This Day in Geek History: October 24
Columbia Pictures releases the science fiction film Gattaca, directed by Andrew Niccol and starring Ethan Hawke, Uma Thurman, and Jude Law, to 1,279 U.S. theaters. In it, a man deemed to be genetically inferior assumes the identity of another man in order to pursue his lifelong dream of space travel. Produced on a budget of US$36 million, it will gross US$4,320,202 domestically in its opening weekend. IMDB listing (MPAA Rating: PG-13) Running Time: 1 hr 46 mins
The British Broadcasting Company (BBC) reports that Jeanette Park, age 37. of Barrow, Cumbria, England, receives an advertisement from Sony Computer Entertainment Europe (SCEE) that mocking a doctor’s test results in a creative attempt to sell PlayStation accessories as she anxiously awaited cancer test results from her own doctor. The ill-timed advertisement was a part of a mass marketing campaign target current PlayStation owners. Park’s husband had purchased a PlayStation game console to help her to pass the time while she was in the hospital. Sony was surprised to receive fifty-three complaints, and the incidents triggered an investigation by the Advertising Standards Authority.
NASA launches the spaceprobe Deep Space 1 aboard a Delta II rocket as a part of the New Millennium program at 12:08GMT from Cape Canaveral. The primary goal of the mission is to test a number of new technologies that have the potential to lower the cost of future missions, most notably an electrostatic ion thruster using xenon propellant.
The Star Trek: Enterprise episode “Terra Nova” first airs. (No. 106) In it, an early human colony on Terra Nova mysteriously disappeared 70 years ago and Enterprise is sent to find out what happened to them. Memory Alpha entry
Apple Computer releases MacOS 10.3, an improvement on MacOS X, with major updates to “Aqua,” the user interface, and processor performance. Visit the official Panther OS website. Code-name: Panther Price: US$99.95
The Sober worm is first detected. It is written in Visual Basic and effects only Windows computers. Sober uses its own SMTP engine to spread itself to its victims as an e-mail attachment. When the receiver unpacks the file, which has a .bat, .com, .exe, .pif, or .scr file extension, and runs it, it adds keys to the Windows registry, deactivate previous Sober variants, and any of several popular antivirus applications, including HijackThis and Microsoft AntiSpyware.
Polydeuces, a moon of Saturn, is discovered by the Cassini Imaging Team in images taken on October 21, 2004. Upon discovery, the body is temporarily designated S/2004 S 5. Visit the official website of the Cassini Imaging Team.
A Bittorrent user named Chan Nai-ming, age 38, of Hong Kong, is convicted of breaching Chapter 528 of Hong Kong law, a copyright ordinance, by allegedly uploading torrent files for the films Daredevil, Miss Congeniality, and Red Planet to a newsgroup. The magistrate remarks that Chan’s act caused significant damage to the interest of the films’ copyright holders. He is released on HK$5,000 bail, awaiting a sentencing hearing, though the magistrate himself admits the difficulty of determining how he should be sentenced due to the lack of precedent for such a case. On November 7, 2005, Chan will be sentenced to a three month jail sentence, but will immediately be granted bail pending an appeal to the High Court. The appeal will be dismissed by the Court of First Instance on December 12, 2006.
Jon “NEVERDIE” Jacobs purchases a virtual “Asteroid Space Resort” in the MMORPG Project Entropia for a sum of one million Project Entropia Dollars (PED), the equivalent of US$100,000 in real-world currency. On December 14, 2004, Zachurm “Deathifier” Emegen had paid 265,000 PED (US$26,500) for Treasure Island, a virtual island. At the time, it had been the single largest real-world purchase of a virtual item in history. With this purchase, Jon Jacobs far surpasses that landmark purchase and puts Entropia on the map in North America, generating a great deal of attention in the media. Jacobs dubs the resort “Club NEVERDIE” after the nickname of his own in-game Avatar and announces ambitious plans to turn the resort into a venue for “Live Entertainment in Virtual Reality.” When Jacobs later finishes construction, the club will boast numerous profitable assets, including a thousand-unit apartment complex, twenty hunting biodomes, a commercial space ship dock, a shopping mall, and a stadium for championship sporting events.
Microsoft announces the general release of its anti-spyware application Windows Defender for Windows Server 2003 and Windows XP, but not Windows 2000, which had reached the end of its mainstream support period. Visit the application’s official website.
The Mozilla Corporation releases version 2.0 of its Mozilla Firefox web browser. This version introduces a features that allows users to restore their browser’s tabs to their previous state if the user’s session is interrupted. It also includes updates to the browser’s extension manager, GUI, and tabbed browsing. Visit the official Firefox website.
China launches its first lunar orbiter, the Chang’e 1.
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