Thursday, August 24, 2006

It's that Dell/Sony thing again...

Japan: Sony, Dell Must Probe Batteries

By HIROKO TABUCHI Associated Press Writer Aug 24, 8:21 AM EDT

TOKYO (AP) -- Japan's trade ministry on Thursday ordered Sony Corp. and Dell Inc. to investigate the trouble involving Sony batteries that caused Dell to recall 4.1 laptop computers last week because they were at risk of catching fire.

The ministry said Sony and Dell must report on their findings and say how they will prevent future problems by the end of August, or face a fine under Japan's consumer safety laws.

Hey buddy, are you using that Osama inspired laptop battery?”

Qantas Airline Has New Rules For Dells

MrBabyMan submitted by MrBabyMan 13 hours 35 minutes ago (via )

If you've got a Dell laptop and you're going to be flying Qantas sometime soon, be aware of their new rules regarding your precious lappy. One is to remove your battery and move up to first or business class and power your computer via power supply.

[From the article: However, some airports are making people tape up their batteries entirely, which means your laptop's only usable if you plug it in.

I thought this violated my “Only tell them bad news on Friday” rule, 'till I read the last sentence...

Education Dept. says personal data at risk

Agency arranging free credit monitoring for 21,000 student-loan borrowers

By Hope Yen Associated Press Updated: 6:10 p.m. MT Aug 23, 2006

WASHINGTON - The Education Department said Wednesday it would arrange for free credit monitoring for as many as 21,000 student loan borrowers after their personal data appeared on its Web site.

Terri Shaw, the department’s chief operating officer for federal student aid, said the people involved are holders of federal direct student loans who used the department’s loan Web site — — between Sunday and Tuesday.

... Education Department officials blamed the breach on a routine [but apparently untested... Bob] software upgrade, conducted by Dallas-based contractor Affiliated Computers Services Inc., that mixed up data for different borrowers when users accessed the Web site. Since Sunday, 26 borrowers have complained.

... The Web site program includes names, birthdates, Social Security numbers, addresses, phone numbers and in some cases account information for holders of federal direct student loans. It does not involve those who have loans managed through private companies.

... The Boston Globe first reported the Education Department’s glitch on Wednesday.

Ignore what we said earlier, we didn't actually say that... Okay, I did, but I had my fingers crossed...

Qwest says not calling for data retention laws

Wed Aug 23, 2006 11:11 PM ET

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Telephone and broadband Web provider Qwest Communications International Inc. on Wednesday denied that it is calling for federal data retention laws in a statement responding to a story on Web site.

... Mardosz disputed the report, saying she had been talking about Colorado State laws that are already in place, not showing support for proposed federal laws.

"I misspoke," Mardosz told Reuters in a phone interview. "If there are proposals at the state or federal level we want to be involved at the table when those discussions happen. We're not asking for it."

It's not stealing, donations are voluntary!

Child porn spam hides Trojan

Posted by Reverend on 23 Aug 2006 - 20:42 GMT

Techzonez Cyber-criminals have launched a "massive spoof email attack" that accuses victims of being associated with a child porn site in a bid to trick them into downloading malware.

The messages, which use the subject line 'CP investigation was started', claim that the recipient's email address has been found in a child porn database discovered by the Association of Sites Advocating Child Protection (ASACP).

The email actually contains the Agent-CPK Trojan horse.

The ASACP has published a warning on its website, informing recipients of the message that they may be at risk of infection.

Part of the malicious email reads as follows:

'I'd like to inform you that investigating activity of the one of child porno sites; we found e-mails data base, in which was your e-mail . In view of this, I have two versions: either you are the client of this shop, or your e-mail appeared there accidentally. I sincerely hope that it was accidental coincidence and believe that you are interested in this version as well. If you show a good will, make modest, voluntary donation on our site [URL removed] I will be convinced in your being not implicated in this business.'

Full story: vnunet

This is merely a foretaste.

Diebold Flops in Alaska

Posted by samzenpus on Thursday August 24, @03:54AM from the they-usually-work-so-well dept. Politics Technology

lukej writes "From the Anchorage Daily News, During yesterday's preliminary and ballot measure election across Alaska, Diebold built voting machines failed to 'phone home' causing a hand recount. As a party spokesperson said: "I can say there are many systematic problems with Diebold machines that have been identified in many contexts." Additionally, the state itself has mandated some hand counts of all electronic results, [..uh...How can you recount electrons? Bob] and the Democratic Party is simply suggesting voters request paper voting."

Is this the way to do it? What if one of those random searches is “How do I join Al Quada?”

TrackMeNot Firefox Extension Obfuscates Your Search History

Posted on Monday, August 21st, 2006 at 4:03 pm

As concerns about the privacy of one’s search engine history steadily increase, various solutions have been offered to help avoid the wholesale surveillance and aggregation of one’s search queries. While most solutions rely on attempts to cloak one’s IP address, a new solution instead relies on obfuscation: TrackMeNot.

Developed by Daniel Howe and Helen Nissenbaum, TrackMeNot (TMN) is a Firefox extension (download here) that protects against search data profiling by issuing randomized queries to popular search-engines with fake data:

I'll be sending a few hundred nominees...

Gongs on offer for stupid security measures

By John Leyden Published Tuesday 22nd August 2006 10:43 GMT

Human rights watchdog Privacy International has re-launched its hunt for the World's most stupid security measures.

The "Stupid Security" awards aims to highlight the absurdities of so-called security procedures that make little contribution to real security improvements. The international compo aims to unearth the world's most pointless, intrusive, stupid and self-serving security measures.

... "The situation has become ridiculous" said Davies. "Security has become the smokescreen for incompetent and robotic managers the world over".

Although the airline industry has become the most prominent offender in introducing pointless security measures it is far from alone in its folly. For example, a rail company recently banned ( train-spotters on the grounds of security. Meanwhile the security desk of a US office building complained because paramedics rushing to attend a heart-attack victim had failed to sign-in.

The Streisand Effect

Home Office in trouble for advertising porn sites

By Lucy Sherriff Published Wednesday 23rd August 2006 12:03 GMT

The Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) has sent the Home Office to sit on the naughty stair [I wish I spoke English, they have such interesting phrases... Bob] after complaints about a radio campaign promoting online child safety that sent listeners to porn sites instead.

The ad, which was to promote an online child safety website, directed listeners to check out the site at Sadly for the Home Office (no, really, our hearts are bleeding), there is also a website called which lists various services such as web hosting, broadband providers, car insurance, online dating and so on.

Just one more click, the complainants said, will lead you to adult chatrooms, including, which advertises itself as follows: "Find your kinky kicks here! Erotic chat, casual hot sex & more."

... It said: "This was particularly concerning as the ad was aimed at teenagers and the service being promoted was to help them stay safe online."

This could never happen here... (See next article),,20234772-1702,00.html?from=rss

Privacy concerns over Centrelink breaches

August 24, 2006 02:43am

PRIVACY advocates have serious concerns about the Federal Government's proposed Smartcard after Centrelink staff were caught inappropriately accessing client records.

Six hundred Centrelink staff were caught using sophisticated spyware programs to browse the welfare records of friends, family, neighbours and ex-lovers without authorisation.

A total of 19 Centrelink employees were sacked and 92 resigned after 790 cases of inappropriate access were uncovered.

See... They promise!,1925,KSHB_9424_4939005,00.html

Privacy concerns continue to bedevil livestock ID program

August 23, 2006

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) – U.S. Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns assured livestock owners Wednesday that information collected in a planned animal identification program will be kept confidential and used only in the event of a disease outbreak.

Why would a Capitalist Tool become politically correct? yanks articles over marrying-career-women flap

August 23, 2006 9:40 PM PDT

Bowing to blogospheric criticism, Forbes deleted two articles from its Web site on Wednesday, one of which was titled "Don't marry career women."

Someone gets it!

August 23, 2006

Appeals Court's Website Features RSS, Audio Recordings

Press release: "...the Seventh Circuit is the first federal court of appeals to make RSS feeds of opinions and audio recordings of oral arguments available from its Web site .

...but ANYONE can do the obvious. We're the FBI, we have to do it the Jedger way.

August 23, 2006

Judge Cites Google Searching in FBI FOIA Case

FindLaw: "A federal judge scolds the FBI in a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit for failing to "just Google" the names of people about whom plaintiffs sought audio recordings and other information in their litigation. According to Judge Garland, "Surely, in the Internet age, a "reasonable alternative" for finding out whether a prominent person is dead is to use Google (or any other search engine) to find a report of that person’s death." John Davis v. U.S. Dept. of Justice, August 22, 2006.

Did you think Public meant “except for some people?”

August 23, 2006

China Downloading DoD Data According to Warfighting Info Tech Director

Government Computer News: "China has downloaded 10 to 20 terabytes of data from the NIPRNet (DOD's Non-Classified IP Router Network)," said Maj. Gen. William Lord, director of information, services and integration in the Air Force's Office of Warfighting Integration and Chief Information Officer, during the recent Air Force IT Conference in Montgomery, Ala."

Perhaps this is another case for the Virtual Law specialists?

Brazil Tries To Shut Down Google, After Talking To The Wrong People

from the take-that dept

This fight has been brewing for a while, as the Brazilian government has been demanding information from Google on certain users of its Orkut social networking site, which is used mostly by Brazilians. Now, Brazil is officially suing Google for failing to comply, and is also beginning procedures to shut down its local office in Brazil. Of course, there are a few problems with this lawsuit. First, when presented with the proper evidence, Google did shut down parts of Orkut that were being used for illegal activity. However, much more problematic is that Google has pointed out that Brazil keeps pressuring the company's Brazilian office, which is only an ad sales office and has nothing to do with Orkut at all. Google has noted repeatedly that Orkut is entirely run on U.S. soil, and therefore is subject to U.S., not Brazilian, laws. It seems a little unfair for Brazil to be punishing a totally unrelated Brazilian office just because it's what's there.

Another area of “virtual law?”

Starwood Tests Space Before Breaking Ground

The conglomerate behind Westin and Sheraton is launching a new chain of sleek hotels. The first one is open for business in cyberspace

By Reena Jana

This seems reasonable to me, but then I hold a patent on “a medium of exchange for use in real-time transactions” -- I call it “Currently” and I'm suing the Treasury for violating my Trademark (They called theirs “Currency” and thought I wouldn't notice...)

Flat Rate Pricing For Wireless Service? Patented!

from the oh,-come-on dept

Seems like today's been quite the day for patent related stories. Just as we were discussing the question of obviousness when it comes to patents, comes the news of mobile operator Leap Wireless' patent lawsuit against Metro PCS. Apparently, Leap was able to get a business method patent on offering flat-rate pricing for a mobile phone service. Note that this patent was filed in 2001, when flat-rate pricing was very much the standard for internet access. It seems positively obvious that someone would eventually offer flat-rate service for mobile phones as well. In fact, there were flat-rate, no roaming charge mobile plans well before 2001. I remember AT&T Wireless (the old one) offering such a plan around 1998. Reading the patent, though, Leap makes it sound like some amazing new invention that has wonderfully mysterious properties to increase capacity while lowering peak capacity. So, can someone explain how this idea could possibly be called "new and non-obvious"? Then, can you explain how it helps the market in the slightest to have Leap try to block the competition from offering a flat-rate pricing plan as well?

Somehow, I doubt this...

Viruses and Spyware Cost Users $7.8 Billion

August 23, 2006 7:38AM

"It's hard to tell who's losing the money -- the insurance company, the credit card company or the consumer -- but it's coming out of someone's pockets," said Dan Hubbard, vice president of security and research for Websense Inc.

Consumers paid as much $7.8 billion over two years to repair or replace computers that got infected with viruses and spyware, a Consumer Reports survey found.

That figure was down from a similar survey a year ago.

Seems reasonable. In 1982, the wife and I founded the US Gelding Breeders Association, and trademarked the term “Clip Art”

Cloned Beef: It's what's for dinner

parislemon submitted by parislemon 14 hours 9 minutes ago (via )

"What if you could carve off a chunk of the most succulent slab of steak you've ever eaten, clone a bull from it, then produce weeks of identically delectable dinners? Irina Polejaeva, chief embryologist at ViaGen, a livestock-cloning lab in Austin, Texas, aims to bring cloned beef to the American dinner table within the next few years."

[From the article:

Why clone from dead animals?

It’s hard to evaluate whether a live animal will produce great meat.

Today's Dilbert pretty neatly sums up Worker's Rights law

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