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Supreme Court Takes Texting Privacy Case 184

TaggartAleslayer writes with this excerpt from the NYTimes: "The Supreme Court agreed on Monday to decide whether a police department violated the constitutional privacy rights of an employee when it inspected personal text messages sent and received on a government pager. The case opens 'a new frontier in Fourth Amendment jurisprudence,' according to a three-judge panel of an appeals court that ruled in favor of the employee, a police sergeant on the Ontario, Calif., SWAT team. ... Members of the department's SWAT team were given pagers and told they were responsible for charges in excess of 25,000 characters a month. Under an informal policy adopted by a police lieutenant, those who paid the excess charges themselves would not have their messages inspected. The lieutenant eventually changed his mind and ordered transcripts of messages sent and received by Sgt. Jeff Quon. In one month in 2002, only 57 of more than 456 of those messages were related to official business. According to the trial judge, many of the messages 'were, to say the least, sexually explicit in nature.'"

Super-Earths Discovered Orbiting Nearby, Sun-Like Star 242

likuidkewl writes "Two super-earths, 5 and 7.5 times the size of our home, were found to be orbiting 61 Virginis a mere 28 light years away. 'These detections indicate that low-mass planets are quite common around nearby stars. The discovery of potentially habitable nearby worlds may be just a few years away,' said Steven Vogt, a professor of astronomy and astrophysics at UCSC. Among hundreds of our nearest stellar neighbors, 61 Vir stands out as being the most nearly similar to the Sun in terms of age, mass, and other essential properties."

Court Says Fair Use May Hold In Some RIAA Cases 145

NewYorkCountryLawyer writes "In SONY BMG Music Entertainment v. Tenenbaum, the Boston RIAA case in which the defendant, represented by Charles Nesson of Harvard Law School, admitted liability at his trial, the Court has entered judgment in favor of the RIAA for the monetary award of $625,000 fixed by the jury. However, the Court left open the questions of whether the amount is excessive, and whether attorneys fees and/or sanctions should be awarded, and has scheduled further briefing of those issues. The Court granted the RIAA much, but not all, of the injunctive relief it requested. In an unusual step, the Court issued a 38-page decision (PDF) explaining in some detail the Court's views of the Fair Use defense in the context of cases like this, and indicating that there are some factual scenarios — not applicable in this particular case — in which it might have concluded that the claims were barred by Fair Use. E.g. it declined to rule out the possibility that creation of mp3 files exclusively for space-shifting purposes from audio CDs a defendant had previously purchased might constitute fair use."

LHC Reaches Record Energy 347

toruonu writes "Yesterday evening the Large Hadron Collider at CERN for the first time accelerated protons in both directions of the ring to 1.18 TeV. Even though the 1 TeV barrier per beam was first broken a week ago, this marks the first time that the beam was in the machine in both directions at the same time, allowing possibly for collisions at a center of mass energy of 2.36 TeV. Although the test lasted mere minutes, it was enough to have detectors record the very first events at 2.36 TeV. LHC passes Tevatron (the particle collider at Fermilab that operates at 1.96 TeV) and becomes the highest energy particle collider in the world (so far it was effectively just the highest energy storage ring...)"

Google CEO Says Privacy Worries Are For Wrongdoers 671

bonch writes "In a surprising statement to CNBC, Google CEO Eric Schmidt told reporter Maria Bartiromo, 'If you have something that you don't want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn't be doing it in the first place.' This will only fuel concerns about Google's behavior as it becomes an ever more powerful gatekeeper of information; though Google says it is aware of these concerns and has taken steps to be transparent to users about the information that is stored."
The Courts

CRIA Faces $60 Billion Lawsuit 280

jvillain writes "The Canadian Recording Industry Association faces a lawsuit for 60 billion dollars over willful infringement. These numbers may sound outrageous, yet they are based on the same rules that led the recording industry to claim a single file sharer is liable for millions in damages. Since these exact same companies are currently in the middle of trying to force the Canadian government to bring in a DMCA for Canada, it will be interesting to see how they try to spin this."

Danish DRM Breaker Turns Himself In To Test Backup Law 466

coaxial writes "In Denmark, it's legal to make copies of commercial videos for backup or other private purposes. It's also illegal to break the DRM that restricts copying of DVDs. Deciding to find out which law mattered, Henrik Anderson reported himself for 100 violations of the DRM-breaking law (he ripped his DVD collection to his computer) and demanded that the Danish anti-piracy Antipiratgruppen do something about it. They promised him a response, then didn't respond. So now he's reporting himself to the police. He wants a trial, so that the legality of the DRM-breaking law can be tested in court."

The Cloud Ate My Homework 305

theodp writes "Over at CNET, James Urquhart sings the praises of cloud computing, encouraging folks to 'really listen to what is being said, understand how the cloud is being used, and seriously evaluate how this disruptive model will change your projects, your organization, and even your career.' Fair enough. Over at the Google Docs Help Forum, some perplexed cloud computing users spent the month of November unsuccessfully trying to figure out why they've been zinged for inappropriate content. Among the items deemed inappropriate and unshareable include notes on Henry David Thoreau ('the published version of this item cannot be shared until a Google review finds that the content is appropriate'), homework assignments, high school yearbook plans, wishlists, documents containing botanical names for plants, a list of websites for an ecommerce class, and a list of companies that rent motorcycles in Canada. When it comes to support in the cloud, it kind of looks like you might get what you pay for."

The Psychology of Achievement In Playing Games 80

A post on Pixel Poppers looks at the psychological underpinnings of the types of challenges offered by different game genres, and the effect those challenges have on determining which players find the games entertaining. Quoting: "To progress in an action game, the player has to improve, which is by no means guaranteed — but to progress in an RPG, the characters have to improve, which is inevitable. ... It turns out there are two different ways people respond to challenges. Some people see them as opportunities to perform — to demonstrate their talent or intellect. Others see them as opportunities to master — to improve their skill or knowledge. Say you take a person with a performance orientation ('Paul') and a person with a mastery orientation ('Matt'). Give them each an easy puzzle, and they will both do well. Paul will complete it quickly and smile proudly at how well he performed. Matt will complete it quickly and be satisfied that he has mastered the skill involved. Now give them each a difficult puzzle. Paul will jump in gamely, but it will soon become clear he cannot overcome it as impressively as he did the last one. The opportunity to show off has disappeared, and Paul will lose interest and give up. Matt, on the other hand, when stymied, will push harder. His early failure means there's still something to be learned here, and he will persevere until he does so and solves the puzzle."

New Theory of Gravity Decouples Space & Time 575

eldavojohn writes "Petr Horava, a physicist at the University of California in Berkeley, has a new theory about gravity and spacetime. At high energies, it actually snips any ties between space and time, yet at low energies devolves to equivalence with the theory of General Relativity, which binds them together. The theory is gaining popularity with physicists because it fits some observations better than Einstein's or Newton's solutions. It better predicts the movement of the planets (in an idealized case) and has a potential to create the illusion of dark matter. Another physicist calculated that under Horava Gravity, our universe would experience not a Big Bang but a Big Bounce — and the new theory reproduces the ripples from such an event in a way that matches measurements of the cosmic microwave background."

Comment Re:Why it's more dangerous. (Score 1) 263

Fair enough, but did you check on the flux of cosmic rays of this energy? It's 1 per square kilometer per century. Cosmic rays with 10^20 eV happen, but very infrequently. Obviously as you go lower in energy, the higher the flux, so particles that are significantly affected by the solar wind and earth's magnetic field dominate the cosmic ray spectrum. I never thought I could use this knowledge for anything, good to see I didn't waste 5 years of my life. Oh wait...

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