Saturday, July 22, 2006

July 22, 2006

This video salutes Bill Gates.

Is this one for the ethics seminar or what?

Enron Jury Sent the Right Message

Published: July 21, 2006 Author: Malcolm S. Salter

... Executive Summary:

Although the actions of Enron's executives were in many areas neither clearly legal nor illegal, jurors sent an unambiguous message that all executives should heed: Truth telling and ethical discipline are the cornerstone values in corporate governance. Key concepts include:

* Executives can be convicted in a court of law for a pattern of deception, even when it is not illegal.

* Firms that focus on exploiting the rules rather than building a sound business often lose their way.

The MySpace Ecosystem

Posted by Zonk on Friday July 21, @02:25PM from the wretched-hive-of-scum-and-villainy dept. Businesses The Internet

conq writes "BusinessWeek has an article on how MySpace is developing its own ecosystem in the same way that Microsoft did it with Windows, and Apple with the iPod. From the article: 'Now, MySpace is beginning to create its own ecosystem of third-party companies that are developing features and applications for the giant digital community. The idea is to encourage other companies to use their creativity and expertise to come up with things for MySpace users that MySpace itself hasn't. That could be anything from letting people add to their MySpace home pages from a mobile phone or creating a slide show of their favorite MySpace photos."

Howard Rheingold On Our Mobile World

Posted by Zonk on Saturday July 22, @03:39AM from the interconnectedness dept. The Internet Communications Technology

Roland Piquepaille writes "Howard Rheingold is the well-known author of "Smart Mobs" and many other books describing the evolution of our societies. His last book predicted the transformation of our society into a mobile one. Four years later, his forecast is more than confirmed. As one of the futurologists who can detect the emerging technology trends behind our daily lives, I wanted to know what Howard was thinking in 2006. He was kind enough to agree for an interview which was conducted by e-mail in mid-June. We discuss the importance of mobile technology, blogs, the changing climate, and the future of surveillance" From the article: "The power of the technologies packed into mobile devices continues to multiply, the diffusion of devices to all parts of the world and socioeconomic strata broadens, the spread of knowledge about how to use technologies to organize political, economic, social, cultural collective action quickens. It is in the convergence of the technical, cognitive, and social forces generates that the real power of smart mobs -- for both constructive and destructive."

Potential speaker?

Homeland Security hires new privacy chief

By Anne Broache Story last modified Fri Jul 21 19:06:53 PDT 2006

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security on Friday tapped one of its own lawyers to become its next privacy chief.

Hugo Teufel III had been serving as an associate general counsel for the department. Before that, he was an associate solicitor at the Department of the Interior, the deputy solicitor general for the state of Colorado, and an attorney in private practice.

"Hugo is highly regarded throughout the department and the legal community for his expertise on privacy, employee relations and civil rights issues," Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said in a statement, adding that the appointee has earned his "complete confidence and support."

Congress created the chief privacy officer position in 2002 with the intent of making it a watchdog over the intersection of new technologies and federal security activities.

Teufel will become the third person--and second permanent appointee--to fill those shoes. He replaces acting Chief Privacy Officer Maureen Cooney, who plans in September to start as a senior policy adviser for global privacy strategies at Hunton & Williams, a New York City law firm.

If you treat it as a free job ad, it might fly.,1759,1992897,00.asp?kc=EWRSS03119TX1K0000594

Programmers Guild Pushes for H-1B Transparency

July 21, 2006 By Deborah Rothberg

A request for the public release of data containing the names of the companies requesting H-1B temporary workers and the positions they are being hired for was filed in a public letter to the Department of Labor July 18 by the Programmers Guild, an IT advocacy group.

In the open letter to William Carlson, chief of the Division of Foreign Labor Certification, Programmers Guild President Kim Berry requested on behalf of the "displaced, unemployed, and underemployed U.S. tech workers" that the FY 2007 LCA (Labor Conditions Applications) database be made publicly viewable, so that U.S. tech workers can apply for these positions while they are still open.

Berry reminded Carlson in the letter that "although LCAs are public records, U.S. workers do not have access to these records," and likened the records' lack of public availability to "choosing to reserve 65,000 U.S. jobs exclusively for foreign workers."

Imagine what it can do with inconvenient photographic evidence!

Tourist Remover

You probably took home some fantastic memories from your last vacation. That trip to Bangkok or London or Paris was the perfect opportunity to relax and experience another culture. You shot scores of photos at every major landmark, temple, church, beach, museum and public square. But when you got home and started looking through all of your pictures, something about them felt a little... off. Not quite perfect. What's the problem, you asked yourself. Then you realized it: In each carefully framed photo of Notre Dame, the building is obscured by some huckster selling newspapers or chewing gum. In an otherwise brilliantly composed shot of Koh Samui, there's a shirtless, sunburned retiree in gym shorts sucking down a melting gelato.

Never again, I tell you. Never again will your beautiful holiday photos be mucked up by those unphotogenic rubes. Now, there's Tourist Remover.

The new web service from futureLAB is part of their online photo management tool, Snapmania. It's pretty simple to use -- just take multiple photos (4 or 5 usually does the trick, according to their how-to) of the same scene using a tripod, then feed the photos into your Snapmania account. Tourist Remover will take information from all of your photos and eliminate the differences, leaving you with a clean, obstruction-free view of the subject in the background.

Waiting For A Digital Disaster

from the no-silver-lining dept

There's no question that the current model of law enforcement isn't adequate to deal with cyber-crime, with all its complexity. While there are occasionally high-profile cases, it's a lot harder to patrol an area and prevent day-to-day crimes. At least one FBI agent believes the government won't make the sweeping changes necessary to fight cyber-crime until there's a "digital Enron", an event severe and shocking enough to force the government's hand. It's true that the government tends to react to major events (Enron, 9/11, Katrina) to make changes instead of doing so proactively, and it's disturbing that such critical legislation tends to be made in a time of panic. Rushing Sarbanes-Oxley through, at a time when people were outraged over Enron, clearly had major unseen consequences. It's scary to think what the equivalent of a digital Sarbanes-Oxley would look like, should we ever have a digital Enron.

Now do you see why top executives earn the big bucks?

Since When Did Phone Service Cost $13,000 Per Year?

from the cha-ching dept

The Universal Service Fund is a rather mysterious thing, its only visible effect for most people being the 10% or so tax on their phone bills that funds it. The idea behind the fund is that it's supposed to subsidize phone service in rural areas or to people who couldn't otherwise afford it, but unsurprisingly, taxpayers don't look to be getting much value for the $7 billion they pay into the fund each year. A new study says that the government is paying up to $13,345 per telephone line for subsidized USF service -- meaning it would be far cheaper to simply buy people cell phones to use and pay for the service. The study further underlines what others have said about the USF: it encourages inefficiency, acts as a barrier to competition and, ultimately, harms those it's supposed to help by stifling newer, better technologies that can provide better service, much more cheaply.

SCO Claims IBM Destroyed Crucial Evidence

Daniel Lyons, 07.20.06, 6:10 PM ET

The SCO Group versus IBM lawsuit is growing ever more desperate--and ever more weird.

The latest twist: Buried in a new filing from SCO is a claim that International Business Machines destroyed evidence by ordering its programmers to delete copies of software code that could have helped SCO prove its case.

SCO alleges this happened in 2003, yet the company has never talked about it in public before.

However, an attorney for SCO says the code deletion is one reason why the Lindon, Utah, software maker has been unable to comply with a demand that it produce examples of allegedly stolen code. [So the code was never published? Bob]

"It's kind of hard for us to do that," says Brent Hatch, an attorney with Hatch, James & Dodge in Salt Lake City, "because we don't have it. It was destroyed before it could be given to us."

SCO sued IBM in March 2003, claiming IBM took code from Unix, for which SCO holds some copyrights, and put it into Linux, [“ but we can't find it because they deleted it before they released it.” Huh? Bob which is distributed at no cost.

The case is scheduled for trial in 2007 and could have huge implications for the popular Linux operating system, which is promoted by Red Hat, Novell, Hewlett-Packard and others.

Last month, SCO suffered a setback when Magistrate Judge Brooke C. Wells of the U.S. District Court in Utah tossed out two-thirds of SCO's claims against IBM, because SCO had refused, after repeated requests, to provide specific details about which lines of code were stolen.

The 100 science fiction books you just have to read!

iSlayer submitted by iSlayer 6 hours 58 minutes ago (via )

"Take my word for it; all science fiction books are not created equal. Many of these novels are award winners, and most have inspired profound trends in science fiction."

Friday, July 21, 2006

July 21, 2006

This is a bit geeky, but worth reading... Would you expect the Wharton B-school to publish articles like these?

Tantek Çelik and Rohit Khare: The Progress and the Promise of Microformats

Published: July 20, 2006 in Knowledge@Wharton

The microformats movement was officially launched with the unveiling of the website one year ago at Supernova 2005. At that time, Knowledge@Wharton spoke with Tantek Çelik, one of the founders of, about his vision for a more flexible worldwide web with content that can be easily interpreted, collected, and repurposed for other applications.

Microformats are simple extensions to the standard HTML tags used to create web pages. By including the additional microformat markup, web pages go from merely presenting the visual display of content to embodying its meaning. When a traditional web page contains information about an event, for example, the HTML markup conveys little more than the formatting of the text describing the event. But the addition of microformatting can unambiguously identify the date, start time, end time, and venue for the event. With microformat extensions added to the HTML tags, software can add the event to a personal datebook, aggregate content from different web pages into a comprehensive calendar, or let people "mash up" the content in new ways such as adding events to online maps or other web pages.

Same comment, geeky but interesting.

The Rise of the 'Videonet'

Published: July 20, 2006 in Knowledge@Wharton

A couple of years ago, only a handful of Internet sites existed for publishing videos uploaded by users. Today there are more than 225 such sites, providing the infrastructure to deliver videos created by amateurs and professionals alike.

What's next? As video content -- the distribution of which has been historically controlled by a few broadcast networks and cable companies -- meets the decentralized, user-centric worldwide web, are we seeing the dawn of a new medium, a "videonet" that will redefine the media landscape? At the recent Supernova 2006 conference co-hosted by Wharton in San Francisco, a panel of video entrepreneurs and industry experts predicted that virtually every organization marketing to consumers -- from TV stations and sports teams to soft drink and detergent makers -- will rapidly develop a video presence on the Internet. And it may not stop there. If video publishing grows at rate similar to that of websites and blogs in recent years, what does it mean for traditional broadcasters, businesses, and users alike?

Article three. A new area for the Privacy Foundation?

What's the Future of Desktop Software -- and How Will It Affect Your Privacy?

Published: July 20, 2006 in Knowledge@Wharton

Twenty years ago, the personal computer began to revolutionize the way we work and play. In recent years, though, the Internet has been the primary source of technological innovation, offering us everything from online auctions to networked research libraries. As web-based applications encroach on the desktop's turf and a myriad of smart "devices" perform increasingly computer-like functions, will traditional desktop software begin to fade away? And, what are the implications of moving from a private desktop to Internet-based computing, especially when it comes to sharing personal and financial data and protecting individual privacy?

99% of consumers hate it, so why do publishers love it?

The History of Hacking DRM

Posted by Zonk on Thursday July 20, @04:13PM from the proud-tradition dept. Encryption Music Movies

phaedo00 writes "Ars Technica writer Nate Anderson has penned an in-depth look into past DRM-crackings and what the future looks like for people who are vehemently anti-DRM: 'Like a creeping fog, DRM smothers more and more media in its clammy embrace, but the sun still shines down on isolated patches of the landscape. This isn't always due to the decisions of corporate executives; often it's the work of hackers who devote considerable skill to cracking the digital locks that guard everything from DVDs to e-books. Their reasons are complicated and range from the philosophical to the criminal, but their goals are the same: no more DRM.'"

Woody Allen started his career with “What's up tiger lily?” so maybe this has a future!

Former Host and Writer of MST3K Launches RiffTrax

Posted by CowboyNeal on Thursday July 20, @08:14PM from the invention-exchange dept. Movies It's funny. Laugh. Sci-Fi

dougman writes "Today James Lileks mentioned his 'friend and all-around comic genius/good egg Michael J. Nelson' called, to tell him about his brilliant new project, RiffTrax. Here's the pitch: ' commentary tracks. Bottom line: Mystery Science Theater 3000-style commentary for big famous beloved movies like Titanic or The Matrix. The hitch: you have to provide the movie. It's genius: no worries about copyright. You buy the commentary tracks for $1.99, rent the movie or get it out of your collection, load the commentary on your iPod or burn it to a disk, then watch them together in true you-got-peanut-butter-in-my-chocolate bliss. ... The first movie is Roadhouse." Cool! I voted for The Matrix as the next one to be riffed." While I (and many others I know) preferred Joel, Mike was not without his share of funny moments too. Without Crow and Servo it just might not be the same, though.

Tools & Techniques

Researcher Developing Anti-RFID Device

By Laurie Sullivan, TechWeb Technology News July 20, 2006 (2:22 PM EDT)

Researchers in Amsterdam say they have completed a device that prevents radio frequency identification tags from being read. The university professor overseeing the project says the goal is to protect people from a technology that is gaining wide acceptance but has the potential to compromise consumer privacy.,1759,1992128,00.asp?kc=EWRSS03119TX1K0000594

PowerPoint Zero-Day Attack Points to Corporate Espionage

July 20, 2006 By Ryan Naraine

A second Trojan used in the latest zero-day attack against Microsoft Office contains characteristics that pinpoint corporate espionage as the main motive, according to virus hunters tracking the threat.

According to an alert from Symantec, a backdoor called Trojan.Riler.F is installing itself as a layered service provider, or LSP, allowing it access to every piece of data entering and leaving the infected computer.

This is why more IT types need degrees in both IT and business (like yours truly),1759,1992262,00.asp?kc=EWRSS03119TX1K0000594

Geeks Versus Suits: The Great Boardroom Schism

By Deborah Rothberg July 20, 2006

... While 73 percent of responding IT executives said they believe they understand their company's business extremely or very well, 43 percent of general business managers agreed.

Meanwhile, nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of both the IT executives and general business managers agreed that senior business managers only understand how to leverage IT either "somewhat" or "not very/not at all" well.

Furthermore, 61 percent of CIOs identified a lack of "synergies across business units" as a major obstacle to progress in a study released in February 2005 by the Bathwick Group.

In the same survey, over half (56 percent) of business managers said they believe IT is under-delivering on investment dollars.

We're the government. We don't have to make sense...

Indian Government Threatens To Fine ISPs That Blocked Blogs... On Their Order

from the confusion-abounds dept

One of the big stories this week that we haven't written anything about is the "blog blockade" in India. One of the reasons we haven't touched it is because there was so little information about what was actually going on. The story eventually settled on the fact that the government had asked ISPs to block certain sites as a "precautionary measure" in dealing with terrorist attacks. However, there was some confusion over whether or not the order was just to block a few blogs or the entire sites (which is what happened). However, there's now a twist. As the story has gained more prominence and more outrage, the Indian government has responded oddly. Not only are they claiming they didn't order the full blockade (just of a few subdomains), they're now asking the ISPs to explain why the government should not take action against the ISPs for blocking the full sites. In other words, they made an order that the ISPs clearly did not understand -- and now they're going to blame and punish the ISPs for misunderstanding their orders. That would be a lot more credible if so many ISPs hadn't banned the full sites. With so many ISPs all interpreting the ban the same way, it certainly seems odd for the government to suddenly be angry about it. It sounds like they're just trying to make an excuse now that they realize how angry everyone is.

To stop innovation is to invite substitutes... I think Michael Porter would agree.

Why The Telcos Hate Innovation

from the it's-a-threat dept

Business Week is running a fascinating essay that highlights all the reasons why the telcos hate innovation. They're not technology companies, which is highlighted by how little they spend on research. They're in the business of extracting as much money as they can from their network right now -- which is a short-sighted and eventually self-destructive plan. They view real innovation as a threat, not an opportunity, because tech innovation is usually about driving down the cost of infrastructure. That doesn't help them squeeze more money out of it. As the writer of the essay points out, this is evident in the telcos continued fight against things like muni-WiFi, even as they quietly get involved in muni-WiFi projects themselves.

The article also highlights how this lack of technological innovation from within the telcos means that even in areas where they have every opportunity to innovate, such as IPTV, all they're doing is catching up to what the cable providers already deliver. They're missing the opportunity to do much more. In fact, this is a great way to view the net neutrality issue. If the telcos were really about promoting innovation (and the author makes fun of AT&T for claiming it needs to merge with BellSouth to be able to innovate), then network neutrality wouldn't be an issue at all. The company would focus on making its platform (the network) as accessible and as fast as possible -- to encourage more innovation and development from third parties. Instead, the telcos focus, not on encouraging innovation, but on setting up roadblocks. The roadblocks give them the power to squeeze more money out of the network -- but at the expense of actual innovation that would make their networks that much more valuable.

This could be VERY useful.

CoComment upgrades, now worth using

Marshall Kirkpatrick July 20 2006

CoComment is a popular browser tool for tracking conversations in the comments sections of blogs. It catches the comments you’ve made around the web and comments made after yours. It was initially launched in February. Late last night West Coast time, the Geneva based service made a major upgrade, largely in response to user requests. The improvements were much needed.

Tools & Techniques

Cool and Illegal Wireless Hotspot Hacks

By Daniel V. Hoffman, CISSP, CWNA, CEH

So, why write an article called "Cool and Illegal Wireless Hacks" that details how to perform hotspot hacks? Some would say it is irresponsible and enables those with ill intent to hack unsuspecting victim's machines. It really depends which way you look at it. Would you rather be left in the dark on what types of attacks can occur, how they are performed and not know how to protect yourself against them? Doing so would not make the threats go away; in part, you would simply be denying that they exist. Surely, it is safer to be open and honest about the threats, understand how they can occur then become educated on and implement the appropriate countermeasures. In large part, that is why my articles always detail not only how to perform the hacks, but really focus on how to protect against them. The purpose is not to teach people how to hack, but rather to educate on how to prevent systems from being exploited.

This might be useful. The site was swamped when I tried to look at it.

PDFCreator - A free tool to create PDF files from windows apps

BlackPhantom submitted by BlackPhantom 15 hours 18 minutes ago (via )

PDFCreator is a free tool to create PDF files from nearly any Windows application.

I grabbed this for my students.

TRIO programs at the University of South Dakota

This is a basic tutorial of Excel. START HERE Specific examples may refer to Excel (but most items discussed should work in other spreadsheets).

I might also add some more advanced examples w/downloads if there is interest and I find some time.

One of those amusing and educational British shows. The one on the FAX machine traces the history back before the telephone was invented...

The Secret Life Of Machines

hemphill81 submitted by hemphill81 20 hours 43 minutes ago (via )

If you like Myth Busters you should check out The Secret Life Of Machines. This show was great I love the washing machine episode where they flip a car to show you how a solenoid valve works. I recommend using the BitTorrent downloads.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

July 20, 2006

Okay so it wasn't a remotely (or kamikaze) piloted drone. This is still a major escalation.

Hizbullah hits Israel's INS Hanit with anti-ship missile

By Alon Ben-David JDW Correspondent 18 July 2006

on the Israeli-Lebanese border

Israel's INS Hanit, a Eilat (Sa'ar 5)-class missile corvette, was struck on 14 July by an Iranian-made C-802 Noor (Tondar) radar-guided anti-ship missile, fired by Hizbullah from Beirut.

"We were not aware that Hizbullah possessed this kind of missile," said Rear Admiral Noam Faig, Israel Navy (IN) head of operations, told Jane's.

"We are familiar with that missile from other areas but assumed that the threat was not present in Lebanon."

The Noor, based on the Chinese C-802, was reported to have a 200 km range during manoeuvres conducted by the Iranian Navy in April 2005.

An initial debrief of the incident suggested that the Hanit was sailing without fully activating its Barak-point defence system.

For other, undisclosed reasons, the Hanit's electronic countermeasures and electronic support measures, as well as the Vulcan Phalanx close-in weapon system failed to block or intercept the missile.

"It's a very painful blow to the IN," admitted an IN source, "but it could have been worse if they had hit another section of the ship."

170 of 588 words [End of non-subscriber extract.]

Free is good!

Free Directory Assistance

Free phone 411

The number is 1-800-Free 411, and it's pretty self-explanatory. It's free directory information. Works on cells and land lines.

1-800-Free 411 1-800-373-3411 Free411

Can you see short videos for legal topics? (e.g. Can I patent this?)

July 19, 2006

ViewDo a Respository for Instructional Videos

Want to know how to shuffle poker chips? Want to install that knowledge on an iPod? Do I have the Web site for you. ViewDo, at, offers a library of instructional videos that you can download to your iPod.

You do have to register

Maybe it's just me, but shouldn't you look for missing tools BEFORE the sutures, staples and surgical glue?

Surgical Tools to Include RFID

Posted by ScuttleMonkey on Wednesday July 19, @02:16PM from the now-just-remember-to-use-the-wand dept. Wireless Networking Science

andrewman327 writes "Reuters is reporting that hospitals are considering embedding RFID tags in surgical tools to prevent leaving them in patients. After closing a patient, doctors would wave a receiver over the body to look for the chips which would indicate that something was left inside. The biggest current stumbling block is the chip's size, though scientists hope they will continue shrinking as the state of the art advances."

July 19, 2006

Anonymity Preserved for Critics of Oklahoma School Official

Subpoena Withdrawn After EFF Intervenes

Tulsa, Oklahoma - An Oklahoma school superintendent has dropped his attempt to unmask the identities of a website operator and all registered users [Clearly to punish or deter discussion... or perhaps he suspected a conspiracy? Bob] of an Internet message board devoted to discussion of local public schools after the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) intervened in the case.

Jerry Burd, superintendent of the Sperry, Oklahoma, school district, had sued anonymous speakers who criticized him on an online message board. As part of the case, he filed a broad subpoena seeking to identify the site's creator and everyone who had posted or even registered on the site, violating First Amendment protections for anonymous speech and association. Working with Tulsa attorneys Greg Bledsoe and Curtis Parks, EFF filed a motion to quash the subpoena on behalf of the site's operator and a registered user. The superintendent responded by dismissing the case on Monday.

... For EFF's full motion to quash the subpoena:

Should this be in the “We can, therefore we must” or the “We gotta do something” category?

Round up the youthful suspects! Govt to target crime at birth

By John Lettice Published Tuesday 18th July 2006 15:36 GMT

Children's Minister Hilary Armstrong was due today to outline what could become one of Project Blair's most ambitious, misguided and hubristic projects yet. The Government will attempt to identify children at risk of failure, violent behaviour or criminality at birth, and take the necessary corrective actions to steer them onto a law-abiding and successful path.

Ironically, Armstrong is floating these proposals just as this same predictive approach to future behaviour patterns is becoming discredited. A couple of national newspapers, the Independent and The Observer, appear to have seen outlines of the plans. According to the Independent, midwives, doctors and nurses are to be "asked to identify 'chaotic' families whose babies are in danger of growing up to be delinquents, drug addicts and violent criminals." The plan will be backed up by "research" which "shows that children from the most dysfunctional families are 100 times more likely to abuse alcohol commit crimes or take drugs", and a "source" close to Armstrong says: "It is the 'supernanny' model.'

... But Action on Rights for Children (ARCH) points out that evidence is stacking up against early intervention, and says: "Far from being, at worst, ineffective, a growing body of research suggests that it can actively do harm." ARCH, produces an extremely useful breakdown of Government children's databases (which are far more numerous than you might think) in the form of a blog, ( and points to the contribution made to a recent LSE conference (Children: Over Surveilled, Under Protected ( by Jean Hine of de Montford University, who is involved in a five university ESRC-funded research programme into "Pathways into Crime."

Job Opening?


by Ryan Singel and Kevin Poulsen Tuesday, 18 July 2006

Opening for a Manager in the Federal Privacy League

Last week, the acting head of Homeland Security's Privacy Office, Maureen Cooney, left for a private-sector privacy law firm, some 10 months after being appointed temporarily to the position when Nuala O'Connor Kelly traded her appointed position as DHS privacy czar for a job at General Electric.

The Bush Administration has yet to name a successor to O'Connor Kelly, and instead left Cooney, a civil servant, to try to fight internal bureaucratic battles.

Still, Cooney told Daniel Pulliam of that it wasn't so bad.

Though Chertoff never named her as the chief privacy officer on a permanent basis, Cooney said she "always thought that [Chertoff] had a lot of confidence" in her.

"He has been nothing but supportive of me," Cooney said. "It's really the secretary's prerogative in filling this position ... I think he wanted to look at both internal and external candidates."

That might be true, but the rumors in the privacy community were that Cooney had no hiring authority and couldn't even "hire" summer interns.

No word on whether anyone is actually going to be appointed to the position or who will become acting-acting DHS privacy czar.

But, Peter Swire, the former top privacy official in the Clinton Administration, had this to say in Pulliam's piece about the implicit meaning in the lack of an appointee: "The Bush administration values surveillance more than privacy."

Sounds like they need a journal article...

Spatial Data Privacy and the Law: What Can A Spatial Company Do?

By Kevin Pomfret (Jul 20, 2006)

... Privacy concerns continue to be a major challenge facing the spatial technology industry. Unfortunately, thus far there has been little legal guidance as to what steps a company should take with respect to spatial data that can be attributed to a particular individual.

Survey Finds Consumers Balk at Updating Malware Protection

By John P. Mello Jr. Part of the ECT News Network 07/19/06 5:00 AM PT

"Overall, the research shows that many consumers have a false sense of security while online," ESET Chief Research Officer Andrew Lee said in a statement. "With the number of zero-day threats rapidly increasing, users need to be even more cautious and proactive in their own protection."

While nearly 90 percent of computer users have software on their machines to protect them from malware like viruses, Trojans, worms and spyware, almost two-thirds of those users are reluctant to upgrade the software after it's installed.

That was the finding in a survey released Monday by security software maker ESET, of San Diego.

The survey, which was conducted by Harris Interactive, of Rochester, N.Y., showed that 88 percent of computer users have antivirus software on their PCs, but 65 percent of them have postponed updating the programs.

Tuesday, 18 July 2006

Specter's Bill Still No Compromise - A Primer

white house

A new wave of stories on the so-called "Specter-Cheney" spying bill is likely to hit your local paper tomorrow, following today's ACLU briefing on the legislation.

Reporters from Fox News, the Washington Times, and the Christian Science Monitor were all in on the call and likely will file stories that won't call the bill a compromise as reporters called it last week.

In short, the ACLU thinks the bill is more sweeping in handing over unsupervised surveillance authority to the President than the Patriot Act.

... Now he has written a bill with the White House that completely re-writes how surveillance on American soil happens and allows, but doesn't require, the secret court to review the legality of whole surveillance programs.


The bill (this is line by line .doc version created by the ACLU on Tuesday) has four main prongs:

First, it removes the part of the law that says that the only way to spy on American soil is through the FISA law.

Second, the bill moves the most crucial part of all the lawsuits against the government surveillance programs and the telecoms that allegedly are helping with warrantless surveillance of Americans to the secret court.

... The bill also gives the court the right to dismiss any lawsuit on any grounds, e.g. the court doesn't like the font that the lawyers use.

... Third, ... The new law would allow the government to legally continue doing all the surveillance it has been doing.

... Fourth, there are a huge number of changes in the bill regarding how the executive branch can bypass the secret court, including one provision that would make it possible for the government to never have to use the court at all.

July 19, 2006

Pew Internet Project Releases New Report on Bloggers

Press release: "A national phone survey of bloggers finds that most are focused on describing their personal experiences to a relatively small audience of readers and that only a small proportion focus their coverage on politics, media, government, or technology. Blogs, the survey finds, are as individual as the people who keep them. However, most bloggers are primarily interested in creative, personal expression – documenting individual experiences, sharing practical knowledge, or just keeping in touch with friends and family."

  • Bloggers: A portrait of the internet's new storytellers, July 19, 2006 (33 pages, PDF)

[From the summary:

Blogging is bringing new voices to the online world.

A telephone survey of a nationally-representative sample of bloggers has found that blogging is inspiring a new group of writers and creators to share their voices with the world. Some 54% of bloggers say that they have never published their writing or media creations anywhere else;

... Eight percent of internet users, or about 12 million American adults, keep a blog. Thirty-nine percent of internet users, or about 57 million American adults, read blogs – a significant increase since the fall of 2005.

How to “correct” those pesky video depositions... (No chilling effect here...)

Hey Lip Readers: Pluck Two

from the spoiling-all-that-lip-reading-fun dept

It's always amusing when a TV station edits out a profanity with an ill-timed beep or replaces it with a total non-sequitur ("This is what you get when you meet a stranger in the Alps!", goes a particularly creative reworking of a line from The Big Lebowski). But just in case some sharp lip-readers among you still manage to decipher the original line, your days may be numbered. PBS is apparently insisting that any bleep must be accompanied by lip pixelation, so that a viewer can't make out the offending word on screen. As some are noting, the visual alteration will make the censorship even more jarring, and could definitely change the tenor of a scene. Still, with the FCC ready to pounce at any moment, perhaps PBS rightly believes it can never be too safe.

Memo to Congress: America is falling behind! (Is “behind” a dirty word?)

Vietnamese Government Creates Own Porn Site To Help Save Marriages?

from the how-thoughtful-of-them dept

Vietnam is definitely up there on the list of countries that has pretty strict regulations concerning online content. Years back, they started down this path by requiring websites to register with the government -- which just so happened to allow them to stop some online critics from speaking out. While they've struggled at times to manage the growth of the internet while still blocking any content they find objectionable, they've delegated some of the work to local governments and asked citizens to report any bad info they see online (an early example of crowdsourcing, perhaps?). Of course, while most of the focus has been on stopping any sort of political dissent, porn is another important issue. The Vietnamese government, not surprisingly, bans porn websites.

However, it seems that may have resulted in a bit of a problem. Married couples aren't having enough sex -- often leading to divorce and/or increased prostitution. At least, that's what the government claims. To fix this problem, the Vietnamese government has decided there's only one thing it can do: produce its own government-approved porn -- and hope that it puts married couples back into the mood. Of course, they don't call it "porn." No, it's an "orthodox sex website" that will "help couples learn more about healthy sexual intercourse." The government insists that the videos on the site will only be "educational" in nature, which doesn't necessarily mean very much. It is, of course, quite likely that these videos will be incredibly tame, if they're even remotely sexual at all. The videos may end up being typical sex ed videos -- though it's difficult to see how that will encourage the married couple who hasn't had sex in a year (which the gov't official cited as being a big problem) to get it on. You have to imagine that such a couple has other issues to work out than how to make sure their intercourse is "healthy."

Interesting article for my Excel students

Document Centric

Half of the world's business data is in Excel. [Not really a quote, just paraphrasing.]

We've all heard the same thing before, that stupid users are putting important data into spreadsheets and running their businesses with them. Here is a Slashdot article that was originally about errors in spreadsheets but one comment thread spirals into deriding people that put data into spreadsheets that really belong in databases.

Oh, those stupid lazy users, if only they'd learn to put their data into normal form and enjoy all the benefits of a relational database.

Would this be legal in the US? We tell everyone now by putting the sex offender's name on a web site, but if this crime is sufficient to cancel credit what others might be?

Paedophiles face cancelled cards

Last Updated: Wednesday, 19 July 2006, 10:03 GMT 11:03 UK

Card firms have called for the amendment

Credit and debit card firms will find it easier to cancel the cards of online paedophiles under a planned new law.

Cancellation will be on the grounds that using cards to purchase child pornography breaches the issuer's terms and conditions.

... "No card provider wants to be associated with those who commit these crimes," said Paul Marsh, director of cards and fraud control at the Association of Payment Clearing Services (Apacs).

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

July 19, 2006

We were concerned when RFID could store only your name, SSAN and credit card info...

HP Provides Alternate Technology to RFID

Posted by ScuttleMonkey on Wednesday July 19, @07:19AM from the rfid-farmers-planting-seeds dept. HP Wireless Networking

NerdForceMaster writes "HP has unveiled a new alternative to standard RFID technology, a chip the size of a tomato seed that has 500KB of memory and can communicate at 10mbps. Lets hope this one is commercially availible soon."

[Other stories say up to 4MB of data Bob]

Was this reported earlier? Hard to tell any more...,1,4565042.story?coll=sns-ap-politics-headlines

USDA Laptop With Personal Data Compromised

By Associated Press 8:50 AM PDT, July 18, 2006

WASHINGTON — A laptop computer bag was stolen from an Agriculture Department worker's car in Kansas, and the names, addresses and Social Security numbers of about 350 employees may have been accessed, the department said.

The case, containing a computer and a printout of the data, has since been returned to a meat plant, department spokesman Ed Loyd said Tuesday. But it was obvious someone had rummaged through the case, Loyd said.

The theft may have affected about 350 full-time and part-time employees and state contractors involved in federal Agricultural Marketing Service meat grading programs in 30 states and the District of Columbia, the department said.

... Local authorities and the department are investigating the recent theft, which happened Friday in Wellington, Kan., and was discovered on Saturday. The department also is looking into why sensitive employee data was left in a car.

__ On the Net: Agriculture Department:

Looks like an invitation to write a high profile article to me!

Refining the Standard: Authenticating Computer-Based Evidence

M. Sean Fosmire is a shareholder in the Michigan law firm of Garan Lucow Miller, P.C., based in the firm's Marquette office.

Published July 15, 2006

... The few courts and authors that have mentioned those issues have usually cited Evidentiary Foundations, by Prof. Edward Imwinkelried of the University of Chicago, probably because he seems to be the only textbook author who has addressed the issue at all.

Is this news?

Finland wiretapped Indonesia's Helsinki embassy -Paper

18.7.2006 at 15:29

The Jakarta Post quoted an Indonesian MP as saying on Tuesday that the telephone lines to Indonesian embassies in Finland, Norway, Denmark, South Korea, Japan, China and Burma had been wiretapped by the intelligence services of their host nations for years.

July 18, 2006

GAO Audit of Global War on Terrorism

Global War on Terrorism [GWOT]: Observations on Funding, Costs, and Future Commitments, Full-text GAO-06-885T, and Highlights, July 18, 2006.

  • "Since 2001, Congress has appropriated about $430 billion to DOD and other government agencies for military and diplomatic efforts in support of GWOT...neither DOD nor the Congress reliably know how much the war is costing and how appropriated funds are being used or have historical data useful in considering future funding needs.

Someone took the time to look through the report above...

Dept. of Homeland Lunacy

jlivermore submitted by jlivermore 22 hours 3 minutes ago (via )

List of homeland security pork grants goes beyond parody to completely absurd.

It's okay with me, as long as I get to program the computer!

Soon, You'll Be Taking Orders From Your PC

from the Life-Emulating-Dilbert dept

It seems that as long as computers have been able to perform human tasks, there have been debates about what jobs will never be done by computers, because they rely on human judgment and intuition. But as computers advance, they have been able to take on an increasing number of roles. Now a researcher claims that much of middle management could be done by a computer, as algorithms perform better at budgeting, purchasing and personnel decisions. It's the consistency and lack of emotions displayed by the machines that cause them to be superior. Embedding knowledge into a computer is also advantageous, in that the knowledge can't just walk away when a top manager takes an offer from an opposing firm. Of course, there are those who dispute all this with their own research that shows the opposite, that human intelligence and intuition is extremely important in the business setting. In reality, it shouldn't be an either/or debate. Automation frees up humans to do things that computers can't begin to tackle. When computers start to do those things, it will create a new set of challenges and opportunities for humans, in an ongoing, beneficial cycle.

Even Friendster Looks Good Next To Wal-Mart Social-Networking Site

from the going-nowhere dept

By now it's no secret that every company wants to capture some of the MySpace magic (even if the money in it isn't that great). Several readers have alerted us that even Wal-Mart is looking to get in on the action, as it's launching its own social-networking site for teenagers. But, as if to embrace its boring image, the site will be strictly monitored, will not allow messaging between users, and will alert parents when their child signs up for the site. In other words, the only way teens will ever take to the site, is if it becomes a competition to slip subversive images or messages onto a profile. Of course, it's understandable that Wal-Mart not want its site to resemble MySpace -- but then there are other ways to make the site social without re-inventing MySpace. The kids interviewed for the article all described the current service as being corny and forced, so maybe a site that actually allowed them to express their interests (through products that Wal-Mart carries) might work better. As it stands, it appears that Wal-Mart is just the latest in a line of people and companies painfully trying to act hip, with all emphasis on the painful part.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

July 18, 2006

Developing a Strategy for Digital Convergence

Published: July 17, 2006 Author: Sean Silverthorne

Executive Summary:

Technology was getting dull earlier this decade, says David Yoffie. But the sudden arrival of digital convergence has turned the tech world upside down. What are the right bets to place? Key concepts include:

* Digital convergence has arrived, creating entirely new products, services, and collaboration opportunities.

* The technology industry is tilting to horizontal. Players need to learn to complement each other as well as compete.

* Network effects create strong market advantages for companies that can capitalize on them.

before using a technology you should understand it...

'Let's track paedos with chip implants' - top cop fails tech test

Shall we just believe in witchcraft while we're about it?

By John Lettice Published Sunday 16th July 2006 12:44 GMT

Britain's most senior policeman has, according to a Sunday Times report, suggested that surgically implanted chips could be used in order to track the movements of paedophiles and dangerous sex offenders. "If we are prepared to track cars, why don’t we track people? You could put surgical chips into those of the most dangerous sex offenders who are are willing to be controlled," said Ken Jones, president of the Association of Chief Police Officers.

Well Ken, where shall we begin? Should we explain that the chip you're talking about would have around about the same capabilities as the RFID chip that's going into ICAO standard passports? That this is the kind of technology you're probably going to insist can only be read in close proximity to a reading device? That if you tried really hard (and we're sure people will), you could read it at maybe 10, maybe 30 metres? That satellites are actually quite far away? Or that what GPS does is it tell a reading device on the ground where it is, which would only help paedophiles if they were lost - if it's going to help you then you need to insert another bit of technology (A mobile phone maybe? Where would you stick that?) that would pass the location over to you.

Maybe the French aren't that intimidating?

Update: Google News still indexing AFP content

Despite suit, Google links to stories and images from Agence France Presse

By Juan Carlos Perez, IDG News Service July 18, 2006

Despite a pledge to the contrary made 16 months ago, Google Inc. is still returning links to Agence France Presse (AFP) articles in its Google News Web site.

The French news agency sued Google in March 2005, alleging copyright infringement over the inclusion of AFP content in Google News, a news search service which aggregates links to online articles and accompanying photos from about 4,500 news outlets.

Days later, Google announced it would scrub Google News clean of AFP content, including text, thumbnails of photos, and headlines linked to articles in external Web sites. However, a Google News search for "Agence France Presse" done mid-afternoon (U.S. Eastern Time) Monday shows that AFP articles are still being indexed by Google News.

July 17, 2006

New on

July 17, 2006

2006 Workplace E-Mail, Instant Messaging & Blog Survey

Press release: "E-mail mismanagement continues to take a hefty toll on U.S. employers, with costly lawsuits--and employee terminations--topping the list of electronic risks. As recent court cases demonstrate, e-mail can sink businesses--legally and financially. Last year, the inability to produce subpoenaed e-mail resulted in million dollar--even billion dollar--lawsuits against U.S. companies. In fact, 24% of organizations have had employee e-mail subpoenaed, and 15% of companies have gone to court to battle lawsuits triggered by employee e-mail. That's according to the 2006 Workplace E-Mail, Instant Messaging & Blog Survey from American Management Association (AMA) and The ePolicy Institute."

But it's a good strategy against ignorant people with no lawyers...

Misuse Trademark Law To Stop Competition And You May Owe Lost Sales

from the oops dept

Back in April we wrote about how label printer company Dymo kept forcing eBay auctions offline from a seller promoting "Dymo-compatible" labels. Dymo claimed that saying Dymo-compatible was a violation of trademark law -- which seems like a complete misuse of trademark law. It's factually accurate to say that the labels were Dymo-compatible -- and the only reason to have eBay take them down is not to protect Dymo's intellectual property, but to stop the competition. Apparently Dymo has finally recognized this. Greg Beck from Public Citizen, who was handling the lawsuit on behalf of the seller writes in to let us know that: "Dymo has backed down, reimbursed our client for lost sales, and promised not to do it again. Note for companies that wish to abuse intellectual property law in the future: you may have to pay for the damage you cause."

July 18, 2006

India Imposes Ban on Blogs: Your Questions Answered

posted by Amit Agarwal on 7/18/2006 12:34:36 AM

... Q. Why is the Indian Government banning blog sites ?

While there is no official comment, most people are speculating that the ban is connected to the recent Mumbai Train Blasts. Probably the groups behind the bomb blasts used blogs to exchange information and co-ordinate the plan so the Government decided to ban these sites.

If you don't know how to control it... Ban it!

Keep thumb drives at home say companies

Monday, 17 July 2006

Keep thumb drives at home say companiesFearing the theft of company data, mid to large sized companies across Canada have begun to establish policies that prevent personal laptops and USB keys from entering the workplace.

In addition, some 30% of companies polled in a recent survey have also banned MP3 players, such as the ever popular iPod, from the workplace.

Coding Horror

.NET and human factors

by Jeff Atwood July 14, 2006

Separating Programming Sheep from Non-Programming Goats

A bunch of people have linked to this academic paper, which proposes a way to seperate programming sheep from non-programming goats in computer science classes-- long before the students have ever touched a program or a programming language:

All teachers of programming find that their results display a 'double hump'. It is as if there are two populations: those who can [program], and those who cannot [program], each with its own independent bell curve. Almost all research into programming teaching and learning have concentrated on teaching: change the language, change the application area, use an IDE and work on motivation. None of it works, and the double hump persists. We have a test which picks out the population that can program, before the course begins. We can pick apart the double hump. You probably don't believe this, but you will after you hear the talk. We don't know exactly how/why it works, but we have some good theories.

I wasn't aware that the dichotomy between programmers and non-programmers was so pronounced at this early stage. Dan Bricklin touched on this topic in his essay, Why Johnny Can't Program. But evidently it's common knowledge amongst those who teach computer science:

Despite the enormous changes which have taken place since electronic computing was invented in the 1950s, some things remain stubbornly the same. In particular, most people can’t learn to program: between 30% and 60% of every university computer science department’s intake fail the first programming course. Experienced teachers are weary but never oblivious of this fact; brighteyed beginners who believe that the old ones must have been doing it wrong learn the truth from bitter experience; and so it has been for almost two generations, ever since the subject began in the 1960s.

You may think the test they're proposing to determine programming aptitude is complex, but it's not. Here's question one, verbatim: