RobinEggs writes "Since Slashdot's editorship see fit to post relentlessly about SOPA, but do not see fit to actually take an editorial stance or participate in the blackout, I thought we should at least get a thread in which to discuss the blackout as it unfolds and share with one another the best blacked-out sites.
My favorite so far is from TheOatmeal; their page has a good, simple explanation of the problem and explains it through their normal medium.
Don't forget that SOPA isn't officially dead until the end of the year, even if Eric Cantor has 'tabled' it for the moment. Write your congresspeople. Be heard. Make sure they never come back to this thing while they work for you.
And while you're writing letters to your congresspeople, write slashdot's editors and ask why they haven't done something about SOPA themselves. They buckled for scientology when that 'church' threatened the existence of slashdot, explaining their motives and urging readers to write their congresspeople; why won't they take the same public stance on something that threatens the entire internet?" Link to Original Source top
RobinEggs writes "After long speculation and a few affirmative hints, Blizzard has confirmed that Diablo 3 will have a console version. Responding to a fan who asked him to "confirm or deny" a console version of D3, Blizzard community manager Bashiok said: "Yup. Josh Mosqueira is lead designer for the Diablo console project."
Here's hoping Blizzard remains one of the few companies to fully develop both the console and PC version of their titles, rather than simply porting the Xbox version to PC. I think we've all had enough of bizarre scrolling, menus that can't be used with a mouse, and of "Controls" menus that don''t even bother replacing the 360 controller image with an actual keyboard layout." Link to Original Source top
RobinEggs writes "Nintendo's Shigeru Miyamoto, the creator and producer of the Zelda and Mario franchises among other works, is stepping down at Nintendo.
After personally managing Nintendo's blockbuster franchises for ~20 years, Miyamoto said today: ""What I really want to do is be in the forefront of game development once again myself. Probably working on a smaller project with even younger developers. Or I might be interested in making something that I can make myself, by myself. Something really small."" Link to Original Source top
RobinEggs writes "A case before the US Supreme Court today addresses the legality of medical patents.
From TFA: "The case focuses on a patent that covers the concept of adjusting the dosage of a drug, thiopurine, based on the concentration of a particular chemical (called a metabolite) in the patient's blood. The patent does not cover the drug itself—that patent expired years ago—nor does it cover any specific machine or procedure for measuring the metabolite level. Rather, it covers the idea that particular levels of the chemical "indicate a need" to raise or lower the drug dosage.
The patent holder, Prometheus Labs, offers a thiopurine testing product. It sued the Mayo Clinic when the latter announced it would offer its own, competing thiopurine test. But Prometheus claims much more than its specific testing process. It claims a physician administering thiopurine to a patient can infringe its patent merely by being aware of the scientific correlation disclosed in the patent—even if the doctor doesn't act on the patent's recommendations."
The ACLU, AMA, AARP, multiple libertarian groups, and the ghost of Michael Crichton all filed strongly worded amicus briefs urging the court to decide against Prometheus claims.
It's amazing how friendly the justices seem toward medical patents in general. Newest member Elena Kagan offered an opinion I find particularly stupid, which is easiest read and understood in the context of the linked article." Link to Original Source top
RobinEggs writes "Virologists at Caltech have created a virus that makes mice completely immune to HIV, as reported in Nature this month.
The researchers modified an adenovirus to deliver genes for effective HIV antibodies to the mice's muscle cells. The mice produced the antibodies, and expressed high levels of them a full year later. The researchers also injected the mice with up to 100 times as much HIV as organisms naturally acquire in their initial exposure to the virus, and these mice were "completely protected" from infection.
Obviously mice aren't human and HIV is the human immunodeficiency virus, but mice are a very good biochemical analogue for humans in lab work, and the researchers took the extra step of 'humanizing' the mouse immune systems by killing their natural bone marrow and providing them with transplant marrow from human donors. Along the same line, some people could show immune responses to the antibodies themselves which weren't observed in the mice, and anyone with adverse reactions could develop an entirely new and permanent autoimmune disease. This danger is entirely hypothetical right now, but plausible.
Hopefully the work will advance to human clinical trials. Wayne Koff of the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative said: "Mice and monkeys don't always tell the truth" about the human response to a therapy, but considers it "a really interesting idea" worthy of further trials. The work certainly opens new doors for HIV research. While a true vaccine would be cheaper, and carry less risk of adverse responses this looks like the next best way of acquiring complete immunity to HIV and AIDs." Link to Original Source top
RobinEggs writes "Some reviews of Bulldozer's performance in servers have arrived, and Arstechnica has a breakdown. The results are pretty ugly. Apparently Bulldozer fares just as poorly with servers as with desktops.
From the article: 'One reason for the underwhelming performance on the desktop is that the Bulldozer architecture emphasizes multithreaded performance over single-threaded performance. For desktop applications, where single-threaded performance is still king, this is a problem. Server workloads, in contrast, typically have to handle multiple users, network connections, and virtual machines concurrently. This makes them a much better fit for processors that support lots of concurrent threads. Some commentators have even suggested that Bulldozer was, first and foremost, a server processor; relatively weak desktop performance was to be expected, but it would all come good in the server room.
Unfortunately for AMD, it looks as though the decisions that hurt Bulldozer on the desktop continue to hurt it in the server room. Although the server benchmarks don't show the same regressions as were found on the desktop, they do little to justify the design of the new architecture.'
It's probably much too early to start editorializing about the end of AMD, or even to say with certainty that Bulldozer has failed, but my untrained eye can't yet see any possible silver lining in these new processors." Link to Original Source top
RobinEggs writes "A survey from Columbia's American Assembly showed that few Americans support fines over $100 for illegal downloading, and 49% don't support fines at all. Likewise support for jail time and internet disconnection as penalties were low, at 12% and 16%.
An extensive summary can be found here. There's also a short story available here at Arstechnica.
Overall the results are encouraging, although I have to admit I'm suspicious about whether the wording of the survey questions strongly favored pro-pirate responses. For example, the survey also says only 52% of Americans favor any penalties at all, and as you saw above the penalties people did agree to were pretty gentle overall." Link to Original Source top
RobinEggs writes "ReDigi brokers the resale of your digital music to other people. They claim their service can distinguish music from iTunes and other legal sources, upload it to their server, delete your copy, and then sell the music to someone else. Only one copy exists before the sale, and only one exists after. ReDigi appears to believe this satisfies fair use and first sale privileges.
RIAA says the system makes copies in the process of transferring the music, and thus it is illegal whether or not first sale applies to digital goods: "[The Copyright Act]... does not permit the owner to make another copy, sell the second copy and destroy the original. Thus, even if ReDigi's software and system works as described by ReDigi (i.e. that it deletes the original copy before it makes the sale), ReDigi would still be liable for copyright infringement."
RIAA further requests that all music files currently on ReDigi's servers be quarantined, all likenesses of their artists be removed from ReDigi's website, and that ReDigi turn over all of their sales records so that RIAA can discuss a settlement with them." Link to Original Source top
RobinEggs writes "Bitcoin user allinvain woke up Tuesday morning to find they'd lost 25,000 bitcoins to a hacker who'd stolen their wallet file from their home PC. The spending and transfer of bitcoins is transparent, so allinvain easily identified the user who'd stolen the money, but with no governing authority and no central servers the funds are impossible to recover. He can do nothing but watch as his money is spent. This highlights a major vulnerability of holding money in bitcoins: if the wallet file containing the keys to your funds is not encrypted or kept away from the internet entirely, it's possible to see your entire holdings drain away before your eyes. The coins are worth ~$500,000 at current exchange rates." Link to Original Source top
RobinEggs writes "The North Carolina state House this morning passed the "Level Playing Field" law (descended directly from this industry-written abomination), which requires that any municipal internet service in the state behave like a private ISP: cities are to charge customers rates that reflect all of the taxes, rights of way, etc. that a private telecom would pay. The city would further be required to pay all county, state, and federal taxes on the endeavor as if the network were a private company. What cities are supposed to do with the substantial profits a successful muni network would receive due to charging rates well above their costs I don't know. My guess is they should save it for the lawsuits that will follow from ATT and Time Warner.
Despite the name "Level Playing Field", however, the city networks would be subject to independent audits, months of hearings before being allowed to build a network (at which all private internet providers in that or any bordering city would be entitled to make competing presentations), and finally the city-owned networks would be required to publish all feasibility studies, business plans, etc. as "public" information. So it's level in the sense that they have to charge as much as private firms *might* charge if they even offered fiber to the home, yet somehow being required to solicit input from competitors and publish your business plans in the local paper is totally 'level' as well.
There is still a narrow window, however, to make your displeasure clear to the state Senate before they vote on it. It's current referred to the Senate commerce committee, so if you're a resident of North Carolina or a competent economist or engineer who can argue in favor of allowing real competition with big telecom you should start there." Link to Original Source