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Showing posts from January, 2011

Forget paper paychecks: New Michigan law allows employers to go plastic only

Published: Thursday, January 27, 2011, 6:00 AM
Updated: Thursday,January 27, 2011, 10:51 AM
The Grand Rapids Press By Shandra Martinez

GRAND RAPIDS - Rodney McFall remembers standing in long lines late Friday afternoons to cash his paycheck.

These days, electronic banking means those lines are growing shorter at check-cashing outlets. McFall rarely waits longer than a few minutes.

"I like getting a check because I can cash it when I want to," said McFall, as he stepped up to a Western Union counter at Duthler's Family Foods grocery store on Bridge Street NW.

Those Friday afternoon lines will shrink even further this year with a new state law that lets employers do away with paper paychecks.

Employees will have the option of having their wages deposited directly into their accounts or onto plastic pay cards that usually work like debit cards.

The savings will be significant for companies, said William Dunn, of the American Payroll Association.

Studies show that businesses…

Google Comes Under Fire for 'Secret' Relationship with NSA PC World

Grant Gross - Tue Jan 25, 9:48 am ET

Consumer Watchdog, an advocacy group largely focused in recent years on Google's privacy practices, has called on a congressional investigation into the Internet giant's "cozy" relationship with U.S. President Barack Obama's administration.

In a letter sent Monday, Consumer Watchdog asked Representative Darrell Issa, the new chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, to investigate the relationship between Google and several government agencies.

The group asked Issa to investigate contracts at several U.S. agencies for Google technology and services, the "secretive" relationship between Google and the U.S. National Security Agency, and the company's use of a U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration airfield in California.

Federal agencies have also taken "insufficient" action in response to revelations last year that Google Street View cars were collecting data from open …

Renewed Push to Give Obama an Internet "Kill Switch"

January 24, 2011 10:12 AM
Renewed Push to Give Obama an Internet "Kill Switch"
Posted by Declan McCullagh

A controversial bill handing President Obama power over privately owned computer systems during a "national cyberemergency," and prohibiting any review by the court system, will return this year.

Internet companies should not be alarmed by the legislation, first introduced last summer by Sens. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine), a Senate aide said last week. Lieberman, an independent who caucuses with Democrats, is chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

"We're not trying to mandate any requirements for the entire Internet, the entire Internet backbone," said Brandon Milhorn, Republican staff director and counsel for the committee.

Instead, Milhorn said at a conference in Washington, D.C., the point of the proposal is to assert governmental control only over those "crucial components th…

Google Seeks to Weaken Search Engine Ranking of "Content Farming" Websites

Eric Blair
Infowars.com
January 23, 2011

Google has announced that it is fixing flaws in its algorithm that allows search results to be spammed, while also planning to weaken the search-ability of websites referred to as "content farms." Matt Cutts, head of Google's anti-spam team, writes:

As "pure webspam" has decreased over time, attention has shifted instead to "content farms," which are sites with shallow or low-quality content. In 2010, we launched two major algorithmic changes focused on low-quality sites. Nonetheless, we hear the feedback from the web loud and clear: people are asking for even stronger action on content farms and sites that consist primarily of spammy or low-quality content. (my emphasis)

The only clear reference from Google about problems occurring from "content farms" in regards to spamming search results is from China: "Last year Google faced a rash of webspam on Chinese domains in our index. Some spammer…

The app that can read your mind: iPhone brainwave detector arrives (it was only a matter of time)

By Matt Blake
Last updated at 3:56 AM on 15th January 2011

It's a device that would be more at home on the set of a Star Wars movie than the streets of Britain. But an iPhone application has been developed that can read minds.

The XWave allows users to control on-screen objects with their minds as well as train their brains to control attention spans and relaxation levels.

No-brainer: The XWave allows users to control on-screen objects with their minds as well as train their brains to control attention spans and relaxation levels.

The device - that could confuse Luke Skywalker himself - is the latest in the field of emerging mind-controlled games and devices and works via a headset strapped around the user's forehead, plugging into the iPhone jack.

State of the art: A sensor within the device can then read the user's brainwaves through the skull, converting them into digital signals before displaying them in various colours on the iPhone screen.

And as the mind focuses on a …

Server Chief Out At Microsoft, Is Steve Ballmer Next?

Less than two weeks into 2011, there are signs that Microsoft learned little from a woeful 2010. Can the CEO survive?

By Paul McDougall , InformationWeek

Last week I identified seven ways Microsoft can save itself in 2011. One of the most important, I wrote, was that CEO Steve Ballmer must bring management stability back to Redmond: "In the past 18 months, the entrance to Microsoft's corporate headquarters has revolved faster than the judge's panel on American Idol."

I guess Ballmer sings to his own beat. Exactly one week later, he's decided to remove Bob Muglia, a 22-year company veteran, from his role as head of Microsoft's Server and Tools Business unit, which includes Windows Server and related products.
More Hardware Insights

Ballmer was vague about the reasons. "This is simply recognition that all businesses go through cycles and need new and different talent to manage through those cycles," said Ballmer, in an e-mail Monday to Microsoft empl…

FCC challenges app makers to protect open Internet

By Jasmin Melvin Jasmin Melvin - Wed Jan 5, 5:53 pm ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. regulators are asking software developers in an "Open Internet Challenge" to create apps that let Internet users know when their service provider -- fixed or mobile -- is interfering with content.

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is trying to get consumers to help police Internet service providers for network management abuses such as slowing bandwidth-hogging content from movies.

The wants to spur the deployment of innovative technologies to protect the openness of the Internet.

The FCC adopted Internet traffic rules last month that ban landline Internet providers such as Comcast Corp and Verizon Communications Inc from blocking lawful traffic or discriminating against bandwidth-heavy content.

The rules would also prevent wireless carriers such as AT&T Inc from blocking access to websites, or competing voice and video applications.

The agency describes an "open" I…

Just 21% Want FCC to Regulate Internet, Most Fear Regulation Would Promote Political Agenda

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

American voters believe free market competition will protect Internet users more than government regulation and fear that regulation will be used to push a political agenda.

The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that only 21% of likely U.S. Voters want the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to regulate the Internet as it does radio and television. Fifty-four percent (54%) are opposed to such regulation, and 25% are not sure.

The survey was conducted shortly after the FCC decided on a party line vote to impose so-called "net neutrality" regulations on the Internet world. Republicans and unaffiliated voters overwhelmingly oppose FCC regulation of the Internet, while Democrats are more evenly divided. Those who use the Internet most are most opposed to FCC regulations.

By a 52% to 27% margin, voters believe that more free market competition is better than more regulation for protecting Internet users. Republicans and unaff…

Internet groups fear UN could threaten cyberspace

Updated: Thu Dec. 30 2010 7:22:39 PM

Ian Munroe, CTV.ca News

Officials from 18 countries held an impromptu, late-night meeting earlier this month at the United Nations office in Geneva, and made a decision that rattled Internet technocrats around the world.

Autocratic governments like China and Iran attended the meeting, as did several democratic ones. Despite protests by Portugal and the United States, they voted to staff a working group on the future of the Internet Governance Forum -- an important theatre of discussion on matters of cyberspace -- by governments alone.

The seemingly arcane move reverberated through a community of technical experts, academics and civil society groups who felt they had been unfairly excluded.

Fourteen technical organizations that help oversee how cyberspace runs wrote an open letter asking the UN Commission on Science and Technology for Development (UNCSTD) to reverse its decision. Meanwhile the Internet Society, an umbrella group that helps manage te…