications Union the governments of the world will review the international treaty known as the International Telecommunications Regulations (ITR). The last review of the ITR was in 1988 when the Internet was just aborning. The remarkable and reshaping growth of the Internet provides the excuse for the new review. What's really afoot, however, is an effort by some nations to rebalance the Internet in their favor by reinstituting telecom regulatory concepts from the last century." At least it's being held in a hotbed of unfettered online communication.
Ars Technica reports on Judge Posner's weblog, and in particular a recent post on the excessive strength of U.S. copyright and patent law: "The problem of excessive patent protection is at present best illustrated by the software industry. This is a progressive, dynamic industry rife with invention. But the conditions that make patent protection essential in the pharmaceutical industry are absent. Nowadays most software innovation is incremental, created by teams of software engineers at modest cost, and also ephemeral—most software inventions are quickly superseded. ... The most serious problem with copyright law is the length of copyright protection, which for most works is now from the creation of the work to 70 years after the author’s death. Apart from the fact that the present value of income received so far in the future is negligible, obtaining copyright licenses on very old works is difficult because not only is the author in all likelihood dead, but his heirs or other owners of the copyright may be difficult or even impossible to identify or find. The copyright term should be shorter." Reader jedirock pointed to a related article on how the patent situation got so out of hand in the first place.
Hugh Pickens writes in about the detrimental effects of mandatory helmet laws (at least as applied to adults): "Elisabeth Rosenthal writes that in the United States the notion that bike helmets promote health and safety by preventing head injuries is taken as pretty near God's truth but many European health experts have taken a very different view. 'Yes, there are studies that show that if you fall off a bicycle at a certain speed and hit your head, a helmet can reduce your risk of serious head injury,' writes Rosenthal. 'But such falls off bikes are rare — exceedingly so in mature urban cycling systems.' On the other hand, many researchers say, if you force people to wear helmets, you discourage them from riding bicycles causing more health problems like obesity, heart disease, and diabetes. Bicycling advocates say that the problem with pushing helmets isn't practicality but that helmets make a basically safe activity seem really dangerous, which makes it harder to develop a safe bicycling network like the one in New York City, where a bike-sharing program is to open next year. The safest biking cities are places like Amsterdam and Copenhagen, where middle-aged commuters are mainstay riders and the fraction of adults in helmets is minuscule. 'Pushing helmets really kills cycling and bike-sharing in particular because it promotes a sense of danger that just isn't justified — in fact, cycling has many health benefits,' says Piet de Jong. 'Statistically, if we wear helmets for cycling, maybe we should wear helmets when we climb ladders or get into a bath, because there are lots more injuries during those activities.'"
angry tapir writes "Nokia and Oracle have joined forces on mapping, with details of the deal to be announced at the Oracle OpenWorld conference. To differentiate its smartphones from the competition, Nokia is betting big on location as well as imaging technology. Oracle is expected to add Nokia's mapping technology to its applications. Part of Nokia's location strategy is signing deals for the use of its Navteq mapping technology with as many companies as possible. Besides the deal with Oracle, Nokia has recently announced contracts with car makers BMW, Mercedes, Volkswagen and Korean Hyundai, which will all use Navteq map data in some of their vehicles. Garmin will also start using Nokia data on transit services and walking routes to power a new Urban Guidance feature, which will be available as part of its Navigon app for Android and iOS. Nokia's most important partner on navigation, though, is Microsoft. All smartphones based on Windows Phone 8 will have Nokia's Drive application as standard, while Microsoft's Bing Maps geographical search engine uses Nokia data."
another random user writes with an excerpt from the BBC about a new proposal to issue top level .uk domains, for a price: "The scheme would give businesses the chance to register www.name.uk as their web address. It would run alongside the current www.name.co.uk service. Applicants would have to prove they had a UK presence and pay a higher fee. A three-month consultation is under way. Some companies may oppose the move on the grounds they already face having to buy other new net addresses. Eleanor Bradley, Nominet's director of operations, stressed that the idea was 'not a money marking exercise' and that any additional earnings derived would be passed onto an independent trust to invest in improving Internet access and security."
For the homebrew hardware nerds out there who also homebrew beer: "BrewPi is an open source fermentation controller that runs on an Arduino (for now) and a Raspberry Pi. It can control your beer temperature with 0.1 degree precision, log temperature data in nice graphs and is fully configurable from a web interface." Source code. The article has lots of photos and screenshots. The project involves rewiring the compressor's electrical connection through a PID controller, and includes both a fancy OLED display on the fridge and support for logging statistics and control over the web. If you've ever had the joy of gradually crash-cooling a lager (not too fast, not too slow), the software includes settings to effect gradual temperatures changes in the fermenting wort. Certainly fancier than a Johnson controller and a probe attached to a fermenter with a strip of insulating tape.
TheNextCorner writes "PersonalWeb's software patent suit against Github and others threatens the freedom of the Web. In order to make sure that the Web can remain a free and accessible space for everyone, we need to rid ourselves of all the patents that threaten its viability. We need to end software patents."
RockDoctor writes "A recent paper published in PNAS describes statistical techniques for clearly displaying the presence of two types of electoral fraud (PDF) — 'incremental fraud' (stuffing of ballot boxes containing genuine votes with ballots for the winning party) and 'extreme fraud' (reporting completely contrived numbers, typically 100% turnout for a vote-counting region, with 100% voting for the winning party). While the techniques would require skill with statistical software to apply in real time, the graphs produced in the paper provide tools for the interested non-statistician to monitor an election 'live.' Examples are discussed with both 'normal' elections, fraud by the techniques mentioned, and cases of genuine voter inhomogeneity. Other types of fraud, such as gerrymandering and inhibiting the registration of minority voters, are not considered."
An anonymous reader writes "Here's one that even The Onion would reject as too blatantly ridiculous: American right-wing radio and TV clown Glenn Beck believes that Sean Smith aka Vile Rat, the EVE Online diplomat who was killed earlier this month during the attack on the US embassy in Benghazi, was actually a CIA agent, relaying communications to his fellow undercover agents at Something Awful."
An anonymous reader writes with some chilling news about PRQ, the infamous colo founded by two Pirate Bay founders. From the article: "Stockholm police raided the free-speech focused firm (PRQ) Monday and took four of its servers, the company's owner Mikael Viborg told the Swedish news outlet Nyheter24. While a number of bittorrent-based filesharing sites including PRQ's most notorious client, the Pirate Bay, have been down for most of Monday as well as PRQ's own website, Viborg told the Swedish news site that the site outages were the result of a technical issue, rather than the police's seizure of servers." Torrentfreak is reporting that the Pirate Bay isn't using PRQ for anything important (if at all), and that their downtime is due to a faulty PDU that happened to fail as a coincidence.
An anonymous reader writes "British researchers at the Universities of Sussex and Sheffield are developing a computer model of a bee's brain that they hope can help scientists better understand the brains of more-complex animals, such as humans, and perhaps power artificial intelligence systems for bee-like robots. Called 'Green Brain,' the project is trying to advance the science of AI beyond systems that just follow a predetermined set of rules, and into an area where AI systems can actually act autonomously and respond to sensory signals."