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Patents

HEVC Advance Announces H.265 Royalty Rates, Raises Some Hackles 181 181

An anonymous reader writes: The HEVC Advance patent pool has announced the royalty rates for their patent license for HEVC (aka H.265) video. HEVC users must pay these fees in addition to the license fees payable to the competing MPEG LA HEVC patent pool. With HEVC Advance's fees targeting 0.5% of content owner revenue which could translate to licensing costs of over $100M a year for companies like Facebook and Netflix, Dan Rayburn from Streaming Media advocates that "content owners band together and agree not to license from HEVC Advance" in the hope that "HEVC Advance will fail in the market and be forced to change strategy, or change their terms to be fair and reasonable." John Carmack, Oculus VR CTO, has cited the new patent license as a reason to end his efforts to encode VR video with H.265.
Japan

Olympic Organizer Wants To Feed Athletes Fukushima Produce 118 118

New submitter Grady Martin writes: Toshiaki Endo, Japan's government-appointed parliament member in charge of planning for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, has expressed hopes of supplying the Olympic/Paralympic village with foods grown in Fukushima [Google's autotranslation], stating, 'Using foods from Fukushima in the village is another possibility. I wish to strengthen ties with ground zero in numerous ways.' Would you eat it?
China

Chinese Tourist's Drone Crashes Into Taipei 101 Skyscraper 102 102

Taco Cowboy writes that a Chinese tourist has been hit with a fine of $48,000 (NT $1.5 Million) after his drone crashed into the Taipei 101 skyscraper. The tourist, 30-year-old Yan Yungfan, was supposedly attempting to film Taipei's cityscape on Tuesday morning with a remotely controlled Phantom 3 UAV when he lost control of the drone, causing it to hit the side of Taipei 101 at around the 30th floor. No one was injured in the incident and only minor damage was sustained by the building's glass windows, but the video immediately became a viral sensation after it was uploaded online. Taipei 101 said in a statement that there have been three incidents of drones crashing around the building since mid-June, with the first two cases taking place on June 15 and June 20. No injuries have resulted from these crashes, but I wouldn't want to get hit by a 3-pound object falling from that height.
Privacy

Red Star Linux Adds Secret Watermarks To Files 100 100

An anonymous reader writes: ERNW security analyst Florian Grunow says that North Korea's Red Star Linux operating system is tracking users by tagging content with unique hidden tags. He particularizes that files including Word documents and JPEG images connected to but not necessarily executed in Red Star will have a tag introduced into its code that includes a number based on hardware serial numbers. Red Star's development team seems to have created some quite interesting custom additions to Linux kernel and userspace, based on which Grunow has written a technical analysis.
Businesses

Toshiba CEO, 8 Others, Resign Over $1.2 Billion Accounting Cover-Up 85 85

The BBC reports that Toshiba president and chief executive Hisao Tanaka, along with vice-chairman Norio Sasaki, former chief executive Atsutoshi Niched, and six other executives, has resigned from the company in the wake of an accounting scandal: On Monday, an independent panel appointed by Toshiba said the firm had overstated its operating profit by a total of 151.8bn yen ($1.22bn, £780m). The overstatement was roughly triple an initial estimate by Toshiba. Asia Times has an article that delves into the pressure which drove Tanaka and others to misstate their revenue figures so drastically. From that piece: Top management and the heads of in-house companies acted on “the shared goal of padding nominal profits,” the report said. President Hisao Tanaka and immediate predecessor Norio Sasaki, now vice chairman, denied intentionally delaying loss-booking, but those who worked below them thought they were being instructed to do so, according to the report. Top management would assign “challenges,” or earnings improvement targets, at monthly meetings with the heads of in-house companies and subsidiaries. These targets were especially aggressive in fiscal 2011 and fiscal 2012, when Sasaki was president. In-house company chiefs felt enormous pressure to meet the goals, the committee concluded. After the announcement of Tanaka's resignation, the company's stock actually rose six percent. CNBC explains: Getting the bad news out appears to have eased investors' concerns about the stock. "The total problem has been quantified and there's a likely chance the CEO will have to quit. That's been seen as the end of that," said Amir Anvarzadeh, director of Japan equity sales at BGC Securities.
Businesses

IT Workers Training Their Foreign Replacements 'Troubling,' Says White House 305 305

dcblogs writes: A top White House official told House lawmakers this week that the replacement of U.S. workers by H-1B visa holders is 'troubling' and not supposed to happen. That answer came in response to a question from U.S. Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) that referenced Disney workers who had to train their temporary visa holding replacements (the layoffs were later canceled. Jeh Johnson, the secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, said if H-1B workers are being used to replace U.S. workers, then "it's a very serious failing of the H-1B program." But Johnson also told lawmakers that they may not be able to stop it, based on current law. Ron Hira, an associate professor of public policy at Howard University who has testified before Congress multiple times on H-1B visa use, sees that as a "bizarre interpretation" of the law.
Piracy

Popular Torrent Site Disappears From Google After Penalty 165 165

An anonymous reader writes: Following what appears to be a severe penalty, the popular torrent site KickassTorrents has become pretty much unfindable in Google. Meanwhile, the top search result in many locations points to a scam site that's serving malware to its visitors. For now, only DuckDuckGo presents the real site as a main result. With millions of visitors per day, KickassTorrents is arguably the most visited torrent site on the Internet, and has gained new users during the moments when the notorious Pirate Bay has been offline.
Medicine

Study: Living Near Fracking Correlates With Increased Hospital Visits 132 132

New submitter Michael Tiemann writes: An article published in PLOS One finds increased hospital admissions significantly correlate with living in the same zip code as active fracking sites. The data comes from three counties in Pennsylvania, whose zip codes mostly had no fracking sites in 2007 and transitioned to a majority of zip codes with at least one fracking site. While the statistical and medical data are compelling, and speak to a significant correlation, the graphical and informational figures flunk every Tufte test, which is unfortunate. Nevertheless, with open data and Creative Commons licensing, the paper could be rewritten to provide a more compelling explanation about the dangers of fracking to people who live within its vicinity, and perhaps motivate more stringent regulations to protect them from both immediate and long-term harm.
Piracy

UK Government Proposes 10-Year Copyright Infringement Jail Term 267 267

An anonymous reader writes: According to a BBC report, the UK government is proposing increasing the jail term for copyright infringement from the current two years to 10 years, which they say would "act as a significant deterrent." "The proposed measures are mainly targeted at the distributors of pirated content — the people creating copies of movies, sometimes before release, and uploading them to be downloaded by thousands upon thousands." Another reader notes a related court ruling in the UK which has once again made it illegal to rip lawfully-acquired CDs and DVDs for personal use. "A judge ruled that the government was wrong legally when it decided not to introduce a compensation scheme for songwriters, musicians, and other rights holders who face losses as a result of their copyright being infringed."
Biotech

New Letters Added To the Genetic Alphabet 74 74

An anonymous reader writes with this excerpt from Quanta Magazine: [A]fter decades of work, [organic chemist Steven] Benner's team has synthesized artificially enhanced DNA that functions much like ordinary DNA, if not better. In two papers published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society last month, the researchers have shown that two synthetic nucleotides called P and Z fit seamlessly into DNA's helical structure, maintaining the natural shape of DNA. Moreover, DNA sequences incorporating these letters can evolve just like traditional DNA, a first for an expanded genetic alphabet. In fact, the article continues, these new nucleotides can actually outperform their natural counterparts: "When challenged to evolve a segment that selectively binds to cancer cells, DNA sequences using P and Z did better than those without."
Government

Amnesty International Seeks Explanation For 'Absolutely Shocking' Surveillance 112 112

Mark Wilson writes: A court recently revealed via email that the UK government had been spying on Amnesty International. GCHQ had put Amnesty under surveillance — despite this having previously been denied — and now the human rights organization wants answers.

In a letter to the UK Prime Minister David Cameron, Amnesty International asks for an explanation for the surveillance. The Investigatory Powers Tribunal's (IPT) email made it clear that GCHQ had been intercepting, accessing and storing communications, something that Amnesty International's Secretary General, Salil Shetty believes 'makes it vividly clear that mass surveillance has gone too far'.
Transportation

Boeing Patents an Engine Run By Laser-Generated Fusion Explosions 242 242

MarkWhittington writes: Boeing has had a patent approved for an aircraft engine that uses laser-generated nuclear fusion as a power source, according to a story in Business Insider. The idea is already generating a great deal of controversy, according to the website Counter Punch. The patent has generated fears of what might happen if an aircraft containing radioactive material as fuel were to crash, spreading such fuel across the crash site.
Programming

13% of CompSci Grads Have Starting Salaries Over $100K 264 264

itwbennett writes: That was one of the findings of a survey of 50,000 U.S. college students and recent graduates by Looksharp, a marketplace for internships and entry-level jobs. For general findings across all majors, check out the State of College Hiring Report 2015. But the company shared some more computer science-specific findings with Phil Johnson. Among them: "Of all majors, students studying in CS had the highest average starting salary, $66,161." And, what's more, they know the value of their degree: "On average, they expected a starting salary of $68,120, slightly above the actual average starting salary of $66,161."
Communications

The IT Containers That Went To War 65 65

1sockchuck writes: Parachuting a container full of IT gear into a war zone is challenging enough. In the mountains of Afghanistan, helicopters had to deliver modular data centers in three minutes or less, lest the choppers be targeted by Taliban rockets. UK vendor Cannon recently spoke with DataCenterDynamics, sharing some of the extreme challenges and lessons learned from deploying portable data centers for military units in deserts and mountains. The same lessons (except, hopefully, with a lower chance of being shot) would apply in lots of other extreme enviroments, too.
Government

Eric Holder Says DoJ Could Strike Deal With Snowden; Current AG Takes Hard Line 194 194

cold fjord writes with the report at Yahoo that Former Attorney General Eric Holder said today that a "possibility exists" for the Justice Department to cut a deal with ... Edward Snowden that would allow him to return to the United States ... Holder said "we are in a different place as a result of the Snowden disclosures" and that "his actions spurred a necessary debate" that prompted President Obama and Congress to change policies ... "I certainly think there could be a basis for a resolution that everybody could ultimately be satisfied with. I think the possibility exists." A representative of current Attorney General Loretta Lynch, though, said that there has been no change in the government's position ("This is an ongoing case so I am not going to get into specific details but I can say our position regarding bringing Edward Snowden back to the United States to face charges has not changed."), Holder's musings aside. As the article points out, too, "any suggestion of leniency toward Snowden would likely run into strong political opposition in Congress as well as fierce resistance from hard-liners in the intelligence community."

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