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Comment Re:West Virginia is the butt... (Score 1) 183

Verizon sold their (2g/3g, dunno about the 4g stuff) frequencies in half the state (the northern/northeastern half) to US Cellular. Those were B-side (or A-side, i forget which, it's the one originally handed out to incumbent wireline LECs) allocations in the 800 MHz blocks back in the 80s. Bell Atlantic had them, but didn't keep them -- there, or in the western panhandle of Maryland either (and in MD they are wireline ILEC for the entire state, no exceptions). So it's not that they were outbid; they unloaded them deliberately. They wanted the cash to serve a more lucrative market. They kept all the Pennsyltucky ones though; I guess Bell of PA was a better funded division than C&P back then.

That half of the state is pretty much served only by US Cellular and AT&T, with a smattering of nTelos/Sprint near major highways. And that's before you get to the radio quiet zone near the VA border. Ain't nobody got time to keep hundreds of cell towers from interfering in any way whatsoever with the radio telescopes in Green Bank, or the ECHELON spy station in Sugar Grove. (So actually, you sort of *can* blame bad wireless service in a few counties directly on the NSA here.)

Comment Yes, the law is vague. (Score 1) 255

And to some degree it was dangerously vague. It is not a straw man to be concerned about laws barring anonymity. Plenty of high-level computer policy people have wanted to ban anonymous posting for reasons having nothing to do with spam, or with the cost of transmitting the messages in question. If the reason anonymity were restricted were because of spurious claims anonymous posting helps terrorists, or because politicians didn't like being criticized anonymously, I doubt many here would be defending the law.

Virginia has recently tended to be the kind of place that such technocratic prescriptions, which combine right-wing goals with decidedly non-libertarian means (see also UCITA), take root in the legislature, and I'm glad the court rooted them out.

Another thing to note is that Virginia is not a "blue pencil" state. Contracts in VA cannot be modified by the courts unless there is a clear severability provision which describes what the basic bargaining units of the contract are. Part of the reason for this is that it is for the people who have made the contract, not the court, to decide how the value in the contract balances out when line items are changed. Thus the rule is "when in doubt, throw it out". Whether or not this is the right approach, many states around the country do it this way (and many also don't). This is a law, not a contract, but it is consistent with the "no blue pencil" doctrine for the court to just throw the whole law back to the legislature to fix it rather than trying to rewrite it.

By the way, I'm not a lawyer, I only play one on Slashdot.


Does It Suck To Be An Engineering Student? 971

Pickens writes "Aaron Rower has an interesting post on Wired with the "Top 5 Reasons it Sucks to be an Engineering Student" that includes awful textbooks, professors who are rarely encouraging, the dearth of quality counseling, and every assignment feels the same. Our favorite is that other disciplines have inflated grades. "Brilliant engineering students may earn surprisingly low grades while slackers in other departments score straight As for writing book reports and throwing together papers about their favorite zombie films," writes Rower. "Many of the brightest students may struggle while mediocre scholars can earn top scores." For many students, earning a degree in engineering is less than enjoyable and far from what they expected. If you want to complain about your education, this is your chance."

GoDaddy Silences 561

mikesd81 writes "Wired is running a story about GoDaddy shutting down a police watchdog site called RateMyCop. However, GoDaddy can't seem to give a consistent answer as for why. From the article: 'RateMyCop founder Gino Sesto says he was given no notice of the suspension. When he called GoDaddy, the company told him that he'd been shut down for suspicious activity. When Sesto got a supervisor on the phone, the company changed its story and claimed the site had surpassed its 3 terabyte bandwidth limit, a claim that Sesto says is nonsense. "How can it be overloaded when it only had 80,000 page views today, and 400,000 yesterday?" Sesto says police can post comments as well, and a future version of the site will allow them to authenticate themselves to post rebuttals more prominently. Chief Dyer wants to get legislation passed that would make illegal, which, of course, wouldn't pass constitutional muster in any court in America.'"

Submission + - Pro-anorexia site clampdown urged ->

An anonymous reader writes: In an recent article written by the BBC, MySpace says they plan on partnership with eating disorder support group B-eat to prevent the spread of content promoting anorexia and other eating disorders while Facebook says they will not, citing their support of "flow of information."
Link to Original Source

Best Super Tuesday Candidate for Technology? 549

Petey_Alchemist writes "With Super Tuesday coming up and the political field somewhat winnowed down, the process of picking the nominees for the next American President is well underway. At the same time, the Internet is bustling through a period of legal questions like Copyright infringement, net neutrality, wireless spectrum, content filtering, broadband deployment. All of these are just a few of the host of issues that the next President will be pressured to weigh in on during his or her tenure. Who do you think would be the best (or worst) candidate on Internet issues?"

Dan Geer On Trusting PCs In Botnets 301

walk*bound writes "In an essay published by ZDNet, security scientist Dan Geer has an interesting proposal for e-commerce sites to evaluate the trustworthiness of clients that try to connect. Assume that end users either always say 'Yes' or always say 'No' to security dialog boxes. Then make the decision one of two ways: 'When the user connects, ask whether they would like to use your extra special secure connection. If they say "Yes," then you presume that they always say "Yes" and thus they are so likely to be infected that you must not shake hands with them without some latex between you and them. In other words, you should immediately 0wn their machine for the duration of the transaction — by, say, stealing their keyboard away from their OS and attaching it to a special encrypting network stack all of which you make possible by sending a small, use-once rootkit down the wire at login time, just after they say "Yes."'"

Microsoft Windows 7 "Wishlist" Leaked 522

Cassius Corodes is one of many readers to point out that a recent "wishlist" of new Windows development features is floating around the net. This list was supposedly leaked from Microsoft and contains some of their key development features for the next version of Windows. Given that the next new Windows release is bound to be a long way off I would recommend seasoning this news with a hefty dose of sodium chloride.

Submission + - UK Lawyers Are Shutting Down Blogs Left and Right-> 7

zarloq2 writes: Craig Murray's site, along with several other UK-based political blogs have been shut down in response Usmanov's lawyers putting pressure on his webhost.

Here's an excerpt from the blog:
Craig Murray, the former British Ambassador to Uzbekistan, is badmouthing Alisher Usmanov, the billionaire Russian steel magnate attempting to take over Premier League club Arsenal (UK football club), because he wants to sell you a book he wrote about his experience in that former Soviet republic. It has become clear today, however, that whatever Murray is attempting to sell, Usmanov and his lawyers do not want anyone to buy it.
According to Tom Dunmore at, Craig Murray's web site was taken off line today after sustained pressure on Murray's web hosting provider from Schillings, the London law firm representing Usmanov. What's more, Schillings has also managed to put the kibosh on political site Bloggerheads three days after Tim Ireland wrote this piece on Schillings' cease & desist letters.

Link to Original Source
The Internet

How Habbo Succeeded 57

The other keynote on Thursday at GDC Austin homed in on the growing collusion between Web 2.0 site and online gaming, with an examination of the wildly successful Habbo Hotel by world creator Sulka Haro. Habbo is more of an online hang-out space than a game, thought it does have many game elements. The service grew from humble origins to now offer a home to almost 7.5 Million unique users per month. From Gamasutra's coverage: "Globally, the game attracts around 51% boys and 49% girls. '13-16 seems to be the predominant age group we're getting.' But in different territories the story may be different. For example, in Japan there are a lot of younger kids playing, but there's also a hardcore cadre of housewives who play in their own cliques. When it comes to the U.S., Haro posited, 'I guess in the States the tipping point is when you get your driver's license and you can actually go somewhere to meet people.' A big concern of Habbo players is to create a private space where their parents don't know what's going on -- and this extends to when they get in trouble."

System Admin's Unit of Production? 556

RailGunSally writes "I am a (strictly technical) member of a large *nix systems admin team at a Fortune 150. Our new IT Management Overlord is a hardcore bean-counter from hell. We in the trenches have been tasked with providing 'metrics' on absolutely everything from system utilization to paper clip recycling. Of course, measuring productivity is right up there at the top of the list. We're stumped as to a definition of the basic unit of productivity for a *nix admin. There is a school of thought in our group that holds that if the PHBs are simple enough to want to operate purely from pie charts and spreadsheets, then we should just graph some output from /dev/random and have done with it. I personally love the idea, but I feel the need for due diligence, so I put the question to the Slashdot community: How does one reasonably quantify admin productivity?"

Diebold Rebrands What No One Wants 175

Irvu writes "Diebold has apparently failed in their bid to sell their tainted elections systems unit. Unable to find a buyer the CEO of Diebold promised that the system will be run more 'openly and independently.' To prove that they are serious, they renamed it. Diebold Election Systems is now Premiere Election Solutions. They still sell GEMS, AccuVote OS and the ever-unpopular AccuVote-TSX which performed so disastrously in California's Top-to-Bottom Review under the same names. Apparently their rebranding effort only goes so far."

Explosives Camp 419

theodp writes "How about a summer camp where you get in trouble for not blowing things up? Students with a passion for all things explosive and proof of US citizenship pay a $450 fee to attend Summer Explosives Camp, 'We try to give them an absolute smorgasbord of explosives,' quipped a professor at the University of Missouri-Rolla, which offers a minor in explosives engineering. Here's the brochure (PDF), kids!"
The Internet

MPAA Sets Up Fake Site to Catch Pirates 617

thefickler writes "Media Defender, a company which does the dirty work for the MPAA, has been caught setting up 'dummy' websites in an attempt to catch those who download copyrighted videos. The site,, complete with a user registration, forum, and "family filter", offered complete downloads of movies and "fast and easy video downloading all in one great site." But that's not all; MiiVi also offered client software to speed up the downloading process. The only catch is, after it was installed, it searched your computer for other copyrighted files and reported back."

Music Industry Attacks Free Prince CD 667

Mike writes "You might not like Prince, but he's planning on giving away a free CD in a national British newspaper. Harmless publicity, right? The music industry disagrees. Executives are practically going insane over the idea and are threatening to 'retaliate'. 'The Artist Formerly Known as Prince should know that with behavior like this he will soon be the Artist Formerly Available in Record Stores. And I say that to all the other artists who may be tempted to dally with the Mail on Sunday,' said Entertainment Retailers Association spokesman Paul Quirk, who also said it would be 'an insult' to record stores. Shouldn't an artist be able to give away his own music if he wants to without fear of industry retaliation?"

Help! I'm trapped in a PDP 11/70!