Barence writes "Britain's biggest ISPs are struggling to convince customers to upgrade to superfast broadband. Of the six million customers who can get fiber broadband from BT, Britain's biggest ISP, only 300,000 have done so — a conversion rate of only 5%. Only 2.3% of Virgin Media customers, meanwhile, have upgraded to 50Mbits/sec or 100Mbits/sec connections. The chief of Ofcom, Britain's telecoms regulator, admits that take-up is 'still low' and says only families with teenage children are bothering to upgrade to fiber."
New submitter benfrog writes "Despite repeated attempts over the past few days, Russia is unable to make contact with Phobos-Grunt, the probe that was supposed to make it to Mars and never left Earth's atmosphere. Estimates now vary widely on the time left to contact the probe, but it is descending toward Earth and will likely turn into scrap before it can be reached." Official information is still hard to come by, but the Planetary Society Weblog has been keeping up with the story.
ardmhacha writes "Zynga seem to think they were overly generous handing out stock to early employees. Fearing a 'Google Chef' situation they are leaning on some employees to hand back their unvested stock or face termination. From the article: 'Zynga's demand for the return of shares could expose the company to employment litigation—and, were the practice to catch on and spread, would erode a central pillar of Silicon Valley culture, in which start-ups with limited cash and a risk of failure dangle the possibility of stock riches in order to lure talent.'"
SKYMTL writes "Valve has revealed that hackers have gained access to the Steam database and have pulled a variety of information. A statement from Gabe Newell reads in part: 'Dear Steam Users and Steam Forum Users, Our Steam forums were defaced on the evening of Sunday, November 6. We began investigating and found that the intrusion goes beyond the Steam forums. We learned that intruders obtained access to a Steam database in addition to the forums. This database contained information including user names, hashed and salted passwords, game purchases, email addresses, billing addresses and encrypted credit card information. We do not have evidence that encrypted credit card numbers or personally identifying information were taken by the intruders, or that the protection on credit card numbers or passwords was cracked. We are still investigating. We don’t have evidence of credit card misuse at this time. Nonetheless you should watch your credit card activity and statements closely."
hypnosec writes "From later this month, Google has decided to stop providing its popular Gmail app for BlackBerry. This can be viewed as a shock for RIM as they are putting in strong efforts to prevent customer defections to handsets that run on Android and iOS. Thus, from 22nd November, BlackBerry owners will not be able to reach Gmail on their devices; only those users who already have Gmail installed will be able to access and use the Google app. On Tuesday, Google on its official apps update blog stated that the company will now be focusing on 'building a great Gmail experience in the mobile browser.'"
An anonymous reader writes "Johannes Caspar, data protection commissioner for the German state of Hamburg, today declared he will soon fine Facebook over its use of biometric facial recognition technology. He said 'further negotiations are pointless' because the company had ignored a deadline he set for it to remove the feature. German authorities could fine Facebook up to €300,000 ($420,000)."
hessian writes with this quote from the Electronic Frontier Foundation about the Stop Online Piracy Act: "Of course the word 'blacklist' does not appear in the bill's text — the folks who wrote it know Americans don't approve of blatant censorship. The early versions of PROTECT-IP, the Senate's counterpart to SOPA, did include an explicit Blacklist Provision, but this transparent attempt at extrajudicial censorship was so offensive that the Senate had to re-write that part of the bill. However, provisions that encourage unofficial blacklisting remained, and they are still alive and well in SOPA. First, the new law would allow the Attorney General to cut off sites from the Internet, essentially 'blacklisting' companies from doing business on the web. Under section 102, the Attorney General can seek a court order that would force search engines, DNS providers, servers, payment processors, and advertisers to stop doing business with allegedly infringing websites. Second, the bill encourages private corporations to create a literal target list—a process that is ripe for abuse."
An anonymous reader sends this excerpt from an AP report: "'Sprinkling' sounds like a fairly harmless practice, but in the hands of sophisticated counterfeiters it could deceive a major weapons manufacturer and possibly endanger the lives of U.S. troops. It's a process of mixing authentic electronic parts with fake ones in hopes that the counterfeits will not be detected when companies test the components for multimillion-dollar missile systems, helicopters and aircraft. It was just one of the brazen steps described Tuesday at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing examining the national security and economic implications of suspect counterfeit electronics — mostly from China — inundating the Pentagon's supply chain. ... The committee's ongoing investigation found about 1,800 cases of suspect counterfeit electronics being sold to the Pentagon. The total number of parts in these cases topped 1 million. By the semiconductor industry's estimates, counterfeiting costs $7.5 billion a year in lost revenue and about 11,000 U.S. jobs."
Hugh Pickens writes "BBC reports that a technical glitch allowed reporters to listen in on a private conversation between French President Nicolas Sarkozy and US President Barack Obama, made in a backroom meeting at the G20 summit, treating listeners to a rare insight into the importance of personal relationships in international politics. 'I can't stand him any more,' said Mr. Sarkozy of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. 'He's a liar.' Mr. Obama replied: 'You're sick of him. I have to deal with him every day!' According to Reuters, the two presidents were apparently 'unaware that the microphones in their meeting room had been switched on, enabling reporters in a separate location to listen in to a simultaneous translation.' The reporters made 'a group decision... not to report the conversation as it was considered private and off-the-record,' but Arrets Sur Images, a French website that covers current affairs, got wind of the exchange and broke the story."
the simurgh writes "The DMCA is just not providing the kind of protection against online piracy that Congress intended, RIAA lawyer Jennifer Pariser says. The judge in Universal Music Group's copyright suit against Veoh as well as the judge in EMI vs. MP3tunes.com issued similar findings. The courts have now determined the burden of policing the web for infringing materials is on the content owner and not the service provider. Content companies think it is unfair for them to be required to spend resources on scouring the Web when their pirated work helps service providers make money. What they complain about almost as much is that after they notify a service provider of an infringing song or movie clip and they're removed, new copies appear almost immediately. Basically they are complaining the the DMCA makes them responsible for policing their own content at their expense."
An anonymous reader writes "A regional court has temporarily banned Apple from marketing or supplying iPhones and iPads in Germany, following a suit brought about by Motorola. However, Apple said that the judgement 'does not affect our ability to do business or sell products in Germany at this time.' This may have something to do with the respondent in the case being Apple Inc, the US parent company, and not Apple GmbH, the company's local subsidiary."
Ars Technica has a piece on the "first-ever nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS)," slated for this Wednesday at 2 p.m. EST. An excerpt: "This national system will look and sound much like the current (and local) emergency warnings often seen on TV or heard on radio, but the scope is larger and it can be put under the direct control of the President. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), and the National Weather Service (NWS) will all coordinate the test, but it's FEMA that actually transmits the alert code. Concerned that such a test might alarm people, the agencies are going to extraordinary lengths to provide a heads-up. I first heard about the test in an e-mail newsletter from my city government, which told residents last week, 'Do not be alarmed when an emergency message will take over the airways... this is only a test.' The test will display a warning message on TV screens, though as my city helpfully noted, 'Due to some technical limitations, a visual message indicating that "this is a test" may not pop up on every TV channel, especially where people use cable to receive their television stations.'"
The San Francisco Chronicle features an interview with Google's patent counsel, Tim Porter, who argues that "... what many people can agree on is the current system is broken and there are a large number of software patents out there fueling litigation that resulted from a 10- or 15-year period when the issuance of software patents was too lax. Things that seemed obvious made it through the office until 2007, when the Supreme Court finally said that the patent examiners could use common sense. Patents were written in a way that was vague and overly broad. (Companies are) trying to claim something that's really an idea (which isn't patentable). There are only so many ways to describe a piston, but software patents are written by lawyers in a language that software engineers don't even understand. They're being used to hinder innovation or skim revenue off the top of a successful product." Porter is speaking in particular about the snarls that have faced (and still face) Android, based on Microsoft patents; he blames some of the mess on a patent regime where "you don't know what patents cover until courts declare that in litigation. What that means is people have to make decisions about whether to fight or whether to reach agreements."
wiredmikey writes "A compromised server at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has been identified as being used as a vulnerability scanner and attack tool, probing the Web for unprotected domains and injecting code. According to researchers, the ongoing attacks appear to be related to the Blackhole Exploit Pack, a popular crime kit used by criminals online. The attacks started in June, and an estimated 100,000 domains could have been compromised. Judging by initial data, one MIT server (CSH-2.MIT.EDU) hosts a malicious script actively used by cyber-crooks to scan the web for vulnerable websites. These types of attacks are how BlackHat SEO scams are propagated, which target search results in order to spread rogue anti-virus or other malware. In addition, compromised hosts are also leveraged for other schemes, such as spam or botnet control."
Hugh Pickens writes "Christopher Drew writes that President Obama and industry groups have called on colleges to graduate 10,000 more engineers a year and 100,000 new teachers with majors in science, technology, engineering and math but studies find that roughly 40 percent of students planning engineering and science majors end up switching to other subjects or failing to get any degree — 60 percent when pre-medical students are included. Middle and high school students are having most of the fun, building their erector sets and dropping eggs into water to test the first law of motion, but the excitement quickly fades as students brush up against the reality of what David E. Goldberg calls 'the math-science death march' as freshmen in college wade through a blizzard of calculus, physics and chemistry in lecture halls with hundreds of other students where many wash out. 'Treating the freshman year as a "sink or swim" experience and accepting attrition as inevitable,' says a report by the National Academy of Engineering, 'is both unfair to students and wasteful of resources and faculty time.' But help is on the way. In September, the Association of American Universities announced a five-year initiative to encourage faculty members in the STEM fields to use more interactive teaching techniques (PDF)."