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Government

'The Laws Are Written By Lobbyists,' Says Google's Schmidt 484

An anonymous reader sends this excerpt from The Atlantic: "'The average American doesn't realize how much of the laws are written by lobbyists' to protect incumbent interests, Google CEO Eric Schmidt told Atlantic editor James Bennet at the Washington Ideas Forum. 'It's shocking how the system actually works.' In a wide-ranging interview that spanned human nature, the future of machines, and how Google could have helped the stimulus, Schmidt said technology could 'completely change the way government works.' 'Washington is an incumbent protection machine,' Schmidt said. 'Technology is fundamentally disruptive.' Mobile phones and personal technology, for example, could be used to record the bills that members of Congress actually read and then determine what stimulus funds were successfully spent." We discussed a specific example of this from the cable industry back in August.
Music

Warner To End Free Streaming of Its Content 278

eldavojohn writes "If you have a license to stream content for free from Warner, be aware: Warner has announced plans to cancel streaming licenses. Major sites such as Last.fm, Spotify, and Pandora may be affected — Warner has not yet spelled out whether streaming restrictions will apply to existing licenses, or only to future ones. Warner's CEO Edgar Bronfman said, 'Free streaming services are clearly not net positive for the industry and as far as Warner Music is concerned will not be licensed.' You might contend that Warner gets a cut of the ad-based revenue these free streaming sites take in. While true, Bronfman contended that this revenue comes nowhere near what they need in compensation for each individual's enjoyment of each work. The article quotes spokesmen for other labels who disagree with Warner's stance, however. Music's digital birthing pains continue."
Censorship

Wikipedia Censored To Protect Captive Reporter 414

AI writes with a story from the NY Times about a 7-month-long effort, largely successful, to keep news of a Times reporter's kidnapping off of Wikipedia. The Christian Science Monitor, the reporter David Rohde's previous employer, takes a harder look at the issues of censorship and news blackout, linking to several blogs critical of Wikipedia's actions. Rohde escaped from a Taliban compound, along with his translator, on Saturday. "For seven months, The New York Times managed to keep out of the news the fact that one of its reporters, David Rohde, had been kidnapped by the Taliban. But that was pretty straightforward compared with keeping it off Wikipedia. ... A dozen times, user-editors posted word of the kidnapping on Wikipedia's page on Mr. Rohde, only to have it erased. Several times the page was frozen, preventing further editing — a convoluted game of cat-and-mouse that clearly angered the people who were trying to spread the information of the kidnapping... The sanitizing was a team effort, led by Jimmy Wales, co-founder of Wikipedia, along with Wikipedia administrators and people at The Times."
Music

Submission + - What if Napster Worked with the Music Industry (arstechnica.com)

furby076 writes: "Ars Technica has an interesting article about a what-if scenario. Something akin to an alternate universe straight from a comic book, the head of the UK musc trade group, BPI, discusses the mistakes the major labels made by not teaming up with Napster. According to the article this mind-set is not new and other RIAA executives are thinking about the subject and what could have happened if they embraced peer-to-peer a decade ago."
Social Networks

Of Catty Rants and Copyrights 339

Frequent Slashdot contributor Bennett Haselton writes "A newspaper copies a rant from a girl's MySpace page and reprints it as a 'Letter to the Editor' without her permission. Could the girl sue for copyright violation? This question provoked much more disagreement among legal experts than I expected." Read on for the details.
Data Storage

Submission + - Graphene Could Make Magnetic Memory 1000x Denser (technologyreview.com)

KentuckyFC writes: "The density of magnetic memory depends on the size of the magnetic domains used to store bits. The current state-of-the-art uses cobalt-based grains some 8nm across, each containing about 50,000 atoms. Materials scientists think they can shrink the grains to 15,000 atoms but any smaller than that and the crystal structure of the grains is lost. That's a problem because the cobalt has to be arranged in a hexagonal close packing structure to ensure the stability of its magnetic field. Otherwise the field can spontaneously reverse and the data is lost. Now a group of German physicists say they can trick a pair of cobalt atoms into thinking they are in a hexagonal close packing structure by bonding them to a hexagonal carbon ring such as graphene or benzene. That's handy because the magnetic field associated with cobalt dimers is calculated to be far more stable than the field in a cobalt grain. And graphene and benzene rings are only 0.5 nm across, a size that could allow an increase in memory density of three orders of magnitude."
Media

Submission + - Boxee vs. Zinc vs. Hulu (deviceguru.com) 1

DeviceGuru writes: Which is the best Internet media streaming application for a media-center PC? Boxee, Zinc, or the new Hulu Desktop? A post at DeviceGuru.com reviews these three media streaming platforms and draws some interesting conclusions. Key pros and cons are tabulated and numerous screenshots are included. Interestingly, despite lots of Boxee hype, Zinc already has a number of valuable features that Boxee is scrambling to add to its next version, due out in the fall. On the other hand, Boxee boasts far more third-party content access applications support.
Media

Submission + - The Magnificent MPAA Lobbying Machine

CuteSteveJobs writes: Ars Technica recently reported how big media is manipulating public opinion, with Law Professor Michael Geist tracing reports, polls, and lobbying back to two primary sources: the music and movie businesses. Australia's Fairfax group published an article by Journalists Eamonn Duff and Rachel Browne claiming that people who download films from illegal file-sharing websites are financing terrorism. The article only quoted media industry sources and was basically a warmed-up press release. That evening Channel Seven's "Sunday Night" current affairs program claimed how how movie piracy is being used to fund terrorist groups including Hezbollah and Jemaah Islamiah, responsible for the Bali bombings in 2002 which killed hundreds including 94 Australians. Reporter Mike Munro claimed pirates "could burn a DVD in 3.5 seconds."

While technically-savy voters can sort fact from fiction, technically-illiterate politicians are easily swayed. What's the best way to combat this sort of misinformation? Is it possible to educate our politicians that there are two sides to every story? Or are they hopelessly in the lobbyists' pockets?
Input Devices

Submission + - Humble Delete and Escape keys to get bigger (pcauthority.com.au)

Slatterz writes: After a year's research, Lenovo boffins have decided the time is right to install larger Delete and Escape keys on their updated ThinkPad laptop T400s range. While it is a small change, it is fairly radical to tinker with an area of hardware which has been largely unchanged since the 19th century. What convinced them to make the size-change was doing some tests on users to see which keys they use the most. They found that on average, people used the Escape and Delete keys 700 times per week, yet those were the only non-letter keys that Lenovo hasn't made any bigger.

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