Monthly Archives: July 2011

SciFi Gateway Will Open Books to Public

scifi book pile

It is absurd that anyone would wait for 14 days in order to get an electronic copy of a book. Yes, it is absurd.

Luckily, the SF Gateway, considered one of the largest libraries of digital Science Fiction and Fantasy publications, will open its doors to public, releasing more than 1000 authors.

The classics will include authors such as Marion Zimmer Bradley, Philip K Dick, Frank Herbert and Arthur C Clarke, and the like of which if you haven’t read yet, you should have.

Visit SF Gateway for more information and count the days to September of 2011.

UK: Police DNA Database Will Not Eliminate Records of Innocent Individuals

It was a shock for me to find out that Vancouver Police Department, for example, has information on as much as three quarters of local population in their databases, even though, these are technically innocent individuals who have not committed any acts of crime. Similarly, in UK, the public was surprised to find out that police DNA databases contained more than data collected on convicted criminals.

Absent of any regulation, the databases contained a wealth of information on more than those who had to pay the piper. Instead, it was determined that the databases contains ALL the records of DNA collected, including that of innocent contributors, often asked to submit genetic samples in order to be eliminated as suspects or associates in a case of a criminal activity.

The recent development in law enforcement allows the officials in UK to simply compare the DNA from the scene of a crime to all previously recorded samples. Even though this is technically in violation of the Data Protection Act, which would potentially render the evidence inadmissible in a court setting, the use of the samples creates a new paradigm in which all citizens, convicted or not, are surveyed as potential criminals.

The Big Brother scenarios such as above, are commonly appearing at a greater frequency. But the public outrage now demands all records of innocent individuals be removed from databases and destroyed within the period of 5 years.

EU has already conducted discussions on how to curb the technological desire and ease with which privacy of individuals, especially when it comes to something as uniquely identifying as genetic materials, are sacrificed for the ease of law enforcement, marketing efforts or general bureaucracy. In the 2008 ruling of the European Court of Human Rights, the decision quite clearly states that any identifying materials pointing to innocent individuals should be removed from such databases.

Now, it only remains to be seen what UK government does under pressure and how well it will perform the elimination of these records.
[read more HERE]

Google Opposing Patents for Retarding the Rate of Innovation

Moore’s computational law may stand unopposed, but the rate of innovation has been substantially slowed in recent decade due to efforts at reinforcing and strengthening copyright.

In the case of smartphones, the rate of innovation has suffered as use of patents held by many companies are embroiled in painful and expensive litigation, the kind that most individuals or small companies are the least likely to endure in terms of cost.

Today, Google Inc. General Counsel Kent Walker expressed his opinions on the matter, stating that “Software patents are kind of gumming up the works of innovation.”

While Google has a substantial budget, its Android efforts have been also slowed, if for nothing more than the mere fact that Android is a relatively new player, whereas most patents are held by industry leaders who have been in the mobile business for some time.

While its efforts to purchase many of patents involved are genuine, the patents are held by rather eager litigants. Microsoft, for example, has more than 18,000 patents in its portfolio. As such, Microsoft is allowed to refuse use of these to any business, intentionally retarding the process of innovation, barring its competition from access.

While some contest that this is expected, especially since companies invest their time and money into development, others point out that any incremental improvements that would naturally occur in an open source environment are impossible to implement when copyright is held for lengthy periods.

Unlike its competition, Google has only 4000 patents in its porfolio, relying on majority open source programming and exclusively so for its Android smartphone lines.

John Carter of Mars Trailer Released

The latest teaser trailer reveals just how delicious Mars can be.

The Thing Prequel Trailer Released

John Carpenter made one of the most frightening films in 1982, when The Thing premiered, featuring Kurt Russell, Wilford Brimley and Keith David.

The film opens up with the US Science crew facing a destruction of the Norway camp. Quickly it is revealed that the second camp has been investigating a UFO frozen in time, and that the camp destruction was a self-initiated act, rather than an accident.

The film was and still remains, as a frightening sci-horror, with some of the best monsters that brought the lore of Japanese tentacle monsters straight from animation (and your own nightmares) into the physical world.

Now, there is a prequel to this delightful winter frosty, directed by Matthijs van Heijningen Jr. This would be his very first directorial stab at a feature film, and while the trailer does not betray any gaps in his abilites, my only question is whether we’ll have CG monsters or the Carpenteresque ones.