FCC, Brand X near Supreme decision
Marguerite Reardon writes in C|Net News:
The future of competition in the broadband market hangs in the balance as the U.S. Supreme court prepares to hand down its decision in a closely watched case that pits the Federal Communications Commission against a small Internet service provider.
The case, FCC v. Brand X, revolves around semantics and a highly technical legal definition of cable Internet.
The FCC has defined cable broadband as an "information service"--a definition that, under FCC guidelines, frees cable companies of regulations that would require operators to share their networks with competitors, including Internet service providers such as California-based Brand X. Brand X argues that cable networks should be regulated like phone lines, which, because they handle telecommunications service, must allow competing services to ride over their network.
The outcome of the Brand X case could set the ground rules for competition in the broadband market for years to come. Though the details of the case are seemingly arcane, the issue could influence how quickly high-speed Internet services come online across the country, what features they will have and how much they will cost--particularly in regions where cable is the only broadband choice for consumers.
Justices to rule on fate of file-swapping
John Borland writes on C|Net News:
Perhaps as soon as Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court will rule on the future of file-swapping, in one of the most closely watched legal battles of the year.
With implications that could ripple from Hollywood studio gates to executive suites of the biggest Silicon Valley companies, the case has drawn an impressive list of participants. Groups ranging from state attorneys general to the Christian Coalition all have weighed in, promising near-apocalyptic consequences if the court ignores their advice.
At issue is how much responsibility technology companies have for the actions of customers who use products to break copyright laws. Peer-to-peer file-swapping is the heart of the issue, but the court is addressing a delicate legal balance between copyright interests and technological progress that has lasted for two decades.
Report: Google to Start New Payment System
Via an AP newswire report on Yahoo! News:
Online search-engine leader Google Inc. is preparing to introduce an electronic payment system later this year in a move that would pose a financial threat to one of its biggest advertisers, Internet auctioneer eBay Inc.
The Wall Street Journal reported Google's plans on its Web site late Friday, citing sources familiar with the Mountain View-based company's plans. The Journal did not provide any details about Google's strategy.
A Google spokesman declined to comment on the report.
Update: Security breach could affect 40 million credit card holders
An AP newswire report on USA Today:
A security breach of customer information at a credit card-processing company could put at risk 40 million cardholders of all brands, MasterCard International said Friday.
The credit card giant said its security division detected multiple instances of fraud that tracked back to CardSystems Solutions of Tucson, which processes transactions for banks and merchants.
MasterCard said in a news release late Friday afternoon that it was notifying its card-issuing banks of the problem.
CardSystems was hit by a computer virus that captured customer data for the purpose of fraud, said company spokeswoman Sharon Gamsin.
MasterCard, which said about 14 million of its own cards were exposed, said it was giving CardSystems a "limited amount of time to demonstrate compliance with security requirements."
CardSystems officials did not immediately return telephone calls seeking comment. Nor did officials from American Express and Visa.
Bob Sullivan over on MSNBC
has more information
on this travesty.Update2:
MasterCard Int.'l. announcement here
Illicit Workplace Pictures Found In Half of U.S. Enterprises
Via TechWeb News.
Half of the largest 500 U.S. companies have had to take disciplinary action against employees sharing digital pornography or other illicit images at the workplace, a study released Friday shows.
In dealing with illicit images, 44 percent of the companies ended up firing the workers, while 41 percent took some other disciplinary action, according to the Delta Consulting study, which was sponsored by PixAlert Inc. The Westford, Mass., company makes software that detects inappropriate images on corporate networks.
More than 90 percent of the respondents said the biggest threats in terms of the originating source of pornography were the Internet and e-mail, or e-mail attachments. Other threats include cellular-phone cameras, memory sticks, CDs and Wi-Fi networks.
Update: Blackberry outage reported
Marguerite Reardon writes in the C|Net News Broadband Blog:
Users throughout the country are reporting a service outage on their BlackBerry handheld devices.Update:
From Philadelphia to Chicago to Atlanta "CrackBerry" addicts are being forced to put down their handheld devices until Research in Motion, the company that provides the BlackBerry email service, can get back online.
Some companies are circulating notices to employees informing them of the outage: "Research in Motion (RIM) is currently experiencing a nationwide network outage. This has resulted in the inability to send or recieve email and PIN messages from your BlackBerry handheld. They are working as quick as possible to resolve this issue."
More on this outage via an AP newswire report
Slashdot: Bloggers Test New MS China Filter
A meme in it's own right (and something I've mentioned here a couple of times), this whole MSN Spaces Chinese blogging censorship issue continues it's own saga. This is an interesting twist, however.
Shamelessly clipped from /.
Posted by Zonk on Friday June 17, @04:47PM
from the free-as-in-freedom dept.
earthbound kid writes "Rebecca MacKinnon at Global Voices Online has set up a test of Microsoft's censored blogs on MSN China (see previous Slashdot story) with screenshots. It seems that MSN rejected titling a new blog 'I love freedom of speech, human rights, and democracy' (in Chinese) because 'The title must not contain prohibited language, such as profanity.' MacKinnon managed to use a workaround and got a pro-freedom blog up, for the moment."
Austin area adds jobs in May
Good news for the local tech economy.
Claudia Grisales writes in the Austin American-Statesman:
Central Texas employers added jobs in May at the highest rate for that month since the peak of the tech boom five years ago.
However, because of the typical seasonal slowdown heading into summer, the 1,900 jobs added last month was about half as many as in each of the preceding two months. The five-county Central Texas region saw its nonfarm employment reach 684,500 during May, up 17,400, or 2.6 percent, from a year earlier. That's more than double the statewide growth of 1.2 percent for the past 12 months.
The 1,900 jobs added in Central Texas last month is the best May number since 2000, when employers added 6,000 positions amid a hiring boom.
Typically, there is a seasonal decline in May as universities and other schools prepare to let out for the summer. In May, state government, which includes employers such as the University of Texas, lost 600 jobs.
119 students who failed courses get group email
An AP newswire story in USA Today reveals that:
Due to an e-mail mistake by the University of Kansas, 119 students who failed all their classes during the last semester found out who shared their misfortune. The students were notified earlier this week that they were in jeopardy of having their financial aid revoked. The e-mail sent Monday by the Office of Student Financial Aid asked for additional information to determine if they were still eligible for aid.
The e-mail address list included the names of all 119 students, with the result that everyone on it could see the names of all the others.
"It was a completely inadvertent, unintentional mistake," university spokesman Todd Cohen said Thursday. "It was our error, our mistake and we deeply regret it."
Emergency groups clamor for directory
Dibya Sarkar writes in FCW.com:
A coalition of national health, police and fire and other groups is trying to raise awareness and obtain federal funding for a real-time automatic messaging and information-sharing system that draws from a shared electronic directory of public and private emergency response agency contact information.
The geographic information system-enabled Emergency Provider Access Directory (EPAD), which has taken three years to develop, provides authorized users to share data across disparate systems and transmit emergency alerts and descriptions of specific incidents to registered individuals within a particular area or region.
Guilty verdict reached in Tyco trial
Updated: Via Reuters.
The jury in the trial of former Tyco International Ltd. Chief Executive Dennis Kozlowski and finance chief Mark Swartz on Friday reached a verdict of guilty of one count of grand larceny.
The jury in State Supreme Court in Manhattan returned their verdict on the 11th day of deliberations. This is the second time the two men have been tried. The first trial ended in a mistrial last year.
John Paczkowski of Good Morning, Silicon Valley, posts a rather humorous excerpt of a Seattle Times columnist's "re-write" of Steve Jobs' Stanford commencement speech:
"There's a fourth story about me that I decided to omit from this talk. It has to do with the many people in my life whom I've cheated, abused and otherwise screwed on my rise to fame and riches. You may be wondering, How can a guy who comes across as so thoughtful and caring in a speech like this be such a jerk in person? ... Well, there's a very simple reason: I've always put money and power ahead of people."
"So when a worshipping blogger posts a product rumor I don't like, I sue him. When a book gets written I don't appreciate, I have it banned from stores. And why do I do this? Because a fawning media and corrupt power structure let me get away with it. Because when I stand up here and spout revisionist treacle about fonts and calligraphy and my role in being first with the Macintosh, people like you believe it. And it gets reported and reprinted without challenge."
"So when I look in the mirror each morning and think about whether it's my last day on earth, I also say to myself, "Just in case it isn't, I better make sure I take care of No. 1." And I guess the lesson to you as you make your way through life is, Don't cross me, or I'll crush you. And nobody will be around to stick up for you while I do it. They'll all be too busy applauding my bogus life lessons while thinking, "What a guy!""
-- Seattle Times Columnist Paul Andrews re-writes Steve Jobs' Stanford commencement speech
Heavy Port Activity May Indicate Hacker SMB Sniffing
Via TechWeb News.
Activity on one of the ports associated with Windows' Server Message Block (SMB) protocol is climbing, security giant Symantec said Friday, an indicator that hackers may be exploring a vulnerability Microsoft disclosed Tuesday.
Symantec's DeepSight network, a global collection of sensors that watch for and track developing threats, has noted a surge in activity targeting TCP port 445, which is associated with SMB-related communications on Windows machines.
"This may indicate an increase in known attacks, such as password brute forcing, or the exploitation of known vulnerabilities, or may indicate activity related to the recent Microsoft Incoming SMB Packet Validation Remote Buffer Overflow Vulnerability," said the DeepSight team in an advisory.
That vulnerability was one of the 12 patched earlier this week during Microsoft's monthly blast of security bulletins.
Microsoft advised users to block ports 139 and 445 as a temporary workaround until they could patch systems. "Blocking them at the firewall, both inbound and outbound, will help prevent systems that are behind that firewall from attempts to exploit this vulnerability," Microsoft said.
The sad, slow fall of Atari
Chris Morris writes on CNN/Money:
In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Atari was king of the video game mountain. Now it's barely the court jester.
The Atari of old offered games and a home console – the Atari 2600 – that could be found in the living rooms of cool kids everywhere. The Atari of today is plagued by a revolving door in the executive suite and boasts a questionable line-up of upcoming games.
Fourth-quarter losses for the firm, reported earlier this week, came in at $9.1 million – better than last year's $17.3 million loss, but hardly confidence inspiring. And the comments from company executives in the conference call following the earnings announcement weren't exactly upbeat.
"When we can stop shooting ourselves in the foot ...Atari's going to be a spectacular company," said Diane Baker, chief financial officer.
Iranian blogs take on the election
Mehdi Jami (BBCPersian.com) writes for The BBC:
The Persian blogland is less than four years old, and so Friday's presidential election is the first of its kind in the post-weblog world.
Iranian weblogs, one of the largest web communities in the world, owe their significance to the welcome they have received from middle-class Iranians inside and outside the country.
Thousands of voices not heard via Iranian state-owned media can now express their views through the internet.
During the past weeks, the Iranian urban middle-class has published a huge amount of articles on weblogs about its preoccupation with the presidential election. They have left no stream of thought unrepresented.
These discussions are invariably about one of two topics: Boycotting the election or voting for three of the candidates - former police chief Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf, former science minister Mostafa Moin or former President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani.
The other candidates are not talked about as such on the weblogs.
Daily gapingvoid.com fix....
Via gapingvoid.com. Enjoy!
Security, Data Integration Top Venture Capital Interests
John Pallatto writes in eWeek:
Security, enterprise data integration, health care and regulatory compliance are some of the areas that will attract investment during the next few years, according to IT technology company executives and venture capitalists who spoke here this week at the Dow Jones VentureWire Enterprise Ventures conference.
For years enterprises have looked for silver bullets that would allow them to solve their data integration problems, and that search for such technology will continue for years to come, said George Gilbert, principal with Tech Strategy Partners, a consulting and research firm focused on enterprise software and service.
Internet Initiative Japan shares tumble
A Reuters newswire report on CNN/Money:
Internet Initiative Japan Inc. said Friday it would withdraw its planned listing on the Tokyo Stock Exchange's Mothers market for startups, saying it was having difficulty meeting listing requirements.
Shares in Internet Initiative Japan plunged more than 20 percent in early morning Nasdaq trading.
The U.S.-listed Japanese Internet access provider was originally due to list next Thursday, with the aim of raising some ¥1.9 billion ($17.43 million).
Netscape Update Brings XML Fix for IE
Nate Mook writes in BetaNews:
AOL's Netscape division has released a minor update to its Firefox-based Web browser, which corrects an issue that caused XML rendering in Internet Explorer to break.
IE program manager Dave Massy called out Netscape last month for introducing the problem, which AOL has blamed on poor IE documentation, not a Netscape bug.
"After installing Netscape 8 the XML rendering capabilities of Internet Explorer no longer work," Massy wrote in the IEBlog. "That means that if you navigate in IE to an XML file such as an RSS feed or an XML file with an XSLT transformation applied then rather than seeing the data you are presented with a blank page."
Microsoft's Massy recommended that users of both browsers uninstall Netscape to correct the issue. AOL spokesperson Andrew Weinstein dismissed such calls, however, saying the problem affected a minor number of users and would be fixed in due time.
Intel builds all-in-one wireless radio package
Tom Krazit (IDG News Service) writes in NetworkWorld:
Researchers at Intel have figured out how to integrate all the elements needed to connect to wireless LANs into a compact package, the company is expected to announce Friday at The VLSI Symposium in Japan.
Many companies have already built Wi-Fi chips that support the 802.11a/b/g standards, but those products require several other chips built onto the motherboard in order to connect to wireless networks.
Intel has now integrated components such as power amplifiers onto a single piece of silicon. It has also built connections from the amplifiers to external radio antennas on a single transceiver package, connections that used to be made with multiple pieces of silicon located outside the package, said Howard High, an Intel spokesman. A transceiver is a chip that can transmit and receive signals.
DISA solicits circuit bids
Bob Brewin writes in FCW.com:
The Defense Information Systems Agency today released its Defense Information Systems Network Access Transport Services Contract proposal, which is valued in the $500 million range.
The contract would provide DISA with up to 5,000 circuits connecting military bases with DISA's Global Information Grid-Bandwidth Expansion fiber optic backbone network, which should have just under than 90 nodes by this fall.
The procurement documents call for contractors to provide circuits ranging from voice grade 3 KHz voice circuits to broadband fiber optic data networks operating at speeds of up to 10 gigabits/sec.
McCain Stakes Claim on DTV Transition Bill
Susan Kuchinskas writes in internetnews.com:
Former Senate Commerce Chairman John McCain trumped his Republican colleagues earlier this week by introducing actual legislation setting a hard date of Jan. 1, 2009, for the United States to cease analog television broadcasting.
Parts of the vacated spectrum could then be dedicated to first responders for emergency services and the rest auctioned off for as much as $30 billion to wireless broadband providers.
Last week, current Commerce Committee Chairman Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) said his staff was preparing legislation to put a DTV transition bill on President Bush's desk by the end of the year. However, he has been vague on the details of the complex transition, and Stevens has yet to produce the bill.
McCain's legislation, though, comes fully loaded with details, most of which were rejected by his fellow Republican majority members just a year ago.
Nortel to partner in enterprise routing
Jim Duffy and Phil Hochmuth write in NetworkWorld:
Nortel is looking to re-enter the enterprise router market through a partnership to better compete against Cisco, according to Vice Chairman and CEO Bill Owens.
Owens would not say who Nortel is looking to partner with but did acknowledge that enterprise routing is currently a gap in the company's product portfolio. Curiously, his statements come as Nortel prepares to enter beta trials with two internally developed routers, the Secure Router 6230 and 6280, believed to be those code-named "Dolphin".
"We don't have a profoundly important router product," Owens said during an interview at Supercomm 2005. "We're aware of that. So you wouldn't expect us to not be doing anything about that."
iTunes.co.uk owner will see Nominet in court
Jo Best writes in Silicon.com:
The row over the ownership of the iTunes.co.uk domain name will now see domain name registrar Nominet taken to court.
Nominet recently decreed that current iTunes.co.uk owner, Benjamin Cohen, should hand over the URL to Apple because of its all-conquering music download of the same name. Cohen, however, is refusing to give it up, claiming Nominet has no legal authority.
Nominet's authority may now be challenged in the High Court, as Cohen has served the registrar with papers relating to an application for Judicial Review.
Cohen said he decided to pursue the legal action as Nominet's appeal fee - £3,000 plus legal costs - was too prohibitive; adding he believes Nominet's system favours big business in domain name disputes.
Nominet, however, maintains the High Court cannot rule on its authority as it is not a public body.
Data watchdog keeps eye on U.K. businesses
Andy McCue writes in Silicom.com:
The UK's data protection watchdog has established a new unit to target possible misuse of personal information collected by businesses.
The launch of the Regulatory Action Division (RAD) by the Information Commission comes in the same week the National Consumer Council (NCC) warned that tougher and better policed data protection legislation is needed to deal with the increasing amounts of personal information collected by organisations.
Assistant commissioner David Smith said the unit aims to make life tougher for the "minority" of businesses who flout data protection laws.
Homeland Security Investigating Passenger Screening Program
An AP newswire article on Security Pipeline reports:
The Department of Homeland Security's top privacy official said Wednesday that she is investigating whether the agency's airline passenger screening program has violated federal privacy laws by failing to properly disclose its mission. The privacy officer, Nuala O'Connor Kelly, said the review will focus on whether the program's use of commercial databases and other details were properly disclosed to the public.
Under the 1974 Privacy Act, no governmental record-keeping system can be kept secret.
She said she also was concerned about the security of the system, known as Secure Flight, given that commercial data vendors have suffered widely publicized breaches. Kelly said she was not opposed to the government's use of commercial databases but said "we have to be thoughtful."
One-fifth of Web users prefer online news - Nielsen
A Reuters newswire article by Lisa Baertlein, via Yahoo! News:
Nearly one-fifth of Web users who read newspapers now prefer online to offline editions, according to a new study from Internet audience measurement company Nielsen//NetRatings.
The first-time study from Nielsen//NetRatings found that 21 percent of those Web users now primarily use online versions of newspapers, while 72 percent still read print editions.
The remaining 7 percent split their time between online and offline editions. Comparable historic statistics were not available.
Congress Reacts to Breach Onslaught
Wow--maybe a step in the right direction? Hmmm.
Roy Mark writes on internetnews.com:
On a day marked by another major data security breach and more tough talk from Congress, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) moved against a Fortune 500 company for its data protection practices.
Testifying before a Senate panel investigating possible national legislation aimed at better data protection and a national data breach disclosure law, FTC Chairman Deborah Majoris said BJ's Wholesale Club agreed to settle FTC charges that it failed to take adequate measures to protect consumers' personal information.
"For the first time we allege that inadequate data security can be an unfair business practice," Majoris told a Senate panel. "This action should provide clear notice to the business community to establish and maintain reasonable affirmative security measures."
The settlement requires BJ's, which operates 150 warehouse stores and 78 gas stations in 16 states, to implement a comprehensive information security program while submitting to third-party security audits every other year for 20 years.
Dell: We Would License Mac OS X
Ed Oswald writes in BetaNews:
Journalist David Kirkpatrick wrote in his weekly column in Fortune Magazine that Michael Dell has openly expressed interest in licensing Apple's Mac OS X if the company decides to go that route.
Other companies have reportedly been keen on the idea as well, but refused to be named publicly. According to Kirkpatrick, these companies are at the mercy of Microsoft and could face some kind of retaliation from Redmond if they make their positions public.
Dell, on the other hand, holds considerable power as the largest seller of personal computers and already offers Linux as a Microsoft alternative on its server platforms.
"If Apple decides to open the Mac OS to others, we would be happy to offer it to our customers," company chairman Michael Dell said. Dell declined to elaborate publicly any further.
Motorola invests in Anam Mobile
Via EE Times.
Motorola Ventures, the investment arm of Motorola Inc., has made a strategic investment in Anam Mobile, a leading developer of messaging infrastructure products for the mobile telecoms industry.
Terms of the investment were not disclosed.
Anam Mobile (Dublin, Ireland) develops next-generation SMS and MMS delivery platforms. The company's Smart Services Framework intercepts messages and applies additional consumer oriented service logic to them. This allows operators to launch genuinely new SMS and MMS services to their subscribers, increasing traffic and driving wireless data revenues.
"Blue Hat" summit meant to reveal ways of the other side
Ina Fried writes in C|Net News:
The random chatter of several hundred Microsoft engineers filled the cavernous executive briefing center recently at the company's sprawling campus outside Seattle.
Within minutes after their meeting was convened, however, the hall became hushed. Hackers had successfully lured a Windows laptop onto a malicious wireless network.
"It was just silent," said Stephen Toulouse, a program manager in Microsoft's security unit. "You couldn't hear anybody breathe."
The demo was part of an extraordinary two days in which outsiders were invited into the heart of the Windows empire for the express purpose of exploiting flaws in Microsoft computing systems. The event, which Microsoft has not publicized, was dubbed "Blue Hat"--a reference to the widely known "Black Hat" security conference, tweaked to reflect Microsoft's corporate color.
EBay takes action against 'hoax' Live 8 bidders
Wow. It looks like this whole Live 8 gig has created it's own little meme. The topic has popped up here a couple of times alreadty.
Internet auction site eBay has suspended some of the accounts of users who sabotaged online sales of free Live 8 concert tickets by making hoax bids of up to 10 million pounds.Update:
On Tuesday, eBay ended a sale of free Live 8 tickets after widespread protests. Concerts organizer Bob Geldof labeled the site an "electronic pimp" and urged people to swamp it.
"In accordance with eBay's site rules, once an individual places a bid on an item, it acts as a binding contract and the individual is obliged to honor it," eBay said on Thursday.
"New eBay members placing multiple malicious bids from accounts clearly set up with the sole purpose to hoax bid are being suspended immediately."
The BBC reports
that at least one "bidder who protested against the selling of Live 8 tickets on eBay by placing a £10m bid has had his suspended account reinstated."
British insurer elephant.co.uk loses in attempt to capture elephant.com
British insurer elephant.co.uk has lost an attempt to capture elephant.com from a Canadian who uses it for his web site about elephants and who had indicated that he would sell the name if the offer price was over $1 million.
Elephant.co.uk is a brand of Admiral Insurance Services, fronted at the web site by a cartoon character called Trunkie. The brand makes millions from selling cheap car insurance over the web. But the owner of elephant.com, Adam Dicker from Ontario, told an arbitration panel that he had never heard of the British business.
This wasn't Admiral's first attempt to net elephant.com. Last February, Admiral tried to buy it from then owner Bradford Oberwager, offering him $18,000.
But Oberwager told Admiral that he was already in the process of selling it to Dicker, for the sum of $22,500. He suggested that if Admiral was prepared to up its offer to $32,000, he would ask Dicker if he would walk away in return for some cash. Admiral agreed, but Dicker refused the offer and took control of the name.
Admiral contacted Dicker direct, offering to buy the name. Dicker, a web developer who controls many web sites for himself and his clients, said the name was not for sale. Then, after a second request, he said: “The domain is not for sale for less than 1 million dollars. 3 offers are currently pending”.
Senate, FTC Push For Identity Theft Law
Gregg Keizer writes in TechWeb News:
A Senate committee pondered national identity protection legislation in a hearing Thursday that took testimony and solicited answers from all five members of the Federal Trade Commission, the agency most likely to manage any new laws aimed to stop the recent wave of unwanted and illegal data disclosures.
Sen. Gordon Smith (R-Ore.) chaired the Commerce, Science, and Transportation committee hearing, which at various points involved all the senators who have plunged into the data theft and consumer notification problem.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), for instance, who has presented three different bills on the issue so far this session, said "Congress has a major issue before it here" and noted that some 18 million identities have been exposed in the last 12 months through theft or data breaches or loss during transportation.
RIM has NTP 'workaround' for every BlackBerry
Jeffrey Hodgson writes for Reuters:
Research In Motion Ltd.'s "workaround" technology, designed to skirt patents at the center of its legal battle with NTP Inc., could be used on all existing and future BlackBerry devices, the firm's co-chief executive said on Thursday.
"Part of what we have done is a workaround. We've completed it. We've tested it and we have a legal opinion on it, so it's an option," RIM co-chief executive Jim Balsillie told Reuters.
"The structure of the workaround would be something that could be deployed broadly. So the architecture of it, and I'll give no more comments beyond this, works for all BlackBerries out there."
RIM, which helped popularize mobile e-mailing with its thumb-operated BlackBerry, rattled investors earlier this month with news it failed to finalize its $450 million patent dispute settlement with closely held U.S.-based patent holding company NTP.
After announcing the impasse, RIM said it had developed a technology to work around the NTP patents which it could use as an alternative, but gave few details.
Banks Not Doing Enough To Stop ID Theft: Report
Steven Martin writes in InformationWeek:
Despite all the headlines about the growing problem of identity theft, most financial institutions that provide credit cards are doing an inadequate job of attacking the problem, focusing on resolution rather than prevention and detection, according to a report [.pdf] released this week by Javelin Strategy & Research.
The report ranked leading card-issuing banks based on three criteria: prevention, detection, and resolution. Issuers could score a maximum of 100 points: 40 points each for prevention and detection, and 20 points for resolution. The rankings were based on a survey of 39 banks in which researchers posing as customers asked about the bank's ID theft policies. Prevention and detection were weighted more heavily than resolution because of their greater potential benefits and cost savings.
The average score for all banks was an unimpressive 41 points. The issuers and products scoring the highest were Discover Platinum Card (59 points), FNB Omaha Platinum Edition Visa Card (58 points), Citibank Platinum Select Card (57 points), Bank of America Visa Platinum (55 points), American Express Blue (54 points), and Chase Platinum (54 points). The survey didn't disclose which banks had the lowest scores.
Microsoft readies BitTorrent alternative
James Niccolai (IDG News Service) writes in InfoWorld:
Researchers at Microsoft's Cambridge, England, labs are developing a file-sharing technology that they say could make it easier to distribute big files such as films, television programs and software applications to end-users over the Internet.
Code-named Avalanche, the technology is similar to existing peer-to-peer (P-to-P) file swapping systems such as BitTorrent's, in the sense that large files can be divided into many smaller pieces to ease their distribution. End users request the file parts from other users' hard drives and reassemble them to create the original file.
Spyware Floods In Through BitTorrent
Ryan Naraine writes in eWeek:
BitTorrent, the beloved file-sharing client and protocol that provides a way around bandwidth bottlenecks, has become the newest distribution vehicle for adware/spyware bundles.
Public peer-to-peer networks have always been associated with adware program distributions, but BitTorrent, the program created by Bram Cohen to offer a new approach to sharing digital files, has managed to avoid the stigma.
Not any more, anti-spyware advocates warn.
According to Chris Boyd, a renowned security researcher who runs the VitalSecurity.org nonprofit resource center, the warm and fuzzy world of BitTorrent has been invaded by a massive software distribution campaign linked to New York-based adware purveyor Direct Revenue LLC.
House Votes To Curb Patriot Act
Some good news for a change--but the fight is far from over.
Mike Allen writes in The Washington Post:
The House handed President Bush the first defeat in his effort to preserve the broad powers of the USA Patriot Act, voting yesterday to curtail the FBI's ability to seize library and bookstore records for terrorism investigations.
Bush has threatened to veto any measure that weakens those powers. The surprise 238 to 187 rebuke to the White House was produced when a handful of conservative Republicans, worried about government intrusion, joined with Democrats who are concerned about personal privacy.
New worm hits AIM network
Joris Evers writes in C|Net News:
A new worm spread quickly on America Online's AIM instant messaging service Wednesday afternoon but was contained within hours, experts said.
The worm spread in instant messages with the text: "LOL LOOK AT HIM" and included a Web link to a file called "picture.pif." If that file was downloaded and opened, the worm would send itself to all contacts on the victim's AIM Buddy List, according to representatives from IM security companies Facetime and IMlogic.
With earlier, similar worms, downloading and opening a file would also install a backdoor or other malicious code on the victim's PC, said Jonathan Christensen, chief technology officer at Facetime. It's not yet known if this latest worm does that. Both IMlogic and Facetime were investigating the picture.pif file Wednesday afternoon.
The worm first appeared around 12 p.m. PDT and appears to have spread quickly until about 1:30 p.m., Christensen said. At that time, AOL likely put a filter on its AIM service, blocking the worm's spread, he said. Also, not much later, the malicious code was removed from the Web.
Your ISP as Net watchdog?
Declan McCullagh writes in C|Net News:
The U.S. Department of Justice is quietly shopping around the explosive idea of requiring Internet service providers to retain records of their customers' online activities.
Data retention rules could permit police to obtain records of e-mail chatter, Web browsing or chat-room activity months after Internet providers ordinarily would have deleted the logs--that is, if logs were ever kept in the first place. No U.S. law currently mandates that such logs be kept.
In theory, at least, data retention could permit successful criminal and terrorism prosecutions that otherwise would have failed because of insufficient evidence. But privacy worries and questions about the practicality of assembling massive databases of customer behavior have caused a similar proposal to stall in Europe and could engender stiff opposition domestically.
Mike, over at techdirt.com
, has also posted a wise commentary on this DOJ brain fart entitled "US Justice Department Likes Europe's Bad Data Retention Idea" here
Phishing complaints double in Australia
Munir Kotadia writes in C|Net News:
The number of people complaining about falling victim to or being targeted by a phishing scam has doubled in Australia over the past few months, according to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission. ASIC commissioner Professor Berna Collier said on Wednesday she felt the issue was accelerating so fast that a general warning to raise awareness was necessary.
"The number of complaints we received in April and May was double the amount we received in February and March this year. Last year, the number of complaints was double what we received the year before so unfortunately it is an accelerating trend," Collier said.
FDIC Workers Exposed By Data Breach
Via TechWeb News.
Some 6,000 former and current employees of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), the agency responsible for insuring Americans' bank accounts from theft, were themselves victims of an identity breach 18 months ago.
Last Friday, June 10, the FDIC began sending letters to all those employed with the agency in July 2002, telling them to be "vigilant over the next 12 to 24 months" in monitoring their credit reports and financial information.
The actual breach, however, took place early in 2004. According to an FDIC spokesperson, "it was only recently that we were notified of the problem. As soon as possible after that, we began notifying employees."
The spokesperson declined to say why the breach went unnoticed for such a long time.
The FDIC admitted in the letter that in a "small number of cases," the purloined data was used to obtain fraudulent loans from a credit union.
Although the FDIC refused to detail the breach, saying that the matter "was under active investigation by the FBI," its spokesperson did say that "it wasn't a technology-related breach." During a Senate hearing on identity theft and possible legislation to protect Americans from the recent flood of data thefts or losses, several of the senators mentioned the FDIC's breach, and called it just the latest in a long string of bad news for consumers.
Hackers hit Canadian credit bureau
A Canadian Press article in The Globe and Mail reports:
Hackers have hit one of Canada's major credit bureaus.
Equifax Canada says it has discovered what appears to be the improper use of a customer's access codes and security passwords.
The agency says about 600 Equifax consumer credit files were accessed without authorization. Most of the people affected are in B.C.
Equifax is a national company that compiles credit records on consumers across Canada, using data provided by credit grantors such as banks, credit-card companies and retail outlets. Credit records typically include social insurance numbers, bank account numbers, home and work locations, spouses' names and six years of credit and banking history. In the wrong hands, experts say that type of information could allow a criminal to steal someone's identity, set up false accounts, obtain loans and credit cards, as well as get passports and other documents.
The R.C.M.P are conducting an investigation and Equifax has contacted the affected consumers.
International child abuse database plans take shape
John Leyden writes in The Register:
The world's richest countries plan to create a worldwide register of paedophiles to help police stamp out child abuse. The proposed international child sexual exploitation database, which would store images of offenders and abused children, is expected to receive the green light at a meeting of G8 justice and home affairs ministers in Sheffield on Thursday.
Different police forces would have access to the database. UK Home Secretary Charles Clarke, who is due to chair the G8 meeting, said the register would be a "far more powerful tool" than police had now.
UT names stem cell program after Willie Nelson
What a great state. :-)
An AP newswire report in USA Today reveals that:
Country singer Willie Nelson is making a name for himself in a new field — stem cell research.
The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas is planning to establish the Annie and Willie Nelson Professorship in Stem Cell Research. An official announcement is planned later this week, a university official said.
"That's a nice thing," Nelson told The Associated Press on Tuesday. "I think everybody should do what they can to call more attention to that."
Cingular: Keep ban of cellphone calls on flights
Leslie Cauley writes in USA Today:
Cingular, the USA's biggest wireless carrier, thinks cellphone conversations should continue to be banned on commercial flights while planes are airborne — and it's told the Federal Aviation Administration as much.
The FAA is studying the possibility of relaxing the ban on the use of cellular and other wireless devices aboard commercial aircraft. Cingular last week told the agency, in so many words, that it thinks in-flight cell phone conversations are a bad idea.
Dutch watchdog seeks court action to track down internet pirates
An AFP newswire article on Yahoo! News reports:
An internet piracy watchdog has called on the Dutch judicial authorities to force five internet access providers to hand over personal data on people downloading music and films on a large scale.
The five internet providers in question -- UPC (UGC), Wanadoo (France Telecom) Tiscali, KPN and Essent Kabelcom -- have refused to hand over the data the Brein Foundation needs to identify on the pirates, saying this would be a breach of privacy.
Brein says that music and film piracy on the internet bleeds the music, film and software industry in the Netherlands of 176 million euros (213 million dollars) a year.
Brein says it has managed to track down a number of surfers who club together to download large quantities of music and films on the internet. However, it has only managed to identify their address -- IP -- which is linked to the computer of one of the subscribers.
Only 41 have responded to an email ordering them to identify themselves.
The organisation wants to make contact so that it can impose a fine or take legal proceedings against the pirates.
Blue Law Makes Webmasters See Red
Randy Dotinga writes in Wired News:
An adult industry trade association plans to head to court this week to fight new federal enforcement efforts that could catch thousands of online porn sites with their pants down.
Under penalty of federal prison terms, new interpretations of existing regulations would require sites that feature photographs or videos of sexual activity to keep records confirming that performers are of legal age.
In an industry that's faced little oversight, the change in policy will spawn mountains of paperwork. But that's not all: Sites may be forced to remove some or all of their racy content because the original records belong to someone else or never existed. Those who can't comply -- including many free sites that rely on stolen content -- will have to shut down or risk a visit from federal investigators.
"People are pretty freaked out," said porn webmaster Jim McAnally, who estimates that more than half of hard-core websites, including some of his, will have to dump significant numbers of photos and videos. "This will affect people from top to bottom."
Britain Warns of E-Mail Hacker Attacks
An AP newswire report by Jane Wardell, via Yahoo! News:
A well-organized group of hackers has engaged in an "industrial scale" attack designed to cull commercially and economically valuable data from vital computer networks across Britain, the government warned [.pdf] Thursday.
In one of its most high-profile warnings about sophisticated electronic attacks, the normally secretive National Infrastructure Security Coordination Center said hackers believed to be from Asia have targeted parts of the country's "critical national infrastructure."
The attacks have been going on for several months and have involved the communications, energy, finance, health, government and transport sectors, the NISCC said. Most of the attacks have been against central government computer systems, though companies and individuals are also at risk, the agency warned.
"We have never seen anything like this in terms of the industrial scale of this series of attacks," NISCC Director Roger Cumming said. "This is not a few hackers sitting in their bedroom trying to steal bank account details from individuals."
New Yahoo service searches subscription sites
Yahoo Inc. late on Wednesday said it had begun testing a service to search information on password-protected subscription sites such as LexisNexis, known as the "deep Web."
The move comes as Yahoo, Google Inc. and Ask Jeeves Inc. rush to give Web searchers access to ever more information -- from books, blogs and scholarly journals to news, products, images and video.
The service, http://search.yahoo.com/subscriptions, called Yahoo! Search Subscriptions, allows users to search multiple online subscription content sources and the Web from a single search box.
Yahoo Search Subscriptions will initially offer content from such providers as ConsumerReports.org, The Wall Street Journal Online, The New England Journal of Medicine and Forrester Research Inc.
Activist Faces Charges Over Web Posts
An AP newswire article by Audra Ang on Yahoo! News reveals that:
A Chinese political activist goes on trial next week on subversion charges after posting essays and lyrics to a punk song on the Internet, a human rights group said Thursday.
Zhang Lin was detained Jan. 29 in his hometown of Bengbu, in the eastern province of Anhui, after returning from Beijing, where he unsuccessfully tried to attend a memorial service for ousted Communist Party leader Zhao Ziyang.
Zhang goes on trial next week for posting almost 200 essays on the Internet, including one that quotes lyrics from a punk song that authorities say incite subversion of state power, Human Rights in China said in a statement.
Zhang has gone on hunger strikes twice to protest his detention and physical abuse while in captivity, the group said.
Intel back peddles on breaking chips theory
Tom Sanders writes on vnunet.com:
Intel has retracted a statement by one of its researchers who said that chips will become more unreliable as Moore's Law advances.
Intel researcher Padma Apparao made the statement in an interview with vnunet.com last week at an open day for Intel Research, and used similar wordings in a whitepaper that the company published last year.
"There isn’t a Moore's law tie in on this," John Casey, a spokesman for Intel's Technology Leadership Group, told vnunet.com.
Apparao's research seeks to create an error analysis technology for server processors that is embedded in the firmware of a processor. The tool logs the errors that are caught by the error correction part of a chip and analyses these mistakes. The analysis could create an early warning that a chip is starting to break down, giving the IT organisation a chance to swap out the unit and increase server uptime.
Power outage knocks CheckFree offline
Alorie Gilbert writes in C|Net News:
A power outage has disabled CheckFree's online bill payment service, causing its Web site and service to be unavailable, the company said Wednesday.
The problem began Wednesday morning when the power in CheckFree's data center in Norcross, Ga., went out, knocking its computers offline. The utility company restored power later in the day, but CheckFree was still working to bring its systems back up on Wednesday afternoon, said CheckFree spokeswoman Judy Wicks.
"We're bringing the system up in phases," she said.
The company has back-up computer systems, and they "kicked in," Wicks said. But apparently they didn't keep the service up and running.
CheckFree is one of the biggest online bill payment companies in the United States. More than 15 million consumers use its service every month, Wicks said. About 1,600 banks, brokerages and credit unions use CheckFree to deliver "e-bill" services to their customers. Some of them posted notes on their sites notifying visitors of the outage and asking them to return later, Wicks said.
Vodafone plans 10,000 Wi-Fi links in Germany
John Blau (IDG News Service) writes in InfoWorld:
Tired of watching rival mobile phone operator T-Mobile International AG & Co. KG win new customers for its Wi-Fi wireless broadband service in Germany, Vodafone D2 GmbH has agreed to join forces with The Cloud Networks Ltd. to offer a competitive nationwide wireless Net offering.
Under the agreement announced Wednesday, The Cloud will offer German users Wi-Fi coverage at more than 1,000 hotspots beginning in July. Over the next four years, the operator plans to increase that number to 10,000, offering service in high-traffic areas, such as airports, train stations, hotels and cafes.
The Cloud, which is located in London, recently acquired 400 hotspots from Airnyx AG. By comparison, T-Mobile has so far launched more than 4,500 hotspots in the country.
AOL Sued Over Voice Platform
Colin C. Haley writes in internetnews.com:
Klausner Technologies has filed a $200 million patent infringement lawsuit against America Online (AOL) over voice platform technology.
At issue are features that let subscribers receive visual notification of new voice messages and selectively retrieve messages from their displays.
The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Virginia, revolves around one patent. In all, Klausner, founded by inventor Judah Klausner, owns and licenses more than 20 patents covering voice messages over the Internet, cellular or other communication networks.
Chip makers gearing up to meet growing demand
Mark LaPedus and George Leopold write in EE Times:
A flurry of recent reports indicates that U.S. chip makers are preparing for growing demand by expanding their offshore manufacturing operations.
Intel Corp. is reportedly considering expanding its Asian operations to India and Vietnam, while chief rival Advanced Micro Devices Inc. is considering a third fab in Dresden, Germany.
The reports come as some chip industry executives are warning of future shortages of memory chips as consumer-driven demand heats up.
Data mixup sent to hospitals
Hmmm. I'm still trying to figure out exactly what "individual validation results" means....
In any event, Judi Hasson writes in Government Health IT:
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), part of the Department of Health and Human Services, sent out an urgent e-mail to more than 400 hospitals last week, notifying them that they had received the wrong data from a contractor and asking them to destroy it.
The contractor, the Iowa Foundation for Medical Care of West Des Moines, Iowa, had forwarded individual validation results for hospitals to check their quality data submissions for the third quarter of this year. But wrong coding caused more than 400 hospitals to get the wrong data.
FCC Launches E-Rate Inquiry
Roy Mark writes on internetnews.com:
Three months after a scathing report about the troubled E-rate program, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is launching a comprehensive review of the school and library Internet subsidy plan.
The review is part of a broader inquiry into the overall operations of the Universal Service Fund (USF), the long-standing government initiative to provide affordable phone service in rural America.
The USF also funds the E-Rate program in addition to financing telemedicine initiatives and assisting low-income families with their phone bills. Nearly 90 percent of U.S. schools and libraries receive subsidies from the fund.
There's only 10 kinds of people in the world...
..those that understand binary, and those that don't.
Pretty 0111001101101100011010010110001101101011, huh? ;-)
Wild binary mainicure pic stolen from Boing Boing.
Journalism, Democracy, and Public Radio
This is not the type of thing that I generally post to the blog, but in this case, public awareness on this topic is crucial. For those of you in the Austin, Texas, area that are fans of the local NPR station -- KUT 90.5 -- listen up!
Via the KUT web site.
On June 9, the House Appropriations Subcommittee that oversees the budget for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) a private organization created by Congress to support and fund public broadcasting voted to eliminate $100 million from the previously-approved fiscal year 2006 CPB budget. In addition to setting public broadcasting on a two-year course to zero funding, the subcommittee also eliminated previously approved funds for the necessary renewal of public television’s satellite interconnection system and public television’s Ready-To-Learn program which supports educational, commercial-free children’s programming. Taken together and if unchanged, these actions will mean a reduction of some 46 percent in funds for public broadcasting beginning in about four months.
While public television is the largest recipient of support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the CPB also provides a substantial amount to local public radio stations. This year, the CPB will distribute about $85 million to public radio stations from Alaska to Puerto Rico, including KUT Radio.
CPB contributions account for about nine percent of KUT Radio’s operating budget. We decide how to use these CPB funds to advance our programming and services, within the CPB’s requirement that one-fourth of its dollars must be used to acquire or produce national programs of our choosing. KUT Radio meets that requirement through its production of Latino USA, the first -- and today only -- national, English-language radio program produced from a Latino perspective that is broadcast on nearly 170 stations nationwide. The rest of the CPB funds are used for various operational expenses, which allows KUT Radio to focus its own fundraising efforts to ensure the quality of its programming.
In our participatory democracy we urge you to share your views about continued funding for public broadcasting, including local stations like KUT Radio. Whatever your belief, sharing it with your Congressional Representative and U.S. Senators will have an impact. Phone calls are most effective.
List of Congressional Districts
Texas U.S. Senators
Kay Bailey Hutchinson 202-224-5922
John Cornyn 202-224-2934
Central Texas Congressional Representatives
Michael McCaul (TX-10) 202-225-2401
Rubén Hinojosa (TX-15) 202-225-2531
Lamar Smith (TX-21) 202-225-4236
Lloyd Doggett (TX-25) 202-225-4865
John Carter (TX-31) 202-225-3864
Researchers Stymied By Microsoft Vulnerability
Gregg Keizer writes on TechWeb News:
Researchers on Wednesday were still dissecting one of the vulnerabilities patched by Microsoft Tuesday, and hadn't yet been able to "find the trick," said the head of one security firm's lab.
Mike Murray, the director of research at vulnerability management vendor nCircle, has had his entire team picking through the patch provided by Microsoft to fix a flaw in Windows' SMB (Server Message Block) protocol, and hasn't yet been able to find a way to exploit the vulnerability without going through authentication.
"It's incredible," said Murray. "We've found all the functions and the overflow, but we haven't been able to find the unauthenticated [attack] vector. We've found the authenticated vector, but as for the other, nope."
nCircle pulls apart disclosed vulnerabilities to create new methods of vulnerability detection, and in the short term, to provide guidance to its customers on the relative danger of flaws in applications and operating systems, including Windows.
Still cracking Kryptos
I shamelessly grabbed this snippet that David Pescovitz posted over on Boing Boing:
Activity surrounding Kryptos, the cryptographic puzzle at CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, continues to surge. Elonka Dunin who runs a comprehensive Kryptos site, told The Guardian that she used to see 500 visitors a day but recently got 30,000 visits in 24 hours. Of course, interest in cracking Kryptos skyrocketed once it was revealed that The Da Vinci Code dustjacket references the puzzle and that it's part of the plot of Dan Brown's next bestseller, The Solomon Key. (Previous post on Kryptos here.)
But he added: "Kryptos brought me back to my first love. Like my childhood programming days, I was once again free to pursue a challenge that didn't have the limitations of 'this is how to do it'."
From The Guardian: No one is more amazed at the sudden excitement than Kryptos's creator, Jim Sanborn, who was hired in 1989 by the CIA director at the time, William Webster.
Mr Sanborn worked with a CIA cryptographer, Ed Scheidt, to produce the coded sculpture, consisting of the S-shaped copper scroll, a petrified tree, a water-filled basin and stones marked with fragments of Morse code and a compass. Placing it in the thick of many of the best code-breakers in the world, they never thought it would take this long.
"These were events I thought would take months not years," Mr Sanborn, a Washington-based sculptor, told the Guardian...
Some of the "addicts" are going to remarkable lengths to solve Kryptos.
Gary Phillips, 27, told the Guardian he had abandoned his software company so that he could devote more time to the code puzzle.
"I can see how some might perceive that I made a sacrifice by closing my business and pursuing Kryptos," Mr Phillips, a Michigan programmer, said.
Link to Guardian article (via Fortean Times), Link to National Public Radio story on Kryptos.
Who Wants Net-oriety?
Brad Stone writes about notoriety on the Internet in his "Plain Text" column in Newsweek, and reminds us of net-characters of days past (Remember the Turk with the web site that greeted visitors with the phrase "I kiss you!!!"?)....
But notoriety on the Net is being pursued with increasing vigor these days. Companies cultivate it. Bloggers pursue it. Search engines and measurement sites like Technorati and Blogdex aim to quantify it. Since fame equals attention, and attention draws visitors—which can be converted into dollars through online advertising—fame on the Internet can directly generate money. It may or may not translate into romantic success at a hotel bar, but being famous on the Internet is beginning to grant plenty of other benefits.
Only a few years ago, fame on the Internet was more closely associated with infamy than achievement. Internet celebrities rocketed across the firmament like shooting stars, propelled by their very public embarrassments.
Boeing Launches Maritime Broadband Service
Via TechWeb News.
In a pioneering move, the Connexion by Boeing broadband service, already offered by several airlines, is being launched for maritime use in 50 ships operated by the London-based Teekay Shipping Corporation.
Teekay has a fleet of 140 ships and transports 10 percent of the world's oil, the company said.
"Maritime operators will be able to benefit from the same high-speed connectivity service that is revolutionizing the way travelers and airlines communicate in-flight at 30,000 feet," Teekay and the Boeing Company said Wednesday.
The maritime satellite service will provide multiple simultaneous users with data rates of up to 5 mbps on downlinks and 256 kbps on uplinks. The agreement between Teekay and Boeing authorizes Teekay to add 40 more ships at a later date.
Malaysia orders Internet cafes to block porn sites
An AFP newswire article on Yahoo! News reports that:
Malaysia has ordered Internet cafes to install anti-porn filters, and Internet service providers to provide customers with the software, in a campaign to curb access to pornography, reports said.
Telephone companies and Internet Service Providers "have been ordered to do it fast. There should not be any excuses," Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Jamaluddin Jarjis was quoted as saying by the New Straits Times.
Under cabinet measures approved last week to crack down on porn, Internet cafes will have to filter content before receiving operating licenses, and a centre will be created to receive complaints on indecent material.
Jamaluddin said consumers will be given a choice as to whether they want to use the filtering services, but that the providers must offer it at cost price.
BlackBerry To Get Enterprise Wireless VoIP
Via Mobile Pipeline.
Research In Motion (RIM) said Wednesday that it is working with Avaya to add enterprise-class wireless voice-over-IP (VoIP) capabilities to its BlackBerry device platform.
Specifically, the two companies said they were nearing the end of interoperability testing between the BlackBerry 7270 Wireless Handheld device and Avaya's enterprise telecommunications server, which includes wireless LAN support. The companies are showing off their joint efforts at an Avaya users conference this week in Seattle.
Virgin offshores IT in economy drive
Daniel Thomas writes on vnunet.com:
Entertainment and travel group Virgin has cut its IT budget by 15 per cent by outsourcing specific business functions to India and South Africa.
The organisation now plans to outsource more IT and back-office systems. It is also looking at the potential of offshoring services to Spanish-speaking countries to generate further technology savings in its US, Spanish and Portuguese operations.
Wi-fi with your pancakes?
Cool local news, via The Austin American-Statesman (registration required).
Austin's Wayport Inc., one of the largest providers of high-speed Internet access over wireless networks, plans trial service in some IHOP Corp. restaurants.
Wayport said today its wireless network will be installed initially in 70 of the nearly 1,200 restaurants in the pancake chain.
PC makers snub Windows sans media player
Ingrid Marson writes in C|Net News that:
Four major PC makers have no plans to sell the media-player-free version of Windows, which Microsoft was ordered to offer by Europe's competition commissioner.
Microsoft will make an updated version of Window XP N available on Wednesday, but none of the computer manufacturers that ZDNet UK spoke to are considering preinstalling it on desktops or laptops.
Dell, Hewlett-Packard, Lenovo and Fujitsu Siemens all said they have no firm plans to install Windows XP N, citing a lack of customer demand. A Dell representative added Tuesday that customers expect to have a media player included.
Daily gapingvoid.com fix....
Ah, gapingvoid.com. Enjoy!
Pac-Man turns 25
An AP newswire story
reminds us that Pac-Man is old, but still wildly popular:
For a video game, Pac-Man is getting downright old. The ghost-wary hero with an insatiable appetite for dots turns 25 this month.
From the early 1980s "Pac-Mania" to today's endless sequels and rip-offs, the original master of maze management remains a bright yellow circle on the cultural radar.
But there was more to Pac-Man's broad appeal than eating dots and dodging on-screen archrivals Blinky, Pinky, Inky and Clyde.
"This was the first time a player took on a persona in the game. Instead of controlling inanimate objects like tanks, paddles and missile bases, players now controlled a `living' creature," says Leonard Herman, author of "Phoenix: The Rise and Fall of Videogames." "It was something that people could identify, like a hero."
MS Files Suit Against Software Pirates
Ed Oswald writes in BetaNews that:
Microsoft took action on Wednesday by filing four lawsuits against companies in Virginia and California, alleging that the companies were engaging in the sale of pirated copies of Microsoft software. The company was tipped off by calls from consumers to its piracy hotline, 1-800-RU-LEGIT.
Microsoft identified the companies as #9 Software, who had 112 complaints across 35 states and Canada, CEO Microsystems with 66 complaints in 20 states, and Super Supplier, with 18 complaints from people in 13 states.
Secret Service demands removal of Bush+Guns collages on Flickr
Cory Doctorow posts over on Boing Boing:
Alfie sez, "Jeremy recently got a visit from the Sekrit Service, because of some satirical protest images of Bush Jr. he posted on Flickr."
I created a series of collages, entitled "Bush and Guns". I "remixed" pictures of Bush (from the AP Photo wire) and guns (randomly found on Flckr)... I posted these new images to Flikr, as a set entitled "Bush and Guns". With each picture, I posted a link back to the original story, with an explanation that the collage series was a commentary on this incident in Chicago. I posted this set to several "anti bush" political groups on Flikr, and received some positive feedback on them. I also urged others to create "Bush and guns" artwork, and post it online, as a sort of protest against actions and policies, that, to my mind, have a chilling effect on people's first amendment rights."..."The agents started out with "easy" questions, like my name, address, what I did at my job, etc. Then they started asking if I've ever been under psychiatric or psychological care or counseling. Link (Thanks, Alfie!)
Update: Chris Wells has mirrored the images in question here.
Cisco pays over $1M per employee in takeover
Cisco Systems Inc. on Tuesday said it was paying about $13 million in cash to acquire an Internet security company that employs a mere 11 engineers and was founded just eight months ago.
Cisco, the world's largest maker of Internet equipment, said it had completed the acquisition of privately held M.I. Secure Corp., which focused on the development of security technology, including so-called virtual private networks.
M.I. Secure is a research organization with no staff other than its 11-member engineering team, a Cisco spokeswoman said. M.I. Secure has no products or revenue, she said.
Both companies are based in San Jose, California.
VoIP pioneer aims for end of regular phone networks
Steven Scheer writes for Reuters:
Jeff Pulver has a dream: That his invention a decade ago of making phone calls using the Internet will eventually be used by everyone and traditional phone networks and copper wires will be a thing of the past.
"Whether that will happen in my lifetime is another story but my hope is to basically enable people to be free -- to have the freedom to define what their communications experience is," Pulver said in an interview with Reuters during a visit to Israel, which he calls the birthplace of commercial use of Internet phone calling.
Pulver is a pioneer of Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology and is a co-founder of fast growing VoIP provider, Vonage, as well as founder of a half-dozen other VoIP firms.
Vonage has more than 700,000 subscribers and is adding 15,000 a week in the expectations of hitting 1 million by year end.
Microsoft Said to Train Bangladesh Youths
An AP newswire story on Yahoo! News reports:
Microsoft Corp. will provide computer training to more than 2,000 disadvantaged youths in rural Bangladesh over the next year, a news report said Wednesday.
The U.S.-based software giant will give a grant of $90,000 (74,820 euros) for software and training curriculum to the Bangladesh-based Learn Foundation to implement the program in northeastern Bangladesh, Saw Ken Wye, Microsoft's president in Southeast Asia, was quoted as saying by the Ittefaq newspaper.
Java flaws open door to hackers
Joris Evers writes in C|Net News:
Sun Microsystems has fixed a pair of security bugs in Java that could be exploited by attackers to take over computers running Windows, Linux and Solaris.
The flaws are "highly critical," security monitoring company Secunia said in an advisory posted Tuesday. Flaws that get that ranking--one notch below Secunia's most severe "extremely critical" rating--are typically remotely exploitable and can lead to full system compromise.