arkhan_jg writes: The AA, a British breakdown assistance company, are starting a new service for stranded motorists in tricky to reach places in time for the Easter getaway rush. As a follow on to motorcycle patrols threading through congestion and Land Rovers for snow-bound roads, the AA are introducing Project Apollo — a rapid response patrol that will see AA Rocketmen in lightweight jet-packs flitting over traffic jams to reach stranded motorists.
AA future technologies strategist, Dr Raif Lopol, said: "Despite advances in Jet Pack Technology (JPT), it is unlikely at this stage that AA patrols will actually 'patrol the skies' – fuel costs make that impractical. "It is more likely that the AA patrol will employ the 'park & fly' system, whereby the AA patrol van parks within one mile of the stricken member and the jetpack is then launched from the rear of the van."
The jet-packs, which cost £42,000 each, are made of lightweight carbon fibre, have a top speed of 80mph, can reach a maximum height of 8,000ft and have a flying time of ten minutes. Most importantly they can hover up to 250ft above gridlocked traffic and drop down to a stricken vehicle in areas where a patrol van may not be able to get through. A parachute is packed for emergencies.
"The initial test flights have gone well," said AA patrolman and test pilot Hugh Grenoble. "We're working on an ultra-lightweight toolkit that should allow us to do most quick fix repairs. Obviously, we won't be able to do any towing but the benefits more than outweigh this. It will be nice not worrying about potholes for a start.
arkhan_jg writes: The BBC's iPlayer offers British residents the chance to stream or download recently broadcast BBC programmes for free, even without paying for a TV licence. Now, the BBC is to start offering high definition versions of some programmes. While BBC HD content has been available as a premium option for some time on Sky satellite and Virgin cable TV, and as a recently free option via Freesat, takeup remains relatively low at less than 1/3 of households with even a basic subscription service. Over-the-air HD freeview broadcasts are still years away in the UK. The viewing of programmes over the internet via iPlayer has proved exceedingly popular though (387 million requests to stream or download since it launched on Christmas Day 2007), and for many this will be their first legitimate free exposure to BBC HD programmes.
Yet this news will not be popular with everyone. Almost all ADSL ISPs have low bandwidth quotas on their packages, often ranging from 5GB for the cheapest to 50GB for the premium packages. The BBC and ISPs have already clashed over the iPlayer, with ISPs claiming the on-demand TV service is putting strain on their networks, which need to be upgraded to cope. Tiscali suggested that they should be paid by the BBC to carry iPlayer traffic. Late last year, the BBC's head of digital media technology Anthony Rose suggested that iPlayer access should be part of tiered packages, and available to customers for an additional fee.
With such clashes over who's going to pay for the increased capacity needed to deliver the growing legitimate content demands of British customers, the new BBC iPlayer HD streaming is bound to intensify them.
arkhan_jg writes: The Pirate Bay founders have been found guilty of being accessories to copyright infringement. Frederik Neij, Gottfrid Svartholm Warg, Carl Lundstrom and Peter Sunde were sentenced to a year in jail. They were also ordered to pay 30m kronor ($3.6m or £2.4m) in damages. The damages were awarded to a number of entertainment companies, including Warner Bros, Sony Music Entertainment, EMI, and Columbia Pictures.
The news was broken early by Peter Sunde aka brokep via twitter, from a "trustworthy source". Sunde is also insisting "nothing will happen to TPB, us personally or file sharing what so ever. This is just a theater for the media." The men have already stated that would appeal the verdict if they lost, and given the distributed nature of The Pirate Bay servers outside of Sweden, the site itself may well prove difficult to shut down. A round-up of the arguments in court has already been discussed on slashdot, and the BBC has some thoughts on what happens next.