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Showing posts from 2010

Man quits job, makes living suing e-mail spammers

Dec 26, 4:04 PM (ET)

By PAUL ELIAS

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Daniel Balsam hates spam. Most everybody does, of course. But he has acted on his hate as few have, going far beyond simply hitting the delete button. He sues them.

Eight years ago, Balsam was working as a marketer when he received one too many e-mail pitches to enlarge his breasts.

Enraged, he launched a Web site called Danhatesspam.com, quit a career in marketing to go to law school and is making a decent living suing companies who flood his e-mail inboxes with offers of cheap drugs, free sex and unbelievable vacations.

"I feel like I'm doing a little bit of good cleaning up the Internet,"
Balsam said.

From San Francisco Superior Court small claims court to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Balsam, based in San Francisco, has filed many lawsuits, including dozens before he graduated law school in 2008, against e-mail marketers he says violate anti-spamming laws.

His many victories are mere rain drops in the o…

Ceiling lights in Minn. send coded Internet data

By CHRIS WILLIAMS, Associated Press Chris Williams, Associated Press - Mon Dec 27, 9:56 am ET

ST. CLOUD, Minn. - Flickering ceiling lights are usually a nuisance, but in city offices in St. Cloud, they will actually be a pathway to the Internet.

The lights will transmit data to specially equipped computers on desks below by flickering faster than the eye can see. Ultimately, the technique could ease wireless congestion by opening up new expressways for short-range communications.

The first few light fixtures built by LVX System, a local startup, will be installed Wednesday in six municipal buildings in this city of 66,000 in the snowy farm fields of central Minnesota.

The LVX system puts clusters of its light-emitting diodes, or LEDs, in a standard-sized light fixture. The LEDs transmit coded messages - as a series of 1s and 0s in computer speak - to special modems attached to computers.

A light on the modem talks back to the fixture overhead, where there is sensor to receive the retu…

IBM Expects to See Holographic Phone Calls, Air-Powered Batteries by 2015

By Ryan Flinn - Dec 23, 2010 8:03 AM PT

By 2015, your mobile phone will project a 3-D image of anyone who calls and your laptop will be powered by kinetic energy. At least that's what International Business Machines Corp. sees in its crystal ball.

The predictions are part of an annual tradition for the Armonk, New York-based company, which surveys its 3,000 researchers to find five ideas expected to take root in the next five years. IBM, the world's largest provider of computer services, looks to Silicon Valley for input, gleaning many ideas from its Almaden research center in San Jose, California.

Holographic conversations, projected from mobile phones, lead this year's list. The predictions also include air-breathing batteries, computer programs that can tell when and where traffic jams will take place, environmental information generated by sensors in cars and phones, and cities powered by the heat thrown off by computer servers.

"These are all stretch goals, and t…

FCC Gives Government Power to Regulate Web Traffic

By AMY SCHATZ

WASHINGTON-Federal telecommunications regulators approved new rules Tuesday that would for the first time give the federal government formal authority to regulate Internet traffic, although how much or for how long remained unclear.

A divided Federal Communications Commission approved a proposal by Chairman Julius Genachowski to give the FCC power to prevent broadband providers from selectively blocking web traffic.

The rules will go into effect early next year, but legal challenges or action by Congress could block the FCC's action. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) on Tuesday called the FCC's action "flawed" and said lawmakers would "have an opportunity in the new Congress to push back against new rules and regulations."

The new FCC rules, for example, would prevent a broadband provider, such as Comcast Corp., AT&T, Inc. or Verizon Communications Inc., from hobbling access to an online video service, such as Netflix, that …

Music Web Sites Dispute Legality of Their Closing

By BEN SISARIO
Published: December 19, 2010

When federal authorities shut down five Web sites last month on suspicion of copyright infringement, they gave no warning and offered no details of their investigation, and they have not filed any criminal charges since.

But after the seizure warrant used in the operation was released last week, the operators of several of the sites said in interviews that they were innocent of infringement, and criticized the investigation for misrepresenting how their sites worked.

In a 69-page affidavit seeking the warrant, an agent of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the unit of the Department of Homeland Security that did the investigation, said the five sites - rapgodfathers.com, torrent-finder.com, rmx4u.com, dajaz1.com and onsmash.com - were used "to commit or facilitate criminal copyright infringement."

The agent also said the Motion Picture Association of America and the Recording Industry Association of America, the trade groups for …

Microsoft yanks Outlook 2007 update

Cites multiple problems, including connection and performance issues
By Gregg Keizer, Computerworld
December 19, 2010 04:31 PM ET

Microsoft last week pulled an update for Outlook 2007 issued just two days earlier, citing connection and performance problems for the unusual move.

The update was issued mid-day on Dec. 14 as part of the monthly Patch Tuesday. Within hours, users reported trouble with retrieving e-mail and major delays when switching folders.

"This latest update results in Outlook 2007 being very slow in changing folders and the archiving functionality appears to have been removed," said someone identified as "alspar" on a Microsoft support forum early Wednesday morning. "Is this an error or by design?"

Others said they couldn't send or receive e-mail, including Gmail messages, through Outlook after installing the update.

Ironically, Microsoft had billed the update, which didn't patch any security vulnerabilities, as one that conta…

The FCC's Threat to Internet Freedom

'Net neutrality' sounds nice, but the Web is working fine now. The new rules will inhibit investment, deter innovation and create a billable-hours bonanza for lawyers.

By ROBERT M. MCDOWELL

Tomorrow morning the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will mark the winter solstice by taking an unprecedented step to expand government's reach into the Internet by attempting to regulate its inner workings. In doing so, the agency will circumvent Congress and disregard a recent court ruling.

How did the FCC get here?

For years, proponents of so-called "net neutrality" have been calling for strong regulation of broadband "on-ramps" to the Internet, like those provided by your local cable or phone companies. Rules are needed, the argument goes, to ensure that the Internet remains open and free, and to discourage broadband providers from thwarting consumer demand. That sounds good if you say it fast.

Nothing is broken and needs fixing, however. The Internet has …

The clock is ticking on encryption

Today's secure cipher-text may be tomorrow's open book

Lamont Wood
December 17, 2010 (Computerworld)

In the indictment that led to the expulsion of ten Russian spies from the U.S. in the summer of 2010, the FBI said that it gained access to their communications after surreptitiously entering one of the spies' homes, during which agents found a piece of paper with a 27-character password.

In other words, the FBI found it more productive to burglarize a house than to crack a 216-bit code, despite having the computational resources of the U.S. government behind it.

That's because modern cryptography, when used correctly, is rock solid. Cracking an encrypted message can require time frames that dwarf the age of the universe. That's the case today. But within the foreseeable future, cracking those same codes could become trivial, thanks to quantum computing.

The encryption landscape
"The entire commercial world runs off the assumption that encryption is rock solid…

US cable groups win ground on net neutrality rules

By Stephanie Kirchgaessner in Washington, Richard Waters in San Francisco and Andrew Edgecliffe-Johnson in New York

Published: December 1 2010 16:08 | Last updated: December 2 2010 00:54

The US cable and mobile communications industries have won important concessions from regulators over proposed "net neutrality" rules, as part of a broader retreat by Barack Obama's administration from the tougher rules it had argued were needed to protect the openness of the internet.

The plan, endorsed by Julius Genachowski, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, would remove uncertainty about the ability of cable companies to charge internet users and content providers for the amount of network capacity they use, which some analysts call "broadband rationing".

It would also allow mobile operators more freedom than regulators had originally proposed to favour some types of traffic on their networks over others, although it would prevent them from blocking services…

More employers offering paycards to workers instead of checks

Payroll debit cards can be a cheap alternative to issuing paper checks to employees who don't have bank accounts. But there can be downsides for recipients.

Scott Leighton, controller at Helpmates Staffing Services in Irvine, says the firm started using the paycard program about four months ago, with about 17% of its workforce choosing that payment method.

By Cyndia Zwahlen

November 28, 2010|7:50 p.m.

Paper or plastic - it's not a question just for the grocery store checkout line anymore. Now some employers are facing it when figuring out the most efficient way to pay workers.

These companies are trying to eliminate paper paychecks for employees who don't do direct deposit, and instead issue them payroll debit cards, also called paycards.

The cards, which are loaded electronically with workers' pay, are designed for employees who don't have bank accounts. About 8% of U.S. households don't have accounts in financial institutions, according to the Federal Deposi…

Web delivery firm says Comcast taking toll on data

By JOELLE TESSLER, AP Technology Writer Joelle Tessler, Ap Technology Writer
- Mon Nov 29, 8:15 pm ET

WASHINGTON - Level 3 Communications Inc., an Internet backbone company that supports Netflix Inc.'s increasingly popular movie streaming service, complained Monday that cable giant Comcast Corp. is charging it an unfair fee for the right to send data to its subscribers.

Comcast replied it is being swamped by a flood of data and needs to be paid.

Level 3 said it agreed to pay under protest, but that the fee violates the principles of an "open Internet." It also goes against the Federal Communications Commission's proposed rules preventing broadband Internet providers from favoring certain types of traffic, it said.

"Comcast is effectively putting up a toll booth at the borders of its broadband Internet access network, enabling it to unilaterally decide how much to charge for content," said Level 3's chief legal officer, Thomas Stortz, in a statement.

Com…

'Fourth generation' Internet arrives in Hong Kong

Nov 26 02:50 AM US/Eastern

The latest generation of wireless Internet that will allow people to watch a crystal clear movie or live sporting event on the street or atop a hill is being deployed throughout Hong Kong.

The Long Term Evolution (LTE) network will give super high speeds across the city and could mean the end of computers ever needing to be plugged into a wall for a connection to the net.

The so-called "fourth generation" system is being rolled out by Hong Kong mobile network operator CSL in partnership with telecoms equipment maker ZTE Corporation.

"The first launch of an LTE network any place in Asia is truly historic,"
Joseph O'Konek, CSL's chief executive, told AFP.

"For a lot of people, this will be their first experience of the Internet.
They are at a huge advantage to previous Internet generations because they are leapfrogging all those fixed line technologies.

"It is truly going to unleash the power of human networks as this kind…

US shut down 75+ web sites that facilitate copyright infringement....

U.S. Government Seizes BitTorrent Search Engine Domain and More

Written by enigmax on November 26, 2010

Following on the heels of this week's domain seizure of a large hiphop file-sharing links forum, it's clear today that the U.S. Government has been very busy. Without any need for COICA, ICE has just seized the domain of a BitTorrent meta-search engine along with those belonging to other music linking sites and several others which appear to be connected to physical counterfeit goods.

While complex, it's still possible for U.S. authorities and copyright groups to point at a fully-fledged BitTorrent site with a tracker and say "that's an infringing site." When one looks at a site which hosts torrents but operates no tracker, the finger pointing becomes quite a bit more difficult.

When a site has no tracker, carries no torrents, lists no copyright works unless someone searches for them and responds just like Google, accusing it of infringement becomes somew…

Oracle awarded $1.3 billion in SAP lawsuit

Update: Oracle awarded $1.3 billion in SAP lawsuit SAP vows to 'pursue all its options,' including post-trial motions and an appeal, to reduce award to Oracle By James Niccolai November 24, 2010 06:45 AM ET

IDG News Service - A jury has awarded Oracle $1.3 billion in damages in its corporate theft lawsuit against SAP.

The award is a blow to the German applications vendor, which had argued it should pay just $40 million for the software stolen by its TomorrowNow subsidiary.

Oracle called it "the largest amount ever awarded for software piracy."

Members of Oracle's legal team embraced each other as the verdict was read in the U.S. District Court in Oakland, California, according to a person in the courtroom.

Closing arguments had been presented Monday afternoon, so the jury took less than a full day of deliberations to reach its decision.

It was not the full amount Oracle had asked for, but still considerably more than SAP had said it should pay.

Oracle CEO Larry E…

Attachmate buying Novell for $2.2 billion

Attachmate buying Novell for $2.2 billion Novell also selling certain intellectual property assets to Microsoft-led CPTN Holdings By Chris Kanaracus, IDG News Service November 22, 2010 09:01 AM ET

Novell announced Monday it has agreed to be acquired by Attachmate for $2.2 billion, ending months of speculation over its future. The deal is expected to close in the first quarter of next year.

The company has also agreed to sell certain intellectual property assets to CPTN Holdings, a technology consortium led by Microsoft, for $450 million in cash, a payment "reflected in the merger consideration to be paid by Attachmate."

Attachmate is backed by private equity firms Francisco Partners, Golden Gate Capital and Thoma Bravo. It sells software for terminal emulation, fraud detection and other purposes. The company shares many customers with Novell and its product portfolios are complementary, according to a statement.

Novell is known for SUSE Linux, data center management and virt…

China Hijacked Internet Traffic From Federal Sites

For 18 minutes in April China Telecom re-routed traffic from .gov, .mil and other sites through Chinese servers, according to a Congressional commission.

By Elizabeth Montalbano , InformationWeek November 18, 2010 07:00 AM

A state-owned Chinese telecommunications firm "hijacked" Internet traffic in April, affecting traffic from U.S. government domains and raising serious implications for Internet safety, according to a report by a Congressional commission.

For about 18 minutes on April 8, 2010, China Telecom diverted U.S. and other foreign Internet traffic through servers in China, according to an annual report by the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission released Wednesday.

Affected was traffic going to and from U.S. .gov and .mil sites, including sites for the Senate, the four main armed services branches, the office of the Secretary of Defense, NASA, the Department of Commerce, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and others, according to the …

Apple Co-founder Wozniak: Android Eclipses iPhone

By: Nicholas Kolakowski
2010-11-18

Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak told a Dutch newspaper that Google Android devices will beat the iPhone in market share over a longer time horizon.

Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak had some kind words for the iPhone in a recent interview with a Dutch newspaper, while also suggesting that Google Android smartphones would eventually eclipse it in market share.

"When it comes to quality, iPhone is leading," De Telegraaf quotes Wozniak as saying in its Nov. 18 article. However, he added, "Android phones have more features." (Take into account that all Woz quotations here come courtesy of Google Translate.)

Wozniak claims that Apple developed a smartphone in conjunction with a Japanese company in 2004, but canceled it due to quality concerns. "If Apple comes with a new product, it must have a real breakthrough," he said. "Companies need to wait to capture a market until they have something extremely strong." Chronologi…

FCC chief working on net neutrality proposal

By: Kim Hart
November 18, 2010 04:54 PM EST

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski is putting together a net neutrality proposal and plans to take action on the controversial issue as early as next month, according to several sources with knowledge of the situation.

Details of the proposal being developed by Genachowski's office are unclear, but sources say it could be similar to the deal stakeholders tried to reach with Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) earlier this fall.

The long-running net neutrality debate centers around rules that would require Internet service providers to treat all web traffic equally. Internet companies like Google and Skype want net neutrality rules applied to both wireline and wireless networks, but network operators including AT&T, Verizon and Comcast say they need flexibility to manage web traffic on their lines.

President Barack Obama campaigned on a promise to implement net neutrality rules. Genachowski's plans to carry out…

How China may spur U.S. supercomputing

Global race picks up speed, just in time for a conservative cost-cutting Congress By Patrick Thibodeau November 16, 2010 07:03 AM ET

Computerworld - NEW ORLEANS -- U.S. supercomputing dominance is being challenged in ways not seen before, and that may be the best thing to ever happen to this field, particularly in Washington's climate of cost-cutting.

Of the top four systems on the semi-annual Top500 list of the world's leading supercomputers, which was released this week, two are in China: the top-ranked Tianhe-1A, at 2.5 petaflops, and the No. 3 Nebulae system. Japan has the No. 4 system. The U.S. is in second place with the Cray XT5 Jaguar system at 1.75 petaflops. The announcement came as experts in supercomputing were gathering in New Orleans for the SC10 conference.

Addison Snell, CEO of InterSect360, a high-performance computing research group, said Asia's showing in supercomputers will get the attention of political leaders.

"When it's all over the popular…

Exclusive: Microsoft Altered Windows Sales Numbers

Internal bookkeeping change handed $259 million in additional revenue to Redmond's OS unit.

By Paul McDougall, InformationWeek
Nov. 12, 2010

Microsoft's most recent Windows sales totals got a boost from the fact the company quietly added revenues previously assigned to other groups to its operating systems unit, a bit of accounting legerdemain that, along with other bookkeeping moves, helped the Windows group post big gains in the past quarter, according to an InformationWeek analysis of the software maker's SEC filings.

Microsoft's latest quarterly report shows the company bolstered revenues in its Windows, Server & Tools, and Office units in part by shifting money from other internal organizations--mostly the Entertainment and Devices Division, which sells the Xbox.

A Microsoft spokesperson denied any financial shenanigans, but would provide few other details.

Windows group sales alone may have benefited by as much as $259 million or more, just from the bookkeep…