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Spain Mulls Sweeping Anti-Piracy Law

The Spanish government is considering a bill that would let Spanish authorities shutter illegal file sharing websites with only limited judicial oversight. The law, known as Sinde’s bill –named for Ángeles González-Sinde, the nation’s cultural minister – has angered that nation’s internet users. The US has reportedly pressed Spain on copyright infringement, but legislative attempts prior to this one have failed. Consumers who purchase CDs or DVDs in Spain already pay a surcharge to the nation’s artists’ union. The arts/creative industry in Spain reportedly generates an estimated €62 billion annually and the industry employs 1.2 million people; Spain has a 21 percent unemployment rate. The law would affect only Spanish-based websites. (SlashDot)(The Wall Street Journal)

Scientists Use Supercomputer to Model Chemical Activity in Space

Researchers from the University of Colorado, Boulder, are interested in exploring the chemical activity in a segment of space called the interstellar medium (ISM). To do so, they have been using the National Center for Supercomputing Applications’ Abe supercomputer and TeraGrid to study reactions involving negative ions. To better understand the negative ions’ structures, energy, and reactivity requires them to conduct extensive calculations. It would typically take a PC 12 hours to complete one such calculation whereas Abe completes the task in two or three hours. Based on this work, the group has reportedly completed both experimental and theoretical studies that resulted in five oral presentations at international and domestic scientific conferences and the publication of six papers in 2010. If the researchers are able to determine when specific reactions occurred using modeling, then scientists can ultimately predict the evolution of the universe. (International Science Grid This Week)(National Center for Supercomputing Applications)

New Zealand Researchers Developing Flexible Software Development Method

Scientists at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand, are collaborating with other New Zealand-based computer scientists to develop a faster, flexible, and more cost-effective means to develop software. The researchers are studying the self-organization process on which the Agile method is based to develop a software development process they say others will be able to successfully emulate. The four-year project is funded by the New Zealand Ministry of Science and Innovation and various industry partners are reportedly providing feedback. (PhysOrg.com)(Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand)

Tennessee Criminalizes Password Sharing

State lawmakers in Nashville passed what some have called “a groundbreaking measure” that would make it a crime to use a friend’s login and password — even with permission — to access media from subscription services such as Netflix or Rhapsody. It was signed into law by Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam on 30 May. The bill, designed to stop piracy, adds “entertainment subscription service” to the list of services covered by law. Those critical of the legislation say its wording is vague; “entertainment subscription” could be applied to a health club membership as well as a Netflix account. “It's technically against the law to give your user name and password out to people not in your household,” said Stephanie Jarnagin, the sponsoring state senator’s research analyst. The bill makes stealing US$500 or less of entertainment a misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail and a fine of $2,500. Theft of content valued at greater than $500 would be a felony with more substantial penalties. (SlashDot)(Associated Press)(Reuters)

Flip Camera Inventor Takes Tech to Fast Casual Food Chain

Jonathan Kaplan, the inventor of the Flip video camera, announced this week that he plans to open a venture-backed nationwide fast casual chain enabled by technology. The Melt will serve grilled cheese sandwiches customers have purchased using an app on their smartphones. Once purchased, customers receive a QR code that is swiped as soon as they enter the store. The software used in the restaurant enables them to get customers a hot grilled cheese within 60 seconds of checking in. Kaplan worked with Electrolux to create a brand-new grill with a built-in microwave that makes the fast grilled cheese sandwiches possible. The cheese is microwaved for 15 seconds, then the appliance toasts the bread for another 30 seconds. The limited menu will pair different breads and cheeses. The only sides offered will be soups and, for dessert, Cracker Jack.  Sandwiches will reportedly have a US$5 price tag; $8 for a combination. “We're selling nostalgia and happiness,” Kaplan has told reporters. “Grilled cheese makes people happy.” He is modeling the concept on Chipotle, the burrito chain with a simple menu, but a US$9 billion market cap. Kaplan says he plans to open more than 500 restaurants in the next four years, the first of which will be opened in San Francisco in August. Another 25 locations are planned to be opened in 2012 in various US cities. (CNN)(Reuters)(Bloomberg Businessweek)(The Wall Street Journal)

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