E-tales: ET to hold

A WEEK OF IT

Sony gives Bittorent thumbs-up

Copyright and piracy issues are big news at the moment, with objections building to the proposed adoption of what is seen by some as a draconian international copyright regime, ACTA (the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement).

Australian objectors are in the throes of lobbying against ACTA, while in New Zealand a furore has broken out over the release of just 13 of 91 documents relating to the negotiations — although discussion is imminent at a G8 forum to be held in Switzerland shortly (Computerworld, August 4).

With all this going on, it was refreshing to see Sony Europe CEO David Reeves commenting on the tardiness of PSP games releases to even English-speaking countries like the UK and Australia — “You can wait for it and you can have it in good quality, you know you can get the stuff from Bittorent if you want to.”

That’s quite refreshing honesty, coupled with realism, reported via the Boing Boing website, which adds that Reeves’ view may not be shared by all at Sony.

ET to hold

“Heart Robot” (pictured) looks like a soft cuddly ET to E-tales’ eyes. Heart is the brainchild of scientists at the UK’s Bristol University, who want to explore how people react to a machine with “feelings”.

Heart has a heart, breathing stomach and sensors that allow him (We’re going to opt for “him” here as he looks rather boyish) to respond to noise, touch and movement. He appears to enjoy cuddles and flinches if he is shaken or shouted at. And how do humans react to him? Human children either want to cuddle him or scare him, apparently. No surprise there then.

Space cadets

They say that on the internet ink and paper are free — but there are limits.

Registering for a recent ICT seminar, one e-taler got a receipt back promptly by email.

That’s the good news. The bad news was that the document consisted of 82 lines of which 57 were blank. With a little more attention to formatting, our e-taler calculates the meaningful part of the document could have been reduced to 17 lines.

He hesitates to blame the ICT guys who sent it out. Some of the strange formatting could have been inflicted by an ultra-secure incoming email system which removes graphics and other elements it sees as potentially dangerous.

LHC goes rap on YouTube

That’s the Large Hadron Collider, as in CERN’s LHC, the world’s most powerful atom smasher, which is due to get going sometime soon — its start has been delayed. When it does boot up, the rocket scientists will be all agog as they search for the Higgs-Bosun — a hypothetical elementary particle, sometimes dubbed the God particle, which has never yet found but which the CERN physicists hope to observe for the first time as beams of protons collide at the speed of light in the LHC. The collider is a 17-mile-round (27km) circular tunnel under the Swiss-French border.

Confused? E-tales is, but it’s worth trying to get to grips with all this, as the hope is that the particle’s discovery could lead to a new understanding of physics — of the kind that led to the invention of the radio and all things electronic.

And, to help us all understand better, some of the younger, hipper CERN boffins have put together a very cool rap song all about the LHC and posted a video of it on YouTube. Even more rad, the “bad rapper” is a young female physicist, who goes by the moniker Alpinekat. Go CERN.

Go to YouTube and search “Alpinekat”.

Dr Who?

We all know our Aussie neighbours can be a bit strange — or perhaps they would prefer the term “open-minded”.

They now have the distinction of being the first country to award a PhD in ufology — the study of unidentified flying objects. The new Dr Plowman is a culture and communications student at Melbourne University, who is writing a book on UFOs, due out in November.

However, he says he’s never seen a UFO, maintains a healthy scepticism and originally only got interested in UFOs out of boredom when, holed up in hospital as a child, his parents bought him a book on UFOs as a way to distract him.

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