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Submission + - SourceForge grabs GIMP for Windows' account, wraps installer in Adware (arstechnica.com)

rudy_wayne writes: SourceForge, the code repository site owned by Slashdot Media, has apparently seized control of the account hosting GIMP for Windows, and now anyone downloading the Windows version of the open source image editing tool from SourceForge gets the software wrapped in an installer with advertisements.

Jernej Simoni, the developer who has been responsible for building Windows versions of GIMP for some time, has maintained an account on SourceForge to act as a distribution mirror. That is, until today, when he discovered he was locked out of the Gimp-Win account.

A blog post by an unidentified member of SourceForge's community team claims that "this project was actually abandoned over 18 months ago, and SourceForge has stepped-in to keep this project current." But this is disputed by members of the GIMP development community.

Submission + - Users can't tell Facebook from a scam

rudy_wayne writes: Zdnet reports that a new whitepaper from antivirus company Bitdefender, which examined 850,000 Facebook scams over two years, shows that Facebook's own user experience enables these scams to flourish. The researchers found that scammers have infected millions of users with the same tricks over and over again — just repackaged.

The most common tricks, such as 'Guess who viewed your profile (45.5 percent)' and 'change your background color' (29.53 percent) rely on a combination of the obsessions encouraged by the Facebook experience, and a general lack of understanding about Facebook’s functionality — which, as most users know, is a constantly moving target. Users would be none the wiser that a given scam isn't just a new "feature" or another of Facebook's psychological experiments being done on users.

Submission + - Space Tourism Isn't Worth Dying For

rudy_wayne writes: Following the crash of Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo, an opinion piece at Wired calls the project nothing more than a "millionaire boondoggle thrill ride".

In the wake of this tragedy out at Mojave we’re going to hear a lot about exploration, about pioneers and frontiers. People are going to talk about Giant Leaps for Mankind and Boldly Going Where No One Has Gone Before. And we should call bullshit on that.

SpaceShipTwo is not a Federation starship. It’s not a vehicle for the exploration of frontiers. Virgin Galactic is building the world’s most expensive roller coaster, the aerospace version of Beluga caviar. It’s a thing for rich people to do.

Testing new aircraft takes a level of courage and ability beyond most humans. Those engineers and pilots are at the peak of human achievement. What they’re doing is amazing. Why Virgin is doing it is not.

When various corporate representatives eulogize those two pilots as pioneers who were helping to cross the Final Frontier, that should make you angry. That pilot died not for space but for a luxury service provider. His death doesn’t get us closer to Mars; it just keeps rich people further away from weightlessness and a beautiful view.

Submission + - Goldman Sachs demands Google unsend one of its e-mails (arstechnica.com)

rudy_wayne writes: A Goldman Sachs contractor was testing internal changes made to Goldman Sachs' system and prepared a report with sensitive client information, including details on brokerage accounts. The report was accidentally e-mailed to a 'gmail.com' address rather than the correct 'gs.com' address. Google told Goldman Sachs on June 26 that it couldn't just reach into Gmail and delete the e-mail without a court order. Goldman Sachs filed with the New York Supreme Court, requesting "emergency relief" to avoid a privacy violation and "avoid the risk of unnecessary reputational damage to Goldman Sachs."

Submission + - Create A Botnet By Abusing Free Cloud Services (darkreading.com)

rudy_wayne writes: Last week at the RSA Conference, a pair of researchers demonstrated how it was possible to legally create a botnet for free by abusing trial accounts made available by high-powered platform-as-a-service (PaaS) and infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) offerings.

The question they asked themselves was how hard would it be to automate the process of signing up for an unlimited number of free accounts from these sites and then developing a central control system from which an attacker could potentially launch malicious activities. The answer: not hard at all.

The project was made possible through the development of a process to automate the creation of unique email accounts on free email services, and then special scripting to automate the process of clicking on email verification links sent to those accounts.

Submission + - Prenda lawyer kicked off 9th Circuit case

rudy_wayne writes: On Friday, Paul Hansmeier, a Minnesota attorney who has been pointed to as one of the masterminds of the Prenda copyright-trolling scheme, filed an emergency motion to stay the $81,000 sanctions order while he and his colleagues could mount an appeal. Today the appeals court flatly denied his motion.. Two appellate judges signed this order, and it gives Hansmeier the option to make a plea for delay with the district court judge. That would be US District Judge Otis Wright, the judge who sanctioned Hansmeier in the first place.

Hansmeier is also getting kicked off a case he was working on that was totally unrelated to Prenda's scheme of making copyright accusations over alleged pornography downloads. On Friday, the 9th Circuit Commissioner ordered Hansmeier, in no uncertain terms, to withdraw a the case involving Groupon since he has been referred to the Minnesota State Bar for investigation. The commissioner has delayed Hansmeier's admission to the 9th Circuit because of Wright's order, which refers to Wright's finding of "moral turpitude."

Submission + - Judge hints at jail time for porn troll Prenda Law (arstechnica.com)

rudy_wayne writes: A federal judge in Los Angeles has suggested serious penalties for Brett Gibbs, an attorney at porn copyright trolling firm Prenda Law. Facing allegations of fraud and identity theft, Gibbs will be required to explain himself at a March 11 hearing. And if Judge Otis Wright isn't satisfied with his answers, he may face fines and even jail time.

The identity theft allegations emerged late last year, when a Minnesota man named Alan Cooper told a Minnesota court he suspected Prenda Law named him as the CEO of two litigious offshore holding companies without his permission. Worried about exposing himself to potential liability for the firms' misconduct, Cooper asked the court to investigate the situation. Cooper's letter was spotted by Morgan Pietz, an attorney who represents "John Doe" defendants in California. He notified Judge Wright of the allegations.

The Almighty Buck

Submission + - Millions Will Go to Privacy Groups Who Support Weak Facebook Settlement (wired.com)

rudy_wayne writes: Privacy and consumer groups are urging a federal judge to sign off on a controversial settlement to a class-action lawsuit over Facebook's “Sponsored Stories” advertising program, despite indifference to or confusion over the terms of the vaguely written settlement. Jeff Chester, executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy in Washington, D.C., said the settlement amounts to “just putting some more words into Facebook’s privacy policy that nobody reads.”

However, the Electronic Freedom Foundation which would receive $1 Million under the settlement (almost one-fourth of their entire budget last year) supports the settlement "for budgetary reasons" and according to EFF legal director Cindy Cohn, “We haven’t taken a position on this settlement, whether it’s a good idea or not”.

Submission + - Wikipedia Didn't Kill Brittanica. Windows Did (wired.com)

rudy_wayne writes: The end of Encyclopedia Brittanica has been widely reported and its demise has been blamed on Wikipedia. However, this article at Wired points out that the real reason is something entirely different.

"In 1990 Brittanica had $650 million in revenue. In 1996, long before Wikipedia existed, it was bankrupt and the entire company was sold for $135 million. What happened in between was Encarta. Even though Encarta didn't make money for Microsoft and Brittanica produced its own encyclopedia CDs, Encarta was an inexpensive, multimedia encyclopedia that helped Microsoft sell Windows PCs to families. And once you had a PC in the living room or den where the encyclopedia used to be, it was all over for Mighty Brittanica. It’s not that Encarta made knowledge cheaper, it’s that technology supplanted its role as a purchasable ‘edge’ for over-anxious parents. They bought junior a new PC instead of a Britannica. When Wikipedia emerged five years later, Brittanica was already a weakened giant. It wasn’t a free and open encyclopedia that defeated its print edition. It was the personal computer itself."


Submission + - How to "Brick" a car

rudy_wayne writes: According to an article at The Understatement:: A Tesla Roadster that is simply parked without being plugged in will eventually become a “brick”. The parasitic load from the car’s always-on subsystems continually drains the battery and if the battery’s charge is ever totally depleted, it is essentially destroyed. The only known remedy is for the owner to pay Tesla approximately $40,000 to replace the entire battery. Unlike practically every other modern car problem, neither Tesla’s warranty nor typical car insurance policies provide any protection from this major financial loss. Of the approximately 2,200 Roadsters sold to date, a regional service manager for Tesla says he is personally aware of at least five cases of Tesla Roadsters being “bricked” due to battery depletion.

Submission + - The Problem With Online Ads (wired.com)

rudy_wayne writes: Clive Thompson has an article in Wired magazine about the problem with online advertising. For years, everyone has claimed that you can’t charge for anything online. If you dream up a cool new idea, your only way to make money is to generate as many impressions as possible for advertisers. This inevitably produces horrid, cynical designs that work against what people want — such as clogging pages with distracting banners or breaking them into smaller chunks so users have to click around a lot.

But a new generation of web entrepreneurs has discovered the joys of charging users cold, hard cash. Along with sites like Pinboard (similar to Del.icio.us), there’s the read-it-later service Instapaper, private social-network site Ning, and countless iPhone apps that require you to lay down coin. If we’re lucky, this trend will save the Internet from one of the most corrosive forces affecting it: advertising.

Submission + - News Corp. looking to sell MySpace (yahoo.com) 1

rudy_wayne writes: "The Wall Street Journal is reporting that News. Corp is trying to sell MySpace for $100 Million, a fraction of the $580 Million that it originally paid in 2005. Parties reportedly interested in acquiring MySpace include private equity firm THL Partners, Redscout Ventures and Criterion Capital, owner of social network Bebo (the company AOL bought for $850 Million and then sold for $10 Million). Chinese Internet holding company Tencent is also reportedly interested and so is Myspace co-founder Chris De Wolfe. What’s not yet clear is what any of these companies plan to do with MySpace if a sale goes through."

Submission + - News Corp. trying to sell MySpace (yahoo.com)

rudy_wayne writes: The Wall Street Journal has reported that News. Corp is trying to sell MySpace for $100 Million, a fraction of the $580 Million that it paid for MySpace in 2005. Parties reportedly interested in acquiring MySpace include private equity firm THL Partners, Redscout Ventures and Criterion Capital, owner of social network Bebo (the company AOL bought for $850 Million and then sold for $10 Million). Chinese Internet holding company Tencent is also reportedly interested as is Myspace co-founder Chris De Wolfe. What’s not yet clear is what any of these companies plan to do with MySpace if a sale goes through.

Submission + - Dish Network Buys Blockbuster (zdnet.com)

rudy_wayne writes: Dish Network won a bankruptcy auction for Blockbuster with a bid of $320 million and on the surface the deal sounds a little bit crazy. What’s Dish going to do with 1,700 store locations and a brand that’s arguably broken? The real win here may be the Internet streaming rights that Dish will now own. Kaufman Bros. analyst Todd Mitchell wrote: "As part of an acquisition, DISH would presumably get Blockbuster’s Internet streaming rights, the Blockbuster brand and its customer lists. Combined with a build-out of the wireless spectrum it has acquired and technology from EchoStar and Hughes, we believe DISH could launch an on demand movie service that would 1) significantly enhance the competitive offering of the DISH Network, and 2) compete on a standalone basis with Netflix and other over-the-top video services." Dish’s set-top boxes already have an Ethernet port so adding streaming content wouldn’t be much of a stretch.

Submission + - Internet Explorer will survive and Firefox won't (zdnet.com) 1

rudy_wayne writes: There is an interesting (and probably controversial) piece on on Why Internet Explorer will survive and Firefox won't

"It’s tempting to look at Microsoft’s history with Internet Explorer and assume that they are just incapable of working at the speed of the Internet. But take a closer look at the development process for IE 9 and there’s a different story to tell. Microsoft is playing the same game as Google. Mozilla is stuck in 2005. And that’s why the core of Internet Explorer will still be around in five years when Firefox will have, at best, a loyal cult following."

"At last year’s MIX conference, Microsoft talked about its new app platform: write code once, target for multiple platforms. That’s the same space that Google is playing in. Google has an entire family of apps that are designed to work exclusively in a browser."

"So where does that leave Firefox? It doesn’t have an app ecosystem or a loyal core of developers. Extensions? Those were worth bragging about in 2005, but in 2012 the story is apps. Businesses and consumers will want to use the same browser that powers their installed apps. In the PC space, that means Google or Microsoft. It doesn’t leave room for a third player."

"Love your country but never trust its government." -- from a hand-painted road sign in central Pennsylvania