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Piracy

5-Year Suspended Sentence For S. Africa's First Online Pirate 34

Posted by timothy
from the comparative-justice dept.
An anonymous reader writes "South Africa's first prosecution for online piracy was concluded this morning, with a five-year, wholly suspended sentence handed down to a filesharer who uploaded local movie Four Corners to The Pirate Bay. The man — who lost his job recently — said he's relieved by the verdict, which was the result of a plea bargain. Director Ian Gabriel, who made the film, recently said he was 'philosophical' about piracy."
Games

Your StarCraft II Potential Peaked At Age 24 98

Posted by Soulskill
from the but-you're-getting-better-at-producing-lots-of-vespene-gas dept.
An anonymous reader writes "StarCraft II is popular among competitive gamers for having the depth necessary to reward differences in skill. A new study has found that your ability keep up with the game's frantic pace starts to decline at age 24. This is relevant to more than just StarCraft II players: 'While many high-performance athletes start to show age-related declines at a young age, those are often attributed to physical as opposed to brain aging. ... While previous lab tests have shown faster reaction times for simple individual tasks, it was never clear how much relevance those had to complex, real-world tasks such as driving. Thompson noted that Starcraft is complex and quite similar to real-life tasks such as managing 911 calls at an emergency dispatch centre, so the findings may be directly relevant. However, game performance was much easier to analyze than many real-life situations because the game generates detailed logs of every move. In a way, Thompson said, the study is a good demonstration of what kinds of insights can be gleaned from the "cool data sets" generated by our digital lives.'"
PC Games (Games)

PC Gaming Alive and Dominant 243

Posted by Soulskill
from the from-my-cold,-dead-hands dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Ars reports on a panel at PAX East which delved into the strength of the PC as a platform for games, and what its future looks like. The outlook is positive: 'Even as major computer OEMs produce numbers showing falling sales, the PC as a platform (and especially a gaming platform) actually shows strong aggregate growth.' The panelists said that while consoles get a lot of the headlines, the PC platform remains the only and/or best option for a lot of developers and gamers. They briefly addressed piracy, as well: 'Piracy, [Matt Higby] said, is an availability and distribution problem. The more games are crowdfunded and digitally delivered and the less a "store" figures into buying games, the less of a problem piracy becomes. [Chris Roberts] was quick to agree, and he noted that the shift to digital distribution also helps the developers make more money — they ostensibly don't have everyone along the way from retailers to publishers to distributors taking their cut from the sale.'"
The Internet

Can Web-Based Protests Be a Force for Change? 75

Posted by Soulskill
from the we-come-a-long-way-since-"sign-my-petition" dept.
Lucas123 writes: "Several high profile protests have circulated across the Web in the past few weeks, garnering social and news media attention — and even forcing the resignation of one high-level executive. There are two components driving the trend in Internet protests: They tend to be effective against Web services, and online networks allow people to mobilize quickly. According to a study released last month by Georgetown University's Center for Social Impact Communication, active Web useres are likely to do far more for a cause than simply 'like' it on a website. And, because a few clicks can cancel a service, their actions carry weight. But there may be a coming backlash as people can grow tired of online activism; and corporations may also take a more proactive stance in response to them."
Government

Canada Introduces Privacy Reforms That Encourage Warrantless Disclosure of Info 99

Posted by samzenpus
from the what-do-you-want-to-know? dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Earlier this week, the government introduced the Digital Privacy Act (Bill S-4), the latest attempt to update Canada's private sector privacy law. Michael Geist reports that the bill includes a provision that could massively expand warrantless disclosure of personal information. Organizations will be permitted to disclose personal information without consent (and without a court order) to any organization that is investigating a contractual breach or possible violation of any law. This applies both past breaches or violations as well as potential future violations. Moreover, the disclosure occurs in secret without the knowledge of the affected person (who therefore cannot challenge the disclosure since they are not aware it is happening). Consider it a gift to copyright trolls, who won't need the courts to obtain information on thousands of Internet users."
Communications

New French Law Prohibits After-Hours Work Emails 477

Posted by timothy
from the annual-non-performance-review dept.
Hugh Pickens DOT Com (2995471) writes "Lucy Mangan reports at The Guardian that a new labor agreement in France means that employees must ignore their bosses' work emails once they are out of the office and relaxing at home – even on their smartphones. Under the deal, which affects a million employees in the technology and consultancy sectors (including the French arms of Google, Facebook, and Deloitte), employees will also have to resist the temptation to look at work-related material on their computers or smartphones – or any other kind of malevolent intrusion into the time they have been nationally mandated to spend on whatever the French call la dolce vita. "We must also measure digital working time," says Michel De La Force, chairman of the General Confederation of Managers. "We can admit extra work in exceptional circumstances but we must always come back to what is normal, which is to unplug, to stop being permanently at work." However critics say it will impose further red tape on French businesses, which already face some of the world's tightest labor laws." (Continues)
Books

Online Skim Reading Is Taking Over the Human Brain 224

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the slashdot-ruined-your-brain dept.
Hugh Pickens DOT Com (2995471) writes "Michael S. Rosenwald reports in the Washington Post that, according to cognitive neuroscientists, humans seem to be developing digital brains with new circuits for skimming through the torrent of information online at the expense of traditional deep reading circuitry... Maryanne Wolf, one of the world's foremost experts on the study of reading, was startled last year to discover her brain was apparently adapting, too. After a day of scrolling through the Web and hundreds of e-mails, she sat down one evening to read Hermann Hesse's challenging novel The Glass Bead Game. 'I'm not kidding: I couldn't do it,' says Wolf. 'It was torture getting through the first page. I couldn't force myself to slow down so that I wasn't skimming, picking out key words, organizing my eye movements to generate the most information at the highest speed. I was so disgusted with myself.'

The brain was not designed for reading and there are no genes for reading like there are for language or vision. ... Before the Internet, the brain read mostly in linear ways — one page led to the next page, and so on. The Internet is different. With so much information, hyperlinked text, videos alongside words and interactivity everywhere, our brains form shortcuts to deal with it all — scanning, searching for key words, scrolling up and down quickly. This is nonlinear reading, and it has been documented in academic studies. ... Some researchers believe that for many people, this style of reading is beginning to invade our ability to deal with other mediums. 'We're spending so much time touching, pushing, linking, scrolling and jumping through text that when we sit down with a novel, your daily habits of jumping, clicking, linking is just ingrained in you,' says Andrew Dillon."
Power

Qualcomm Announces Next-Gen Snapdragon 808 and 810 SoCs 47

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the all-the-better-to-melt-your-pocket dept.
MojoKid (1002251) writes "Qualcomm has announced two fundamentally new chips today with updated CPU cores as well as Qualcomm's new Adreno 400-class GPU. The Snapdragon 808 and the Snapdragon 810 have been unveiled with a host of new architectural enhancements. The Snapdragon 810 will be the highest-end solution, with a quad-core ARM Cortex-A57 paired alongside four low-power Cortex-A53 cores.

The Snapdragon 808 will also use a big.Little design, but the core layouts will be asymmetric — two Cortex-A57's paired with four Cortex-A53's. The Cortex-A57 is, by all accounts, an extremely capable processor — which means a pair of them in a dual-core configuration should be more than capable of driving a high-end smartphone. Both SoC's will use a 20nm radio and a 28nm RF transceiver. That's a major step forward for Qualcomm (most RF today is built on 40nm). RF circuits typically lag behind digital logic by at least one process node. Given that RF currently accounts for some 15% of the total area and 30-40% of the PCB, the benefits of moving to a smaller manufacturing process for the RF circuit are significant."
To clarify, the 810 can use a combination of the Cortex-A57 and Cortex-A53 cores so a single task that needs a lot of power won't cause as large of a power jump. All of the chips are 64-bit ARM too.
The Courts

FCC Orders Comcast To Stop Labeling Equipment Rental a Service Fee 97

Posted by timothy
from the getting-mugged-is-just-a-toll dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The FCC denied an appeal by Comcast, which argued that its practice of charging customers separately for a DTA (digital terminal adapter) -- a converter box that allows cable subscribers with older televisions to receive digital channels, which the company said would be provided at no charge -- is not subject to rate regulation, because it is a service fee. The ruling was issued on March 19." Also from the article: "In an e-mail last week to the Star Tribune, Comcast vice president of corporate affairs Mary Beth Schubert said the case “involved a relatively minor dispute about the way certain items are presented on the rate card but has no effect on overall pricing.” But, [Michael Bradley, an attorney whose firm represented Minneapolis-area franchising authorities in the dispute] argued the FCC’s decision sets a strong precedent for transparency within the cable industry."
Games

Amazon's Fire TV: Is It Worth Game Developers' Time? 88

Posted by timothy
from the how-to-achieve-play-anywhere? dept.
Nerval's Lobster (2598977) writes "Amazon is serious about conquering the living room: the online retailer has launched Fire TV, a set-top box that not only allows viewers to stream content, but also play games. That streaming-and-gaming capability makes Amazon a threat to Apple, which rumors suggest is hard at work on an Apple TV capable of doing the same things. In addition, Fire TV puts the screws to other streaming hardware, including Roku and Google's Chromecast, as well as smaller game consoles such as Ouya (a $99, Android-based device). Much of Amazon's competitive muscle comes from its willingness to sell hardware for cheap (the Fire TV retails for $99) on the expectation that owners will use it to stream and download digital content from Amazon, including television shows and apps. Those developers who've developed Android games have an advantage when it comes to migrating software to Amazon's new platform. "Porting You Don't Know Jack was really like developing for Android, with the exception of the store and the new controller library," Jackbox Games Designer/Director Steve Heinrich told Gamasutra after the Fire TV announcement. "The store itself is the same as the Kindle version, which we've used many times now, and the way the controller works is very close to what we did for Ouya." While Fire TV could represent yet another opportunity for game developers looking to make a buck, it also raises a pressing question: with so many platforms out there (iOS, PC, etc.), how's an indie developer or smaller firm supposed to allocate time and resources to best advantage?"
Microsoft

Microsoft: Start Menu Returns, Windows Free For Small Device OEMs, Cortana Beta 387

Posted by Soulskill
from the giving-in dept.
At Microsoft's BUILD conference today, the company announced that the Start Menu will officially be returning to Windows 8.1. It will combine the Windows 7 Start Menu with a handful of Metro-style tiles. They're also making it so Windows 8 apps can run in windows using the normal desktop environment. In addition to the desktop announcements, Microsoft also talked about big changes for Windows on mobile devices and Internet-of-Things devices. The company will be giving Windows away for free to OEMs making phones and tablets (9" screens and smaller), and for IoT devices that can run it. Microsoft also finally unveiled Cortana, their digital assistant software that's similar to Siri.
Transportation

How Airports Became Ground Zero In the Battle For Peer-to-Peer Car Rentals 66

Posted by Soulskill
from the nor-the-battle-to-the-strong dept.
curtwoodward writes: "Even in libertarian-infused Silicon Valley, playing nice with the government can be a smart move. That's the attitude at RelayRides, a peer-to-peer car rental service that plans to expand at airports by getting permission first. On the other side is FlightCar, a competitor that would rather fight the power in court. The next couple of years should tell us which approach is smarter. Similar battles are becoming almost routine as startups born of the digital economy confront the real world’s established power systems, particularly in the emerging 'sharing economy,' where online tools help networks of consumers rent things to each other. And as these young companies try to manage rapid growth and fend off threats to their survival, the decision about whether to fight regulators or accommodate them can become another way to gain a competitive edge."
Cloud

Western Digital 'MyCloud' Is Down 5 Days and Counting 127

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the personal-cloud-is-really-working-out dept.
Nemo the Magnificent (2786867) writes "A friend of mine bought a Western Digital 'MyCloud' NAS server (non-RAID) a couple of weeks ago. WD implements the cloud service through its wd2go.com site. He reports that that site is down and has been since last Wednesday. No word on when it'll be back up. The only official announcements are daily repeats of this canned posting: 'Our My Cloud and My Book Live users are experiencing intermittent issues with WD servers that enable remote access when using these products. These issues include poor transfer speeds and/or inability to connect remotely. We sincerely apologize for this inconvenience and we are working very hard to resolve these issues and resume normal service as soon as possible. We thank you for your patience and will provide updates as they are available.'"
Bitcoin

Square Market Now Accepts Bitcoin 94

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the with-a-side-of-increased-fraud dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Square today announced it has added support for paying with Bitcoin. As a result, buyers can now use the digital currency to purchase goods and services on Square Market, which allows sellers to create an online storefront with online payment processing. The mobile payment company promises the experience won't feel any different for sellers and they 'don't have to change a thing, except potentially expecting new trailblazing customers and more sales.' In other words, Square wants them to be able to offer Bitcoin as a payment option without any headaches." Stripe is also adding beta support for Bitcoin as a funding source. No word from Paypal yet.
The Almighty Buck

Book Review: Money: The Unauthorized Biography 91

Posted by samzenpus
from the read-all-about-it dept.
jsuda (822856) writes "Most of us know that making money is difficult and saving it is even harder, but understanding money is easy–it's just coins and folding certificates, a mere medium of exchange. That's wrong! according to Felix Martin, author of Money: The Unauthorized Biography. Not only is that understanding wrong but it's responsible (in large part) for the 2007 Great Recession and the pitiful 'recovery' from it as well as a number of previous financial and credit disasters." Keep reading for the rest of Jsuda's review.
Google

New Australian Privacy Laws Could Have Ramifications On Google Glass 128

Posted by samzenpus
from the glass-half-empty dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Recording private conversations or activities using Google's Glass eyewear or similar wearable technologies without consent could become illegal under a push to overhaul Australian state and federal privacy laws. From the article: 'The Australian Law Reform Commission discussion paper, released on Monday morning, recommended 47 legislative changes aimed at updating existing privacy laws for the digital age. It proposed the government introduce a statutory cause of action for a serious invasion of one’s privacy, in what would be the first time a person’s privacy has legally been protected in Australia. It also recommended harmonising rules for using technology to monitor and record authors, which are currently legislated by state governments, to deal with the implications of new technologies such as wearable devices and drones.'"
United Kingdom

UK To Finally Legalize Ripping CDs and DVDs 92

Posted by Soulskill
from the only-20-years-too-late dept.
An anonymous reader writes with news that the U.K. government will finally legalize the copying of data from CDs, DVDs, and other types of media for personal use. This will allow U.K. citizens to legally make backups and digital copies of their media, which has been forbidden by copyright law previously. The changes will go into effect this June. It also grants permission for people to upload the ripped media to a remote host, though sharing of course remains illegal. "The mismatch between the law and public opinion became apparent through a Government-commissioned survey, which found that 85% of consumers already thought that DVD and CD ripping was legal. More than one-third of all consumers admitted that they’d already made copies of media they purchased. Besides the new private copying rights, the upcoming amendments will also broaden people’s fair use rights. For example, people no longer have to ask permission to quote from or parody the work of others, such as a news report or a book, as long as it’s “fair dealing” and the source is recognized."
Media

Why Movie Streaming Services Are Unsatisfying — and Will Stay That Way 323

Posted by Soulskill
from the shut-up-and-take-my-money dept.
mendax sends this excerpt from a New York Times op-ed: "like Napster in the late 1990s, [torrent-streaming app Popcorn Time] offered a glimpse of what seemed like the future, a model for how painless it should be to stream movies and TV shows online. The app also highlighted something we've all felt when settling in for a night with today’s popular streaming services, whether Netflix, Amazon, iTunes, Hulu, or Google or Microsoft’s media stores: They just aren't good enough. ... In the music business, Napster’s vision eventually became a reality. Today, with services like Spotify and Rdio, you can pay a monthly fee to listen to whatever you want, whenever you want. But in the movie and TV business, such a glorious future isn't in the offing anytime soon.

According to industry experts, some of whom declined to be quoted on the record because of the sensitivities of the nexus of media deals involved, we aren’t anywhere close to getting a service that allows customers to pay a single monthly fee for access to a wide range of top-notch movies and TV shows.Instead of a single comprehensive service, the future of digital TV and movies is destined to be fragmented across several services, at least for the next few years. We’ll all face a complex decision tree when choosing what to watch, and we’ll have to settle for something less than ideal."

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