"Reports from Costa Rica indicate that final approval of the CAFTA with the US is languishing in the Legislative Assembly due to concerns over the copyright provisions. The CAFTA copyright provisions are similar to those found in the other major US trade agreements concluded in recent years: DMCA-style protections, ISP liability, and copyright term extension are all part of the package. In this case, it is the responses that are most noteworthy. Within Costa Rica, the article reports that the copyright provisions in the trade treaty have set off a wave of student protests over what it means for education. Meanwhile, health officials are concerned that the provisions on pharmaceutical products "would bankrupt the public health system." The response from the U.S. is important as well. It is delaying market access to sugar from the developing country until the copyright reforms are in place. Until that time, Costa Rican sugar producers will not be able to sell their product in the U.S."

Now that the FCC's Net Neutrality comment-period has closed, Ars Technica's Nate Anderson has rounded up a list of charitable organizations with nothing to do with Net Neutrality, who nevertheless weighed in to support AT&T and Comcast's position -- these organizations are also all beneficiaries of large corporate donations from the telco giants. So much for charity -- when a donation to the Boys and Girls Club by AT&T comes with an obligation to weigh in on regulatory proceedings that threaten the profits of AT&T, it's not really a gift... More like selling out your group's good name.

Late last week the International Jack Benny Fan Club got some very bad news: rather than allow the club with the Benny family's enthusiastic blessing to digitally preserve some unreleased public domain Benny show masters that CBS has in its possession, the network is giving a thumbs down to the idea -- thus sealing these shows' fate so they will never be seen again. In effect, it's a bullet through the head of this body of Benny work. And here is the most frustrating tidbit for comedy fans and those who study comedy: the Fan Club offered to do the preservation at no cost to CBS.

bookmark, powerpoint

If only Martin Luther King Jr. had been an aid agency official, he would have been able to use Powerpoint and aid terminology to get his main points across more effectively.
Using advanced econometric methods, we were able to project the Powerpoint slides that would have resulted (open or save here).

Health care cost per person per year on left, life expectancy on right.

Your new favorite IP-infringing time-killer: Super Mario Crossover, which lets you tackle SMB as a range of 8-bit heroes: Mega Man, Link, Samus, Castlevania's Simon, Contra's Bill, or, for the unimaginative, Mario himself. More than just a cute idea, Exploding Rabbit have gone to some length to correctly tailor the specific physics and play styles of each guest star to a wicked degree. For more retro mashups, see also: Rom Check Fail, by Captain Forever creator Farbs.

Screener Rolando Negrin's private body parts were observed by his Transportation Security Administration colleagues conducting training on the airport's full-body imaging machines.
A year of joking culminated on Tuesday night, when Negrin attacked the co-worker at an employee parking lot, according to an arrest report.

Negrin ``stated he could not take the jokes any more and lost his mind,'' said the report, made public Thursday. He is charged with aggravated battery.

But the founders of a young internet startup are changing that with free color tools and an online community: Colourlovers. Pantone may not disappear any time soon, but Darius Monsef, the Colourlovers founder, is pleased to at least give color researchers another option. The site lets users not only explore which colors are trending, but anyone can create a virtual color palette or a pattern using Colourlovers' free software, or if they want to get a little more serious, they can buy the ColorSchemer software (screengrab at left) for between $35 and $50.

There are over 1.3 trillion bricks manufactured each year worldwide, and over 10% are made by hand in coal-fired ovens. On average, the baking process emits 1.4 pounds of carbon per brick - more than the world's entire aviation fleet. In countries like India and China, outdated coal-fired brick kilns consume more energy, emit more carbon, and produce great quantities of particulate air pollution. Dosier's process replaces baking with simple mixing, and because it is low-tech (apart from the production of the bacterial activate), can be done onsite in localities without modern infrastructure. The process uses no heat at all:mixing sand and non-pathogenic bacteria (sporosar) and putting the mixture into molds. The bacteria induce calcite precipitation in the sand and yield bricks with sandstone-like properties. If biomanufactured bricks replaced each new brick on the planet, it would save nearly 800 million tons of CO2 annually.

"To see resistance from a woman means a lot," Wajiha Al-Huwaidar, a Saudi women's rights activist, told The Media Line news agency. "People are fed up with these religious police, and now they have to pay the price for the humiliation they put people through for years and years. This is just the beginning and there will be more resistance.

It will soon be possible, for instance, for a business man in New York To dictate instructions and have them appear instantly in type in London or elsewhere. He will be able to call up from his desk and talk with any telephone subscriber in the world. It will only be necessary to carry an inexpensive instrument not bigger than a watch, which will enable its bearer to hear anywhere on sea or land for distances of thousands of miles. One may listen or transmit speech or song to the uttermost parts of the world.

Henry Farrell nails it on this critique of FB privacy

Jeffrey sez, "This MIT Media Lab project worked with activists on Friday to make maps with a community of Shipibo who've taken up residence on the bank of the river Rimac in downtown Lima - a city of 11 million people. Using only helium balloons and a cheap camera, the GrassrootsMapping.org team, part of the Center for Future Civic Media, took pictures of the extralegal settlement from ~500 feet up. The images were rectified and the resulting map may help the Shipibo in their legal battle to gain deeds to the land. GrassrootsMapping.org is a project which supports communities in cartographic dispute by creating low-cost mapping tools."

Peering] goes back to the earliest days of the Internet, when organizations would directly connect their networks instead of paying yet another company to route data traffic. Originally, the companies that owned the backbone of the Internet shared traffic. In recent years, however, the practice has increased to the point where some researchers who study the way global networks are put together believe that peering is changing the fundamental shape of the Internet, with serious consequences for its stability and security. Others see the vast increase in traffic staying within a structure that has remained essentially the same.
What is clear is that today a significant portion of Internet traffic does not flow through the backbone networks of giant Internet companies like AT&T and Level 3. Instead, it has begun to cascade in torrents of data on the edges of the network, as if a river in flood were carving new channels.

In a recent presentation at the World Bank, Matthew Kam, the founder of MILLEE, shared experiences from ten rounds of iterative small pilot field studies in developing and testing mobile phone gaming applications that enable children to acquire language literacy in immersive, game-like environments. One goal of this work is to investigate how to make localized English language learning resources more accessible to underprivileged children, at times and places that are more convenient than schools. (A short video profile of the project is available here; it is not embedded for direct viewing on this blog because it features a 15-second commercial at the beginning.)

When last did you visit a cyber cafe?

Eight years ago, my answer would have been “right now”. I would have been writing/reading this on a computer in a cyber cafe. Right now however, I am lying somewhere comfortable in my home, whilst punching the soft keys on my laptop.


A few years ago in Accra, one could count more than ten Internet cafes between Vodafone (then Ghana Telecom)’s Head Office around Kwame Nkrumah Circle and BusyInternet on Ring Road Central. There were: True Internet, WWWPlus Mega Cafe, Krofa Internet Cafe, Java Internet Cafe, and several others, whose names I do not remember at this time.

Sadly, most of them have closed shop. Whilst several reasons could be offered for the failure of these enterprises, one cannot overlook the solid impact of mobile phones and mobile internet technologies

And Americans are not alone. Throughout the globe, no aspect of the revolutionary telecommunications phenomenon is considered more arcane, and therefore as neglected by the lay public, as the issue of spectrum rationing. “Spectrum”, as used here, generally means the radiation enveloping us that we exploit for communication purposes, especially radio waves. It is thus considered very courageous for a commentator to go beyond trying to make a case for the relevance of spectrum management to the growth of telecommunication industries in a general, ambiguous, way, and to attempt to establish the importance of rational spectrum allocation to ICT for Development (ICT4D).

Here's a nice little introductory article on TOR, The Onion Router, a privacy-enhancing technology that helps you to circumvent national, corporate and school firewalls and enhance your anonymity. Originally developed by the US military to help communications get in and out of countries that heavily filter their networks, TOR is free/open software and is maintained by many volunteers around the world, including the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
TOR works by passing your traffic through several (theoretically) unrelated computers all over the Internet, using cryptography to keep the origin, destination, and intermediary steps secret from each computer it passes through.