As a member of the local hackerspace, I receive a ton of emails via their mailing list. There was recently a lot of discussion about acquiring some liquid nitrogen for some experiments. Fast-forward a couple days, now I get banner ads on Youtube for sementanks.com which isn't embarrassing at all.
Last time I returned my mail rental for an in-store rental the lady at the counter told me about the changes. My initial reaction was that the changes made sense. Now, if they take away my two free in-store game rentals, I'll be pissed, because that's like a $10/mo value.
Ian Lamont writes "Anger over Facebook's ToS update has forced the company to scramble. Yesterday, a spokesman released a statement that said Facebook has never 'claimed ownership of material that users upload,' and is trying to be more open to users about how their data is being handled. Mark Zuckerberg has also weighed in, stating 'we wouldn't share your information in a way you wouldn't want.' Facebook members are skeptical, however — protests have sprung up on blogs, message boards, and a new Facebook group called 'People Against the new Terms of Service' that has added more than 10,000 members today."
Five.. Five dollar.. Five dollar nuke suuuuub
Glenn Fleishman writes "T-Mobile sent me the text of a lawsuit they filed yesterday against Starbucks. The telecom firm alleges that Starbucks didn't involve it in any discussions to launch their free loyalty program Wi-Fi service this week with AT&T. AT&T is gradually taking over hot-spot operation from T-Mobile, market by market over the course of 2008. T-Mobile told me Starbucks is essentially giving away something that isn't theirs. T-Mobile has sued to halt the two-hours-a-day of free service, and is asking for money to cover losses. This might sound like sour grapes, but T-Mobile still operates most of the network, and says that the terms to which they agreed with Starbucks and AT&T for the transition and with AT&T for bilateral roaming don't cover this situation at all. Maybe free access in exchange for buying a cup of joe every 30 days was too good to be true (this soon)."
Cognitive Dissident writes "Intellectual property thuggery is not restricted to the IT and entertainment industries. The May 2008 edition of Vanity Fair carries a major feature article on the mafiaa-like tactics of Monsanto in its pursuit of total domination of various facets of agribusiness. First in GM seeds with its 'Roundup Ready' crops designed to sell more of its Roundup herbicide, and more recently in milk production with rBGH designed to squeeze more milk out of individual cows, Monsanto has been resorting to increasingly over-the-top tactics to prevent what it sees as infringement or misrepresentation of its biotechnology. As with other forms of IP tyranny, the point is not really to help the public but to consolidate corporate power. Quotes: 'Some compare Monsanto's hard-line approach to Microsoft's zealous efforts to protect its software from pirates. At least with Microsoft the buyer of a program can use it over and over again. But farmers who buy Monsanto's seeds can't even do that.' and '"I don't know of a company that chooses to sue its own customer base," says Joseph Mendelson, of the Center for Food Safety. "It's a very bizarre business strategy." But it's one that Monsanto manages to get away with, because increasingly it's the dominant vendor in town.' Sound familiar?"
phantomfive writes "Forbes is reporting that despite Radiohead giving their latest album away 'for free', more copies of the album were pirated than downloaded from their site. Commentators offered up the opinion that this was probably more out of habit than malice. People download from regular BitTorrent sources, and may not have fully understood the band's very new approach to the subject. Regardless, Readiohead's efforts are having some measurable effect, as noted by the chairman of EMI: 'The industry, rather than embracing digitalization and the opportunities it brings for promotion of product and distribution through multiple channels, has stuck its head in the sand. Radiohead's actions are a wake-up call which we should all welcome and respond to with creativity and energy.'"
StonyandCher writes "Novell's divisive deal with Microsoft has apparently resulted in some financial success for the company. PC World is now reporting that the company's Linux business has risen about 250% since the deal was announced last November. From the article: '[Novell director of marketing Justin Steinman] said part of its growth was directly related to the Microsoft deal, adding that Novell has billed more than US$100 million in business through its Microsoft relationship. He added that the growth was also due to the halo effect of the arrangement. "When we're out there competing with Red Hat, [our salespeople] are saying, 'Our Linux is recommended by Microsoft,' and customers that already have a Windows investment say it seems to make sense to pick the Linux that works with Windows."'"
Bombula writes to let us know that Google is "finally succumbing to the power of the almighty dollar" and getting ready to implement image and video ads in sponsored searches.
Stony Stevenson writes "A web connection via the toilet bowl may sound like Google's most recent April Fool, but the University of Aberdeen plans to welcome students back with a high bandwidth internet network connected via the sewers. The university tapped H2O Networks to provide a high capacity link for the next 10 years, enabling students to access the internet from their halls of residence. H2O Networks is a deploying dark fibre in the UK's waste water network to enable connectivity to those who have limited access. The network is known as 'fibre via the sewer'."
marcellizot writes "What would you say if I told you that there are people out there that want to make sharing your media between devices over a home network illegal? According to Jim Burger, a Washington, D.C attorney who deals with piracy in the broadcasting industry, certain broadcasters want to do just that. Speaking in a recent podcast, Burger remarked that the broadcasting industry is keen to put controls on sharing media between devices even if those devices are on a home network and even if the sharing is strictly for personal use. When pressed as to why broadcasters would want to do this, Burger replied simply 'because they want you to pay for that right.'"
athloi writes with a link to an editorial by John Dvorak over at the PC Magazine site. Rather than his usual tilting at windmills, Dvorak turns his attention to possibility of another big internet economy 'pop': "Every single person working in the media today who experienced the dot-com bubble in 1999 to 2000 believes that we are going through the exact same process and can expect the exact same results — a bust. It's déjà vu all over again. Each succeeding bubble has been worse than its predecessor. Thus nobody is actually able to spot the cycle, since it just looks like a continuum. I can assure you that after this next collapse, nobody will think of the dot-com bubble as anything other than a prelude." It certainly seems like another burst is imminent; will this one be worse than the original, or have less of an impact?
Stony Stevenson wrote with an article about home gateway devices being set up to identify video pirates. The article reads: "Home gateway manufacturer Thomson SA plans to incorporate video watermarking technology into future set-top boxes and other video devices. The watermarks, unique to each device, will make it possible for investigators to identify the source of pirated videos. By letting consumers know the watermarks are there, even if they can't see them, Thomson hopes to discourage piracy without putting up obstacles to activities widely considered fair use, such as copying video for use on another device in the home or while traveling to work."
An anonymous reader submitted a link to a Washington Post article about a very interesting press conference. Romanian President Traian Basescu stood up in front of international press and discussed the role pirated Microsoft software played in bringing about the IT industry in the country. The other big player at the press conference was Microsoft chair Bill Gates. Gates' company was opening a technical center in Bucharest, and he declined to comment on the president's remarks. Romania passed anti-piracy laws nearly 10 years ago, but nearly 70 percent of software used in the country continues to be of an illicit nature.