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Space

Submission + - Journey to the Limits of Spacetime (utexas.edu)

An anonymous reader writes: In a recent paper in Science, researchers predicted the formation of accretion disks and relativistic jets that warp and bend more than previously thought, shaped by the extreme gravity of the black hole and by powerful magnetic forces generated by its spin. Enabled by 3D simulations performed on the powerful supercomputers at the Texas Advanced Computing Center, the National Institute of Computational Science and NASA, these predictions overturn an overly simplified view of jets and disks.

Submission + - Google versus the Amicus Briefs (groklaw.net)

An anonymous reader writes: Yesterday there were numerous amicus briefs filed all on the same day and all in support of Oracle against Google in Oracle's appeal at the Federal Circuit. None of the briefs are posted publicly yet, but they should be available soon.

Microsoft has filed one, together with EMC Corporation, and NetApp, Inc. Scott McNealy has filed one with Brian Sutphin. Can McNealy be a witness for Oracle at trial, which he was [PDF], and also file an amicus brief? Well, he has. The Picture Archive Council of America, Inc. has filed one with the Graphic Artists Guild. Also there's one from the BSA. And finally Eugene Spafford, Zhi Ding, and Lee A. Hollaar have filed an amicus in support of Oracle. Hollaar seems to file a lot of amicus briefs.

So why do these entities and individuals care about this Java API case, do you suppose?

Microsoft

Submission + - Windows 7 still being sold on up to 93% of British PCs (pcpro.co.uk) 2

nk497 writes: "The vast majority of PCs sold by British PC makers are running Windows 7 — not Windows 8. PC Pro spoke to several PC builders, with some reporting as many as 93% of recently sold machines were on the older OS. One company initially sold its PCs with Windows 8, but feedback from users soon changed that. Customers quickly began to specify systems with Windows 7, those with Windows 8 "took delivery and wanted to change back to Windows 7" – a process the firm described as a "nightmare". Another firm found success by installing a "start menu" tool on Windows 8 machines, and others said the switch would have gone smoother if Microsoft has offered a Windows 8 tutorial or better explained the new OS."
Open Source

Submission + - Python Trademark Filer Ignorant Of Python? (computerworlduk.com)

WebMink writes: "Is it possible that the CEO of the company that's trying to file a trademark on "Python" was unaware of Python's importance as a programming technology? That's what he claims — despite running a hosting company that's trying to break into cloud computing, where Python is used extensively. Still, he also regards the Python Software Foundation as a hostile American company and thinks that getting attention from half the world's geeks is a DDoS..."
Microsoft

Submission + - GameStop's Mayan Apocalypse (goozernation.com)

kube00 writes: The rumor mill is saying the next generation of consoles might not play used games. What does this mean for retailers such as Amazon, GameStop, and Best Buy? Will gamers flock to the one console that can still play used games? GoozerNation speculates if the Mayan apocalyspse draws near for used game sales

Submission + - A Cogent Presentation on the Untapped Potential of MMO Games - Emergent Gameplay (youtube.com)

stilz2 writes: In this video titled "Un-ruining the MMOs" by MrBTongue, he argues why the over-presentation of 'theme park' style MMOs, the most iconic of which being World of Warcraft, has led to few number of 'sandbox' MMOs, resulting in 'emergent gameplay' being even more of a rarity. Emergent gameplay, meaning gameplay elements or experience that were not scripted by the developers and arise from player action and interaction, though deemed by some to be yet another publisher buzzword, is a real possibility as demonstrated by the complex organizations and high-stake battles in Eve Online.
Open Source

Submission + - Hardware Hacker Ladyada Proposes Patent and Education Reform to President of USA (eff.org)

ptorrone writes: "In a welcome turn of events, President Barack Obama spoke directly to the patent troll problem and the need for more comprehensive patent reform yesterday in a "Fireside Hangout" — a live question and answer session hosted in a Google+ hangout. The President was responding to a question by the prominent electrical engineer and entrepreneur Limor "Ladyada" Fried of Adafruit Industries, who in 2009 won an EFF Pioneer Award for her work with free software and open-source hardware."
Earth

Submission + - Billionaires Secretly Fund Vast Climate Denial Network 4

Hugh Pickens writes writes: "Suzanne Goldenberg reports that conservative billionaires used a secretive funding route to channel nearly $120 million to more than 100 groups casting doubt about the science behind climate change, helping build a vast network of think tanks and activist groups working to redefine climate change from neutral scientific fact to a highly polarizing "wedge issue" for hardcore conservatives. "We exist to help donors promote liberty which we understand to be limited government, personal responsibility, and free enterprise," says Whitney Ball, chief executive of the Donors Trust. Ball's organization assured wealthy donors that their funds would never by diverted to liberal causes with a guarantee of complete anonymity for donors who wished to remain hidden. The money flowed to Washington think tanks embedded in Republican party politics, obscure policy forums in Alaska and Tennessee, contrarian scientists at Harvard and lesser institutions, even to buy up DVDs of a film attacking Al Gore. "The funding of the denial machine is becoming increasingly invisible to public scrutiny. It's also growing. Budgets for all these different groups are growing," says Kert Davies, research director of Greenpeace, which compiled the data on funding of the anti-climate groups using tax records. "These groups are increasingly getting money from sources that are anonymous or untraceable.""

Submission + - The Apple Shop forced to change its name (cnet.com)

tlhIngan writes: "The Apple Shop, in Norfolk, UK is a little corner store that sells apple products. Not Apple products, but apple products, in this case, cider. However, it's been forced to change its name to the Norfolk Cider Shop. However, the name change did not come from any lawsuit from Apple (the Cupertino one, that is), nor has there been any evidence that Apple (Cupertino) knew about them. Instead, they're changing their name because their phones have been ringing constantly from people seeking help with their Apple (Cupertino) products. Apple (Cupertino) opened an Apple store in 2009 in the nearby (larger) town of Norwich."
Canada

Submission + - The IIPA Copyright Demands for Canada and Spain (freezenet.ca)

Dangerous_Minds writes: The International Intellectual Property Alliance (IIPA) is demanding a number of countries be placed back on the special 301 piracy watchlist. One country being recommended for inclusion is Canada (PDF). Apparently, even though Canada passed copyright reform laws, any compromise to protect consumers is reason for inclusion. Michael Geist offers some analysis on this move. Meanwhile, the IIPA is also recommending that Spain be included in the watchlist. In a separate filing, the IIPA makes a host of reasons why Spain should also be included. One of the main reasons seems to be that even though Spain passed the Sinde Law in spite of protests, the courts aren't simply rubberstamping any takedown requests and that cases that were dismissed due to lack of evidence is cause for concern. Freezenet offers some in-depth analysis on this development while noting towards the end that the Special 301 report suffers from credibility problems.
Facebook

Submission + - Facebook paid no taxes despite record profits (msn.com) 2

Frosty Piss writes: Despite earning more than $1 billion in profits last year, social media juggernaut Facebook paid zilch when it came to federal and state taxes in 2012. In fact, the website will actually be getting a refund totaling $429 million thanks to a tax reduction for executive stock options. In the coming years, Facebook will continue to get monster tax breaks, totaling about $3 billion. 'The employees cash in stock options, and at that point there is tax deduction for the company,' Robert McIntyre, of watchdog group Citizens for Tax Justice, said. 'Because even though it doesn't cost Facebook a nickel, the government treats it as wages and they get a deduction for it. And usually it doesn't wipe out companies whole tax bill, although many companies get big breaks from it.'
Games

Submission + - Just who is to blame for Aliens: Colonial Marines? Controversy abounds.

Channard writes: Despite — or perhaps because of — having been in development for at least five years, Aliens: Colonial Marines, the bug-hunting FPS from Gearbox has turned out to be a bit of a mess, receiving mostly negative reviews from pretty much every gaming site under the sun. However, it's not just the game's badness that is causing a stir, but the fact that the final product differs heavily from the demo footage that was used to promote the game.

It appears that some of the subsequently missing features were shown to journalists such as Destructoid's Jim Sterling who states: 'I feel lied to. I spoke to (Gearbox's Randy) Pitchford about Aliens: Colonial Marines, and he talked to me about the game's "next generation lighting" and other awesome features. He promised things I never saw, he showed a room full of writers things that would never make it to the final product.' Other sites have also picked up on the controversy, including VideoGamerTV who released a video highlights some of the major differences between the demo and final release.

However, the shenanigans don't end there. There are in fact four companies credited with having developed the game, and it's unclear just who, if anyone, came up with the lion's share of A:CM. There's been a lot of back and forth regards this issue, as noted by MCV. One post on Reddit, supposedly from an inside source, even goes so far as to suggest that the game was pushed through certification to avoid any potential legal backlash from Sega. Whether or not the truth will ever come out is anyone's guess.
Microsoft

Submission + - Microsoft Changes Email Policy Making Spammers' Life Easier (microsoft.com)

physics101 writes: It appears that Microsoft have made changes in the way that the email headers are formed for the mail sent from hotmail accounts. The X-Originating-Email tag now points to the IP belonging to Microsoft instead of the sender's IP. There are numerous threads (e.g. this one) at answers.microsoft.com. MS representatives are claiming that "the issue has already been forwarded to our Escalation team for further investigation". Despite of the bunch of dissatisfied users, this answer is being offered time and the time again for over two months. It suspiciously looks like a policy change for which they don't want to give any explanation.
KDE

Submission + - If You Are Buying Into Ubuntu Phone Claims, You're Being Duped: Aaron Seigo (muktware.com)

sfcrazy writes: KDE's Plasma Active team leader Aaron Seigo (who is bringing out a KDE-powered tablet soon — instead of using Google hardware, and probably Google code, to break Google's hegemony) has raised some concerns around Ubuntu Phone. He says "We can start with the obvious clue: Unity currently does not use QML at all; Ubuntu Phone is pure QML. So, no, it is not the same code, it is not the sort of seamless cross-device technology bridge that they are purporting."

He then concludes, "If you're a Free software developer, user and/or supporter and buying into these claims, I don't know how else to put it other than this: you're being duped. Consider what supporting those who employ such tactics means for Free software."

Our own Bruce Perens said that on Slashdot — "Working for free to make Mark Shuttleworth richer just isn’t very smart."

Feed Techdirt: Arthur Conan Doyle Estate Sued To Show That Sherlock Holmes Is Public Domain (techdirt.com)

A little over three years ago, we had a discussion concerning whether or not Sherlock Holmes was in the public domain. By our understanding of the law, the character absolutely is in the public domain. There is one remaining book -- The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes -- which contains a few stories, that are still covered by copyright, but the characters and most of the written works, are in the public domain. However, the legal representatives of the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Estate use the fact that one book is still held under copyright to argue that the character is still protected until (at least) 2023. Of course, as with things like Happy Birthday, even if it should be in the public domain, if there's some corporate entity insisting that it's covered by copyright, you'd have to go to court to prove otherwise. And most people don't want to bother.

Thankfully, that just changed when it comes to Sherlock Holmes. Sherlock Holmes scholar, Leslie S. Klinger, was working on a book (with Laurie R. King) called In the Company of Sherlock Holmes, detailing "major mystery/sci-fi/fantasy authors inspired by the Holmes tales." However, the Conan Doyle Estate contacted their publisher, Pegasus Books, demanding a license fee, and saying if they weren't paid, they'd make sure that no major distributors would sell the book. Specifically, the estate directly threatened that:

If you proceed instead to bring out Study in Sherlock II unlicensed, do not expect to see it offered for sale by Amazon, Barnes Noble, and similar retailers. We work with those company's routinely to weed out unlicensed uses of Sherlock Holmes from their offerings, and will not hesitate to do so with your book as well.
Like too many publishers, Pegasus freaked out and refused to publish the book at all, so Klinger has taken it upon himself to file for declaratory judgment. You can see the full filing posted here (and embedded it below).

The lawsuit points out that Sherlock Holmes characters have long been in the public domain, and even that remaining book of stories includes two that are clearly in the public domain, as they were published prior to 1923. But, most importantly "none of the Sherlock Holmes Story Elements first appeared in any of the stories that were collected in The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes." In other words, the entirety of copyright protected elements in the character were published outside of that one book, and are now in the public domain.

The lawsuit also notes that Klinger and King's publisher on an earlier book, A Study in Sherlock did, in fact, pay a license to the estate, but they did not concede any of the legal arguments. When the estate threatened Klinger, he correctly explained that no license was needed, but he's still dealing with the fallout from his publisher getting cold feet. Thus, he's asking the court to state, definitively, that the character is in the public domain. Kudos for Klinger for taking this on. We need more people willing to stand up for the public domain. Also, jeers to Pegasus for not being the one to take this on and for freaking out over the bogus threat.

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