Continuing our look back at later developments to stories we brought you on Geeks Are Sexy this year, we turn our attention to May. Facebook was awarded a total of $2.8 million from people who’d registered addresses such as “faacebok.com” and “facegbook.com”. They were judged to have violated the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act of 1999 by not only registering a domain that was “confusingly similar” to a well-established trademark, but doing so in bad faith. Although Facebook was awarded ownership of the domains, there’s no public update yet on whether the offenders have actually paid up.
Staff at the Los Alamos National Lab revealed they’d been using a hub-and-spoke model for a local network using quantum computing. Both the strength and weakness of quantum computing is that intercepting a transmission effectively destroys the data. That makes it difficult to relay data through multiple servers, hence the Los Alamos model where the message is sent direct to the hub, read and re-encrypted, then sent direct to the destination. It relies on the hub being continually online and both electronically and physically secure.
In September, the Cambridge Research Laboratory found a way for 64 users to share a single photon detector, the quantum computing equivalent of a modem. They did so by labelling individual photon streams so that multiple communications can go through the same cable simultaneously. The technique still doesn’t allow for an Internet model, but can securely connect multiple users in two locations, such as different government agencies.
A group called Defense Distributed developed and test-fired a 3D-printed gun in what was less a practical project and more a way to raise the political argument of how gun control measures work if people can produce their own weapons. While the group argued that sharing the print files for the guns was a free speech issue, the US government forced it to take the files offline using the argument that if people in other countries downloaded the files, the group was effectively breaching a weapons export ban. The site has yet to republish links to the files, though they remain available through torrents, with non-US sites such as PirateBay continuing to share links to the torrents.
Members of two rival British groups, the Norwich Star Wars Club and Norwich Sci-Fi Club attracted international attention after engaging in what police labeled a “very minor” altercation at a science fiction convention. The amusing scene was livened up by one participant being dressed as the Fifth Doctor, while friends dressed as the Tenth Doctor (as the David Tennant incarnation was then unanimously referred to) and Judge Dredd waited outside. Both groups remain active and run their own events, and the city has this year hosted not only the fourth Norwich Sci-Fi and Film Convention but also the Norwich Sci Fi Convention (NOR-CON IV).