cervesaebraciator writes: The Guardian reports that the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) has arrested two men from Birmingham and have seized "suspected counterfeit DVD box sets worth around £40,000, including titles such as Game of Thrones, CSI and Vampire Diaries." The claim is that the men were buying foreign counterfeit copies and selling them online as genuine. London police commissioner Adriad Leppard offers commentary indicative of the thinking behind these efforts, saying, "Intellectual property crime is already costing our economy hundreds of millions of pounds a year and placing thousands of jobs under threat, and left unchecked and free to feed on new technology could destroy some of our most creative and productive industries." The article offers £51 billion per month as an estimate for the cost of illegal downloading to the music, film, and software industry, a figure they say will triple by 2015. To give a sense of scale here, according to IMF numbers the nominal 2012 GDP of the UK was roughly $2.4 trillion (or about £1.5 trillion at the current exchange rate). Following the estimates used here to justify the PIPCU, the total cost of piracy to the music, film, and software industry should be £1.836 trillion, i.e. larger than the British economy in 2012.
cervesaebraciator writes: Slashdot has reported before about the copyright nightmare of the 'I Have a Dream Speech'. Now questions of intellectual property and the legacy of Dr. King have caused his children to go to court. The estate, run by King's sons, claims the rights to the intellectual property and memorabilia of Dr. King as assets. Accordingly, it has filed suit against the non-profit Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Change, run by King's daughter, for plans to continue using King memorabilia once a royalty-free licensing agreement expires, (which the estate says will be in September). As is the case with increasing frequency, one is left to wonder about the implications intellectual property claims have for free speech when they can be applied to so public a figure as Dr. King.
cervesaebraciator writes: "The Iraq and Afghanistan campaigns are unique in that they were the first wars to be documented electronically. The use of computers to track stabilization efforts produced enormous datasets in which important indicators were tracked, including daily electricity-production rates, georeferenced insurgent attacks, factory employment numbers, military spending on locally sourced goods and services and public opinion. [...] Army Secretary John McHugh recently admitted to members of Congress that thousands of records from the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts are missing. [...] The problem is that much of the existing data were collected in an ad hoc manner that reflects the lack of planning for stability operations following both invasions. While certain data types were methodically maintained, others were kept by single individuals in more arbitrary ways—in some cases, on a single computer’s hard drive, in a personal computer or within an e-mail account. As flash drives are lost, computers reformatted, files erased, and human and magnetic memory degrades, various data types have been and will continue to be destroyed." With apologies to Santayana, those who do not backup data sets of the past are condemned to repeat them.
cervesaebraciator writes: In the wake of recent revelations from Edward Snowden, apologists for the state security apparatus are predictably hitting the airwaves. Some are even 'glad' the NSA has been doing this. A major point they emphasize is that the content of calls have remained private and it is only the metadata that they're interested in. But given how much one can tell from interpersonal connections, does the surveillance only represent "modest encroachments on privacy"? It is easy enough to imagine how metadata on phone calls made to and from a medical specialist could be more revealing than we'd like. But social network analysis can reveal far more. Duke sociologist Kieran Healy, in a light-hearted but telling article, shows how one father of the American Revolution could have been identified using the simplest tools of social network analysis and only a limited dataset.
cervesaebraciator writes: "[...] Systems & Materials Research Corporation, just got a six month, $125,000 grant from NASA to create a prototype of his universal food synthesizer. But Contractor, a mechanical engineer with a background in 3D printing, envisions a much more mundane—and ultimately more important—use for the technology. He sees a day when every kitchen has a 3D printer, and the earth’s 12 billion people feed themselves customized, nutritionally-appropriate meals synthesized one layer at a time, from cartridges of powder and oils they buy at the corner grocery store. Contractor’s vision would mean the end of food waste, because the powder his system will use is shelf-stable for up to 30 years, so that each cartridge, whether it contains sugars, complex carbohydrates, protein or some other basic building block, would be fully exhausted before being returned to the store." No word yet on whether anyone other than the guy trying to sell the technology thinks it'll make palatable food.
cervesaebraciator writes: From TFA: "Apple said in the application that a curved battery pack can use the area outside of the rectangular space ordinarily reserved for such an energy source. A curved battery could occupy space that is “curved, rounded, or irregularly shaped,” the Cupertino, California-based company said. That could allow designs for devices to diverge from the standard rectangular configuration." The application describes the process thus: "The [layers of cathodes, separators, and anodes] may be wound to create a jelly roll prior to sealing the layers in the flexible pouch. A curve may also be formed in the battery cell by applying a pressure of at least 0.13 kilogram-force (kgf) per square millimeter to the layers using a set of curved plates applying a temperature of about 85.degree. C. to the layers."
cervesaebraciator writes: U.S. Representative Judy Chu (D-CA) will be starting a new caucus with the ostensible purpose of protecting the intellectual property rights of filmmakers, musicians and other artists. The new caucus, styled the Congressional Creative Rights Caucus, will be formed along with Rep. Howard Coble (R-NC). Chu's office released a statement, including the following:
American innovation hinges on creativity – it is what allows our kids to dream big and our artists to create works that inspire us all. The jobs that result are thanks entirely to our willingness to foster creative talent, and an environment where it can thrive and prosper." [...] The Congressional Creative Rights Caucus will serve to educate Members of Congress and the general public about the importance of preserving and protecting the rights of the creative community in the U.S. American creators of motion pictures, music, software and other creative works rely on Congress to protect their copyrights, human rights, First Amendment rights and property rights.
cervesaebraciator writes: Tim Lee over at Ars Technica recently interviewed Derek Khanna, a former staffer for the Republican Study Committee. As reported on Slashdot, Khanna wrote a brief suggesting the current copyright law might not constitute free market thinking. He was rewarded for his efforts with permanent time off of work. Khanna continues to speak out about the need for copyright reform as well as its potential as a winning electoral issue and, according to Lee, he's actually beginning to receivesome positive attention for his efforts. "I encourage Hill staffers to bring forth new ideas. Don't be discouraged by the potential consequences," Khanna told Ars. "You work for the American people. It's your job, your obligation to be challenging existing paradigms and put forward novel solutions to existing problems." Would that more in both major parties thought like this.
cervesaebraciator writes: The 2.5 tonne Harwell Dekatron Computer has now been restored to working order and is on display at the National Museum of Computing in Buckinghamshire. The Harwell Dekatron was made in 1949 and used by the UK's Atomic Energy Research Establishment. In its heyday, the Harwell Dekatron would work away for up to 80 hours per week, notably doing computations in decimal rather than the binary we are now accustomed to. A multiplication performed by this computer would take from about five to ten seconds. The computer was found in storage and restored to working condition, the majority of its 480 relays and 828 Dekatron tubes still original. The main article includes a video where, unlike a modern computer, you can literally see the computer store data and perform calculations.
cervesaebraciator writes: Yesterday an article was featured on Slashdot which expressed some hope, if just a fool's hope, that a recent Republican Study Committee Brief could be a sign of broader national discussion about the value of current copyright law. When one sees such progress, credit is deservedly given. Unfortunately, the others in Washington did not perhaps see this as worthy of praise. The committee's executive director, Paul Teller, sent a memo today disavowing the earlier pro-copyright reform brief. From the memo: "Yesterday you received a Policy Brief or [sic] copyright law that was published without adequate review within the RSC and failed to meet that standard. Copyright reform would have far-reaching impacts, so it is incredibly important that it be approached with all facts and viewpoints in hand." People who live in districts such as Ohio's 4th would do well to send letters of support to those who crafted the original brief. I cannot imagine party leadership will be happy with so radical a suggestion as granting copyright protection for the limited times needed to promote the progress of science and useful arts.
cervesaebraciator writes: Regardless of how one feels about the GOP generally, it is always heartening to see current copyright and IP law questioned on a national stage. A Republican study committee, chaired by Ohio Representative Jim Jordan released a brief today entitled Three Myths about Copyright Law and Where to Start to Fix it. Among other things, the brief attacks current copyright law as hampering scientific inquiry, penalizing journalism, and retarding the potential of the internet to allow the dispersion of knowledge through e-readers. In the briefs words, "Current copyright law does not merely distort some markets – rather it destroys entire markets." Four potential policy solutions are proposed: statutory damage reform, expansion of fair use, punishing false copyright claims, and limiting copyright terms. There may yet be hope for a national debate on the current oppressive copyright system, if just a fool's hope.
cervesaebraciator writes: A new species of heterodontosaur, called Pegomastax, has been identified. Paul Sereno, a University of Chicago paleontologist, published a description of this species in a recent issue of ZooKeys. Although this diminutive (60 cm or less) species was herbivorous, it also possessed a set of sharp, stabbing canines in its parrot-shaped beak. Dr. Sereno holds that these canines where likely "for nipping and defending themselves, not for eating meat.” Perhaps the most imaginatively intriguing aspect of all, the body of the Pegomastix might have been covered in porcupine-like quills, making for perhaps the least attractive dinosaur of all time. You can almost hear Dieter Stark screaming 'Helvetes jävlar!'
cervesaebraciator writes: David Javerbaum writes in the New York Times Sunday Review to explain the mysterious forces which appear to be at work in the age of quantum politics. Unfortunately, he does not address how this theory might be reconciled with the main theory used to explain the politics of the nineties, the theory of relativity. Under this theory, the success of a politicians depends upon what the meaning of the word "is" is. I would propose, therefore, that both the quantum theory and the theory of relativity can be reconciled through the use of an M-theory, or Money-theory, of politics. In this system, politics can be explained entirely by the invisible, one-dimensional strings which connect the money of lobbyists to the actions of politicians. Yet, recent developments with the Citizens United ruling may require that this view be modified in light of what appear to be the superstrings of Political Action Committees.
cervesaebraciator writes: Travel to Mars may face yet another hurdle and this one is not budgetary. A recent study published in the Journal of Radiology shows another risk associated with long-term space travel. In addition to the traditional threats of bone density loss, atrophy, and radiation from the Sun, astronauts who spend long periods in zero gravity may also face loss of vision. 27 astronauts who underwent MRI were found to suffer increased intracranial pressure. In particular, researchers found evidence, "for expansion of the cerebral spinal fluid space surrounding the optic nerve of nine of the astronauts, a flattening of the rear of the eyeball in six, a bulging of the optic nerve in four, and changes in the pituitary gland and its connection to the brain in three individuals."