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UK Teen Banned From US Over Obscene Obama Email 555

British teenager Luke Angel has been banned from the US for sending an email to the White House calling President Obama an obscenity. The 17-year-old says he was drunk when he sent the mail and doesn't understand what the big deal is. "I don't remember exactly what I wrote as I was drunk. But I think I called Barack Obama a p***k. It was silly -- the sort of thing you do when you're a teenager and have had a few," he said. The FBI contacted local police who in turn confronted Luke and let him know that the US Department of Homeland Security didn't think his email was funny. "The police came and took my picture and told me I was banned from America forever. I don't really care but my parents aren't very happy," Angel said.

Child Abuse Verdict Held Back By MS Word Glitch 191

An anonymous reader writes "Last week several defendants including one high-profile TV presenter were sentenced in Portugal in what has been known as the Casa Pia scandal. The judges delivered on September 3 a summary of the 2000-page verdict, which would be disclosed in full only three days later. The disclosure of the full verdict has been postponed from September 8 to a yet-to-be-announced date, allegedly because the full document was written in several MS Word files which, when merged together, retained 'computer related annotations which should not be present in any legal document.' (Google translated article.) Microsoft specialists were called in to help the judges sort out the 'text formatting glitch,' while the defendants and their lawyers eagerly wait to access the full text of the verdict."

Man Threatened Spam Attack In $200,000 Extortion Plot 77

52-year-old Anthony Digati was arrested for trying to extort $200,000 from an insurance firm by threatening to spam them with six million emails unless they paid up. Digati said he would use a spam service and his amazing talents as a "huge social networker" to drag the company "through the muddiest waters imaginable" and presumably unfriend everyone. He added that the price would increase to $3 million if they failed to pay up by Monday, according to federal authorities.

Comment Re:I know why. (Score 1) 338

Check out the player experience, and its navigation, commentary, captioning, etcetera. And it uses Smooth Streaming to provide proxy-cachable video at multiple bitrates.

As he said, those features are all available on the video players already available. QuickTime and QuickTime Streaming Server (and it's Open Source version Darwin Streaming Server) already offer all those features.

So why do I need Silverlight, except to support Bill Gates' attempt to "knife the baby"...?

Comment Re:I'm glad someone's pointing out this fraud (Score 1) 263

Correct. There is no way to put a Public Domain book back into copyright, except through translation (that would be a new, original derivative work). Just re-typesetting the text does not create a new copyright. Mazzone's paper describes in detail "copyright creep" where authors slap a new foreword onto a PD work and then claim a fraudulent copyright on the whole book. Yes, the foreword would be copyrighted but the other contents could not be copyrighted.

Comment Re:FTD is a plague on Usenet (Score 2, Informative) 90

A useful analogy, but it's worse than that. It's kind of like someone building a superhighway through your backyard. Let me give a specific example.

I used to participate in an alt.binaries group, we traded fairly obscure music (mostly out of print) and it was a low traffic newsgroup (not in the mp3 hierarchy), so even the top Usenet ISPs wouldn't give it much storage space. So we had a generally agreed-upon posting method, no flooding and each person would restrict their posts to about 500Mb per day. We judged that most of the top ISPs gave the newsgroup about 5Gb of file space, so files never expired from old age, they were always pushed off the server. When we limited flooding, posts would last about a month on the server, when everyone posted faster, they expired in about a week. That seemed adequate, everyone was happy, and if files expired early, most users were happy to repost on request (although more slowly a second time).

So after a few go-rounds with FTDers dumping 1Gb floods, and everybody getting pissed off, some FTD asshole starts a 10Gb flood. Regular users are posting a few albums of maybe a dozen files, and their first file is pushed off the server before the last one is even done posting. The FTD idiot isn't even aware that he is flooding off his OWN files, the first 5Gb is being pushed off the server by the last 5Gb. Now THAT is really goddam stupid.

Obviously the FTDers are not aware of common Usenet limitations. They think a Usenet nntp server has unlimited resources, but it doesn't. In an ideal world, every nntp server would have infinite storage space, that is impossible, but it's a basic assumption of the FTD system. They treat Usenet as an infinite resource, they can dump an infinite amount of files anywhere and they expect the system to handle it. I've seen even worse abuses, some FTD asshole will pick some obscure binaries group and use it to dump off-topic files. It doesn't matter where you post an FTD file, you could post mp3s in alt.bestiality.hamster.duct-tape and the FTD servers would locate it just as easily as if it was in alt.binaries.sounds.mp3.* since their system is designed to handle locating the files. It's indexed on their servers, not under topic categories by newsgroup. They'll dump files anywhere they like, and are answerable to no-one. This has ruined several newsgroups and driven people away from Usenet.

Fuck The Dutch.

Comment RSTP (Score 3, Interesting) 68

Streaming QuickTime has been a continual subject of discussion on the QuickTime Streaming Server listserv. Note that I am not referring to progressive download QT, I'm talking about RSTP streaming. Services like YouTube have the ability to detect the maximum bandwidth of the receiving device and deliver a stream encoded for that bitrate. In YouTube's case, they have a custom app that detects whether you're on EDGE or WiFi and delivers a progressive streaming file of higher or lower quality. I have been dissatisfied with the YouTube service, it seems to always stream poorly. And you have to wait and wait for enough of the file to load before it will start playing. Usually my iPhone (even on WiFi) goes to sleep and shuts off long before I can start watching, which aborts the download.

What the QTSS listserv people are all begging for is true RSTP streaming from QuickTime Streaming Server to the iPhone in Mobile Safari, and an API for apps. QTSS detects your device's bandwidth and delivers a true stream with the appropriate bitrate so it can begin playing instantly, and if you drag the playback slider to any point in the file, it begins playing instantly from that point. This would be a huge advantage, but there is a downside. Since the stream is being delivered continuously on demand, you can't deliver higher bandwidth (higher quality) files that would take a while to download. The file's bitrate may be no more than the channel would allow. But us QTSS users think this is an advantage, I would gladly trade off a little quality for instant-on playback. Another advantage is that QTSS can deliver live video from QuickTime Broadcaster, so live TV events can be delivered live.

The upshot of the deal is, Apple has not yet enabled RSTP in the iPhone, so it is not available in apps like Mobile Safari. I personally believe (without any evidence) that this is Apple's attempt to cripple Mobile Safari so as to not antagonize AT&T by overloading their network with streaming video. But there are some apps that have RTSP streaming now, there's an app that streams college radio stations (I forgot the name of the app). I don't know how they got it to work, they must have their own RTSP code, it's not in any current iPhone 2.0 OS API.

I have been telling people for years, if you wanted to start a new TV delivery method, all you'd have to do would be roll out a new line of smartphones with adequate data capacity and live streaming like QTSS. You could start another major network overnight. I've found the quality of TV watching on my iPhone (from my own manually encoded files) to be perfectly fine. But Apple won't enable RTSP on the iPhone... yet. Maybe they have something coming in iPhone OS 3.0, but there hasn't even been a hint of this capacity. Plenty of people are filing the request with the appropriate Apple people, and we get no response whatsoever. Let us hope that no news is good news, and they are not leaking or hinting at anything because they are under an NDA because it's about to roll out.

Comment FTD is a plague on Usenet (Score 4, Interesting) 90

FTD is doing horrible things to usenet, they're a plague on any newsgroup they descend upon. FTD makes software so people can use Usenet as a P2P system without ever interacting with the newsgroup. This has not been popular with most newsgroups that have standards for posting. FTD does things their way, and when massive complaints from newsgroup participants are posted, the FTDers never see them. I've seen newsgroups destroyed by floods of FTD posts. The regular participants (the most valuable members of the newsgroup) have their contributions buried by massive floods of off-topic posts. And there's nothing you can do to stop them.

On most usenet groups, FTD is commonly parsed as "Fuck The Dutch." They want to exploit Usenet for their own ends without participating in Usenet culture. Fuck em.

Comment Not the first.. (Score 1) 159

While this may be the first game for a 16-bit personal computer, I don't believe it is the first game for any personal computer.

I will offer a more likely contender: TARG for the Processor Technology SOL-20. I recall typing this game (and several others I've forgotten) into my SOL back in 1975. TARG became available commercially on a cassette called GAMEPAC 1, I just happened to have the GAMEPAC 1 manual sitting here and it's copyrighted 1977.

Since the article claims sometime in 1975 as the "release' of Space War, it is probably going to be difficult to pinpoint exactly which app was written first, they appear to date to almost exactly the same time. But since Space War was a one-off production for a unique custom computer, it hardly had the impact of an app like TARG that was widely available on a commercially produced personal computer (that came as a kit or pre-assembled).

In case you're interested in TARG, it was a dart throwing game done entirely in text mode, with animated graphics. IIRC you used keys to move a cursor up and down and the space bar to toss a dart at a target. A little custom character flew across the screen. I'm restoring my SOL now and TARG is the program I'm trying to get to run first. The CPU is working but alas my RAM boards are dead so there's no memory space to run even small apps.

Comment WRONG: Movies have ALWAYS been about restriction.. (Score 1) 474

That's the worst (and most totally incorrect) description about the early history of the movie industry I ever heard. And I've heard a zillion of them, since I worked in Hollywood for many years.

Obviously you are confused about the origin of the patented Edison cameras. There was a format war and Edison owned the basic patents on standardized film cameras that worked with the movie projectors in all the theaters. Some people tried to issue cameras in the Edison format that didn't pay Edison royalties. Others tried to start a new format, with predictable lack of success.

If you're going to argue a historical point, you should at least make a MINIMAL attempt to get the history right. I'm no fan of Edison (who often acquired patents in ways that we would now call him a "patent troll") but that doesn't make the early history of the Movies anything more than a plain old patent infringement problem. Without Edison's corporate backing of a standard format, movies as a medium would have been delayed in development and might never have taken off as a popular entertainment. You can try to recast that as a the activities of Robber Barons, but you're not being the least bit objective about that.

Comment Re:even for top 100,000... (Score 1) 458

Yes, the "Top 100k torrents" is just another data point. Maybe it would be preferable to look at the top 100k through 200k torrents, sliding down a little further on the "long tail" (oh how I hate that whole long tail BS). Or maybe it might be preferable to look at the "bottom seeded torrents," like the torrents with only one seeder and no leechers. In this case, P2P nets are acting like a web server, with a single source, it's not distributed at all, it's point to point, kind of what P2P was intended to work around. This reminds me of the "good old days" of Napster, when you could find almost anything, no matter how obscure, if there was a single point on the Napster net anywhere with that one file.

Anyway, demand for mainstream product is always going to be high, no matter what the medium. But it is pretty clear that the internet has opened up many niches, and obscure niches are thriving. I don't think you can "prove" it in any mathematically rigorous way (as this article lamely attempted). But you can always cite "Rule 34," it seems obvious to anyone who has used the net more than casually.

Comment A poor argument. (Score 3, Insightful) 458

That was a very poor argument. You're basing your argument on the top 100 torrents, this is like an inverse of the "long tail" argument. But that's the only data you have, since you can't look at the top 100,000 torrents.

There are other ways to look at this. For example, I used to be active on usenet in some specialist binaries newsgroups. We traded obscure music in our genre, none of this was new or of wide interest, it was definitely a niche. I did one vinyl rip and restoration of a very obscure LP that I might have one of the only existing copies, it took weeks to restore and clean up all the pops and clicks. That rip was traded back and forth repeatedly. Then all of a sudden, a new remastered CD of the album came out. I'm convinced that repeated trading of my vinyl rip proved demand and the record company was watching, and decided to remaster and rerelease it.

Now if that (admittedly anonymous and unsupported) anecdote doesn't convince you (and why should it) then the mere existence of niche trading sites (on usenet and torrent trackers) should convince you. Take a look, there are plenty of them, within easy reach.

If you're going to argue that the most easily available torrents are the most easily available mass-trade products (like top 40 music) then you've found the perfect set of stats to prove your point. Maybe you shouldn't form your hypothesis and then go looking for data to fit it.

Comment Re:Frickin' Lasers (Score 1) 249

Ah yesss.. thanks for refreshing my memory, we were indeed trying to measure the Faraday Effect. I never thought to do this experiment in anything but air, or that a different medium would show clear results. But then, I was a dumb high school junior that was just beginning to study quantum physics. Hell, in those days, quantum physics was not as well developed as today, I don't know if anyone had even measured this phenomenon in different media. But today, it seems like basic optical-table equipment. Now I want to do the experiment all over again with a TGG Faraday Isolator, to vindicate my original ideas. I checked around the web, a basic Faraday Isolator will cost somewhere between $750 and $4000. No, I don't really want to know THAT badly.

I suspect my physics teacher was proud of me for overreaching my abilities, or he would have just shut down my stupid experiment. I guess he thought I'd eventually figure it out in college classes. Well, if nothing else, it was a memorable failure. I sometimes quote Robert Goddard, after watching one of his rockets blow up on the launch pad, he said, "We have successfully gathered negative information!"

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