Saturday, April 22, 2006

23 April 1827: William Rowan Hamilton Presents His 'Theory of Systems of Rays'


Sir William Rowan Hamilton

Via Wikipedia.

Sir William Rowan Hamilton (August 4, 1805 – September 2, 1865) was an Irish mathematician, physicist, and astronomer who made important contributions to the development of optics, dynamics, and algebra. His discovery of quaternions is perhaps his best known investigation. Hamilton's work in dynamics was later significant in the development of quantum mechanics, where a fundamental concept called the Hamiltonian bears his name.

In 1827, Hamilton presented a theory that provided a single function that brings together mechanics, optics and mathematics. It helped in establishing the wave theory of light. He proposed for it when he first predicted its existence in the third supplement to his "Systems of Rays," read in 1832. The Royal Irish Academy paper was finally entitled “Theory of Systems of Rays,” (April 23, 1827) and the first part was printed in 1828 in the Transactions of the Royal Irish Academy. It is understood that the more important contents of the second and third parts appeared in the three voluminous supplements (to the first part) which were published in the same Transactions, and in the two papers “On a General Method in Dynamics,” which appeared in the Philosophical Transactions in 1834 and 1835.

More here.

User Friendly: Blog! Blog! Blog!


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Yahoo! Defends China Policy

Via Red Herring.

Yahoo CEO Terry Semel admitted Friday it’s “terrible” to feel connected to the arrest of a journalist in China, but defended his company’s part in the incident.

Reporters Without Borders, a Paris-based journalists’ watchdog group, said on Wednesday it obtained a copy of a verdict in the case of Jiang Lijun that shows Yahoo helped the Chinese authorities identify him. Mr. Jiang was subsequently sentenced to four years in prison in November 2003 for writing pro-democracy articles online.

“It’s terrible to feel that... we were involved with a reason that person went to jail,” Mr. Semel said.

Mr. Semel was speaking at the annual meeting of the Committee of 100, an independent, nonprofit, organization of Chinese American professionals.

More here.

Facing Criminal Charges, Integral's Chairman Resigns

Dina ElBoghdady writes in The Washington Post:

Steven R. Chamberlain resigned yesterday as chief executive and chairman of Integral Systems Inc., the Lanham-based satellite systems and software company said, after months of controversy over pending criminal charges against him.

Even though he had signaled his intention to retire as recently as last week, Chamberlain's resignation was abrupt, and took effect at 5 p.m. yesterday. His successors include Peter J. Gaffney, the chief operating officer, who took over as chief executive, and director R. Doss McComas, who was tapped as chairman.

Integral did not give a reason for Chamberlain's resignation, which was announced in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. But in an e-mail to employees posted on a Internet message board, Chamberlain said he did not want "my publicity/legal problems to affect the company any further." The letter, which was verified by a company employee, also said, "Please don't be sad for me."

More here.

Microsoft Hires CEO of to Head Web Unit

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

Software giant Microsoft Corp. said on Friday it hired away Steve Berkowitz, the chief executive of rival Internet company, to head Microsoft's own Internet business.

Effective May 8, Berkowitz succeeds David Cole, a 20-year Microsoft veteran, who is set to begin a one-year leave of absence, Microsoft said in a statement. He had outlined his plans in a memo to employees in February.

More here.

Neil Young's Protest Album Heads to Internet First

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

Neil Young's newly recorded protest album "Living With War," including a song calling for the impeachment of President Bush, will be posted for free Internet streaming next week, his label said on Friday.

Starting April 28, fans can log onto Young's Web site,, and listen to the 10-track collection in its entirety, free of charge, said Bill Bentley, a spokesman for Warner Music Group's Reprise Records.

More here.

Friday, April 21, 2006

22 April 1996: Cisco Systems Acquires Stratacom


Via Wikipedia.

Cisco Systems acquired StrataCom [on 22 April, 1996] for US$4 billion. The acquired employees formed the core of Cisco's Multi-Service Switching Business Unit and helped moved Cisco more into the carrier equipment space.

StrataCom, Inc. was founded in Cupertino, California, USA, in January 1986 by 26 former employees of the failing Packet Technologies, Inc. StrataCom produced the first commercial cell switch, also known as a fast-packet switch. Its product was the working proof of the technology which became known as Asynchronous Transfer Mode or ATM. ATM became a key technology underlying the world's communications systems in the 1990s and 2000s.

Internet pioneer Paul Baran was an employee of Packet Technologies and provided a spark of invention at the initiation of the Integrated Packet Exchange (IPX) project. (StrataCom's IPX communication system is unrelated to Novell's IPX Internetwork Packet Exchange protocol.) The IPX was initially known as the PacketDAX, which was a play on words of Digital access and cross-connect system (or DACS). A rich collection of inventions were contained in the IPX, and many were provided by the other members of the development team. The names on the original three IPX patents are Paul Baran, Charles Corbalis, Brian Holden, Jim Marggraff, Jon Masatsugu, David Owen, and Pete Stonebridge. StrataCom's implementation of ATM was pre-standard and used 24 byte cells instead of standards-based ATM's 53 byte cells. However, many of concepts and details found in the ATM set of standards were derived directly from StrataCom's technology including the use of CRC-Based Framing on its links.

More here.

Honorable Mention: "The Red Scare" -- On 22 April, 1954, the Army-McCarthy Hearings begin.

Bonded Sender: Overhauled As Google Nixes Pay-To-Send e-Mail

Via eMail Battles.

The State of Sender Pay: While GoodMail struggles to keep AOL and Yahoo on the Sender Pay farm, Google issues an unequivocal refusal to take money for bypassing GMail filters. Still, Return Path thinks there's a buck to be made with a broken-down fixer-upper like Bonded Sender.

Email Battles takes a stab at making sense of the whole mess.

More here.

Third U.S. Judge Quashes Microsoft Subpoenas

A Reuters newswire article by David Lawsy, via eWeek, reports that:

Another U.S. judge delivered a sharp rebuke to Microsoft Thursday as she quashed a subpoena of IBM documents, saying the software giant was trying to undermine European law enforcement and harm other companies.

U.S. District Court Judge Colleen McMahon became the third American judge to squelch Microsoft's attempts to get sensitive information that companies submitted to the European Commission to help in its antitrust case against the Redmond, Washington firm.

More here.

RIAA News: Court Finds Reasonable Cause to Believe that UMG and Capitol Deceived U.S. DoJ

Via The Recording Industry vs. The People:

In an April 20th decision, the federal court in the Northern District of California has found reasonable cause to believe that UMG Recordings and Capitol Records misled the United States Department of Justice ("DOJ") when the DOJ was investigating possible anticompetitive conduct by them in attempting to control the digital music business.

More here.

Air Force One Subject of Internet Video Hoax

An AP newswire by Ted Bridis, via Yahoo! News, reports that:

A startling Internet video that shows someone spraying graffiti on President Bush's jet looked so authentic that the Air Force wasn't immediately certain whether the plane had been targeted.

It was all a hoax. No one actually sprayed the slogan "Still Free" on the cowling of Air Force One.

The pranksters responsible for the grainy, two-minute Web video — employed by a New York fashion company — revealed Friday how they pulled it off: a rented 747 in California painted to look almost exactly like Air Force One.

More here.

Delta: Atlanta Airport Security Glitch Costly

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

Delta Air Lines Inc., which is operating under bankruptcy protection, said Friday a computer software glitch at a security checkpoint at the world's busiest airport cost it more than $1.3 million.

The revelation about Wednesday's disruption at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport came in a letter from Joe Kolshak, Delta's executive vice president and chief of operations, to Transportation Security Administration Director Kip Hawley.

More here.

Microsoft Heads to College to Pitch Windows Live

Daisuke Wakabayashi writes for Reuters:

The University of Texas Pan-American is not alone in linking up with Microsoft. The world's largest software maker has clinched deals to host e-mail systems for 72 institutions around the world and is in active discussions to add almost 200 more schools.

Microsoft sees its push onto college campuses as a way to promote its new Windows Live platform, an advertising-funded one-stop shop for Microsoft's Web services from e-mail to news to instant messaging to blogs.

More here.

CIA Officer Fired After Admitting 'Secret Prisons' Leak

An NBC News exclusive by Robert Windrem and Andrea Mitchell, via MSNBC, reports that:

In a rare occurrence, the CIA fired an officer who acknowledged giving classified information to a reporter, NBC News reported on Thursday. The agency’s spokeswoman confirmed the firing.

The officer flunked a polygraph exam before being fired on Wednesday and is now under investigation by the Justice Department, NBC reported.

The leak pertained to stories on the CIA’s rumored secret prisons in Eastern Europe, sources told NBC. The information was allegedly provided to Dana Priest of the Washington Post, who wrote reports about CIA prisons in November 2005 and was awarded a Pulitzer Prize on Monday for her reporting.

More here.

Nokia Teams With MIT on Mobile Software

Martin LaMonica writes on C|Net News:

Nokia and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology on Friday opened the doors to a new research lab that has a distinct software flavor.

Nokia executives said the Nokia Research Center Cambridge has begun seven projects in collaboration with MIT's Center for Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL). The research focuses on simplifying user interactions with handsets.

Although Nokia is a giant in handset manufacturing, many of the advances in mobile usage will increasingly come from software, said Bob Iannucci, senior vice president and head of Nokia's research operations worldwide.

More here.

More Mac OS X Flaws Identified

Brian Krebs writes on Security Fix:

Apple is doing a lot of security patching of late, and it looks like its employees may be working overtime just to address some of the flaws founds by one security researcher.

Tom Ferris, a hacker and researcher from Mission Viejo, Calif., posted on his Web site Thursday evening information about seven separate security vulnerabilities he found in different Mac OS X digital image formats.

Ferris included proof-of-concept exploit code for all of the flaws in his advisories, though he insists the code is little more than the most basic example to demonstrate precisely where the problems reside. Some of the flaws he found are merely denial-of-service glitches, meaning an attacker could use them to cause hiccups or lockups for targeted Mac systems. But in an interview earlier today, Ferris told me that a number of the bugs could almost certainly be exploited to allow attackers to run programs of their choice on vulnerable Mac systems.

More here.

Gapingvoid: In Fact, They're Still Laughing...

Via Enjoy!

Sprint Nextel, ABC Owned TV Stations Group Reach Agreement on 1.9 GHz Relocation

Heather Forsgren Weaver writes on RCR Wireless News:

Sprint Nextel Corp. and ABC Owned TV Stations Group said late Thursday that they have come to an agreement on templates for frequency relocation agreements and a group relocation agreement that allows Sprint Nextel to begin moving the ABC stations off of the 1.9 GHz band it received as part of the Federal Communications Commission’s plan to solve public-safety interference in the 800 MHz band.

As part of that plan the FCC gave Sprint Nextel 10 megahertz of spectrum in the 1.9 GHz band to compensate it for spectrum Sprint Nextel was relinquishing in the 700 MHz and 800 MHz bands. But, before Sprint Nextel could use the 1.9 GHz band spectrum, it had to pay to move more than 1,000 broadcast auxiliary service licensees to different spectrum.

More here.

Dilbert: Neuron Inhibtors

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In Battle with Google, eBay Looks to Microsoft, Yahoo!

Juan Carlos Perez writes on InfoWorld:

Google Inc.'s recent launch of a product-listings service with an online payment system has eBay Inc. on red alert and seeking to defend itself through partnerships with Yahoo Inc. or Microsoft Corp., the Wall Street Journal reported Friday.

EBay generates most of its revenue from listings and online payment fees it charges sellers who peddle their products on its site. For years, it has spent considerable amounts of money to advertise its business through Google's online ad network.

EBay spokesman Hani Durzy declined to comment on the story, but said eBay, as one of the world's biggest buyers of search-based ads, constantly talks to Microsoft, Google and Yahoo. "As the three major search engine companies, they are great channel partners to bring demand to our site. We're always looking to better leverage our relationship with them to improve our fundamental job of bringing buyers to our sellers."

More here.

Australia: Telcos in Broadband Alliance

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

A group of telecoms companies, including number two provider Optus, has joined together to form a plan for upgrading broadband around the nation.

The companies - Optus, Macquarie Telecom, PowerTel, Primus, Internode, Soul and TransACT - want telcos to collectively fund the building of a new high-speed network of fibre cables around the country that all telcos could access.

They are unhappy with a plan put forward by Telstra, which currently owns Australia's network of copper phone lines, to build new fibre cables.

Under Telstra's plan, it would spend an estimated $3 billion over the next three to five years to roll out fibre cables in five capital cities capable of giving four million people high-speed broadband.

The catch is that Telstra will only make such a huge investment if it is given some competition protections by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).

More here.

Why Winternals Sued Best Buy

Mark Russinovich writes over on the SysInternals Blog:

This post I’m taking a break from my standard technical postings to discuss a disturbing discovery regarding a large corporation’s unauthorized software usage. By now many of you have heard via Slashdot, arstechnica, Digg, or your local newspaper that Winternals Software, the company I co-founded with Bryce Cogswell in 1996, filed suit in Federal court against Geek Squad and Best Buy for illegal use of the Administrator’s Pak.

What the press coverage to date might not have made clear is what Geek Squad and Best Buy did prior to approaching Winternals in October 2005 about a license to our software, what they continued to do after terminating licensing discussions in February 2006, and why we felt we had no alternative but to protect our software through the legal system. This is the first lawsuit Winternals has ever initiated, and we did not approach the decision lightly.

More here.

User Friendly: 'Tard Tags


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ASTRA Telecom Satellite Safely In Orbit

A UPI news brief, via, reports that:

Signal from ASTRA's latest telecom satellite was acquired late Thursday following launch from Cape Canaveral, Fla.

The ASTRA-1KR was carried into geosynchronous orbit at 19.2 degrees east by an International Launch Systems Atlas rocket and began transmitting about an hour later to the Lockheed Martin tracking station in Australia.

ASTRA-1KR is the 29th of Lockheed Martin's A2100 satellites delivered worldwide and the 13th satellite in ASTRA's fleet. It comes equipped with 32 transponders that will deliver direct-to-home broadcast to Europe.

More here.

Apple's iTunes Pricing to Stay at 99 Cents

Marc Perton writes on Engadget:

Apple Computer's Steve Jobs has apparently won his long-running battle with the record industry over the pricing of songs in the iTunes Music Store. Jobs has long insisted that the store's 99-cents-per-song price point should stay in place, while record companies had argued for more flexible pricing, with newer songs going for a higher price, and catalog material selling for less.

The record companies had also pushed for a subscription option similar to that followed by most other online music stores. Now, according to The New York Post, the record companies have largely thrown in the towel, and will allow Apple to keep pricing flat.

More here.

Gapingvoid: I Have Measured My Life...

Via Enjoy!

Major Banking Sites Place Customers at Risk

Robert McMillan writes on InfoWorld:

Online bank customers may want to pay a little more attention to their browsers the next time they log in, because many of the most popular banking sites in the U.S. may be needlessly placing their customers at risk to online thieves, a noted security researcher warned Thursday.

At issue are the user login areas that can be found on banking sites such as and, which ask users to submit their user ID and password information. Although these forms may be encrypted, they do not use authentication technology to prove they are genuine, according to Johannes Ullrich, chief research officer at the SANS Institute.

A more secure approach would be to force users to log in on a HTTPS (HyperText Transport Protocol Secure) Web page. HTTPS pages use the SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) security protocol, which not only encrypts the information on the page but also provides digital certificates to give assurance that the Web site in question is genuine.

More here.

UK: Protesters Try to Foil ID Card Plan

Nancy Gohring
writes on InfoWorld:

A U.K. group worried about the security of personal data to be collected under a new identity card plan is calling on people to renew their passports in May to avoid being part of the identity card scheme for at least 10 years.

No2ID, a group that has been campaigning against the identity cards, discovered that citizens can renew their passports now regardless of whether or not they are about to expire. Since the national identity register isn't set up yet, renewing now allows them to avoid being included in the database for the 10-year life of the passport.

The group has won the support of political parties including the Liberal Democrats and the Green Party, as well as other privacy and civil liberties groups.

More here.

Gonzales Calls for Mandatory Web 'Labeling' Law

Declan McCullagh writes on C|Net News:

Web site operators posting sexually explicit information must place official government warning labels on their pages or risk being imprisoned for up to five years, the Bush administration proposed Thursday.

A mandatory rating system will "prevent people from inadvertently stumbling across pornographic images on the Internet," Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said at an event in Alexandria, Va.

More here.

Cisco Sets Up R&D Lab in Hanoi

Sumner Lemon writes on InfoWorld:

Cisco Systems has teamed up with Hanoi University of Technology (HUT) to open a research and development (R&D) lab in Vietnam, the company said Friday.

The Networking R&D Lab is backed by Cisco's University Research Program and will be run by HUT's Bach Khoa Networking Academy, a training center for network managers also established by Cisco. The lab's goal is to further collaboration between researchers at HUT and other universities and research organizations, Cisco said.

More here.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

21 April 783 B.C.: Buon Compleanno, Roma


Romulus and Remus with the she-wolf.
Image source: Rome, Museo Capitolino / University of California, Santa Cruz

Via The History Channel Online and Wikipedia.

According to tradition, on April 21, 753 B.C., Romulus and his twin brother, Remus, found Rome on the site where they were suckled by a she-wolf as orphaned infants. Actually, the Romulus and Remus myth originated sometime in the fourth century B.C., and the exact date of Rome's founding was set by the Roman scholar Marcus Terentius Varro in the first century B.C.

According to the legend, Romulus and Remus were the sons of Rhea Silvia, the daughter of King Numitor of Alba Longa. Alba Longa was a mythical city located in the Alban Hills southeast of what would become Rome. Before the birth of the twins, Numitor was deposed by his younger brother Amulius, who forced Rhea to become a vestal virgin so that she would not give birth to rival claimants to his title. However, Rhea was impregnated by the war god Mars and gave birth to Romulus and Remus. Amulius ordered the infants drowned in the Tiber, but they survived and washed ashore at the foot of the Palatine hill, where they were suckled by a she-wolf until they were found by the shepherd Faustulus.

Reared by Faustulus and his wife, the twins later became leaders of a band of young shepherd warriors. After learning their true identity, they attacked Alba Longa, killed the wicked Amulius, and restored their grandfather to the throne. The twins then decided to found a town on the site where they had been saved as infants. They soon became involved in a petty quarrel, however, and Remus was slain by his brother. Romulus then became ruler of the settlement, which was named "Rome" after him.

More here and here.

Microsoft to 'Re-Release' MS06-015 Patch

Via the Microsoft Security Response Center (MSRC) Blog.

We've been continually examining the best way to assist the customers who may have been impacted by the interaction of MS06-015 with the software Mike mentioned before. We wanted to check in and let you know the current plan. Up until now there have been several solutions: Upgrade to the newest version of the affected software, a manual registry key fix, uninstall the third party software (NVIDIA Drivers versions 61.94 and prior or the Hewlett Packard Share-to-web software) or uninstall the update. All of these require the user to take some sort of action.

So what we have done is re-engineered the MS06-015 update to avoid the conflict altogether with the older Hewlett Packard and NVIDIA software. We're going to run a test pass on it and we will release this new update on Tuesday, April 25th. What the new update essentially does is simply add the affected third party software to an "exception list" so that the problem does not occur. The revised update automates the manual registry key fix.

More here.

Google Declines to Rule Out Wireless Airwave Bid

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

Google Inc. on Thursday opened the door to the possibility that it could bid on U.S. licenses for wireless radio spectrum in order to offer Internet access services, but said no plans were imminent.

Co-founder Larry Page said the company has no wireless spectrum acquisition plans to announce but declined to rule out speculation that Google may be gearing up for a push far beyond wireless trials it is working on in the San Francisco area.

"We haven't announced any plans with regard to spectrum, but we are generally interested in improving access to the Internet," he said in a tone mixing the excitement of a keen science student with that of a billionaire ready to pay for the undertaking.

More here.

Apple Trade Secrets Case Could Affect Media Confidentiality

An AP newswire article by May Wong, via USA Today, reports that:

A case that could jeopardize the right of journalists to protect the confidentiality of sources and give companies more legal leeway to track down supposed leaks of trade secrets is now in the hands of a state appeals court.

Apple Computer faced tough questions before a three-judge panel of the 6th District Court of Appeal on Thursday as it argued its case seeking to identify the sources who leaked confidential information about an unreleased product to online media outlets in 2004.

Apple contended the unidentified sources — presumed to be company employees — violated its trade secrets. It subpoenaed the Internet service providers of three online journalists to turn over e-mail records to uncover the possible sources.

A lower court last year ruled in Apple's favor but the Electronic Frontier Foundation, whose attorneys represent the online journalists of, and appealed. The civil liberties organization contended Apple's protection of trade secrets in this case should not outweigh the journalists' First Amendment right to confidential sources nor the privacy protections of e-mails allowed under federal law.

More here.

LA Times' Hiltzik Caught Using Fake Names

Via Pajamas Media.

Ace of Spades has the embarrassing news about another widely-known journalist deciding that his paper’s ethics policy doesn’t apply to him. Michael Hiltzik, the paper’s highly partisan, anti-business business columnist [...], got caught posting messages on the LA Times website under the fake name Mikekoshi — which he used to praise himself and defend his own columns.

Credit goes to Patterico, the Los Angeles blogger and county prosecutor who figured out that Mikekoshi and Hiltzik had the same IP address.

More here, via The LA Times.

Software Glitch, Not Bomb, Shuts Down Atlanta Airport

An AP newswire article, via MSNBC, reports that:

The nation's top transportation security administrator said Thursday the bomb scare that shut down security checkpoints for two hours at the world's busiest airport was the result of a computer glitch in testing software.

Transportation Security Administration Director Kip Hawley said a screener at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport spotted what looked like an explosive Wednesday on an X-ray machine. She pressed a button that should have signaled a routine security test was being conducted, but it failed to respond, Hawley said.

More here.

Man Charged With Hacking USC Database

Stefanie Olsen writes on C|Net News:

A 25-year-old San Diego man has been charged with hacking into the University of Southern California's online application system and nabbing personal data from prospective students.

On Monday, the U.S. Attorney's Office in Los Angeles filed a criminal complaint against Eric McCarty, a network administrator, for allegedly exploiting a vulnerability in a USC database that hosts and stores student applications. Officially, he's charged with "intentionally transmitting a code or command to cause damage to the USC online application system," according to the U.S. Attorney's office.

Michael Zweiback, an assistant U.S. attorney in the cybercrimes and intellectual property unit, said that the case reflects a growing trend among hackers.

More here.

Police: MySpace Foils School Shooting

An AP newswire article, via CNN, reports that:

Five teenage boys accused of plotting a shooting rampage at their high school on the anniversary of the Columbine massacre were arrested Thursday after details of the alleged scheme appeared on the Web site

Sheriff's deputies found guns, ammunition, knives and coded messages in the bedroom of one suspect, Sheriff Steve Norman said. Authorities also found documents about firearms and references to Armageddon in two suspects' school lockers.

More here.

N.Y. County Throws Cold Water on Hot Spots

Dibya Sarkar writes on

Westchester County, N.Y., has enacted what may be the first law in the nation requiring Internet cafes and other similar commercial entities to secure their wireless networks to prevent identity theft and other computer fraud.

The law, which goes into effect 180 days from today, requires commercial businesses that store, use or maintain personal information electronically – such as a retail store that uses a wireless network to process credit card transactions – to take minimum security measures. County officials said the measures could be as simple as installing a network firewall, changing the system’s default service set identifier (SSID), or disabling SSID broadcasting with minimal effort and little to no additional cost.

More here.

Attorney General Describes Online Kid Porn

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

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales used strikingly graphic language Thursday to focus attention on online child pornography and said Internet services companies are not doing enough to combat the problem.

It is graphic, but if we do not talk candidly, then it is easy for people to turn away and worry about other matters," Gonzales said in a speech at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in Alexandria, Va.

Acknowledging that his descriptions could make people uncomfortable, Gonzales said he wanted to make sure people knew what was going on.

More here.

Why EarthLink Needs Wi-Fi to Work

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

The first-quarter earnings that EarthLink announced today illustrate its plight. While the Internet service provider is still profitable, dial-up revenues dropped 18 percent from the same period last year, broadband revenues increased a mere 6 percent, and earnings-per-share dropped nearly 50 percent to 12 cents per share.

Most ominously, free cash flow, which is mostly generated by EarthLink's declining Internet access business, dropped 38 percent to $21.5 million. That's a particularly troubling sign, since it is that dwindling cash flow that CEO Garry Betty says he plans to invest in the company's new wired and wireless networks, which may be the key to its survival.

More here.

Last Piece of the Kryptos Puzzle?

Image source:

Kim Zetter writes on Wired News:

For more than a decade, amateur and professional cryptographers have been trying to decipher an encrypted sculpture that sits on the grounds of the CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia. Three-fourths of the sculpture has already been solved.

But now Jim Sanborn, the artist who created the Kryptos sculpture, says he made a mistake. A previously solved part of the puzzle that sleuths assumed was correct for years isn't. The new information, including what the mistaken text really says, is creating a buzz among enthusiasts who've been obsessed over the sculpture for years.

It all comes down to a missing letter that Sanborn left out of the sculpture. He only recently realized the omission was leading sleuths down a misguided path. His followers, however, aren't feeling any grief about the misdirection.

More here.

U.S. Attorney General Calls For 'Reasonable' Data Retention

Anne Broache writes on C|Net News:

The failure of some Internet service providers to retain user logs for a "reasonable amount of time" is hampering investigations into gruesome online sex crimes, U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said Thursday, indicating that new data retention rules may be on the way.

"The investigation and prosecution of child predators depends critically on the availability of evidence that is often in the hands of Internet service providers," Gonzales said in a morning speech to staff at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children headquarters here.

"Record retention by Internet service providers (that is) consistent with the legitimate privacy rights of Americans is an issue that must be addressed," he added.

More here.

Spyblogging: The CIA Gets It

Van Wallach writes over on Kesher Talk:

Add another tool to the eyes-in-the-sky and trenchcoat brigade: The Central Intelligence Agency is digging up the espionage dirt by reading blogs.

Langley must be proud of this effort because it made officials available to talk to the Washington Times about its Open Source Center (OSC), started in November. Consider this:

A Defense Department official said Chinese military bloggers have become a valuable source of intelligence on Beijing's secret military buildup. For example, China built its first Yuan-class attack submarine at an underground factory that was unknown to U.S. intelligence until a photo of the submarine appeared on the Internet in 2004.

The CIA adds its own technology tools to the mix, sifting blogs for key data and checking its reliability.

Nokia, Qualcomm Squabble Over CDMA License

Nancy Gohring writes on InfoWorld:

Terse statements this week from Nokia and Qualcomm point to a licensing dispute over Nokia's continued use of important Qualcomm CDMA patents.

In a report to U.S. regulators on Wednesday, Qualcomm said a licensing agreement that allows Nokia to use Qualcomm's CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access) patents expires in April 2007, and that there's no certainty a new contract will be signed by that time.

Without access to the patents, Nokia can't sell 3G (third generation) phones or other handsets that use Qualcomm's CDMA technology. Nokia would also be prevented from selling equipment to operators for 3G and CDMA networks.

More here.

AOL to Launch 'MySpace Killer'?

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

The runaway success that MySpace has enjoyed after News Corp. bought it has the rest of the media world convinced of the value of social networking websites. Indeed, word on the street has been that Time Warner's AOL would use its AIM instant messenger as a platform to jump on the social networking bandwagon. The B2Day blog reported in March that the project was codenamed "AIMSpace" and was expected to launch in mid-April.

AOL exec Tina Sharkey argued that AIM was already the "largest social network in the world." The rumors got a bit louder this morning as AOL program manager Armughan Javaid confirmed existence of AOL's MySpace killer, claiming the service "will be open for non-members, and it will be kick-ass!" A note to Javaid: If things don't work out with the new site, you might be able to find a new job through Murdoch's latest Internet investment, job search engine Simply Hired.

More here.

Opera Releases Beta of Latest Browser

Dawn Kawamoto writes on C|Net News:

Opera Software on Thursday released a beta version of its free browser, Opera 9, which offers features such as small Web applications and content blocking.

The beta for Opera 9 will include six new features ranging from Widgets, or small Web programs, to support for download technology BitTorrent to customization of search engines.

More here.

Toon: The Price of Fear

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MediaNews May Buy McClatchy Papers

An AP newswire article, via, reports that:

MediaNews Group Inc. has offered to buy three Knight Ridder Inc. newspapers in California and one in Minnesota for as much as $1 billion, according to a published report Thursday.

Completing a deal with McClatchy Co., which is in the process of buying all of Knight Ridder, would give MediaNews a controlling interest in California's San Jose Mercury News, the Contra Costa Times and The Monterey County Herald, as well as the St. Paul Pioneer Press in Minnesota, according to the Los Angeles Times, which cited people familiar with the talks.

A spokeswoman for McClatchy declined to comment, and a call to MediaNews for comment wasn't immediately returned.

More here.

HP Recalls 15,700 Notebook Computer Batteries

Via Reuters.

Hewlett-Packard Co. is recalling about 15,700 HP and Compaq notebook computer batteries worldwide for a burn and fire hazard, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission said on Thursday.

HP has received 20 reports of batteries overheating, including two in the United States, with one report of a minor burn injury, the agency said.

The recall is for lithium ion rechargeable batteries manufactured in early January 2005 and used with various HP and Compaq notebook computers. The affected batteries have a bar code label starting with L3, the agency said.

About 4,100 of the recalled batteries covered were in the United States.

More here.

Sprint Buys Wireless Affiliate Ubiquitel

Via BetaNews.

Sprint Nextel said Thursday that it had agreed to purchase Ubiquitel, an affiliate of the wireless carrier that offers cellular services in small and mid-size markets in California, Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, Nevada, Tennessee, Utah, Washington and Wyoming. Sprint agreed to purchase the Conshohocken, Pa., based company for $1 billion, and assumed $300 in debt. The deal is expected to close in the second quarter of this year.

Ubiquitel, like many of Sprint's affiliates, filed suit against the wireless carrier following its merger with Nextel to force it to purchase the company outright. As a result of the buyout, this litigation would be stayed in Delaware court pending the closing of the merger. As of the end of the first quarter of this year, Ubiquitel served about 452,000 wireless subscribers and 151,000 wholesale customers.

More here.

UK: Scottish Census Stats Available Online

Via The BBC.

A five-year project to make all of Scotland's census records accessible online has culminated in the publication of the 1841 census.

The census was the first to record data on individuals and reveals that Scotland had a population of 2.6m.

More than 50m of the nation's historical records are now available on the ScotlandsPeople website.

The site has proved popular with home-based and exiled Scots, with more than 400,000 registered users.

More here.

Summertime Tech: Beer Cooler Cruiser Cart

Image source: Gizmodo

Via Gizmodo.

We’re suckers for anything that can bring us our beers, and even though the Cooler Cruiser is nothing but a go-cart with a strap-on cooler, it can get ‘er done. It’s not a particularly complicated design, but it looks like it would be a great vehicle for getting those cold brewskis out to thirsty linksters on the golf course lickety-split. It has a 54-quart Coleman stainless steel ice chest strapped on board, and that doubles as the seat. Check it out, it even has mag wheels.

Grossly overpriced at $1995.

South Park On Strike?

Mohammed as depicted in episode 504, 'Super Best Friends'
(originally aired on July 4, 2001).

Image source: Pajamas Media / Wikipedia

Via Pajamas Media.

Wednesday’s episode was tasteless and unfunny and didn’t have any of the main characters, writes Vik Rubenfeld, who wonders whether the South Park writing staff is on strike.

More here.

Wikipedia Suffers Outage Yesterday

Yeah, we noticed. :-)

Via Netcraft.

The Wikipedia web site suffered an outage yesterday, caused by power problems at one of its facilities. The site was completely unreachable for 40 minutes, and experienced performance problams for much of the afternoon.

Begun in 2001, Wikipedia has rapidly grown into the largest reference website on the Internet. The online encyclopedia is a wiki, allowing Internet users to create and edit content. Wikipedia is the ninth-most popular web property, according to Netcraft's rankings of the most visited sites. Wikipedia's English language site is the 29th most visited URL by Netcraft toolbar users, but the higher-ranking URLs include related sites all associated with the eight top-ranked web properties - Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, the BBC, CNN, eBay, Fox News, and

More here.

Online Sex Offender Registry Or Target List?

David A. Fahrenthold writes in The Washington Post:

The man who shot William Elliott and Joseph Gray did so without a word, leaving their homes in northern Maine as much a stranger as when he arrived.

So far, police have come up with only one connection between the apparent gunman, Stephen A. Marshall -- who committed suicide after the attacks -- and the two victims: Both were among 34 former sex offenders that Marshall had looked up using Maine's online sex offender registry.

The killings have alarmed some defense attorneys and advocates for sexual offenders, who say this crime is among the darkest examples of the harassment and threats that have followed the rapid rise in registries that publicly identify offenders.

More here.

UK: Thames Valley Police Seek Phone Cable Vandals

Via The Register.

Police in the Thames Valley are trying to track down vandals who damaged a number of BT junction boxes leaving hundreds of people without phone or internet services.

The damage was caused around two industrial estates in High Wycombe last Thursday. BT said more than 900 homes and businesses had their phone services cut as a result of the criminal damage.

Detective Sergeant Steve Fox, of High Wycombe CID, said: "The vandals went to considerable lengths to do this damage and it has inconvenienced hundreds of people and businesses.

More here.

Motorola Q Debut Imminent

The Moto Q
Image source: ü

I may actually have to break my cardinal rule of immediately succumbing to gadget fads as soon as a gizmo is made available, and get one of these puppies. They really are sweet.

Via übergizmo.

Motorola’s highly anticipated RAZR slim smartphone, the Q, has been featured on Verizon’s site. We think it could be released as early as this month if Motorola’s statement on their website is anything to go by.

The Motorola Q boasts a brilliant 65k color QVGA TFT display with 320 x 240 resolution in landscape more, a fully QWERTY keyboard, Bluetooth, IrDA, and miniUSB connectivity, a 1.3-megapixel camera with flash and video capture, EV-DO high-speed data, a miniSD slot for memory expansion options, and will run on the vaunted Windows Mobile 5.0 platform.

User Friendly: MySpace -- The AOL of The 21st Century


Click for larger image.

Tongue in Cheek: Official Anti-Censorship Code Words

Via Valleywag.

Another bad day for Chinese dissidents as Yahoo gets accused of ratting out a third writer to the government, Skype admits to censoring Chinese conversations, and the NYT Magazine running a 10-page piece on Google's China trouble.

To avoid China's site blacklist, you'll need tools like the EFF's Tor system. For keyword censorship, there's always bad spelling. But this handy code-word list should prove helpful:

  • "Falun Gong" = "The 700 Club"
  • "Tiananmen Square" = "Lover's Lane"
  • Any censored obscenity = "fiddle-faddle"
  • "Democracy" = "Free beer"
  • "Oppression" = "Toe-stubbing"
  • "Dalai Lama" = "Big Bird"

Granted, if anyone in China is speaking in Chinese, you'll have to get your own damn list.

Apple Expanding in Cupertino

Michele Chandler and Julie Patel write in The Mercury News:

Steve Jobs, the billionaire co-founder of Apple Computer, made a surprise appearance at the Cupertino City Council meeting this week to announce his company's plans to build a second major campus on 50 acres.

Jobs, whose announcements normally command legions of onlookers on the international stage, said Apple's growth over the past six years sent the company scrounging for space to hold employees.

More here.

New York Times Web Site Down for Hours

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

The online edition of The New York Times, one of the most viewed U.S. Web sites, was off-line for nearly four hours Wednesday night.

The site was restored shortly before 11 p.m. EDT after being inaccessible for about four hours.

A spokeswoman for New York Times Co., Catherine J. Mathis, did not immediately return a call for comment Wednesday night.

More here.

Gapingvoid: I Don't Have a Blog...

Via Enjoy!

Google in China: The Big Disconnect

Clive Thompson writes in The New York Times:

For many young people in China, Kai-Fu Lee is a celebrity. Not quite on the level of a movie star like Edison Chen or the singers in the boy band F4, but for a 44-year-old computer scientist who invariably appears in a somber dark suit, he can really draw a crowd. When Lee, the new head of operations for Google in China, gave a lecture at one Chinese university about how young Chinese should compete with the rest of the world, scalpers sold tickets for $60 apiece. At another, an audience of 8,000 showed up; students sprawled out on the ground, fixed on every word.

It is not hard to see why Lee has become a cult figure for China's high-tech youth. He grew up in Taiwan, went to Columbia and Carnegie-Mellon and is fluent in both English and Mandarin. Before joining Google last year, he worked for Apple in California and then for Microsoft in China; he set up Microsoft Research Asia, the company's research-and-development lab in Beijing. In person, Lee exudes the cheery optimism of a life coach; last year, he published "Be Your Personal Best," a fast-selling self-help book that urged Chinese students to adopt the risk-taking spirit of American capitalism. When he started the Microsoft lab seven years ago, he hired dozens of China's top graduates; he will now be doing the same thing for Google. "The students of China are remarkable," he told me when I met him in Beijing in February. "There is a huge desire to learn."

More here.

Schneier: The Anti-ID-Theft Bill That Isn't

Bruce Schneier writes on Wired News:

California was the first state to pass a law requiring companies that keep personal data to disclose when that data is lost or stolen. Since then, many states have followed suit. Now Congress is debating federal legislation that would do the same thing nationwide.

Except that it won't do the same thing: The federal bill has become so watered down that it won't be very effective. I would still be in favor of it -- a poor federal law is better than none -- if it didn't also pre-empt more-effective state laws, which makes it a net loss.

Identity theft is the fastest-growing area of crime. It's badly named -- your identity is the one thing that cannot be stolen -- and is better thought of as fraud by impersonation. A criminal collects enough personal information about you to be able to impersonate you to banks, credit card companies, brokerage houses, etc. Posing as you, he steals your money, or takes a destructive joyride on your good credit.

More here.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

20 April 1902: The Curies Isolate Radium


Pierre and Marie Curie.
Image(s) source: Wikipedia

Via The History Channel Online and Wikipedia.

On April 20, 1902, Marie and Pierre Curie successfully isolate radioactive radium salts from the mineral pitchblende in their laboratory in Paris.

In 1898, the Curies discovered the existence of the elements radium and polonium in their research of pitchblende. One year after isolating radium, they would share the 1903 Nobel Prize in physics with French scientist A. Henri Becquerel for their groundbreaking investigations of radioactivity.

More here and here.

NeuStar Announces Agreement to Acquire UltraDNS For $61.8M

Via Neustar.

NeuStar, Inc., a leading provider of essential communications services to the global communications and Internet industry, announced today that it has entered into a definitive merger agreement to acquire UltraDNS Corporation of Reston, Virginia, for $61.8 million in cash, subject to customary closing conditions.

More here.

Bill Gates Makes 'Cryptic Remark' on Internet Rights to China's Hu

Microsoft chairman Bill Gates and Chinese President Hu Jintao.
Image source: Yahoo! News / AFP / Andy Clark

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

Microsoft chairman Bill Gates made a cryptic remark about Internet freedom at a luncheon with Chinese President Hu Jintao, underscoring the sensitivity of the issue.

"This new era of an Internet-based economy also presents new challenges to us all," Gates said in a speech that preceded Hu's to a gathering of about 600 people at a luncheon hosted for the visiting Chinese president.

"It is my belief that industry and government around the world should work even more closely to protect the privacy and security of Internet users, and promote the exchange of ideas, while respecting legitimate government considerations."

The statement appeared to be urging China to respect the rights of Internet users, but also seemed to suggest Gates thinks "legitimate" government worries need to be taken into consideration, without defining legitimate.

More here.

President Bush to Visit Cisco on Friday

Marguerite Reardon writes on the C|Net Cisco Blog:

President George W. Bush is heading to Northern California this weekend where he's expected to pitch his ideas for improving the country's technological competitiveness and developing new fuel options.

First stop on Friday is Silicon Valley, where the president will attend an event at the campus of tech giant, Cisco Systems in San Jose. The president is expected to pitch the American Competitiveness Initiative, a proposal which would double government funding for basic research in the physical sciences.

If Congress approves the initiative, the government will pay for thousands of new science and math teachers to be trained. The initiative would also extend a popular tax credit to businesses investing in research and development. The proposal will likely cost tax payers in the neighborhood of $136 billion over 10 years.

More here.

Microsoft, Autodesk Lose in Patent Suit

An AP newswire article by Matt Slagle, via Yahoo! News, reports that:

A federal jury in East Texas returned a $133 million verdict against Microsoft Corp. and Autodesk Inc. for infringing on two software patents owned by a Michigan technology company.

The lawsuit, filed in 2004 by z4 Technologies of Commerce Township, Mich., claimed Microsoft and Autodesk used two z4 patents in their Office and AutoCad software programs without paying royalty fees.

After deliberating for 19 consecutive hours, jurors agreed Wednesday, ordering Microsoft to pay $115 million and San Rafael, Calif.-based Autodesk $18 million.

More here.

Political Distraction: The Worst President in History?

Cover The Rolling Stone
Image art: Robert Grossman

Via The Rolling Stone.

George W. Bush's presidency appears headed for colossal historical disgrace. Barring a cataclysmic event on the order of the terrorist attacks of September 11th, after which the public might rally around the White House once again, there seems to be little the administration can do to avoid being ranked on the lowest tier of U.S. presidents.

And that may be the best-case scenario. Many historians are now wondering whether Bush, in fact, will be remembered as the very worst president in all of American history.

More here.

Britain to Use ID Card Database as National Registry

Andy McCue writes on C|Net News:

The British government says its ID card database will become a national population register of basic personal information that its agencies can use to verify identity.

It has called for the development of a children's register as well.

The U.K. Treasury confirmed this week that the newly created Identity and Passport Service (IPS) will take over from the Office for National Statistics on work on the Citizen Information Project. The project is meant to create an adult population register containing a person's name, address, date of birth and a unique ID reference number.

More here.

Novell Acquires e-Security For $72 Million

Candace Lombardi writes on C|Net News:

Novell said Wednesday that it will acquire e-Security for $72 million.

The deal gives Novell ownership of e-Security's Sentinel 5 software, which offers real-time security monitoring and reporting capabilities for dealing with network events like hacking or unauthorized internal access, according to Reed Harrison, founder and chief technology officer of e-Security.

More here.

Robert Rodriguez's Film Studio Signs 10-Year Lease at Mueller

San Antonio native, and film director, Robert Rodriguez.
Image source:

Via The Austin Business Journal.

Local film-making sensation Troublemaker Studios has signed at 10-year lease for space at Mueller.

The lease was signed with the Texas General Land Office, which bought the old Aircraft Pooling Board site at the former Robert Mueller Airport in Central Austin.

Troublemaker Studios is owned by director Robert Rodriguez and business partner Elizabeth Avellan.

The site includes two hangars, a large outdoor paved area, and several offices and storage areas.

More here.

Error Strikes Model

Via The BBC.

A "major error" has been discovered in the world's biggest online climate prediction project, backed by the BBC.

The fault in a model launched in February causes temperatures in past climates to rise quicker than seen in observations.

The program, which runs on users' computers when they are idle, aims to generate forecasts of climate change.

The project scientists have now restarted the model but say the data collected so far is still useful.

"At some point in the future we may have down an experiment like this anyway," Myles Allan, principle investigator of the project told the BBC News website. "People have not been wasting their time."

More here.

Level 3 to Provide Local EarthLink VoIP

A UPI news brief, via, reports that:

Level 3 Communications said Wednesday it would be providing underlying local service in the United States for EarthLink's new home VoIP service.

The Colorado company's Voice over Internet Protocol Enhanced Local would be part of a bundled voice and broadband package that will be marketed under the EarthLink DSL and Home Phone Service brand.

Level 3 provides the interface that will allow VoIP users to connect with their local telco's public-switched networks when they make calls to land-line and cell phones. The solution also accommodates functions such as directory-assistance, 911, number assignment and various end-user features.

More here.

Yahoo! Considers Offering Free Wi-Fi Access to IM Users

A MacCentral article by Juan Carlos Perez, via Yahoo! News, reports that:

Yahoo is considering giving users of Yahoo Messenger free access to tens of thousands of Wi-Fi hot spots worldwide so they can engage in instant messaging, including voice communications, while unplugged from their regular home or office Internet connection.

Yahoo recently polled users about this possible new service, which the Sunnyvale, Calif. company calls Yahoo Messenger On-the-Road, but it has no “imminent plans” to provide this service, a Yahoo spokeswoman said Wednesday via e-mail.

More here.

Aye, We Hardly Knew Ye: Brian McWilliams (Spam Kings) Moving On

I'm sorry to see Brian McWilliams shutting down the Spam Kings blog -- I have personally enjoyed Brian's exposès very much.

Today, Brian writes his last entry on the Spam Kings blog:

Three years ago, around the end of April 2003, I started getting hammered with annoying spams from a mysterious company called Amazing Internet Products, which was advertising human growth hormone, government grants, and penis pills.

Those hundreds of spams led me to write a couple articles in the summer of 2003 about Amazing Internet's amazing profits and the company's colorful co-founder, former neo-Nazi leader Davis Wolfgang Hawke.

My research eventually grew into my book Spam Kings, which was published by O'Reilly in October 2004. Around the same time, I launched this blog dedicated to the book and to news in the world of kingpin spammers.

I've enjoyed the past 18 months of trading notes about the spam scene. But due to the demands of a new (non-spam-related) job, I'm going to have to pull back from blogging and probably won't be posting any further updates. I'm also likely to disable comments and trackbacks, since I won't have time to clean up after the blog spammers.

More here.

Philips Charges Kodak Infringed on Imaging Patent

If I were Philips, I'd just leave this one alone. :-)

Via Reuters.

Dutch company Philips Electronics on Wednesday said it sued Eastman Kodak Co. claiming several of Kodak's cameras infringe on a patent related to the compression of digital images.

A Kodak spokesman said the Rochester, New York-based company would defend itself "vigorously" in the suit, which was filed in the U.S. District Court in Delaware. Representatives from both companies declined to discuss financial details of the litigation.

Philips developed the technology in question in the 1980s and has contributed significantly to the compression technology used in products such as DVD players, medical scanners and digital still cameras, a company spokesman said.

More here.

FCC Proposes Fining Dobson $750,000 for Failing to Deploy E911

Heather Forsgren Weaver writes on RCR Wireless News:

The Federal Communications Commission late Tuesday proposed fining rural wireless provider Dobson Communications Corp. $750,000 for not providing enhanced 911 services in a timely manner.

Dobson failed to deploy E-911 Phase I to nine public-safety answering points and Phase II to 41 PSAPs, according to the FCC. The failure to deploy 911 happened at the same time Dobson was acquiring additional licenses and upgrading its network from TDMA to GSM technology, added the FCC, noting the reason for the large proposed fine.

More here.

Skype: Texts Messages Censored by China

A Financial Times article by Alison Maitland, via MSNBC, reports that:

Skype, the fast-growing internet communications company that belongs to Ebay, has admitted that its partner in China has filtered text messages, defending this compliance with censorship laws as the only way to do business in the country.

In a Financial Times interview, Niklas Zennström, Skype's chief executive, responded to accusations that the company had censored text messages containing words like "Falun Gong" – a banned movement – and "Dalai Lama". He said that Tom Online, its joint venture partner in China, was complying with local law.

More here.