Technology News Headlines for June 21 2012 ( Thursday )

European Trade Committee Rejects ACTA
The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, which has been compared to the SOPA proposed in the U.S., was shot down 19 to 12 when to put to vote at a European trade regulatory body, INTA, today. The ACTA has already been rejected by the Industry Committee, the Civil Liberties Committee and the Legal Affairs Committee of the European Parliament in late May. The ACTA could be on its way out after this crucial vote, as it is the INTA that advises the European Parliament before the agreement is put up for a wider vote, in July. Failing this, the agreement will be abandoned. ACTA currently has the backing of 22 EU members. Like the SOPA, the ACTA seeks to curb the spread of copyrighted material online, but has been criticized for overreaching, posing a threat to freedom of expression web-wide.

"Teach With Portals" Opens In Beta This Summer
Portal and Portal 2, those brilliant brain games made by Valve, are entering the classroom. Starting this summer, Joystiq reports, Valve is enlisting beta users for Teach with Portals program, part of its Steam For Schools initiative. Access to the program is free, and teachers, homeschoolers, organizations and anyone else in touch with students in the U.S. can sign up to test it out. The program allows the educator administrator privilages to custom-design levels to teach a concept. Lesson plans for Physics (on harmonic oscillators, terminal velocity, and, well, gravity) and Mathematics (parabolas, volumes in 2 and 3D) are already posted on the Teach With Portals website, and it looks like Chemistry, Game Design, Language Arts are next up to be filled out. Perhaps more than other games, the design of the Portal series lends itself to classroom use as the game's founders strongly believe. "The interesting thing about Portal 2 is that it doesn't fit the traditional simplistic model of what a game is, Valve co-founder Gabe Newell said during his Games of Change keynote last month. "It's not a collection of weapons, it's not a collection of monsters... It's about spatial reasoning, about learning physics, about problem solving, and often during the course of the game you're going to be solving problems with somebody else."

Twitter To Expand Advertising To 50 New Countries
Twitter will bring its trio of ad products, promoted tweets, promoted trends and promoted accounts, to 50 new countries this year, the Guardian reports. Dick Costolo described the extension plans during a presentation at the Cannes International Festival on Creativity earlier today. Twitter will target its new advertising products at Latin America and Eastern Europe first, where the company is seeing strong growth rates, though Costolo said that Saudi Arabia is Twitter's fastest growing market month-on-month. Earlier this week, the Financial Times reported that Twitter will begin recruiting in Germany, Spain, France, Italy and the Netherlands, and was planning an office in Brazil this year.

Tumblr Revamps iOS App In Push For Mobile Blogging
Tumblr's CEO David Karp promised last week that a newly refreshed iOS app was en route, and it's just gone live. The 3.0.0 app has had a very significant overhaul, with integration of clever gestures and tap access designed to make it even easier to blog from a mobile device like the iPhone or iPad, and there's support for higher-resolution images (is this the retina display effect?) and Spotify. Perhaps most significantly there's now support for offline blog creation, letting bloggers put together the elements for a new Tumblog post while not sipping wireless data, and then pushing it live when they're on a network again. Tags have also seen a big change, with the ability to search via tags on mobile leading to "massively increased" levels of blog discovery, according to The Next Web. Tumblr has seen massive growth over the last year, with great spurts recently since its implementation of Facebook's Social Graph in April--a 2.5 times growth in the month immediately after. It's in a battle for the future of publication with Wordpress and its ilk, and perhaps also with Facebook which is still strengthening its mobile strategy.

Planetary Resources Considers Kickstarter Funding Their Asteroid Mining Mission
Asteroid mining company Planetary Resources is considering mobilizing the enthusiasm, ideas, and wallets of space geeks everywhere with a Kickstarter campaign to help fund their solar system-wide mining mission. On a blog post, Planetary Resources chief and X-Prize founder Peter Diamandis said they'd been overwhelmed by the rush of responses to their asteroid mining announcement in April. "With continuing NASA budget cuts, it seems like the development of the space frontier is more and more in the hands of everyday citizens," Diamandis wrote, proposing rewards for future Kickstarter pledgees. Currently in the lead is a $100 for a chance to direct the asteroid seeking Arkyd-100 Space Telescope that the company plans to build, to take a picture anywhere on earth. Also on the list: A half day at the satellite controls, an invitation to the Planetary Resources Launch Party, and a scale model of the Arkyd-100 for your desk. Contributions from those with tighter budgets are also welcome: "If you have an idea for something that you would like to get from this mission, just leave a comment in the box below," Diamandis wrote.

Motorola And Microsoft Tangle Over Smartphone Patent Violation
Microsoft is reported by Reuters to have dismissed a settlement offer from Motorola over a dispute that may yet see importation bans on some Android devices and Microsoft's best-selling Xbox game console. Motorola is pursuing the case because it says Microsoft owes it royalties relating to patent infringements in both video and wireless tech used in the Xbox and Windows itself. MS has been pursuing manufacturers of Android devices because it says Android directly infringes patents relating to syncing the devices, which is right at the core of the mobile OS. MS has unusually not taken Google itself--which designs Android--to task, instead seeking lucrative licensing offers from Google's manufacturer partners. Motorola, as one of this list, has so far refused to pay out. But Motorola Mobility has been bought by Google, which brings the fight to its peak. And this week MS revealed its own efforts to rival Android in both the tablet and smartphone space.
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