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Showing posts from December, 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…