An online Magna Carta is needed to protect the World Wide Web’s independence, its inventor says


180520863 An online Magna Carta is needed to protect the World Wide Webs independence, its inventor says

The inventor of the World Wide Web, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, believes an online ‘Magna Carta’ is needed to protect the independence of the Web and the rights of its users, The Guardian reports.

On the 25th anniversary of his first draft of the first proposal for what would become the World Wide Web, Berners-Lee warns that the neutrality of the medium is under threat from governments and corporations. He tells The Guardian:  ”Unless we have an open, neutral Internet we can rely on without worrying about what’s happening at the back door, we can’t have open government, good democracy, good healthcare, connected communities and diversity of culture. It’s not naive to think we can have that, but it is naive to think we can just sit back and get it.”

Berners-Lee has been a critic of the spying tactics that American and British governments have been accused of, in the wake of revelations by whistleblower Edward Snowden.

His plan for an online Magna Carta would cover principles of privacy, free speech and responsible anonymity, and is being taken up as part of a project called “The Web We Want”, which campaigns for digital rights.

➤ An online Magna Carta: Berners-Lee calls for bill of rights for web [The Guardian]

Image via Danny Lawson/AFP/Getty Images

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‘Flappy Bird’ Creator: I Might Bring It Back

by Samantha Murphy Kelly


For those still mourning the loss of the highly addictive Flappy Bird mobile game that was pulled from app stores just last month, creator Dong Nguyen said he’s “considering” bringing it back.

In an in-depth interview with Rolling Stone, Nguyen said there is a chance he could release it once again: “I’m considering it.”

The publication met with the man who mysteriously removed the app, despite it bringing in a reported $55,000 in ad revenue each day. Although the app launched in May 2013, it became an overnight sensation in February as it climbed to the top of Apple’s App Store and Google Play for Android.

But the stresses of success had gotten to its creator. There were rumors he might be sued by Nintendo. He received death threats, couldn’t eat and even contemplated suicide. This led him to send a series of tweets on Feb. 8 warning that he was going to remove the app in just 22 hours. Fans pleaded with him to keep it available, but by the next day, the app was no longer in either store.

In response to a question about how he felt after removing the app, Nguyen responded: 


“Relief. I can’t go back to my life before, but I’m good now.”

Although Nguyen said he isn’t working on a new version of the game and is turning down offers to sell it, he would bring back the original release but with a specific “warning” to “please take a break.”

Fans of Flappy Bird who downloaded the app before it was pulled are still generating tens of thousands of dollars for him, according to the report. He quit his job and is developing new games, such as a flying game called Kitty Jetpack and a “action chess game” called Checkonaut due out this month.

Some believe Flappy Bird was so popular because it is so frustrating to play. The concept of the game is to keep a bird afloat by tapping it through a series of obstacles. It’s designed to be simple but, in practice, the task is extremely difficult.

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House passes bill that would allow cell phone unlocking

Legislation would repeal a Library of Congress decision not to issue a DMCA exemption against phone unlocking but prohibit bulk device unlocking.


The US House of Representatives approved a bill Tuesday that would allow cell phone customers to unlock their devices for use on competitors’ networks.

Passed by a 295-114 vote, the Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act would repeal a 2012 decision by the Library of Congress that made cell phone unlocking a violation of the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act. The DMCA, which prohibits Americans from “circumventing” technologies that protect copyrighted works, gives the Library of Congress the authority to grant exemptions.

Unlocking cell phones allows handsets to be used on a wireless network other than that of the originating carrier. It’s a process that wireless carriers are usually willing to accommodate once the customer’s wireless contract has been fulfilled. But the process became illegal last year when the Library of Congress opted not to renew a DMCA exemption, which it granted in 2006 and 2010. The change caused a stir in the wireless community and lead to an online petition that garnered some 114,322 signatures before winning the president’s support last March.

While emphasizing that the bill would legalize individual unlocking, the bill included a prohibition against bulk unlocking of device for the purpose of resale, according to a summary of the bill.

“This legislation allows any individual who wishes to unlock their cell phone for personal use to seek help from others without violating anti-circumvention provisions and clarifies that this bill does not permit the unlocking of cell phones for the purpose of bulk resale,” the summary states.

The inclusion of a clause in the bill prohibiting bulk unlocking drew criticism from consumer watchdogs. Consumer advocacy group Public Knowledge withdrew its support, saying that “language recently added to the bill could be interpreted to make future unlocking efforts more difficult.”

The Electronic Frontier Foundation alsodropped its support of the bill, saying that that the new legislation “sends two dangerous signals: (1) that Congress is OK with using copyright as an excuse to inhibit certain business models, even if the business isn’t actually infringing anyone’s copyright; and (2) that Congress still doesn’t understand the collateral damage Section 1201 [of the DMCA] is causing. For example, bulk unlocking not only benefits consumers, it’s good for the environment — unlocking allows re-use, and that means less electronic waste.”

Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy has already introduced his own unlocking bill, although his support for the bulk unlocking prohibition is uncertain.

The five major US wireless carriers reached a deal late last year with the Federal Communications Commission to unlock customers’ handsets, but only after the terns of their contract had been fulfilled. The deal also states that carriers can charge non-customers a fee for unlocking a phone.

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Amazon Acquires Video Gaming Studio Double Helix Games

by  (@sarahintampa),  (@loyalelectron)

Amazon has acquired a gaming studio called Double Helix Games, TechCrunch has learned, and Amazon now confirms. The deal was for both talent and IP, we understand. Financial terms have not been disclosed.

The Irvine, California-based company, founded in 2007 through the merger of two well-known game development shops, The Collective, Inc. and Shiny Entertainment, today employs 75 people who will now become Amazon employees and will continue to operate out of their Orange County home.

News of the deal leaked due to an invitation to joint recruiting event from Amazon and Double Helix Games taking place in L.A. on February 13th. The acquisition announcement was planned to take place at that time, most likely.

Amazon has provided TechCrunch with the following statement regarding the deal:

“Amazon has acquired Double Helix as part of our ongoing commitment to build innovative games for customers.”

The Double Helix deal may fuel to the recent rumors that Amazon is preparing to release its own gaming console in the coming months. Last week, the video game industry blog reported that Amazon is planning to launch an Android-powered “dedicated games and entertainment device this year priced below $300… [that] will compete directly with Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo.” Buzz about an Amazon console has been around for a while: This past summer, the rumor was that the company was planning to debut a Qualcomm-based console system. Amazon declined to comment on the console speculation when reached today.

Of course, Amazon Game Studios also has a presence in Irvine, following the launch of its social game development arm back in 2012. Amazon’s efforts on the gaming front have been fairly quiet since then. The company has released a now-shuttered game called “Living Classics,” which retired last October. The company also has a handful of other titles now, but the Double Helix acquisition will bring more high-profile talent and IP to Amazon.

Double Helix has a history of creating popular games for nearly 20 years, when you consider the work Shiny and The Collective had done before the merger. Shiny, for example, was the creator of classic like “Earthworm Jim,”
“Sacrifice, MDK” and “Enter the Matrix,” while The Collective had previously put out titles like “Indiana Jones and the Emperor’s Tomb,” “Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith,” and “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.”

As Double Helix, the firm has a decent track record as well. Its most popular game today is “Killer Instinct,” but throughout the years, it has created a number of PC and console gamesincluding “G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra,” “Green Latern: Rise of the Manhunters,” “Silent Hill: Homecoming,” and “Front Mission Evolved,” among others. As you can tell by the titles, it specializes in large-scale action games based on blockbuster franchises.

A forthcoming title, “Strider,” is scheduled to launch this month on PS3, but others including “Dirty Harry” and “Harker” are no longer expected to follow.

Amazon says that Double Helix’s current lineup of games and other future developments will be supported, following the acquisition.

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US Department of Transportation will require car-to-car communications systems to prevent crashes

By Russell Brandom

Lexus Integrated Safety

The connected car got a major push from the federal government today, as the Department of Transportation announced plans for a regulatory proposal that would require vehicle-to-vehicle communication devices in a future year. The proposal comes after a yearlong pilot program by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which will be releasing a report on its findings in the coming weeks. It’s just a first step towards the new communication system, but it’s a big one. “By helping drivers avoid crashes, this technology will play a key role in improving the way people get where they need to go,” US Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx told reporters.

Automakers have increasingly embraced the “connected car” model in recent years, which would use high-speed, low-latency connections to enable a new kind of network between cars. The resulting network would allow for more sophisticated anti-collision and convoy systems, preventing crashes and easing traffic congestion. Rather than relying on brake lights to see when the car ahead of you is stopping, a car-to-car system could pull miles-per-hour directly from another driver’s onboard computer, allowing for a smooth and automatic deceleration rather than a traffic-stopping screech. To enable that technology, automakers need a new set of standards, something that’s remarkably rare in the insular car industry. Today’s announcement suggests the federal government may end up leading the way.

EU said to be developing system for police to remotely disable any car

By Chris Ziegler

SF taxi Toyota Prius hybrid street car cab stock 1024

The Telegraph reports that European Union police officials are quietly meeting to develop a system that would allow law enforcement to kill any car’s engine from a central control facility. The fundamental technology already exists and is deployed with some auto manufacturers — GM, for example, offers “Stolen Vehicle Slowdown” as a service on 2009 and newer OnStar-equipped vehicles — but the goal of the EU effort appears to be a standardized, mandated system that would be controlled directly by police, not by car companies. If pushed through, The Telegraph suggests that it would be required by the end of the decade.



Reaction to the news has been strongly negative, with one member of British parliament saying that “the price we pay for surrendering our democratic sovereignty is that we are governed by an unaccountable secretive clique.” Another questions the liability to governments should the kill switch be triggered accidentally while a car is traveling at highway speeds, potentially causing a crash. Besides the concerns about an invasion of privacy and freedom for law-abiding citizens, it’s easy to imagine the potential for catastrophic consequences if the “switch” fell in the wrong hands.

Documents obtained by The Telegraph claim that the technology behind the remote-stop feature has yet to be developed — but considering that automakers have already developed it on their own, it seems unlikely that police would face engineering roadblocks if it ends up being mandated.


World’s first carbon-fibre 3D printer announced


The Mark One 3D carbon-fibre printer has been announced at the SolidWorks World conference in San Diego.

(Credit: MarkForged)

The 3D printing industry is just about to boom, thanks to the expiration of one of the key patents on selective laser sintering on 28 January. So, while we’re expecting some pretty exciting announcements in the near future, this one certainly gets the ball rolling with a bang.

Called the Mark One, it’s the creation of a new company called MarkForged. This doesn’t mean it doesn’t live up to standard, though: MarkForged is owned by Gregory Mark, who co-owned a company called Aeromotions that builds computer-controllable aerodynamic carbon fibre wings for racing cars. Mark decided to get into 3D printing when he was looking for a better manufacturing technique than CNC machining, which is costly and time consuming.

The answer was 3D printing; and, since there were no 3D printers that could print in carbon fibre, Mark decided to assemble a team to invent his own.

Mark One is the result. Debuting at SolidWorks World 2014 with a working prototype, it has a special extruder, patent pending, for printing in carbon fibre strands, which, Mark says, are five times stronger and 20 times stiffer than the ABS plastic used in most 3D printing.

(Credit: MarkForged)

“The incredible strength of carbon fiber comes from the long, continuous strands that carry load down the entire part. This is why space shuttles, rockets and Formula 1 cars are constructed from continuous strand carbon,” the Mark One website says. “And it’s how we print. Don’t settle for plastic with a dash of chopped carbon fill. Longer is stronger.”

The car wings printed by the machine have been designed with a nylon outer shell and inner honeycomb structure, reinforced by a carbon fibre core. But the company expects that its customers will be thinking far outside the box of racing car parts, with potential applications in prosthetics, tools and fixtures.

And it can print in multiple materials: as well as carbon fibre, it can print in PLA, nylon and fibreglass. A kinetic print bed clicks into the same place every time, too, so that you don’t have to fuss with adjusting it just so.

The Mark One will retail for US$5000 and is available now for preorder on the MarkForged website. You can see the printer’s full specs here.

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