Tuesday, April 26, 2011

“It's for the children!” Justifying ubiquitous surveillance...


Kibot the robot entertains kids, spies on them

Korean children, already fast becoming a robot-friendly lot, have a new companion in Kibot, a monkey-faced bot that can read fairy tales, sing songs, take pictures, and make video calls via a display embedded in its tummy.

Wireless operator KT Telecom started delivering the multitasking monkey today for 485,000 won ($447), plus wireless packages that can be purchased in 12- or 14-month installments.

… Kibot (short for "kid's robot") isn't just for kids, however. Parents can also remotely control the 8-inch-tall wheeled robot via mobile phone and, using Wi-Fi, monitor their children (a feature that made Stella a tad apprehensive).

"If I was sleeping, it wouldn't be that comfortable if I knew someone was watching me," she said. "It would be freaky."

...another indication that SciFi does (sometimes) predict the future.


Welcome to the age of data: Watch your back!

This week's iPhone location tracking scandal is just the latest glaring spotlight on how much of your personal information is gushing out the door, whether unprotected on your own devices and ripe for the picking, or into corporate and botnet servers worldwide. And despite reports of a Steve Jobs e-mail declaring that Apple doesn't track anyone, Apple's general counsel told a congressional inquiry in June 2010 that "(t)o provide the high-quality products and services that its customers demand, Apple must have access to the comprehensive location-based information."

… The new cost of "free"

Personal information is the currency of the post-technological age, and the cost of "free" has never been higher. Your data, on an increasingly minute and personal level, powers every Web or network-based company, from start-up to monolith.

… But pity poor Google, which must gather all this information by increasingly intrusive means, like the DoubleClick ad cookie that tracks your browsing all across the Web, surreptitious Wi-Fi sniffing, and sending location information about you back to its data centers even when you're not running location apps.

On the other side of the aisle lies Facebook, which has cleverly cajoled 500 million users (and growing) into giving up virtually all the same information for free. Profiles, Places, Deals, and of course, the ever-present Like button, which lets you easily record your preferences for everything from opinions to shoes to celebrities and bands...you can almost imagine Facebook whispering a little "thank you" every time you click that little blue button.

Want to understand why Google is so desperate to get into social that it's tied part of every employee's bonus to the success or failure of that strategy in 2011? It has nothing to do with helping you share your photos and restaurant check-ins, and everything to do with data collection--and data connections.

Not all Clouds are fluffy?


Cloud development: 9 gotchas to know before you jump in

(Related) Another cautionary tale.


Top Ten e-Discovery Issues by Judge Andrew Peck and David Lender

United States Magistrate Judge Andrew J. Peck for the S.D.N.Y., and practicing attorney, David J. Lender, have written a Top Ten list of e-discovery issues that is worthy of your attention. 10 Key E-Discovery Issues In 2011: Expert Insight to Manage Successfully (Metropolitan Corp. Counsel, April 03, 2011).

Convergence: when your appliances run your life...


The Future of In-Car Computing

"PC Pro is running a collection of articles looking at the future of in-car computing technology. They discuss how smartphones will become the primary means of in-car entertainment, how satnavs will be integrated into fighter-jet style heads-up displays, and how cars will create wireless mesh networks that warn each other of upcoming delays and collisions. The also explore the issue of integrating driverless cars onto the roads. 'It's one thing having smart cars that can talk to each other and react accordingly, but if half of the cars are dumb, it's another issue.'"

(Related) At least he didn't blame the computer for turning on the lights and unlocking the doors.


Computer Opens Unmanned Store For Holiday

"The Walkato Times in New Zealand is reporting that someone forgot to tell the computer not to unlock the supermarket on the Friday holiday. 'About half of the 24 people who came into the supermarket paid for their groceries using the self-scan service. The service stopped working after alcohol was scanned, requiring a staff member to check a customer's age before the system is unlocked.' The owner, Mr Miller, was quoted as saying 'I can certainly see the funny side of it... but I'd rather not have the publicity to be honest. It makes me look a bit of a dickhead.' Rather than take legal action, Mr Miller is hoping that the people who didn't pay will do the right thing."

This should interest the Intellectual Property lawyers and anyone looking for a “legitimate” Pirate's Bay. Hackers (white hat?) figured out how Dropbox secured files and built a tool to help users share them.


Dropbox Attempts To Kill Open Source Project

… The HN post linked to a blog post about an open source project called Dropship that allows users to exploit Dropbox’s file hashing scheme to copy files into their account without actually having them. Dropship will save the hashes of a file in JSON format. Anyone can then take these hashes and load the original file into their Dropbox account using Dropship. This has some real potential benefits for Dropbox’s users. Anyone could easily share a private file with someone else by simply giving them the JSON string. No need to make the file public. The downside is potential for abuse in distribution and sharing of illegally pirated files.

As Arthur C. Clarke noted many years ago, countries with no significant infrastructure can adopt the latest technologies while developed countries must justify abandoning their capital investments before upgrading.


State of The Internet: Fiber, Fast Cities & Faster Broadband

The last three months of 2010 were good for broadband, thanks to growing demand for high-speed connections and growing popularity of fiber-based networks in Asia and Europe, according to the State of the Internet Report put together by Cambridge, MA-based Akamai Technologies. According to Akamai data, the global broadband adoption at the end of 2010 was about 61 percent with nine of the top 10 countries having ended 2010 with broadband adoption levels of 90 percent or higher. Given that Akamai has a fairly large and global footprint, the Akamai data is a good proxy for overall trends.

It's not about the melody, but your right to listen or perform the melody.


April 25, 2011

Rethinking Music: A Briefing Book

Rethinking Music: A Briefing Book Compiled and Presented By The Berkman Center for Internet & Society At Harvard University, April 2011.

  • "The Berkman Center for Internet & Society is pleased to present this briefing book to participants in the Rethink Music conference. The book includes the Center’s own framing paper, which introduces a number of issues that will be discussed during the course of the conference. Following that paper are contributions from a wide range of contributors, addressing some of the most current and compelling issues in music law and policy. The first five of those contributions were conceived during an October 2010 meeting at Harvard Law School among a variety of stakeholders interested in helping to shape the agenda for the Rethink Music conference, and they reflect the individual authors’ views on several cutting edge issues of the day. The last two papers reflect the existing or ongoing work of their respective contributors. The respective authors and/or copyright holders retain rights in each of the individual submissions. As noted, some of the submissions are licensed under Creative Commons licenses."

The first death in the Social Networking field? Probably some 'lessons to be learned' here...


Social Network Pioneer Friendster To Erase All User Photos, Blogs And More On May 31

Before MySpace and Facebook, there was Friendster, a pioneering social networking website for consumers. First launched in 2002, Friendster attracted tens of millions of users over the years, but it never quite grew into the online juggernaut it could have been.

Having raised close to $50 million in venture capital, Friendster was acquired by Malaysian payments company MOL Global at the end of 2009 for a reported $40 million.

Fast forward to today, and it looks like Friendster won’t be so much about sharing with friends anymore. In a message to registered members (hat tip to @Mazi), the company is asking all users to install a custom application to export all their profile data, as most of it will be unequivocally deleted on May 31, 2011.

Surprised to learn anyone was still making them. Does this make them more collectable?


A moment of silence: The manual typewriter is finally dead

The humble manual typewriter is officially dead, which may come as something of a surprise considering that word-processing platforms, desktop PC systems, and portable notebook computers have been the norm for so many years.

More pointedly, Mumbai-based Godrej and Boyce—the world’s last typewriter manufacturer—has finally closed its production line, bringing an end to one of history’s most iconic pieces of office equipment.

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