GeekSpeak for 2014-07-05

The Politics of Fighting Fire with Fire

The Mayday Superpac, patent reform in peril, unfunding NSA surveillance, how mosaics lead to Amazon Fire TV blowback, and more geek news with Bonnie and Lindsey.

Mayday Super PAC reaches $12 million goal

A group of influential Internet moguls aim to fix what they refer to as the “big money problem” in Washington politics by, well, raising cash.

White House announces nomination for new head of Patent Office

The Obama Administration intends to nominate Philip Johnson, the head of intellectual property at Johnson & Johnson, to be the next director of the US Patent and Trademark Office. The selection is a setback for the tech sector and a seeming 180-degree turn on the patent issue for the Obama administration, which was pushing Congress to pass patent litigation reform just months ago.

Property Purchase In Japan Uncovers Disused Classic Arcade

Retro gamers take note, the real bargains and steals in our hobby are not on eBay or car boot sales, but in… property? As of recent one gamer’s relative invested in a Japanese building, only to uncover a time capsule of arcade gaming. Once inside, the new owners were shocked to find two floors of decade long neglected arcade machines.

House Voted To Cut Key Purse-strings For NSA Surveillance

In a late night session, the House of Representatives voted 293 to 123 to pass an amendment to a Department of Defense appropriations bill that would cut off all funds for two of the agency’s most embattled activities: First, using the 702 provision of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to perform searches of collected surveillance data that target Americans, and second, asking hardware makers and software developers to build backdoors into their tools designed to give the agency access to users’ communications.

Amazon Smile gives percent of your purchase to charity

AmazonSmile is a simple and automatic way for you to support your favorite charitable organization every time you shop, at no cost to you. When you shop at smile.amazon.com, you’ll find the exact same low prices, vast selection and convenient shopping experience as Amazon.com, with the added bonus that Amazon will donate a portion of the purchase price to your favorite charitable organization. You can choose from nearly one million organizations to support.

Bug in Amazon Fire TV screensaver hogs badwidth

A bug in the new Amazon Fire TV’s screensaver may cause it to download images in real-time instead of caching them when ‘mosaic’ mode is enabled. Fix to be released soon.

FTC says T-Mobile profited from bogus fees for premium messages

The FTC filed a complaint on Tuesday against T-Mobile, alleging that the carrier has made hundreds of millions of dollars on fees related to “premium” text messages that customers didn’t sign up for. The agency claims T-Mobile received between 35 and 40 percent of the total amount charged to consumers in conduct going back to 2009.

California law removes ban on alternative currencies

A new California law removes a ban on using currencies other than the U.S. dollar, which is intended to accommodate the growing use of alternative payment methods such as bitcoin.

Google buys Songza

Google has acquired music streaming service Songza for around $15 million.
Instead of using algorithms like Pandora and Spotify, Songza uses information about the user, and context, to determine the best playlists at any given time; all of which are curated by music experts (DJs, Rolling Stone writers, etc.).

Mountain top blasted to make room for world's largest telescope

On Thursday June 19th, the European Southern Observatory blasted ~90 feet of height off the top of the Cerro Armazones mountain in Chile (almost a million tons of rock) to create a 655ft pad for the future home of the new world’s largest telescope: the ‘European Extremely Large Telescope’.

Massive 'ocean' discovered towards Earth's core

A reservoir of water three times the volume of all the oceans has been discovered deep beneath the Earth’s surface. The finding could help explain where Earth’s seas came from.

The water is hidden inside a blue rock called ringwoodite that lies 700 kilometres underground in the mantle, the layer of hot rock between Earth’s surface and its core.

Previously male-only Hearthstone competition now open to all genders

International e-Sports Federation (IeSF) is reversing its policy on gender division within eSports tournaments, the organization announced on its official website, adding that it will retain all-women divisions.