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Slashback: Toys, Connections, Old Dominion 43

Toy companies sending data (no matter how innocuous) from your hard drive out into the wide world might not be such a hot idea, and it looks like that realization has spread. Virginia and D.C. residents (and truthfully, many others as well) may be ubterested in upcoming UCITA action. AT&T has won another round in the regulation / deregulation scuffle, and there's a suprize bit of tasty news to top to wash those down with.

Don't worry, Ma'am, we're from the Toy Company. You can trust us. Kip writes: "The Associated Press is reporting that Mattel Interactive will provide a tool to remove software that was surreptitiously placed on customers' computers and is designed to transmit and receive information to and from Mattel. An uninstall program will be available late Monday for Windows 98, others to follow later in the week. This is a followup to last week's story."

Victory is in the eye of the beholder. Ant writes: " SAN FRANCISCO -- AT&T Corp., the No. 1 U.S. telephone and cable television company, claimed victory in a battle over high-speed Internet access Thursday when a federal appeals court ruled that local authorities cannot require it to open broadband access to rivals. In a unanimous decision, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals concluded that Portland, Ore., could not regulate AT&T's Excite@Home (Nasdaq: ATHM) cable broadband infrastructure using laws designed to govern traditional cable services."

This will please some people (who'd rather not see network control handled by fiat) but there are quite a few places where your only 'choice' in network connectivity is along the lines of "any color so long as it's black."

Yes Virginia, there really is a legislature. Ristoril passed on on this press advisory which may be of interest to anyone following the passage of UCITA in its various state incarnations.

Richmond, VA--The Joint Commission on Technology and Science's Advisory Committee 5, which is charged with studying the impact of the Uniform Computer Information Transactions Act (UCITA) on Virginia's business, libraries, and consumers, will hold its first meeting on Thursday, June 29, 2000, 10:00 a.m. in House Room D of the General Assembly Building. This meeting will be for organizational purposes.

Although this meeting is not a public hearing, the Commission has set aside one hour so that members of the public can address the Advisory Committee. A sign up sheet will be available at 9:30 a.m. at the meeting location. Due to time constraints, only ten persons will be able to present their comments for five minutes each. If you wish to address the Advisory Committee, please sign up at the day of the meeting. You may not sign up prior to this date and time. In addition, please be prepared to submit a written transcript of your oral comments to the Commission. Even if you do not address the Advisory Committee at the meeting, you may always submit written comments. Written comments may be submitted to:

John S. Jung, Staff Attorney
910 Capitol Street, 2nd Floor
Richmond, VA 23219
E-mail: JJung@leg.state.va.us
Fax: 804-371-0169

Other opportunities for the public to address the Commission and/or the Advisory Committee will be scheduled in the future.

The proposed agenda for this meeting is available on the Commission's website http://jcots.state.va.us, under "Meeting Information.""

Note that the full commission is meeting Tuesday July 25, 2000 at 10:00 A.M. in the same location noted above.

Another trickle of palatable news. natpoor writes "The fan who had ironchef.com has brought it back to life as ironsteph.com to avoid trademark issues. She has trimmed away possibly objectionable copyrighted material, and linked to the fair use clause on the home page. It is clearly for educational purposes, and doesn't have any large copies of television footage. Slashdot covered the initial cease-and-desist letter from FujiTV, let's see what happens."

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Slashback: Toys

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  • I love this show, does anyone know if there's a reasonable way to get copies of this show w/o the bad dubbing. I'd take subtitles over the crappy voices and broken english that comes out of that show. And what's the deal with Korn, is that guy some kind of jpimp or what? Oh well, *patiently awaits the new york battle*

  • i was real glad to see coverage of the broderbund issue, because it explained (at least partially) why Broderbund software is so behind the times in technological requirements. Unfortunately, I have to deal with the quirks of their stuff on a daily basis, and software that only works in 256 color mode is quite unpleasant. and with mattel continuing to have problems, it doesn't look that's going to get any better.
    i think the one app that could really convince people to switch to linux/bsd would be printshop, scary as that is.
  • One of the benifits of the press, and our free system, Things like this come out. And it forces the company to deliver fixes. Then MAYBE MAYBE companys wont do stuff like this AS MUCH. Slashdot keep exposing them :-)
  • Anybody want to drive to Virginia and show 'em Santa Clause?
  • This story is not ubteresting in the least. Ub fact, this is just as disubteresting as all the Lubux stories they keep postubg.
  • ... to connect a toy to the net?

    Is it just me and my paranoia or is the idea of hooking a toy into a net connection just a scary idea? To me it just sounds like on ebig breach waiting to happen.

    On the other hand I don't like the look of that ruling re broadband, if we ever hope to see high speed net access become affordable here in .au we need to see companies sharing hardware. This country is just too big with such a sparse populace to support on company one network.
  • by Effugas ( 2378 ) on Saturday June 24, 2000 @07:48AM (#978986) Homepage
    Everybody reading this message knows somebody affected directly by UCITA, because almost all of us know somebody who uses America Online.

    That's right, AOL is covered by the laws and institutions of the State of Virginia.

    So if anything about UCITA scares you, somebody you know is being threatened, even if they live next door.

    You're their friends. You're their family. You're the one they go to to keep them safe from the black hats of the world.

    Black Hats learned long ago--social engineering is more effective than almost any hack. Legal engineering, my friends, is an order of magnitude worse. Welcome to UCITA, and the new breed of Cracker.

    Want to protect your friends? Do something to fight Virginia.

    Yours Truly,

    Dan Kaminsky
    DoxPara Research
  • Well, i thought it was uber interesting, so i guess that i personally would be ubterested. bye bye karma

  • I was ubterested once... how embarassing.

  • You could go back in time. Oh, sorry, did you say "reasonable"? In San Francisco, in the Nihonmachi area, there are video shops where you can rent/buy Japanese videos taped from Japanese TV. (I pursued a don't-ask-don't-tell piracy policy back when I visited such a place.) They had soap operas and cartoons. Maybe they have Iron Chef, now. Maybe there's a similar shop near where you live.

    Anyhow, the place I remember in San Francisco was called Tokyo Video.

  • Okay - sorry,v I;m really drunk becasuse I;ve finished my finals at Oxfats and I can;t type. I love you any wat, Jos
  • of. At least look logically just because a number of people come here dosn't mean that everyone and thier mother does as well. Most average people do not even know this site exists.
  • AOL is really a useless ISP. Basically it's like comparing Barney and Friends or Teletubbies to say Hamlet.
  • Last I checked toys didn't need electrictiy in many cases and never a net connection.
  • by Effugas ( 2378 ) on Saturday June 24, 2000 @08:24AM (#978994) Homepage
    AOL is really a useless ISP. Basically it's like comparing Barney and Friends or Teletubbies to say Hamlet.

    AOL merged with Time Warner owns your Cable Modem connection. AOL stopped fighting for others to be able to share that connection just as soon as Time Warner agree to merge with it and make Steve Case its new public figurehead. AOL is the first major company to be covered by UCITA.

    You forget just how popular Barney and Teletubbies are in comparison to Hamlet.

    Yours Truly,

    Dan Kaminsky
    DoxPara Research
  • When was the last time you checked? And did you check all toys?
  • Hmm let's look at standard toys: action figures, blocks, toy trucks, cars, coloring books, etc. Do these really need a net connection? Face it connecting toys to the net is simply just an attempt to look trendy.
  • Vice Magazine has seen the future of Halo from Microsoft, and it is scarily realistic [viceland.com]....

  • by tilly ( 7530 )
    UCITA gives software companies the right write licenses that let them sue you if you try to expose their products for the crap they are.

    Ponder that fact for a bit...

  • Remember telephone networks were mever meant for modems and internet access those developments occured after telephones were widely deployed.
  • well in some ways the bad dubbing is a step up from no translation.
  • well....

    "Although this meeting is not a public hearing, the Commission has set aside one hour so that members of the public can address the Advisory Committee. A sign up sheet will be available at 9:30 a.m. at the meeting location. Due to time constraints, only ten persons will be able to present their comments for five minutes each."

    If ten folks show up at 7 with 5 minutes speeches prepared, at the very least the public will have spoken. In unison, perhaps. Heck, it could probably be done with the same speech, to make a point.

    (which is why I'm abusing my karma as the other response insinuated)
  • Not just that, but Mattel actually backed down on something. I mean, that's pretty rare for them, given how much sht they try to pull. Could it mean that they've noticed how bad their reputation has gotten, and are finally cleaning up? Not likely tho.
  • really, what can a bunch of state legislators do with a state law that blatantly violates the first amendment? that's right, criticism is protected under the first amendment, in fact it's one of the main reasons the first amendment exists. for this reason, the worst parts of UCITA will never stand up in court.

    perhaps a few people could point out this fact, and perhaps these people who have already made up their minds will listen...

  • I used to watch it purely in Japanese (no dubbing or subtitles) on the Los Angeles international station. Somehow I found it more enjoyable when I wasn't hearing the ditzy announcers trying to guess what everyone was cooking. It was fun just to watch the food and silliness.

    I will second someone else's suggestion: go to your local Japan-town and find a video store.
  • Things that are supposedly "done for our own good" are fundamentally fascist at heart.

    Anyone who is hiding something from you is not hiding it for your benefit. They're doing it for their own benefit and the only limit on their own cupidity and greed is their own conscience, ( corporations have no more souls than governments and government "wanna-be"s.)

    Who knows if the Mattel filter is keeping Coleco sites out of your browser? If I was a competitor and a retailer of competing products, I'd ask that the source code be opened up.

    Mattel can't prove that they're not dealing underhandedly as long as the code is closed.

    As any PR person can tell you, its not the answers that hurt you, its the very fact that people can ask questions.

    If Mattel has any brains, they'll open up the code and the database and co-opt their competition into collaborating rather than trying to hide something and looking like they're trying to hide something.

    Apple did the smart thing by opening up their own OS9 iReview and KidSafe site categorization services.

    You don't have to worry about suddenly having your products banned because Apple doesn't like you. And you have recourse if someone claims that you belong in category "A" (which may be off limits to a certain audience,) when you feel you should be in category "B."

    With Mattel, who knows? And that's hard to defend in court...

  • When does the new york battle air? Someone told me, but I've since forgot..

  • It seems that the big push behind Fuji TV sending out the C&D letters was because they now have an Official site up here [ironchef-fujitv.com]. There isn't much there and it is of course under construction (or cooking as they say). They also have a message to the fans that includes the following: "We are presently exploring ways of sharing the appeal of Iron Chef." RastaSaf
  • The Food Network is planning to air the New York Special on June 25th from 9 to 11pm (ET) and again from midnight to 2am (ET).
  • <conspiracy theory mode on>

    It seems a little unusual to me that Mattel is responding in such a consumer-friendly manner. They are going out of their way to help consumers remove this software, and to get the software out of the "suspicion spotlight".

    Perhaps I'm being paranoid, and they are just good guys after all. Or perhaps they're doing it because they're nervous - nervous that somebody might reverse engineer the packets and find out what information they were really sending.

    If it was just splash-screen jpeg's, why wouldn't a damage-control press release have been enough?

    <conspiracy theory mode off>

  • > You forget just how popular Barney and Teletubbies are in comparison to Hamlet.

    I thought Barney and Hamlet were Teletubbies!

  • o/~ Passes legislation at midnight
    When the moment is just right
    The timing is per their usual

    You know the legislation's tragic
    It's passed by smoke and mirrors and magic
    Has effects that are quite unusual

    Fight Virginia...I can't wait to
    Fight Virginia, yeah, yeah, hey hey hey o/~

    (With apologies to Train.)

  • I have been very surprised that the issue of alternate provider access question gets so little attention and activist concern. Phone and power were one luxuries, as bandwidth is today, yet few would argue that these utilities are not 'essential services', as critical to commerce and as potentially life-saving as the (generally gov't maintained) roadways. It would also be difficult to argue that infrastructure maintanence (long term) is been better in the effective monopoly that takes care of our crumbling roadways than in the competitive phone and power grids.

    This morning, President Clinton made an inte rnet-only speech [zdnet.com]. If you weren't on line, you missed it. Sure, it'll be a sound-bite on tonight's news, but in a few months it'll be as routine and boring as Space Shuttle lauches. Communications and information have always been essential legs of democracy. We cannot tolerate a situation where a different message can be so easily fed to the educated and connected 'haves' while being withheld from 'have-nots who may barely be able to afford a $35 second-hand 486. Also,in our history, even localized monopolies have rarely existed without abuses serious enough to bring public outcry and legislative action (the exception being government monopolies, like roads and mail -a fate I don't want to see for the internet)

    (Recall that in the Kennedy-Nixon debates, low bandwidth radio listeners generally felt Nixon won, while high-bandwidth TV viewers gave the victory to Kennedy. Like it or not (I don't), in too many ways to count, the medium impinges the message to such a extent that Marshal McLuhan concluded "the Medium is the Message.")

    Internet access will become more crucial in the next decade. Business will not merely adopt but change its nature with widespread telecommutting, just as it did with automotive commuting in the past half century. It is difficult to imagine what life was like when there was only "urban" and "rural" (often separated solely by a cityline boundary) and one rarely shopped outside ones neighborhood, creating a near-captive market.

    Yet we let the cable companies continue using an argument that has fallen in essentially every other industry: ownership of the Last Mile.

    In the 1700's, most good long distance roads were private due to the cost of construction and maintanance. This was more a service model than a product model, paid through private tolls, bond levies, or subscription. This was a major US industry! Transportion companies (stagecoaches, shippers, etc.) chose the best roads and bridges to patronize, based on their budget and needs, but land travel was rarely the best choice for long diatance transport -- rivers and oceans were. (We all know the story of how San francisco "49'er" miners found it cheaper to send their laundry to Hawaii than to send it overland out of the gold rush zone.

    To show how different this system was: when the car entered the scene, Auto clubs sprang up to create maps and routings of the road network: community- or neighborhood- maintained and private Such maps/routes had previously existed only in the heads of professional transportation workers. Each club painted its own mark and route numbers on landmarks along recommended routes to/from major destinations. (The handbook might read "To enter route #7 to Lancaster, turn left at the creek after the barn by the apple tree. Look for our red Beaver mark!")

    As the auto became more important, the government looked at the recent success of the railways, and chose to move away from a commercial model for roads. (Today, we have much more experience regulating large companies and infrasctructure networks than we did in the days of the robber barons) More government roads were built outside town limits, and state highways and federal Interstates (for defense) were built.

    At that time, most rural areas were largely self-sufficient for food (and it wasn't until almost WWII that the US ceased to be primarily rural). However, one early need for roads was the provision of medical services (physicians were amoing the earliest adopters of cars in the days of the house call) Similarly, today phone access is all but guaranteed, because they are a lifeline to medical services - try calling an ambulance without one!

    For amny reasons, phoines were considered a copelling public good, and phone companies (local bush-lines, medium companies, and of course, Ma Bell, who overshadowed all others) were granted certain legislative advantages to encourage them to wire every home in the country that wanted it. The system paid for itself many times over, and now the local access companies no longer have a true monopoly. They charge for use and maintanance of the 'last mile' copper, but actual services do not have to be purchased from them. You can choose your Long Distance carrier, your DSL ISP, etc., and the local phone compnay collects a few bucks as an access charge.

    Later, a similar sequence of events took place in power generation, which uses a 'product delivery' model, than a service industry model, but has the same 'last mile' copper infrastructure. In many states (including mine), the consumer is free to choose any alternate electricity supplier, and pay a few bucks to the local utility to 'deliver' the power to my home. The actual behind-the-scenes work is an elaborate mesh of accounting reimbursements -- reselling bulk power purchases across disparate and sharing the discount with consumers, and the actual power flow is unchanged. Bulk purchases make life easier for the utilities, which is why a factory may pay almost half what you do for their off-peak usage. The middleman, who hires accountants instead of linemen and reactor workers, is happy with taking a few percent of the discount as profit, and passing the rest to the consumers. It's a crazy process, but it seems to work.

    Today, look at the monopolies (roads, rail, mail, etc.) and look at the 'alternative provider' industries with the same last-mile problem (phone, power private delivery, etc.) Which do you think provide better services, and are better positioned for future services? A 'sole access' monopoly is not even always more profitable before it is forced to open access -- if Bell had remained the sole phone monopoly, I doubt we would have the range of services and alternative networks that we have today. The money that the many Baby Bells make from their many diverse businesses far outshadows hat they could have made solely from stodgey phone services.

    No one likes being made to get up off their butt, but it's often for the best. Contrary to the cable industry's arguments, the captive audience of 'sole access', will always be there tomorrow -- so the majority of cable districts do not have a date set for providing cable internet access. It simply isn't the service they provide. If those customers could -by law- go to other service providers over those cable lines, they'd quickly move to capture the market that was slipping between their fingers
  • Script kiddie Barbie and hax0r Ken. Except Ken's too obviously gay to be a hax0r.

    Mattel is apparently trying for the title of "Most Evil Company of the Century" and they're doing an excellent job of sneaking up on Microsoft, the current shoo-in. They may as well just name Satan as their CEO because, face it, he's running the company anyway. At this point it wouldn't surprise me in the least to hear that they mutilate cute furry animals as well as people with sore hands. If you want my opinion, they should just take the entire board out and shoot them!

  • They are also trying to sell the software division. It is better to clear up any clouds to get a higher price for it.
  • In San Francisco, in the Nihonmachi area, there are video shops where you can rent/buy Japanese videos taped from Japanese TV. (I pursued a don't-ask-don't-tell piracy policy back when I visited such a place.)
    Anyhow, the place I remember in San Francisco was called Tokyo Video.

    Heh. They follow the same policy you did. It's how they keep stuff in stock. They keep the box out where people can see it, but nine times out of ten you end up with a generic tape with a handwritten label.

    And don't forget that the full title is "King of Iron Chef". I was an Iron Chef junkie way back when you could only see it on the Japanese-language channels.

    Seeing it undubbed is more fun than dubbed. You can put words in the commentators' mouths a la "What's Up Tiger Lily". Loads of fun! And it's not like the dubbed version makes a whole lot more sense anyway...

    Zardoz has spoken!
  • OK, let me get this straight. I'm supposed to run a program from Mattel that will remove the programs from Mattel that were secretly placed on my system when I ran a program from Mattel.

    ERROR -9876: Insufficent Caffine to complete Operation.

    ERROR -6647: Gullibility Threshold too low for process.

    ERROR -1: BS threshold exceeded. Mattel dumped.
  • Did you know that Virginia is home to the world's largest naval base--and the Pentagon!?

    I bet the Pentagon is a huge fan of Self-Help.

  • Now you know why North Carolina refers to itself as a vale of humility between two mountains of conceit.
  • At least look logically just because a number of people come here dosn't mean that everyone and thier mother does as well.

    No, everyone & their mother doesn't come here. More importantly, the press does. Exposure on Slashdot has already caused many companies to back off from planned (or already implemented) actions. In addition to the current Mattell example, The Pinkertons backed off considerably from their plans for "The Wave" after unfavorable presson slashdot escalated. Intel & the PIII ID is another example.
  • The ruling said that the local jurisdiction couldn't require broadband access. But the ruling also stated that it was up to the FCC to make such regulations.

    The court said nothing philosophically against the regulation, but it was simply not in the jurisdiction of Portland, OR.
  • Conversely, though, doesn't this prevent localities such as Portland from issuing exclusive franchises for media carrying Internet broadband access, and invalidate those exclusive franchises that already exist?

You know, Callahan's is a peaceable bar, but if you ask that dog what his favorite formatter is, and he says "roff! roff!", well, I'll just have to...