Nearly $2 million awarded in file-sharing case

A Minnesota jury awarded US$1.92 million to the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) on Thursday in the only US file-sharing case to go to trial. The verdict was a substantial increase from the $222,000 penalty against Jammie Thomas-Resset awarded in October 2007, which was later nullified because of faulty jury instructions. Thomas-Resset, who was found guilty of sharing 24 copyrighted songs through Kazaa, said after the trial that she would never be able to pay the debt. The RIAA indicated that it is still willing to settle, a course taken by most of the 300,000 other defendants it sued during the past several years in an effort to stop illegal file-sharing. The RIAA announced in December 2008 that it would stop initiating lawsuits against individual defendants, but ongoing cases would be completed. (Ars Technica)

Improved vision technology acts like human eye

Computers can capture visual images up to 10 times faster and twice as accurately with new technology developed by Boston College researchers. Hao Jiang and Stella X. Yu, who plan to present their work at the IEEE Computer Society Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition next week, developed new linear algorithms based on human eye behavior. Current computer visualization software relies on millions of object configurations to match live images. Jiang and Yu's technology determines an image's general location, size, and orientation, then fills in details and produces "trust search regions" that act as visual touchstones for the computer to quickly update moving objects. (Science Daily)

New Java tools provide roadmap for APIs

Two new tools developed at Carnegie Mellon University, called Jadeite and Apatite, could make it easier for Java programmers to work with the many choices available within APIs to write applications. The tools are meant to reduce the time it takes programmers to select APIs that provide the desired functions. Jadeite (Java Documentation with Extra Information Tacked-on for Emphasis) uses a Google search to organize API classes based on popularity and provides community-based information about programming methods, such as messaging, that aren't available on some APIs. Apatite (Associative Perusal of APIs That Identifies Targets Easily) organizes APIs into groups that show programmers which packages, classes and methods are usually used together. (PhysOrg)

W3C releases HTML5 proposal

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) released a draft proposal Tuesday for HTML5, including new APIs for features such as two-dimensional drawing and specifications for handling graphics, audio, and video. In development for five years, HTML5 is intended to update the language to match modern Internet practices and integrate support for Extensible HTML, which combines features of HTML and XML. The W3C HTML Working Group also added several new features to help Web applications, such as interactive document editing and easier ways to create features like section tags and page footers. (InfoWorld)

Weather balloons to provide Internet access in Africa

An African consortium, Spaceloon, is moving forward with plans to use weather balloons to provide wireless Internet service in rural and poorly served areas on the continent, utilizing technology developed by Space Data, a US company. The hydrogen balloons float up to 100,000 feet high and provide connections to network-operations centers on the ground at up to 10 Mbits per second. Internet users would need a small satellite dish and modem to connect to the balloons, a more affordable option than the Very Small Aperture Terminal (VSAT) satellite systems and wireless towers used for Internet access in most rural African areas. The Spaceloon balloons would have to be replaced every 24 hours because of their equipment's limited battery life. Spaceloon plans to begin service by 2010 in four countries—Sierra Leone, Liberia, Ghana, and Nigeria. (Internet Evolution)

Pirate Bay launches encrypted VPN

The Pirate Bay Web site for indexing and tracking BitTorrent files launched its own virtual private network (VPN) Monday, rolling out a project to make file sharing easier for users who want to avoid Sweden's new anti-piracy law. Called the IPREDATOR Global Anonymity Service, the network is currently in beta and lets users share files anonymously; The Pirate Bay said that it won't keep IP address records. Users must pay a 5-euro monthly fee. The Pirate Bay, whose administrators were found guilty of copyright violations in April, is working against Sweden's Intellectual Property Rights Enforcement Directive (IPRED), law, which lets courts order ISPs to turn over information about people suspected of illegal file sharing. (Wired)

Opera Unite uses browser as file server

Opera unveiled a new technology Tuesday that lets users turn their browsers into file servers. Opera says this is an innovation that will reinvent the Internet and expressed hope it will make the company a bigger player in the browser market. The new Opera Unite software lets users share files--including Web pages, music files, and photos--without having to upload them first to an Internet service such as Facebook. The software acts as both client and server. Some industry observers praised Opera Unite, but some said it could cause problems for copyright owners and create extra security risks for users. (Information Week)

Google could use HTTP Secure as default for applications

Google plans to test HTTP Secure as a default setting for many of its applications, including Gmail, Google Docs, and Google Calendar. The company took this step in response to an open letter sent Tuesday from a group of 37 computer scientists and security researchers, including such well-known figures as Palo Alto Research Center's Markus Jakobsson and BT Counterpane's Bruce Schneier. They said standard HTTP leaves information unencrypted and puts people at risk for data theft and snooping. Currently, Google supports HTTPS only as an optional feature. Google said in its security blog that it wants to test users' experiences with default HTTPS before making a change, studying possible negative aspects such as slower performance.

New site helps people make decisions, a new type of site created to help people make decisions based on personality questions, debuted for the general public on Monday. Hunch is led by Flickr co-founder Caterina Fake, who said the start-up initially wanted to brand itself as a "decision engine" before Microsoft's Bing used that concept. Most of Hunch's traffic is expected to come from search engines, where it could show up as a result for general questions that users enter. The site recommends answers to questions such as "what type of laptop should I buy?" based on users' quiz answers. (SearchEngineLand)

Palm silences discussion about Pre tethering

Palm has asked developers to limit discussion about tethering the Pre, sending an informal request to the Pre Dev Wiki in an effort to avoid a legal confrontation with Sprint, the Pre's exclusive carrier. Wiki developers have complied, removing all discussion groups and IRC channels related to tethering. Developers figured out methods to jailbreak Pres to connect other devices within days of the Pre's debut on 6 June. The developers running Pre Dev Wiki said they would remove the gag order when the Pre is available with different carriers or Sprint begins allowing the feature.

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