I have to admit Sony is getting better – but they still don't have the whole picture.
Sony Finds Defect In Digital Cameras
Posted by Zonk on Friday November 24, @02:57PM from the caveat-emptor dept. Sony Businesses Technology
gbobeck writes "Sony announced [Good! Better than some third party! Bob]Friday that it found a defect in 8 Cyber-shot compact digital camera models. 'The liquid crystal display screens of eight camera models might not display images correctly, images could be distorted or cameras might not take photos at all.' The affected models were sold between September 2003 and January 2005 globally. According to Sony spokesman Chisato Kitsukawa, 'Sony will repair for free only cameras that show signs of the problems.'" [Bad! If customers are convinced their cameras are defective, don't say “We don't think so!” Bob]
Just an observation: If you are the only one using this technology, you can't identify anyone not already in your system. If fingerprints are not adequate with a mere 10 points of comparison, why not increase that to 400?
Weld County Jail Uses Iris Scans To ID Inmates
Mike Hooker Reporting Nov 23, 2006 11:34 am US/Mountain
(AP/CBS4) GREELEY, Colo. When someone gets arrested, a bunch of unfamiliar or uncomfortable things happen: There's the ride in the police car, the new orange jail outfit, the mug shots and the fingerprinting.
For the past month, Weld County inmates have had to undergo a decidedly more futuristic process: iris scanning.
... To the Weld Jail, an iris scan is far better than fingerprints, which can take hours to verify through state and national databases. The iris scan can come up with a positive match in about 30 seconds. [but it only scans the local database... Bob]
A fingerprint uses about 10 data points to compare features such as ridges and valleys in a person's finger. The iris scan uses 400 data points, Eggers said.
Have you seen the ad where someone ships his Mustang to Germany because he “can't find a speed limit” he likes in the US?
German police get their phoney U.S. Highway Patrolman
Fri Nov 24, 6:25 AM ET
German traffic police were shocked to see a California Highway Patrol car cruising along the motorway, driven by a man dressed as an authentic American cop, authorities said Thursday.
Most interesting. Think of the strategic implications!
DARPA study looks into high-speed underwater capability
By Denise Hammick 17 November 2006
The US Defence Advance Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has awarded contracts to Northrop Grumman and General Dynamics Electric Boat to create and demonstrate a high-speed underwater express vehicle.
It will be designed with the aim of carrying out high-speed littoral missions using supercavitation technology, testing the feasibility of the technology to transport high-value cargo and/or small units of personnel.
The concept has been used before by Russia to develop the Shkval short-range, anti-submarine torpedoes in the 1980s, which could reach around 200 kt. [200 knots = 230.15589 miles per hour Bob]
The notional US vehicle aims to operate covertly - if surface and acoustic signatures can be reduced enough - and manage speed while avoiding surface wave 'slamming' injuries.
Proposal documents seen by Jane's suggest that the demonstrator vehicle will improve upon the Shkval with a movable, retractable cavitator on its nose cone.
135 of 513 words © 2006 Jane's Information Group [End of non-subscriber extract]
Customers with a paid subscription to Jane’s Navy International can access the full article here
Strategy is a set of coordinated actions... This seems to coordinate with the “We're a monopoly and you have no rights” strategy MS claims to have abandoned.
Trusted Or Treacherous Computing?
Posted by Zonk on Friday November 24, @05:24PM from the eyes-in-the-dark dept. Patents Privacy Hardware
theodp writes "Just because Richard Stallman is paranoid doesn't mean Microsoft's not out to get you. For a hint about the possible end-game of Microsoft's Trusted Computing Initiative, check out the patent application published Thanksgiving Day for Trusted License Removal, in which Microsoft describes how to revoke rights to render based on 'who the user is, where the user is located, what type of computing device or other playback device the user is using, what rendering application is calling the copy protection system, the date, the time, etc.' So much for Microsoft's you-should-have-control assurances."
...and Microsoft software can't be beat! (In less that an hour)
Zune Hacked - Share songs without DRM
initiator submitted by initiator 17 hours 6 minutes ago (via http://www.gizmodo.com/gadgets/portable-media/how-to-bypass-the-zunes-wifi-sharing-drm-217042.php )
Title says it all.
... This hack works because Zune doesn't apply DRM to images!
Does the First Amendment guarantee my right to order a hit? What rules exist for telephone use from “inside?”
Inmates Sue for Right To Use the Internet
By Kevin Johnson November 24, 2006 8:29AM
John Boston, a prisoners' rights advocate in New York, says inmates' use of the Internet -- albeit indirectly -- represents a matter of simple free speech that should be protected. However, Andy Kahan, director of Houston's crime victims office, says some of that speech, potentially viewable around the world, could reinjure victims. "It's like getting (harmed) all over again," Kahan says.
When a friend sent Georgia inmate Danny Williams some legal research that had been downloaded from the Internet this year, state prison guards confiscated the package. [Bad law? Also not germane... Looks like it to me! Bob]
Prison officials said the material was prohibited under a 5-year-old regulation that, according to state Department of Corrections Commissioner James Donald, bars inmates from receiving any printed material downloaded from the Internet. The policy is designed to prevent inmates from gaining access to material on the Internet that could compromise security -- bombmaking instructions, for example. [And the Georgia prison guards can tell from looking at a piece of paper where the information originated? Bob]
Now, Williams is challenging the policy in federal court, the latest in a series of cases in which inmates are seeking changes in prison regulations or state law to try to use the Internet to do research or communicate with the outside world.
State and federal inmates do not have direct access to computers. However, some have used written correspondence with friends or family members to set up and maintain Web sites and e-mail accounts to air grievances, solicit legal assistance and express political views.
Legal challenges such as Williams' -- along with recent reports that several death-row inmates in Texas have posted personal profiles on the social networking site MySpace.com -- have ignited a national debate [between reporters? Bob] over speech rights and how much contact prisoners should be allowed with the public in the Internet age.
John Boston, a prisoners' rights advocate in New York, says inmates' use of the Internet -- albeit indirectly -- represents a matter of simple free speech that should be protected.
However, Andy Kahan, director of Houston's crime victims office, says some of that speech, potentially viewable around the world, could reinjure victims.
"It's like getting (harmed) all over again," Kahan says.
Campaigns To Block Access
In some states, crime victims and prison officials have launched legal and informal campaigns to block all access to the Internet by inmates. Those strategies, however, have been largely unsuccessful:
In a case similar to Williams' challenge in Georgia, a federal appeals court in California two years ago sided with an inmate who was barred under state prison regulations from receiving printed copies of Internet-generated documents through regular mail. Prison authorities feared that the materials could contain coded messages. [Not “using the Internet” Bob]
In Arizona, prisoners' rights groups successfully challenged a state law that once banned inmates from exchanging written mail with Internet service providers or establishing profiles on Web sites through outside contacts. [Not “using the Internet” Bob]
The Arizona law, overturned in 2003, called for additional disciplinary sanctions against inmates if they were found to have corresponded with Internet providers or requested that "any person access a provider's Web site."
The Arizona Department of Corrections, according to court documents, had imposed sanctions against at least five inmates "because their names appeared on Internet Web sites." [As in, “Guess who was convicted today?” Bob]
A similar issue surfaced this month in Texas, when Kahan discovered that 30 death-row inmates had profiles on MySpace.com.
"Is it (MySpace's) policy to give killers a platform for all the world to see?" Kahan says. "I'm asking MySpace to take a stand. Do they want convicted killers to infiltrate a system geared to young people?"
Profiles on MySpace
Among the most notorious inmates featured on the site is Randy Halprin, 29. He was a member of the "Texas 7," a group of inmates who escaped from the state prison system in 2000 and went on a murderous rampage.
The group was involved in the fatal shooting of a police officer during a botched robbery near Dallas. Halprin was sentenced to death for his role in the slaying.
On MySpace, Halprin established a profile, which included a gallery of photographs chronicling his life from childhood to a current photo of a smiling Halprin on death row. The page is no longer accessible to the public.
Texas Department of Criminal Justice spokeswoman Michelle Lyons says that for years, death row inmates have been using relatives and others to post information on their behalves. "We cannot police the Internet for what outsiders are posting," she says.
MySpace spokesman Jeff Berman says the site is reviewing profiles posted on behalf of inmates and says it will "remove any that violate our terms of service, such as hate speech, advocating violence and threatening conduct.
"Unless you violate the terms of service or break the law, we don't step in the middle of free expression," Berman says. "There's a lot on our site we don't approve of in terms of taste or ideas, but it's not our role to be censors."
Jayne Hawkins says she believes MySpace should do more to discourage inmate profiles. Her son, Aubrey Hawkins, was the police officer killed in the robbery that involved Halprin.
"Web sites that allow criminals are helping them turn into romantic figures; that is so detrimental to our children," [whereas use of such inane logic is beneficial? Bob] Hawkins says.
"This kind of thing dishonors Aubrey. What should happen on death row is that these people should sit behind a locked door, and we should be allowed to forget about them."
Think of this as the electronic equivalent of the overnight lines, and the near-riots they cause.
Amazon Collapses Under Weight of 1,000 Xboxes
Posted by Zonk on Friday November 24, @10:52PM from the everyone-is-falling-down dept. The Internet Businesses
theodp writes "Is there such a thing as a BusinessWeek Cover Jinx? Amazon was bitten by the success of its 1,000 Xboxes for $100 promotion, which brought the entire site to its knees for about 15 minutes on Thanksgiving Day. Singing the too-much-traffic blues on Black Friday were Wal-Mart and Disney."
Strange that this wasn't noticed by the people who monitor the location of the cars.
Tracking Devices on Milwaukee Police Cars Blocked
Posted on Thursday, November 23rd, 2006 at 9:58 am
GPS systems installed on Milwaukee Police squad cars to help dispatchers track officers’ whereabouts have recently been found covered with foil, rendering them useless and the cars invisible to monitoring. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports:
A Milwaukee police captain was walking through the District 7 garage over the summer when he noticed something wasn’t right about the satellite tracking antenna on the back of a squad car.
A closer look revealed that the small square global positioning system antenna was wrapped in aluminum foil.
Capt. Donald Gaglione called the radio shop and confirmed what he suspected: Foil disables the expensive GPS, essentially making the car invisible to dispatchers.
A check revealed that an antenna on a second car also was wrapped in foil. Gaglione ordered that every car be checked at the start of every shift and during patrols, according to department e-mails obtained by the Journal Sentinel under the state open records law.
Deputy Chief Dale Schunk, in charge of the patrol division, responded quickly.
“This sabotage of our equipment will not be tolerated,” Schunk wrote in an e-mail to all his commanders. He ordered that every district begin checks and that he be personally notified of other incidents.
The GPS trackers are part of an $18 million radio and communications upgrade the department has been installing since 2004. The department has added the GPS systems on about 25% of the department’s roughly 650 squad cars.
Dispatchers use the system to track the location of squad cars so they can send them more quickly to calls and to rush help if an officer is down.
Officers have quietly talked about GPS being used as a way for internal investigators to build cases against them. [Hey, if you're not guilty, you have nothing to worry about! Bob] Assistant Chief Leslie Barber was fired two years ago after investigators put a GPS on his car and found that he was living outside Milwaukee.
Department officials downplayed the foil incident as a one-time problem that hasn’t resurfaced. Chief Nannette Hegerty called it a “non-issue.”
Asked why an officer might disable the device, Hegerty said, “I don’t know. Don’t ask me why some of the officers do what they do.” [Who should we ask? (Perhaps the officers?) Bob]
Aldermen reacted with outrage.
“Are you serious? Officers are doing it themselves?” Common Council President Willie Hines said. “It is ridiculous incidents like this that bring the entire department under fire. . . . That is what you expect of kids, very immature kids.”
Ald. Joe Davis said the incident shows the need for the Fire and Police Commission, which received two investigators in the most recent budget, to closely monitor police.
“This type of act by law enforcement is unconscionable,” Davis said. “When we are looking for truth and integrity, what we are getting is unethical behavior.” [Ooh, ethics! Can't wait for the next police union negotiations. Bob]
My friends in discourse analysis would have a field day with this, noting how resistance to workplace surveillance is considered “sabotage” and “unethical.”
I’m heading to Milwaukee today for the Thanksgiving holiday. I’ll drop off some extra tin foil at the local precinct…
You could see this coming. Yesterday there was a similar incident in New Jersey... “Parents ain't got no right to see what we does!”
Video of teacher rant gets students in trouble
By Greg Sandoval Story last modified Fri Nov 24 15:32:30 PST 2006
A school in Quebec, Canada, has banned personal electronic devices in the classroom [“We don't want our criminal behavior recorded.” Bob] after students videotaped a teacher yelling at a student and the footage ended up on YouTube.
Two 13-year-old girls have been suspended for their involvement in the incident at Ecole Secondaire Mont-Bleu, according to the CBC report. And the teacher has taken a stress leave from work.
The teacher was purposely provoked by one of the girls into yelling at her while the other girl secretly taped the scene, the CBC reported. Exactly what kind of device was used to record the event was undisclosed.
YouTube, by far the largest of the sites hosting user-submitted video, is quickly becoming a favorite venue for those wishing to expose wrongdoing. Proponents argue that online video can help hold people accountable. But the mushrooming popularity of these sites, coupled with the prevalence of video-equipped cell phones, has also raised concerns about misinterpreted context and the risk of ruined reputations.
... Earlier this month, an investigation was launched into two members of the Los Angeles Police Department after they were videotaped punching a man repeatedly in the face. The probe into the incident began only after the clip appeared on YouTube, igniting public outcry.
... In the case of the Canadian teacher, officials from the school district have sided with the man and say they hope he decides to return to work, according to the CBC report. Colleagues say the teacher has more than three decades of experience and has instructed special classes for students with discipline problems.
"The teacher will be the master of his class--a closed class and confidential," Abdu Mansouri, a spokesman for the region's teachers' union, told the CBC.
“...and we're gonna sue the phone company because people have been talking about us, and the postal service because someone might have written a letter, and the queen because she holds the patent on English...”
French film producer sues Google France
Thu Nov 23, 2006 2:06 PM ET By Astrid Wendlandt and William Emmanuel
PARIS (Reuters) - The producer of "The World According to Bush" has taken legal action against Google for distributing the film for free, becoming the latest media company to seek compensation for lost business on the Internet.
... "Flach Film requests the court to sentence Google to provide compensation for the loss resulting from these illegal acts," Flach said, adding that it alleged Google had "not acted as a simple host but as a fully responsible publisher."
... "We made estimates of the prejudice, and it goes well beyond 500,000 euros ($648,700). The film has been downloaded about 50,000 times, and it has certainly been copied afterwards," [“we have no evidence, but our psychics tell us so...” Bob] Jean-Francois Lepetit, producer of the film, told Reuters in a telephone interview.
... The legal action against Google comes after Universal Music Group, the world's largest music company which is part of Vivendi, last week filed a suit against MySpace for infringing copyrights of thousands of its artists' works.
The lawsuit accuses News Corp.'s 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. MySpace has said its procedures for removing illegal downloads live up to laws protecting digital rights.
Think of this as a metaphor of the “fanatical terrorist” logic: “You are a non-believer so you can't understand.” “You are a believer in a version of god I can't understand because you won't explain it to non-believers.”
Atheist Richard Dawkins Destroys Students from Jerry Falwell's University
flicknut submitted by flicknut 11 hours 53 minutes ago (via http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qR_z85O0P2M&source=rss )
Richard Dawkins, perhaps the world leader in evolutionary biology, visits Randolph-Macon Woman's College in Virginia for a Q&A session. Many of the questioners announced themselves as either students or faculty from Jerry Falwell's Liberty University. They tried to stump Dawkins, but their failure to do so was repeatedly applauded by the audience.
7 tricks to Viral Web Marketing
Brajeshwar submitted by Brajeshwar 1 day 5 hours ago (via http://www.baekdal.com/articles/branding/viral-marketing-tricks/ )
Viral marketing (word-of-mouth marketing) is a really cool thing. Just think about it... instead of spending an insane amount of money on newspapers ads, TV commercials or banner ads, you spent nothing - and let your fans do all the work for you.