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Submission Summary: 0 pending, 79 declined, 7 accepted (86 total, 8.14% accepted)

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Submission + - Don't bring your drone to New Zealand (stuff.co.nz)

NewtonsLaw writes: Drones such as the Lilly Camera, DJI Phamtom and (to a lesser extent, because of its size) DJI Inspire are changing the way we experience our vacations. Instead of toting along a camcorder or a 35mm DSLR, more and more people are just packing a GoPro and, increasingly, a drone on which to mount it.

This is fine if you're going to a drone-friendly country but be warned that (when/if they finally ship), your Lilly Camera will get you into big trouble in Thailand (where all use of drones by the public is banned outright) and now New Zealand, where strict new laws regarding the operation of drones and even tiny toys like the 20g Cheerson CX10, come into effect on August 1.

Under these new rules, nobody can operate a drone or model aircraft without getting the prior consent of the owner over which property it is intended to fly — and (this is the kicker) also the permission of the occupiers of that property. So you can effectively forget about flying down at the local park, at scenic locations or just about any public place. Even if you could manage to get the prior permission of the land-owner, because we're talking "public place", you'd also have to get the permission of anyone and everyone who was also in the area where you intended to fly.

Other countries have produced far more sane regulations — such as limiting drone and RC model operators to flying no closer than 30m from people or buildings — but New Zealand's CAA have gone right over the top and imposed what amounts to a virtual death-sentence on a hobby that has provided endless, safe fun for boys (and girls) of all ages for more than 50 decades.

Of course if you are prepared to pay a $600 fee to become "Certified" by CAA then the restrictions on where you can fly are lifted and you don't need those permissions. It seems that the government here is taking away our rights and simply selling them back to us as "privileges" that can be purchased by paying a fist-full of cash to the appropriate government agency.

When reading the linked news story, remember that as far as CAA in New Zealand is concerned, *everything* that flies and is remotely controlled is now deemed to be a "drone" — so that includes everything from a tiny 20g toy quadcopter to a huge octocopter.

Submission + - Google sparks online outrage with forced Google+ signups for YouTube users 3

NewtonsLaw writes: Although Google has copped flak before when they've messed around with the winning formula that is YouTube, the world's most successful and popular video sharing site, I suspect that they weren't ready for the tsunami of anger that has been unleashed against them as a result of their latest changes.

All non-passive YouTube users (ie: anyone who wants to leave or reply to comments on videos) must now create a Google+ identity and link it to their YouTube channel.

Cynics (such as myself) are seeing this as a nasty piece of *evil* blackmail on the part of Google as it attempts to boost the numbers of G+ users and the levels of activity within the G+ community.

Unfortunately, in doing this, Google seems to have completely forgotten the KISS strategy that made their search engine so distinctive and a darling of Net users everywhere. The YouTube comments system was also very simple, very clean and surprisingly effective.

Now however, users must fight their way through the acres of dross that are associated with a Google+ account and although the new system offers a few extra features, much of the essential core functionality of the previous YouTube comments system has been destroyed.

There are presently several online petitions demanding that Google reinstate the old comments system and numerous "rant videos" from upset YouTube users but perhaps the best demonstration of how poorly this forced change has gone down is the like/dislike ratio and the nature of the comments on Google's own YouTube promotional video for these changes.


Submission + - Google now forcing Google+ on YouTube users

NewtonsLaw writes: Google have started rolling out their plan to force all non-passive YouTube users to join their GooglePlus service.

As of last night I noticed that I can no longer access the comments on my videos via their dedicated comments page and attempts to respond to comments posted by others simply by clicking on the "to reply, click here" link in the advisory email fail to show the comment concerned. This forces me to go to the actual video page each time and manually locate the comment within the hundreds that may be there.

For weeks, Google has been in nag-mode, constantly trying to coerce YouTube account holders link their channels to a G+ identity and now that this strategy has failed, they're basically saying that unless you do as they say, no more easy access to the comments on your videos. In fact they say this quite literally in a big red banner at the top of the screen when you log on which proclaims " Connect to Google+ to maintain access to new comments".

As an early adopter of YouTube and many other Google services I now find myself with a real mess on my hands. Most of my Google service accounts have different email addresses, therefore are different identities. To comply with Google's diktat, I will have to create several G+ accounts, meaning more logins, more passwords, more complexity!

I am not alone in this — users all over the Net (and on YouTube) are really annoyed that the "do no evil" company is forcing them to sign up to services they do not want and breaking stuff in the process.

The reason for YouTube's success is that it's relatively simple to use and focused. YouTube makes it easy to post videos and comment on them — full stop! If they start messing with that formula by adding the complexity and "features" of G+ then I fear they will pay a price.

In the past, one of the biggest benfits of Google was that it wasn't Facebook. It seems that is no longer the case (especially in light of their recent "we'll use your face and comments to promote products" initiative).

It would appear that Google is about to turn a silk purse into a sow's ear.


Submission + - Drone flier cops $10K fine from FAA

NewtonsLaw writes: Raphael Pirker, otherwise known as "Trappy" is the guy who flew his RC model plane over the Statue of Liberty and parts of NYC a little while back and got a lot of media attention in the process.

Trappy has travelled the world with his FPV RC models, getting some stunning footage that has been posted to his YouTube channel.

On occasion, he has been commissioned to make specific flights and take aerial video of particular locations — professionally but this is something that the FAA considers to be involation of their policies (note: policies — NOT the law). After a recent commissioned flight around the University of Virginia, the FAA hit Trappy with a $10K fine, alleging that he was operating a UAS without the necessary authority and had been reckless in his actions, creating danger to person and property.

More background and info on this can be found in this Wired.com story and this sUAS News report which lists the exact charges.

While it could be argued that Trappy's flying may have been a little reckless, the defense from his lawyer is that no LAWS were broken — because there are no laws pertaining to these craft.

I posted a YT video-rant about how the FAA (and other airspace administrators around the world) are failing to do their jobs and have instigated "policies" rather than create proper laws in respect to this new technology. I also argue the point that it's ridiculous that, in the eyes of the FAA, a small RC plane suddenly becomes a UAS and is treated as being the same as a Predator drone in respect to its potential as a threat to public safety. I won't post a link to the video (don't want to be a whore) but I'm sure folk can find it if they're interested.

The bottom line is that in equating a small RC flying wing made of foam with an evil baby-killing Predator drone, the FAA is way, way out of touch with reality and way-behind the game in respect to making reasonable and effective laws in this area. Also, by relying on "policy", they are allowed to play judge and jury so can apply unfettered bias and prejudice in their actions with impunity.

Submission + - Can the Slashdot effect save Ed Snowden? 1

NewtonsLaw writes: I read that Iceland has refused asylum and citizenship to whistleblower Ed Snowden.

In response to this, I wrote a very polite, email to the office of the Icelandic Prime Minister Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson (details on this webpage) expressing my disappointment at the decision and my sympathy for a once-proud nation that seems to have lost its nerve when faced with the might of the USA.

If anyone else wants to do the same then perhaps it's not too late to alert the Icelandic government to the fact that they could win millions of new friends from all over the world if they were to show their courage and bravery by helping Snowden, as they have with others in the past.

Of course any such communication needs to be polite, concise and focused on showing Iceland that the internet community supports Ed Snowden and those who are prepared to help him.

Maybe the Slashdot community can help. Why not spend a few quick minutes firing off an email so we can find out for sure.

Submission + - The real reason why the MPAA fears piracy (aardvark.co.nz)

NewtonsLaw writes: "I'm pretty sure that everyone reading this will be aware of the movie Iron Sky.

I've been waiting for a long time to watch this movie and finally it has been uploaded to YouTube so I watched it on the weekend.

As the title credits rolled, I rushed off and pre-ordered the BluRay disk of the movie, which isn't due for release here in NZ until December 14th.

I am proof that making your wares available for free can actually promote sales — but only so long as your content is good enough (which Iron Sky certainly is). So, perhaps the reason that the MPAA fears piracy is because it lets people see just how crappy most of their material is *before* they fork over their hard earned cash.

I blogged about this in more detail today"

The Internet

Submission + - No such thing as "local" any more? (3news.co.nz)

NewtonsLaw writes: "There was a time when a small group of locals flying their RC planes from a virtually dis-used airfield in the countryside of a tiny nation on the backside of the world would have had no chance in a battle against bureaucracy and the loss of their right to fly would never have been heard.

However, in the case of the NZ RC model-flying club with a YouTube channel that has had almost 27 million views and has over 15,000 subscribers — the injustice has had far reaching consequences, prompting people to voice their outrage and support from all over the globe. It seems that RC fliers from around the globe are not afraid to voice their anger when world's most widely viewed RC club is shut down without due process or rules of natural justice being used.

Even the small-town paper with a circulation of just 10,000 copies has found its facebook page receiving comments of outrage from all over the world.

Perhaps this shows that, in the age of the internet, there is no such thing as a "local" issue any more. As local authorities, bureaucrats, and indeed any "controlling body" who act unjustly will soon discover.

Note: please don't be tempted to mailbomb the wooden-heads involved, it won't help one bit and would only inflame the situation. Anyone who wants to help could vote in the poll on the facebook page linked above (although I suspect not many Slashdotters are also bookfacers)."


Submission + - UK court rules headlines covered by copryright (aardvark.co.nz)

NewtonsLaw writes: A UK appeals court has upheld a previous decision that news headlines are a "literary work" and therefore are protected by copyright — enabling online publishers to demand payment for their use or sue for unlawful use. This particularly affects aggregators but has the potential to affect bloggers as well.

Aardvark Daily asks the question: if a two or three-word headline now carries copyright protection, what's the point in trademarking a catch-phrase or product name?

And what about Fair Use? If a short headline is a complete literary work, will critics, reviewers and comedians be allowed to use it in its entirety for the purposes of plying their trade?


Submission + - 50-year-old anti-gravity device rediscovered (aardvark.co.nz) 2

NewtonsLaw writes: Today's Aardvark Daily rediscovers an article from an old edition of Popular Mechanics magazine which features a device seemingly capable of defeating the laws of Newtonian physics and even levitating solid objects by defeating gravity.

How could a venerable magazine like PM be duped by this story?

Or were they really duped? After all, there is a picture of the levitating device and diagrams that allegedly describe exactly how it works, using simple mechanical components and principles.

Could it be that the future of anti-gravity drives, the long-awaited flying-car, and space travel has been lurking in the archives of Popular Mechanics for 50 years all along? (Yeah, right).

Sometimes it's fun to look at the science/technology follies of half a century ago.

Submission + - 21st century robots break Asimov's first law every (ifm.net.nz) 1

NewtonsLaw writes: Asmiov's first law of robotics is "A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm."

So how come the most advanced robots on the face of the planet today (military UAVs) regularly bring death to insurgents (and sometimes innocent civilians) with impunity?

What ever happened to Asmiov's principles? Have they been ignored out of expediency?

Are they yet another casualty in "the war against terror?"

Is (as the article suggests) Asimov spinning in his grave right now?

Submission + - How do I start my own pay-TV channel on the web?

NewtonsLaw writes: I've got a pretty successful "all original content" YouTube channel (my vids viewed over 6 million times, most subscribed NZ channel in sports, 19th most viewed NZ Channel) but it doesn't earn me a bean.

What I'd like to do is create a new channel (covering a completely different topic) with premium content that I can make available to people who want to pay a *small* monthly or annual subscription. I see this as a far more viable way of earning money from this kind of video content than Google's lame overlaid ads and the accompanying (lack of) revenue share.

I did suggest to Google/YouTube that they offer a turnkey pay-channel setup for people like myself, using the YouTube infrastructure.

Content creators could just upload their content, set a monthly/annual subscription rate and leave the rest to Google. Google would sign up the subscribers and take a clip on each sub to earn their share of the profit and provide the access control and subscription management back-end. The balance of each sub paid would be forwarded to the channel-operator by Google, as they do with AdSense payments (each month that the minimum payment threshold is reached).

For Google/Youtube — $profit$
For the channel operator — $profit$

For everyone else — a chance to get access to premium content for a small stipend.

Unfortunately, despite the ongoing losses being racked up by YouTube, Google don't seem to be interested in exploiting this opportunity.

So I'm left looking for a service that *can* deliver what I'm after.

And before anyone suggests I just host the stuff myself — I don't want to build a subscription management system, payment processing or other elements and I don't want to have to organize enough bandwidth to serve up all that video content — I just want a turnkey solution I can use for a share of the subscription fees.

Any ideas folks?

Submission + - Why it might be a good idea to catch swine-flu (aardvark.co.nz)

NewtonsLaw writes: "The current strain of swine-flu that appears ready to sweep the globe is putting many people in a panic — but I'm suggesting that it might be a really good idea to find someone who has the flu, shake their hand then suck your fingers.


Well it seems that doing so could provide you with a degree of immunity against what might be a far more dangerous mutant strain of the same virus later on.

Even the CDC agree that an encounter with one variant of a flu virus can provide a measure of immunity against later closely-related variants for a period of up to a year or more — so maybe now is the time to get infected, before a deadly related strain appears.

I blogged about this today.

Might self-immunization be a good way to dodge the bullet of what may turn into a lethal pandemic once the virus mutates a little further?"


Submission + - Buzz-bomb engine attracts 21st-century foofighters (youtube.com)

NewtonsLaw writes: "Back in WW2 there were many stories of strange unidentified craft being seen in the skies. These days we call them UFOs and some are certain they are the vehicles of superior beings from other planets.

Well over Easter, some friends and I were flying our models, including one powered by a pulsejet engine (just like the German V1 flying bomb of WW2). After posting one of these videos to YouTube, a viewer spotted what appeared to be a UFO in the footage so I edited-up a new video that shows just that segment in slow motion. (Here's the original full video)

Based on the speed at which it travels across the frame, it certainly is hard to explain what this unidentified flying object might have been, especially as there were no other aircraft (models or otherwise) in the air at that time. Given just how loud the pulsejet engine is (120dB+) it's also very unlikely that it would be a bird flying nearby — in fact we saw no birds that day.

Do Slashdot readers have any ideas?

Could it be that the foofighers have been lured back by some WW2 engine-technology? :-)

Or is there a more sensible and down-to-earth explanation?"


Submission + - Fighting scammers and spammers using YouTube (youtube.com)

NewtonsLaw writes: "I've been trying to get "the great unwashed" out there to wise-up to these HHO "run your car on water" scams for quite some time now and noticed that affiliates of these schemes are absolutely flooding YouTube with their dross.

Just do search for run car water and look at the same names, same spam and bogus titles popping up, all trying to get people to buy lame ebooks and kits that allegedly offer them a 40% improvement in fuel economy or to even "double" their mileage.

Well I decided I'd try to fight fire with fire and created my own YouTube video to counter the spam.

Apparently it *is* having an effect on the sales of this scam, as witnessed by the comments on this discussion forum.

It's also fun to note how illiterate and ignorant many of those who purport to be getting those "40% fuel savings" are, if their comments on my video are anything to go by.

When their science is challenged, they inevitably fall back to a conspiracy theory — ha!

So is this the best way to deal with scammers/spammers who pollute YouTube's already murky waters with their dross? Or do Slashdotters have a better idea?"


Submission + - Why the world's hackers are partying today (aardvark.co.nz)

NewtonsLaw writes: "The USA has just announced that as of January 2009, all those traveling to (or through) its borders under the widely used "visa waiver" program must register their details on a website at least 72 hours prior to arrival.

But in light of a long string of security breaches in respect to US government-operated websites, isn't the online database of personal information (including passport numbers etc) that this creates going to be a huge drawcard for hackers?

What would a breach of security on such a database mean to those who would just love to use that data for spamming, phishing and identity theft?

What would it mean to those whose information was stolen from such a database?

I've editorialized on this in my daily blog and I ask some important questions.

In light of the fact that I slipped in and out of the USA unnoticed back in 2003 to work on an episode of JunkYard Wars, when the US administration was busy condemning me for building a DIY cruise missile (hosted through Planet so may be a bit flakey right now), seems to indicate that US border control could certainly do with some extra effort."

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