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Ready for a space flight? May 31, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Science.
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A Lifetime Experience for Stephen Hawkins

Stephen Hawkins, the British physicist who has been nailed in wheelchair for over forty years, had a unique lifetime experience. Despite the serious health problems he faces, Hawkins managed to make his lifelong dream come true. He flew under conditions of zero gravity not once but eight times. Talking to the reporters shortly after his experience, he appeared pretty excited, saying that the zero-gravity flight was amazing.

A zero-gravity flight can take place with a specially modified Boeing 727 known as G-Force One.

The said conditions are created when the plane reaches 10,000m and then goes into a sharp dive to 2,600m, with the passengers experiencing low-gravity conditions for about 25 seconds.

Each flight costs about 3,500 dollars and includes 15 sharp dives. But the leading physicist had this unique zero-gravity experience for free.

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Joost TV on the Web May 31, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Internet, Media.
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From the Skype and Kazaa founders

The founders of VoIP software Skype and peer-to-peer application Kazaa announced that they would allow users to watch TV for free on the Web.

Users will watch TV through a special programme they will have to download. The programmes will also include advertisements. Joost has struck deals with Warner Music, Endemol and September Films, among others. The trial edition will be available to a limited number of users, featuring comedies, sports, music and documentaries, stated its Managing Director Frederic de Val. Joost belongs to TCP Holdings SA, stationed in Luxembourg but has also offices in New York, London and Leiden, Holland.

Originally, the programmes will begin to be aired from a small number of file servers and then distributed automatically from user to user through peer-to-peer software.

Scandinavian entrepreneurs Janus Friis and Niklas Zennstrom are behind the new global broadband and television service. They became famous with the popular Kazza exchange archives service and free telephone calls over the Internet before selling Skype to eBay for $US2.5 billion in 2005. Their names are a guarantee for attracting interest in Joost, especially after the successful video services of You Tube and Google Video.

In parallel, more telecommunication companies are planning to offer their services on Web TV, using IPTV (Internet Protocol TV) technology.

BBC – YouTube agreement May 31, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Media, YouTube.
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Future multimedia approaching

BBC, the world’s oldest public service broadcaster, formed a partnership with Google’s YouTube, the video-sharing Web site, to create three branded channels on the site showing clips of BBC programs.

The channels will show clips of BBC programs as well as specially commissioned content and video diaries, taking viewers behind the scenes of popular programs. The deal includes an advertising-funded channel showing clips of BBC news, which will only be available outside the U.K. There will also be two entertainment channels showing content from the BBC and BBC Worldwide, the BBC’s commercial arm, which will include a limited number of ads. BBC hopes to approach the 70 million Internet users with this move.

“It’s essential that the BBC embraces new ways of reaching wider audiences with non-exclusive agreements such as these”, BBC Director General Mark Thompson said in his statement. It is a revolutionary move expected to attract new viewers in Britain, he said.
American television networks, NBC, CBS and FOX have signed similar agreements with Google’s YouTube.

Google defends data policy after European warning May 29, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Google.
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Google will tell Brussels it needs to hold on to users’ search data for up to two years for security and commercial reasons after being warned it could be violating European privacy laws by doing so, Reuters reports.

The world’s top Internet search engine on Friday said it would respond by June 19 to a letter from a European Union data protection advisory group expressing concern it was keeping information on users’ searches for too long.

“The concern of EU law is that a company that collects data on its customers should keep it as long as it is necessary, but not longer,” Peter Fleischer, Google’s global privacy counsel, told Reuters in a telephone interview.

Google shares were untroubled by the warning, rising 1.7 percent to $482.26 by 1456 GMT.

With every search, Google gathers information about a customer’s tastes, interests and beliefs that could potentially be used by third parties such as advertisers, but the company stresses it never passes it on. Google last week received a letter from the Article 29 working party, a group of national advisory bodies that counsels the EU on privacy policy, which asked the company to justify its data retention practices.

“I will tell the working party that Google needs to hold on to its log database to protect itself and the system from attacks and refine and improve the effectiveness of our search results,” Fleischer said. He said Google, at its own initiative, had decided in March to limit the time it kept engine search information to between 18 and 24 months. The company previously had no set time limit. He called on rivals Yahoo! and Microsoft to clarify their data retention practices and policies. “Will the working party focus on other players in the industry?” Fleischer asked.

Romanian drama wins Cannes gold May 28, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Movies.
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Romanian film 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days has won the Palme d’Or at this year’s Cannes Film Festival.

The film, which follows the harrowing journey of two women as they seek an illegal abortion in Communist Romania, is directed by Cristian Mungiu. A Russian actor and a South Korean actress took top acting honours at the annual festival, now in its 60th year. Jeon Do-yeon was named best actress for Secret Sunshine, while Russia’s Konstantin Lavronenko won best actor.

The 46-year-old actor won the acting award for his role in Russia’s The Banishment, by director Andrei Zviagintsev. “This story, in which we believe so much, is going to reach lots of people now,” said Palme d’Or winner Mungiu, speaking at the festival’s closing ceremony at the Grand Theatre Lumiere. “I also hope that this award that I am getting tonight is going to be good news for small film-makers from small countries because it looks like you don’t necessarily need a big budget and a lot of stars.”

US director Julian Schnabel won the best director prize for his adaptation of the best-selling French book, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, while Japan’s The Mourning Forest claimed the Grand Prix. The Jury Prize was shared between Mexico’s Silent Light, by Carlos Reygadas, and animated Iranian film Persepolis, from Marjane Satrapi and France’s Vincent Paronnaud.

Another US director Gus Van Sant, and Cannes favourite, won a special prize, created to celebrate the festival’s 60th year- for his film Paranoid Park, about a teenage skateboarder’s dark secret.

Actress Jane Fonda was handed a surprise lifetime achievement award by festival chief Gilles Jacob. “You are a woman who fights and wins,” he told the 69-year-old Hollywood star. Fonda said she was “overwhelmed”. “I have the feeling my father is with me tonight. The whole Fonda family thanks you,” she said in French.

The prize has only been awarded on three previous occasions, to French directors Alain Resnais and Gerard Oury and the French actress Jeanne Moreau.

The international jury, led by British director Stephen Frears, selected the winners from a shortlist of 22 films, which included Quentin Tarantino’s Death Proof, David Fincher’s Zodiac and Wong Kar Wai’s My Blueberry Nights. US film-makers Joel and Ethan Coen had been among those tipped to take home the Palme d’Or, but left with empty-handed.

In contrast to last year, which saw Ken Loach’s The Wind That Shakes the Barley take the top prize, no British films featured in this year’s competition.