NormalVisual writes: Disney is now asking its employees to chip in to promote the company's copyright agenda via the company's political action committee, DisneyPAC. CEO Bob Iger's letter to employees also lauds the company's success with the Trans-Pacific Partnership treaty and the recent Supreme Court decision regarding the video service Aereo, and expresses the company's hope that DisneyPAC will be able to influence Congress in regards to lowering corporate tax rates. Not surprisingly, the company refuses to comment on the initiative.
NormalVisual writes: After decades of mystery, the lunar impact site for the Apollo 16 S-IVB third stage has finally been found. These boosters were directed to impact on the Moon beginning with Apollo 13 in order to allow scientists to learn more about the Moon's inner structure by measuring the effects of the collisions with lunar seismographs. Five boosters were directed into the Moon during the lunar missions, and the other four impact sites had already been found shortly after the missions themselves. The Apollo 16 booster had been difficult to find because of a loss of radio contact with the booster before the impact, and the actual impact location was 30 km away from the original estimate.
NormalVisual writes: The original 11-foot U.S.S. Enterprise studio model from the original series has gone back into the shop again. The Smithsonian owns the model and has had it on display in a gift shop at the National Air and Space Museum for the last 13 years, but will be placed on display in the Boeing Milestones of Flight Hall in 2016, to coincide with the museum's 40th anniversary. In the meantime, the model will be undergoing its fourth restoration to address a number of issues. The last restoration in 1991 was performed by Ed Miarecki, a professional modelmaker well known for his work in "Star Trek: The Next Generation", as well as films such as "Event Horizon". This previous restoration had Trek fans up in arms owing to the paint job, which many feel doesn't represent the way the model looked originally. Hopefully this next restoration will bring her back to her former glory.
NormalVisual writes: "It's a really tough time to be a patent owner", said Soverain Software, LLC president Katharine Wolanyk, after the Supreme Court refused to hear their appeal after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit invalidated three of Soverain's shopping cart patents. Soverain had sued Newegg for allegedly infringing the patents in question, and had won in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas. Newegg later had the decision overturned on appeal, with the court ruling that the patents in question were obvious, and thus invalid.
NormalVisual writes: When the Jack Daniels distillery recently became aware of a book whose cover they felt substantially infringed their trademark, they didn't go into instant "Terminator mode" — instead, they wrote a very thoughtful, civil letter to the infringing party, and even offered to help defray the costs of coming into compliance. I believe plenty of other companies (and many in the tech world) could use this as an example of how *not* to alienate people and come off looking like a bunch of greedy jerks.
NormalVisual writes: License-plate reading cameras are popping up on utility poles all over St. Lawrence County in upstate New York, but no one is willing to say who they belong to . One camera was found by a utility crew, removed from the pole, and given to the local police. "Massena Police Chief Timmy Currier said he returned it to the owner, but wouldn’t say how he knew who the owner was, nor would he say who he gave it to....(Andrew) McMahon, the superintendent at Massena Electric Department, said one of his crews found a box on one of their poles and took it down because “it was in the electric space,” the top tier of wires on the pole above the telephone and cable TV wires, and whoever put it there had taken a chance with electrocution. He said they had never received a request or been informed about its placement."
NormalVisual writes: The Pearl restaurant in Melbourne will soon begin using Apple iPads running custom software to describe the available culinary options to its customers. Chris Lucas, the proprietor, has spent $40,000 in development costs on top of the costs of the devices themselves in order to research the food offerings in as much detail as they choose.
No word regarding the expected longevity of the iMenus, but it's doubtful they'll deal with spills and accidental drops nearly as well as paper menus.
NormalVisual writes: A copyright dispute between Latin recording artist Alejandro Fernández and Sony Music has resulted in more than 6,000 CDs being seized from Sony's Mexico City office by the Mexican police, along with master tapes and cover art. Fernández's contract with Sony was for seven albums, and the label had compiled and was attempting to market and sell an eighth album, created from previously unreleased tracks. The seizure comes two weeks after Sony ignored a cease and desist letter from Fernández's attornies. Sony of course maintains it has done nothing wrong.
NormalVisual writes: Owners of Seagate 1TB drives have been experiencing serious issues of late — many recent 7200.11 Barracuda SATA drives have a problem with the version SD15 firmware that often results in the drive failing on power-up after working perfectly fine for a time. While the data on the drive appears to be safe, the drive is completely bricked, resulting in the inability to flash it to any further firmware revisions without a bit of hardware hacking. The problem is making for an interesting discussion on Seagate's community forums, particularly since Seagate still refuses to acknowledge the issue and is tightly censoring the "official" discussion on the forums, so many 7200.11 owners are having to discuss the issue outside of Seagate's control. Tom's Hardware has also picked up the increasingly-vocal story. So, if you've got one of the big Barracudas, it's probably a good idea to to stay on top of those backups.
NormalVisual writes: After much waiting and speculation, the hi-def trailer for J.J. Abrams' new monster movie "Cloverfield" has finally been made available on Apple's web site. Still no really clear shots of the monster(s), but we really didn't expect that, did we? Let the hours of vapid and pointless speculation begin!
NormalVisual writes: Schedules Direct, the folks that have been working towards providing listing data for MythTV users in the shadow of the impending shutdown of existing listing services by Zap2It, has finally announced pricing for their soon-to-be-available service. They will be initially charging $15 for a 3-month subscription, but anticipate substantial price decreases as they get more people on board. I for one am quite happy to hear this news.
NormalVisual writes: The mailing lists were buzzing recently when Michael Buesch, one of the maintainers for the GPL'd bc43xx Broadcom wireless chip driver project, called the OpenBSD folks to task for apparently including code without permission from his project in the OpenBSD bcw project, which aims to provide functionality with Broadcom wireless chips under that OS. It seems that the problem has been resolved for now with the BSD driver author totally giving up on the project and Theo De Raadt taking the position that Buesch's posts on the subject were "inhuman".
NormalVisual writes: U.S. District Judge Deborah A. Batts ruled today that recording XM Satellite Radio broadcasts using the built-in recording functionality of some XM receivers is not equivalent to taping music off the radio with an analog cassette deck, as detailed in this article. The judge's reasoning was that the built-in recorders in XM units essentially make XM a broadcaster and distributor, whereas XM is only paying to be a broadcaster.
NormalVisual writes: Ray Noorda, the former head of Novell, has died at 82 from Alzheimer's. His obituary contains an interesting, albeit brief, history of a man who was instrumental in bringing network computing to where it is today.
NormalVisual writes: It appears that the unconstitutional and controversial warrantless surveillance program being conducted by the Bush Administration can continue until an appeals court can hear the case, according to this AP article. The 6th Circuit ruled that while the lower court had ruled the program was unconstitutional, they felt that the case's chances before the appeals court and the possible danger to national security warranted their decision to let it continue despite the likelihood that the appeal process will take months.
Good to know that the whole "separation of powers" thing works so well for keeping the government in check, eh?