Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Flash! Not all teachers are created equal! Union stunned!


NY: Judge rules Dept. of Education can release names, job rankings of public school teachers

January 10, 2011 by Dissent

Jose Martinez reports:

A Manhattan judge ruled Monday that the Department of Education can release the names and job rankings of more than 12,000 public school teachers.

The decision by Justice Cynthia Kern is a blow to the United Federation of Teachers, which tried to block the DOE from making the internal ratings system public.

The union has argued the data is flawed – and releasing wrong information to the public could destroy careers.

In a 10-page decision, Kern noted that the union’s concerns over privacy are outweighed by public interest in how teachers perform – and pointed out that the courts have repeatedly held that the release of job-related information is not an invasion of privacy.

Read more in the New York Daily News

California, thy name is Boondoggle.


New California driver's licenses so complex, manufacturer has struggled to get them right

When the California Department of Motor Vehicles unveiled a newly designed driver's license last fall -- the first major revision in a decade -- officials touted sophisticated security features that promised to make the cards easier to use and harder to fake.

The cardholder's signature and birth date would be raised, so they could be felt. Hidden images would be revealed only by ultraviolet light, and a perforated outline of the California brown bear would be visible when a flashlight was pressed against the back of the card.

DMV Director George Valverde said the vendor, L-1 Identity Solutions, has struggled with color accuracy, the raised lettering and the positioning of images of California icons, including El Capitan in Yosemite and the Golden Gate Bridge. L-1 was the only bidder on the five-year, $63-million job, Valverde said.

It sounds techie, but it's really more complicated than that. It's a legal thing...


Hospital Wireless Networks May Be Regulated Medical Devices

"As hospitals continue to connect patient monitoring equipment, physician PDAs and laptops to wireless networks, and then collapse those data paths onto traditional IT networks, the closer the US Food and Drug Administration comes to regulating them, according to Computerworld. The focus of the FDA's regulation comes in its recently finalized 80001-1 standard that established risk management practices for those networks, the adherence to which may be voluntary, but would determine Medicaid and Medicare reimbursements. 'If you don't comply, then you have two choices. You can have the federal government come in and inspect your hospital, or you can decide not to accept money from Medicare or Medicaid. Voluntary sometimes isn't exactly voluntary,' said Rick Hampton, wireless communications manager for Partners HealthCare System in Boston."

Another reason I'm not a lawyer. How can it be permissible to rely on something you didn't know about?


Fifth Circuit Permits Warrantless Government Searches Based on Previous Private Search Not Known To Police

January 10, 2011 by Dissent

Orin Kerr writes:

Last week the Fifth Circuit handed down a significant decision on the “private search” doctrine in Fourth Amendment law, United States v. Oliver. Oliver permits warrantless searches under the private search doctrine even when the police who conducted the search didn’t know about the private search. I don’t think the private search doctrine can extend so far, and in this post I hope to explain why I think the decision is wrong. I also want to explain why a different Fourth Amendment rule, the “apparent authority” doctrine, very possibly applies to the facts of this case. The apparent authority doctrine was not litigated in the Oliver case, but it should have been. If I’m right about that, the Oliver decision may have reached a plausible result but did so using a rationale that is quite troubling and likely to cause more problems in the future.

Read more on The Volokh Conspiracy.

Exemplars of “Truth, Justice and the Copyright Way?”


Record Labels To Pay For Copyright Infringement

"Sony Music Entertainment Canada Inc., EMI Music Canada Inc., Universal Music Canada Inc. and Warner Music Canada Co. have agreed to pay songwriters and music publishers $47.5 million in damages for copyright infringement and overdue royalties to settle a class action lawsuit. 'The 2008 class action alleges that the record companies "exploited" music owners by reproducing and selling in excess of 300,000 song titles without securing licenses from the copyright owners and/or without paying the associated royalty payments. The record companies knowingly did so and kept a so-called "pending list" of unlicensed reproductions, setting aside $50 million for the issue, if it ever arose, court filings suggest.'"

“Yeah, we're changing the contract. So what?”


T-Mobile Slashes Fair Use Policy, Says Download At Home

"T-Mobile in the UK has revealed a new fair use policy, cutting caps from 1GB and 3GB to 500MB, saying mobile browsing doesn't include videos or large downloads. 'If you want to download, stream and watch video clips, save that stuff for your home broadband,' the company said. All those people who have bought smartphones with the aim of doing such things on the go may not agree with the mobile operator, however. Any user that goes over the new limit won't be charged, but will be blocked from downloading or streaming for the rest of the month."

(Related) ...and if they charge for “excess” data, here's a phone to avoid.


Microsoft Looking Into Windows Phone 7's 'Excessive' Data Use

"A few users are complaining that Windows Phone 7 is eating data plans alive. One user estimates idle data usage at 3-5 Mb per hour. Not good for a phone which seems to be struggling against Android and iPhone."

(Related) How to take advantage of your competitors weakness...


Verizon To Offer iPhone Users Unlimited Data

"The WSJ reports that Verizon Wireless, the country's largest wireless carrier, is confident enough in its network that it will offer unlimited data-use plans when it starts selling the iPhone around the end of this month, a person familiar with the matter says. Such plans would provide a key means of distinguishing its service from rival AT&T Inc., which limits how much Internet data its customers may use each month. Verizon has a lot at stake as it starts to carry the iPhone, which it is expected to announce Tuesday at an event in New York City. Verizon, more than any other US carrier, has built its reputation on its network quality, and any stumble in handling iPhone traffic will call into question Verizon's major selling point. On the other hand, if it does handle the iPhone well, then AT&T will have a harder time arguing it didn't mismanage its own network. Anthony J. Melone, Verizon's chief technology officer, says the company has invested heavily in its 3G network to handle surging smartphone traffic, including nine million Android subscribers, up from none a year earlier.'"

I'll go a bit farther with Baen. They often include a CD in their books, with the entire catalog of books by that author! I copy the CD (they encourage it) and send it to my fellow Sci Fi nuts, many of whom have started reading Baen authors (and buying the books because, like me, they have trouble focusing their bifocals on a computer screen.)


Book Piracy — Less DRM, More Data

"Ambiguity surrounds the real impact of digital book piracy, notes Brian O'Leary in an interview with O'Reilly Radar, but all would be better served if more data was shared and less effort was exerted on futile DRM. 'The publishing industry should be working as hard as we can to develop new and innovative business models that meet the needs of readers. And what those look like could be community-driven. I think of Baen Books, for example, which doesn't put any DRM restrictions on its content but is one of the least pirated book publishers. As to sales, Paulo Coelho is a good example. He mines the piracy data to see if there's a burgeoning interest for his books in a particular country or market. If so, he either works to get his book out in print or translate it in that market.'"

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