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The Courts

Obama DoJ Goes Against Film Companies 321

NewYorkCountryLawyer writes "If one attempted to distill a single prevailing emotion or attitude about government on Slashdot, I think it is fairly arguable that the winner would be cynicism or skepticism. Well here's a story that could make us skeptical and/or cynical about our skepticism and/or cynicism. Chalk one up for those who like to point out that, occasionally, the system does work. You may recall that the US Supreme Court has been mulling over whether to grant the film industry's petition for certiorari seeking to overturn the important Cartoon Networks v. CSC Holdings decision from the US Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit. This was the case which held that Cablevision's allowing its customers to make copies of shows and store them on Cablevision's servers for later viewing did not constitute a direct copyright infringement by Cablevision, there being no 'copy' made since the files were in RAM and buffered for only a 'transitory' duration. The Supreme Court asked the Obama DoJ to submit an amicus curiae brief, giving its opinion on whether or not the film companies' petition for review should be granted. The government did indeed file such a brief, but the content of the brief (PDF) is probably not what the film companies were expecting. They probably thought they had this one in the bag, since some of the very lawyers who have been representing them have been appointed to the highest echelons of the Obama DoJ. Instead, however, the brief eloquently argued against the film companies' position, dismembering with surgical accuracy each and every argument the film companies had advanced."

Comment Public Notice Kiosk Implementation (Score 1) 75

I worked at the State level of government as a senior web services programmer and was tasked with improving upon the paper-based process for posting public meeting notices. Statute required (and still does) that all notices be posted for display in the Capitol building lobby at least 24 hours before the meeting was to take place. Meeting organizers would fax the notices to our main agency fax line and whoever was currently working the front desk was responsible for collecting and posting the notices. Unfortunately, the building hosting the fax machine and the capitol lobby were located almost a mile apart. This meant that the front desk staff would have to walk the notices over to the other building several times a day to avoid missing any 24 hour notice requirements. An ADA accessible touch screen/voice kiosk was setup in the Capitol lobby to display notices and was integrated with the existing intranet CMS system. An electronic form was provided at the kiosk and on our public site for people to request meetings and all submissions and staff approvals in the CMS system were tracked for auditing purposes. System was backed up everyday, and previous requests were archived in an online repository also accessible from the kiosk. Making sure that government services are available to everyone is a huge consideration when implementing tech based solutions in government. There is the real possibility of a citizen suing state agencies for discrimination due to federal disability discrimination mandates/. For this project it meant that we had to continue to offer the fax and phone submissions regardless of the additional functionality and efficiency the kiosk/cms solution provided. Desk staff had to key the form data received via fax and phone into the CMS by hand. This was almost 10 years ago and the system is still in operation. Process has been re-evaluated several times since then to fine tune different aspects of accessing the notices and to address system failure points as they were discovered. An extremely uninteresting project overall, but a great insight into government work-flow in general.
Space

An Australian Space Agency At Last? 189

Dante_J writes "In the Australian Federal budget presented last night, as well as big national infrastructure spending, an amount of $48.6 million over four years was allocated for an 'Australian Space Science Program.' Normally a space program is managed by a space agency. Does this now mean that Australia will follow the recommendations of the Senate Space Science report and give up its rather inadequate title of the only top-20 GDP nation not to have one? With nations like Vietnam, Bangladesh and Bulgaria forming or maintaining space agencies, this government infrastructure is obviously not limited to G-20 nations. Discussions to combine Australian and New Zealand airspace have been undertaken; should that translate to aerospace too, and both nations form an ANZAC space agency together?"
Patents

Dean Kamen Awarded Patent For Robot Competition Rules 110

An anonymous reader writes "Dean Kamen, the inventor of the Segway and the founder of the FIRST Robotics Competition has been granted Patent 7,507,169, that describes one of the previous competitions. The main invention is a ranking system that ranks teams not only on their score, but their opponents' score, so teams are rewarded for helping their opponents score more. It is claimed that this ranking system promotes the made up phrases 'coopertition' and 'gracious professionalism.' It had three rejections, and even more appeals, before finally being accepted six years after the first application. While a majority of his 130 patents are for things related to his inventions, which are as diverse as medical equipment, unique uses for Stirling engines, and transportation, this one seems a little dubious. Dean opposes the Patent Reform Act of 2009, which would make it easier to overturn patents after they are granted."
Technology

Illusion Cloak Makes One Object Look Like Another 219

KentuckyFC writes "Metamaterials are synthetic substances that can steer light in any way imaginable. Their most famous incarnation is in invisibility cloaks which work by steering light around a region of space making any object inside that region invisible. But invisibility is just the start. A team of physicists in Hong Kong (the same guys who recently worked out how to cloak objects at a distance) have worked out how to create a cloak that makes one object look like another. Instead of steering light to make a region of space look empty, the illusion cloak manipulates light in a way that makes a region of space look as if it contains a specific object. So any object within that region of space, a mouse say, takes on the appearance of an elephant."
Image

The Best Burglar Alarm In History 137

Sportsqs writes "When Nikola Tesla got creative with transformers and driver circuits at the turn of the 20th century he probably had no idea that others would have so much fun with his concepts over a hundred years later. One such guy is an Australian named Peter who runs a website called TeslaDownUnder, which showcases all his wacky Tesla ways, or rather electrickery, as Peter calls it." Very cool stuff, I wish I would have had something like this to protect my comic books from my little brother when I was a kid.

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