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The Courts

Ortiz-Heymann: the Prior Generation 57

theodp writes "Two decades before the White House was petitioned to remove U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz and her Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen Heymann from their jobs for the allegedly overzealous prosecution of Aaron Swartz, the Boston Globe reported on allegations of 'sometimes heavy-handed tactics and inaccuracies' of an NFL investigation into sexual harassment charges made by a sportswriter against the New England Patriots that was led by Watergate prosecutor Philip Heymann (Stephen's father) and included Ortiz. 'From the day Philip Heymann and his colleagues walked into Foxboro Stadium to investigate Lisa Olson's charges of sexual harassment,' the Globe reported, 'the New England Patriots were on the defensive, and apparently, they stayed there to the end. One day after conducting a preliminary six-hour interview with Olson, Heymann introduced each investigator to the Patriots and outlined their backgrounds at a meeting he later called benign. Yet he also said two weeks ago, "They were frightened from the beginning by the way I introduced people. I said that Jerry O'Sullivan had been US Attorney. I said Jim Ring had been FBI special agent in charge of organized crime."'

Regarding Ortiz, the Globe reported, 'Heymann investigator Carmen Ortiz wrote in a memo of her Oct. 18, 1990, interview with [Lisa Olson] that she took no notes and did not tape-record the conversation. Yet she used direct quotes when writing up her 15-page report on the session. When asked to explain, she referred the Globe to Heymann.' Aside from transcripts of two interviews (the tapes of which were destroyed), the Globe reported the NFL kept no notes on its interviews with 89 other people. '"It was contemplated that there would be a motion such as this [a lawsuit by Olson] and we did not want to create that type of document," an NFL attorney explained. According to the Globe, an attorney representing the Patriots said that 'one reason the tapes were destroyed may be that the NFL did not want anyone to hear raised voices or pounding of tables. He said some of those interviewed were not allowed to leave the room and had their livelihoods threatened if they did not cooperate.' Curiously, the elder Heymann featured prominently in a recently-upheld DOJ motion to keep the names of key people involved in the Aaron Swartz case secret — a postcard threat received by Philip Heymann was cited by Ortiz's office as evidence of why such secrecy was necessary."

Councilman Booted For His Farmville Obsession Screenshot-sm 185

Bulgarian Dimitar Kerin won't have to decide if he should tend his crops or pay attention to Plovdiv City Council business anymore. The committee voted him off 20-19, saying that he obviously "needs more time for his virtual farm." From the article: "Kerin was not alone in his obsession among council members. Council chairman Ilko Iliev had previously warned several of them that the new wireless network and laptops provided to all 51 council members were not to be used for playing games on social media sites during budget meetings. Kerin was singled out for continuing to manage his farm and milk his cows despite Iliev's warnings. "

RHIC Finds Symmetry Transformations In Quark Soup 140

eldavojohn writes "Today scientists at the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC) in Brookhaven National Laboratory revealed new observations after creating a 'quark soup' that revealed hints of profound symmetry transformations when collisions create conditions in which temperatures reach four trillion degrees Celsius. A researcher explains the implications, 'RHIC's collisions of heavy nuclei at nearly light speed are designed to re-create, on a tiny scale, the conditions of the early universe. These new results thus suggest that RHIC may have a unique opportunity to test in the laboratory some crucial features of symmetry-altering bubbles speculated to have played important roles in the evolution of the infant universe.' These new findings hint at violations of mirror symmetry or parity by witnessing asymmetric charge separation in these collisions."
The Courts

BSkyB Wins £709m Lawsuit Against HP-EDS 187

E5Rebel writes "In a massive legal case in the UK, HP-EDS has been found guilty of 'fraudulent misrepresentation' by their sales team when winning a major CRM project. Settlement could cost £200M out of an initial claim for £700M. HP's only relief was that parts of the claim were dismissed, but the core claim was upheld. HP is likely to appeal. Outsourcing will never be the same again. HP workers have been on strike against pay cuts last week; no doubt management will try and screw them further to pay for this debacle."

Arrington Responds To the JooJoo, Files Suit 91

itwbennett writes "Not normally 'one to enjoy a casual read of a lawsuit,' blogger Peter Smith admits to finding the suit Michael Arrington is filing against Fusion Garage over the JooJoo (nee CrunchPad) fascinating. 'Skip to page 4, starting with item 11,' says Smith. 'At this point I don't know what to think, Every time I get close to pretty much accepting Arrington's story at face value, he pulls something that makes me stop and reexamine his arguments.' For example, says Smith, in one bullet point in Arrington's latest salvo, he calls out the press, saying 'it is irresponsible for press to link to the pre-sale site.' 'This attempt to directly sway the press away from Fusion Garage really spikes my suspicion meter' says Smith. 'After all, Arrington is the press. If I started writing screeds advising him on what he should or should not say about a product, what would he think?'"

The Machine SID Duplication Myth 201

toppings writes "Microsoft Technical fellow Mark Russinovich explains why he is now retiring NewSID, which has been used by IT departments for years when deploying Windows to new systems from customized clone images. Russinovich writes: 'The reason that I began considering NewSID for retirement is that, although people generally reported success with it on Windows Vista, I hadn't fully tested it myself and I got occasional reports that some Windows component would fail after NewSID was used. When I set out to look into the reports I took a step back to understand how duplicate SIDs could cause problems, a belief that I had taken on faith like everyone else. The more I thought about it, the more I became convinced that machine SID duplication — having multiple computers with the same machine SID — doesn't pose any problem, security or otherwise. I took my conclusion to the Windows security and deployment teams and no one could come up with a scenario where two systems with the same machine SID, whether in a Workgroup or a Domain, would cause an issue. At that point the decision to retire NewSID became obvious.' He concludes: 'It's a little surprising that the SID duplication issue has gone unquestioned for so long, but everyone has assumed that someone else knew exactly why it was a problem. To my chagrin, NewSID has never really done anything useful and there's no reason to miss it now that it's retired. Microsoft's official policy on SID duplication will also now change and look for Sysprep to be updated in the future to skip SID generation.'"

"Long Tail Effect" Doesn't Work As Advertised, Say Wharton Researchers 82

Death Metal writes "In a working paper titled, 'Is Tom Cruise Threatened? Using Netflix Prize Data to Examine the Long Tail of Electronic Commerce,' Wharton Operations and Information Management professor Serguei Netessine and doctoral student Tom F. Tan pull information from the movie rental company Netflix to explore consumer demand for smash hits and lesser-known films. Netflix made its data available as part of a $1 million prize competition to encourage the development of new ways that will improve its ability to introduce customers to lesser-known titles they might find appealing." In short, the researchers say that the Long Tail effect described by Chris Anderson is much less important in the real world than popularly held. Says the article: "The key difference between the opinion of [Anderson's] book and the study by Wharton researchers is how they define 'hits' and 'niches.' In the book, Anderson focuses on the definition of hits in absolute terms such as the top 10 or top 1,000 products, while Netessine and Tan argue that, to take growing product variety into account, one has to define popularity in relative terms, such as the top 1% or top 10% of products, to properly assess the presence or absence of the Long Tail."
The Courts

Arizona Judge Tells Sheriff "Reveal Password Or Face Contempt" 624

An anonymous reader writes "Four days ago, deputies from the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office in Arizona conducted a raid against the county government building hosting computers for a law enforcement database. After threatening to arrest county employees who would stop them, the officers proceeded to secure the room and promptly changed passwords on many of the servers. In a hearing on Friday, a Superior Court judge threatened to hold members of the Sheriff's Office in contempt if they did not reveal the passwords by next Wednesday. Following this, the Sheriff's Office claimed to be conducting an investigation against other Superior Court judges. Courts have asked for passwords before, but never under conditions like this."

Supreme Court Review of Bilski Heats Up 121

I Don't Believe in Imaginary Property writes "The Supreme Court's review of In Re Bilski (discussed here numerous times) is heating up, having attracted no less than 44 friend-of-the-court briefs from almost everyone with a stake in the patent system. Patently-O provides a nice summary of who is arguing against Bilski. The two questions before the Supreme Court are whether or not a process must satisfy the particular machine or transformation test, and whether this test improperly excludes many business methods in spite of the wording of 35 U.S.C. 273, which specifically allows business-method patents. So far, the case has attracted legal filings from nearly every large company or group whose patents might be threatened. You can read briefs from Yahoo, IBM, Borland, Dolby Labs, the BSA, and many others, even one from some guy claiming to speak on behalf of the State of Oregon."

Interview With UIzard Creator Ryu Sunt-tae 73

volume4 writes "A couple of days ago, the folks over at Ajaxian introduced the world to UIzard, an awesome creation by a Korean developer using YUI. There is actually a heck of a lot more about it, and the excitement about the app caused the UIzard website to go down. Most people could not interact with the app or learn more. A day or so later, the website was back but I could still not access the app. I went on a search to find the creator of UIzard to learn more about it, and finally, through Jinho.Jung on Flickr, I got ahold of his email address and hooked up with Ryu Sunt-tae to learn more."

Flying Car Flies From London To Africa 148

krou writes "It may not be exactly what people have envisioned or tried over the years, such as the flying car in Bladerunner, or the previously reported Terrafugia Transition, but the BBC is reporting that a flying car (creatively dubbed the Skycar, but different from this Skycar) has flown from London across into Africa. They modified a parajet fan that can fly a man into a bigger fan with a canopy that is capable of flying a car."

Convergent Evolution Upends Honeyeaters' Taxonomy 186

grrlscientist writes in with a beautiful piece of science, beautifully explicated. The poignant bit is that the birds in question are all extinct. "Every once in awhile, I will read a scientific paper that astonishes and delights me so much that I can hardly wait to tell you all about it. Such is the situation with a newly published paper about the Hawai'ian Honeyeaters. In short, due to the remarkable power of convergent evolution, Hawai'ian Honeyeaters have thoroughly deceived taxonomists and ornithologists as to their true origin and identity for more than 200 years."

Unix is the worst operating system; except for all others. -- Berry Kercheval