Kotaku's Luke Plunkett delves into a newly disclosed Microsoft patent that covers spying on people in their homes using cameras attached to their TVs, in order to levy fines against them for allowing too many people to watch movies at once:
Basically, when you buy or rent something like a movie, you’ll only be granted a “license” for a certain number of people to watch it. If Kinect detects more people in the room than you had a licence for, it can stop the movie, and even charge you extra.
So if Microsoft has its way, you won’t just be renting movies any more. You’ll have to decide how many people are watching, and no doubt pay more. And if one extra person turns up to your movie night? So help you God, you are going to pay.
Of course, big companies patent all sorts of stupid ideas, many of which never get incorporated into products. But hey, now you know that researchers at Microsoft sit around spitballing ideas like, "Wouldn't it be awesome to spy on our customers in their homes so that we could fine them for having too many people over to watch movies? Wonder if anyone is Hollywood would give us preferential access to movies if we could promise them that they could do nose-counts of people in their own homes?"
Felix Salmon at Reuters: "If you think that the value of Nate Silver is in the model, you’re missing the most important part: there are lots of people with models, and most of those models are pretty similar to each other. The thing which sets Silver apart from the rest is that he can write: he can take a model and turn it into a narrative, walking his readers through to his conclusions."
Francesco sez, "In my blog on Wired.it I posted a new series of wonderful 'manga inspired' plates created by the Japanese designer Mika Tsutai.
Positioning the food in the right way Geek Chefs can tell a story or almost make the food more fun!
Each plate costs 2980 Yen and for now is available only in Japanese design stores."
"Superb fairy-wren (Malurus cyaneus) mothers sing to their unhatched eggs to teach the embryo inside a 'password' — a single unique note — which the nestlings must later incorporate into their begging calls if they want to get fed." Zoë Corbyn in Scientific American, on a very unusual example of avian communication.
Imagine you have an account with a major free webmail provider. You log into your account via your web browser and notice ads in your inbox and when you read a message. Now imagine that these ads are displayed based on what you write in the email you send as well as the content of the emails you receive. Oh, and the ads are also influenced by the videos you watch, the stuff you search for and the files you upload while on your webmail providers network of sites and services.
Sound unlikely? In 2009, Carnegie Mellon researchers conducted a study about behavioral online advertising and nearly 60% of the participants didn't believe that email providers (like Gmail) could serve ads in this fashion. In fact, a third of the participants thought laws or consumer backlash would put an end to this kind of advertising before it even started.
Outlook.com doesn’t force you to trade your privacy for a free webmail account.
David Kravets at Wired News writes about the 2-year-old federal grand jury probe into WikiLeaks, which is still “ongoing,” according to a brief ruling by a federal judge in Virginia this week. The statement is the first official word on the investigation since Assange's Ecuadorean asylum plea last August.
U.S. District Judge Liam O’Grady of Alexandria, Virginia, noted the investigation in a legal flap surrounding three WikiLeaks associates who lost their bid to protect their Twitter records from U.S. investigators. The three had asked the court to unseal documents in their case. In May, O’Grady ordered the documents remain under seal for six months. On Wednesday he renewed that order, based on a government filing.
“For reasons stated in the memorandum of the United States, unsealing of the documents at this time would damage an ongoing criminal investigation,” O’Grady ruled. (.pdf)
The Justice Department served Twitter with a records demand in December 2010 as part of the investigation into WikiLeaks. The targets of the records demand are WikiLeaks’ official Twitter account, and the accounts of three people connected to the group: Seattle coder and activist Jacob Appelbaum; Birgitta Jonsdottir, a member of Iceland’s parliament; and Dutch businessman Rop Gonggrijp. Jonsdottir and Gonggrijp helped WikiLeaks prepare the release of a classified U.S. Army video published last year, “Collateral Murder,” and Appelbaum was the site’s U.S. representative.
At Gizmodo, Jeff Wise writes about antivirus firm MacAfee founder John McAfee’s bizarre life in Belize, holed up with heavily-armed gang members, "garbage bags full of Viagra," 17 year old local girls, did we mention lots and lots of guns, and many unanswered questions.
"Our federal marijuana policy is increasingly out of step with both the values of American citizens and with state law," she writes. "The result is a system of justice that is schizophrenic and at times appalling."
After the elections, medical pot is now legal in 18 states and Washington, D.C., and pot is legal for adults to use for recreational use as well in Colorado and Washington State. But the federal government plans to continue its draconian enforcement approach, regardless of state voters' choices.
"Of all the indignities involved in losing a presidential race, none is more stark than the sudden emptiness of your entourage. The Secret Service detail guarding Governor Romney since Feb 1. stood down quickly. He had ridden in a 15-car motorcade to the Intercontinental Hotel in Boston for his concession speech. He rode in a single-car motorcade back across the Charles River to Belmont. His son, Tagg, did the driving."—GQ.
Nothing is official yet, but Vulture is reporting that a possible candidate to write the screenplay for Star Wars: Episode VII is Michael Arndt, an Oscar winner for writing Little Miss Sunshine and a nominee for the emotionally-charged Toy Story 3. Arndt, according to Vulture, wrote a 40-50-page treatment for the next installment of George Lucas' classic franchise and Disney/Lucasfilm liked it a lot. Even better, the writer had been working on this before the merger last week, so they didn't have to vet a bunch of losers first!
But seriously -- Michael Arndt might be perfect for this.
Record labels tend to release best-of collections and superstar schlock (now approaching: new Aerosmith, Ne-Yo, Kid Rock, and a Backstreet Boys Christmas album) around the end of the year, and I’m having a hard time finding new music to recommend. Every once in awhile, though, an indie artist is brave enough to put their music up against the 4th quarter sludge heap. Lord Huron’s new record Lonesome Dreams came out about a month ago and it’s all I want to listen to.
Lord Huron started as just Ben Schneider, a Michigan-born Navy brat with fond memories of his father playing guitar around a campfire at (you guessed it) Lake Huron. Ben’s since moved to LA and morphed Lord Huron into a 5-piece melodic hootenanny machine. The songs are lush and accomplished and feel perfect for this time of year. “Time to Run” is my favorite song, and the band is giving us a free download for a week. Start your holiday playlists here.
IFC's wonderful sketch show Portlandia, created by and starring Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein, is returning for its third season in January, but they have provided a new clip to tide us over. If you've ever quietly leered at someone during yoga or meditation, you will relate. If you haven't, things aren't what they seem. Did you read Pacific Maladroit yesterday? Did you read it? It was in there. Yeah. (via IFC)
Yoko Ono and Sean Ono Lennon launched "Artists Against Fracking" earlier this year, and have received no response from NY gov. Andrew Cuomo to their request to meet and talk about the idea of a ban of fracking in New York. Now, Ono and Lennon have launched a billboard campaign on a route where the governor often passes. “Governor Cuomo: Imagine there’s no fracking,” the sign reads.
Tim O'Reilly tweeted about this proposal to deflect pesky asteroids on a collision course with earth. I'm reading The Last Policeman so this is even more interesting to me than usual.
In the event that a giant asteroid is headed toward Earth, you'd better hope that it's blindingly white. A brightly colored asteroid would reflect sunlight — and over time, this bouncing of photons off its surface could create enough of a force to push the asteroid off its course.
How might one encourage such a deflection? The answer, according to an MIT graduate student: with a volley or two of space-launched paintballs.
What's one of the most fun benefits of taking a show about local politics national? Cameos! Parks and Recreation has taken such a turn this season, with Adam Scott's character, Ben, taking a job on Capitol Hill. And Ben will be responsible for bringing a very recognizable gentleman to meet his fiancée, Leslie Knope, played by Amy Poehler -- Vice President Joe Biden! Fresh off of re-election, Biden -- an object of Knope's affections -- will make a brief cameo at the beginning of the episode airing next Thursday, November 15 at 9:30 PM (Eastern). This year's season premiere featured appearances by Senators Olympia Snowe, Barbara Boxer, and John McCain, so Parks and Recreation is clearly the place to be if you're a politician reminding people that you have a sense of humor or you're taking a victory lap. (If Paul Ryan had been the VP-elect, he obviously would have been in last week's episode. He's that fast!) Entertainment Weekly has clips.
Frances Hashimoto, an influential business leader in LA's Little Tokyo neighborhood, who "fought to preserve the neighborhood's Japanese cultural traditions and who invented the popular fusion dessert known as mochi ice cream," has died of lung cancer. She was 69.
Hashimoto was born in a WWII internment camp in Arizona in 1943.
“She was an angel on earth,” her husband told the AP. “She always gave and gave and gave to the Japanese community.”
The fusion dessert she invented involves ice cream (in any one of seven flavors) nestled inside a soft, sweet, chewy-gooey rice cake pillow. Her Mikawaya USA brand mochi ice cream broke out of the "ethnic food" niche long ago, and is widely carried in mainstream American grocery chains like Trader Joe's, Safeway, Albertsons and Ralphs. You can also enjoy it at the Little Tokyo dessert boutique where she started it all, Mikawaya. I've noshed on the sweet treat there, and recommend you do the same when next in Los Angeles, in her honor.
In the spring of 2011, my wife and I were invited to attend a fundraiser for a well-known European castle. We hadn’t donated any money to the group ourselves—we didn’t even know that castles had fundraisers. But a well to do colleague had given some money—a lot of money, really—and he was unable to attend this very intimate dinner for the big donors. So he asked us to go in his place. The benefit was attended by about only about 25 people, among them various aristocrats, patrons of the arts, billionaires and us: a middle class couple from suburban New Jersey. It was, for lack of a better term, bananas.
Noah Rosenberg, founder and editor-in-chief or Narratively, and I speak about the evening in this recording.
Narratively is a digital publication devoted to original, true and in-depth stories. Each week they focus on a theme, and publish stories relating to that theme. This week's theme is The Upper Crust. Explore more stories on Narrative.ly, like this great one.
An update on the Twitter Status blog explains that the service “unintentionally reset passwords of a larger number of accounts, beyond those... believed to have been compromised.” Twitter wasn’t hacked, it just goofed and accidentally sent re-set instructions to too many users.