If you follow tech news, you have a certain list of sites you’ll keep an eye on. Personally, I always keep an eye on TorrentFreak (but then, I am their researcher, and night-time comment moderator) but there are others as well, Wired’s Threat Level, Slyck, and of course, ArsTechnica.
The problem for all tech news sites is that there’s a deadline game. You have to be first to break the story, so you can get it passed around the social media circles, facebook, slashdot etc. Often that means that stories, or more specifically the data that comprises the story, doesn’t get the attention it should, and ArsTechnica has fallen foul of this, repeating the conclusions of a study, and not noticing some glaring errors.
One of the projects I’ve supported for a long time, the Muon1 DPAD, has hit 20 Quadrillion particle-timesteps (pts). Thats a 2, with 16 zeros (20,000,000,000,000,000), or two million-billion. A particle timestep is simulating a particle for 0.01 nanoseconds (0.00000000001 second). I’ve been invovled with the project since around 2003, and as of writing this, I’m 362 overall, having done 5,867,002,100,000 pts, or 0.0293% of the total work.
A record attempt has been started invoving bittorrent, to see just how many seeds can be on one torrent. The current record for simultanious seeds on a torrent is around 124,000, set for an episode of Heroes. The attempt uses a small image file for the contents, and already has a decent number of seeds. Read more…
If you’re a teenager or older, you’ll almost certainly have first-hand experience with VCRs and video tapes. If you don’t remember them, they’re big things that have been replaced by DVR’s, but which you could buy movies on, like with DVDs. They were in most peoples homes throughout the late 80s and the 90s. Yet they were nearly wrestled out of peoples hands around thirty years ago, because of the fear of an industry. Let’s first look back at the late 70s to understand why.
In the late 70s there was a kerfuffle between Sony, and the movie studios. It concerned the BetaMax VCR Sony made (and to a lesser extent the JVC/Phillips VHS system). There were concerns that with these machines, people would undermine advertising (argument A), making the amount that could be charged for them drop, reducing funding for TV stations and networks. It would also mean that movies played on TV would have to cost more for the stations, because people will record them, and keep them, and watch them instead of, say, going to the cinema (Argument B). There were also concerns that since the recorders were mostly made outside the US, the importation of them would hurt the balance of payments (Argument C). Also, making movies is a risky business, and the government should do all it can to make it easier to be profitable (Argument D). It was nicely summed up by Jack Valenti (head of the MPAA) in his testimony in front of Congress in 1982.
Back in March, there was a consultation to be made on the Joint Strategic Plan on Copyright Enforcement. I wrote a very nice response for it, and then sent a COMPLETELY DIFFERENT one by accident (hence the topic). I noticed it 4 days later, and sent an email explaining, and giving the corrected version.
The responses are now on the web, here.
My response is not there. Either one. A bit disappointing really. Make that VERY disappointing. Read more…
Another day, another consultation response.
This ‘consultation‘ from the BIS focuses on the “cost sharing” aspects of the Digital Retardation Economy Act. As usual, the document will be published by the BIS in due course, but I prefer to publish it myself, ahead of time - I have no reason to hide my answers away, or bury them with ‘trade secrets’ because they’re just plain honest facts and data. Alas, as has happened with previous consultations, the facts will be ignored in favour of projections, estimations, and allegations (or as a phrase made popular by Mark Twain put it, “Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics“) Read more…
Few things caught my eye, which are fairly noteworthy, but which don’t need more than a few words.
First, the UK Pirate Party have launched their list of Candidates for the 2010 UK General election. The ten candidates cover a fairly straight line from London to Glasgow, with the exception of the party leader, standing in Worcester. Most are, as expected, in the 18-21 age range, but three are actually around 40 years old, so not just kids, as some talentless hacks might suggest. I’ll be supporting them, as always, by doing any odd-jobs (like working on press releases etc)
Next, an interesting quote from a US Republican. Over comments about misuse of party funds by GOP chairman Michael Steele, one republican was quoted in the Huffington Post as saying “No matter which side of the aisle you find yourself, if you are giving a political party your hard-earned money, you should have no doubts that it is going to be spent as advertised and not to provide a spoiled, egocentric, out-of-touch chairman with frivolous luxuries which are out of reach of the vast majority of the American people. Michael Steele needs to resign and let the RNC vote in a man or woman who understands that his or her needs do not come before the needs of the nation or the party.” (Douglas MacKinnon, former press secretary to Majority Leader Robert Dole.)
The funny thing? changing a very few words, you get the general impression people have about politicians in general, becoming (additions in bold, removals struck out) “No matter which side of the aisle you find yourself, if you are giving a political party POLITICAL CAPITAL your hard-earned money, you should have no doubts that it is going to be spent as advertised and not to provide a spoiled, egocentric, out-of-touch chairman FEW with frivolous luxuries which are out of reach of the vast majority of the American people.”
That’s lobbying for you, lobbyists can’t vote anyone in any more than anyone else, but they’re the ones that the politicians listen to. We need lobbying reform (or at least a transparent and accountable government)
53 cars were towed away from a frat house parking lot, after people parked there to listen to Glenn Beck sing. The people at the even at the university of Central Florida, in Orlando, said there were signs up, when they went to park, claiming the Kappa Sigma frat ‘set them up’. Did they? Possibly, but it would have been nice of them to check signs first. Then again, checking facts, (or knowing the law) is a very un-Glenn Beck thing to do.
Finally, some common sense it seems on patents. A New York judge ruled two DNA patents invalid, causing a small but measurable dip in the Biotech market. The patents, which relate to Breast Cancer genes known as BRCA1 and BRCA2, were hindering screenings, and tests. Naturally, there were some critics (biotech firms worried about the loss of genetic patents, for one, which is why their stocks dipped) while lawyers questioned the legal reasoning. Personally, I give a big hand to Judge Robert W Sweet for recognising that it’s pretty hard to patent a DNA sequence that occurs naturally, unless someone can point out how the patent holder, Myriad Genetics, invented these gene sequences (and thus, it seems, developed breast cancer…) As I remember the US Constitution, “To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.” patents on naturally existing DNA aren’t discoveries, nor was Myriad an inventor (they didn’t invent this DNA). The people who have these genes, they’re pretty darned strong ‘prior art’ (especially if they’re over 20).
Regardless, 2 patents down, thousands to go…
Do you like this? Want to see more like this? Think it sucks, or that I'm a Liberal Communist spawn of Satan? Let me know in the comments.
There are days when you just want to curl up into a ball. Today is one of them. I realised, when going to check back over things, that rather than the document I believed I had submitted as part of the PRO IP act consultation, I had actually submitted a copy of my comments to the US trade representative. I made the same mistake on my short piece about the submission.
The US Pirate Party had an rough draft of a reply and a means to submit it, if people didn’t want to write their own response, but I don’t do that sort of thing. I prefer a much more detailed (and as always, last minute) response, to try and cover the main facts. Again, I ran out of time, and just got it sent at the deadline (which was some 20 minutes ago).
So, here is the finished response, all 5 pages of it. [PDF]