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Patents

+ - Apple patents trays->

Submitted by jbernardo
jbernardo (1014507) writes "Do you know those trays used to load sims into devices? It seems like a logic extension of the DVD trays of the old days, right? You'd think that such a design wouldn't be patentable, but remember, the USPTO is there to make money and approve patents of obvious stuff. And right now they've awarded this one to Apple, your favorite filer of patents on obvious stuff!"
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Privacy

+ - Bruce Schneier Kicked Off TSA Hearing Witness List->

Submitted by
Mr_Perl
Mr_Perl writes "From Bruce's blog: "I was supposed to testify today about the TSA in front of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. I was informally invited a couple of weeks ago, and formally invited last Tuesday. On Friday, at the request of the TSA, I was removed from the witness list. The excuse was that I am involved in a lawsuit against the TSA, trying to get them to suspend their full-body scanner program. But it's pretty clear that the TSA is afraid of public testimony on the topic, and especially of being challenged in front of Congress."
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It's funny.  Laugh.

+ - Borat's Swimsuit Cited as Prior Art in Patent Rejection->

Submitted by eldavojohn
eldavojohn (898314) writes "Although Slashdot has been known to conjure up a lot of claims of prior art in software patents, Sacha Baron Cohen (or his alias "Borat") appears to be a pioneer in "scrotal support garments" featuring the latest technologies in his movies years before the patent applications flow. Another commentator points out that prior art can come from non-traditional sources but anyone familiar with old sci-fi knows that some of the worst fictional plots can be adorned with amazingly inventive tools and devices. Of course the applicant, Donald R. Quinn, has requested extra time before this rejection becomes final. Perhaps he will revise the design to additionally loop around the neck or simply sling around the ears instead of shoulders?"
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Microsoft

+ - Windows Phone spec drop: the new Vista Capable?->

Submitted by
Barence
Barence writes "Microsoft has lowered the system requirements of Windows Phone 7, in an ominous echo of the "Vista Capable" debacle. Microsoft is allowing manufacturers to use slower processors and only 256MB of memory to make it possible for Nokia and other manufacturers to produce low-budget handsets, cutting off approximately 5% of the apps in the WP7 marketplace in the process.

Microsoft has had its fingers burned in the past by lowering system requirements at the behest of hardware manufacturers. Before the launch of Windows Vista, Microsoft lowered the hardware requirements to qualify for its "Vista Capable" sticker scheme at the request of Intel, resulting in a long-running and embarrassing class action lawsuit."

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Power

+ - UK to Dim Highway Lights to Save Money 1

Submitted by
Hugh Pickens writes
Hugh Pickens writes writes "The Telegraph reports that street lights on thousands of miles of major roads in England will be dimmed during quiet periods to save money and reduce carbon emissions. The Highways Agency has already turned off the lights on more than 80 miles of the motorway network and will soon begin a survey of where this can be done on the 2,500 miles of A roads it controls. Nigel Parry, of the Institution of Lighting Professionals, says that technology enabled lights can be controlled individually and remotely. “The idea is that when traffic is busy, such as during the morning and evening rush hour, you have them at their brightest. When the traffic disappears you can dim them. You can maintain safety and use half as much energy.""
Google

+ - Youtube Identifies Birdsong As Copyrighted Music Owned By "Rumblefish"-> 2

Submitted by eeplox
eeplox (2582263) writes "I make nature videos for my Youtube channel, generally in remote wilderness away from any possible source of music. And I purposely avoid using a soundtrack in my videos because of all the horror stories I hear about Rumblefish filing claims against public domain music.

But when uploading my latest video, Youtube informed me that I was using rumblefish's copyrighted content, and so ads would be placed on my video, with the proceeds going to said company. This baffled me.

I disputed their claim with Youtube's system, and Rumblefish refuted my dispute and confirmed that:

"All content owners have reviewed your video and confirmed their claims to some or all of its content:

Entity: rumblefish Content Type: Musical Composition"

So I asked some questions, and it appears that the birds singing in the background of my video are Rumblefish's exclusive intellectual property.

My only option at this point is to lawyer-up and fight it out in the courts, which of course isn't going to happen over a Youtube video that'll only be seen by a few hundred people. More likely I'll just end up deleting the video."

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First Person Shooters (Games)

Gamer Plays Doom For the First Time 362

Posted by Soulskill
from the new-is-relative dept.
sfraggle writes "Kotaku has an interesting review of Doom (the original!) by Stephen Totilo, a gamer and FPS player who, until a few days ago, had gone through the game's 17-year history without playing it. He describes some of his first impressions, the surprises that he encountered, and how the game compares to modern FPSes. Quoting: 'Virtual shotgun armed, I was finally going to play Doom for real. A second later, I understood the allure the video game weapon has had. In Doom the shotgun feels mighty, at least partially I believe because they make first-timers like me wait for it. The creators make us sweat until we have it in hand. But once we have the shotgun, its big shots and its slow, fetishized reload are the floored-accelerator-pedal stuff of macho fantasy. The shotgun is, in all senses, instant puberty, which is to say, delicately, that to obtain it is to have the assumed added potency that a boy believes a man possesses vis a vis a world on which he'd like to have some impact. The shotgun is the punch in the face the once-scrawny boy on the beach gives the bully when he returns a muscled linebacker.'"
It's funny.  Laugh.

ESRB Exposes Emails of Gamers Who Filed Privacy Complaints 75

Posted by Soulskill
from the well-played dept.
simrook writes, "Many people filed privacy complaints with the ESRB over Blizzard's recent (and afterward recanted) move to require the display of users' real life names on Blizzard's official forums. 961 of those complainants had their email addresses exposed in the ESRB's response." The response itself didn't go into the organization's thoughts on Blizzard's plan, but they explained to the Opposable Thumbs blog that anonymity isn't a huge concern to them, as long as users are given the opportunity to opt out. "The role of the ESRB Privacy Online program is to make sure that member websites—those that display our seal on their pages — are compliant with an increasingly complex series of privacy protection laws and are offering a secure space for users to interact and do business online. ... But online privacy protection doesn't necessarily mean the same thing as anonymity. It's about making sure that websites collecting personal information from users are doing so not only in accordance with federal regulations but also with best practices for protecting individuals' personal information online."
The Courts

Student Suing Amazon For Book Deletions 646

Posted by kdawson
from the incident-that-will-not-stay-down-the-memory-hole dept.
Stupified writes "High school student Justin Gawronski is suing Amazon for deleting his Kindle copy of Nineteen Eighty-Four (complaint, PDF), because doing so destroyed the annotations he'd created to the text for class. The complaint states: 'The notes are still accessible on the Kindle 2 device in a file separate from the deleted book, but are of no value. For example, a note such as "remember this paragraph for your thesis" is useless if it does not actually reference a specific paragraph.' The suit, which is seeking class action status, asks that Amazon be legally blocked from improperly accessing users' Kindles in the future and punitive damages for those affected by the deletion. Nothing in Amazon's EULA or US copyright law gives them permission to delete books off your Kindle, so this sounds like a plausible suit."
Hardware Hacking

Making a Child Locating System 1092

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the just-contact-a-local-fish-and-wildlife-officer-for-radio-tagging dept.
celtic_hackr writes "Well, I never thought I'd be an advocate for placing GPS devices on people. However, since it took less than three days for my local school district to misplace my daughter, I have decided that something needs to be done. By the school district's own admission it has a recurring problem of placing children on the wrong buses. Fortunately, my daughter was located, with no thanks to the local school district. Therefore, I would like input on a way to be able to keep track of my child. I know there are personal tracking devices out there. I have nothing against these systems. But I want more than this. My specification are: 1) a small unobtrusive device I can place on my daughter, 2) an application to pull up on any computer, a map with a dot indicating the real-time position of my child, 3) a handheld device with the equivalent information, 4) [optional] a secure web application/plug-in I can install on my own domain allowing me to track her from anyplace in the world, 5) a means of turning it all off, 6) a Linux based solution of the above. I believe all the pieces for making such a system are out there. Has anyone built anything like this? Is there an open source solution? How would I go about building my own? Has anyone hacked any of these personal trackers before, to serve their own purposes? How does a tinfoil hat wearer engineer such a device to make sure Big-Brother isn't watching too? Can these devices be locked down so only certain devices can pick up the GPS location of an individual locator? What other recommendations do you have?"
Music

Rates Lowered For Streamed Music In the UK 94

Posted by kdawson
from the library-of-congress-please-take-heed dept.
An anonymous reader tips the news that the UK's music collection society, PRS, has announced a new pricing plan it hopes may entice YouTube and Pandora back to the UK market. Pandora pulled out at the start of 2008, and YouTube began removing content from the view of UK users last March. "From 1 July 2009, firms will have to pay 0.085p for each track streamed, down from the previous rate of 0.22p. [The] head of the music streaming service We7 told BBC News he welcomed the new charges. 'It's brilliant. Not so much the rates but the realization by the PRS that things have to change in the digital world. Till now it's felt like they were not listening,' he said. ... 'They [the PRS] are getting in touch with the reality of the digital world.' [The PRS's managing director said] 'We've laid our stall out and listened to everyone who would engage with us. We've consulted with the 25 firms that represent 97% of our revenue over the past six months and have been given opinions from many others. We need to ensure the music artists are paid for their work, but we also wanted to make sure that the framework was in place to enable the digital market to grow.'"
Censorship

Australian Government Backing Down On Censorship 116

Posted by kdawson
from the won't-work-won't-scale-but-besides-that dept.
Combat Wombat sends the news that the government in Australia has begun waffling on whether country-wide Internet censorship will be mandatory. "The Rudd Government has indicated that it may back away from its mandatory Internet filtering plan. Communications Minister Stephen Conroy today told a Senate estimates committee that the filtering scheme could be implemented by a voluntary industry code. ... [The shadow communications minister] said he had never heard of a voluntary mandatory system. ... Senator Conroy's statement is a departure from the internet filtering policy Labor took into the October 2007 election to make it mandatory for ISPs to block offensive and illegal content." The censorship plan, which has been called "worse than Iran," was bypassed even before trials started. A minister's defection may have effectively blocked any chance of implementation.

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