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Doubletalking Your Way Around Spam
Say That Again Contributed by Mike on Friday, May 31st, 2002 @ 01:38PM
from the come-on,-'fess-up dept.
We already mentioned the NY State lawsuit against MonsterHut, but here's an article that goes into much more detail about the case, and has an amusing (though, scary) response from MonsterHut's CEO. Basically, he says that since no one has officially defined what spam is, they couldn't possibly have spammed anyone. Doubletalk at it's best. He also tries to spin things by saying that an email address is "public information", and since he doesn't know anything else about the person who owns that information, it's clearly not an invasion of privacy. At the end, though, he says he's probably going to shut down MonsterHut because of this. One spammer down, many many to go.
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3 comments

13 Year Old Buys Helicopter And Jet On eBay
Too Much Free Time Contributed by Mike on Friday, May 31st, 2002 @ 11:11AM
from the nothing-to-it dept.
Apparently a "penniless" thirteen-year-old kid used his school's computers to buy a helicopter and a jet on eBay for a bit over a million dollars (actually, the article switches back and forth between dollars and pounds). He also bought a pickup truck and some motorbikes. He used the username and password of his friend's mother (they don't explain how he got that...). The helicopter owner called the woman to ask how she intended to pay for it. I had thought that eBay uses some sort of validation system for purchases that are so large - but apparently they don't.
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New Study Says Open Source Less Secure
Overhype Contributed by Mike on Friday, May 31st, 2002 @ 10:52AM
from the how-much-FUD-have-you-had-lately? dept.
And the debate rages onward... I'm sure the folks over at Slashdot will have their own field day with this one, but I figured it was worth posting here as well. The Alexis de Tocqueville Institution, a "think tank", is coming out with a report saying that open source software is less secure than proprietary software. Of course, history seems to suggest otherwise, but why let things like actual facts get in your way. It's easy enough to see how you can make arguments either way. The open source crowd points out that more people look at and play with the code, and thus are more likely to quickly find (and plug) security holes. The proprietary supporters say that since hackers can't see the code, it's tougher for them to find the holes. Both points make sense initially. However, it's pretty clear that most hackers don't have much difficulty figuring out the holes in proprietary software, anyway. So, that argument pretty much goes away. How long until we find out how much money Microsoft donated to this think tank?
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1 comments

Senate Mail System Forces Political Spam
Stupidity Contributed by Mike on Friday, May 31st, 2002 @ 10:34AM
from the keep-on-sending-on dept.
Senator Joseph Lieberman tried to email a bunch of reporters earlier this week to tell them about his new broadband bill. Unfortunately, he was using the incredibly outdated cc:mail from Lotus and somehow it kept sending the email over and over again. Apparently, reporters have said they've received "dozens" of copies of the same email. What's scary is the article says that all Senators are required to use cc:mail currently. I used cc:mail many years ago (it was the official email program for a period of time at Intel), and it was the worst email program I had ever seen. I had no idea that anyone was still using such an awful program. Some people are hoping that this screwup may convince the Senate to update their mail system finally. So, now, of course, we can look forward to our Senators sending out the latest Outlook-induced viruses to all constituents. That should be fun.
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1 comments

Many Dot Names Break The Rules
News You Could Do Without Contributed by Mike on Friday, May 31st, 2002 @ 10:23AM
from the yeah,-so? dept.
This should be surprising to no one (except for those at ICANN, of course), but it seems that many people (gasp!) registered .name domains that weren't their own names. Oh, the horror. In fact, some people (apparently only 2) registered the names of famous people! How dare they! Also, people broke some other "rules" for registering a .name. Officially, you were only supposed to register domains that read firstname.lastname.name. However, many people apparently went for lastname.family.name, so they could have a domain for the whole family (not a bad idea, actually). The guy who did the study seems very concerned about these crazy rule breakers. Update: In an amazing display of shortsightedness, this article that appeared this morning on Newsbytes has now vanished. I knew that the Washington Post was combining their various tech sites into one, but I figured they'd at least leave up the old stories for a day. Instead, the link now takes you to the front of their new incredibly badly designed tech news site, and the .name article is nowhere to be found.
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Google Finds A Winner
(Mis)Uses of Technology Contributed by Mike on Friday, May 31st, 2002 @ 09:54AM
from the free-R&D dept.
A few months back Google launched their programming contest to have people try to build useful tools to work on the Google platform. I heard some people complaining that this was Google's way of getting cheap R&D from random people (at the total "prize" cost of $10,000). Apparently, some people didn't mind playing around with cool Google ideas, and they've announced a winner. The winning app lets people do "localized" searches. The app looks for addresses on websites to determine where they're probably located, and then bases the search only on results that are in the area the searcer requests. It's not a bad idea, actually. It's not clear if Google will actually use it, though. Update: News.com has an article saying the real winner in all of this is Google, since they retain the rights to every one of the entries.
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We Don't Need No Stinkin' IPO
Earnings, IPOs, and the like Contributed by Mike on Friday, May 31st, 2002 @ 09:48AM
from the going-public-is-for-losers dept.
Despite the few dot com companies that have started creeping out through the IPO window, many dot coms still in business have decided they would rather not go public right now. Of course, if there were huge payouts again, like a few years ago, I imagine greed would overtake a bunch of these companies. For now, though, a large number of "successful" dot coms (some of which are even profitable) are saying that they don't want to go public. They say that going public puts too much pressure on a young company and isn't worth doing right now. They've seen what Wall Street has done to other young public companies. While I think they're saying all the right things, I wonder how honest they're really being. I do agree that most of these companies shouldn't go public until they have a much longer track record of success, but it's tough to think that way when investment bankers are telling you you're going to walk off with a few hundred million dollars...
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Libraries Don't Have To Filter
Legal Issues Contributed by Mike on Friday, May 31st, 2002 @ 09:16AM
from the amazing dept.
I'm shocked. Here's a court case dealing with technology where it appears the judges actually appear to have made a smart decision. They've decided that libraries don't have to use web filtering products if they want to keep receiving federal money. Of course, it appears the decision is based on the fact that most filters suck - and not because the concept violates our First Amendment Rights. What this means, of course, is that as filters get better, it's possible the government could try again.
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Label Rushes Eminem Release Due To Downloading
(Mis)Uses of Technology Contributed by Mike on Friday, May 31st, 2002 @ 09:11AM
from the and-still-number-one... dept.
Joe Schmoe writes "Eminem CD sales impressive despite music sharing... Actually, that Eminem CD sales are impressive at all is a story unto intself, but I digress... " There was a lot of talk last week about the fact that the Gracenote database showed the Eminem CD at number 2 despite it not being released yet. Apparently, that made their label rush the release to get legitimate copies into stores, and guess what? It's still the number one album in legitimate sales. They quote some people from the music label who are still complaining about all the money they're losing. It's tough to generate much sympathy when the album is selling more than any other album right now. Of course, the other interesting thing about the hubbub from last week is that it probably had very little to do with people downloading MP3s, because the CDDB database was reading CDs that people actually put into their drives - and not what MP3s they were listening to. So, even if bootleggers were downloading the CD to make their own copies, I'd think that most people were buying bootleg copies off the street. In fact, the original reports suggested most of the bootlegs were found in NY and LA where it's fairly easy to find bootleg copies of CDs - which have been around since well before people were downloading music.
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3 comments

The Dangers Of Online Chess In A Greek Internet Cafe
Surprises Contributed by Mike on Friday, May 31st, 2002 @ 12:04AM
from the beats-me dept.
If you happen to be relaxing in a Greek internet cafe and decide to play a little bit of chess to pass the time, you might be breaking the law. In order to outlaw internet gambling, it seems the Greeks have done their best to ban any kind of online games in public places. In fact, the law practically bans computers from any public place other than internet cafes - where no games will be allowed. They decided to do this after the government admitted they simply couldn't tell the difference between a legitimate game and internet gambling. Seems a bit extreme.
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1 comments

Mr. PC Goes To Washington
Legal Issues Contributed by Mike on Thursday, May 30th, 2002 @ 11:59PM
from the it's-all-about-the-lobby dept.
Over the past few years it's clear that Silicon Valley has learned that the government plays a big part in how the industry moves forward. The Economist looks at the growing up process of Silicon Valley as they learn that lobbying matters. They also point out that things like the CBDTPA show that other industries still have a much stronger lobbying history. I know that at many "techie" gatherings I've been to lately the talk has been more focused on legal issues than on actual technology issues.
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Cars With Too Many Gadgets
(Mis)Uses of Technology Contributed by Mike on Thursday, May 30th, 2002 @ 11:52PM
from the too-much dept.
Lots of people have been talking about the joystick system in the new BMW 7-series, which sounds like one of the worst design ideas I've ever heard of. It sounds like they've added a ton of features that no one will ever use - while making it more complex to figure out how to use any of them. Apparently just setting your radio station presets is a many-step process. It all has to make you wonder if car makers are going overboard in their quest to add gadgets to cars. We were just talking about how greedy automakers are simply looking to make as much money as possible, and aren't really doing much towards building useful systems. Most studies I've seen suggest that auto makers need to look on telematics systems as differentiators - and not as revenue generators. However, many people still think that random features sell cars, and as long as that belief holds, expect the gadget count to increase.
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1 comments

Nostalgia For The Days Of The BBS
Culture Contributed by Mike on Thursday, May 30th, 2002 @ 11:25PM
from the take-me-back dept.
Uh oh. The internet crowd is getting old. Salon is running an article from a guy reminiscing about the good old days of BBS systems, when you dialed into just another computer at 300 baud. The writer wins points, of course, for having an Atari 800 (my first computer as well). However, I'm getting a bit sick of "back in my day..." technology articles. They're too often used just to brag "hey, look how long I've been around...".
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9 comments

ATMs That Read Your Emotions
Bleeding Edge Contributed by Mike on Thursday, May 30th, 2002 @ 03:26PM
from the sad?--why-not-take-out-some-extra-money? dept.
I assume most of us, at some point or another, have gotten angry enough with a computer to make a somewhat... rude gesture at the machine. While we all know that the machine can't recognize our anger, would we react differently if it could? Would you, Dave? Anyway, that's what some researchers are working on. Specifically, they're building a system that will allow an ATM machine to recognize someone's mood and change the prompts accordingly. So, if they see you get annoyed at an ad, they won't show it to you again. If you find something on the screen funny, they'll remember that. Some folks don't like this because they're afraid that it's a privacy violation - though the researchers point out that if you go up to a human teller, they're doing the same sort of analysis on your body language. Eventually, they think the technology can be used for other computers, beyond ATMs, so that the next time you act like you're going to hit your computer, don't be surprised when it decides to pout or shock you in self defense.
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5 comments

Bullet Proof Computing
(Mis)Uses of Technology Contributed by Prash on Thursday, May 30th, 2002 @ 01:16PM
from the literally dept.
Xybernaut has teamed with armor maker Second Chance to create a bullet proof wearable computing system for the military. How long before we see the IM status message "Under heavy fire!"from people who really mean it?
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