When the local movie theater in Oakhurst, California went out of business, residents were stuck without a way to watch films on the big screen without driving for at least an hour beforehand. Now, three men are trying to resurrect the theater with one major change: instead of relying solely on ticket sales, their business model revolves around subscriptions. From the article: 'They ran models of Nelson's subscription-based theater idea, showing that to break even they would need 3,000 people, or 15% of the mountain communities, to sign up. For $19.95 per month, a member would be able to see each movie one time and buy individual tickets for friends. Non-members could buy a $16 day pass. While researching the theater business, Nelson learned that studios are transitioning to digital distribution. Thousands of independent theaters that couldn't afford equipment upgrades have closed over the last 10 years, according to industry experts. Hundreds of others — which, like the Met, still show print films — remain on the brink. The subscription business model could pay for the new equipment.'
An anonymous reader writes "According to data from the American Automobile Association, the average price for a gallon of gas in the U.S. was higher in 2012 than in any year before it. Nationwide, gas averaged $3.60/gallon, up from $3.51/gallon in 2011. 'The states with the most expensive annual averages for 2012 included Hawaii ($4.31), Alaska ($4.09), California ($4.03), New York ($3.90) and Connecticut ($3.90). The states with the least-expensive annual averages included South Carolina ($3.35), Missouri ($3.38), Mississippi ($3.39), Tennessee ($3.40) and Oklahoma ($3.41). The highest daily statewide average of the year was $4.67 in Calif. on Oct. 9, while the lowest daily statewide average was $2.91 a gallon in South Carolina on July 3.' Bloomberg reports that fuel consumption is down 3.6% compared to last year, while U.S. oil production reached almost 7 million barrels a day recently, a level that hasn't been reached since 1993. AAA predicts gas prices will be cheaper in 2013."
An anonymous reader sends word that the Russian Space industry will be getting a big boost over the next eight years. Prime Minister Medvedev has approved $68.71 billion in space-related funding from 2013 to 2020. That's a huge increase from the $3.3 billion spent annually in 2010 and 2011. The increased funding is one of several efforts to restoring Russia's slowly fading spaceflight capabilities. "The failure of a workhorse Proton rocket after launch in August caused the multimillion-dollar loss of an Indonesian and a Russian satellite. A similar problem caused the loss of a $265 million communications satellite last year. Medvedev criticized the state of the industry in August, saying problems were costing Russia prestige and money." Medvedev said, "The program will enable our country to effectively participate in forward-looking projects, such as the International Space Station, the study of the Moon, Mars and other celestial bodies in the solar system."
dgharmon sends this news from the Atlantic Wire: "After a years-long legal battle, federal prosecutors in Belgium now believe their investigation is complete enough to charge the Church of Scientology and its leaders as a criminal organization on charges of extortion, fraud, privacy breaches, and the illegal practice of medicine. ... Multiple reports and the group's legal history point to one key factor here: The Belgian government won't charge Scientology for being a cult — authorities are focusing on prosecuting it as a criminal organization. Which is a new twist, as most of the group's many court battles over the years have focused on establishing its legitimacy as a religion. ... The Church of Scientology houses its European headquarters in Brussels, so a ban in Belgium could be crippling to the group — and authorities there seem to know it."
EagleHasLanded writes "The U.S. Metric Association has been advocating for metrication since 1916 – without much success. In the mid-1970s, the U.S. government passed the Metric Conversion Act, but now it seems the time for complete conversion has come and gone. Or could U.S. educators and health & safety advocates put this issue back on Congress' radar screen?"
jrepin writes "While the UK has seen the light, the EU has actually gone backwards on open standards in recent times. The original European Interoperability Framework required royalty-free licensing, but what was doubtless a pretty intense wave of lobbying in Brussels overturned that, and EIF v2 ended up pushing FRAND, which effectively locks out open source — the whole point of the exercise. Shamefully, some parts of the European Commission are still attacking open source."
An anonymous reader writes with an article from Duke Law on what would have entered the public domain today were it not for the copyright extensions enacted in 1978. From the article: "What could have been entering the public domain in the U.S. on January 1, 2013? Under the law that existed until 1978, works from 1956. The films Godzilla, King of the Monsters!, The Best Things in Life Are Free, Forbidden Planet, The Ten Commandments, and Around the World in 80 Days; the stories 101 Dalmations and Phillip K. Dick's The Minority Report; the songs 'Que Sera, Sera' and 'Heartbreak Hotel', and more. What is entering the public domain this year? Nothing." And Rick Falkvinge shares his predictions for what the copyright monopoly will try this year. As a bit of a music fan, excessive copyright hits home often: the entire discographies of many artists I like have been out of print for at least a decade. Should copyright even be as long as in the pre-1978 law? Is the Berne Convention obsolete and in need of breaking to actually preserve cultural history?
In their December newsletter, Open webOS announced that they've ditched the webOS-specific hardware interface that was part of Enyo 1.x for the Cordova project (formerly PhoneGap). Combined with the portable Enyo 2.0 framework, applications written for webOS are now portable to other platforms (and the other way around). There were also a number of other under-the-hood improvements: "This month we completed and delivered the pluggable keyboard project, WebAppMgr separation and upgrading to Qt 4.8.3. Work continues as planned on upgrading Qt5/webkit2 (more details next month). Also, the complete rewrite of mediaServer has been completed and is now undergoing internal QA testing, look for this to hit the repos in the coming weeks."
New submitter Jetra wrote with word that the House of Representatives failed to vote on the "fiscal cliff" deal before midnight, technically sending the U.S. over the fiscal cliff. The White House and Senate, however, reached an agreement at the last minute to allow for some tax increases, and a House vote approving it is expected in the next day or two: "The agreement came together after negotiators cleared two final hurdles involving the estate tax and automatic spending cuts set to hit the Pentagon and other federal agencies later this week. Republicans gave ground on the spending cuts, known as the sequester, by agreeing to a two-month delay paid for in part with fresh tax revenue, a condition they had resisted. White House officials yielded to GOP wishes on how to handle estate taxes, aides said." The battle over required spending cuts has predictably been delayed for another day, making the deal far from complete.
ezabi writes "After announcing a 43 million USD license agreement with Microsoft, the Egyptian government was faced with a protest from FOSS enthusiasts staging a protest before the cabinet. Later, representatives from the community had a meeting with the minister of communications and information technology. Such a meeting led to the ministry issuing a press release (in Arabic) stating its commitment to gradually move to open source (Google Translate to English) as a strategic option for future projects. It's worth mentioning that all governmental websites used in the elections and constitution referendum were all based on open source solutions."
jvillain writes "The Guardian has up a story detailing the crack down on Occupy Wall Street (OWS). It goes on to show how the FBI, DHS, Terrorist Fusion Centers and the banks all worked together to stifle dissent. From the article: 'This production [of documents], which we believe is just the tip of the iceberg, is a window into the nationwide scope of the FBI's surveillance, monitoring, and reporting on peaceful protesters organizing with the Occupy movement These documents also show these federal agencies functioning as a de facto intelligence arm of Wall Street and Corporate America.' The next question is how many Americans are now listed as part of a 'terrorist group' by the government for their support of OWS?"
An anonymous reader writes "YouTube has dropped 2 billion fake music industry views and their offending videos. From the article: 'Google made good on its promise to weed out views inflated by artificial means last week, according to Daily Dot. Record company sites impacted included titans like Universal Music Group, which reportedly lost 1 billion of its 7 billion views, and Sony, who lost 850 million views. The cuts affected marquee names like Rhianna, Beyonce and Justin Bieber. YouTube said in a statement that the figures had been deliberately, artificially inflated. 'This was not a bug or a security breach. This was an enforcement of our view count policy,' the company, which is owned by Google, wrote.'"
Hugh Pickens writes "Depending on the level of activity, the human body generates about 60 to 100 Watts of energy in the form of heat, about the same amount of heat given off by the average light bulb. Now Diane Ackerman writes in the NY Times that architects and builders are finding ways to capture this excess body heat on a scale large enough to warm homes and office buildings. At Stockholm's busy hub, Central Station, engineers harness the body heat issuing from 250,000 railway travelers to warm the 13-story Kungsbrohuset office building about 100 yards away. First, the station's ventilation system captures the commuters' body heat, which it uses to warm water in underground tanks. From there, the hot water is pumped to Kungsbrohuset's heating pipes, which ends up saving about 25 percent on energy bills. Kungsbrohuset's design has other sustainable elements as well. The windows are angled to let sunlight flood in, but not heat in the summer. Fiber optics relay daylight from the roof to stairwells and other non-window spaces that in conventional buildings would cost money to heat. Constructing the new heating system, including installing the necessary pumps and laying the underground pipes, only cost the firm about $30,000, says Karl Sundholm, a project manager at Jernhusen, a Stockholm real estate company, and one of the creators of the system. 'It pays for itself very quickly,' Sundholm adds. 'And for a large building expected to cost several hundred million kronor to build, that's not that much, especially since it will get 15% to 30% of its heat from the station.'"
sfcrazy writes "The year 2012 has not been very good for Canonical and Ubuntu. The end of the year saw harsh criticism of Ubuntu from bodies like EFF and FSF which accused the operating system of 'data leak,' 'privacy invasion' and adding 'spyware' features. Now, Gnome Shell is also getting online shopping lens. Alan Bell has created a Gnome Shell extension which allows a user to conduct online shopping search right from Gnome's Dash. You can install the extension from this link. Once installed you can start searching for online shopping by hitting 'super' key and then enter your search term. One of the greatest differences between the implementations is who is in control. Gnome's Shopping lens shows how it should have been done in the first place, as it puts the user in control, and not the company whose OS you are using. Bell has explained it very well on his blog."
On Saturday, Pakistan briefly lifted the months-old ban on YouTube, spurred by the widely distributed U.S.-made video presented as a trailer for a film titled "Innocence of Muslims" and decried in many places around the world as blasphemous toward Islam. "After months of criticism of the ban, the government decided to allow Pakistanis to have access to YouTube again, saying steps had been taken to ensure that offensive content would not be visible. But those efforts apparently failed, and the authorities quickly backtracked," writes the New York Times. "Quickly" is right: access to YouTube was apparently open for just three minutes, which seems about right; it shouldn't take longer than that to discover things on the site to which adherents of any particular religion might take umbrage. What's surprising is that this took lifting the censorship on a wide scale, rather than just taking a smaller peek through tunneling software.