Saturday, November 25, 2006

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 )

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 -- 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

"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…

... Posted in GPS, Locational privacy

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 )

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 )

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.

Friday, November 24, 2006

This is one of those cases where I fervently hope the school (and the grad student) have backups of all the data. If not, WHAT ARE THEY TEACHING?

Nov 23, 2006 8:04 am US/Mountain

CU Grad Students' Computer Server Stolen

Students Research Data Missing With Server

(AP) BOULDER, Colo. A computer server containing several years of graduate students' research data has been stolen from the University of Colorado.

The server was taken from the Engineering Center on the Boulder campus early Saturday, said CU Police Lt. John Kish.

Is this going to be a trend? Importing foreign workers to take American jobs? Don't our colleges provide enough... er... Never mind.

International prostitution ring busted in metro area

written by: Deborah Sherman I-Team Reporter posted by: Jeffrey Wolf Web Producer Created: 11/22/2006 5:21 PM MST - Updated: 11/23/2006 8:41 AM MST

HIGHLANDS RANCH - Federal and local police shut down an international prostitution ring operating in the Denver area this week.

Agents arrested Kah Poh Cheah, Wai Chong Kong and his wife Kit Chi Ho at their homes in Thornton and Highlands Ranch.

Agents say they flew in prostitutes from Korea and California to work in Denver.

The prostitutes sometimes paid $18,000 to get into the U.S., but they were able to quickly work off their debts, according to the search warrants.

The arrest warrants say they advertised their services on local Web sites such as

They charged up to $180 for sex acts, according to the arrest warrants.

The Glendale Police Department, FBI, ICE agents, Denver Police Department and Arapahoe County Sheriff's Office worked the case after a tip arrived at the Glendale Police Department about the ring in March.

Officers caught several men leaving brothels that were located in several apartments in Denver, the Denver Tech Center and Glendale.

Most of the men admitted they paid for and had sex with the prostitutes, according to the search warrants.

Agents also found more than a thousand condoms in nearby trash cans.

The alleged ringleaders were charged in federal court on Wednesday on charges of transportation for illegal sexual activity.

They face up to 10 years in prison if found guilty.

Officers also arrested several of the alleged prostitutes over the last few months.

The failure to keep up with a changing environment is one of the key indicators of a poorly managed company. Either top management is ignoring input from subject managers (in this case their lawyer) or the subject managers are not even bothering to do their job (advising top management) and top management hasn't noticed...

Survey: Companies not prepared for new e-discovery rules

Sharon Fisher

November 21, 2006 (Computerworld) Few corporations are prepared for the new federal rules slated to take effect Dec. 1 for electronic discovery of documents in civil cases, according to a survey conducted by Computerworld.

About 42% of the 170 IT managers and staffers surveyed said they did not know the status of their company's preparation for the new rules, while 32% said their company was not at all prepared.

The new rules specify requirements for submitting electronic documents – including e-mail and perhaps even IM logs -- as evidence in civil cases.

The rules were recommended in September 2005 by the Judicial Conference of the U.S. Supreme Court's Committee on Rules of Practice and Procedure. Some states have instituted similar rules (see "New e-discovery rules go into effect in December ").

... Courts have indicated in past actions that penalties for failure to comply could be harsh – and costly. Even before the rules were recommended, Morgan Stanley was fined $1.5 billion -- half of which was punitive -- in May 2005 when a judge ruled that it had failed to preserve information.

Of the Computerworld survey respondents, [My emphasis Bob]

15% said their company was halfway or somewhat prepared, while

5% said their company was completely prepared.

Twenty-two percent said they had prepared for the new rules by reading about them, and

a few said they had retained inside or outside counsel.

Several respondents also said this was the first time they had heard of the new rules.

... Corporations' general counsel should have acknowledged the new rules and had a conversation with the CIO about whether the organization was prepared, Bace said. As with the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, IT has to be involved from the beginning to ensure it can produce the records the rules require, he said.

A similar survey performed in May and June by the Association for Information and Image Management in Silver Spring, Md., described its concern about electronic discovery as a key driver in implementing e-mail management, with 25% of those surveyed indicating they had had to respond at least once during the past year to an e-discovery request. And in organizations with more than 1,000 employees, more than 21% reported more than 10 instances during the past year in which e-mail was tapped during e-discovery or during an internal investigation.

The most important things organizations can do are to be prepared to tell a judge what discoverable information the organization can provide and to develop document retention policies and content management procedures to help protect the organization in case documents get lost, Bace said.

Wednesday I was asking how thieves would convert stolen chips to cash, no problem here! The Brits know how (and what) to steal!

Thieves pinch £750,000 Xbox 360 shipment

Author: Ryan Garside Published: 23rd November 2006

A lorry, containing £750,000 worth of Xbox 360s, has been hijacked by thieves near a depot in Staffordshire.

The robbery, no doubt inspired by the oncoming Christmas rush, is the second in a week. A trailer containing £260,000 worth of 360s was stolen at a depot owned by the same firm - Hellman Worldwide Logistics around a week ago. At the moment police are treating the two incidents as separate.

French National Assembly switches to Linux

Linux, OpenOffice and Firefox favoured

Peter Sayer

No doubt some will suggest that all classroom lectures be recorded (or live streaming video be available to parents) while others will ban recorders from classrooms.

U.S. Classrooms Torn Between Science and Religion

Posted by Zonk on Thursday November 23, @03:16PM from the when-the-man-has-an-agenda- dept. Education Science

Dystopian Rebel writes "A New Jersey public-school history teacher was recorded telling his students that they 'belong in Hell' if they do not accept Jesus. The teacher, who is also a Baptist Pastor, lied later when he was asked by the school principle what he said to the students. Unfortunately for this dodge, a student recorded the teacher's 'lesson'."

From the article: "The student and his parents have requested that the teacher's anti-scientific remarks be corrected in open class, and that the school develop quality control procedures to ensure that future classes are not proselytized and misinformed. They have also referred the matter for disciplinary action. No apology has been forthcoming from the teacher or from the school."

[Best comment: They live in New Jersey so when they wind up in Hell it won't be much different. Bob]

Now this would be an interesting History assignment. Can high school history students even name 100 historical figures?

November 23, 2006

Atlantic's List of Most Influential Figures in American History

The Atlantic Monthly | December 2006, The Top 100 - The most influential figures in American history.

23.11.2006 -

'Ignorance of the law is no excuse' Celebrating 25 years of European law online on 23 November in Luxembourg

The Office for Official Publications of the European Communities celebrates 25 years of electronic access to European law in the presence of His Royal Highness the Grand-Duke of Luxembourg. What started as an experimental project within the European institutions to cater for the needs of professional users in the 1970s was opened to the public as CELEX in 1981 and has now become EUR-Lex, a gateway to EU law for all.

Call the Guinness people!

Jailed blogger denied Thanksgiving furlough

November 23, 2006 11:22 AM PST

Josh Wolf, the video blogger behind bars for refusing to hand over unpublished source material, won't be enjoying a home-cooked meal today.

A federal judge on Tuesday denied Wolf's request for a Thanksgiving furlough, according to a court order issued by U.S. District Judge William Alsup.

At a hearing earlier that day, according to the San Francisco Chronicle, Alsup suggested that allowing Wolf a few days of holiday freedom might undercut the reason he has been imprisoned--to coerce him into surrendering a video of a San Francisco political protest under investigation by a federal grand jury.

Wolf, 24, has been jailed for three months, in two stints. Last week, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals denied his request for rehearing in his case. Barring any intervention by the U.S. Supreme Court, he is likely to remain in the Federal Correctional Institution in Dublin, Calif., until the grand jury's term expires in July. That would give Wolf the distinction of being the journalist who has served the longest time in jail--in the history of the United States--for refusing to give up his sources or divulge unpublished material.

Video: Hear from the first jailed blogger Josh Wolf speaks at press conference

This is critical! Help me prove that I own “Bob-speak” -- the variation of English that I invented to communicate with everyone else... (If you don't understand, I'll be happy to provide lessons for a modest fee. Would you like a “Ich grok Bob-speak” T-shirt?)

Do You Own Your Native Language?

Posted by Zonk on Thursday November 23, @04:41PM from the they-don't-like-power-point-presentations-either dept. Microsoft The Courts Politics

l2718 writes "In a new take on the reach of 'Intellectual Property,' the Mapuche Indians of Chile are accusing Microsoft of linguistic piracy. Their lawsuit alleges that Microsoft needed permission from the tribal elders before translating its software into Mapuzugun, a project which was co-ordinated with the Chilean Ministry of Education."

From the CNN Money article: "The Mapuche took their case to a court in the southern city of Temuco earlier this month but a judge ruled it should be considered in Santiago. A judge in the capital is due to decide in the next two weeks whether Microsoft has a case to answer. 'If they rule against us we will go to the Supreme Court and if they rule against us there we will take our case to a court of human rights,' said Lautaro Loncon, a Mapuche activist and coordinator of the Indigenous Network, an umbrella group for several ethnic groups in Chile."

Tools & Techniques (Do not rely on this!)

How To Login From an Internet Cafe Without Worrying About Keyloggers

sharjeelsayed submitted by sharjeelsayed 19 hours 9 minutes ago (via )

"We tested five shareware or commercial keylogging programs: HomeKeylogger 1.70, GhostKeylogger, KG-BKeylogger, Spytector 1.2.8 and ProBot. None of them captured passwords entered using the trick we describe."

Hacking is good! Ignorance is bad!

Hacking Internet Cameras

Allsortshop submitted by Allsortshop 16 hours 8 minutes ago (via )

Fox shows how to hack internet cameras.

If nothing else, an interesting cocktail party quote.

Pentagon "misplaces" $2.3 trillion in transactions.

Eggzb submitted by Eggzb 14 hours 35 minutes ago (via )

That's with a T. $8000 for every American.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Technology is addressing surveillance from all angles. If you look, smell, taste, and now sound evil, robocop is authorized to shoot! (but if you're not guilty, it will only be a flesh wound...)

Another Reason Not To Raise Your Voice In Public

from the they-can-hear-you dept

We've been pretty amazed at all the innovation in surveillance technology lately. Those grainy videos from convenience stores are rapidly becoming ancient history. The most exciting advances in technologies that can identify certain types of behavior, like violence or just plain old suspiciousness. The latest is some acoustic technology that can identify aggression in somebody's voice. So police can be alerted if it sounds like a fight is about to break out in a store or on the street. One of the big problems with this type of thing is the possibility for false positives. Actions that aren't violent or aggressive may from time to time be identified as such. And if there are too many, it ruins the usefulness of the technology. But perhaps by rolling these technologies together, law enforcement could improve their confidence as each one could confirm what's being picked up on the others. As for the other big problem, the continued erosion of privacy, it doesn't look like any help is on the way.

Study Finds Podcast Use Rising but Small

Nov 22, 12:26 PM EST

NEW YORK (AP) -- A growing number of Americans are listening to podcasts, but very few do so every day.

The Pew Internet and American Life Project said Wednesday that 12 percent of Internet users have downloaded a podcast, an increase from 7 percent earlier in the year.

However, only about 1 percent said they download a podcast on a typical day - unchanged from the survey earlier this year. The rest do so less frequently, perhaps only once.

Podcasts are typically sound files that can be played on personal computers, TiVo Inc.'s digital recorders and music players such as Apple Computer Inc.'s iPod. Many are regularly scheduled and automatically delivered, and more recently some have incorporated video.

News organizations such as National Public Radio and The Associated Press offer news podcasts throughout the day, while amateurs have produced podcasts once or twice a week to discuss their favorite television shows, among many other subjects.

"While podcast downloading is still an emerging activity primarily enjoyed by early adopters, the range of content now available speaks to both mainstream and niche audiences," said Mary Madden, senior research specialist at Pew. "We are at a crossroads of a major transition in the way media content is delivered and consumed."

Men and online veterans are more likely to download podcasts, according to the telephone survey of 972 adult Internet users, which was conducted Aug. 1-31 and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points. The previous survey was conducted February to April.

In Search of Stupidity

Posted by samzenpus on Wednesday November 22, @03:06PM from the you-don't-have-to-look-far dept.

Ben Rothke writes "In Search of Stupidity gets its title from the classic, albeit infamous business book In Search of Excellence: Lessons from America's Best-Run Companies, by Tom Peters and Robert Waterman. In Search of Excellence quickly became a best-seller when it came out in 1988 and launched a new era of management consultants and business books. But in 2001, Peters admitted that he falsified the underlying data. Librarians have been slow to move the book to the fiction section." Read the rest of Ben's review.

... The first chapters of the book discuss the story and mythology around the origins of DOS. It details such luminaries as Digital Research, IBM, Microsoft, Bill Gates and Gary Kildall and more. The first myth about Microsoft is the presumption that the original contract with IBM for MS-DOS gave Microsoft an immediate and unfair advantage over its competitors. The reality is that over time, MS-DOS did indeed become Microsoft's cash cow; but it took the idiocy of Apple, IBM and others to make this happen.

Goodbye global warming?

Company Claims New Chip Converts Heat to Electricity

Posted by ScuttleMonkey on Wednesday November 22, @04:24PM from the confirmed-skeptics-unite dept.

Dster76 writes to tell us that the startup, Eneco, claims to have invented a solid state energy conversion chip which they claim will be able to convert heat directly into electricity or reach temperatures of -200 C when given an electrical current. While such a device could revolutionize many aspects of computing I'll keep my skeptic hat on for the time being.

DMCA Exemptions Announced; Nothing Much For Consumers

from the keep-on-trying dept

Every few years, the Copyright Office/Library of Congress is supposed to look at requested "exemptions" from the DMCA anti-circumvention rule, where people have presented evidence saying that the law is too onerous under certain circumstances. Just the fact that they admit that the law is often so onerous that it needs regular review for exemptions should point out how problematic the law is -- but that's a debate for another time. The exemptions process itself is filled with problems, and people were pretty upset last time around by the very limited number of exemptions offered. Last year, the EFF even announced that the process was so broken that it served no purpose to file for exemptions that protect consumers.

Today the Copyright Office came out with the list of exemptions. There are six exemptions, which is the largest number so far (though, we're talking a pretty small sample size), though some of them basically appear to be extensions of what was approved last time (such as cracking copy protection on obsolete formats and to allow e-books to be read aloud). They also allow circumvention for mobile phone firmware if it's needed to legally connect to a wireless network, and finally, they dealt with the Sony rootkit issue. Back when the Sony rootkit was big news, some people pointed out that removing it, technically violated the anti-circumvention rule of the DMCA -- but the Copyright Office, in their infinite wisdom, has now said that (thank goodness), you're allowed to circumvent copyright protection if it's on a CD and if it's for audio works and if that copy protection introduces security vulnerabilities, but only to test, investigate or correct the security flaw.

As the EFF notes, all of the proposed exemptions that would protect consumers directly (such as for things like space-shifting, region coding and backing up DVDs) were rejected. So, you may run afoul of the law if you do any of those things to copy protected media. Even though the actions themselves are perfectly legal, getting around copy protection to do them is a violation of the law. Last time these exemptions came out, we hoped that the DMCA would be amended before the next set of exemptions were necessary -- so lets hope that Rick Boucher can finally push through the changes he's been proposing before another three years go by.

Cell Phone Owners Allowed to Break Software Locks

Posted by samzenpus on Thursday November 23, @04:13AM from the free-at-last dept. Communications News

An anonymous reader writes "The library of congress approved many copyright exemptions today. Among the exemptions were new rules about cell phones, DVDs, and electronic books."

From the article: "Cell phone owners will be allowed to break software locks on their handsets in order to use them with competing carriers under new copyright rules announced Wednesday. Other copyright exemptions approved by the Library of Congress will let film professors copy snippets from DVDs for educational compilations [only 'film professors?' Bob] and let blind people use special software to read copy-protected electronic books. All told, Librarian of Congress James H. Billington approved six exemptions, the most his Copyright Office has ever granted. For the first time, the office exempted groups of users. The new rules will take effect Monday and expire in three years. In granting the exemption for cell phone users, the Copyright Office determined that consumers aren't able to enjoy full legal use of their handsets because of software locks that wireless providers have been placing to control access to phones' underlying programs."

It amazes me that this is not a very common business model. Businesses (and schools) are just discarding old licenses and buying new ones rather than upgrading?.

UK firm crosses pond to sell preowned Microsoft licenses

Disclic has closed its first deal selling licenses it procured from companies going out of business in the U.K. to a company in the U.S.

By Elizabeth Montalbano, IDG News Service November 22, 2006

A U.K. company that has made a business out of selling preowned licenses for Microsoft Corp. products has brought its products to the U.S. for the first time.

... Customers can access's product search feature here

Unwin said prices for U.S. customers are generally 15 percent less expensive than prices for U.K. customers. The company sells preowned licenses for about 35 percent to 40 percent cheaper than the original cost of the license. [Business model 2.0: sell for 36-41% less! Bob]

Because of these discounts, software resellers have been purchasing software from to sell to their customers so they can make higher margins, [well, duh! Bob] Unwin added. has added several hundred new customers so far in 2006, in addition to repeat customers. The most popular licenses the company sells are for Office XP, Unwin said. Other product licenses that do well include the SQL Server database and Exchange 2003 messaging server.,1759,2062940,00.asp?kc=EWRSS03119TX1K0000594

OpenOffice Extension Rivals SharePoint

By Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols November 22, 2006

Most people think that is a strong office-suite in its own right. But, when it came to a back-office document collaboration and management engine, like Microsoft SharePoint to enable OpenOffice users to work together, it was a different story.

Things have changed, with the release by Dutch firm O3Spaces B.V. of a program that lets OpenOffice and StarOffice users collaborate on projects.

O3Spaces works by providing users a single web-based team environment, with built-in search capabilities and an optional Java-based Desktop Assistant. Its search functionality is said to work across PDF, ODF, and Microsoft Office document formats.

With its built-in alert capabilities, users can be notified whenever changes are made to their shared information.

Read the full story on Linux-Watch: OpenOffice Extension Rivals SharePoint

There is some real potential here...

Remote Control Mail: Check Your Postal Mail on the Web

Marshall Kirkpatrick November 22 2006

Kirkland, Washington based company Document Command Inc. has launched its consumer facing web interface for postal mail called Remote Control Mail. The service provides an alternative to PO Boxes, mail forwarding or waiting until you get home from the road to deal with your mail. The company receives your postal mail, scans the outside of what’s sent to you and provides a web interface to quickly sort through letters, bills, magazines and direct mailings. It looks like a lot of fun and very useful for some people. Though Remote Control Mail is targeted today towards niche users, that market size is not small and there are plans to extend related services to far more users. Document Command is working on a full scale robotics system that will provide even more functionality to institutions and mail customers in general.

Users of the service are able to quickly view the front of anything sent to them and choose between having the items shredded, recycled, archived, opened and scanned or forwarded to wherever they are in the physical world. Future features may include the ability to deposit checks to your bank account and automatically apply signatures to documents with just a few clicks.

Remote Control Mail is now available for personal users for an activation fee of $25 and monthly rates starting at $19.95 per month for up to 5 named mail recipients. Business plans are also available. Customers provide a Remote Control Mail address to anyone sending them mail and the company will forward selected mail wherever you request. Where legally permitted, the company will also forward to international addresses.

Through early testing the company has been able to determine behavioral statistics for postal mail customers with unprecedented detail. The company has found that 30% of incoming envelopes are ordered to be opened and scanned. After being scanned, 13% of recipients asked that the original mail piece be forwarded to them, 53% had the piece recycled and 34% had it shredded.

Those are the kind of aggregate statistics that businesses in many industries will probably pay for and could help things like direct mailings become more targeted and less annoying. Some consumers will no doubt have privacy concerns, but those concerns don’t seem atypical to me relative to what any direct service provider faces.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

You'd have to be a complete idiot not to challenge this election. Think of this a e-Chad?

Florida Candidate Demands New Election In County Where E-Voting Machines Ate The Vote

from the do-over! dept

Two days after the election, despite claims in the press that there were "no major problems" with e-voting systems, it became clear that Sarasota County in Florida had a pretty serious problem to deal with as somewhere between 8,000 and 18,000 votes on e-voting machines appeared to have gone missing. There were various explanations, but it seems like the machines just didn't record the votes when people hit the touchscreen. levi stein writes in to let us know that the Congressional candidate who lost that election by a mere 369 votes, Christine Jennings, is challenging the election and demanding a new election. She's pointing out that there was clearly something wrong with the machine as the missing votes don't fit statistically with votes from any other county in the district, and that this particularly county had the majority voting in her favor (suggesting those missing votes very likely would have tipped the election). It will certainly be interesting to see what happens in the lawsuit she's filed, as it could open up plenty of similar lawsuits in other areas. Hopefully, the risk of such lawsuits will be just one more thing that elections officials will take into account when deciding whether or not to trust their elections to these problematic machines.

...and here I was looking forward to a great legal battle. Oh well, no doubt the non-existent tape will leak eventually.

Federline denies Britney sex tape

Britney Spears' estranged husband Kevin Federline has denied possessing a video tape of the couple having sex.

After Spears filed for divorce earlier this month, some tabloid papers claimed Federline would make the film public.

But his lawyers say it does not exist and "stories of Kevin attempting to sell such a video are patently false".

Microsoft realizing that complementary products will be a benefit? Brilliant!

Microsoft licenses Office UI for free

Developers may use Office 2007 as a platform but Redmond gets to protect its investment

By Elizabeth Montalbano, IDG News Service November 21, 2006

Microsoft Corp. is licensing the new UI (user interface) in Office 2007 for free so developers can build applications that look similar to the programs in the suite, the company said Tuesday.

Microsoft is licensing both design and functionality of Office 2007's RibbonX UI, as well as offering guidelines for implementing it, through a new program, said Takeshi Numoto, Microsoft general manager for Office Client. Developers and ISVs (independent software vendors) can sign up with Microsoft on the Web and register products that will use the UI.

More information about the new licensing program can be found here .

EFF Files Suit for Answers About New International Air Passenger Data Deal

Department of Homeland Security Dodges Records' Disclosure

Washington DC - The FLAG Project at the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) filed suit against the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) today, demanding information about a new agreement on the handling of air passenger data from flights between the European Union (EU) and the United States.

Two years ago, the U.S. and EU made a controversial deal requiring airlines to give DHS access to detailed passenger information from EU flights to and from the U.S. In May, the European Court of Justice struck down the agreement, finding it at odds with EU law. But the U.S. and EU reached a new agreement last month that will give U.S. law enforcement and intelligence agencies greater access to the data than the previous deal did. EFF filed its suit after DHS failed to respond to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for records about the handling of data under the new agreement, including how they are maintained, used, disclosed, and secured.

... For the FOIA complaint filed against the Department of Homeland Security:

For more on the FLAG Project:

Contact: Marcia Hofmann Staff Attorney Electronic Frontier Foundation

Anything for money... but there was a large market waiting

Clerics in India Dismiss Quran Ringtones

By BISWAJEET BANERJEE Associated Press Writer Nov 21, 6:44 PM EST

LUCKNOW, India (AP) -- Muslim clerics at a leading seminary in India have asked people to refrain from using verses from the Quran as ringtones for their mobile phones, saying the practice was un-Islamic.

... "One should hear the complete verse of the Quran with a pious mind and in silence. If it is used as a ringtone, a person is bound to switch on the mobile, thus truncating the verse halfway," he said. "This is an un-Islamic act."

Would this make the Bobbys look like Dr. Who's Daleks? (If the cops turned off the videos, would that be evidence they were doing something naughty?)

London Police Equipped With 360-Degree Cams

Posted by kdawson on Tuesday November 21, @04:09PM from the you-couldn't-make-it-up dept. Privacy

OriginalArlen writes, "In a story so surreal I had to check the primary source, the Register reports that the (London, UK) Metropolitan Police are trying out the use of eight tiny cams, mounted in the police helmet, to provide 360-degree evidence gathering in the event that an officer witnesses a crime. The press release also gives more evidence of the stealth spread of ubiquitous ANPR [Automatic number plate recognition Bob]systems across the country as a spin-off 'benefit' to the London car congestion-charging scheme, which is likely to be rolled out across the country in the next few years. Are we already living in a Panopticon Society?"

According to this report from the information commissioner for Great Britain, yep.

...if that wasn't enough..

Forget ID Cards, UK Police To Begin Scanning Your Fingerprints On The Street

from the papers...-er...-fingerprints-please dept

While there's been plenty of uproar about national ID cards and passports with RFID chips, it seems that police in the UK are taking things one step further, giving police portable fingerprint scanners, in order to identify suspects quickly. They say this will help them identify people who give false identities... but they also say that the person will need to give permission before their fingerprints are scanned. Still, it's not hard to see how this works -- if you don't agree to having your fingerprint scanned, you're suddenly a lot more suspicious looking. Also, there are always questions about how far this eventually goes. The police claim that the device has "safeguards" against misuse, but safeguards don't often stay safe very long, but a bigger issue may simply be others deciding they want to make use of the devices as well. Want to buy something? Rather than presenting ID, why not just have your fingerprints checked against the national database? We've already seen some grocery stores experiment with fingerprint scanners to replace shopper cards, so why not just connect that into a federal database? And, even better, if someone else figures out how to figures out how to copy your fingerprint it's not like you can just go out and get a new finger. [Oh? Bob]

Drivers License Swipes Raise Privacy Concerns

Posted by kdawson on Wednesday November 22, @02:33AM from the step-away-from-the-card-reader dept.

Clubs in New York, New Jersey, and elsewhere are requiring patrons to give up their drivers licenses for a swipe through a card reader. Some bars do this too. The card reader displays their birth date and the establishments let it be assumed that the only purpose of the swipe is to check the customer's age. They rarely if ever disclose that the personal data stored on the license — the customer's name, address, license number, perhaps even height, weight, and eye color — go into a database and are retained, perhaps indefinitely. While a federal law forbids selling or sharing data from drivers licenses, there is no prohibition against collecting it. A few states have enacted such prohibitions — New Hampshire, Texas, and Nebraska. Privacy advocates warn that such personal data, once in a database, is bound to be misused. From the article: "'I don't see no problem,' said [a club-goer], 22. 'That happens every day on the Internet. Any hacker can get the information anyway.' [A Web media executive] said such reactions aren't surprising from a generation accustomed to sharing personal information on Web sites such as and 'The kids don't care,' [he] said, 'because only old people like you and me suffer from the illusion of privacy these days.'"

How will they convert this to cash? No reputable manufacturer will buy these chips (will they?) Do you think the underworld is getting into the computer manufacturing business? Keep an eye on eBay!

Thieves steal chips worth millions

Raid on an air cargo terminal in Malaysia nets gang of thieves nearly $13M in computer chips

By Sumner Lemon, IDG News Service November 22, 2006

... The gang of 20 thieves subdued 17 security guards using weapons and chloroform before stealing 585 cartons and 18 pallets of microchips and motherboards manufactured by a multinational company in Bayan Lepas, Malaysia, The Star newspaper reported Tuesday on its Web site. The stolen goods were estimated to be worth $12.7 million, making the theft the largest ever in Malaysia, it said.

News reports in Malaysia have not named the multinational company that produced the chips. Several large companies, including Dell, Intel, and Advanced Micro Devices, have operations in Bayan Lepas, which is near Penang.

Great unasked questions: “What will be the consequences of my actions...”

Streisand Effect For Make Benefit Alcohol Vaporizers, Glorious Nation Of Kazakhstan

from the will-they-ever-learn dept

The Streisand Effect -- when efforts to shut down or ban something merely call more attention to it and make it far more popular -- is alive and well: The Wall Street Journal has the story of a company that makes alcohol inhalers, some sort of device that lets people breathe in alcoholic drinks rather than, uh, drink them. The devices weren't selling at all, and the company had no money to market them -- until a Kentucky legislator tried to get the devices banned, sending sales through the roof. [Smart marketer sends angry letter to ignorant politician – free advertising results. Bob] There's little evidence that the machines are any more harmful than just drinking alcoholic beverages, nor is there any evidence that anybody in Kentucky had actually bought one, but no matter. The legislator somehow determined these things were a threat to public health and safety, causing a firestorm of media attention, which led to efforts by people in other states to have them banned, resulting in... more sales of the device. The kicker is that nobody really seems to like the machines: one of the people in the company making them even says "Most people try it once and then go back to drinking." But thanks to the one legislator's overreaction, they're selling pretty well. However, in a slight twist on the other side of the world, it looks like one government is starting to understand, and even leverage, the Streisand Effect. After getting their collective panties in a wad for what they saw as the fictional character Borat making fun of Kazakhstan (even when it seemed pretty clear the joke was on people that believed his representation of the country could be true) and yanking his web domain, the government there is singing a new tune. Its prime minister says the film has made people more curious about the country, and he hopes they'll come visit -- and searches for Kazakh hotels on one travel site have jumped 300%.

I hadn't thought of that... (and no, I didn't copy that from the previous article...)

Another Reason For Authors To Fear Google Book Search: It Will Reveal Plenty Of Plagiarists

from the ah,-technology-at-work dept

While some book authors and publishers have come to embrace Google's book search, many are still fighting it. While the reason, for many, is fear that their own copyrights are violated in not being compensated by Google for the project, perhaps others are worried about a different copyright infringement issue. Paul Collins at Slate is predicting that Google's book search will help turn up plenty of plagiarists, including (he expects) some well known authors. He comes to this conclusion after a science writer was accused of plagiarism recently, and immediately accused his accuser of simply putting every sentence in his book into Google and finding some close matches. Collins, however, also notes that plagiarism has a long history among book authors, pointing out that Herman Melville apparently plagiarized sections of other books for his famous novel, Moby Dick. He also points to a friend who accidentally discovered a plagiarized passage using Google's book search... and then discovered that the "original" author of the piece he was looking for had plagiarized texts himself. We recently wondered why plagiarists often seemed so blatant in copying content that was easily findable online -- but just imagine how many others may have copied from various books assuming the same searching capabilities would never be present to call out their misdeeds? Once again, though, perhaps it will renew the debate over whether or not plagiarism is always such a bad thing.

Here's a video that will be “banned in Boston”

How Pregnancy Happens

psokarovski submitted by psokarovski 15 hours 34 minutes ago (via )

Well if your kids ask you: How Pregnancy Happens??? You can just show this video to them, and avoid humiliation. [??? Bob]

Don’t bet against the internet

From The World in 2007 print edition

It’s simply the best, argues Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google

... First, most new applications can be created using existing software and protocols.

... Second, competition has increased and intensified.

... Third, the creation, consumption and communication of content have increased exponentially.

... The fastest-growing parts of the internet all involve direct human interaction.

Microsoft Windows is 21 Years Old Today

Published by Brandon LeBlanc November 20th, 2006

Website Connected Internet has a great article on today’s birthday for Microsoft Windows - celebrating 21 years. Microsoft Windows 1.0 was released on November 20th, 1985. [and it was terrible Bob]

Not funny. It should be obvious that many government agencies are praying that their security is adequate, while others haven't got a prayer...

Bush Proposes Faith-Based Firewalls for Government Computers

By Brian Briggs Wednesday, November 2 12:00 AM ET

Washington D.C. – President Bush announced that by 2008 all government computers should be protected from outside attacks by the faith-based firewall called Protection From Above (PFA) from Houston-based software developer Christisoft.