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December 22, 2005

A Gangbuster Year for News Aggregator Topix.net

Topix.net has solidified its reputation as a key player in news search and aggregation over the past year, with major developments in both its business and services.

Posted by dymaxion at 01:11 AM | Comments (0)

RFID-Blocking Wallet

Are you super-paranoid about RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) and how it allegedly melts holes in your brain and compromises your security? Then this wallet is for you. Dustin Kirk got a bit paranoid about today's growing use of RFID in everything from credit cards (like Chase's new Blink card) to driver's licenses and alien UFOs, so he made a wallet to store things in a way that blocks RFID transmissions. Apparently, some foil from the local Super Fresh worked just fine, so he integrated the foil into his Duct Tape wallet design. The end result is a wallet that blocks RFID signals, was cheap to make, and is ugly as sin. Hey, it's your security, so go for it. But don't expect the end result looking like you got it from Banana Republic.

NEW RFID Blocking Wallet

Posted by dymaxion at 12:55 AM | Comments (0)

Proposed U.S. Law Would Outlaw Devices That Convert Analog Video To Digital Unless Copyright Is Protected

: With all the talk about portable media, it's important to remember that, to many content producers and distributors, "what you want when you want it where you want" should work only when they say so. Control is still at the hub of every decision and sought after on every level which goes a long way to explaining efforts to legislate copyright protection on media devices. U.S. Rep. James Sesenbrenner, R-Wis, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, is proposing -- and U.S. Rep John Conyers, D-NY is backing -- the Digital Transition Security Act , designed to placate Hollywood while restricting the rights of consumers to convert analog video signals into digital. For instance, it would be illegal to manufacture or sell PC TV tuners, PVRs and DVR-enabled set-tops unless specified anti-copying measures are supported.
It's meant, as Declan McCullagh explains so well, to plug the "analog hole" ie "the practice of converting copy-protected digital material to analog format, stripping away copy protection, and shifting the material back to digital format with only a slight loss in quality."
With Congress heading into recess, nothing is happening in the very near future but look for consumer groups and the consumer electronics industry to get involved. The MPAA will lobbying for it, of course.

Posted by dymaxion at 12:48 AM | Comments (0)

Tim Gets a Blog

The man credited with inventing the WWW posts his first blog entry.

Posted by dymaxion at 12:45 AM | Comments (0)

Tiny Microsoft Subsidiary Most Profitable Company In Ireland

theodp writes "A week after the head of a US tax-research group accused Microsoft of pretending it makes all of its money in Ireland in order to pay minimal tax comes news that Round Island One, the Microsoft company that licenses software for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, is by far the most profitable company in Ireland. Joining Microsoft in its Irish tax haven is a who's-who of American high-tech that includes subsidiaries of Intel, Google, Yahoo!, Oracle, Apple, Symantec and Amazon, a trend that has not gone unnoticed by the IRS." We recently discussed both Microsoft's and Google's use of Irish subsidiaries.

Posted by dymaxion at 12:40 AM | Comments (0)

California Refuses To Certify Diebold Voting Machines

The California Secretary of State has refused to certify Diebold voting machines used in 17 counties there, citing "unresolved significant security concerns" with the memory cards that store votes. This comes a week after similar machines in Florida were hacked in a demonstration that showed how vote tallies on the cards could be rigged. The Secretary of State's office wants Diebold to turn over its source code for examination, and the company says it's "always willing to participate in responsible testing" -- which is odd, seeing as how it said earlier it would rather pull out of North Carolina than submit its code for review there (but, of course, got certified anyway). Diebold doesn't do much to instill confidence that its machines are secure, and enough questions remain around other machines as well to make it clear that the testing and certification process needs to be greatly improved. While Diebold thinks only secrecy can deliver security, it's really transparency that's needed most.

Posted by dymaxion at 12:36 AM | Comments (0)

Banned Cover Art

Album covers that were banned, removed, altered or raised controversy.

5545.jpg 3582.jpg

Wonder why Bruce Springsteen's album is on the lis? Apparently some critics believed "The Boss" is pissing on the flag.

Via wtbw.

Posted by dymaxion at 12:31 AM | Comments (0)

Banned by Google?

Their are always two sides to a story, so I am was hesitant to post this today, but I think it's important for companies that built new technology to be able to stand on their own two feet. When you are introducing some search algorithms that may in fact be better than what the biggest search engine out their, you should probably expect resistance. A startup kozoru has been banned from using the Google API and is one of the first companies that had built some search tools that has been banned.

Their are a lot of other small players culling Google's data so either they scared Google or Google must have found their utilization of the API going way beyond the intended purpose and license allowances. [loneronin.typepad.com]

Posted by dymaxion at 12:27 AM | Comments (0)

The Security Threat of Unchecked Presidential Power

This past Thursday, the New York Times exposed the most significant violation of federal surveillance law in the post-Watergate era. President Bush secretly authorized the National Security Agency to engage in domestic spying, wiretapping thousands of Americans and bypassing the legal procedures regulating this activity.

This isn't about the spying, although that's a major issue in itself. This is about the Fourth Amendment protections against illegal search. This is about circumventing a teeny tiny check by the judicial branch, placed there by the legislative branch, placed there 27 years ago -- on the last occasion that the executive branch abused its power so broadly.

In defending this secret spying on Americans, Bush said that he relied on his constitutional powers (Article 2) and the joint resolution passed by Congress after 9/11 that led to the war in Iraq. This rationale was spelled out in a memo written by John Yoo, a White House attorney, less than two weeks after the attacks of 9/11. It's a dense read and a terrifying piece of legal contortionism, but it basically says that the president has unlimited powers to fight terrorism. He can spy on anyone, arrest anyone, and kidnap anyone and ship him to another country ... merely on the suspicion that he might be a terrorist. And according to the memo, this power lasts until there is no more terrorism in the world.

Yoo starts by arguing that the Constitution gives the president total power during wartime. He also notes that Congress has recently been quiescent when the president takes some military action on his own, citing President Clinton's 1998 strike against Sudan and Afghanistan.

Yoo then says: "The terrorist incidents of September 11, 2001, were surely far graver a threat to the national security of the United States than the 1998 attacks. ... The President's power to respond militarily to the later attacks must be correspondingly broader."

This is novel reasoning. It's as if the police would have greater powers when investigating a murder than a burglary.

More to the point, the congressional resolution of Sept. 14, 2001, specifically refused the White House's initial attempt to seek authority to preempt any future acts of terrorism, and narrowly gave Bush permission to go after those responsible for the attacks on the Pentagon and World Trade Center.

Yoo's memo ignored this. Written 11 days after Congress refused to grant the president wide-ranging powers, it admitted that "the Joint Resolution is somewhat narrower than the President's constitutional authority," but argued "the President's broad constitutional power to use military force ... would allow the President to ... [take] whatever actions he deems appropriate ... to pre-empt or respond to terrorist threats from new quarters."

Even if Congress specifically says no.

The result is that the president's wartime powers, with its armies, battles, victories, and congressional declarations, now extend to the rhetorical "War on Terror": a war with no fronts, no boundaries, no opposing army, and -- most ominously -- no knowable "victory." Investigations, arrests, and trials are not tools of war. But according to the Yoo memo, the president can define war however he chooses, and remain "at war" for as long as he chooses.

This is indefinite dictatorial power. And I don't use that term lightly; the very definition of a dictatorship is a system that puts a ruler above the law. In the weeks after 9/11, while America and the world were grieving, Bush built a legal rationale for a dictatorship. Then he immediately started using it to avoid the law.

This is, fundamentally, why this issue crossed political lines in Congress. If the president can ignore laws regulating surveillance and wiretapping, why is Congress bothering to debate reauthorizing certain provisions of the Patriot Act? Any debate over laws is predicated on the belief that the executive branch will follow the law.

This is not a partisan issue between Democrats and Republicans; it's a president unilaterally overriding the Fourth Amendment, Congress and the Supreme Court. Unchecked presidential power has nothing to do with how much you either love or hate George W. Bush. You have to imagine this power in the hands of the person you most don't want to see as president, whether it be Dick Cheney or Hillary Rodham Clinton, Michael Moore or Ann Coulter.

Laws are what give us security against the actions of the majority and the powerful. If we discard our constitutional protections against tyranny in an attempt to protect us from terrorism, we're all less safe as a result.

This essay was published today as an op-ed in the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Here's the opening paragraph of the Yoo memo. Remember, think of this power in the hands of your least favorite politician when you read it:

You have asked for our opinion as to the scope of the President's authority to take military action in response to the terrorist attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001. We conclude that the President has broad constitutional power to use military force. Congress has acknowledged this inherent executive power in both the War Powers Resolution, Pub. L. No. 93-148, 87 Stat. 555 (1973), codified at 50 U.S.C. §§ 1541-1548 (the "WPR"), and in the Joint Resolution passed by Congress on September 14, 2001, Pub. L. No. 107-40, 115 Stat. 224 (2001). Further, the President has the constitutional power not only to retaliate against any person, organization, or State suspected of involvement in terrorist attacks on the United States, but also against foreign States suspected of harboring or supporting such organizations. Finally, the President may deploy military force preemptively against terrorist organizations or the States that harbor or support them, whether or not they can be linked to the specific terrorist incidents of September 11.

There's a similar reasoning in the Braybee memo, which was written in 2002 about torture:

In a series of opinions examining various legal questions arising after September 11, we have examined the scope of the President's Commander-in-Chief power. . . . Foremost among the objectives committed by the Constitution to [the President's] trust. As Hamilton explained in arguing for the Constitution's adoption, ‘because the circumstances which may affect the public safety’ are ‘not reducible within certain limits, it must be admitted, as a necessary consequence, that there can be no limitation of that authority, which is to provide for the defense and safety of the community, in any manner essential to its efficacy.’ . . . [The Constitution’s] sweeping grant vests in the President an unenumerated Executive power . . . The Commander in Chief power and the President’s obligation to protect the Nation imply the ancillary powers necessary to their successful exercise.

NSA watcher James Bamford points out how this action was definitely considered illegal in 1978, which is why FISA was passed in the first place:

When the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act was created in 1978, one of the things that the Attorney General at the time, Griffin Bell, said -- he testified before the intelligence committee, and he said that the current bill recognizes no inherent power of the President to conduct electronic surveillance. He said, ‘This bill specifically states that the procedures in the bill are the exclusive means by which electronic surveillance may be conducted.’ In other words, what the President is saying is that he has these inherent powers to conduct electronic surveillance, but the whole reason for creating this act, according to the Attorney General at the time, was to prevent the President from using any inherent powers and to use exclusively this act.

Also this from Salon, discussing a 1952 precedent:

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales argues that the president's authority rests on two foundations: Congress's authorization to use military force against al-Qaida, and the Constitution's vesting of power in the president as commander-in-chief, which necessarily includes gathering “signals intelligence” on the enemy. But that argument cannot be squared with Supreme Court precedent. In 1952, the Supreme Court considered a remarkably similar argument during the Korean War. Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. v. Sawyer, widely considered the most important separation-of-powers case ever decided by the court, flatly rejected the president's assertion of unilateral domestic authority during wartime. President Truman had invoked the commander-in-chief clause to justify seizing most of the nation's steel mills. A nationwide strike threatened to undermine the war, Truman contended, because the mills were critical to manufacturing munitions.

The Supreme Court's rationale for rejecting Truman's claims applies with full force to Bush's policy. In what proved to be the most influential opinion in the case, Justice Robert Jackson identified three possible scenarios in which a president's actions may be challenged. Where the president acts with explicit or implicit authorization from Congress, his authority "is at its maximum," and will generally be upheld. Where Congress has been silent, the president acts in a "zone of twilight" in which legality "is likely to depend on the imperatives of events and contemporary imponderables rather than on abstract theories of law." But where the president acts in defiance of "the expressed or implied will of Congress," Justice Jackson maintained, his power is "at its lowest ebb," and his actions can be sustained only if Congress has no authority to regulate the subject at all.

In the steel seizure case, Congress had considered and rejected giving the president the authority to seize businesses in the face of threatened strikes, thereby placing President Truman's action in the third of Justice Jackson's categories. As to the war power, Justice Jackson noted, "The Constitution did not contemplate that the Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy will constitute him also Commander in Chief of the country, its industries, and its inhabitants."

Like Truman, President Bush acted in the face of contrary congressional authority. In FISA, Congress expressly addressed the subject of warrantless wiretaps during wartime, and limited them to the first 15 days after war is declared. Congress then went further and made it a crime, punishable by up to five years in jail, to conduct a wiretap without statutory authorization.

General said that the Administration didn't try to do this legally, because they didn't think they could get the law passed. But don't worry, an NSA shift supervisor is acting in the role of a FISC judge:
GENERAL HAYDEN: FISA involves the process -- FISA involves marshaling arguments; FISA involves looping paperwork around, even in the case of emergency authorizations from the Attorney General. And beyond that, it's a little -- it's difficult for me to get into further discussions as to why this is more optimized under this process without, frankly, revealing too much about what it is we do and why and how we do it.

Q If FISA didn't work, why didn't you seek a new statute that allowed something like this legally?

ATTORNEY GENERAL GONZALES: That question was asked earlier. We've had discussions with members of Congress, certain members of Congress, about whether or not we could get an amendment to FISA, and we were advised that that was not likely to be -- that was not something we could likely get, certainly not without jeopardizing the existence of the program, and therefore, killing the program. And that -- and so a decision was made that because we felt that the authorities were there, that we should continue moving forward with this program.

Q And who determined that these targets were al Qaeda? Did you wiretap them?

GENERAL HAYDEN: The judgment is made by the operational work force at the National Security Agency using the information available to them at the time, and the standard that they apply -- and it's a two-person standard that must be signed off by a shift supervisor, and carefully recorded as to what created the operational imperative to cover any target, but particularly with regard to those inside the United States.

Q So a shift supervisor is now making decisions that a FISA judge would normally make? I just want to make sure I understand. Is that what you're saying?

m both parties are demanding hearings:
Democratic and Republican calls mounted on Tuesday for U.S. congressional hearings into President George W. Bush's assertion that he can order warrantless spying on Americans with suspected terrorist ties.

Vice President Dick Cheney predicted a backlash against critics of the administration's anti-terrorism policies. He also dismissed charges that Bush overstepped his constitutional bounds when he implemented the recently disclosed eavesdropping shortly after the September 11 attacks.

Republican Sens. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska and Olympia Snowe of Maine joined Democratic Sens. Carl Levin of Michigan, Dianne Feinstein of California and Ron Wyden of Oregon in calling for a joint investigation by the Senate Intelligence and Judiciary Committees into whether the government eavesdropped "without appropriate legal authority."

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat, said he would prefer separate hearings by the Judiciary Committee, which has already promised one, and Intelligence Committee.

York Times paragraph is further evidence that we're talking about an Echelon-like surveillance program here:
Administration officials, speaking anonymously because of the sensitivity of the information, suggested that the speed with which the operation identified "hot numbers" - the telephone numbers of suspects - and then hooked into their conversations lay behind the need to operate outside the old law.

And some more snippets.

There are about a zillion more URLs I could list here. I posted these already, but both Oren Kerr and
Daniel Solove have good discussions of the legal issues. And here are three legal posts by Marty Lederman. A summary of the Republican arguments. Four good blog posts. Spooks comment on the issue.

And this George W. Bush quote (video and transcript), from December 18, 2000, is just too surreal not to reprint: "If this were a dictatorship, it’d be a heck of a lot easier, just so long as I’m the dictator."

I guess 9/11 made it a heck of a lot easier.

Look, I don't think 100% of the blame belongs to President Bush. (This kind of thing was also debated under Clinton.) The Congress, Democrats included, have allowed the Executive to gather power at the expense of the other two branches. This is the fundamental security issue here, and it'll be an issue regardless of who wins the White House in 2008.

EDITED TO ADD (12/21): FISC Judge James Robertson resigned yesterday:

Two associates familiar with his decision said yesterday that Robertson privately expressed deep concern that the warrantless surveillance program authorized by the president in 2001 was legally questionable and may have tainted the FISA court's work.

....Robertson indicated privately to colleagues in recent conversations that he was concerned that information gained from warrantless NSA surveillance could have then been used to obtain FISA warrants. FISA court Presiding Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, who had been briefed on the spying program by the administration, raised the same concern in 2004 and insisted that the Justice Department certify in writing that it was not occurring.

"They just don't know if the product of wiretaps were used for FISA warrants -- to kind of cleanse the information," said one source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the classified nature of the FISA warrants. "What I've heard some of the judges say is they feel they've participated in a Potemkin court."

ly, here's some of the relevant statutes and decisions:

"Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA)" (1978).

"Authorization for Use of Military Force (2001)," the law authorizing Bush to use military force against the 9/11 terrorists.

"United States v. United States District Court," 407 U.S. 297 (1972), a national security surveillance case that turned on the Fourth Amendment.

"Hamdi v. Rumsfeld," 124 S. Ct. 981 (2004), the recent Supreme Court case examining the president's powers during wartime.

[The Government's position] cannot be mandated by any reasonable view of the separation of powers, as this view only serves to condense power into a single branch of government. We have long since made clear that a state of war is not a blank check for the President when it comes to the rights of the Nation's citizens. Youngstown Steel and Tube, 343 U.S. at 587. Whatever power the United States Constitution envisions for the Executive in times of conflict with other Nations or enemy organizations, it most assuredly envisions a role for all three branches when individual liberties are at stake.

And here are a bunch of blog posts:

Daniel Solove: "Hypothetical: What If President Bush Were Correct About His Surveillance Powers?."

Seth Weinberger: "Declaring War and Executive Power."

Juliette Kayyem: "Wiretaps, AUMF and Bush's Comments Today."

Mark Schmitt: "Alito and the Wiretaps."

Eric Muller: "Lawless Like I Said."

Cass Sunstein: "Presidential Wiretap."

Spencer Overton: "Judge Damon J. Keith: No Warrantless Wiretaps of Citizens."

Will Baude: "Presidential Authority, A Lament."

And news articles:

Washington Post: "Clash Is Latest Chapter in Bush Effort to Widen Executive Power."

The clash over the secret domestic spying program is one slice of a broader struggle over the power of the presidency that has animated the Bush administration. George W. Bush and Dick Cheney came to office convinced that the authority of the presidency had eroded and have spent the past five years trying to reclaim it.

From shielding energy policy deliberations to setting up military tribunals without court involvement, Bush, with Cheney's encouragement, has taken what scholars call a more expansive view of his role than any commander in chief in decades. With few exceptions, Congress and the courts have largely stayed out of the way, deferential to the argument that a president needs free rein, especially in wartime.

Times: Spying Program Snared U.S. Calls."
A surveillance program approved by President Bush to conduct eavesdropping without warrants has captured what are purely domestic communications in some cases, despite a requirement by the White House that one end of the intercepted conversations take place on foreign soil, officials say.

Posted by dymaxion at 12:25 AM | Comments (0)

December 21, 2005

Guardian goes "Blackhat"

The (UK) Guardian newspaper decides that it too can do this "SEO thing".

After detailing cutting-edge techniques such as adding keywords to metadatas, hidden text and the use of "Britney Spears", it decides to boost its own fake site to the top of the SERPs.

Posted by dymaxion at 11:57 PM | Comments (0)

Vonage Gets More Cash

In a move that likely is viewed as diluting to pal Jeff Pulver who has some remaining shares in Vonage, the Wall Street Journal has reported that Vonage will announce that they raised $250 million dollars as early as Monday and that it is the last raise of cash before their IPO.

I'm not buying it, and neither is Om Malik, who does his own brand of quantitative analysis. Like Om points out, Vonage is a company looking for an exit, and in my mind they were down the road the right way up until the last raise up.

I don't buy their two billion dollar value either. One million lines or not, their cost per acquisition of each customer is too high, plus the consumer market will soon figure out that they can get phone calling on a Pay as You Go basis for less. Skype is already proving that, as will Yahoo and Gizmo project.

Someone needs to tell the Vonage guys it's time to take the money and run.

Posted by dymaxion at 11:50 PM | Comments (0)

Do You Know What's Going Over Your Webcam Network?

With a very detailed account of one teenage boy's life, the New York Times today has a very extended feature on the illicit use of webcam by teens who make money selling their bodies.

Over the past months I've mentioned on multiple occasions that the web cam market has a large percentage of "adult" conversation for pay occurring and was under the impression it was more offshore than here in the USA. I guess I'm not surprised.

Nor was I surprised to see some names named. Familiar companies that we all of were basically the enabling tools used to enable payment and gift giving.

There is a concept of ill gotten gains that one sometimes has to consider and given that these dollars were tied to illegal activity, even though the companies themselves were not doing things wrong.

Posted by dymaxion at 11:47 PM | Comments (0)

U.S. Starts Historic Cancer Genome Project

WASHINGTON - The U.S. government is starting one of the largest genetic research projects in history: the categorization of all genes involved in cancer.

Posted by dymaxion at 11:33 PM | Comments (0)

Wikipedia, Porn and the Airbrushing of History

An intriguing part of the story about Wikipedia and John Seigenthaler, the maligned journalist who found his Wikipedia biography had him as a JFK assassination suspect, is that the savvy folk obsessively monitor their own Wikipedia biographies, including Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales himself

who has edited it frequently, removing references to a credited "co-founder" of the encyclopedia and obscuring the nature of a pornographic web site he once published. Though some Wikipedia editors believe that it's always wrong to edit subjects in which you are involved, this idea is clearly not shared by Wales. The edit history of his biography reveals that he's made 18 changes with the account Jimbo Wales, most recently on Dec. 2.

The alleged co-founder in question is Larry Sanger, who coincidentally is setting up a ‘rival’ to Wikipedia, called Digital Universe which

aims to build on the model of free online encyclopedia Wikipedia by inviting acknowledged experts in a range of subjects to review material contributed by the general public. Called Digital Universe, the project is the brainchild of, among others, USWeb founder Joe Firmage and Larry Sanger, one of Wikipedia's earliest creators.

By providing a service they're calling "the PBS of the Web," the Digital Universe team hopes to create a new era of free and open access to wide swaths of information on virtually any topic.

According to Roger Cadenhead’s piece, Jimmy Wales is energetic in refuting any role for Sanger in the emergence of Wikipedia:

On seven different occasions, Wales has altered sentences that gave Larry Sanger credit for cofounding Wikipedia. Sanger, a former employee of Wales whose job was eliminated in 2002, led the project as "chief organizer" from its January 2001 launch and gave the site its name. He described himself as Wikipedia's cofounder in a 2004 Kuro5hin article. Wales does not share this view. On Oct. 28, 2005, he changed the text "Wales and Sanger set up Wikipedia" to "Wales set up Wikipedia." He made the change again later that day and repeated it on Nov. 9 and Dec. 1 -- other editors kept putting language back in that credited Sanger.

It’s an interesting conundrum. Of course, Wales is not alone in monitoring his biography, and I’m sure if I had one, I would monitor it obsessively too. But when does ensuring that you’re not being accused of masterminding the assassination of presidents become Stalinesque airbrushing of history? And the logical result of this is that every biography on Wikipedia becomes an autobiography, which may keep the subjects happy, but may mark the end of Wikipedia as a useful tool.

Posted by dymaxion at 11:30 PM | Comments (0)

Hey AOL, You Got Googled

As part of lunch conversation yesterday, a very smart man savvy in the ways of the Internet joked that AOL might be the black widow, that kills its mate. The blogosphere this morning, it becomes even more evident that the people are downright pessimistic about the potential impact of Google buying 5% of AOL, a division of Time Warner. (Actually given all the settlements, and other deals, like this most recent one, Time Warner might have made more money off beleaguered AOL that it seems. Anyone remember the $750 million settlement with Microsoft back in 2003)

AOL, by the way continues to be the king maker in the Internet space, despite its troubles. I think many, scratch that, almost all have focused on the advertising aspect of this deal. In my mind, this is a deal which has larger strategic implications. The first - the instant messaging. The two companies explicitly state that they are going to interoperate their IM networks. For Google’s GTalk, this is a big boost, something it needed desperately in order to increase traction when compared to Microsoft and Yahoo. The IM alliance between Google-AOL is a good way to combat Microsoft-Yahoo IM combo. Wait, there is more…. Google had announced major voice-related announcements to the Jabber platform via its Jingle project.

With the release of Libjingle, the makers of these clients will be able to add the ability to make and receive calls between their clients and Google Talk. In fact, they’ll be able to support calls between their clients and ANY OTHER clients that support Libjingle .

An interoperability between the two IM networks could soon be enhanced to facilitating between AIM and GTalk users. Add to the mix, other SIP based clients that can talk to GTalk, such as Gizmo Project, well there is an informal VoIM network that starts to form. Google is very ambitious about Gtalk, and I can bet they are working on developing a bigger ecosystem than most people realize. From get go, they it seems worked on the premise that voice is worth “zero” in some situations. Despite appearances, there might be a method to their madness.

The second aspect of investing in AOL - video. Google stands to make a lot of money from video advertising over the Internet, as my dear friend Cynthia Brumfield has pointed out. They have been fighting an uphill battle to find a toehold in Hollywood, and well there is no one more old school Beverly Hills than Time Warner. I think this will be the thing that helps the company get some traction for its Google Video business.

Some have expressed their chagrin at flashing ads, or whatever. Well, Google wasn’t going to try and do a portal. They did. So deal with it and move on. In the end $1 billion in AOL will pay for itself, because Google will be selling a lot of ads on the AOL properties. And if nothing, its a hedge against Microsoft.

The deal terms…

Posted by dymaxion at 10:53 PM | Comments (0)

Two Things That Bother Me About Google's New Firefox Extension

By marc Over on weblogs.oreilly.com, Nitesh Dhanjani has a great analysis of Google's new "Safe Browsing for Firefox" extension....

Posted by dymaxion at 10:44 PM | Comments (0)

The Falkirk Wheel

The The Falkirk Wheel is a giant rotating boat lift and elevated canal developed by British Waterways to reconnect the Union Canal with the Forth & Clyde Canal, re-establishing east to west coast access for boats.

Thanks, Bryan.


Posted by dymaxion at 10:36 PM | Comments (0)

December 15, 2005

FCC On NetNeutrality - Don’t Worry, Be Happy

A few days ago, I pointed out the double standards Federal Communications Commission has when it comes to dealing with with the phone companies and cable operators. More proof that the FCC is totally skewed in favor of the phone giants! Last week FCC made a lot of noises about how it needs to worry about the network neutrality before giving the final go ahead on the proposed purchase of Adelphia by Time Warner and Comcast. At a luncheon hosted by Comptel today (where everyone sang Happy Birthday Mr. Chairman) FCC head honcho, Kevin Martin said….

“I’m hesitant to adopt rules that would prevent anti-competitive behavior where there hasn’t been significant evidence of a problem. That doesn’t mean people don’t have a lot of concern about potential problems, but there’s a significant difference between potential problems and problems that occur.” [via Reuters]

To recap, when the commish is saying that, there is no need for FCC to adopt rules to protect consumers and giving them freedom of choosing their IP Services, after all, carriers haven’t done anything thus far. So why worry?

Because both BellSouth and SBC have been quite explicit in saying that they are going to give preferential treatment to their own services and will charge others. (I have no problems with the preferential part, after all they own the network!)

Posted by dymaxion at 04:36 PM | Comments (0)

Podjacking: Watch Out, Someone May Steal Your Podcast, Too!

Podjack: (verb) - To create an alternate RSS feed to a podcast without the permission of the podcast’s owner. I am writing this piece for the sake of giving podcasters information on how to protect themselves from similar podjackings. And I’m also going to finish this piece with advice on what to do if someone creates an unauthorized feed for your podcast. If you’re involved in podcasting, you need to know about podjacking. This article…

podcast podcasting computer threats computer safety RSS

Direct and Related Links for 'Podjacking: Watch Out, Someone May Steal Your Podcast, Too!'

Posted by dymaxion at 04:31 PM | Comments (0)

NYPL debate is now televised

The webcast (video and audio) of the NYPL debate about the Google Print (now Google Book Search) project is now up (and has been up, but you know I am perpetually behind). Note, the slide that Chis Anderson is here. Please look at it. There is lots of confusion about what is being debated here. For the three different types of access Google is considering, see the description here.

Posted by dymaxion at 04:30 PM | Comments (0)

Google adds widgets to personalized homepage


Google has announced the addition of widget-style web apps to the Google homepage.

The personalized homepage was created to bring together the stuff that interests you from across the web. From an engineering perspective, this became an opportunity to create a framework for all types of content and information. Supporting RSS and Atom feeds was one step in that direction, and today we're excited to start supporting richer web apps as well. With the Google Homepage API, developers can now create modules for the personalized homepage. It's designed to be flexible and easy to use, and you don't need to download anything to create a module.

Google's directory of widgets is still small (only five widgets available), but the Google Homepage API should mean developers will be plugging in their own widgets very soon.

Thanks for the tip, Christopher!

Posted by dymaxion at 04:28 PM | Comments (0)

Ruby Book Sales Surpass Python

By tim I was just looking at our BookScan data mart to update a reporter on Java vs. C# adoption. (The answer to his query: in the last twelve weeks, Java book sales are off 4% vs. the same period last year, while C# book sales are up 16%.) While I was looking at the data, though, I noticed something perhaps more newsworthy: in the same period, Ruby book sales surpassed Python book sales for the first time. Python is up 20% vs. the same period last year, but Ruby is up 1552%! (Perl is down 3%.) Perl is still the most commonly used of the three languages, at least according to book sales, but Python and now Ruby are narrowing the gap.

Posted by dymaxion at 04:23 PM | Comments (0)

Preparations for Class Action Against Wikipedia

By nat

Preparations for a class action law suit against the owners and operators of Wikipedia are underway. I can't figure out whether this is a chilling shot across the bow of any site with user-generated content, or whether it's a timely reminder of the obligations to society that technologists must observe as they invent within that society. Or, possibly--and I only throw this out as a remote and wild conjecture, a hypothesis (if you will) to be tested against available datum, a brainstorming session "throw it at the wall and see what sticks" flag to be run up the pole so it may be seen who salutes it--that it's a case of greedy opportunist whiners out to make any quick buck they can from whatever makes the headlines in the last slow news week. Ahem. Update: the lawsuit web page has the same whois data as QuakeAID, a site whose authenticity Wikipedia questions--see this summary of what happened for why the site may just be a Google Ad-revenue trick. Thanks, alert readers Nathan de Vries and Matt! Update 2: The people behind the class action site deny the connection and explain why the whois data is the same. Check the comments in the blog entry for details.

Posted by dymaxion at 04:20 PM | Comments (0)

Alexa (Make that Amazon) Looks to Change the Game

Alexa(Update: Alexa platform is now live)

Every so often an idea comes along that has the potential to change the game. When it does, you find yourself saying - "Sheesh, of course that was going to happen. Why didn't I predict it?" Well, I didn't predict this happening, but here it is, happening anyway.

In short, Alexa, an Amazon-owned search company started by Bruce Gilliat and Brewster Kahle (and the spider that fuels the Internet Archive), is going to offer its index up to anyone who wants it. Alexa has about 5 billion documents in its index - about 100 terabytes of data. It's best known for its toolbar-based traffic and site stats, which are much debated and, regardless, much used across the web.

OK, step back, and think about that. Anyone can use Alexa's index, to build anything. But wait, there's more. Much more.

Anyone can also use Alexa's servers and processing power to mine its index to discover things - perhaps, to outsource the crawl needed to create a vertical search engine, for example. Or maybe to build new kinds of search engines entirely, or ...well, whatever creative folks can dream up. And then, anyone can run that new service on Alexa's (er...Amazon's) platform, should they wish.

It's all done via web services. It's all integrated with Amazon's fabled web services platform. And there's no licensing fees. Just "consumption fees" which, at my first glance, seem pretty reasonable. ("Consumption" meaning consuming processor cycles, or storage, or bandwidth).

The fees? One dollar per CPU hour consumed. $1 per gig of storage used. $1 per 50 gigs of data processed. $1 per gig of data uploaded (if you are putting your new service up on their platform).

In other words, Alexa and Amazon are turning the index inside out, and offering it as a web service that anyone can mashup to their hearts content. Entrepreneurs can use Alexa's crawl, Alexa's processors, Alexa's server farm....the whole nine yards.

Does this change the game? Because I was embargoed and could not really talk to anyone about this, I have not had a chance to talk to folks who are smarter than me about this. So my analysis is limited to my imagination. And that itself is limited by the pricing structure - I do not know if using this service will be cheaper for developers and entrepreneurs than rolling their own. But I can only imagine that indeed it is, or Amazon would not be doing this.

So what has been a jealously guarded secret - the contents of the entire index - is now available to anyone who wants it (of course, this assumes Alexa's index is comparable to the big guys - honestly, I have no idea). The costs are modest - a few thousand bucks to process the entire web, Gilliat told me. How might that change the game? You guys are smarter than me - what do you think?

I am quite sure this means that Yahoo and Google will have to stare hard at their own (somewhat limited) search services and APIs, and think what they might do to compete, that much is certain. And if this starts to gain traction, all of a sudden, Amazon is a major search player, right next to Yahoo, Google, MSN, and IAC. A9+Alexa+web services= hmmmm....

Again, what do you think? Will this be like A9, a groundbreaking development that fails to get traction with a wider audience? Or might this just start something?

Wired News (not up yet) and the WSJ (free link) were also briefed on this news.

Posted by dymaxion at 04:16 PM | Comments (0)

Search Numbers

As seen on Mediapost:

WEB USERS CONDUCTED MORE THAN 5.1 billion search queries in October--marking a 15 percent increase from June, according to a Nielsen//NetRatings report released Tuesday. Google maintained its leadership position, garnering 2.4 billion search requests, or almost half--48 percent--of all searches. Yahoo! accounted for 21.8 percent of all searches, followed by Microsoft's MSN, which was responsible for 11.3 percent of search activity.

Posted by dymaxion at 04:13 PM | Comments (0)

Infosnacking verus Podcasting

"Infosnacking" has been chosen as Websters New College Dictionary word of the year.  Infosnacking means "checking e-mail, Googling sports scores, shopping online and surfing the latest headlines" while at work, according to Webster's.   

Podcasting was chosen as the word of the year by the New Oxford American Dictionary.  An article at Newsobserver.com points out that podcast is pretty widely used while infosnacking is not. 

Thanks to Adfreak for the link.

Posted by dymaxion at 04:10 PM | Comments (0)

iPod my ride

Institute friend Peter Hesseldahl writes about iPod integration now influencing car buying:

Several people (no, not from Denmark) have told me how the integration of an ipod with the stereo system was a major factor when they choose their new, expensive car. Amazing how a $250 gadget can determine the purchase of product that's a hundred time more expensive.

Übercool adds to the story:

Few carmakers realize it yet, but seamlessly integrating an Apple iPod with a new automobile is influencing a lot of car buyers.

In one sense it's amazing, as Peter says; but two bigger trends make it make more sensible.

First, plenty of car buyers expect to spend a lot of time in their cars. In major metropolitan areas in the U.S., drivers can spend a couple hours a week-- or, added all together, several days a year-- commuting to and from work (see below). Then add shopping, chauffering kids, etc., and you get a substantial amount of time.

(Source: U.S. Census press release)

This connects to the second trend. More people-- in particular, families in the U.S.-- treat cars not just as transportation devices, but as living rooms. It's where families catch up; sometimes where they eat; and increasingly cars are equipped with comfy chairs, DVD players, and other entertainment systems. So having your music with you-- or more specifically, being able to carry some functionality from your living room to the car-- shouldn't come as a surprise.

Or perhaps the connection comes from another source: cars = mobility; iPod = mobility; ergo, cars = iPod.

What'll really be amazing is if bicycle designers start playing around with iPod integration: adding little speakers on the handlebars, say.

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Posted by dymaxion at 04:09 PM | Comments (0)

HDTV Placebo

Scientific Atlanta, the maker of a lot of those set-top boxes, which was recently acquired by Cisco, released a study on consumer perceptions of HDTV that's pretty funny. Millions of people out there apparently think they are watching HDTV when they actually aren't. Among the findings:
Close to one in four (28%) of HDTV owners reported that they did not get any special equipment from their service provider to watch HDTV channels because the picture quality was already improved with the purchase of an HDTV . 23% of HDTV owners did not invest in special equipment to watch HDTV channels because a message at the beginning of the programs they watch tells them that those programs are being broadcast in HD. Nearly one in five (18%) reported that they believed the HD television would give them high-definition channels without additional equipment.
If TV was the opiate of the masses, maybe HDTV will be the placebo of the masses.

Posted by dymaxion at 04:07 PM | Comments (0)

Microsoft's Yates' to MA: How About 2 Standards? - Transcript

Here, thanks to jtiner, is the transcript of Microsoft's Alan Yates' remarks at yesterday's meeting regarding ODF/MS XML in Massachusetts. The audio from Dan Bricklin is here, if you wish to follow along. Yates also spoke in the Q & A session, if anyone is in a position to transcribe that part too. I notice three salient things, from my point of view. You may notice other points, particularly if you are technical experts, but here's how it struck me.

Posted by dymaxion at 04:03 PM | Comments (0)

Google Blocks PhpBB Searches, Possibly Related to Outages

PhpBB is a message board software and apparently, there's a worm spreading which uses Google to track down phpBB's on the web. Google is currently blocking this search as James notes, and also, I'm experiencing random outages from here (Germany). I'm not sure if this particular block is old or new. There have been similar worms before. (Full post)

Posted by dymaxion at 04:01 PM | Comments (0)

Radar Sark: Pocket Electrocardiogram

1-electrocadiogram.jpgWanna be the next Doogie Howser on the block? Start saving for this "pocket" electrocardiogram called the Radar Sark. Silly product names aside, this thing is particularly useful at saving your life. The EKG (for short) can check your heart to make sure it's performing correctly and to see if any abnormalities are present. Extremely useful in life or death situations where EMTs must make critical decisions. The product is touted as being vibration and impact resistant. So we're assuming it's something to keep in the car for when you crash it. Just try to be wearing your "Yo EMTs! I got an EKG in da trunk fool!" t-shirt that day.

Pocket electrocardiogram [Akihabara]

Posted by dymaxion at 03:55 PM | Comments (0)

Google Safe Browsing Firefox Extension

Firefox has released an extension that you should load. This extension will help you when you are are surfing the web and are directed to a website that may not be who or what it appears. Phishing has been going on for a while and people are usually sucked in when they get a e-mail that tells them to visit a site which turns out to be a front for a major identity theft ring. This is a good one and I actually tested it today and it works as advertised. [Google]

Posted by dymaxion at 03:38 PM | Comments (0)

Product Review Neuros MPEG 4 Recorder 2!

It's not very often I get really excited about a package that was due to arrive, but this last Thursday I was really excited when the Neuros MPEG4 Recorder 2 arrived in the mail.

I am sure all you have or still have a VCR recorder. The operation of that device is about as simple as electronics component you own. Well imagine a box that is about the size of a PDA and a lot thiner, that comes with a power cable, two video cables and has two memory slots for a compact flash and a MS Duo card.

Now let me run several scenarios by you, first of you have a Sony PSP, PDA, or any MPEG4 compatible device, and you want video content for that device! With the Neuros MPEG4 Recorder 2 you can record content for those devices as easy as using your VCR. You can record content onto your memory sticks in MPEG4 format and then drop that memory stick into your device and watch the video.

I wanted to see how easy this thing was to use. I inserted a 1 gig compact flash into the unit, turned it on and navigated the menu system with the easy to use remote control and recorded a 30 minute show that was being piped in from my DVR, to the Neuros Recorder, and out to the TV. Once I completed the recording I pulled the card out of the Neuros and inserted it into my Compact Flash slot on my PC, double clicked the file what do I see but a perfectly recorded TV show. Watching on my PDA was just as simple.

Folks I am in love, this is a product that has astounded me. I spent the next 5-6 hours grabbing VCR tapes that I have been putting off converting into a digital recordings, and let me just say I am one very happy camper. The unit must do some internal switching because when I recorded a DVD I simply selected DVD as the input device, when it came to recording from my VCR a simple change in my cabling resulted in great results.

You can choose from a wide range of recording quality settings. Please read the spec sheets as the device has various recording settings the highest of which is 640x480 which is fine for TV shows. Not impressed yet well you can schedule recordings just like you do on your DVR.

Not only does it record but it will also PLAY videos. So you download a MPEG4 video from the net, and you dump it on a memory card insert it into the player and hit play. I am not kidding folks it is that easy.

This company is all about fair use and that is what drew my attention to them. The manufacture is selling these things faster than hotcakes, I am going to be bragging this unit up for quite some time.

Tomorrow I am going to check and see if these videos I have recorded will work on my Video iPod everything I am reading indicates that it probably will work but I am not a 100% sure and have not tested it yet. So don't hold me to it I will let you know. Finally let me just say this, go to their website spend five minutes reading the specifications on this unit and let me know what you think. I will get some sample video's up in the link blog in a few days but I wanted to get this review on the street as it is just to darn hot to sit on any longer. [Neuros]

Disclaimer: Geek News Central was given this device to review, the hardware the device was run and tested were average home computer and television appliances, the product was evaluated with no expectation from the vendor of a positive review.

Posted by dymaxion at 03:37 PM | Comments (0)

North Carolina Sued for Illegally Certifying Voting Equipment

EFF Asks Court to Void Approval of Diebold and Others Without Source Code Review

Raleigh, North Carolina - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) on Thursday filed a complaint against the North Carolina Board of Elections and the North Carolina Office of Information Technology Services on behalf of voting integrity advocate Joyce McCloy, asking that the Superior Court void the recent illegal certification of three electronic voting systems.

North Carolina law requires the Board of Elections to rigorously review all voting system code "prior to certification." Ignoring this requirement, the Board of Elections on December 1st certified voting systems offered by Diebold Election Systems, Sequoia Voting Systems, and Election Systems and Software without having first obtained – let alone reviewed – the system code.

"This is about the rule of law," said EFF Staff Attorney Matt Zimmerman. "The Board of Elections has simply ignored its mandatory obligations under North Carolina election law. This statute was enacted to require election officials to investigate the quality and security of voting systems before approval, and only approve those that are safe and secure. By certifying without a full review of all relevant code, the Board of Elections has now opened the door for North Carolina counties to purchase untested and potentially insecure voting equipment."

North Carolina experienced one of the most serious malfunctions of e-voting systems in the 2004 presidential election when over 4,500 ballots were lost in a voting system provided by e-voting vendor UniLect Corp. Electronic voting systems across the country have come under fire during the past several years as unexplained malfunctions combined with efforts by vendors to protect their proprietary systems from meaningful review have left voters with serious questions about the integrity of the voting process.

"North Carolina voters deserve to have their election laws enforced," said co-counsel Don Beskind of the Raleigh law firm of Twiggs, Beskind, Strickland & Rabenau, P.A. "Election transparency is a requirement, not an option. The General Assembly passed this law unanimously, and it is now time for the Board of Elections to meet their obligations."

On behalf of McCloy, EFF and Beskind intervened in – and convinced a judge to dismiss – a separate lawsuit filed last month by Diebold, which sought to be exempted from the state's transparency laws. Diebold represented to the court that it would be "unable" to comply with the code escrow requirement of the statute. Inexplicably, the Board of Elections certified Diebold despite its admitted inability to comply with the law.

A hearing in McCloy's case against the Board of Elections is set for Wednesday, December 14. EFF and Beskind have asked the Court for a temporary restraining order preventing North Carolina's 100 counties from purchasing any of the recently certified systems unless and until the Board of Elections complies with its statutory obligations.

For the full complaint:


Matt Zimmerman
Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation

Posted by dymaxion at 03:21 PM | Comments (0)

Leon County, FL Dumps Diebold Voting Machines

Finnish security expert Harri Hursti demonstrated how easy it is to hack the vote: A test election was run in Leon County on Tuesday with a total of eight ballots. Six ballots voted "no" on a ballot question as to...

Posted by dymaxion at 03:19 PM | Comments (0)

Korea Solves the Identity Theft Problem

South Korea gets it: The South Korean government is introducing legislation that will make it mandatory for financial institutions to compensate customers who have fallen victim to online fraud and identity theft. The new laws will require financial firms in...

Posted by dymaxion at 03:18 PM | Comments (0)

Classic, and B-Movies for free

Public Domain Torrents is a site dedicated to public domain movies. These are movies that for whatever reason, have become part of the public domain … that means they are no longer under copyright. You can grab such classics as Plan 9 from Outer Space, Night of the Living Dead, or Voyage to the Planet of Prehistoric Women. Best of all, it’s free, and you don’t have to worry about getting into trouble for copyright violation. [Public Domain Torrents]

Via Cinema Minima

Posted by dymaxion at 03:06 PM | Comments (0)

Classic, and B-Movies for free

Public Domain Torrents is a site dedicated to public domain movies. These are movies that for whatever reason, have become part of the public domain … that means they are no longer under copyright. You can grab such classics as Plan 9 from Outer Space, Night of the Living Dead, or Voyage to the Planet of Prehistoric Women. Best of all, it’s free, and you don’t have to worry about getting into trouble for copyright violation. [Public Domain Torrents]

Via The VoIP Weblog

Posted by dymaxion at 03:05 PM | Comments (0)

Harold Pinter’s Nobel Prize lecture online

You can now watch Harold Pinter’s Nobel Prize lecture in full, from the Nobel site:

There was something oddly Beckettian about Harold Pinter’s Nobel lecture… It was Beckettian in that Pinter sat in a wheelchair, with a rug over his knees and framed by an image of his younger self, delivering his sombre message: memories of Hamm in Beckett’s Endgame came to mind. But if Pinter’s frailty was occasionally visible, there was nothing ailing about his passionate and astonishing speech, which mixed moral vigour with forensic detail.
[News and information for writers from the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain]
Netflix DVD Rentals. NO LATE FEES; Free Shipping. Try for FREE! Your purchase through this link supports Cinema Minima

Via Cinema Minima

Posted by dymaxion at 03:00 PM | Comments (0)

Reaction to passing of EU data retention law

Xeni Jardin: The European Parliament just passed a widely criticized proposal on data retention. Here's an excerpt from a critique today by Jake Appelbaum:
I'm really sad to say that Europe has failed itself. Today the EU accepted a terrible directive. If you read the PDF link here you can see what a disaster they've created.

For those that want a quick summary: Proposal for a DIRECTIVE OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND THE COUNCIL on the retention of data processed in connection with the provision of public electronic communication services and amending Directive 2002/58/EC.

The directive argues that changes in business models and service offerings create new logging practices. Namely, pre-paid cell phone companies don't need to log as much information as a company that sends you a bill later. VoIP providers don't even have a location, they might have an IP address if the user isn't very savvy. All of this as well as other communication advances allow for criminals to speak freely.

They specifically discuss the value of "traffic data" and "location data" and how it's very useful for "prevention, investigation, detection and prosecution of serious crime, such as terrorism and organized crime." So now they've created a way to solve that problem. They wish to log all of this data. Not the contents mind you, they're not recording every phone call. They're going to be logging who you dialed and when. They'll be logging names and addresses. They won't log the data in the body of your email, they'll log all of the communication headers.

This is a great deal of data.


Posted by dymaxion at 02:52 PM | Comments (0)

Britannica averages 3 bugs per entry; Wikipedia averages 4

Cory Doctorow: Nature, the renowned science journal, asked scientific experts to blind-compare selected entries in Wikipedia to their Encylopoedia Britannica counterparts. The reviewers concluded that Britannica has a marginally lower error-rate than Wikipedia:
The exercise revealed numerous errors in both encyclopaedias, but among 42 entries tested, the difference in accuracy was not particularly great: the average science entry in Wikipedia contained around four inaccuracies; Britannica, about three...

Nature's investigation suggests that Britannica's advantage may not be great, at least when it comes to science entries. In the study, entries were chosen from the websites of Wikipedia and Encyclopaedia Britannica on a broad range of scientific disciplines and sent to a relevant expert for peer review. Each reviewer examined the entry on a single subject from the two encyclopaedias; they were not told which article came from which encyclopaedia. A total of 42 usable reviews were returned out of 50 sent out, and were then examined by Nature's news team.

Only eight serious errors, such as misinterpretations of important concepts, were detected in the pairs of articles reviewed, four from each encyclopaedia. But reviewers also found many factual errors, omissions or misleading statements: 162 and 123 in Wikipedia and Britannica, respectively.


Posted by dymaxion at 02:50 PM | Comments (0)

Earliest known Maya painting revealed

Xeni Jardin:

Snip from National Geographic:

Archaeologists today revealed the final section of the earliest known Maya mural ever found, saying that the find upends everything they thought they knew about the origins of Maya art, writing, and rule.

The painting was the last wall of a room-size mural to be excavated. The site was discovered in 2001 at the ancient Maya city of San Bartolo in the lowlands of northeastern Guatemala.

(...) The painting dates to 100 B.C., proving that stories of creation and kings—and the use of elaborate art and writing to tell them—were well established more than 2,000 years ago, 700 years earlier than previously believed.

d here's a related website from the Harvard Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology. University of New Hampshire and Peabody Museum archaeologist William Saturno came upon the murals when led there by local Guatemalan guides.

Reader comment: Mark says,

The National Geographic picture you published with your story of the newly discovered Mayan Mural seems to show the King making an offering of his own blood. As customary among the Mayan Kings he does it by stabbing his own penis with a white spear. To show the kings potency the blood is seen 'squirting out', as also noted in the NGS article (page 2), but they don't say it is also shown in the picture! Link.

Posted by dymaxion at 02:42 PM | Comments (0)

Honda Debuts New Humanoid Robot ASIMO

Tokyo, Dec 13, 2005 (ACN Newswire) - Honda Motor Co., Ltd. today debuted a new ASIMO humanoid robot which features the ability to pursue key tasks in a real-life environment such as an office and an advanced level of physical capabilities.

Posted by dymaxion at 02:39 PM | Comments (0)

Spider Robots And The Space Web

The Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) is planning to test a Furoshiki spacecraft in January 2006. Assisted by ESA's Advanced Concepts Team, it has chosen the robotics institute of the Vienna University of Technology to develop the small robots. Credits: ESA.

Posted by dymaxion at 02:38 PM | Comments (0)

Supreme Court rejects case against National Geographic's CD-ROM

The Supreme Court has refused to hear a case involving National Geographic and writers over additional compensation for republishing the magazine in CD-ROM format. What does this mean for the publishing industry?

Via Ars Technica

Posted by dymaxion at 02:37 PM | Comments (0)

Toshiba delaying HD DVD again

Whatever "first to market" advantage HD DVD might have had is dwindling, as Toshiba announces yet another delay. Is it game over?

Posted by dymaxion at 02:36 PM | Comments (0)

Cable companies hop aboard family-friendly bandwagon

American cable providers have experienced a sudden change of heart over tiered cable programming. Chances are it will be more expensive.

Posted by dymaxion at 02:35 PM | Comments (0)

Numbers in from Japan: Xbox 360 fizzles

Estimates show as much as 70 percent of the Xbox 360 stock in Japan as unsold, as the 360 opens up to a launch with half as much blast capacity as the original Xbox debut.

Posted by dymaxion at 02:35 PM | Comments (0)

Linux adoption continues to pick up speed overseas

The Swiss government has adopted SUSE Linux for over 3,000 servers, and a Chinese Linux distributor claims that Linux has 30 percent of the desktop market in China.

Posted by dymaxion at 02:32 PM | Comments (0)

Google interested in Opera?

The search maestro is rumored to be out shopping for a browser that goes by the name of Opera. Will the fat lady sing?

Posted by dymaxion at 02:31 PM | Comments (0)

December 07, 2005

Washington DC's Zero Tolerance: Ticketed While Dying

When relatives of Charles Atherton got to the hospital they found him in critical condition after being struck by a car while crossing Connectitut Avenue. What they also found among his possessions was a jaywalking ticket that some sensitive DC cop tucked onto his body as he was being ambulanced to the hospital. Atherton, a former secretary of the U.S. Commission on Fine Arts that advises the government on architecture and design in official Washington, later died of his injuries.

Washington also has one of the highest ratios of unsolved homicides in the country.

Posted by dymaxion at 09:20 PM | Comments (0)

Sony's DRM security fix leaves your computer more vulnerable

Cory Doctorow: This morning, I blogged about a bug that EFF discovered in the Mediamax spyware that Sony includes on 50 of the CDs it releases in Canada and the US. EFF got Sony to release a bug-fix for it, but it turns out that the uninstaller leaves your computer more insecure than the bug!

Sony seems incapable of writing programs to uninstall the malicious software it secretly installs on your computer when you play its CDs (Mediamax installs on your PC even if you decline the agreement and eject the CD). Sony also seems incapable of producing a DRM system that doesn't contain rootkits, spyware, and/or security vulnerabilities. The combination is deadly.

# SonyBMG has released a patch that purports to fix the problem. However, our tests show that the patch is insecure. It turns out that there is a way an adversary can booby-trap the MediaMax files so that hostile software is run automatically when you install and run the MediaMax patch.

# The previously released MediaMax uninstaller is also insecure in the same way, allowing an adversary to booby-trap files so that hostile software is run automatically when you try to use the uninstaller.

evious installments of the Sony Rootkit Roundup: Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV

(Cool Sony CD image courtesy of Collapsibletank)

Posted by dymaxion at 08:56 PM | Comments (0)

Sun is about to change the world

Things are about to get very interesting. Sun’s got a cool (actually CoolThreads) new technology. Here’s the announcement. But here’s the really cool part: “Plans to Open Source Processor Technology to Developer Communities.” “Open source” hardware? What’s that mean? Stay tuned …

Posted by dymaxion at 08:42 PM | Comments (0)

Yahoo! Publishing Network reviewed

As Loren writes at SEJ Yahoo! Publishing Network (YPN) has invited another 1000 beta testers to join the network including b5media. Jeremy and I have started implementing the code around the place to see what happens but as always I thought I might share a few initial thoughts on the service. First screen I guess I was [...]

Posted by dymaxion at 08:34 PM | Comments (0)

Diebold and the Miracle of the Immaculate Certification (Donna Wentworth)

'Tis the season for miracles, and it looks like Diebold, the company that tried to gag college kids with specious copyright claims for revealing potential flaws in its voting machine technology, is the happy beneficiary. In less than 24 hours, the North Carolina Board of Elections inspected and chose to certify Diebold equipment for use in real elections. That's after the Electronic Frontier Foundation, my beloved former employer, dragged the company, kicking and screaming and grabbing desperately onto door frames, into the courtroom. Where company lawyers insisted, repeatedly, that Diebold could not possibly meet the basic requirements for such an inspection.

e-voting superhero Matt Zimmerman at Deep Links:

Diebold pleaded with the court for an exemption from the statute's requirement to escrow "all software that is relevant to functionality, setup, configuration, and operation of the voting system" and to release a list of all programmers who worked on the code because... well... it simply couldn't do it. It would likely be impossible, said Diebold, to escrow all of the third-party software that its system relied on (including Windows).

a few days make.

Despite Diebold's asserted inability to meet the requirements of state law, the North Carolina Board of Elections today happily certified Diebold without condition. Never mind all of that third-party software. Never mind the impossibility of obtaining a list of programmers who had contributed to that code.

And never mind the Board of Election's obligation to subject all candidate voting systems to rigorous review before certification...

It's not sexy these days to talk about the battle over transparency and accountability in voting technology. It's the wrong November, and there's no "rootkit" in e-voting. But this kind of outrage continues to happen. If you value hearing about things Diebold and other companies really wish you wouldn't, pass the word along and join EFF today.

Update: Here's another way you can help safeguard future elections, via Danny O'Brien: sign this petition urging Congress to pass H.R. 550.

Update #2: On a lighter note, here's a great collection of parody ads for Diebold voting machines: "Diebold technology: It's a secret. Get over it."

Posted by dymaxion at 07:21 PM | Comments (0)

.eu Opens for Registration

jla writes "Today, the .eu top-level domain opens for registration. Handled by EURid, the launch will be divided into two phases: A two-month 'Sunrise,' during which only the holders of certain 'prior rights' will be allowed to register their names, and the following 'Land Rush,' where registrations will be open to everyone. So finally the long-awaited pan-European TLD launches. The big question now is, will EURid's systems be able to handle the load?"

Posted by dymaxion at 07:17 PM | Comments (0)

India Hits Back in 'Bio-Piracy' Battle

papvf writes "The BBC News Online has an interesting story about a project to put traditional medical knowledge online. From the article: 'The ambitious $2m project, christened Traditional Knowledge Digital Library, will roll out an encyclopedia of the country's traditional medicine in five languages - English, French, German, Japanese and Spanish - in an effort to stop people from claiming them as their own and patenting them.'"

Posted by dymaxion at 07:17 PM | Comments (0)

XaoS - A fast interactive real-time fractal zoomer and morpher

XaoS is a fast portable real-time interactive fractal zoomer. It displays the Mandelbrot set (among other escape time fractals) and allows you to zoom smoothly into the fractal. Various coloring modes are provided for both the points inside and outside th

Posted by dymaxion at 07:16 PM | Comments (0)

Slashdot | The Letter That Won US Internet Control

via slashdot: K-boy writes "Pushing my own scoop, but I think it's a valuable piece of Net history, I have come into possession of the vital letter sent by Condoleezza Rice to the EU over Internet governance. And posted it on the Web.

Posted by dymaxion at 07:15 PM | Comments (0)

Celebrities Looking Bad in HDTV: Silly Talk or Serious Issue?

It seems HDTV (high-definition TV) could shake up Hollywod. The unforgiving clarity of high-definition television has induced paranoia among celebrities obsessed with their appearance, reports The Telegraph via TV Predictions via digg.com.

The technology, soon to become available in Britain, produces images so sharp that even subtle imperfections, usually hidden by make-up or flattering lighting, are brutally exposed.

s have begun savaging stars normally considered attractive who appear haggard or saggy in the new medium, which boasts resolution six times that of normal television.

... Philip Swann, whose website TV Predictions covers television technology, said: "With high-definition television facial imperfections and ageing signs are dramatically visible." He said many celebrities were "scared to death" by the technology.

... Swann thinks that the technology could affect casting decisions and the longevity of careers. He believes that it could wrong-foot the "Hollywood glamour machine" which turns ordinary-looking people into stars, thanks to glossy magazine shoots and air-brushed videos.

Posted by dymaxion at 07:14 PM | Comments (0)

Does the FBI have the authority to regulate software?

A recent FCC policy document asserts that our personal software selection should be subject to approval by law enforcement agencies. Bloggers fear that this is potentially the beginning of a software "police state."

Posted by dymaxion at 07:06 PM | Comments (0)

Korea Orders Microsoft To Unbundle Windows; Add Rival IM, Media Player

: Microsoft was ordered to unbundle its messaging service from its Windows software and allow other software makers to embed rival products by South Korea's antitrust watchdog...the watchdog also fined MSFT for $32 million.
"Windows' Media Server, Media Player and Internet Messenger services were blocking competition and leading to a monopoly in the market, as well as raising the entry barriers to PC server and operating system makers, hurting the interest of consumers," FTC Chairman Kang Chul-kyu told a news briefing.
The ruling happened despite a $30 million settlement with the main Korean complainant Daum Communications over the antitrust suit in November, and media player programmer RealNetworks dropped its complaints for $761 million in October.

Posted by dymaxion at 06:53 PM | Comments (0)

Journal: MSFT and AOL near Pact

From the reg required story:

Time Warner Inc. is closing in on an agreement with Microsoft Corp. to build an online-advertising service designed to compete with Google Inc., say people familiar with the negotiations.

nths of on-again-off-again negotiations, the two companies are now focused on a deal that would combine advertising-related assets – with minimal, if any, money changing hands. An agreement is expected to be struck sometime before year-end, but it is still possible that AOL could choose instead to deepen its relationship with Google at Microsoft's expense.

Posted by dymaxion at 06:48 PM | Comments (0)

30,000 People Mistakenly Put on Terrorist Watch List

This is incredible:

Nearly 30,000 airline passengers discovered in the past year that they were mistakenly placed on federal "terrorist" watch lists, a transportation security official said Tuesday.

When are we finally going to admit that the DHS is incompetent at this?

EDITED TO ADD (12/7): At least they weren't kidnapped and imprisoned for five months, and "shackled, beaten, photographed nude and injected with drugs by interrogators."

Posted by dymaxion at 06:40 PM | Comments (0)

Yahoo to intro new Y! Messenger, 1 cent calling

yahoo video on front page

Watch out Skype, if the rumors are true (the Pressosphere has apparently decided to thumb their collective nose at Yahoo’s non-disclosure embargo), Yahoo is about to introduce a new Voice and I.M. software client for the Y! IM network. It will support 1 cent domestic PSTN phone calling and will be available for Windows first and Mac second. All according to the story at E-Commerce News via the Google News web site. UPDATE: Andy Abramson add his particular flavor here.

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Via The VoIP Weblog

Posted by dymaxion at 06:34 PM | Comments (0)

Skype And Porn?

I actually discussed this exact subject last week with Skype USA GM Henry Gomez.

Gomez feels eBay's past and present practices with Adult content will let them manage this type of content. I'm not so sure. The Skype community is global, all ages and encrypted. The fact that it's encrypted means no one can (or should be able to know) what the content is.

Posted by dymaxion at 06:27 PM | Comments (0)

Cingular Wireless Broadband Goes Live

400-700kbps in 52 communities. Cingular's third generation wireless broadband network has gone live, according to the company's marketing department, which says the service will be available to nearly 35 million people in 52 communities (eventually). The Cingular network is using..

Posted by dymaxion at 06:23 PM | Comments (0)

Search Engine Optimization - A Beginners Guide

An excellent introduction to all things SEO for those new to the game. Covers how search engines operate, keyword research, link building and more.

Posted by dymaxion at 06:19 PM | Comments (0)

EPO and Free PDF Downloads

EPO offers PDF patent downloads now. According to Greg Aharonian @ Internet Patent News Service,

...as of November 4th, the European Patent Office is allowing
people to download a full image copy of any patent in their databases in
PDF format, with just a few clicks (one click to select a full download,
one question box to see if you are human). Then sit back and watch the
download. This, after being able to view individual pages of patents in
PDF format. Goto the espacenet Web page where you can type in a patent


type in a patent number, and after a clicks, voila, you have a PDF file.

Speaking of Internet Patent News Service (PATNEWS), it is an excellent resource for Patent Office controversies, insight into the inner workings of the Patent Office, patent policy, etc. Information on subscribing can be found here.

Posted by dymaxion at 06:12 PM | Comments (0)

The Risk Of Mash-ups

It’s interesting to see how jarring old-world business behaviour is in the new world of blogs, remixing, mashing and market conversations. But I guess it’s also a reminder that the durability of the new world is not to be taken for granted. The latest episode, from Slashdot is this: RISK on Google Maps Shut Down:

Hasbro owns the copyrights for the game of Risk, as the guy who wrote the google maps based Risk found out. This was featured on slashdot earlier. However, he does not seem too discouraged and asks people to submit ideas for other games using google maps that will not have such legal wrangles." One thing this reminded me of is how cool Risk is. My office is now in its 3rd round... Africa will be mine!

The funny thing about all this, as One Tusk.com points out, creating the mash-up (using Google Maps for an online Risk-style game) was great publicity for the game itself:

As a result, he reminded everybody that there was a game called Risk and everyone had a great moment of nostalgia for board games as they paused from salivating over the next console game. But of course, we can't have everyday people out getting people interested in our games–Hasbro's probably gotten more play out of this than any advertising they cooked up themselves.

Hasbro, therefore, would have been much better advised to have considered the situation before leaping for their lawyers. Hasbro has made several variations on the classic board game: one Lord of the Rings version, one set in 2210 AD and one Star Wars version. There are two software versions, I and II. The latter was issued in 2000, a generation ago in gaming terms. Why didn’t they talk with the guy involved, thank him for reviving a near-dead brand, and either hire him or quietly tell him that by calling it something else, or a ‘Risk-like game’, he could keep going?

After all, there are several games out there that describe themselves as “Risk-like”, and, as far as I know they’ve not received any legal letters. There’s Attack! (which carefully only hints at its Risk-like nature), Mare Nostrum, Quest for the Dragon Lords and Empire XP (which decsribes itself as ‘a Windows version of the classic Risk board game’.) (More on Risk, and all the Risk clones, at Wikipedia.) All this makes the heavy-handedness even harder to understand.

Posted by dymaxion at 06:06 PM | Comments (0)

Seoul #1 in hotspots as well

JiWire says we are inching up on 100,000 hotspots, and Seoul has just become the #1 city with most hot-spots.

Posted by dymaxion at 05:47 PM | Comments (0)

Mile by Mile, India Builds Competitive Infrastructure

Amy Waldman notes that in a span of less than 15 years, capitalism and globalization have convulsed India at an unprecedented rate of change. The Indian government has begun a 15-year project to widen and pave some 40,000 miles of narrow, decrepit national highways, with the first leg, to be largely complete by next year( this leg of the project has suffered delays). It amounts to the most ambitious infrastructure project in the last fifty years. She believes that these effort echo the United States' construction of its national highway system in the 1920's and 1950's & notes that these arteries paved across America fueled commerce and development, fed a nation's auto obsession and created suburbs. They also displaced communities and helped sap mass transit and deplete inner cities. For India, already one of the world's fastest-growing economies and most rapidly evolving societies, the results may be as radical. This is highly needed now as indian competitiveness is still suspect in the eyes of experts.
The idea behind the highway is about grafting Western notions of speed and efficiency onto a civilization that has always taken the long view. On every infrastructure front, India has fallen well behind China, although debate over whether the blame for that lies with democracy or just with India's short practice of it is an enduring Indian pastime. Having invested more than 10 times as much as India since the mid-1990's, China has 15 times the expressway length. See this related note here. She believes that the new highway is certain to jump-start India's competitiveness, given that its dismal infrastructure helped keep it behind the economic success stories of its rivals. Infrastructure projects needs to be executed with ruthless efficiency, the goal should be setting new benchmarks and create a world class infrastructure and industry ecosystem in the process. As Dan Fineman once said, China has won the sprint but India shall win the marathon. But India has a long way to go. These infrastructure developments are highly needed in lot more numbers as India is on the cusp of something big.

Category :,

Posted by dymaxion at 05:45 PM | Comments (0)

GPL : Time For Overhaul

The rules governing the use of most free software program are getting revised now. The overhaul of the General Public License, which covers Linux and many other free software programs, is an issue of greater interest today than before. Industry analysts estimate that the value of hardware and software that uses the Linux operating system is $40 billion.This is the third proposed change in GPL standards. There is a public process of comment on GPL3, soliciting feedback on the license draft and defining the way that response to comments and concerns will be addressed moving forward. The new GPL could help overcome several deficiencies, like the one that allows people to use trusted computing to technically comply with the license by publishing their code, but to subvert its purpose by keeping your computer from running the code if you change it. Increasingly, Linux has become a competitive alternative to Microsoft's Windows, especially in corporate data centers. A document that describes the principles and timeline for updating the GPL, as well as the process for public comment and resolving issues, will be posted on the Web, here. RMS sees the revision of the GPL, as part of the long-term effort to liberate cyberspace. All users of free software and opensource software should watch developments centered around this plan .

Category :

Posted by dymaxion at 05:43 PM | Comments (0)

Venezuela Open Source

By nat

Thanks to the tireless efforts of Bruno Souza and other Brazilian activists, the great work going on in Brazil has been widely talked about. I hadn't heard anything about Venezuelan open source, though, until Jeff Zucker dropped me a line. He'd just returned from a conference there and was blown away by the magnitude of the whole country's focus on free and open source projects. Jeff has kindly written a Radar guest blog entry about what he'd seen and why it should be on your radar. --Nat

Posted by dymaxion at 05:42 PM | Comments (0)

The Return of Sails on Commercial Freighters?

I spent much of the weekend tearing apart the outboard motor on my new sailboat. It was really frustrating and I kept looking up at the sails and the mast thinking - I already have two good engines! Why do I need this stinking, finicky piece of metal? Well the reality is, the motor in small boat sailing is used for 2 things - maneuvering in tight quarters, and more importantly, providing a little speed boost when sailing into the wind or in light breezes. (Historical tech trivia - when engines were first introduced to sailboats in the 19th century they were often called the "Iron Jenny" because the large foresail is often called a genoa. Hence "iron" gennie) In that sense, the role of the engine in much modern recreational cruising is to lay down a base supply of power which the sails can augment depending on a couple of factors: 1) how much effort you want to expend trimming the sails, 2) how much wind there is, 3) how wild of a ride you want. So I was thinking - with fuel prices rising, a glut of trans-oceanic shipping capacity looming (and thus margins falling), why aren't we seeing experiments in sail-assisted commercial freighters. Well, a wee bit'o'Googling later, and I found out those ingenious Germans are looking into this very area:
For several weeks last summer, a team of German engineers sailed back and forth across the Baltic Sea playing with a large inflatable kite. The engineers, from the Hamburg company SkySails, were testing the potential of high-tech kites to pull a ship across the ocean by hitching a ride on winds high above the waves. The idea isn't to propel a ship by wind alone - a conventional diesel engine will help it along on days when the wind is blowing from the wrong direction, is too strong or dies away entirely. But since the kite reduces the need to use engines, the team at SkySails believes it can halve the amount of fuel a ship burns.
It's the same basic idea - lay down a base of power with the engine (and run it super-efficient under a near constant load) and tap the wind for that extra boost of speed to keep you moving at the rate of the 21st century global economy. But what makes wind power all the more attractive today is that new technologies, materials and some clever sensing are cutting down the manpower requirements for controlling the sails. Airfoils replace canvas, and cockpit controls replace lines and winches. It's an interesting possible future - maybe one way we can leverage all that climate instability , pushing freighters along in front of those evermore frequent hurricanes!

Posted by dymaxion at 05:39 PM | Comments (0)

Wikipedia Changes a Policy

Remeber the case of John Seigenthaler Sr., a journalist who in USA Today told he found the following entry on him on Wikipedia? "John Seigenthaler Sr. was the assistant to Attorney General Robert Kennedy in the early 1960's. For a brief time, he was thought to have been directly involved in the Kennedy assassinations of both John, and his br ... (Full post)

Posted by dymaxion at 05:37 PM | Comments (0)

Milking a Newspaper Company to Death

Dow Jones: Buyout firms weigh Knight Ridder deal. "It's a very attractive deal to finance with all of the recurring revenue from circulation and advertising, which would argue for a private-equity investment," said Robert Broadwater, head of the newspaper merger practice at New York media investment bank Veronis Suhler Stevenson. "The only issue is its residual value and who would take it off your hands in five years."

By the time the Wall Street barons and their minions get done, the auction block will be a chopping block. I grow more sad by the day watching a company I was proud to work for, at the Detroit Free Press (no longer part of the company) and San Jose Mercury News (which for years was the Bay Area's best newspaper), become fodder for such people.

No one is guaranteed business survival. But when newspapers get milked to death by people who think the public trust is a laughable concept -- certainly alien to "good business" -- we are all the poorer.

Posted by dymaxion at 05:35 PM | Comments (0)

December 01, 2005

Grateful Dead recordings to be reinstated to Internet Archive?

Cory Doctorow: Grateful Dead fan-recordings may return to the Internet Archive, following disavowals by surviving band members of the threats that caused them to be taken down. Last week, I blogged about how the Internet Archive had taken down their repository of fan-recordings of Grateful Dead shows after a set-to with one of Jerry Garcia's widows, and Xeni followed up with a saddened statement from GD lyricist John Perry Barlow.

Now there's an open letter from Phil Lesh, former bassist for the band endorsing the Internet Archive's repository, saying "I was not part of this decision making process...I have enjoyed using Archive.org and found it invaluable during the writing of my book."

A spokesman for the Grateful Dead has attributed the takedown of the recordings to a "communications SNAFU" and promised that they would be reinstated shortly: "It is my understanding that by the end of the day, the audience tapes will be restored to archive.org" Link to article, Link to Lesh letter (Thanks, Breon and Dan!)

Posted by dymaxion at 11:55 PM | Comments (0)

Nose cells may repair spinal injuries

Cory Doctorow: It may be that previously inoperablee nerve damage can be repaired with cells taken from the patient's nose. Nerve fibers in the nose are in constant growth, and because they are from the patient's own body, they don't get rejected by the patient's immune-system.
At least ten operations will be carried out to test in humans a technique pioneered in animals by the neuroscientist Geoffrey Raisman, who heads the spinal repair unit of University College, London. He discovered 20 years ago that cells from the lining of the nose constantly regenerate themselves. Professor Raisman's team believes that if those cells were implanted at the site of the damage they would build a bridge across the break, allowing the nerve fibres to knit back together.
Link (via /.)

Posted by dymaxion at 11:54 PM | Comments (0)

Amateur photographer's bad online experience with a NYC camera shop

Mark Frauenfelder: Thomas Hawk, a dedicated amateur photographer, thought he was getting a good deal on a Canon EOS 5D camera when he ordered it online for $3000. But Hawk says the owner "went ballistic" when hawk refused to buy a bunch of accessories, and that the owner refused to sell him the camera as promised.

Alex Ravenel says: "[Hawk's] post is currently in the 'Popular' list on del.icio.us, has hundreds of comments, and upwards of 4300 Diggs. The scammer has been reported to the NYAG office and the BBB, negative feedback has been listed on every review site the author could find, and the the scammer's office has been flooded with phonecalls and emails."

"I will make sure you will never be able to place an order on the internet again." "I'm an attorney, I will sue you." "I will call the CEO of your company and play him the tape of this phone call." "I'm going to call your local police and have two officers come over and arrest you." "You'd better get this through your thick skull." "You have no idea who you are dealing with."

These are all direct threats that I received today from an individual who identified himself as Steve Phillips, the manager of PriceRitePhoto in Brooklyn, New York when I called to inquire about my order with them. My crime? Telling him that I planned to write an article about my unfortunate experience with his company regarding the camera order I had placed with him yesterday.

Posted by dymaxion at 11:52 PM | Comments (0)

BellSouth Wants to Rig the Internet

PlayfullyClever writes "A senior telecommunications executive at BellSouth, said yesterday that Internet service providers should be allowed to strike deals to give certain Web sites or services priority in reaching computer users, a controversial system that would significantly change how the Internet operates. Some say Small Firms Could Be Shut Out of Market Championed by BellSouth Officer. William L. Smith, chief technology officer for Atlanta-based BellSouth Corp., told reporters and analysts that an Internet service provider such as his firm should be able, for example, to charge Yahoo Inc. for the opportunity to have its search site load faster than that of Google Inc." Next up, well dressed men go door to door collecting their monthly "protection money". 'It sure would be tragic if your users started getting 1500ms ping times, wouldn't it mister dot com?'

Posted by dymaxion at 11:47 PM | Comments (0)

Embattled Diebold withdraws from North Carolina


In a classic case of “if we don’t play my way I’m taking my toys and going home,” electronic voting machine manufacturer Diebold has announced that it will no longer do business in North Carolina because the state refused to grant an exception that would let Diebold keep its source code secret. After more voting machine blunders in 2004 (little things, like how it was discovered that even monkeys can hack Diebold gear), North Carolina passed a law that requires e-voting vendors to place their source codes in escrow as a precaution against future irregularities, meaning that the state is not even asking Diebold to reveal its code publicly. Nonetheless, Diebold claims that because their machines contain some Microsoft software, they don’t have to right to release the code. Okay folks, which explanation sounds more reasonable: A. Diebold is willing to lose an entire state’s worth of business in order to protect Microsoft or themselves on the off-chance of a successful lawsuit or B. Diebold is petrified that their code is so full of security flaws, and other “issues” that should it ever be scrutinized, the company would most likely go out of business? Now before you answer, remember once again that this is Diebold we’re talking about here.

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SPONSORED BY: Age of Empires III - Real-Time Strategy Game Control a European power on a quest to colonize and conquer the New World. AOE3 introduces new gameplay elements, as well as new civilizations, units, and technologies. http://www.ageofempires3.com/

Posted by dymaxion at 11:40 PM | Comments (0)

Montreal 2005: Kyoto Protocol Now has Some Teeth

Yesterday was a historic day. Despite Saudi Arabia's attempts to block the agreement, most of the rules first outlined in the Marrakech Accords of 2001 were approved in Montréal. What this means is that the Kyoto Protocol now has a "rule book" that spells out how emissions will be reported and verified, that gives industrial nations credit if they help developing countries produce clean energy and explains the parameters for emission trading. Another interesting development: China is urging the US... Please click through to continue...

Originally from Treehugger, ReBlogged by emma on Dec 1, 2005 at 02:41 PM

Posted by dymaxion at 11:36 PM | Comments (0)

Easy to Launch Muni-Fi in Big Easy, But Speed Killed in Near Future

Gr2005112900048New Orleans has expanded its previous Tropos-based municipal Wi-Fi network, once used exclusively for public safety: The new network was supposed to be announced today, and most equipment was donated. New Orleans will maintain and operate the system which will start with Internet access in the French Quarter and central business district, two of the less damaged areas.

Louisiana has a law that restricts municipal networks to 144 Kbps, but New Orleans is exempt under emergency rules. They'll run at 512 Kpbs until the emergency is declared over. They plan to outsource their operations, which may allow them to divest their municipal limitations.

The reporter notes the appeal of municipal wireless in the city: "For them, moving to a permanent wireless system is a matter of survival for a city whose future remains uncertain." The map at upper right shows phone and DSL availability at the moment in New Orleans (click through to the article for the full-scale version).

This new network should relieve pressure on licensed-band communications. The city had already migrated to VoIP service before Hurricane Katrina.

Tropos had a number of its units in New Orleans prior to the hurricane; they supplied another 100, donating half and Intel paying for the other half.

Posted by dymaxion at 11:26 PM | Comments (0)

Orlando Offers Free Wi-Fi at Airport

The Orlando International Airport turns on an Alcatel-built Wi-Fi network with no-cost service: The system was designed for public access and operational uses. The airport authority's IT director misspeaks, however, when he says such a capability is rare in a ground-up airport Wi-Fi network: "It is uncommon for a network to be designed from the ground up to service both public and private needs."

That's only true of some of the original Wi-Fi networks built in the early part of this century. Newer wireless networks typically encompass support for authority and airline uses as a separate function of the network. It's likely that a minority of deployed airports offer this, but the majority of new and in-progress rollouts consider that a prime goal.

Update: An anonymous correspondent says the Orlando Sentinel report I link to above got it wrong: It's Airespace, not Alcatel.

Posted by dymaxion at 11:25 PM | Comments (0)

Tip: When Plotting To Kill Your Wife, Clear Your Cache Often

This is relatively old news (the trial has been going for a while) but yesterday the computer consultant who was charged with killing his wife (and using Google searches to figure out how) was convicted.

From a Nov 11 TechWeb story: Prosecutors claim a Mac specialist on trial in connection with the killing of his wife did a Google search for the words: "neck snap break" and "hold" before she was killed.

m today's story: Petrick, who's already in prison on fraud charges, pointed out that the searches weren't linked to a user name and therefore couldn't be pinned on him. He said his wife could have looked up some of the material because she had studied martial arts. He said someone who liked to fish or sail could have looked up the lake information. Investigators said they couldn't find other fishing or sailing-related searches.

defense didn't work....

Posted by dymaxion at 11:23 PM | Comments (0)

Construction of ICANN's Red Light District Put On Hold

ICANN's plans to implement a .xxx domain are in limbo after their consideration was removed from the agenda of a meeting, with no word on when or if they'd be brought up again. There's been plenty of controversy since the plans were initially approved back in June (as there have been since it was devised years ago), and it's unclear just why it's been dropped. The official line is that ICANN's governmental advisory committee needs more time to review a 350-page report on .xxx that was released only this week, even though it was completed in August, but rumors say there was some high-level intervention from an EU commissioner, but the safer bet would be on pressure from the US government, whose conservative allies aren't happy with the idea of a porn-only domain. If the latter is true, it's certain to raise more questions about US government control of the Internet, and ICANN in particular.

Posted by dymaxion at 11:17 PM | Comments (0)

IRS Offers Up Stupid Redirect Links To Help Phishers Steal Money

Too many sites that are trying to track what people click on when leaving a site offer up "open redirect links" which basically let's a site append an outside URL to the end of one of its own URLs and have traffic flow right through to that second site. This may be useful in easily tracking what links people click on to leave a site, but they're also perfect for phishing scammers, who use them to trick people into believing that they're going to a legitimate site. And, what better site to scam people than the IRS's site? Turns out that the IRS's special govbenefits.gov site uses open redirects that phishers are already using to steal money. They convince people they're going to the IRS site, when they're simply passing right through to the scammer's site. Our tax money at work. Update: Good point made in the comments. The site itself is not actually the IRS's but another government agency's. The scam, however, is about a tax refund.

Posted by dymaxion at 11:14 PM | Comments (0)

Heroine Sheik

Heroine Sheik was created as a space to express ideas about gender and sexuality as they relate to video games and the larger entity of gaming culture.

Posted by dymaxion at 11:13 PM | Comments (0)

Kevin Marks Accuses Adam Curry of writing him out of Podcasting History

Oh this is a juicy development, and up to this point I did not know that Kevin Marks had done a demo at Bloggercon in 2003 this is what Kevin is accusing Adam of removing.

"At the BloggerCon Conference in October 2003, [[Kevin Marks]] demonstrated a script to download RSS enclosures to iTunes and synchronize them onto an iPod"

See the edit sequence 1st, 2nd

Being I am fairly certain that this is a true statement, I base this on the fact that I knew who Kevin Marks was long before I had ever head of Adam Curry. (I missed his MTV years while overseas) this effects a couple of paragraphs in my book, this information was not available in February of this year when I was writing the history section to bad really as it would have been placed in the correct context. For the life of me though this is the first time I have ever heard this. But I don't doubt it.

This is one of the problems with Wikipedia anyone can change it and boy when your IP is traced back to you this sure can cause some problems. [Kevin Marks]

Posted by dymaxion at 11:09 PM | Comments (0)

Google and Privacy

Daniel Solove on Google and privacy:

A New York Times editorial observes:
At a North Carolina strangulation-murder trial this month, prosecutors announced an unusual piece of evidence: Google searches allegedly done by the defendant that included the words "neck" and "snap." The data were taken from the defendant's computer, prosecutors say. But it might have come directly from Google, which -- unbeknownst to many users -- keeps records of every search on its site, in ways that can be traced back to individuals.

This is an interesting fact -- Google keeps records of every search in a way that can be traceable to individuals. The op-ed goes on to say:

Google has been aggressive about collecting information about its users' activities online. It stores their search data, possibly forever, and puts "cookies" on their computers that make it possible to track those searches in a personally identifiable way -- cookies that do not expire until 2038. Its e-mail system, Gmail, scans the content of e-mail messages so relevant ads can be posted. Google's written privacy policy reserves the right to pool what it learns about users from their searches with what it learns from their e-mail messages, though Google says it won't do so. . . .

The government can gain access to Google's data storehouse simply by presenting a valid warrant or subpoena. . . .

mportant point. No matter what Google's privacy policy says, the fact that it maintains information about people's search activity enables the government to gather that data, often with a mere subpoena, which provides virtually no protection to privacy -- and sometimes without even a subpoena.

Solove goes on to argue that if companies like Google want to collect people's data (even if people are willing to supply it), the least they can do is fight for greater protections against government access to that data. While this won't address all the problems, it would be a step forward to see companies like Google use their power to foster meaningful legislative change.

Posted by dymaxion at 11:07 PM | Comments (0)

Redmond Mulls Emergency Patch but why the concern now!

Why is Microsoft all of a sudden worried about issuing an emergency patch to fix a gaping hole in Internet Explorer. The reason they are worried now is that a "0" day exploit has shown up in the wild and is destroying computers. Microsoft needs to have a more aggressive stance in being pro-active in finding these problems before hackers do. But this company has gotten so big they don't know what the word agile means anymore.

Wasn't Bill Gates on this bandwagon saying security is our number one concern some time ago? I am not buying it to me they are talking out both sides of their mouth's and this time people will likely get spanked because they are to slow to react. Use some of those billions you have Bill and pay some people overtime and don't tell me you don't have enough people, guess what you have had plenty of time to hire people.

Leadership starts at the top and I think I would be paying a visit to my departments every day and putting some pressure on those in charge to get these ongoing security holes patched quicker. You got money lets throw some of it at the problem. Here is a idea you need to hire about 100 of the best hackers and crackers you can find, pay them a boat load of money and have them do nothing but try to exploit your program, find out where your true weak points are instead of inviting hackers in every six months for show and tell. Money talks bullshit walks and your customers are going to wake up with machines that have been destroyed, memories, lost, identities stolen or worse. You say your concerned about security yet we just don't see it on this side of the fence.

This is one of the reasons I tell every person I can use Firefox don't be stupid and use Internet Explorer, it has more holes in it than swiss cheese Firefox is not immune but it doesn't take them six months to patch a bug either. [eWeek.com]

Posted by dymaxion at 10:59 PM | Comments (0)

Skype 2.0 Does Video

The Wall Street Journal jumps the embargo due to the way their computer system puts stories to bed. But Walt's, review is rather deep, and in typical style very detailed.

I'll have more in the morning after I've digested the release and spoken to some Skype people.

Posted by dymaxion at 10:37 PM | Comments (0)

Global robot exhibition gets under way

The 2005 International Robot Exhibition, one of the world's largest of its kind, opened Wednesday at the Tokyo International Exhibition Center, also known as Tokyo Big Sight, for a four-day run through Saturday.

Posted by dymaxion at 10:34 PM | Comments (0)

Google & The MSOs

Earlier this year, when announcing their bid for the San Francisco wireless network, Google executives indicated that they plan to work closely with the incumbents including cable operators and the phone companies. Given the antagonistic stance taken by some Bell executives, it is safer that Google might be looking to work closely with MSOs on its next generation efforts such as video and voice over the Internet. Proof of this direction might be found in this job posting. The company is currently seeking software engineers who have ability to work cable systems. Amongst the requirements include experience in DOCSIS and DVB.

The details of posting indicate that Google is looking to take its “television” effort into the incumbent networks, and also extend them to the “third screen,” i.e. the mobile handset. As companies like Nokia and Qualcomm roll out their mobile video-only networks, Google could easily become one (or more) channel on those devices. On a more speculative tip, it could also mean that Google is looking to take a page out of Yahoo’s incumbent-partnership strategy and become a partner for non-US telecoms. They have a partnership with T-Mobile/Deutsche Telekom. Have a look at the posting, and see what you think, and comeback and leave a comment.

Update: Cynthia adds, “Comcast took the extraordinary step of partnering with Google for a bid on a share of AOL. And Comcast CEO Brian Roberts said he wanted to turn his company into the “Google” of video. “

Posted by dymaxion at 09:57 PM | Comments (0)

Software Services : Trust & Morality

Alex Bosworth writes, as the software industry changes from shrink wrapped product development to a service model, not only does the model for developing and distributing software change, but also the model for how a company must conduct itself changes.He points out that every search, every click, the time spent lingering on a photo, the choice of wording and revision in an essay, the pattern of trips taken, the record of purchases made are all easily captured and stored forever by a web-service. Unlike the user of a packaged software product, there is very little control a user of a web-service has over this data collection. GMail may appear to delete email when 'trashed', but closer inspection reveals no firm guarantee the email ever disappears from their data centers, and certainly not at the time a user clicks delete forever. Detailed personal data that lasts lifetimes, bits don't have a built in expiration date. He points to TiVo users complaining about about embarrassing profiles. Software services have increasing potential to profile and people on a much grander scale than what television a person might want to watch.Rogue nations can profile and target people for imprisonment or reprisal based on web-service data mining as Google has the potential to deliver personalized advertisements. Social software offers a new degree of concerns, as these aim to graph your entire network of friends and acquaintances. Suddenly services don't simply know as much information about you as you release yourself, they also know what your friends think about you and information about them as well. Social software is at such an early stage, it's hard to think of all the abuses this information could create, however abuses of this information trust already exist. Sony slipping DRM rootkits on their CDs can erase a lifetime of good will. The only way to restore or create trust is by over time and repetition creating a pattern of ethical decisions. Look at RFID privacy related issues, online tracking facilities, spyware – we are indeed in a cocooned web world. James Governor points to the customer respect report and notes that IBM, SAP, Microsoft and not one of the Web 2.0 leviathans, Google, Yahoo, eBay is on the list as "excellent" & wonders whether or not customer respect is not an essential part of a succesful online business model!!.Surprising considering the fact that an the list looked different an year back. The most important thing for services and users of services to realize is that trust is an extremely valuable commodity that is hard won and easily lost.

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Posted by dymaxion at 09:48 PM | Comments (0)

The Rising Patent Wave

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) has out its 2005 annual report, and it was another bumper year for volumes recorded on patnet filings.The USPTO hired a record 978 patent examiners, exceeding FY 2005 hiring goal by approximately 100 and a 3 percent increase over FY 2004 PCT applications. Additionally, 111,672 provisional applications were received.In FY 2005, 152,090 UPR and 13,395

Posted by dymaxion at 09:31 PM | Comments (0)

RSS of All Google Blogs

Danny was asking for a "unified RSS feed" for all official Google Blogs... so here goes. (Again, the order for old posts shown at the moment is random, this will be correct for all new Google posts from now on.) (Full post)

Posted by dymaxion at 09:24 PM | Comments (0)

Virtual Autopsy

During the past 18 months, radiologists in Sweden have performed more than 100 virtual autopsies on murder victims, according to Anders Ynnerman, a professor in the Department of Science and Technology at Linköpings University, who also works at the Center for Medical Image Science and Visualization (CMIV) in Linköping. Ynnerman says evidence from virtual autopsies has been used to clarify the cause of death in several criminal trials in Sweden. [video (real) (wma)]

via Medgadget

Virtopsy | born from the desire to implement new techniques in radiology for the benefit of forensic science.

Posted by dymaxion at 09:19 PM | Comments (0)