Saturday, December 17, 2005

H5N1 News: NIH Vaccine: Live Bird-Flu Virus

An AP newswire article, via Wired News, reports that:

In an isolation ward of a Baltimore hospital, up to 30 volunteers will participate in a bold experiment: A vaccine made with a live version of the most notorious bird flu will be sprayed into their noses.

First, scientists are dripping that vaccine into the tiny nostrils of mice. It doesn't appear harmful -- researchers have weakened and genetically altered the virus so that no one should get sick or spread germs -- and it protects the animals enough to try in people.

This is essentially FluMist for bird flu, and the hope is that, in the event of a flu pandemic, immunizing people through their noses could provide faster, more effective protection than the troublesome shots -- made with a killed virus -- the nation now is struggling to produce.

To Tell The Truth: 'What Are the Blogs Saying About Me?'

It's refreshing to hear some truthfulness in the maintream.

Pamela Paul writes in The New York Times:

Almost every author I know with a new book does it - the embarrassing, nearly irresistible, ritualistic dip into Internet-assisted narcissism. I know I do. Prodded by a combination of curiosity and dread, I'll scour the Web not just to ascertain sales (impossible) or check out the press coverage, but to get a sense of what ordinary readers are saying about my book when they think I'm not listening.

Thanks to blog search engines like Technorati, IceRocket and Feedster, writers have easy access to the latest entries, where bloggers and their readers post both in-depth and off-the-cuff reactions to the books they're reading.

Alan Turing: Enigmatic

Alan Turing in 1951.
Image source: NYT / Time & Life Pictures / Getty Images

George Johnson writes in The New York Times:

Maybe it's because I already knew the story - about the tragic genius who revolutionized mathematics, helped the British crack secret Nazi codes and died after biting into a poisoned apple. Or maybe I was just in the mood for fiction. For some reason, about halfway through David Leavitt's short, readable life of Alan Turing, I put the book aside for a few days and turned instead to his most recent novel, "The Body of Jonah Boyd." It is actually a novel within a novel, ending with a self-referential twist that made me wonder whether Leavitt had been inspired by Turing's dizzying proof about undecidability in mathematics, in which a computer tries to swallow its own tail.

Turing was a fellow at King's College, Cambridge, in 1936, when he confronted what might be called the mathematician's nightmare: the possibility of blindly devoting your life to what, unbeknownst to anyone but God, is an unsolvable problem. If only there were a way to know beforehand, a procedure for sifting out and discarding the uncrackable nuts.

Kevin Smith: Slacker? Or Better Yet, Smarty Pants

'Clerks' is one of my favorite movies of all times. And if you like Kevin Smith, also check out the double DVD set, "An Evening With Kevin Smith." Excellent.

Image source: CNN

Craig Modderno writes in The New York Times:

Kevin Smith wrote and directed the slacker hits "Clerks," "Dogma" and "Chasing Amy," but lately it is his other life - maintaining six Web sites that he describes as "devoted to my fans and my films" - that seems to consume him.

"One site deals with comic books, another gives new filmmakers a chance to communicate and another offers merchandise from my movies," he said. "On each site I've got news about every major actor I've worked with; reviews of my movies that are written by fans, which pull no punches, and notices about special events.", the site of his production company, made its debut in June 1996 and has the highest profile of Mr. Smith's Web enterprises. But together, the six sites receive more than 100,000 hits a day and have nine employees, he said. Mr. Smith won't reveal how much money the sites generate. "Let's just say I make enough money to take my wife and daughter on a nice vacation, which I did last year," he said. "And I still spent two hours each day on the Web sites, vacation or not, because the sites can pay off in other ways."

Snapshot of The Day


Bush Says He Authorized Eavesdropping in U.S.

An AP newswire article, via MSNBC, reports that:

President Bush said Saturday he personally has authorized a secret eavesdropping program in the U.S. more than 30 times since the Sept. 11 attacks and he lashed out at those involved in publicly revealing the program.

"This is a highly classified program that is crucial to our national security," he said in a radio address delivered live from the White House's Roosevelt Room.

"This authorization is a vital tool in our war against the terrorists. It is critical to saving American lives. The American people expect me to do everything in my power, under our laws and Constitution, to protect them and their civil liberties and that is exactly what I will continue to do as long as I am president of the United States," Bush said.

Toon: Politically Correct Holidays

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'Little Red Book' Draws Government's Attention

Thanks to a post over on Slashdot which alerted me to this article.

Aaron Nicodemus writes on

A senior at UMass Dartmouth was visited by federal agents two months ago, after he requested a copy of Mao Tse-Tung's tome on Communism called "The Little Red Book."

Two history professors at UMass Dartmouth, Brian Glyn Williams and Robert Pontbriand, said the student told them he requested the book through the UMass Dartmouth library's interlibrary loan program.

The student, who was completing a research paper on Communism for Professor Pontbriand's class on fascism and totalitarianism, filled out a form for the request, leaving his name, address, phone number and Social Security number. He was later visited at his parents' home in New Bedford by two agents of the Department of Homeland Security, the professors said.

The professors said the student was told by the agents that the book is on a "watch list," and that his background, which included significant time abroad, triggered them to investigate the student further.

An RIAA Christmas Carol

Thanks to Steve, for forwarding this to the EFF-Austin mailing list!

God Damn Ye Greedy Gentleman - By Scott Small
(To the tune of "God Bless Ye Merry Gentlemen ")

God Damn ye greedy, gentlemen
The R-I double A
For suing all your customers
For downloading Coldplay
To make us buy songs D-R-M'd
Not knock-offs from eBay
O letters of Cease and Desist
Cease and Desist
O letters of Cease and Desist

From off the internet we get
Songs of variety
Stations owned by clear channel
Play crap like XYZ
And those no-talent lip-syncers
Jessica and Ashlee
O letters of Cease and Desist
Cease and Desist
O letters of Cease and Desist

The lawyers sue while in DC
The lobbyists do pay
For WinMX and eDonkey
To make them go away
Bit Torrent and Kazaa are next
to get what will convey
O letters of Cease and Desist
Cease and Desist
O letters of Cease and Desist

But the CD sales will not rise
When after peer to peer
has gone the way of the Dodo
And to law we adhere
Cus they are still pumping out
That crap like Britney Spears
O letters of Cease and Desist
Cease and Desist
O letters of Cease and Desist

Now uploading is not right
Musicians deserve pay
So go and see your favourite bands
When they're in town to play
Don't post songs to the Net or
you'll get in your in-tray
O letters of Cease and Desist
Cease and Desist
O letters of Cease and Desist!

TechWadi Reaches Out to Arabs

Via Red Herring.

Eighteen months ago, Ghazi Benothman began assembling a list of Arab Americans who’ve helped turn Silicon Valley into an innovation hotspot.

Many of them turned up at Mohr Davidow Ventures on Thursday night for the kick-off meeting of TechWadi, a professional organization that aims to provide networking, business, and educational opportunities for Arab Americans.

There are enough prominent Arab Americans in the tech sector to start such a group. “We have the critical mass,” said Mr. Benothman.

Well-known figures include Pierre Omidyar, co-founder of eBay; and Atiq Raza, who was president of Advanced Micro Devices and now heads a semiconductor startup called Raza Microelectronics. In all, about 60 people attended the TechWadi meeting.

Renesys: Real-Time ISP Market Share Rankings

This is interersting.


The core of Market Intelligence is Renesys’ Internet Index, the master database of information compiled daily from the Internet’s global routing tables—the real-time map of 180,000 networks and 30,000 organizations worldwide that make up the Internet.

Check here frequently to see which service providers are ranked in the top 25 in 3 categories.

As explained to me by someone from Renesys:

"These are the first rankings of service provider networks that are based on objective data. We put them together based on ~120+ ebgp routing feeds from service providers worldwide. The rankings are based on aggregate views of those data.

"'Customer Base' is kind of obvious. It's based on total downstream prefix-weight (with /8s more important than /24s but not expontially so, or MIT would be one of the
largest networks on the planet :-).

"'Extended Customer Base" is just 'Customer Base' plus a share of the 'Customer Base' of known peers. 'Peering' would be a better, more technical name for it.

"'Customer Growth' is just delta in customer base."

For example, today, the top five (5) listed in three categories:

Customer Base

  1. Sprint AS 1239
  2. Level 3 Communications, LLC AS 3356
  3. UUNET Technologies, Inc. AS 701
  4. AT&T WorldNet Services AS 7018
  5. Verio, Inc. AS 2914

Customer Growth

  1. Level 3 Communications, LLC AS 3356
  2. AT&T WorldNet Services AS 7018
  3. Verio, Inc. AS 2914
  4. Qwest AS 209
  5. Sprint AS 1239

Extended Customer Base

  1. Level 3 Communications, LLC AS 3356
  2. Sprint AS 1239
  3. UUNET Technologies, Inc. AS 701
  4. AT&T WorldNet Services AS 7018
  5. Qwest AS 209

Wireless Switch Pioneer Vivato Ceases Operations

Via Mobile Pipeline.

Vivato, one of the original wireless LAN switch startups, has ceased operations, Wi-Fi Net News (WNN) has reported.

The company's demise was confirmed by a corporate spokesperson, according to WNN. The shut-down has already occurred, according to WNN.

Vivato, along with other companies like Airespace and Aruba Wireless Networks made news three years ago by introducing WLAN switches that provided a more centralized method of managing wireless LANs than trying to manage large numbers of access points, each with built-in intelligence. Airespace has since been acquired by Cisco Systems.

Toon: 'Dear Santa, I want an Xbox 360...'

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TypePad Back Up After Critical Outage

Bob Sullivan writes on MSNBC News:

One of the Internet's most popular blogging destinations suffered a major outage Friday. TypePad, the blog hosting service run by Six Apart Ltd., was largely out of service from 11 p.m PT on Thursday night until about 4 p.m. Friday afternoon.

Some blog content was restored from backup tapes early Friday, but the backups did not include content posted in the past two days, Six Apart spokeswoman Jane Anderson said. That meant for much of the day, most blogs looked out-of-date.

Om Malik: The Truth About The Universal Service Fund

Om Malik dissects the more sinister aspects of the USF.

After a brief quiet period, a political malestorm is emerging over the $7 billion Universal Service Fund, which despite reported mismanagement subsidies phone connections in the rural and remote parts of United States of America. It comes from the wireless, local and long distance companies.

Read more of Om's interesting article here.

Volusia County FL Dumps Diebold Voting Machines

The troubles continue for Diebold. This news come on the heels of Leon County, Florida, also dumping Diebold, and the departure of their CEO, Walden O'Dell, under increasing scrutiny of the company.

Now, Kevin P. Connolly writes in the Orlando Sentinel:

Diebold voting machines will soon be history in Volusia County. After a nearly five-hour hearing today, County Council members voted to replace its Diebold machines with an entirely new system manufactured by Election Systems & Software.

The move, which will cost more than $2.5 million just for the equipment, was prompted by a federal mandate to buy at least one handicapped-accessible voting machine per precinct by Jan. 1. But the only such devices approved for use in Florida are ATM-like touch-screen machines that don't use paper ballots. But a majority of County Council members want devices that use paper.

Intel: No More Stock Options For Employees

A Reuters newswire article, via CNN/Money, reports that:

Intel Corp. said on Friday it will stop giving stock options to many employees, ending a decades-long practice that the world's top chipmaker helped pioneer in the early days of Silicon Valley.

Starting in April, Intel will limit stock options to its more senior staff and introduce restricted stock units, essentially grants that are backed by actual shares and vest over a period of years, for other employees.

Some employees will get a mix of options and the new stock units, Intel's head of compensation and benefits, Gaby Thompson, told Reuters.

AOL-Google Vote Set for Tuesday

Via Red Herring.

The board of Time Warner on Tuesday is expected to add its approval of a deal that would give Google a 5 percent stake in America Online for $1 billion while allowing AOL to sell ads on the search engine’s expansive network of Internet sites.

The agreement leaves Microsoft, which is expected to unveil new search technology next month, without a major ally in its battle with Google for domination of the interactive advertising industry. Microsoft had negotiated with Time Warner for months in an attempt to develop a working relationship with AOL, but was upstaged in negotiations that ended on Friday.

Yahoo also talked with Time Warner, but pulled out during November after reports it offered 20 percent of Yahoo’s stock for AOL, a deal that would have valued America Online at about $10.6 billion.

H5N1 Online: Betting on Bird Flu

Dan Mitchell writes in The New York Times:

THIS week, examines Intrade, an online "futures market" (well, sort of) that allows members to bet on coming events. The site has accurately predicted election results, the selection of Pope Benedict XVI and the severity of Hurricane Katrina.

Given its track record, the latest contract is enough to give pause: according to the current betting line, there is a 65 percent chance that someone in the United States will contract bird flu by March.

H5N1 News: London Laboratory Confirms Bird Flu in Crimea

Via RIA Novosti.

A London laboratory has confirmed the presence of the H5N1 strain of the bird flu virus that is extremely dangerous for humans in the Crimea, a Black Sea autonomy, the Ukrainian Ministry of Agrarian Policy said Saturday.

A Russian laboratory confirmed this earlier.

The Ukrainian Emergency Situations Ministry said bird flu had been registered in 15 Crimean settlements.

More than 62,000 birds were removed from farms and killed. No humans have been diagnosed with the bird flu virus.

Florida AG Sues Spammer Touting Bogus Fuel Saver Device

Brian McWilliams writes in the Spam Kings blog:

The allure of effortless wealth -- that's what drives many people to become spammers. One Sebastian, Florida junk emailer named Rik Rodriguez even created a web site with that name. A fan of surfing, Rodriguez officially called his spam operation Wavemaster Consultants.

If life was a beach for the 47-year-old Rodriguez, things got real gnarly this week. The attorney general of Florida filed a lawsuit against him for sending out illegal spam for a product called Fuel Saver Pro. Rodriguez is facing potentially $10-million in penalties. The AG also wants Rodriguez to post a $1-million bond to ensure he complies with the proposed injunction. (Rodriguez allegedly sent the spam as an affiliate in a spam network run by Mark C. Ayoub, who was sued by the FTC earlier this year.)

User Friendly: Web 2.0 -- The New Cultists


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How a Terrorist Group Cloned Ted Rogers' Cellphone

Peter Cheney writes in The Globe and Mail:

A journey of 1,000 miles begins with a single step — and so it was that law professor Susan Drummond's long, strange trip into the world of wireless security, where she learned that a terrorist organization had appropriated Ted Rogers' cellphone number, was launched by the arrival of a phone bill for $12,237.60.

Ms. Drummond, who had just returned from a month-long trip to Israel, went numb as she looked at the stupefying figure, which was more than 160 times higher than her typical monthly bill of about $75. The Rogers Wireless bill included a five-page list of calls charged to her phone, almost all of them to foreign countries that included Pakistan, Libya, Syria, India and Russia.

Ms. Drummond quickly determined what had happened: Someone had stolen her phone while she was away. She called Rogers Wireless, which told her there was nothing it could do, and she would have to pay the entire amount.

Online Vandals Force Wikipedia to Lock Down Entries

James Middleton writes on

In a bid to curtail vandalism and malicious entries in the free online encyclopaedia Wikipedia, the publication’s editors have today officially implemented a semi-protection policy for certain articles. Essentially, the measure prevents newly registered users and all unregistered users from editing pages.

However, the Wikipedia editors said that semi-protection is only to be applied if a page is facing a serious vandalism problem. “It is not an appropriate solution to editorial disputes of any kind since it may restrict some editors and not others,” the publication said.

Chinese Evade Censors To Discuss Police Assault

Philip P. Pan writes in The Washington Post:

At first glance, it looked like a spirited online discussion about an essay written nearly 80 years ago by modern China's greatest author. But then again, the exchange on a popular Chinese bulletin board site seemed a bit emotional, given the subject.

"In Memory of Ms. Liu Hezhen," which Lu Xun wrote in 1926 after warlord forces opened fire on protesters in Beijing and killed one of his students, is a classic of Chinese literature. But why did thousands of people read or post notes in an online forum devoted to the essay last week?

A close look suggests an answer that China's governing Communist Party might find disturbing: They were using Lu's essay about the 1926 massacre as a pretext to discuss a more current and politically sensitive event -- the Dec. 6 police shooting of rural protesters in the southern town of Dongzhou in Guangdong province.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Microsoft Patch Jams Up IE7

Joris Evers writes in C|Net News:

Last Tuesday's "critical" security fix for Internet Explorer is causing trouble for users who have been testing the new IE 7 browser.

Microsoft has received "scattered reports of users experiencing odd browser behavior" after installing the latest security update, Jeremy Dallman, project manager for Internet Explorer security at the company, wrote in a Friday posting to a corporate blog.

Three different problems have been reported: The browser could crash right after starting up; links may come up blank; or multiple windows may open when the browser is initiated, according to the posting.

NASA's First Pluto Probe Heads to the Launch Pad

A Reuters newswire article, via MSNBC, reports that:

A small spacecraft bound for Pluto was being prepared for transfer to the launch pad on Friday in preparation for blastoff next month, NASA officials said.

New Horizons is the centerpiece of a $650 million mission to explore the last of the solar system's original nine planets. Scientists recently have discovered hundreds of Pluto-like objects orbiting more than 50 times farther away from the sun than Earth.

Hackers, Extortion Threats Shut Down Game Site

Ryan Naraine writes in eWeek:

White Wolf Publishing Inc., a company responsible for some of the most popular role-playing game brands, has shut down operations after international hackers exploited a software flaw and stole user data that included user names, e-mail addresses and encrypted passwords.

Following the breach, the company, based in Stone Mountain, Ga., said the hackers attempted to extort money by threatening to post the potentially sensitive user data on the Internet.

Judge Sets Filing Deadline in RIM Patent Case

A Reuters newswire article, via Yahoo! News, reports that:

The U.S. judge overseeing the patent infringement case against BlackBerry maker Research In Motion Ltd. on Friday ordered both sides to file final legal briefs by February 1 as he considers a request that could halt the popular mobile e-mail service.

U.S. District Judge James Spencer set filing deadlines for both RIM and the plaintiff in the case, patent holding company NTP Inc., which is seeking a shutdown of most U.S. BlackBerry sales and service in the United States.

'Dasher' Worm Squirming Through Unpatched Windows Hole

Ryan Naraine writes in eWeek:

More than two months after Microsoft Corp. issued a critical patch for a Windows 2000 worm hole, malicious hackers are successfully exploiting the vulnerability, confirming fears that patch deployment rates remain frighteningly low.

The latest network worm attack, identified by anti-virus vendors as W32/Dasher, enters through a flaw in the Microsoft Windows Distributed Transaction Coordinator that was patched in the MS05-051 bulletin released in October.

Digital Music 2006: P2P Ascends as Moguls Fall

Via eMail Battles.

In 2005, music execs found themselves boxed in by P2P, iPod, boring albums, and prices higher than the market was willing to bear. They responded by rootkitting customers' computers, planting viruses on file sharing networks, and suing grandmothers.

Amazingly, sales still fell. Email Battles suggests a different avenue for building customer loyalty.

Sprint Nextel Buys Affiliate Enterprise Communications for $98M

Erin Joyce writes on

Sprint Nextel moved to put another affiliate lawsuit behind it with its purchase of Enterprise Communications of Georgia for about $98 million.

Based in Columbus, Enterprise Communications is an exclusive affiliate partner for Sprint, which, like its onetime rival and now merger partner Nextel, also conducts business in the regions of Georgia and surrounding states where Enterprise does business.

TypePad Suffers Major Outage

Bob Sullivan writes on MSNBC News:

One of the Internet's most popular blogging destinations is suffering a major outage. TypePad, the blog hosting service run by Six Apart Ltd., has been down since 11 p.m PT on Thursday, the company said.

Some blog content was restored early Friday, but it was at least two day's old, according to San Francisco-based Six Apart. Bloggers could not add comments to their Web pages.

Dilbert: More Desperate Venture Capitalists

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Army Awards ITT Asia, Africa Communications Deal

Roseanne Gerin writes on

The Army has awarded a five-year, $681 million contract to ITT Industries Inc. to operate and maintain the service’s communications and information systems in Asia and Africa.

ITT’s systems division unit of Colorado Springs, Colo., will perform the work under the direction of the Army’s Network Enterprise Technology Command’s 160th Signal Brigade. The contract consists of one base year and four one-year options.

Warner Changes Tune on Lyrics

Via Red Herring.

Music publishing company Warner/Chappell has apologized for abruptly sending a cease-and-desist letter in November to the maker of a specialized lyrics search engine after public criticism from music fans and legal experts.

The aggressive letter had sparked support for Walter Ritter, the Austrian hobbyist who created an Apple “widget” called pearLyrics that showed the lyrics to a song as it played on digital music service iTunes. Mr. Ritter had taken down his free application because he didn’t have the time or money to fight Warner/Chappell, he said.

Judge Allows Grand Theft Auto Civil Suit to Proceed

Wade Steel writes over on

The civil suit filed by the families of three individuals who were slain by a teenager who claimed that he was influenced by the Grand Theft Auto series will be allowed to proceed according to a ruling by Judge James Moore, the case's presiding jurist.

Judge Moore's ruling came in response to a motion filed by the case's defendants -- Take 2 Interactive, Rockstar Games, Sony Computer Enterainment America, GameStop, and Wal-Mart -- to dismiss the lawsuit filed by the victims' families due to "lack of merit." Citing Alabama state law, Judge Moore stated that such a motion was premature due to the early stage of the litigation as well as the nature of the plaintiffs' claims.

While this ruling will have no impact on the outcome of the case, it is clearly a blow to the defendants and a victory for the plaintiffs.

U.S. Senator's Bill Would Overhaul FCC's Authority

Grant Gross writes in InfoWorld:

A U.S. senator has introduced a bill that would limit the U.S. Federal Communications Commission's (FCC's) policy-making power over telecommunications and broadband providers. The bill, in many cases, would allow the FCC to step in only when there's "clear and convincing evidence" that competition has failed.

The Digital Age Communications Act (DACA), introduced late Thursday by Senator Jim DeMint, a South Carolina Republican, would remove much of the FCC's ability to create forward-looking rules for telecom carriers and services, in favor of a more enforcement-based approach limited largely to addressing complaints of unfair competition or deceptive business practices.

F-Secure: SpyAxe

Dan, over on the F-Secure "News from the Lab" Blog, writes:

Stefan has spent a considerable amount of time lately here in the Anti-Spyware lab looking into SpyAxe.

Downloaded and installed by Trojan-Downloader.Win32.Zlob, SpyAxe is nice enough to detect the Trojan that downloads it, but it won't disinfect it unless you pay for a SpyAxe license, $49.50 U.S. (plus a nonimal $2.95 transaction fee). I wouldn't dare pay for a licensed copy to verify that removal is actually done, but I have my doubts.

An annoyance at first, but there seems to have recently been a huge spike in the distribution of Zlob. We found a way to see how many unique registration IDs have been handed out by the site Zlob registers with. Most of the day, there seemed to be about 1,000 new infections per hour, but now that the U.S. is waking up & powering on their computers, that number has risen to about 2,500 infections per hour. I'd guess that we can expect to see many more variants to come.

Time Warner Enters Exclusive Talks With Google Over AOL

David A. Vise writes in The Washington Post:

Time Warner has entered into exclusive talks with Google Inc. about expanding its business partnership with the media giant's America Online division, a setback for Microsoft Corp., which had sought to displace Google as the search engine on AOL.

While Microsoft had offered large guaranteed cash payments annually to AOL if it would dump Google in favor of MSN Search, Time Warner officials concluded that sticking with Google, the undisputed leader in search, was in the best interest of shareholders and the long-term business prospects for America Online, people familiar with the talks said.

Senate Blocks Patriot Act Renewal

An AP newswire article, via MSNBC, reports that:

The U.S. Senate on Friday rejected attempts to reauthorize several provisions of the nation’s top anti-terror law as infringing too much on Americans’ privacy, dealing a major defeat to President Bush and Republican leaders.

In a crucial vote early Friday, the bill’s Senate supporters were not able to get the 60 votes needed to overcome a threatened filibuster by Sens. Russ Feingold, D-Wis., and Larry Craig, R-Idaho, and their allies. The final vote was 52-47.

Bush, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and GOP congressional leaders had lobbied fiercely to make most of the 16 expiring Patriot Act provisions permanent, and add new safeguards and expiration dates to the two most controversial parts: roving wiretaps and secret warrants for books, records and other items from businesses, hospitals and organizations such as libraries.

Pakistan to Maintain Telecom Transparency

A UPI newsbrief, via, reports that:

Pakistan has vowed to not roll back new telecommunications policies that improved transparency and consistency in the sector.

IT Minister Awais Ahmad Khan Leghari told a conference in Islamabad this week that the government had no desire to derail growth that has made Pakistan the second-fastest growing telecom market in the world after China.

H5N1 News: New Bird Flu Death in Indonesia

A Reuters newswire article, via MSNBC, reports that:

A 39-year-old Indonesian man has died from the H5N1 strain of bird flu according to local tests, Health Minister Siti Fadillah Supari said on Friday.

Supari told reporters the ministry was awaiting confirmation of the results from a Hong Kong laboratory affiliated with the World Health Organization.

Indonesia has had nine deaths from bird flu confirmed by the Hong Kong laboratory and five cases where patients have survived.

'Recent Changes' Allow FBI to 'Bypass' Oversight Office


Documents obtained by EPIC in a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit reveal FBI agents expressing frustration that the Office of Intelligence Policy and Review, an office that reviews FBI search requests, had not approved applications for orders under Section 215 of the Patriot Act.

A subsequent memo refers to "recent changes" allowing the FBI to "bypass" the office. EPIC is expecting to receive further information about this matter.

Court Rejects 'Mere Think Tanks' in Microsoft EU Case

A Reuters newswire article by David Lawsky, via Yahoo! News, reports that:

Several allies of Microsoft have lost a bid to intervene in the software giant's antitrust case before a European Union court, which dismissed them as "mere think tanks," court documents showed on Friday.

The Court of First Instance in Luxembourg rejected applications by four different groups to intervene, which would have given Microsoft additional time at a court hearing, expected to last upwards of a week some time in the spring.

H5N1 News: Bird Flu Hits Four More Crimean Villages

Via RIA Novosti.

The strain of the bird flu virus that is extremely dangerous for humans, H5N1, has been found in four more villages in the Crimea, an autonomy on the Black Sea, the Ukrainian Emergency Situations Ministry said Friday.

The ministry said that the virus had been registered in a total of 15 Crimean villages.

More than 59,000 birds were removed from farms and culled. No humans have been diagnosed with the bird flu virus, the ministry added.

IBM Unveils UNIX Research Center in Austin

Via The Austin Business Journal.

IBM Corp. on Friday unveiled a center in Austin that will integrate research, services and software development for the UNIX operating system.

Through a two-year, $200 million investment, IBM says it will tap the AIX Collaboration Center to work with customers, developers, independent software vendors and academic experts to drive AIX innovations, such as new applications and middleware for the AIX operating system.

India's Looming IT Shortage?

Pete Engardio writes in BusinessWeek Online:

No nation has benefited more from Corporate America's rush to outsource skilled work than India. Thanks to its seemingly limitless supply of low-cost engineers and other professionals, India now accounts for 65% of all information technology work performed offshore and nearly half of back-office tasks such as responding to computer help-desk queries and processing medical claims and credit-card bills. By 2010, India's revenues from such skilled work are expected to surge to $60 billion from $17.3 billion now.

There's just one wrinkle in those calculations. If India doesn't take urgent action to reform education and build modern infrastructure, the nation could fall far short of its potential as an outsourcing haven. That's the conclusion of a new study to be released Dec. 16 by McKinsey Global Institute and Nasscom, India's influential information technology trade association.

Dell Recalls 35,000 Notebook Batteries

Anne Broache writes in C|Net News:

Dell on Friday announced a recall of about 22,000 notebook computer batteries sold in the United States and an additional 13,000 abroad.

The 35,000 recalled batteries were sold with several models of Latitude and Inspiron machines and Precision mobile workstations between Oct. 5, 2004, and Oct. 13, 2005.

Opera Dismisses Google Takeover As Rumor

James Niccolai writes in InfoWorld:

Opera Software has not been approached by Google about a possible acquisition, an Opera spokesman said Friday, dismissing rumors that Google is eyeing a takeover of the Norwegian browser company.

"These are just rumors. We have not been approached," said Tor Odland, communications director for the Norwegian company Opera.

User Friendly: Sony Xmas


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Travelers at Heathrow Now Have Third Hotspot Option

Nancy Gohring writes in InfoWorld:

Travelers passing through London's Heathrow airport now have a third choice for wireless Internet access. San Francisco's Surf and Sip has just finished building hotspots in departure lounges of all four terminals at Heathrow. The service is available now but the official launch, which will include the addition of signs in the airport, is planned for January.

Surf and Sip joins T-Mobile UK and BT Openzone, BT Group's hotspot operator, at Heathrow but company founder Rick Ehrlinspiel hopes to attract customers on price and reliability. Users pay £5 ($8.80) per day to use the hotspots. That compares to £13 per day for BT Openzone hotspot access and £10 per day at T-Mobile.

Not Everyone is Wild About Geo-Caching

An AP newswire article, via MSNBC, reports that:

Tourism officials are latching onto the growing popularity of high-tech scavenger hunts, but law officers don't share the enthusiasm for finding strange packages in unexpected places.

In geocaching, people hide stashes in public places and post the locations' coordinates online. Other players — geocaching has an estimated 1 million enthusiasts worldwide _ use handheld Global Positioning System devices to get close to the treasure then rely on their wits and a keen eye to make the find. fix

Via Enjoy.

Cost of Time Warner's New 'Family Tier' Raises Eyebrows

David Lieberman writes in USA Today:

Time Warner Cable tried to prove its family values Thursday as it became the first major operator to offer a service for viewers who want to avoid bloody shootouts, steamy love scenes and risqué repartee.

The No. 2 operator said that in early 2006 it will introduce a Family Choice Tier of 15 largely sex-and-violence-free services. It will include Disney Channel, C-SPAN2, HGTV, CNN Headline News and the Weather Channel.

The package will be offered as a $13-a-month alternative to the expanded basic package that includes mature fare such as FX, MTV and Comedy Central.

Berlin Trying to Get Its Own Top-Level Domain

Mark Baard writes in Wired News:

A German entrepreneur sometime next year hopes he will be able to boast, "Ich bin ein dot-Berliner."

The businessman, Dirk Krischenowski, is bidding to make his city the first in the world with its own domain name: .berlin. Berlin's businesses and citizens will flock to the domain because millions of people regard the hip European city as a part of their identities, he believes.

Performance Problems Persist for TypePad

Via Netcraft.

Problems persist at the popular blog hosting service TypePad, with numerous users reporting that they are unable to access their blog management system. In addition, a number of TypePad users report that posts from the past three days have disappeared from their blogs.

While TypePad-hosted sites are visible, service operator Six Apart says the TypePad blogging application is currently unavailable and describes the status of TypePad sites as "degraded." At one point blogs had to be restored from backup, which is why the most recent posts are missing from many blogs.

UK: TV Comedian Chris Langham in 'Net Porn' Arrest

Via The BBC.

Award-winning comedian Chris Langham has been arrested in connection with a police investigation into internet child pornography.

He was questioned by Kent Police 17 days ago and released on bail.

In a statement issued through his lawyer to the Daily Mirror newspaper, he said he had not been charged and had made no admission to criminal acts.

Happy Birthday, Sir Arthur Charles Clarke

Image source: Wikipedia

Via Wikipedia.

Sir Arthur Charles Clarke (born 16 December 1917) is a British author and inventor, most famous for his science-fiction novel 2001: A Space Odyssey, and for collaborating with director Stanley Kubrick on the film of the same name. Clarke is considered one of the Big Three of science fiction, along with Robert A. Heinlein and Isaac Asimov.

Bush Lets NSA Spy on Citizens Without Judicial Approval

James Risen and Eric Lichtblau write in The New York Times:

Months after the Sept. 11 attacks, President Bush secretly authorized the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on Americans and others inside the United States to search for evidence of terrorist activity without the court-approved warrants ordinarily required for domestic spying, according to government officials.

Under a presidential order signed in 2002, the intelligence agency has monitored the international telephone calls and international e-mail messages of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people inside the United States without warrants over the past three years in an effort to track possible "dirty numbers" linked to Al Qaeda, the officials said. The agency, they said, still seeks warrants to monitor entirely domestic communications.

The previously undisclosed decision to permit some eavesdropping inside the country without court approval was a major shift in American intelligence-gathering practices, particularly for the National Security Agency, whose mission is to spy on communications abroad. As a result, some officials familiar with the continuing operation have questioned whether the surveillance has stretched, if not crossed, constitutional limits on legal searches.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

You’ve Got Mail! And Maybe Gonorrhea!

A Reuters newswire article, via MSNBC, reports that:

You’ve got mail — and possibly gonorrhea, HIV or another sexually transmitted disease.

E-mail sent through Web sites launched in Los Angeles and San Francisco is providing people with a free, sometimes anonymous, way to tell their casual sex partners they might have picked up more than they bargained for.

Cingular Launches 3G Video Service

Ed Oswald writes in BetaNews:

Cingular on Thursday detailed its plans for an upcoming 3G video service from the cellular carrier to be called Cingular Video. The new feature would allow for the on-demand streaming of video content, including clips from premium movie channel HBO.

Users would be able to personalize the service to their liking, which would also include news, sports, weather and entertainment clips. Those with compatible 3G phones could view the content over the carrier's new HSDPA network, announced on December 6.

Stranded New Yorkers Turn to the Web

Marguerite Reardon writes in C|Net News:

New Yorkers all over the city and surrounding areas are turning to the Internet in preparation for the first transit strike to hit the city in 25 years.

Members of the Transport Workers Union Local 100 and the Metropolitan Transit Authority in New York have been deadlocked in contract negotiations for several days. TWU members have threatened to strike when their contract expires at midnight Thursday if their demands are not met.

'Second Life' Turns Attacker in to FBI

Daniel Terdiman writes in the C|Net 'Gaming' Blog:

It seems that the online virtual world "Second Life" is no place hackers and other digital vandals should take lightly when considering who to hit with denial-of-service attacks.

That much became clear this week, according to the blog Second Life Herald, when Philip Rosedale, CEO of "Second Life" publisher Linden Lab, announced during a virtual holiday party in the open-ended digital world that he had turned the perpetrators of a series of grid crashes over to the FBI.


Via Light Reading.

MCI, Inc. today [13 December 2005] announced its latest global IP network expansion to deliver much needed bandwidth to South East Asia, the Middle East and Western Europe (SEA-ME-WE) has been completed and customer traffic is being transmitted on the new SEA- ME-WE4 submarine network cable system. The next generation undersea cable spans 20,000 kilometers and links France to Singapore via the Middle East and Indian sub-continent.

MCI is the only U.S.-based service provider participating as an initial member in the SEA-ME-WE4 cable system. MCI is joining 15 other SEA-ME-WE4 Consortium members during a kickoff ceremony in Dubai, UAE, on Tuesday. The members are celebrating the launch of the state-of-the-art submarine network cable system that links Algeria, Bangladesh, Egypt, France, India, Italy, Malaysia, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Tunisia and UAE.

BellSouth to Slash 1,500 Management Jobs

An AP newswire article by Harry R. Weber, via, reports that:

BellSouth Corp., the dominant local phone provider in nine Southeastern states, said Thursday it is cutting 1,500 management jobs, or 2.4 percent of its total work force, because of competition from cable providers.

The Atlanta-based company said the reductions will take place in supervisory and non-supervisory management positions, including staff support functions. Most of the reductions are expected to occur through the acceptance of voluntary severance packages and are to be completed by April 30, 2006.

DNA Clears Another Man Imprisoned in Ohio for Murder

Quite a day for DNS conviction reversals. Earlier today, I posted a pointer to an article about two men in Virginia who were also just exonerated due to DNS evidence.

An AP newswire article by John McCarthy, via ABC News, reports that:

DNA evidence from a cigarette butt cleared a man imprisoned for seven years in the rape and murder of his mother-in-law, and the charges against him were dropped Thursday.

Clarence Elkins, 42, should be released from prison later in the day, prisons system spokeswoman Andrea Dean said.

Elkins, who was serving a life sentence and would not have been eligible for parole until 2054, was convicted in the 1998 rape and murder of Judith Johnson, 58, as well as the rape of her then-6-year-old granddaughter.

Britney Tops Yahoo! Annual Internet Search List (Again)

Britney Spears is No. 1 on Yahoo's annual list of the
for terms on the Internet in 2005.
Image source: CBS News / AP

An AP newswire article, via CBS News, reports that:

Britney Spears didn't release an album of new material this year, but the new mom is still No. 1 on Yahoo's annual list of the most-searched for terms on the Internet.

Spears, who has topped the list for three of the last four years, lost out to "American Idol" in 2004.

Dilbert: Desperate Venture Capitalists

Click for larger image.

RIAA Files New Round of Lawsuits

John Borland writes in C|Net News:

The Recording Industry Association of America said Thursday it had filed a new round of lawsuits against 751 as-yet-unnamed people who are accused of making copyright music available on file-trading networks. The suits are the latest in a campaign that has now targeted more than 17,000 people.

The group also said that it had refiled claims against 105 individuals who were previously named in anonymous "John Doe" lawsuits, but whose names had now come out in court proceedings.

Judge Refuses to Dismiss Ubiquitel Suit Against Nextel

An AP/Dow Jones article, via The Mercury News, reports that:

A Delaware judge Wednesday refused to block a lawsuit by Sprint affiliate Ubiquitel Inc. against Nextel Communications Inc.

The decision clears the way to more legal action over the merger that created Reston, Va.-based Sprint Nextel Corp., a combination that former affiliates say interfered with their contracts.

FCC Wants VoIP Users to Pay USF Tax, Too

Ed Oswald writes in BetaNews:

The FCC will likely force Internet telephone, or VoIP, providers to contribute to the Universal Service Fund [USF], a program that helps subsidize telecommunications services in high-cost regions of the country, and in schools and libraries.

The comments came from FCC Chairman Kevin Martin, who spoke Wednesday in Washington at a question and answer session hosted by Comptel, a group that represents communications service providers.

Lance Armstrong Facing Italian Trial For Defamation

Image source: Wikipedia

Stephen Farrand writes for Reuters:

Seven-times Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong will go on trial for defamation next year after losing a preliminary hearing against Italian rider Filippo Simeoni on Wednesday.

Italian judge Nicola Insiti decided American Armstrong should go on trial in Simeoni's home town of Latina near Rome on March 7 after he called Simeoni a liar in an interview with the French newspaper Le Monde in 2003.

Google, Microsoft, Sun to Form Research Alliance

John Markoff writes in The New York Times:

With federal funds for basic computer science research at universities in decline, three of the industry's leading companies are joining to help fill the void.

University of California computer scientists plan to announce on Thursday that the companies - Google, Microsoft and Sun Microsystems - will underwrite a $7.5 million laboratory on the Berkeley campus. The new research center, called the Reliable, Adaptive and Distributed Systems Laboratory, will focus on the design of more dependable computing systems.

The Berkeley researchers say that under the terms of their agreement with the three companies, the fruits of the research will be nonproprietary and freely licensed. Each company has agreed to support the project with $500,000 annually for five years. Although the companies are frequently rivals and only occasionally allies, they have concluded that they can operate most effectively by bringing technology innovations to market quickly.

Insanity Watch: First In-Depth Account of Scheme to 'Engineer' With Atomic Weapons

Image source:


What would you think if someone told you that not so long ago, the U.S. government, led by gung-ho scientists, seriously considered exploding 300 or more atomic bombs to blast a sea-level canal in Panama? Or up to 764 in northern Colombia?

Excavating a nuclear canal through the Central American isthmus would have required 20,000 times the explosive energy of the atomic bomb that shattered Hiroshima, engineers estimated.

You'd think that someone was kidding, right?

France Telecom's Equant Wins DSM Contract

A UPI newswire article, via, reports that:

A France Telecom subsidiary Thursday signed a deal with DSM to provide its global telecommunications network.

Equant, which specializes in providing telecommunications services to business clients, will be providing the Dutch chemicals producer with networks covering 180 sites in 45 countries connecting 23,000 employees.

Rootkit Guru: The Evil in Sony BMG

Via eMail Battles.

One man hidden in central Europe rivets the attention of security professionals worldwide. He calls himself holy_father. And he created Hacker Defender, the notorious rootkit used by adware, spyware, virus, digital rights management, and security professionals to bugger Microsoft Windows.

Email Battles asked holy_father to weigh in on the Sony BMG copy-protection scandal. While we helped a bit with english and formatting, this is pure holy_father, so listen up.

User Friendly: 'Special But Not Contrived'


Click for large image.

Yahoo! Hires DARPA Director to Head Research

Elinor Mills writes on C|Net News:

Yahoo has opened an East Coast research center and hired an artificial intelligence expert and former director at the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency to open research centers in other countries.

Ron Brachman, 56, was named vice president of worldwide research operations, the Internet giant said Thursday.

Google to Possibly Acquire Opera?

Margaret Kane writes in the C|Net 'Blogma' Blog:

Is Google getting ready to buy browser maker Opera Software? That's the rumor making the rounds in the blog world this week.

Pierre Chappaz, former president of Yahoo Europe, posted a report on his blog about the deal, which he attributed to a knowledgeable source.

Yahoo! Signs JPEG Patent License With Forgent

Michael Kanellos writes in the C|Net 'Future Tech' Blog:

Search giant Yahoo has decided to take a license out on the so-called JPEG patent with [Austin, Texas-based] Forgent Networks. Under the deal, Yahoo will pay Forgent royalties but be dismissed from the pending patent suit taking place in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

The suit, which involves several remaining defendants, revolves around U.S. patent number 4,698,672. Forgent acquired the patent when it bought Compression Labs in 1997. During an audit of its intellectual property portfolio in the early 2000s, company officials first realized that the patent, in their belief, embodied a method for compressing photographs that was being used by digital camera makers and others.

Senate Panel Approves More Net-Policing Powers

Anne Broache writes in C|Net News:

The Federal Trade Commission would gain expanded policing powers and could share information about spammers and other miscreants with foreign governments under a bill approved Thursday by a U.S. Senate panel.

Called the Undertaking Spam, Spyware, and Fraud Enforcement with Enforcers Beyond Borders Act of 2005, the proposal is nearly identical to legislation pushed by the FTC itself two years ago that drew concerns from civil liberties groups and was never enacted.

In essence, the bill would expand existing FTC powers so that the agency could go after any "unfair or deceptive practices" that are likely to cause "forseeable injury" on U.S. soil or involve conduct in the United States.

Pentagon to Review Spy Files After NBC Report

An AP newswire article, via MSNBC, repors that:

The Pentagon says it views with the greatest concern possible misuse of a classified database of information about suspicious people and activity in the United States. An NBC News report on Tuesday said the database listed activities of anti-war groups and referred to at least 20 U.S. citizens or others inside the U.S.

Pentagon spokesmen declined to discuss the matter on the record but issued a written statement Wednesday evening that implied — but did not explicitly acknowledge — that some information had been handled improperly. fix

Via Enjoy.

Kazaa Owners Possibly Facing Jail?

Steven Deare writes on

Nikki Hemming and Kevin Bermeister, the masterminds behind the Kazaa file sharing software, could face time behind bars after the record industry initiated contempt of court proceedings, claiming an earlier ruling wasn't adhered to.

Record companies allege that Sharman Networks, the owner of Kazaa, didn't comply with a Federal Court order (described by the court as order number four) to modify the software to ensure 3,000 keywords would be filtered by 5 December.

However, Sharman disagreed since it managed to block Australian users from downloading Kazaa by identifying their IP address.

Hackers Fuel Peru-Chile Rivalry

Via The BBC.

The historic rivalry between Peru and Chile has spilled into cyberspace with hackers from both countries striking at government websites.

They have been posting nationalistic claims to a disputed maritime area, seafood and a drink called pisco.

In the latest attack, the Peruvian judiciary's web page was targeted by a suspected Chilean hacker.

Chile and Peru are currently embroiled in a diplomatic dispute over fishing waters in the Pacific Ocean.

Marvel Case Against NCSoft Settled

Via The Austin Business Journal.

A long-standing legal battle between online gaming software company NCSoft Corp. and comic giant Marvel Entertainment Inc. has come to an end.

New York-based Marvel sued NCSoft, whose North American headquarters is in Austin, and game developer Cryptic Studios Inc. of Los Gatos, Calif., in November 2004. The suit alleged trademark and copyright infringement. Marvel claimed NCSoft's "City of Heroes" online computer game let users imitate some of Marvel's comic book characters.

Some of the claims were dismissed by a judge in March, including Marvel's allegation that NCSoft and Cryptic Studios infringed on Marvel's trademarks.

DNA Samples Exonerate 2 Convicted Men in Virginia

An AP newswire article by Kristen Gelineau, via ABC News, reports that:

Independent DNA testing has found two men to have been wrongly convicted of sexual assault, raising to five the number of people exonerated because of forensic evidence saved by a meticulous scientist, Gov. Mark R. Warner said Wednesday.

The two men, who have requested that their names not be released, had already completed their prison sentences, Warner said in a news release. He did not say what errors were made in their convictions.

Prosecutors in Norfolk and Alexandria, where the cases were investigated, have asked the governor to grant absolute pardons to both men. Warner said the men's petitions will go through the normal review process.

Toon: Always Watching...

Click for large image.

MCI Wins Network Deal With Dutch Bank

Arshad Mohammed writes in The Washington Post:

MCI Inc. yesterday said it had won a roughly $550 million deal to manage Dutch bank ABN Amro's communications networks, calling it the second-largest commercial contract in the company's history.

MCI spokesman Peter Lucht said the five-year contract will involve running the secure network the bank uses to do business -- including transferring funds and transmitting phone calls, data and Internet traffic -- at more than 6,000 locations in 25 nations.

Howard Stern To Leave Radio With Manhattan Parade

After being dogged by the FCC for years, Howard Stern will
have no government restraints on satellite radio.

Image source: Robert Deutsch / USA Today

Peter Johnson writes in USA Today:

After plugging his new Sirius satellite radio gig to everyone from Ed Bradley on 60 Minutes to Katie Couric on Today and Bill O'Reilly on Fox News, Howard Stern plans to end his earthbound broadcast career Friday with a P.T. Barnum-like parade through Manhattan.

Ever the showman, Stern's finale on Infinity Broadcasting will get full interactive treatment on before a Sheryl Crow concert at noon at the Times Square Hard Rock Café. Sirius stablemate Martha Stewart will be a host.

Visto Sues Microsoft for Patent Infringement

A Reuters newswire article, via Yahoo! News, reports that:

Wireless e-mail firm Visto Corp. said on Thursday it filed a lawsuit against Microsoft Corp. for infringing Visto patents for technology that support e-mail on mobile devices.

Privately held Visto said it is seeking a permanent injunction to stop Microsoft from "misappropriating" technology from Visto and its co-founder developed nearly 10 years ago.

Microsoft was not immediately available to comment.

Microsoft Files 10 Lawsuits Over Software Pirating

A Reuters newswire article, via Yahoo! News, reports that:

Software giant Microsoft Corp. on Thursday said it filed 10 lawsuits against companies and people, charging that they sold not-for-resale software to unsuspecting customers.

Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft, said the actions seek to protect Microsoft technology from being pirated.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

NYC to Track Diabetics

This was first brought up back in July.

An AP newswire article, via MSNBC, reports that:

Hoping to save hundreds of lives, New York adopted a health code regulation Wednesday that will make it the first American city to keep track of people with diabetes in much the same way it does with patients infected with HIV or tuberculosis.

The city will occasionally use its database to prod diabetics to take better care of themselves.

The policy breaks new ground because it involves the collection of information about people who have a disease that is neither contagious nor caused by an environmental toxin. It has also raised privacy concerns in some quarters.

Dilbert: The VP of Engineering

Click for larger image.

Reporters Without Borders Condemns 'Ali G' Censorship

Actually, this highlights a very important issue -- why ccTLDs are delegated to private organizations and not to government entities.

However, given the commotion that Cohen caused back near my home-town last January, it's not surprising.

Via Reporters sans Frontières.

Reporters Without Borders condemned censorship by the Kazakh government, which has removed the right to use the .kz suffix (equivalent to .uk) from two websites it finds troublesome, including that of British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen, or "Borat".

The worldwide press freedom organisation said it was concerned by the politicisation of the administration of domain names and has written to Franck Fowlie, ombudsman for the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN,) that registers domain names, asking him to intervene. carries sketches by Sacha Baron Cohen, who portrays a sexist and racist Kazakh journalist on the US cable channel HBO. The Kazakh web business body that manages the .kz ˆ said the site had been shut because was hosted outside Kazakhstan and false administrators‚ names had been given when it was registered.

The government decided last month to deny .kz to sites hosted abroad, an unjustified step that tightens political control over Kazakh online publications.

Microsoft OneCare Live Security Disables Laptop LoJack

Joris Evers writes in C|Net News:

As Microsoft takes its first steps into the consumer PC security space, it is discovering that security software can do more than protect systems; it can also cause trouble.

Windows OneCare Live, freely available as a test version since Nov. 29, has been found to disable Absolute Software's Computrace LoJack, an application that functions like a homing device to help recover a laptop after theft.

NYSE to Begin Videotaping Traders in 2006

An AP newswire article, via, reports that:

The New York Stock Exchange will soon launch a trading-surveillance program in which the activities of some of the traders and brokers on the NYSE will be videotaped, Big Board officials said Wednesday.

The program is a consequence of the Securities and Exchange Commission's censure of the NYSE earlier this year over the exchange's failure to police its "specialist" stock traders. Last year, the NYSE and the SEC took action against all seven specialist firms that work at the exchange, levying a combined $247 million in financial and disgorgement penalties against the companies for alleged trading abuses. Individual traders were punished later.

The videotaping is expected to be launched as a pilot program in next year's second quarter, NYSE officials said Wednesday. Plans are for about 20 locations on the floor to be taped. The pilot program is expected to run for 18 months, but it may be extended.

Microsoft Feeling The Heat: Reorganizes Entertainment Division

Via Reuters.

Microsoft Corp. has split its entertainment and devices division into four businesses, the latest reorganization at the world's largest software maker, according to a company e-mail to employees seen by Reuters on Wednesday.

The reorganization follows Microsoft's decision in September to streamline its businesses into three divisions to compete more effectively against Google Inc., Oracle Corp. and the Linux operating system.

Adobe Moving to Monthly Security Patch Schedule

"Sometime in the next six months..."?

Robert McMillan writes in InfoWorld:

Adobe Systems Inc. is taking a page from Microsoft Corp.'s playbook. Next year, the San Jose, California, company will begin releasing security patches on a predictable, monthly basis, much as Microsoft has been doing since October 2003.

The monthly security updates will start sometime in the next six months and are expected to cover most, if not all, of Adobe's products, said Adrian Ludwig, Adobe's manager of secure software engineering.