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Mark Ward | 13:54 UK time, Monday, 13 September 2010

On Tech Brief today: Creating Bladerunner and why thieves are not using Facebook to rob your home.


• Environmental and other pressure groups in Russia have won a pledge from Microsoft which will see it be more discriminating about the way it stops people using fake copies of its software. In the New York Times Clifford Levy reports that the concession was won when it emerged that Russian security services were using pirated software as a pretext to raid the offices of dissident groups.

"Across Russia, the security services have carried out dozens of similar raids against outspoken advocacy groups or opposition newspapers in recent years. Security officials say the inquiries reflect their concern about software piracy, which is rampant in Russia. Yet they rarely if ever carry out raids against advocacy groups or news organizations that back the government."

• Sometimes urban myths turn out to be just that. Stories were circulating of a group of burglars in Nashua, New Hampshire using Facebook to work out if high value targets were away so they could call round and liberate their furnishings. Or perhaps not, according to the Facebook statement relayed by New England Cable News.

"We've been in contact with the Nashua police, and they confirmed that they while they have an ongoing investigation and have already made a number of arrests, the only Facebook link was that one of those arrested had a Facebook friend who posted about leaving town in the near future (which is why they believe that home was targeted) and it had nothing to do with Facebook Places. The police confirmed that the other burglaries had nothing to do with Facebook altogether"

• Continuing the Facebook theme, comes news from Cade Metz at the Register about what we spend our time doing on the web nowadays. Search is, like, so yesterday.

"US netizens are now spending more time on Facebook than on all of Google's sites combined, according to the latest data from online research outfit comScore."

• Google's Instant Search inspired Feross Aboukhadijeh to whip up YouTube Instant, what he calls a "serendipitous video browsing experience". Reaction, said Peter Kafka at All Things Digital, was instant.

"So far the most tangible benefit Aboukhadijeh has gotten from his instafame is a job offer, via Twitter, from YouTube cofounder Chad Hurley. But the Stanford junior can't take him up on it - he's already working for Mark Zuckerberg, as a Facebook intern, working on something 'really cool.'"

• Finally Bladerunner's special effects director Douglas Trumbull reveals on his website how he created the opening scenes of the film showing the world going completely out of control.

"Doug and his Entertainment Effects Group team created thousands of acid-etched brass miniatures lit from below with hundreds of bundles of fiber-optic lights, shot in forced-perspective through layers of smoke to create layers of light refraction, creating depth."

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