Saturday, March 11, 2006

12 March 1831: Happy Birthday, Clement Studebaker


Studebaker's Big Six Touring Car, from a 1920 magazine ad.
Image source: Wikipedia

Via Wikipedia.

Clement Studebaker (March 12, 1831 – 1901) was an American carriage manufacturer. With his brothers, he founded Studebaker, which built wagons, carriages, and automobiles in South Bend, Indiana.

Studebaker experimented with motor vehicles as early as 1897, choosing electric over gasoline powered engines. The company entered into a distribution agreement with Everett-Metzger-Flanders (E-M-F) Company of Detroit; E-M-F would manufacture vehicles and the Studebakers would distribute them through their wagon dealers.

Problems with E-M-F made the cars unreliable leading the public to say that E-M-F stood for "Every Morning Fix-it". J.M. Studebaker, unhappy with E-M-F's poor quality, gained control of the assets and plant facilities in 1910. To remedy the damage done by E-M-F, Studebaker paid mechanics to visit each unsatisfied owner and replace the defective parts in their vehicles at a cost of US$1 million to the company.

Much more here.

If you would like to search for other "00:01" entries, just search for "00:01" in the blue toolbar search frame at the top of the blog.

The recurring "00:01" series is a pursuit to provide a memory of important things we should not forget in technology.

Looking for a CIA Spy? Just Go Online

An AP newswire article, via MSNBC, reports that:

The identities of 2,600 CIA employees and the locations of two dozen of the agency’s covert workplaces in the United States can be found easily through Internet searches, according to an investigation by the Chicago Tribune.

The newspaper obtained the information from data providers who charge fees for access to public records and reported on its findings in Sunday editions. It did not publish the identities or other details on its searches, citing concern it could endanger the CIA employees.

Not all of the 2,653 people the newspaper said it could identify as CIA employees were supposed to be covert, an issue raised in the Justice Department investigation of whether someone in the Bush administration leaked the identity of CIA operative Valerie Plame to reporters in 2003.

More here.

Costa Rica Police Raid Gambling Billionaire's Home

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

Dozens of police barged into the Costa Rican home of Calvin Ayre, a Canadian online betting mogul featured on the cover of Forbes magazine's annual billionaire issue, Ayre said on Saturday.

Ayre, founder of the Costa-Rica-based gambling site, told Reuters a television company was filming a party at his mansion as part of a celebrity poker tournament, but police thought unlicensed gambling was taking place there.

"They came in like they were raiding Al Capone's lair," said Ayre, 44.

More here.

User Friendly: Coder Cred


Click for larger image.

Citibank PIN/ATM Fiasco 'Worst Hack Ever' and Involves More Banks

Image source: Boing Boing

Via Boing Boing.

The unfolding debit card scam that rocked Citibank this week is far from over, an analyst said Thursday as she called this first-time-ever mass theft of PINs "the worst consumer scam to date."

Wednesday, Citibank confirmed that an ongoing fraud had forced it to reissue debit cards and block PIN-based transactions for users in Canada, Russia, and the U.K.

But Citibank is only the tip of the iceberg, said Avivah Litan, a Gartner research vice president. The scam -- and scandal -- has hit national banks like Bank of America, Wells Fargo, and Washington Mutual, as well as smaller banks, including ones in Oregon, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, all of which have re-issued debit cards in recent weeks.

DUI Defense Lawyers Challenge Breath Test

An AP newswire article by Curt Anderson, via, reports that:

Timothy Muldowny's lawyers decided on an unconventional approach to fight his drunken driving case: They sought computer programming information for the Intoxilyzer alcohol breath analysis machine to see whether his test was accurate.

Their strategy paid off.

The company that makes the Intoxilyzer refused to reveal the computer source code for its machine because it was a trade secret. A county judge tossed out Muldowny's alcohol breath test - a crucial piece of evidence in a DUI case - and the ruling was upheld by an appeals court in 2004.

More here.

IAC v. Citrin - Deleting Files a Crime?

Via Groklaw.

Whenever I get a lot of email about a story, I take it seriously. This story about International Airport Centers, LLC v. Citrin is filling up my inbox. I see Slashdot had it yesterday too. So I decided to take a look and see if I could find some material to help you understand what is happening, and I have.

It's an Order being described as an expansion of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.

More here.

Virginia Law Aims to Widen Field of Cable Providers

Chris L. Jenkins and Rosalind S. Helderman writes in The Washington Post:

Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D) signed legislation Friday that supporters say will increase competition in the television cable business and potentially reduce monthly cable bills for consumers.

House Bill 1404, which overwhelmingly passed the General Assembly, makes it easier for a phone company such as Verizon Communications Inc. to offer television service that would compete with cable companies. The law, which takes effect July 1, offers a way to accelerate the negotiation of franchise agreements between companies and local governments.

More here.

Gapingvoid: Cubicle of Destiny

Via Enjoy!

Dow Jones Opposes Bid for Employees at MarketWatch

George Raine writes on

A union is bidding to represent journalists and other employees of the business news Web site MarketWatch, a rare effort to organize a business rooted in the dot-com era of the late 1990s.

The number of staff members involved is small. About 210 of MarketWatch's 300 employees at the company's San Francisco headquarters and in bureaus around the country are considered union eligible. But labor sees an opening in a changed industry.

More here.

U.S. Government Sides Against eBay in Patent Dispute

Yuki Noguchi writes in The Washington Post:

The federal government yesterday took a position against eBay Inc. in a patent dispute that threatens to shut down one of the online auction site's popular shopping features.

The Office of the Solicitor General said in a brief filed with the Supreme Court that eBay willfully infringed on patents held by Great Falls-based MercExchange LLC and should be enjoined from using its "Buy It Now" feature, which allows users to buy goods at fixed prices rather than compete in auctions. Goods sold using that system account for about a third of eBay's business.

EBay has been found guilty of willfully infringing two patents held by MercExchange but has not been barred from using the systems, because of a district court decision to deny an injunction. An appellate court reversed that decision.

More here.

Dilbert: Project Management

Click for larger image.

Big Risks Seen for AT&T-BellSouth Deal

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

With its $65 billion agreement to buy BellSouth Corp., AT&T Inc. faces one of the biggest challenges in its history: integrating two stodgy telephone companies with the nation's largest wireless company and making good on $18 billion in promised cost savings.

Although the deal had been widely expected, the timing was a surprise to Wall Street, coming just three months after SBC Communications completed its purchase of AT&T Corp. to form the "new" AT&T Inc.

Together, AT&T and BellSouth (Research) would have a national long-distance telephone and data network, residential customers in 22 states and business customers comprising more than half of the Fortune 1000.

More here.

Friday, March 10, 2006

11 March 1920: Happy Birthday, Nobel Laureate Nicolaas Bloembergen


Nicolaas Bloembergen
Image source: Wikipedia

Via Wikipedia.

Nicolaas Bloembergen (born March 11, 1920) is an Dutch physicist. He received his Ph.D. from University of Leiden in 1948 and then became a professor at Harvard University.

Bloembergen left Netherlands in 1945 due to devastation of Europe from WWII to pursue graduate studies at Harvard University. Six weeks before his arrival Harvard Professor Edward M. Purcell (along with his graduate students Torrey and Pound) have discovered nuclear magnetic resonance. Bloembergen was hired to develop a first NMR machine. While at Harvard he enjoyed classes from Schwinger, Van Vleck and Kemble. His thesis "Nuclear Magnetic Relaxation" was submitted both in Leiden, where he passed qualifying criteria, and Harvard. After a brief postdoctoral appointment with C. J. Gorter at Netherlands he joined Harvard as a junior fellow of Society of Fellows in 1949 and Associate Professor in 1951.

In 1958, he became a naturalized citizen of the United States.

Nicolaas Bloembergen shared the 1981 Nobel Prize in Physics with Arthur Schawlow and Kai Siegbahn for their work in laser spectroscopy. Bloembergen and Schawlow investigated matter undetectable without lasers. He had earlier modified the maser of Charles Townes. Bloembergen serves on the University of Arizona faculty.

More here.

If you would like to search for other "00:01" entries, just search for "00:01" in the blue toolbar search frame at the top of the blog.

The recurring "00:01" series is a pursuit to provide a memory of important things we should not forget in technology.

Government Insanity Alert: Bill's Provisions Make Reporting on Government Surveillance Illegal

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

An AP newswire article, via MSNBC, reports that:

Reporters who write about government surveillance could be prosecuted under proposed legislation that would solidify the administration's eavesdropping authority, according to some legal analysts who are concerned about dramatic changes in U.S. law.

But an aide to the bill's chief author, Sen. Mike DeWine, R-Ohio, said that is not the intention of the legislation.

"It in no way applies to reporters — in any way, shape or form," said Mike Dawson, a senior policy adviser to DeWine, responding to an inquiry Friday afternoon. "If a technical fix is necessary, it will be made.

More here.

Feds Shake Up Airport Security at Newark

Patrick McGeehan writes in The New York Times:

The federal government is shaking up the management of security operations at Newark Liberty International Airport, which has been plagued by screening lapses and poor morale.

The Transportation Security Administration removed Marcus Arroyo from his position as federal security director at the airport and named Mark O. Hatfield Jr., who was Mr. Arroyo's deputy, as his temporary replacement, employees of the agency said yesterday. Russell White, who oversaw aviation-security inspectors at the airport, also was relieved of his duties, they said.

More here:

Gapingvoid: Let's Link Up

Via Enjoy!

Cisco, Nortel: CeBIT No-Shows

Ray Le Maistre writes on Light Reading:

This year's monumental, 26-hall show in snowy Hannover has two things amiss: Cisco Systems Inc. and Nortel Networks Ltd..

Hall 13 is missing a significant amount of land mass with the absense of Cisco. So what's the deal? Did the company, as one Juniper Networks Inc. staffer suggested, "forget about CeBIT this year"?

More here.

Australia: Aussie Internet Users Crawling Along, Compartively Speaking

An AAP newswire article, via Australian IT, reports that:

Australian internet users are barely moving along the information superhighway compared with other nations, a study shows.

A report by the World Bank has Australia well behind other developed nations in terms of broadband internet speed - a key factor in modern-day business and essential to accessing new features on the web such as movie and music downloads and telephone calls.

Official figures cited in the report showed that per head of population, Australia's broadband internet speed was just over 1Mbps.

More here.

Australia: Old Media Tech Circles The Wagons

John Lehmann writes on Australian IT:

PAY-TV operators have sharpened their campaign for looser regulation in the federal Government's revamped media laws, warning they face a serious threat from broadband.

Foxtel chief executive Kim Williams described the take up of broadband as "sobering", pointing out that it grew seven times faster than pay television subscriber numbers last year.

Austar chief executive John Porter said it was critical the pay-TV industry was able to "grow much faster" because it only had three to four years before advances in broadband speeds made internet-based entertainment more commercially viable in Australia.

More here.

Japan Faces Wave Of Internet-Based Suicide Pacts

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

The scene has become chillingly familiar. A group of young Japanese was found dead from asphyxiation in a sealed car, charcoal stoves still smoking beside them — thought to be the latest victims in an alarming surge in suicide pacts arranged over the Internet.

The bodies belonged to five men and one woman, all in their 20s, police said. Authorities suspected the six met over the Internet before dying together Thursday night in a forested area about 50 miles northwest of Tokyo.

More here.

Oops: McAfee Update Exterminates Excel

Joris Evers writes on C|Net News:

For a brief period on Friday, McAfee's security tools killed more than viruses.

An error in McAfee's virus definition file released Friday morning caused the company's consumer and enterprise antivirus products to flag Microsoft's Excel, as well as other applications on users' PCs, as a virus called W95/CTX, Joe Telafici, director of operations at McAfee's Avert labs, told CNET

"At about 1 p.m. PST we started getting reports that people were seeing an unusual number of W95/CTX infections in their environment," Telafici said. "Files that we did identify would probably be deleted or quarantined, depending on your settings."

More here.

Al Jazeera's Outreach To Bloggers

The Al Jaseera Network Icon
Image source:

Via Pajamas Media.

If Al Jazeera invites dozens of bloggers to the Middle East in order to cover a forum that is designed to promote the Arab television station, should those bloggers: a) take the free trip, or b) disclose the freebie to their readers if they do?

The questions are not rhetorical. Al Jazeera held just such a forum earlier this year, and according to Alvin Snyder at the University of Southern California Center on Public Diplomacy, “at least 100 blogger-delegates had all travel and accommodation costs covered, courtesy of their host sponsor.” Few of them disclosed that fact to their readers, Snyder wrote in a piece titled “The Ethical Dilemma of Blogging.”

Brazil Tries to Seize Data on Users of Google's Orkut

As long as civil liberties are respected, I say "It's about time."

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

Brazilian authorities said on Friday they will seek warrants to seize information on hundreds of users on the Orkut social network, operated by search engine giant Google Inc., for suspected Internet crimes.

Sergio Suiama, a federal public prosecutor at the cyber-crimes unit of the Public Ministry, said the ministry will seek warrants to investigate Brazilian users suspected of publishing child pornography and drug trafficking on Orkut.

The request for warrants would be based on a report by the nongovernmental group Safernet, which monitors crime on the Internet, Suiama said.

More here.

Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Begins Red Planet Orbit

Artist's concept of Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter in orbit at Mars.
Image source: NASA / JPL


With a crucially timed firing of its main engines today, NASA's new mission to Mars successfully put itself into orbit around the red planet.

The spacecraft, Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, will provide more science data than all previous Mars missions combined.

Signals received from the spacecraft at 2:16 p.m. Pacific Time after it emerged from its first pass behind Mars set off cheers and applause in control rooms at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., and at Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Denver.

More here.

Dilbert: The Great Thing About Low Standards

Click for larger image.

Consumers with Forced Debit Card Reissues Step Forward

Image source: Boing Boing

Via Boing Boing.

Following up on earlier reports here about the Citibank debit card mess, Consumerist says, "More signs point to OfficeMax and Sam’s Club as being the retailers suspected of letting thousands of customer’s debit cards and PINs to be stolen."

Virtual Machine Rootkits: The Next Big Threat?

Ryan Naraine writes on eWeek:

Lab rats at Microsoft Research and the University of Michigan have teamed up to create prototypes for virtual machine-based rootkits that significantly push the envelope for hiding malware and that can maintain control of a target operating system.

The proof-of-concept rootkit, called SubVirt, exploits known security flaws and drops a VMM (virtual machine monitor) underneath a Windows or Linux installation.

More here.

Dutch Bandits Blowing Up ATM Machines

Bruce Schneier writes on his Schneier on Security blog:

In the Netherlands, criminals are stealing money from ATM machines by blowing them up.

First, they drill a hole in an ATM and fill it with some sort of gas. Then, they ignite the gas -- from a safe distance -- and clean up the money that flies all over the place after the ATM explodes.

Sounds crazy, but apparently there has been an increase in this type of attack recently. The banks' countermeasure is to install air vents so that gas can't build up inside the ATMs.

Stolen 'iBill' Data Still Online

Image source: Spam Kings

Brian McWilliams writes on the Spam Kings blog:

iBill officials say a cross-reference of email addresses in the cache, discovered on the Internet by security firms, shows that only three are iBill customers.

So who hemorrhaged all the customer data, if it's not iBill?

If authorities really want to find out, they can start by contacting a spam data-broker known as James Botkin.

More here.

More Vulnerabilities Found in iTunes, QuickTime

Ryan Naraine writes on eWeek:

Security flaws in Apple's popular digital media products are beginning to add up.

Researchers at eEye Digital Security have pinpointed two high-risk vulnerabilities in iTunes and QuickTime that could put millions of Windows and Mac users at risk of code execution attacks.

Aliso Viejo, Calif.-based eEye issued two alerts on its upcoming advisories Web page to warn of heap overflows and integer overflows in the two Apple products.

More here.

FBI in Final Talks With Lockheed Martin on Sentinel Deal

Wilson P. Dizard III writes on

The FBI said today that it is in final talks with one of the two vendor teams that has bid on the Sentinel investigative case management project, and that it likely would announce a contract within 30 days.

Several industry sources said the department had chosen Lockheed Martin Corp. of Bethesda, Md., over Northrop Grumman Corp. for the final contract negotiations.

The bureau said it had informed one of the teams that its proposal was not acceptable, but cautioned that negotiations are still fluid.

More here.

Why Google's Click-Fraud Settlement Doesn't Settle Things

Chris Kraeuter writes on

So the proposed settlement--which keeps Google from having to reveal any embarrassing information about its operations in the courtroom--amounts to a mere 1% of sales, hardly worth a note in the financial statements.

But it's more significant than it appears. Google is trying to argue that click fraud is just a blip on the huge Internet-advertising radar, but the settlement indicates that it's at least a problem--something Google executives were loath to admit just a week ago.

More here.

Call-Dropping Motorola RAZRs

Image source: Gizmodo

Via Gizmodo.

A problem has surfaced with the popular RAZR phones sold through Cingular and T-Mobile, where calls are cut off because a component erroneously registers that the phone has been closed.

Motorola said RAZR phones sold by Verizon were not affected because they use wireless technology different from that of Cingular and T-Mobile. Even though Motorola said the dropped calls are only an issue with a few phones, Cingular and T-Mobile stop selling the units as of Thursday.

Microsoft Employees Allege Performance Reviews Are 'Rigged'

A Business 2.0 article by Owen Thomas, via CNN/Money, reports that:

Google employees get free food, unlimited foosball, and laundry machines at the office. Microsoft employees, by contrast, say that they get a politically charged job review process that has turned into a popularity contest, reports.

A supposedly meritocratic system under which employees get ranked on a bell curve has been taken over by managers who try to protect their friends, Microsoft workers told the Seattle-based labor news site. A Microsoft spokesman says a top HR executive is actively reconsidering the system.

More here.

Can Cisco Rediscover Its 'Growthiness'?

Taking a page from the Colbert Report, Amanda Cantrell writes on CNN/Money:

Like fans of "The Sopranos," Cisco investors have waited a long time for their faith to be rewarded.

Shares of Cisco, the biggest manufacturer of Internet gear, were stuck in a rut the past two years while the stocks of other equipment makers rallied. The company, which thrived during the Internet boom of the late 1990s, has been dogged by the problem of slowing growth that has troubled other tech stalwarts like Dell and Intel.

But the stock's bounced back in 2006 -- up nearly 20 percent on the back of last month's strong earnings report and forecast for the current quarter.

There is also excitement about the company's move into new growth areas such as the Internet phone, home networking and security markets. Cisco recently completed its $6.9 billion purchase of Scientific-Atlanta, one of the largest makers of cable set-top boxes.

More here.

Feds Suggest 21-Day Deadline for Google Subpoena

Declan McCullagh writes on C|Net News:

The U.S. Justice Department has set a suggested deadline for Google to hand over information about its users' search habits: 21 days.

In court documents submitted Thursday to U.S. District Judge James Ware in San Jose, Calif., federal prosecutors said they need a prompt response because of the compressed schedule of the case. They're asking Ware to set a 21-day deadline that would begin as soon as he makes a decision.

"Delay in this court's resolution of the motion to compel would be unwarranted," the three-page brief says.

More here.

Top 10 Strangest Lego Creations

Image source: TecEBlog

Via TechEBlog.

It’s time for our weekly Top 10 list and this week our editors bring you the “Top 10 Strangest (or Coolest…) Lego Creations”.

Much more here.

Guy Gets Credit Card After Submitting a Torn-Up Application

Image source: Boing Boing

I think this illustrates the fact there are serious, serious problems in the whole credit industry.

Via Boing Boing.

Rob Cockerham of says:

"I wasn't sure if just tearing a Credit Card application into tiny bits was good enough to prevent dumpster-diving theft, so I did a test.

"I tore one up, then taped it back together again, filled it out with a DIFFERENT address and CELL number.

"Sure enough, in four weeks I was rewarded with a shiny new card with a $5,000 limit.

"Now I guess I'll go buy a shredder with this card." Considering Downloads

Richard Siklos writes in The New York Times: is in talks with three Hollywood studios about starting a service that would allow consumers to download movies and TV shows for a fee and burn them onto DVD's, according to three people briefed on the discussions.

If the advanced negotiations are successfully concluded, Amazon's service would position itself in the media world alongside rivals like Apple Computer's iTunes as a place where people go not just to order goods to be sent by mail, but to instantly enjoy digital wares as well.

More here.

Gapingvoid: I'm Not A Blogger...

Via Enjoy!

RIM to Acquire Ascendent Systems

An AP newswire article by Peter Svensson, via USA Today, reoprts that:

RIM announced Friday that it has bought Ascendent Systems, a San Jose, Calif., company that makes software for connecting cell-phones to a corporate phone switch, or PBX.

Ascendent's software will be merged into RIM's later this year, enabling office-phone functions like simultaneous ringing at several locations, call transfer and spontaneous teleconferencing [...]

More here.

Singapore Firm Criminally Charged in Landmark Copyright Case

An AFP newswire article, via Yahoo! News, reports that:

An interior design firm caught using pirated software has become the first company in Singapore to be criminally charged under tougher copyright laws, court documents showed.

Police lodged criminal charges against PDM International Pte Ltd before a district court Thursday after discovering 51 pieces of illegal Microsoft, Adobe and Autodesk software installed in the company's computers.

Media reports said police raided the company's premises last September after getting a tip-off from the industry organization Business Software Alliance, which offers rewards of up to 20,000 Singapore dollars (12,300 US) to informers.

More here.

The Approaching COPA Battle

An AP newswire article by MaryClaire Dale, via The Washington Post, reports that:

The Justice Department is nonetheless gearing up to defend the law [Child Online Protection Act] at a trial set for October in U.S. District Court in Philadelphia.

The case spawned a high-profile debate last month when Google Inc. refused a government subpoena for documents the government sought as it develops its strategy.

Justice lawyers subpoenaed several leading search engines for information, apparently to study what information people seek _ and find _ online. They asked Google for 1 million sample queries and 1 million Web addresses in Google's database, according to court documents.

Google is fighting the subpoena, although primarily citing trade secrets, not privacy issues. Yahoo! and others are cooperating, saying the information they provided does not identify individual users.

More here.

EU Commission Sends New Warning to Microsoft

Via Reuters.

The European Commission moved a step closer on Friday to fining Microsoft up to 2 million euros ($2.4 million) daily, warning that new reports show the software giant had not complied with a landmark antitrust ruling.

"The European Commission has sent a letter to Microsoft setting out its preliminary view on how Microsoft is still not in compliance with its obligations under the March 2004 decision," the Commission said in a statement.

More here.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

10 March 1876: 'Mr. Watson, Come Here, I Want to See You.'


Alexander Graham Bell
Image source: Wikipedia

Via The History Channel Online.

On this day, the first discernible speech is transmitted over a telephone system when inventor Alexander Graham Bell summons his assistant in another room by saying, "Mr. Watson, come here; I want you."

Bell had received a comprehensive telephone patent just three days before.

More here, and here.

If you would like to search for other "00:01" entries, just search for "00:01" in the blue toolbar search frame at the top of the blog.

The recurring "00:01" series is a pursuit to provide a memory of important things we should not forget in technology.

NORAD Orders Web Deletion of Transcript

Declan McCullagh writes on C|Net News:

In an unusual follow-up to a public event, the Defense Department and the Transportation Security Administration have ordered that a transcript of an open hearing on aviation restrictions be yanked from the Web.

Maj. Gen. M. Scott Mayes, the head of the North American air defense command, ordered the internal review that flagged the hearing's transcript as problematic and led to its deletion from a government Web site, CNET has learned.

More here.

Pentagon Admits Errors in Domestic Spying

Image source: MSNBC


The Department of Defense admitted in a letter obtained by NBC News on Thursday that it had wrongly added peaceful demonstrators to a database of possible domestic terrorist threats. The letter followed an NBC report focusing on the Defense Department’s Threat and Local Observation Notice, or TALON, report.

Acting Deputy Undersecretary of Defense Roger W. Rogalski’s letter came in reply to a memo from Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., who had demanded answers about the process of identifying domestic protesters as suspicious and removing their names when they are wrongly listed.

“The recent review of the TALON Reporting System ... identified a small number of reports that did not meet the TALON reporting criteria. Those reports dealt with domestic anti-military protests or demonstrations potentially impacting DoD facilities or personnel,” Rogalski wrote on Wednesday.

Much more here.

Virus Casues Japanese Classified Data 'Go Online'

A UPI newswire article, via, reports that:

File-share can be a dangerous business, or so Japanese government agencies are finding out the hard way.

Two weeks after the country's Maritime Self-Defense Force found out that some highly classified information had been posted on the World Wide Web for all to read as a result of a programming error in its file-sharing Winny system, a slew of other agencies are finding similar problems.

Winny itself is a peer-to-peer file-sharing program that has been charged with violating copyright laws in Japan. It has, however, proved to be popular with much of the population because of its cheap cost and user-friendly format, many of whom have installed the software onto their own personal computers, including bureaucrats. But the use of their personal computers for official business has proved to be particularly hazardous when dealing with government data.

Some of the information from the defense force that was posted onto the Internet included warfare training information and call signals. They had found their way into cyberspace after a force member used his personal computer to input the classified data, which then got infected by a computer virus.

More here.

Yes, That's Right: Origami Goatse

Image source: Gizmodo

Via Gizmodo.

Either someone over at Microsoft decided to have some fun in anticipation of the Origami/UMPC launch, or no one at Redmond has ever been Goatse’d.

'Blue-Hat' Hackers Descend on Redmond

Mary Jo Foley writes on Microsoft Watch:

While the Redmondians won't talk turkey, they are confirming that swarms of Bluehat "ethical" hackers have descended on campus this week for the third series of invitation-only security Bluehat briefings.

As with previous Bluehat events, "white hat" hackers are teamed wtih Microsoft employees to break into and expose security weaknesses in the company's products. Hundreds of Microsoft developers and security experts typically attend the Bluehat events.

Beer Tech: Talking Beer Mug

Image source: Gizmodo

Via Gizmodo.

If you have a really hard time seeing your beer mug through the fog to determine when it’s almost empty, the Never Empty Beer Mug has a sensor that tells you it’s time for more. “Your beer is running dangerously low,” cries the mug.

Obeying the mug, you fill it up, take a few gulps and minutes later it’s telling you, “Refill immediately—danger of sobering up.” You’ll never forget to refill that schooner again.

Patch Tuesday: Microsoft Planning for Two Major Fixes

Via Microsoft.

On 14 March 2006 Microsoft is planning to release:

Security Updates

  • One Microsoft Security Bulletin affecting Microsoft Office. The highest Maximum Severity rating for this is Critical. These updates may require a restart. These updates will be detectable using the Microsoft Baseline Security Analyzer and the Enterprise Scanning Tool.
  • One Microsoft Security Bulletin affecting Microsoft Windows. The highest Maximum Severity rating for this is Important. These updates will not require a restart. These updates will be detectable using the Microsoft Baseline Security Analyzer.

More here.

Women Exploiting Legal Loophole to Sell Human Eggs Over Internet

A Canadian Press article, via The Globe and Mail, reports that:

Almost two years after the federal government passed a law banning the sale of human eggs, women are still advertising their ova for sale on the Internet — and Health Canada has no problem with it.

The sale of eggs and other genetic material was banned under the 2004 Assisted Human Reproduction Act, passed in 2004 after a $24-million royal commission and more than a decade of debate.

But a Health Canada official says the act does not ban the advertising of human genetic materials, only their purchase.

More here.

Porn Biller Says It Was Framed

In a follow-up to an earlier story, an article on Wired News reports that:

Online payment company iBill on Thursday said a massive cache of stolen consumer data uncovered by security experts did not come from its database.

"I'm the first person that would have taken this to the FBI and the first person to have gone on 60 Minutes to say 'we screwed up,' if that were the case," said iBill President Gary Spaniak Jr.

Two caches of stolen data were discovered separately by two security companies while conducting routine research into malicious software online. Both had file names that purportedly linked them to iBill.

Southern California-based Secure Science Corporation found the first data file containing records on 17 million individuals on a private website set up by scammers. The site was part of a so-called "phishing" scheme, in which a spamming fraudster poses as a bank or online retailer in an attempt to con consumers out of identification and financial information.

More here.

U.S. Court OK's Computer Searches for Child Porn

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

Police may search computer hard drives for child pornography if their owners subscribe to Web sites selling the images, a U.S. appeals court ruled on Thursday.

There is a "fair probability" customers of child pornography Web sites receive or download the illegal images, opening the door for police searches, according to the ruling by the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

The ruling affirmed a lower court's decision supporting an affidavit by the Federal Bureau of Investigation for its probe of Web site and subscriber Micah Gourde.

More here.

Cingular Says Outage Affected Small Percentage of Customers

Kelly Hill writes on RCR Wireless News:

Cingular Wireless L.L.C. had a brief service outage earlier this week, due to problems with a database that stopped recognizing customers.

Cingular spokesman Mark Siegel declined to give specific numbers of customers affected, but said it was “a very small percentage of our customers, though you could’ve been anywhere around the country.”

The problems began early Tuesday morning, between roughly 5 a.m. and 6 a.m. Eastern Time and were resolved by around 11 a.m., Siegel said.

More here.

Porn-Spam Mom's Plea: 'Not a Mom'

Brian McWilliams writes over on the Spam Kings blog:

Turns out the porn-spam mom isn't a mom after all. operator Jennfier Clason has posted a detailed entry at her site about her stint in the porn-spam business. One of her "come clean" revelations: she doesn't actually have any children.

The web posting essentially confirms the key details of Clason's recent plea agreement(PDF file). E.g., she managed porn websites from 1999 -2003 for James R. Schaffer, who operated a company called Diamond International. Schaffer also partnered with Jeffrey Kilbride.

In January of 2004, Clason learned how to use a spam program capable of sending spam from a remote server in Amsterdam. Starting in April 2004, she sent millions of spams that included embedded pornographic images and used falsified "from" lines. AOL received over 600,000 complaints about the spams from January-June, 2004. Clason was paid around $30,000 for her work.

More here.

Warning: PSP Ads Can Kill You

Image source: Engadget

Marc Perton writes over on Engadget:

We thought we'd seen just about every dire warning about the dangers of gaming, but it turns out there's a new one. Sony has had its PSP posters yanked from Manchester train stations amid fears that the ads could encourage passengers to jump onto the tracks and be hit by oncoming trains.

The poster in question reads "Take A Running Jump Here," and officials were concerned that riders would take the advice literally. Somehow, we'd like to think that train passengers are a little smarter than that, but you never know.

Gadget of the Day: USB Coffee Cup Warmer

For the geek coffee drinker. Hat tip to the C|Net 'Deal of the Day" Blog.

USB Coffee Warmer with On/Off Switch, Status LED and 4 Port USB Hub. It's even just $8.99 (after $4 Coupon) with free ground shipping. Sweet. Or black -- your choice. :-)

FCC Nominee Off AT&T-BellSouth Merger?

A UPI newsbrief, via, reports that:

Federal Communications Commission nominee Robert McDowell might have to sit out deliberations on the merger of BellSouth and AT&T.

A telecom lawyer told USA Today Thursday that McDowell's position as counsel for a telecom trade group that has opposed similar mergers in the past and could take a formal stand against the proposed $67 billion deal.

The issue would likely come up Thursday at McDowell's confirmation hearing before the Senate Commerce Committee.

More here.

Cassini Finds Signs of Liquid Water on Saturn's Moon

Image source: NASA

Tariq Malik writes over on

Saturn’s moon Enceladus may have pockets of liquid water lurking beneath its surface, feeding great jets that spew from the satellite and hinting at the possibility of a habitable environment, researchers said Thursday.

Observations from the Cassini spacecraft currently studying Saturn and its myriad moons shows Enceladus, one of the brightest objects in the Solar System, to be a geologist’s dream, with an active plume spewing water and other material spaceward, as well as a hot spot of thermal activity at its south pole.

“This finding has substantially broadened the range of environments in the solar system that might support living organisms, and it doesn't get any more significant than that,” said Carolyn Porco, Cassini imaging team leader at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colorado, in an e-mail interview. “I'd say we've just hit the ball right out of the park.”

More here.

Shadowboxing With a Bot Herder

Brian Krebs writes on Security Fix:

Security Fix had an interesting online conversation Tuesday night with a hacker who controls a vast, distributed network of hacked Microsoft Windows computers, also known as a "botnet."

I went into the interview knowing very little about this individual, other than his online alter ego, "Witlog," and that he has infected close to 30,000 Windows PCs with his computer worm, which he claims is powered by code that he downloaded from a Web site, modified slightly, and set loose on the 'Net. I came away from the interview no more knowledgeable about his background, age, location or motivation, but perhaps with a stark reminder of how just a little bit of knowledge can be such a dangerous thing.

Witlog claims he doesn't use his botnet for illegal purposes, only "for fun." I found that claim pretty hard to believe given a) the income he could make installing ad-serving software on each computer under his control, combined with b) the risk he is taking of getting caught breaking into so many computers. The kid I wrote about in the Post magazine story on the connection between botnets and spyware was making $6,000 to $10,000 per month installing adware on a botnet half the size of the one Witlog claims to have.

More here.

Gapingvoid: The 90's Bubble

Via Enjoy!

U.S. Political Bloggers May Get Federal Protection

Declan McCullagh writes on C|Net News:

Bloggers would be largely immunized from hundreds of pages of confusing federal regulations dealing with election laws, according to a bill approved by a House of Representatives panel on Thursday.

Democrats had blocked an earlier effort last November to enact the legislation, which would amend federal campaign finance laws to give Internet publishers many of the same freedoms that newspapers and magazines currently enjoy.

More here.

Sling Media to Develop for 'Origami' UMPC

Via BetaNews.

Not far behind Thursday's announcement of the Ultra Mobile PC by Microsoft, Sling Media said it would begin offering a customized version of its SlingPlayer software for the platform. The application would leverage the touch screen functionality and resolution that UMPCs provide in order to make the program easy to use.

Sling Media says it sees the new market as a ideal solution for portable entertainment. "Ultra-Mobile PCs give consumers one more way to take their TV with them wherever they go, and Sling Media is helping more of our customers experience the freedom and flexibility this device offers," said Bill Mitchell, vice president of the Mobile Platforms Division at Microsoft.

Big Money Tech: Rare $10,000 Bill Sent to N.Y. for Safe Keeping

A rare $10,000 bill similar to this one provided by the Treasury
is getting a new home.

Image source: MSNBC / AP

An AP newswire article, via MSNBC, reports that:

A rare $10,000 bill is getting a new home. The bill -- one of 15 large-denomination bills at a Chase Bank branch in Green Bay -- was shipped to the bank's corporate archives in New York for safe keeping.

The $10,000 bill bears the likeness of Salmon P. Chase, for whom the bank was named. Chase was a U.S. senator who served as treasury secretary under President Lincoln.

The large bill was discovered in a bank customer's safety deposit box after the owner died 20 years ago. The woman's family exchanged the currency at face value, and the bank stored the bill in a plastic sleeve for protection.

More here.

U.S. Government Finalizing Negotiations in Anti-Virus Software Selection

Jason Miller wites on

General Services Administration officials leading the enterprise software licensing program known as SmartBuy expect to have in place by the end of the month at least the first of five governmentwide deals with antivirus vendors.

Tom Kireilis, SmartBuy senior program manager, said yesterday that his office is evaluating proposals from five major vendors that serve the agencies.

GSA last fall announced on that they were negotiating with Computer Associates International Inc., McAfee Inc. of Santa Clara, Calif., Sophos AntiVirus Inc. of Wakefield, Mass., Symantec Corp. and Trend Micro Inc. of Cupertino, Calif.

“There are about 22 publishers of antivirus software, and the government buys five main ones,” Kireilis said during a panel discussion at the FOSE trade show in Washington [...]

More here.

Live-Action 'Simpsons' Video Goes Viral Online

I saw this yesterday here. Pretty good.

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

A video that recreates the introduction to "The Simpsons" with live actors is spreading across the Internet faster than Homer can say "D'oh" -- part of a viral marketing campaign by UK satellite broadcaster BSkyB.

Painstakingly crafted by Sky and its ad agency Devilfish, the video was originally intended as an on-air promotion for the Sky One network, which airs new episodes of "The Simpsons" in the UK.

More here.

Austin Startup, Spacetime Studios, to Collaborate With NCsoft

Via The Austin Business Journal.

Austin startup Spacetime Studios LLC will develop a game for online gaming giant NCsoft Corp.

The massively multiplayer game will carry an outer space theme. In massively multiplayer game, players interact with each other in a virtual role-playing world. A release date for the game hasn't been set.

Spacetime Studios was set up by four former employees of Sony Online Entertainment Inc., including Gary Gattis. The Spacetime team has worked on game titles such as "Privateer," "Wing Commander" and "Star Wars Galaxies."

More here.

Outrageously Awesome Motorcycle Computer Case Mod

Image source: Gizmodo


Via Gizmodo.

In what must be the most outrageous computer case mod yet, Chopper Computers of Colorado created this prototype of a chopper-style computer where the only things missing are handlebars and wheels.

One-inch steel tubing is used for the frame, the same material used to build roadworthy choppers, and the seat has a hinge for easy access to the power supply. The motherboard is in the rear and is mounted on a tray that slides out for easy access.

More here.

Cubicles: The Great Mistake

A cubicle farm.

A Fortune Magazine article by Julie Schlosser, via CNN/Money, reports that:

Robert Oppenheimer agonized over building the A-bomb. Alfred Nobel got queasy about creating dynamite. Robert Propst invented nothing so destructive. Yet before he died in 2000, he lamented his unwitting contribution to what he called "monolithic insanity."

Propst is the father of the cubicle. More than 30 years after he unleashed it on the world, we are still trying to get out of the box. The cubicle has been called many things in its long and terrible reign. But what it has lacked in beauty and amenity, it has made up for in crabgrass-like persistence.

Reviled by workers, demonized by designers, disowned by its very creator, it still claims the largest share of office furniture sales--$3 billion or so a year--and has outlived every "office of the future" meant to replace it. It is the Fidel Castro of office furniture.

More here.

User Friendly: Magic Code Pixies


Click for larger image.

User Friendly: Magic Code Pixies


Click for larger image.

Office Pirates: Escape From Stifling Cubicles and a Clueless Boss

Virginia Heffernan writes in The New York Times:

The fact that America's baby Einsteins cruise through superenriched childhoods and rockin' luxury college years only to land in the stifling taupe of office cubicles in the prime of their lives is the master joke at the center of Office Pirates, a new entertainment emporium for men.

Office Pirates, a Time Inc. Web site that first appeared on Feb. 22, is the cherished venture of Mark Golin, lad leader and former editor of Maxim and Details. Mr. Golin's boisterous sensibility is expected to attract ads for cars, liquor, food and girls. Or not girls, because you can't buy girls, but definitely the others.

More here.

Republican Plan Would Allow Spying Without Warrants

Image source:

Shane Scott and David D. Kirkpatrick write in The New York Times:

The plan by Senate Republicans to step up oversight of the National Security Agency's domestic surveillance program would also give legislative sanction for the first time to long-term eavesdropping on Americans without a court warrant, legal experts said on Wednesday.

Civil liberties advocates called the proposed oversight inadequate and the licensing of eavesdropping without warrants unnecessary and unwise. But the Republican senators who drafted the proposal said it represented a hard-wrung compromise with the White House, which strongly opposed any Congressional interference in the eavesdropping program.

More here.