Saturday, November 18, 2006

There are some upgrades you don't want to see...

SEC orders formal investigation of HP boardroom spying probe

By Associated Press Friday, November 17, 2006 - Updated: 08:57 AM EST

SAN JOSE, Calif. - The Securities and Exchange Commission has upgraded its informal inquiry of Hewlett-Packard Co.’s boardroom spying probe into a formal investigation, according to a regulatory filing Thursday.

HP disclosed the development in an SEC filing after reporting financial results for the fourth quarter and the fiscal year 2006.

"We do not believe this represents an escalation or broadening of the investigation and are continuing to cooperate fully," HP spokesman Ryan Donovan said late Thursday.

Palo Alto-based HP also indicated in the filing that it was the target of at least five shareholder lawsuits related to the probe, and had also received a request for documents from the Federal Communications Commission.

This is curious for a lot of reasons.

DeLay’s replacement: Staff deleted files

Sekula-Gibbs wants investigation of actions by ex-majority leader’s aides

The Associated Press Updated: 8:19 p.m. MT Nov 16, 2006

HOUSTON - The newest member of Congress, who is temporarily filling former Majority Leader Tom DeLay's Texas seat, wants an investigation into the destruction of computer files in her office by staffers she inherited from DeLay.

Rep. Shelley Sekula-Gibbs, R-Texas, said the staffers resigned en masse and walked out Tuesday, a day after she was sworn in to fill DeLay's seat for the next seven weeks. A Capitol Hill newspaper, Roll Call, reported the staffers did not like the way she was treating them. [That must be a new record even for Washington! Bob]

Sekula-Gibbs said in a statement Thursday that seven employees in her Washington office and the district office in Stafford, Texas, outside Houston, "deleted records and files without my knowledge or permission" on the same day she was sworn in.

Spokeswoman Lisa Dimond told The Associated Press that the congresswoman had not yet gotten a response to her request for an investigation by the House's chief administrative officer.

Sekula-Gibbs said the walkouts were "suspicious" in that the seven took the time to delete files before leaving without notice.

Dimond said other staffers discovered the work-related files were missing when they tried to access them.

Disrespect and unprofessionalism’

David James, former deputy chief of staff for DeLay, released a statement Thursday saying that the computers in the office were "scrubbed and reconfigured" according to House rules on transition between members and that work performed for the congresswoman during the brief time he worked there was preserved.

An article from Gary Alexander.

What You Need to Know About Security Breaches and European Legislation

By Jonathan Armstrong The Privacy and Data Protection Legal Reporter November 17, 2006

... The other main way in which privacy law could come into play might be after intervention by a data subject. This subject (perhaps suspecting a breach) could make a subject access request which might of itself force disclosure of a security breach -- for example a data controller is mandated in most jurisdictions to disclose who has seen the data. [Something I doubt many US corporations could do... Bob]

... It is important to remember that, unlike the current California legislation, most of Europe applies data protection law equally to electronically and manually held data. Those regulatory authorities (like Ireland) that insist on seeing a company's information security policy before sanctioning the holding of personal data will therefore extend their inquiry to manual records including details of who holds the keys to locked cabinets. [Now that should be a simple test. Go to your Custodian of Keys and obtain the records for say... the past five years. Bob],24246.shtml

Cingular Wireless Wins Lawsuit Against Data Broker, Files New Lawsuits Against Telemarketers and Spammers

Posted on : Fri, 17 Nov 2006 20:02:01 GMT | Author : Cingular Wireless News Category : PressRelease

ATLANTA, Nov. 17 /PRNewswire/ -- Cingular Wireless has won its lawsuit against data broker 1st Source Information Specialists, Inc., with the U.S. District Court in Atlanta, Ga. ordering the cell phone records peddler and associated individuals to pay Cingular $1.135 million in damages.

It's a slow Friday (day to report security breaches...

Security raised over laptop theft

Nationwide building society says it is tightening security after the theft of an employee's laptop containing customer information.

Security experts have raised fears that the company's 11m customers could have been put at risk of identity crime.

The computer was stolen in a domestic burglary three months ago.

Bosses have apologised to customers and reassured them that they will not become identity-theft victims.

Nationwide, Britain's biggest building society, has informed the authorities and said it will be writing to customers to give them security advice in the next few weeks.

It is reassuring customers that no PIN numbers, account passwords or memorable information was on the laptop.

But it does not deny that names and account numbers could have been. [They don't know? Bob]

... "There is no chance of any customer suffering any financial loss on their accounts as a result of this."

But, Barry Stamp, former director of CIFAS, the fraud prevention service, said it was unusual for an entire customer database to be stored on a laptop.

... "We've seen cases like this almost every week at the moment, but on the other hand you have to ask why that information was contained on a laptop and why the security was lax at Nationwide in such a way that you could download the entire database to a laptop.

Computer theft hits 2nd campus


FORT WORTH - For the second time in a month, thieves have stolen tens of thousands of dollars worth of computer equipment from a north Fort Worth school.

On Wednesday night, someone stole 37 laptop computers from Meacham Middle School at 3600 Weber Ave., police said.

The computers were worth $45,000, according to a police report.

In October, school officials realized that about $40,000 worth of laptops and projectors had been stolen from North Side High School.

LBJ's Vietnam-Era Phone Tapes Released

In Newly Public Audio Files, Ex-President Discusses 'Commies' At NYT, Vietnam, Civil Rights

AUSTIN, Texas, Nov. 17, 2006

(AP) As American involvement in Vietnam deepened, President Lyndon Johnson railed against the “bunch of commies” running The New York Times and complained about the newspaper's criticism of the war, according to taped phone conversations released Friday.

The recordings, released by the LBJ Library, covered August to December 1966. Johnson had many of his calls from the Oval Office and his Texas ranch recorded on Dictabelt equipment.

If these people are such a high risk, why are they not in jail? (Perhaps this site could also issue you a hunting license?),1759,2061016,00.asp?kc=EWRSS03119TX1K0000594

Web Site of Missing Pedophiles Launched in UK

November 17, 2006 By Reuters

LONDON (Reuters)—Britain launched a "Most Wanted" Web site on Friday detailing the names and pictures of missing child sex offenders, the first time such information has been published nationally.

The Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) Centre said the national site would include the background and pictures of pedophiles who had failed to comply with regulations requiring them to notify their whereabouts with the police.

... All the offenders posted on the site have been convicted of a child sex offence and have finished serving their sentence.

Antigua has properly concluded that the US can easily ignore the WTO but will cave into the RIAA immediately.

Would The WTO Support Antigua Offering Free Music And Free Software In Retaliation For Gambling Ban?

from the it-certainly-could dept

For a few years now, we've been following how the US's attempt to ban online gambling potentially goes against international treaties they've signed as part of the WTO. The WTO has told the US that it cannot stop online gambling in Antigua, so long as it allows any online gambling in the US. The US (in true US fashion) simply pretended the WTO said something different and proceeded to ignore the ruling completely. The WTO has been warning the US to comply, but the latest attempt by Congress to ban online gambling actually makes the situation worse. The WTO was very clear that the only way the US can ban online gambling and stay in compliance with international treaties is to ban all online gambling, with no exceptions. Congress, on the other hand, made plenty of exceptions for the type of gambling they like (such as lotteries and horses).

Back in March, we pointed to a story suggesting that Antigua was considering retaliating by ignoring US intellectual property laws, in order to offer things like free (or cheap) music and software. Last month, the idea began to get more attention, and now a lawyer has written an interesting piece suggesting that the WTO may even support Antigua in ignoring its intellectual property treaty obligations as a fair retaliation against the US ignoring its online gambling obligations. It certainly seems like this idea is gaining a lot of traction, and if they weren't serious about it before, you have to imagine such ideas will certainly be brought to Antigua's attention pretty quickly. The end result, then, may be that the US's attempt at banning online gambling, may open up efforts supported by the WTO for Antigua to willfully infringe on US intellectual property. Wonder how fast that would lead entertainment companies to start lobbying in favor of allowing online gambling?

We knew this was coming, Google paid them to do it (when they purchased Youtube)

Universal Music sues MySpace over music copyrights

By Yinka AdegokeFri Nov 17, 5:09 PM ET

Universal Music Group, the world's largest music company, said on Friday it filed a lawsuit against popular social networking site MySpace for infringing copyrights of thousands of its artists' works.

Universal, owned by French media giant Vivendi (VIV.PA), filed the suit at the U.S. District Court Central District of California, Western Division.

The lawsuit accuses MySpace of allowing users to upload videos illegally and taking part in the infringement by re-formatting the videos to be played back or sent to others.

... In the case of YouTube, now owned by Google Inc. (Nasdaq:GOOG - news), Universal Music reached a licensing agreement to give the site and its users access to thousands of music videos.

Thousands of International TV Channels Online

Avatar posted by iptv 22 hours ago view profile

International IPTV: What do you do with even more tv channels than your DSS to the power of YouTube? A Lot. Sure, you'd have no time to watch even a drop of the programming online. But if you have a dual monitor system, you can double your drop in the bucket to two drops in the bucket.

Seriously though, Watching International TV over IPTV is perfect for hearing the news from "THEIR" perspective and for learning Kahzikstani.

Very interesting. I expect many organizations will do this (if they're smart.)


Get with the program.

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  • Meet our online host, Joe Washington. He'll give you a top-level view of what's happening on IBM TV, so you can decide what you want to watch, listen to or do.

  • Easily browse content by business need, media type or hot topic (such as Service-Oriented Architecture or Information Management) to find exactly what you need when you need it.

  • Experience events on demand. Now you can replay media portions of events you attended to get a quick recap, or get the inside scoop on those you missed.

There's more for you to see for yourself. Experience IBM TV – the innovative portal for rich media designed with your business needs in mind.

Tune in.

Friday, November 17, 2006

It should be simple to put together a list of objectives voting machines must satisfy (e.g. proof your vote was recorded) rather than objectives vendors must satisfy (e.g. Adequate bribes),72130-0.html?tw=rss.index

Did Florida Foul Another Ballot?

By Kim Zetter 02:00 AM Nov, 17, 2006

Six years after the phrase "Florida recount" entered the national lexicon, another recount in the Sunshine State is sparking new controversies about poorly designed ballots, faulty voting equipment and negligent election officials.

This time the problem isn't butterfly ballots and hanging chads, however, but the new, multimillion-dollar touch-screen voting equipment that officials purchased in the wake of the 2000 election fiasco.

The machines, critics say, may have lost more than 18,000 votes cast in Sarasota County last week for a congressional seat that Republican candidate Vern Buchanan seized by a margin of fewer than 400 votes.

That's because 18,382 ballots recorded no vote for either Buchanan or his Democratic opponent, Christine Jennings, in the 13th Congressional District -- a House seat that previously belonged to Katherine Harris, the former Florida secretary of state who played a pivotal role in the 2000 presidential recount.

Critics are calling this new recount a sham, since the touch-screen machines have no paper trail and questions about the missing votes remain unanswered. They say a planned legal challenge contesting the results, likely to be filed next week, could help prove once and for all that electronic voting systems are unreliable.

"We're hoping this situation in Sarasota is going to show how absolutely insane it is to have these machines recording our votes ... or not recording our votes," says Susan Pynchon of the Florida Fair Elections Coalition.

... Sarasota Elections Supervisor Kathy Dent did not respond to a request for comment, but initially dismissed the importance of the missing votes in her county, saying that voters either failed to see the race on the ballot because it appeared high at the top of a ballot page that also included the governor's race, or they simply decided not to vote in that race -- although they did cast votes in other races on the ballots.

The iVotronic machines, made by Election Systems & Software, are not new to such controversy. The same brand of machine was responsible for losing 436 ballots in a North Carolina election in 2002. The iVotronic was also used in another Florida election in 2004 in which 134 ballots were recorded as blank.

In the North Carolina case, ES&S attributed the problem to a software glitch that caused the machines to falsely sense that their memories were full. Although the machines allowed voters to continue to cast ballots, the votes were not recorded.

... So-called undervotes -- blank races -- are common in elections, but the percentage of undervotes in a race seldom rises above 2 percent; a rate of 5 percent to 6 percent is considered bad. Some Saratoga precincts had undervote rates of more than 20 percent.

... The missing votes in Sarasota are significant for another reason.

Prior to the election, voters who cast ballots in early voting complained that the machines were failing to record their selection in the congressional race. Voters reported that the screen appeared to register their vote when they made it, but then showed no vote cast in that race on the review page.

... Dent initially dismissed voter complaints about the machines as anecdotal and insisted there was nothing wrong with the equipment.

Under pressure from critics, she later backtracked and asked the state to conduct an audit of the machines.

The audit was halted this week, however, after complaints from Jennings' attorney about how the testing was to be conducted, insisting that experts representing both candidates be involved in the process.

... In addition to the machine audit, Buchanan's narrow margin of victory triggered an automatic recount, per Florida election law. But a recount of the electronically cast portion of the votes has little meaning, critics say, since officials are simply running the same digital numbers through the tabulation software and have no way to independently verify that the numbers were recorded correctly.

If someone outside the government had lost votes...

FTC Slams Security Firm That Lost Customer Data

from the burn dept

Remember Guidance Software, the security firm that helps companies identify when a hacker has compromised their systems, but then proceeded to lose data on their own customers? It's finally settled with the FTC, for in the government's words it failed to, "...implement simple, inexpensive and readily available security measures to protect consumers' data. In contrast to claims about data security made on Guidance's Web site, the company created unnecessary risks to credit card information by permanently storing it in clear readable text." So basically, it was total negligence from a company that should have known much better. For most companies, one data breach probably wouldn't damage their reputation too much, but when it's so closely related to your company's mission, and you've received such a harsh rebuke from the FTC, it's hard to see their reputation not taking a hit.

But of course they didn't lose them, they just moved them to an election where they needed them.

No Need To Vote Early And Often When The E-Voting Machine Counts Your Vote In Triplicate

from the automating-vote-fraud dept

Remember how the press (and e-voting companies) were telling us there were no major glitches in their equipment this past election? That, of course, was until votes turned up missing in Florida and Arkansas. However, don't fret. We may have found the missing votes. You see, down in Texas, just outside of Austin, the voting machines there were found to have counted each vote three times. This was discovered only after election officials wondered why there were more votes than visitors. In typical e-voting company fashion, the makers of these machines, Election Systems & Software, once again refuses to concede that their machines are the problem, blaming human error in the operators of the machine. Yes, that's right, when their machine counts votes in triplicate, it's not the fault of the machine that should be designed in a way to never let that happen, it's the fault of the users, all of whom had their votes count multiple times. Apparently it never occurred to Election Systems & Software that part of their job in designing the voting machine is to make it impossible for "human error" (or anything else, for that matter) to allow votes to be counted multiple times.

Compare (contrast) the inability of election commissions to understand technology with the way political parties can make it work for them... This is also an indication that any laws to restrict data gathering on citizens will have an exemption for anything that might help political parties.,1759,2060543,00.asp?kc=EWRSS03119TX1K0000594

Political Parties Reap Data Mining Benefits

November 16, 2006 By Wayne Rash

WASHINGTON—Both major U.S. political parties entered into a new era in the way they use the information they collect on voters throughout the United States.

Using new levels of sophistication in how they collect, clean and manipulate the information in their massive databases, the parties are able to predict with reasonable accuracy how individual voters will vote when they get to the polls, [perhaps we could eliminate this voting stuff altogether? Bob] and to target voters individually where needed.

... "The DNC is using Netezza to analyze large amounts of data," said Ellen Rubin, vice president of Marketing for Netezza in Framingham, Mass.

... "They had over 900 fields for each one of the data records," Rubin said.

... Rubin said that a lot of work was required to match voter lists with other databases to ensure that contact information was correct and complete.

... "Our database is not one where we feel that too much information is too much. The more information we can add and overlay is better."

... Part of the reason there's so much information is that the parties both retain data that goes far beyond voter registration lists.

"It starts with basic voter registration and party registration data," Holmes said.

"Then there are things like hunting licenses and other publicly available information," he said, "and then there's consumer data information such as magazine subscriptions. There's no one thing. It's a combination of information that gives you the picture you want to see."

No doubt this is another technique politician could use to “get information to voters”

Russians use SpamThru to pump stock

Robert Lemos 2006-11-16

One researcher has pointed to a Russian spam group and the SpamThru Trojan as a major force behind the recent jump in stock and pharmaceutical junk e-mail.

In a report released earlier this week, Joe Stewart, a senior security researcher at SecureWorks, has found evidence that a group of technically adept Russian spammers has used the SpamThru Trojan to create a bot net of more than 70,000 computers. The compromised systems are used to send junk e-mail carrying pump-and-dump stock scams and advertisements for pharmaceuticals.

The Russian group may be responsible for at least part of the increase in spam seen over the last three months, according to an article in eWeek. The surge--detailed in a SecurityFocus article at the end of October--has caused companies to see anywhere from 30 percent to 450 percent more junk e-mail in the past three months.

The findings adds to evidence that bot nets are increasingly becoming the tool of choice for cyber criminals. The people behind the bot nets, known as bot masters or bot herders, frequently amass thousands, hundreds of thousands and, sometimes, millions of compromised computers together to more efficiently attack targets or send spam. One company--anti-spam startup Blue Security--fell afoul of one large spammer, who used bot nets to launch massive denial-of-service attacks against the company, driving the firm out of the anti-spam business.

Computers in at least 166 countries are part of the bot net controlled by the Russian spammers, Stewart stated in the analysis.

Once again, the comments are worth reading!

British "Secure" Passports Cracked

Journal written by hard-to-get-a-nickna (965978) and posted by CowboyNeal on Friday November 17, @06:31AM from the trust-us dept. Encryption Privacy

hard-to-get-a-nickna writes "The Guardian has cracked the so-trumpeted secure British passports after 48 hours of work: [Why so long? Bob] 'Three million Britons have been issued with the new hi-tech passport, designed to frustrate terrorists and fraudsters. [I think not! Bob] So why did Steve Boggan and a friendly computer expert find it so easy to break the security codes?'"

Ethics is as ethics does?

Angry DAs Battle Critics on the Web

Raises risk of prejudicing cases, waiving work-product privilege

Pamela A. MacLean The National Law Journal November 16, 2006

A few California district attorneys are mad as hell [frequently a synonym for “not thinking” Bob] at the press and they're not going to take it anymore.

Critical media coverage has prompted local district attorneys in San Jose, Bakersfield and Orange County, as well as a city attorney in San Diego, to take on local newspaper criticism by posting responses on the Internet through county Web pages and, in the case of San Diego, regular blog postings.

It signals new media savvy among the prosecutors, but it also raises the potential risk of tainting the process by crossing ethical lines that might prejudice an active case, waive work-product privileges or lock prosecutors into a strategy before the case fully develops, warned Laurie Levenson, a former prosecutor and now a professor at Loyola Law School, Los Angeles.

"They are just raising the stakes by taking on the paper through a Web page. Mark Twain was right -- 'Don't fight people who buy ink by the barrel,'" Levenson said. "I love the fact the public remains more informed about what is going on in a prosecutor's office, but the question remains: How carefully monitored is it, and does it impact the right to a fair trial?"

Employees still don't get it. If the company owns the communications channel, they MUST monitor it. (Another example of the fish you could land with a little creative e-discovery?)

Reminder: When Ditching Your Company To Build A Competing Product, Don't Discuss It On Work Computers

from the just-a-suggestion dept

Earlier this year, we noted that Yahoo had sued some former employees after they jumped ship (as a group) to another company -- but discussed the move using Yahoo's instant messenger before moving on -- allowing Yahoo to claim that the group took trade secrets with them to the new company. [...does that necessarily follow? Bob] While it seems particularly short-sighted to use Yahoo's IM product while at Yahoo to discuss such things, if you're using a company's computers, it really doesn't matter what tool you're using. VentureBeat notes that Iconix has convinced a judge to issue an injunction against a startup, after Iconix reviewed instant messenger messages between two former employees while they were still at the company discussing their plans for the new company. In the messages, one of them even admits that he's confused over which company they are talking about. It probably does happen all the time, but if you're planning on jumping ship from your current company, you should probably find some other way to discuss it.


Why Wal-Mart Matters

By Art Carden Posted on 11/16/2006

Perspective is everything...

Whatever You Think About The Second World War Is Wrong!

csandb submitted by csandb 21 hours 32 minutes ago (via )

That, at least, is the contention of Norman Davies, a trenchant British-born historian whose scope, ambition and knowledge about Europe are unmatched. His aim in this new history of the war is to puncture the comfortable myths created by the combination of popular culture (especially in films) plus the self-centred history taught in schools.

[From the article: The casualties of the 1944 Warsaw uprising were the equivalent of the September 11th, 2001 attack on the World Trade Centre, every day for two months. ]

Why did Microsoft help fund the SCO v. IBM case?

Steve Ballmer says Linux "uses our intellectual property"

deadmitch submitted by deadmitch 9 hours 59 minutes ago (via;839593139;fp;16;fpid;1 )

In comments confirming the open-source community's suspicions, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer Thursday declared his belief that the Linux operating system infringes on Microsoft's intellectual property.

I LOVE free!

Mapping the universe with open source software

2006.11.16 10:01 StoneLion

Astronomers at New York City's Hayden Planetarium and Rose Center for Earth and Space think space exploration should be easily accessible to anyone. To make that possible, they offer an interactive atlas of the universe that anyone can download for free.

... More open source astronomy Partiview and Digital Universe aren't the only ways Earthbound astronomy aficionados can track the skies from their computers. We profiled Virtual Moon Atlas, Stellarium, and Celestia in an earlier article.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Almost certainly a biker gang?

Hackers Steal Data From Landis Lab

The Associated Press Tuesday, November 14, 2006; 8:34 AM

PARIS -- A hacker stole data from computers at the French anti-doping lab where tests are being challenged by American cyclist Floyd Landis, police said Tuesday.

... Bordry said he wants the French government to help tighten security around the lab.

"Intruders penetrated the lab's information systems and used material taken inside in order to denigrate the lab," Bordry told France Info radio Tuesday.

According to sports daily L'Equipe, a hacker accessed data and sent out letters to the IOC and WADA with the aim of discrediting the lab by calling into question its reliability. [ least we know the security isn't top notch... Bob]

He just says it better than I do...


In the world of voting, automatic recount laws are not uncommon. Virginia, where George Allen lost to James Webb in the Senate race by 7,800 out of over 2.3 million votes, or 0.33 percent percent, is an example. If the margin of victory is 1 percent or less, the loser is allowed to ask for a recount. If the margin is 0.5 percent or less, the government pays for it. If the margin is between 0.5 percent and 1 percent, the loser pays for it.

... There are two basic types of voting errors: random errors and systemic errors. Random errors are just that, random -- equally likely to happen to anyone. In a close race, random errors won't change the result because votes intended for candidate A that mistakenly go to candidate B happen at the same rate as votes intended for B that mistakenly go to A. (Mathematically, as candidate A's margin of victory increases, random errors slightly decrease it.)

... The other kind of voting error is a systemic error. These are errors in the voting process -- the voting machines, the procedures -- that cause votes intended for A to go to B at a different rate than the reverse.

An example would be a voting machine that mysteriously recorded more votes for A than there were voters. (Sadly, this kind of thing is not uncommon with electronic voting machines.) Another example would be a random error that only occurs in voting equipment used in areas with strong A support. Systemic errors can make a dramatic difference in an election, because they can easily shift thousands of votes from A to B without any counterbalancing shift from B to A.

Even worse, systemic errors can introduce errors out of proportion to any actual randomness in the vote-counting process. That is, the closeness of an election is not any indication of the presence or absence of systemic errors.

When a candidate has evidence of systemic errors, a recount can fix a wrong result -- but only if the recount can catch the error. With electronic voting machines, all too often there simply isn't the data: there are no votes to recount.

This year's election in Florida's 13th Congressional District is such an example. The winner won by a margin of 373 out of 237,861 total votes, but as many as 18,000 votes were not recorded by the electronic voting machines. These votes came from areas where the loser was favored over the winner, and would have likely changed the result.

Or imagine this -- as far as we know -- hypothetical situation: After the election, someone discovers rogue software in the voting machines that flipped some votes from A to B. Or someone gets caught vote tampering -- changing the data on electronic memory cards. The problem is that the original data is lost forever; all we have is the hacked vote.

Faced with problems like this, we can do one of two things. We can certify the result anyway, regretful that people were disenfranchised but knowing that we can't undo that wrong. Or, we can tell everyone to come back and vote again.

To be sure, the very idea of revoting is rife with problems. Elections are a snapshot in time -- election day -- and a revote will not reflect that. If Virginia revoted for the Senate this year, the election would not just be for the junior senator from Virginia, but for control of the entire Senate. Similarly, in the 2000 presidential election in Florida, or the 2004 presidential election in Ohio, single-state revotes would have decided the presidency.

And who should be allowed to revote? Should only people in those precincts where there were problems revote, or should the entire election be rerun? In either case, it is certain that more voters will find their way to the polls, possibly changing the demographic and swaying the result in a direction different than that of the initial set of voters. Is that a bad thing, or a good thing?

Should only people who actually voted -- records are kept -- or who could demonstrate that they were erroneously turned away from the polls [They don't issue rain checks... Bob] be allowed to revote? In this case, the revote will almost certainly have fewer voters, as some of the original voters will be unable to vote a second time. That's probably a bad thing -- but maybe it's not.

The only analogy we have for this are run-off elections, which are required in some jurisdictions if the winning candidate didn't get 50 percent of the vote. But it's easy to know when you need to have a run-off. Who decides, and based on what evidence, that you need to have a revote?

I admit that I don't have the answers here. They require some serious thinking about elections, and what we're trying to achieve. But smart election security not only tries to prevent vote hacking -- or even systemic electronic voting-machine errors -- it prepares for recovery after an election has been hacked. We have to start discussing these issues now, when they're non-partisan, instead of waiting for the inevitable situation, and the pre-drawn battle lines those results dictate.

November 14, 2006

New on for November, 2006 - Part 1

Search Public Events in Google Calendar

11/15/2006 10:56:00 AM Posted by Nikhil Chandhok, Product Manager

Today we launched a new feature of Google Calendar: "Search public events." It lets you search over public events added by others using Calendar and also events we've added by working with partners to provide movie listings, concerts, and all sorts of other fun events.

... So whether you're interested in broadway, movies, art, music, photography, farmer's markets, Knicks basketball (we love 'em in NY) or even good old dumpster diving, we hope you find this new feature useful. If you don't see your favorite event, add it to a public calendar and share it with the world. And while you're finding new and interesting things to do, please send us feedback on other ways we can improve the service.

I gotta think about this... Looks like it would work.

Simple way to multiply big numbers

leo2791 submitted by leo2791 10 hours 4 minutes ago (via )

this counting-based technique lets ANYONE multiply big numbers together without a Calculator. It uses lines with Representative multitudes of the value of the digits to criss-cross, forming a plaid-like pattern, one then adds the number of intersections in certain crossing points to get the product of two numbers, no matter how big...F'ing awesome! know, that stuff politicians have in place of brains...

OneLook Reverse Dictionary

I have to admit that it's a rare job ad that grabs my attention. This one did, and they show a hint of their products too. Check them out! (Okay, it's a bit crude, but it just screams potential! Let's buy some stock!)

Fly in Helicopters, Drive in Porsches, Program in Python!

Company: Churchill Navigation Location: Boulder, CO 80302

... To get an idea of what we are working on, check out some of our work in these videos:

In-Flight Entertainment system:

Augmented Reality system for Law Enforcement:

Next-Generation Car Navigation system:

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Another recommendation to take humans out of the system?

Security group ranks human error as top security worry

Report shows most people fall for 'spear-phishing' attacks even after hours of computer security instruction

By Robert McMillan, IDG News Service November 15, 2006

The SANS Institute has some controversial advice for computer security professionals looking to lock down their networks: spear-phish your employees.

That's what the U.S. Military Academy at West Point did in 2004 to a group of 512 cadets, selected at random for a test called the Carronade. The cadets were sent a bogus e-mail that looked like it came from a fictional colonel named Robert Melvillle, who claimed to be with the academy's Office of the Commandant (The real Robert Melville helped invent a short range naval cannon called the Carronade nearly 250 years ago).

"There was a problem with your last grade report," Melville wrote, before telling the cadets to click on a Web page and "follow the instructions to make sure your information is correct."

More than 80 percent of the cadets clicked on the link, according to a report on the experiment.

Worse still, even after hours of computer security instruction, 90 percent of freshmen cadets still clicked on the link.

Spear-phishing attacks contain this kind of targeted information in order to seem more credible, but their goal is the same as a regular phish: trick the user into doing something he shouldn't, like giving up sensitive information.

Because these attacks rely on cooperation from their victims, it's hard to prevent them, said Alan Paller, director of research with SANS. "The only defense against spear phishing is to run experiments on your employees and embarrass them," he said.

Paller's organization compiles an annual report on the top to Internet security targets. This year "human vulnerabilities" will make their first appearance on a list that is typically made up of software products like Internet Explorer, databases, and file sharing applications.

That's because the human factor is being exploited in a growing number of targeted attacks as more and more criminals come online in Eastern Europe and Asia, Paller said.

Virtual law is real law?

In A World Where Everything Is Digital, Economics Gets Screwy Fast

from the no-surprise-there dept

I'll have another post in my series of posts on economics without scarcity soon, but there's something going on in Second Life that highlights one of the issues when there's no scarcity. We were disappointed a few years ago when the creators of Second Life, Linden Labs, said that virtual goods in Second Life should be treated exactly as if they were real goods outside of the game. While it brought in all the problems with legal systems in the outside world, it also created a new problem involving a lack of scarcity and virtual goods. The problem with any such virtual good is that it isn't really scarce. It's artificially scarce by the design of the game. That's a recipe for trouble, and it seems that said trouble has just introduced itself to Second Life in the form of an automated bot that will automatically copy anything in Second Life. Out in the real world, you'd never have an issue like this with tangible products -- because there would always be a scarcity issue where creating a copy would at least entail a real marginal cost. Not so in the virtual world -- which is upsetting people who were tricked into believing that Second Life really was like the outside world in terms of its economics. The fact that any item can be copied, suggests that the economies of these worlds are a lot less stable than what some folks would have you believe. In the meantime, people are trying to deal with it by bringing those bad real world laws directly into the virtual worlds, with some threatening to use the DMCA to stop the copybot from copying items in Second Life -- a move foreshadowed by the claim of copyright infringement when someone copied a "magical sword" in a different online game. For all the hype virtual worlds like Second Life and their "virtual economies" have gotten, it's worth remembering that the lack of real scarcity in these worlds is going to impact the economics in a big way.

Employees Do Not Understand Perils of Computer Use at Work

November 14, 2006 News Release

As we mark e-mail's 25th birthday by exchanging more than 143 billion messages a day, it is not all cause for celebration. A new survey reveals significant misunderstanding among American workers regarding the privacy of their personal e-mail and other computer activities in the workplace. A large percentage do not know that even their most personal messages may be stored electronically and can come back to haunt them or their employer.

The results of a survey entitled Nothing Personal: 2006 Survey of Computer Use at Work, fielded by Kelton Research, asked 1,000 U.S. workers whether they thought their personal computer activities at work remained personal or became business records of their employer. The survey covered personal e-mails, instant messages (IMs), web searches and word-processing files created on computers in the workplace.

Among the survey highlights:

* Overall, more than half of all workers did not know that personal e-mail, IMs and unsent files created on work computers may become business records.

* Over 40 percent of those surveyed did not realize that personal web searches on their work computers could become business records.

* Two-thirds of all workers did not understand that personal IMs to friends could become business records.

* Younger workers (18-34) tended to be less aware than older ones. More than half of the younger group (55 percent) did not understand that sending an e-mail to a friend created a business record, compared with 39 percent of those over 55.

Concerns about electronically stored information (ESI) are especially high in view of amendments to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP) that are scheduled to take effect December 1, 2006. The amendments establish new procedures for an orderly exchange of ESI early in the litigation process, thus making it all the more likely that inappropriate e-mails, web searches, IMs and other ESI will come to light in pre-trial discovery.

If not, should he be?

Is the boss reading your e-mail?

Sandra Gittlen

November 14, 2006 (Computerworld) -- Each day, it becomes more apparent that e-mail and instant messages are not private. Employers are worried about liability and lawsuits, so they're monitoring employee e-mail.

Their fears are not unfounded. The "2006 Workplace E-mail, Instant Messaging & Blog Survey" by the American Management Association and the ePolicy Institute found that 24% of responding organizations have had employee e-mail subpoenaed, and 15% have gone to court to battle lawsuits triggered by employee e-mail.

On the other side, 26% of employers have terminated employees for e-mail misuse, and 2% have let employees go for misuse of IM. Even blogs are a cause of dismissal -- 2% of respondents reported firing workers for offensive content -- even if the blogs are not corporate-based.

Lessig Challenges The Constitutionality Of An Opt-Out Copyright System

from the fight-for-the-right-to-free-content dept

When professor Larry Lessig lost his Supreme Court challenge ("the Eldred case") concerning the constitutionality of Congress continually extending the length of copyright, he seemed to spend over a year kicking himself for the mistakes that he believes he made in arguing the case. However, it was only a matter of time before he came back fighting, using the results of the Eldred case to his advantage. He's been writing some posts on his blog about his latest case, Kahle vs. Gonzalez, which actually uses the specifics of the ruling in the Eldred case not to focus on copyright extension, but to question the constitutionality of switching to an "opt-out" system of copyright. For years, copyright was an "opt-in" system. If you wanted to get a copyright, you needed to register. However, in 1976, the law changed to make it opt-out. That meant that any new creative work was automatically considered covered by copyright. While you could register it for additional protections, you didn't need to. That flipped the equation, taking a ton of content out of the public domain and covering it by automatic copyright -- something that Lessig and Brewster Kahle are now arguing goes against "the traditional contour of copyright protection." This is important, because the Supreme Court's decision in Eldred focused on that very test. While it may be a while before any final results are in, if the case goes in favor of Kahle and Lessig, it could mean a huge change in copyright law. Some may say it would just shift the law back to what it was 30 years ago, but the changes in technology and the means of publishing would suggest that the impact would be much more far reaching than simply turning back the clock.

Are they developing a competing product?

Huh? YouTube Sends TechCrunch A Cease & Desist

Michael Arrington

Buried in my email this evening I found a cease and desist letter from an attorney at Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, representing their client YouTube. We’ve been accused of a number of things: violating YouTube’s Terms of Use, of “tortious interference of a business relationship, and in fact, many business relationships,” of committing an “unfair business practice,” and “false advertising.” The attorney goes on to demand that we cease and desist in from engaging in these various actions or face legal remedies.

Well, crap.

The offense we committed was creating a small tool that lets people download YouTube videos to their hard drives. We referenced the tool in a recent post that walked people through the process of moving YouTube Videos to their iPod.

We created the tool only after a careful review of YouTube’s Terms of Use[...]

Bad law AND bad strategy? What you get when the lawyers run the company? Aren't they saying, “Please don't show anyone our ad?”

Best Buy tries to copyright sales prices

11/14/2006 12:08:57 PM, by Eric Bangeman

Deal site yesterday removed the Best Buy "Black Friday" sales price list after the big box retailer threatened to deliver a DMCA takedown notice to Black Friday's ISP. In a brief posting, Black Friday said, "While we believe that sale prices are facts and not copyrightable, we do not want to risk having this website shut down due to a DMCA take down notice."

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

To some of us, this is a young technology. To my students, “it has always been there.”

The Web Is 16 Today

Posted by kdawson on Monday November 13, @06:15PM from the raise-a-glass dept. The Internet

GuNgA-DiN writes, "Today marks the 16th anniversary of the World Wide Web. According to the timeline on the site: 'The first web page [was] Unfortunately CERN no longer supports the historical site. Note from this era too, the least recently modified web page we know of, last changed Tue, 13 Nov 1990 15:17:00 GMT (though the URI changed.)' A lot has happened in 16 years and this little 'baby' has grown into quite the teenager."

Privacy chief: we're all in's pockets

By Mark Ballard Published Thursday 2nd November 2006 11:11 GMT

The surveillance state is sorting society into pockets of desirable and undesirable people and treating them accordingly, a major survey by the UK's privacy guardian, the Information Commissioner said today.

The democratic values of equality and freedom are threatened by the creeping advance of surveillance into all walks of life, according to A Report on the Surveillance Society, edited by two of the world's leading thinkers on the social consequences of surveillance, Kirstie Ball and David Murakami Wood.*

[PDF: ]

Big Brother's watching Canadians ... and they don't like it

SCOTT DEVEAU Globe and Mail Update

Almost half of Canadians find anti-terrorism laws in the post-9/11 world intrusive, according to a new international Queen's University survey.

Americans were even more concerned than Canadians about these new national security laws, with 57 per cent saying they were invading their privacy.

The Queen's survey, published Monday, is believed to be the largest of its kind. It explores the attitudes of 9,000 people from eight different countries on topics ranging from consumer surveillance, racial profiling at airports, workplace privacy, to trust in government. It found a wide-range of cultural commonalities and differences between the countries chosen - Canada, the U.S., China, France, Spain, Hungary, Mexico and Brazil.

[For more information on the Surveillance Project, an executive summary of the GPD survey findings or pdf version of the survey’s Ipsos Reid report, go to: ]

E-Discovery Amendments: Save Your Old Voice Mail

By Jennifer LeClaire Part of the ECT News Network 11/14/06 4:00 AM PT

"Under the federal rules amendments, judges will be increasingly vigilant about production of all forms of electronically stored information, and companies should be proactive in processes for preserving and producing voice mail and other audio files," said Kenneth N. Rashbaum, compliance attorney and partner at Sedgwick, Detert, Moran & Arnold.

WARNING! This web site has not been approved by Bill Gates.

With IE 7, green means go for legit sites

The Microsoft browser will soon use a green address bar to indicate that you can trust a Web site--but it will leave some smaller businesses out.

By Joris Evers Staff Writer, CNET Published: November 13, 2006, 4:00 AM PST

Starting early next year, the address bar in Internet Explorer 7 will turn green when surfing to a legitimate Web site--but only in some cases, not all.

Advances in technology will make it even easier to “Rip the Vote!”,72113-0.html?tw=rss.index

Election '08: Vote by Tivo

By Keith Axline 02:00 AM Nov, 14, 2006

In the wake of yet another election marred by technical glitches, critics of electronic voting machines are repeating their call to restore old-fashioned paper to the increasingly computerized election process.

But a smaller, quieter group is convinced the real solution lies in the other direction. Now is the time, they say, to make elections completely electronic, and allow voters to cast their ballots from home, over the internet.

If You Ask A Stranger To Take Your Photo, You May Have Violated Your Digital Camera Contract

from the lovely dept

The Against Monopoly blog is discussing the creeping of end user license agreements (EULAs) out of the digital world into the physical world -- often through embedded software. In this case, they note that when you buy a digital camera, you may own the hardware, but the EULA on the embedded software has massive restrictions on how you can use the camera, even suggesting that: "If you let anyone outside your immediate family use the camera--if you lend it to a friend for the weekend or even ask a stranger to take a picture of you and your wife--Canon could technically sue you for breach of contract." We're reaching an age where you will actually own less and less of what you buy, and instead will be held to various license agreements and terms of service even after the purchase.