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Comment: Re:I don't understand (Score 1) 343

by thebdj (#24421997) Attached to: Judge Rules Sprint Early Termination Fees Illegal

The problem with this is the judge is taking it upon himself to decide there is no proper basis for such a penalty, when it is clearly intended as a penalty - a disincentive to terminate the contract.

Honestly, you could probably argue these fees violate anti-trust law in the US if you get the right US District Court to agree with you that these fees are less about subsidized phones and more about preventing customers from switching services. The cell phone companies have always resisted anything that made leaving them easier (phone number portability comes to mind). There are plenty of ways to make these fees more legitimate, as in the prorated fees used by the other major providers. This is less likely to draw legal complaints.

What is next? A court reviewing a software license agreement that has a large penalty clause in it? It seems that a "penalty" that is not identified as a penalty but stated to the customer as a cost recovery, a pro-rated subsidy or something else would be a problem. But every cell phone agreement I have seen says it is basically a penalty.

Yes, but the penalty has to still conform to law. Just because you put something into a contract does not make it legal. The legality of contract clauses from cell companies and software makers (since you brought them up) have been contested and in some cases defeated in court as being unfair or out right illegal.

This said, the contract is silent on the purpose of the fee; however, the cell service providers have states repeatedly it is a means to protect their subsidies of the phones. As I stated above, the court is seeing this for what it is, total bullshit. So to recap, a contract does not make that which is illegal legal and a non-prorated termination fee does not stand up well when your main argument is cell phone subsidies cost money.

Announcements

+ - Tiny clique removes 45k Wikipedia spoiler warnings 1

Submitted by njyoder
njyoder (164804) writes "A small clique consisting mostly of former and current admins, some with "top level clique connections," has collectively removed all (about 45,000) spoiler warnings on Wikpedia articles. Spoiler warnings are normally used to warn the reader where spoiler(s) contained in an article about fiction exist.

The justification used by the anti-spoiler group is that because most of the articles don't have the removals reverted and that this is a de facto consensus that they're not wanted. Others counter-argue that many may not have seen them yet or may be afraid to revert because of them being afraid to get into a revert war with the anti-spoiler group who has invested much more energy in this.

In some cases, reverts were performed restoring the spoiler warnings, but they were quickly reverted back. There are also allegations of users being threatened by admins when reverting.

For more information, read the mediation page and talk page on spoiler warnings."
Biotech

+ - Cancer Researcher turns salt water into fuel.-> 1

Submitted by
OmniBeing
OmniBeing writes "American John Kansas, was working away in his lab searching for a cure for cancer (and he thinks he might have one) but in the process stumbled upon a method of igniting saltwater! While he acknowledges it's 70% energy efficient, he does have an idea how to boost it as mentioned on CHQR770's radio program located here (Note, the interview starts 35 minutes in to the stream) So hows that for an alternative fuel?"
Link to Original Source
Microsoft

Windows Loses Ground With Developers 431

Posted by kdawson
from the rising-tide-lifts-all-penguins dept.
An anonymous reader notes that InfoWorld is covering a survey of North American developers that claims that Linux is gaining share as the number of developers targeting Windows fell 11 percent over the last year. Evans Data has been conducting these surveys of client, server, and Web developers since 1998. Evans Data says that the arrival of Windows Vista likely only kept the numbers from being even worse. The big gainer wasn't developing for a Web platform, but rather for Linux and "nontraditional client devices." Windows is still dominant, with 65% of developers writing code for this platform. Linux stands at almost 12%, up from 8% a year earlier. The article says that Evans Data collected information on Mac and Unix development but did not include them in this year's report.
Privacy

Credit Industry Opposes Anti-ID Theft Method 434

Posted by kdawson
from the frozen-out dept.
athloi alerts us to an opinion piece running in USA Today on the backlash against an effective tool to fight identity theft. The big three credit bureaus don't like the numerous state laws that have been passed requiring them to give consumers a simple way to freeze their credit. Watch for a push at the federal level to get a watered-down statute that pre-empts state laws. "Lawmakers across the country — pushed by consumer advocacy groups — ... have passed laws that allow consumers to freeze their credit, a surefire way to prevent thieves from opening new accounts or obtaining a mortgage in a consumer's name. Under a freeze, a consumer cuts off all access to his credit report and score, even his own. All lenders require that information, so no one can borrow money in the consumer's name until he or she lifts the freeze. It's simple, and it works. So, of course, it's under threat from the Consumer Data Industry Association, which represents the Big Three credit bureaus. They make millions gathering and selling consumer data. Freezes cut into that business."

iPhone Root Password Hacked in Three Days 311

Posted by Zonk
from the not-that-it-will-do-anybody-any-good dept.
unPlugged-2.0 writes "An Australian developer blog writes that the iPhone root password has already been cracked. The story outlines the procedure but doesn't give the actual password. According to the story: 'The information came from an an official Apple iPhone restore image. The archive contains two .dmg disk images: a password encrypted system image and an unencrypted user image. By delving into the unencrypted image inquisitive hackers were able to discover that all iPhones ship with predefined passwords to the accounts 'mobile' and 'root', the last of which being the name of the privileged administration account on UNIX based systems.' Though interesting, it doesn't seem as though the password is good for anything. The article theorizes it may be left over from development work, or could have been included to create a 'false trail' for hackers."
Privacy

+ - Credit industry opposes anti-ID theft method->

Submitted by
athloi
athloi writes "Lawmakers across the country — pushed by consumer advocacy groups — are mounting a counterattack. They have passed laws that allow consumers to freeze their credit, a surefire way to prevent thieves from opening new accounts or obtaining a mortgage in a consumer's name. Under a freeze, a consumer cuts off all access to his credit report and score, even his own. All lenders require that information, so no one can borrow money in the consumer's name until he or she lifts the freeze. It's simple, and it works. So, of course, it's under threat from the Consumer Data Industry Association, which represents the Big Three credit bureaus. They make millions gathering and selling consumer data. Freezes cut into that business.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/usatoday/20070703/cm_usato day/aweaponagainstidentitytheft"

Link to Original Source
Privacy

+ - Newly Declassified Window Film Keeps Out Hackers,-> 1

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "A newly declassified window film from CPFilms Inc. (Solutia Inc.) will give war drivers a run for their money. As printed in a recent issue of Scientific American: Once manufactured under an exclusive contract with the U.S. government, this recently declassified window film is now available to the public. But don't expect to see it on store shelves anytime soon. Currently, it's only available directly from the manufacturer, and at prices that will likely make it prohibitive for all but the wealthiest home owners. The two-millimeter-thick coating can block Wi-Fi signals, cell phone transmissions, even the near-infrared, yet is almost transparent, making it no more intrusive than conventional window treatments. It can keep signals in (preventing attempts to spy on electronic communications) or out, minimizing radio interference and even the fabled electronics-destroying electromagnetic pulse (EMP) generated by a nuclear blast."
Link to Original Source
United States

+ - Thompson to Join GOP Contest->

Submitted by
David Greenspan
David Greenspan writes "Later this month Senator and actor Fred Thompson, (from Law and Order and other tv shows) will officially announce that he is running for President of the United States on the GOP ticket. "The former senator and actor has hired his production staff, orchestrated the advance publicity and carefully worked his audience, which is desperate for a star to lead the GOP out of its funk." Kiplinger"
Link to Original Source
Games

+ - Xbox 360 Failure Rate Way Higher Than Expected

Submitted by maeveth
maeveth (1110269) writes "Xbox 360. Most successful console of this generation, if you judge by number of units sold worldwide and number of available games and exclusives. That said, though, it's looking like it might also be the least reliable console of its generation as well. Microsoft says the failure rate is 3-5%. However, a DailyTech poll of retailers that sell the Xbox 360 and with it an option to purchase an extended warranty shows the real figures might be closer to 30-33%. (Compare that with the Nintendo Wii, which the same retailers gave a failure rate of less than 1%.) Hey, Redmond, you listening to this?"
Software

+ - Edge Magazine Compiles List of Top 100 Video Games

Submitted by Mordok-DestroyerOfWo
Mordok-DestroyerOfWo (1000167) writes "According to the BBC, Edge Magazine has compiled a list of the top 100 video games of all time. The top 10 are rather surprising in that most of the games were released a decade or more ago. Is it possible that with all of the focus on life-like graphics and animation so pervasive on the next-gen consoles, developers have forgotten what it takes to make a game enjoyable to play? Cue the Duke Nuke'em Forever jokes in 5...4...3...2..."
Microsoft

Microsoft Doesn't Care About Destroying Linux 330

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the to-busy-drinking-baby-blood-i-think dept.
techie writes "A latest column on MadPenguin.org suggests that Microsoft may not be really interested in killing Linux for mainstream users. It's after something else, and it's getting its way already. Read on to find out what it is. The author states, "Love it or hate it, Microsoft's IP attacks will continue, Linux user numbers will continue to grow and broad spectrum adoption throughout the rest of the world will grow and flourish. Microsoft's not interested in destroying Linux in the slightest. Why would they? it's been a fantastic vehicle for them to land a firmer grip on the corporations throughout the US."
Portables (Games)

+ - DS 'Brain Game' Banned in UK->

Submitted by
janitorj
janitorj writes "According to this BBC article, the Nintendo DS puzzler 'MindQuiz' was banned from UK shelves. The woman in the story, whose father and son both had Cerebral Palsy, contacted a BBC radio program to report that she "was shocked when she had performed poorly at one part of the game and it rated her efforts in a manner derogatory to the disabled.""
Link to Original Source
It's funny.  Laugh.

Pentagon Developed 'Laughing Bullets' 286

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the we-must-not-have-a-hysteria-gap dept.
plasmadroid writes "It might sound like a joke, but documents unearthed by New Scientist show that the Pentagon actually funded research into 'non-lethal' bullets that would also hit a target with a dose of laughing gas. That way, they'd not only be stunned but incapacitated by fits of giggles. Another idea was to put stink bombs inside rubber bullets. I guess it would work, but the idea of crowds of rioters giggling uncontrollably while being pelted with rubber bullets is truly bizarre..."

"Ignorance is the soil in which belief in miracles grows." -- Robert G. Ingersoll

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