An anonymous reader writes "10 years ago the copyright police at the DVD CCA sued Kaleidescape for creating movie servers that (allegedly in breach of contract) allowed customers to copy their DVDs onto a hard drive. Yesterday, a California court announced the was voluntarily dismissed. 'Kaleidescape has always maintained that the DVD CCA contracts express no such prohibitions. In any case, Kaleidescape servers make bit-for-bit copies so that the digital rights management (DRM) provisions of CSS are preserved. The legal imbroglio with the DVD CCA has forced Kaleidescape to impose burdens on its customers and its engineers while offshore companies like AnyDVD and the U.S. manufacturers that employ their legally untouchable software proceed with impunity.' Is there a broader implication for DRM? Not really."
darthcamaro writes: "Red Hat's Fedora Linux Project Leader, Robyn Bergeron, has announced that she is leaving her role. Bergeron became Fedora Project Leader in February of 2012 and has presided over one of the busiest periods for Fedora ever. Fedora is now moving to a new model for Fedora 21, with separate desktop, cloud and server products. 'The community has now gotten to the point where it's not a one-size-fits-all product anymore,' Bergeron said."
Presto Vivace writes with news that the FCC's suggested net neutrality rules are facing opposition in Congress. "FCC chairman Tom Wheeler took the hot seat today in an oversight hearing before the House Subcommittee on Communications and Technology to testify about current issues before his agency, including net neutrality. The overriding theme of the day? Pretty much everyone who spoke hates the rule the FCC narrowly approved for consideration last week — just for different reasons." Wheeler himself made some interesting comments in response to their questions:
"[He said] the agency recognizes that Internet providers would be disrupting a 'virtuous cycle' between the demand for free-flowing information on one hand and new investment in network upgrades on the other if they started charging companies like Google for better access to consumers. What's more, he said, the FCC would have the legal authority to intervene. 'If there is something that interferes with that virtuous cycle — which I believe paid prioritization does — then we can move against it,' Wheeler said, speaking loudly and slowly. A little later, in response to a question from Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), Wheeler cited network equipment manufacturers who've argued that you can't create a fast lane without worsening service for some Internet users. 'That's at the heart of what you're talking about here,' Wheeler said. 'That would be commercially unreasonable under our proposal.'"
Here are instructions for how to send your comment to the FCC for those so inclined.
Back in 1992, Wolfenstein 3D helped kick off the fledgling FPS genre. Today, the saga continues with Wolfenstein: the New Order. It's set in an alternate-history world where the Nazis won WW2, with hero B.J. Blazkowicz setting out to join resistance fighters. Unusually for a modern FPS, the game has no multiplayer element — it's single-player only. Early reviews for the game are generally positive. Polygon's says, "First, stealth is a valid option for extended portions of the game, with silent melee takedowns and a brutally effective suppressed pistol. There's also a form of progression in Wolfenstein: The New Order's perk system. Performing certain actions in combat unlocks new abilities and upgrades over time, which can make a significant difference in the way you can tackle firefights. You can also find weapon upgrades that further escalate the raw, over-the-top violence on display. This combination of old ideas and new hooks seems mismatched, but I was taken aback by how well it all worked together."
Eurogamer had some criticism: "Less impressive are the plot and the characters, which often feel like they exist only to amplify the opportunities for violence and sensationalism. ... I wouldn't say it's offensive, but Wolfenstein: The New Order isn't a very tactful game, even though it's often trying to be. ... This is a game that does everything it needs to to earn an 18 certificate but rarely manages to achieve a sense of either gravity or maturity." The game is out for the PS3/4, Xbox 360/One, and Windows. It's build on the id Tech 5 engine, and that's causing some graphics issues on the PC, much like RAGE did when it launched in 2011. The game's massive size (~50GB) is causing problems for PS4 owners as well.
An anonymous reader writes "Ladar Levison, founder of the encrypted email service Lavabit that shut down last year because of friction with U.S. government data requests, has an article at The Guardian where he explains the whole story. He writes, 'My legal saga started last summer with a knock at the door, behind which stood two federal agents ready to to serve me with a court order requiring the installation of surveillance equipment on my company's network. ... I had no choice but to consent to the installation of their device, which would hand the U.S. government access to all of the messages – to and from all of my customers – as they traveled between their email accounts other providers on the Internet. But that wasn't enough. The federal agents then claimed that their court order required me to surrender my company's private encryption keys, and I balked. What they said they needed were customer passwords – which were sent securely – so that they could access the plain-text versions of messages from customers using my company's encrypted storage feature. (The government would later claim they only made this demand because of my "noncompliance".) ... What ensued was a flurry of legal proceedings that would last 38 days, ending not only my startup but also destroying, bit by bit, the very principle upon which I founded it – that we all have a right to personal privacy.'"
An anonymous reader writes "The rate of cybercrime is growing and growing, and law enforcement is struggling to keep up. The FBI is in the process of beefing up its headcount, but they're running into a problem: many of the hackers applying for these jobs have a history of marijuana use, and the agency has a zero tolerance policy. FBI Director James Comey said, 'I have to hire a great work force to compete with those cyber criminals and some of those kids want to smoke weed on the way to the interview.' However, change may be on the horizon: Comey said the FBI is changing 'both our mindset and the way we do business.' He also encouraged job applications from former pot users despite the policy."
New submitter amxcoder writes: "A recent bill making its way through the California state legislature reaffirms 4th amendment protections against NSA-style wiretapping of cell phones and computer records, and declares that the NSA's data collection methods and practices are unconstitutional. The bill has passed the California Senate with only a single opposing vote. It would require a warrant to be issued by a Judge before the state's law enforcement and other departments can assist federal agencies in obtaining these records. Similar bills in other states are trickling through the legislative process, but California's is the furthest along. At the least, it will establish that a state of 38 million people are unhappy with the NSA's methods."
An anonymous reader writes "10 years ago today, in the wake of two disappointing Star Wars prequels, we discussed whether Episode III could salvage itself or the series. Now, as production is underway on Episode VII under the care of Disney, I was wondering the same thing: can it return Star Wars to its former glory? On one hand, many critics of the prequels have gotten what they wanted — George Lucas has a reduced role in the production of Episode VII. Critically, he didn't write the screenplay, which goes a long way toward avoiding the incredibly awkward dialogue of the prequels. On the other hand, they're actively breaking with the expanded universe canon, and the series is now under the stewardship of J.J. Abrams. His treatment of the Star Trek reboot garnered lots of praise and lots of criticism — but his directorial style is arguably more suited to Star Wars anyway. What do you think? What can they do with Episode VII to put the series back on track?"
Brandon Butler writes: "OpenStack has no shortage of corporate backers. Rackspace, Red Hat, IBM, Dell, HP, Cisco and many others have hopped on board. But many wonder, after four years, shouldn't there be more end users by this point? 'OpenStack backers say this progression is completely normal. Repeating an analogy many have made, Paul Cormier, president of products and technology for Red Hat, says OpenStack’s development is just like the process of building up Linux. This time the transition to a cloud-based architecture is an even bigger technological transformation than replacing proprietary operating systems with Linux. "It’s where Linux was in the beginning," he says about OpenStack's current status. "Linux was around for a while before it really got adopted in the enterprise. OpenStack is going through the same process right now."'"
malachiorion writes: "When it comes to robots, most of us are a bunch of Jon Snow know-nothings. With the exception of roboticists, everything we assume we know is based on science fiction, which has no reason to be accurate about its iconic heroes and villains, or journalists, who are addicted to SF references, jokes and tropes. That's my conclusion, at least, after a story I wrote Popular Science got some attention—it asked whether a robotic car should kill its owner, if it means saving two strangers. The most common dismissals of the piece claimed that robo-cars should simply follow Asimov's First Law, or that robo-cars would never crash into each other. These perspectives are more than wrong-headed—they ignore the inherent complexity and fallibility of real robots, for whom failure is inevitable. Here's my follow-up story, about why most of our discussion of robots is based on make-believe, starting with the myth of robotic hyper-competence."
colinneagle writes "Google's driverless cars have now combined to drive more than 700,000 miles on public roads without receiving one citation, The Atlantic reported this week. While this raises a lot of questions about who is responsible to pay for a ticket issued to a speeding autonomous car – current California law would have the person in the driver's seat responsible, while Google has said the company that designed the car should pay the fine – it also hints at a future where local and state governments will have to operate without a substantial source of revenue.
Approximately 41 million people receive speeding tickets in the U.S. every year, paying out more than $6.2 billion per year, according to statistics from the U.S. Highway Patrol published at StatisticBrain.com. That translates to an estimated $300,000 in speeding ticket revenue per U.S. police officer every year. State and local governments often lean on this source of income when they hit financial trouble. A study released in 2009 examined data over a 13-year period in North Carolina, finding a 'statistically significant correlation between a drop in local government revenue one year, and more traffic tickets the next year,' Popular Science reported. So, just as drug cops in Colorado and Washington are cutting budgets after losing revenue from asset and property seizures from marijuana arrests, state and local governments will need to account for a drastic reduction in fines from traffic violations as autonomous cars stick to the speed limit."
An anonymous reader writes "Wired has an in-depth report on the development of the Oculus Rift, telling the story of the tech and its creators from conception to present. Quoting: 'That's because Oculus has found a way to make a headset that does more than just hang a big screen in front of your face. By combining stereoscopic 3-D, 360-degree visuals, and a wide field of view—along with a supersize dose of engineering and software magic—it hacks your visual cortex. As far as your brain is concerned, there's no difference between experiencing something on the Rift and experiencing it in the real world. "This is the first time that we've succeeded in stimulating parts of the human visual system directly," says Abrash, the Valve engineer. "I don't get vertigo when I watch a video of the Grand Canyon on TV, but I do when I stand on a ledge in VR." ... The hardware problems have been solved, the production lines are almost open, and the Rift will be here soon. After that it's anybody's guess. "I've written 2 million lines of code over the past 20 years, and now I'm starting from a blank page," Carmack says. "But the sense that I'm helping build the future right now is palpable."'"
crookedvulture (1866146) writes "Microsoft unveiled its Surface Pro 3 tablet at a press event in New York this morning. The device has a larger 12" screen with a 2160x1440 display resolution and a novel 3:2 aspect ratio. Intel Core processors provide the horsepower, starting with the Core i3 in the base model and extending all the way up to Core i7 in pricier variants. The tablet is just 9.1 mm thick, which Microsoft claims is the thinnest ever for a Core-based device. Microsoft developed a new radial fan that's suppose to distribute airflow evenly inside the chassis without generating audible noise. The tablet weights 800 g, shaving 100 g off the Surface Pro 2, and it's supposed to have longer battery life, as well. Microsoft has also rolled out new keyboard accessories, a pressure-sensitive stylus, and a docking station that supports 4K video output. The Surface Pro 3 is scheduled to be available tomorrow with prices starting at $799." Update: 05/20 17:12 GMT by T : Mary Jo Foley points out at ZDNet that one thing not announced today is an ARM-powered Mini version.
itwbennett (1594911) writes "Last week, China's Central Government Procurement Center posted a notice on new requirements for government tender, that included, among other things, the mysterious request that Windows 8 be excluded from the bidding process on computer purchases. The agency could not be reached Tuesday, but China's state-controlled Xinhua News Agency said that the government was forbidding the use of Windows 8 after Microsoft recently ended official support for Windows XP."
Lucas123 (935744) writes "When two gun stores attempted to sell the nation's first integrated smart gun, the iP1, gun advocacy groups were charged in media reports with organizing protests that lead to the stores pulling the guns from their shelves or reneging on their promise to sell them in the first place. But, the National Rifle Association and the National Shooting Sports Foundation say they do not oppose smart gun technology, which they call "authorized user recognition" firearms. "We do oppose any government mandate of this technology, however. The marketplace should decide," Mike Bazinet, a spokesman for the NSSF, wrote in an email reply to Computerworld. However, the argument for others goes that if stores begin selling smart guns, then legislators will draft laws requiring the technology."
KentuckyFC (1144503) writes "The study of proteins has become one of the hottest topics in science in the last 20 years, and not just for biologists. Researchers have been measuring the electrical properties of proteins for some time, discovering that some of them act like switches in certain circumstances. That's potentially useful but without a robust theoretical model of how these properties arise, nobody has been able to incorporate proteins into real devices. Now electronics engineers have developed the first model that reliably describes the real electrical behaviour of proteins and how it changes when they bond to other molecules. It even predicts the behaviour in new situations. That should make it possible to use proteins in the same way as other electronic components such as transistors, diodes and so on. That's leading to an entirely new field of science called proteotronics in which proteins work seamlessly with other components in electronic devices. First up, an electronic nose based on the olfactory receptor OR-17, a protein found in rats, which behaves like an electronic switch when it detects the presence of aldehydes such as octanal."
Rambo Tribble (1273454) writes "Google is reported to be buying Divide, (formerly Enterproid), a firm focused on providing enterprise-grade security enhancements to the Android platform. This comes after Motorola acquired a similar company, 3LM, but it's unclear but what that entity might be going to Lenovo, with it's purchase of Motorola. Divide's technology is said to employ, '... a container approach, in which corporate information is separated from personal information on a device.'"
bizwriter (1064470) writes "General Motors put together its take on a George Carlin list of words you can't say. Engineering employees were shown 69 words and phrases that were not to be used in emails, presentations, or memos. They include: defect, defective, safety, safety related, dangerous, bad, and critical. You know, words that the average person, in the context of the millions of cars that GM has recalled, might understand as indicative of underlying problems at the company. Oh, terribly sorry, 'problem' was on the list as well."
Jason Koebler (3528235) writes "The hardest thing about Google X's Project Loon hasn't been the engineering challenge of beaming high-speed internet down to the far-flung corners of the world: It's trying to control all those freaking balloons. Project lead Rich DeVaul just revealed the 'Falcon 11,' a 120-foot long transparent mylar balloon made in-house at the secret Google X lab that spurred UFO reports nationwide after the company lost track of it: 'We tracked the balloon by outsourcing to the internet UFO community, it drifted all the way across the country,' he said."
An anonymous reader writes "The controversial TSA backscatter X-ray machines are being sent to prisons. According to Federal times, 'The controversial airport screening machines that angered privacy advocates and members of Congress for its revealing images are finding new homes in state and local prisons across the country, according to the Transportation Security Administration.' 154 backscatter X-rays have already ended up in Iowa, Louisiana, and Virginia prisons. TSA is working to find homes for the remaining machines. Per the article: '"TSA and the vendor are working with other government agencies interested in receiving the units for their security mission needs and for use in a different environment," TSA spokesman Ross Feinstein said.'"
Luminary Crush (109477) writes "To date, the bulk of fusion research has been channelled towards a plasma containment and stabilization method. This is the approach used by ITER's tokamak reactor, the cost of which could exceed US$13.7 billion before it's online in the year 2027 (barring further delays). Researchers at LPP Fusion, in a project partially financed by NASA-JPL, are working in a different direction: focus fusion, which focuses the plasma in a very small area to produce fusion and an ion beam which could then be harnessed to produce electricity. It is small enough to fit in a shipping container, can double as a rocket engine, and would cost US$50 million to produce the working 5 MW prototype. To reach the next hurdle and demonstrate feasibility, LPP Fusion has started an Indiegogo campaign to raise $200K."
bmahersciwriter (2955569) writes "Despite rigorous pre-flight cleaning, swabbing of the Curiosity Rover just prior to liftoff revealed some 377 strains of bacteria. 'In the lab, scientists exposed the microbes to desiccation, UV exposure, cold and pH extremes. Nearly 11% of the 377 strains survived more than one of these severe conditions. Thirty-one per cent of the resistant bacteria did not form tough, protective spore coats; the researchers suspect that they used other biochemical means of protection, such as metabolic changes.' While the risk of contaminating the red planet are unknown, knowing the types of strains that may have survived pre-flight cleaning may help rule out biological 'discoveries' if and when NASA carries out its plans to return a soil sample from Mars."