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The Courts

Judge Excludes 3 "John Does" From RIAA Subpoena 225

NewYorkCountryLawyer writes "In one of the RIAA's 'John Doe' cases targeting Boston University students, after the University wrote to the Court saying that it could not identify three of the John Does 'to a reasonable degree of technical certainty,' Judge Nancy Gertner deemed the University's letter a 'motion to quash,' and granted it, quashing the subpoena as to those defendants. In the very brief docket entry (PDF) containing her decision, she noted that 'compliance with the subpoena as to the IP addresses represented by these Defendants would expose innocent parties to intrusive discovery.' There is an important lesson to be learned from this ruling: if the IT departments of the colleges and universities targeted by the RIAA would be honest, and explain to the Courts the problems with the identification and other technical issues, there is a good chance the subpoenas will be vacated. Certainly, there is now a judicial precedent for that principle. One commentator asks whether this holding 'represents the death knell to some, if not all, of the RIAA's efforts to use American university staff as copyright cops.'"
Cellphones

South Carolina Wants To Jam Cell Phone Signals 601

Corey Brook writes "The South Carolina state prison system wants the FCC to grant them and local officers permission to block cell phone signals. News has been out about the growing problem of them perps smuggling cell phones into prisons for a while now. Inmates use cell phones as commerce, to implement fraud, smuggle drugs and weapons, and to order hits. Of course, some may use it to just talk to a loved one any time they can." Hopefully movie theaters and restaurants do it next.
GUI

Debian Packages Screenshots Repository Launched 72

Christoph Haas writes "A picture is worth a thousand words. And thanks to screenshots.debian.net this finally comes true for Debian packages. The new website was launched just a week ago and has already collected screenshots for 740 packages shipping with the Linux distribution — with new uploads pouring in every hour. Debian users can finally get an impression of how an application would look before installing it."
Microsoft

Microsoft Feared Mac Vs. Vista In '05 652

CWmike writes "Gregg Keizer sifted through many threads of e-mails released under the 'Vista Capable' lawsuit to dig up this jewel...More than a year before Windows Vista's release — and long before Apple started poking fun at the OS — Microsoft officials were already worried about comparisons between Mac OS X and Vista. An e-mail thread from October 2005 showed that an article in the Wall Street Journal by Walt Mossberg grabbed the attention of managers at Microsoft. In a column headlined What PC to Buy If You Are Planning On a Vista Upgrade, Mossberg alarmed one Windows manager who forwarded a bit from the column.... 'You won't have to worry about Vista if you buy one of Apple Computer's Macintosh computers, which don't run Windows,' Mossberg had written. 'Every mainstream consumer doing typical tasks should consider the Mac. Its operating system, called Tiger, is better and more secure than Windows XP, and already contains most of the key features promised for Vista.' Warrier added a comment of his own: 'A premium experience as defined by Walt = Apple. This is why we need to address [the column].'"
The Internet

Court Slams Door On Sale of Spyware 51

coondoggie writes "The Federal Trade Commission yesterday had a US District Court issue a temporary restraining order halting the sale of RemoteSpy keylogger spyware. According to the FTC's complaint, RemoteSpy spyware was sold to clients who would then secretly monitor unsuspecting consumers' computers. The defendants provided RemoteSpy clients with detailed instructions explaining how to disguise the spyware as an innocuous file, such as a photo, attached to an email."
Microsoft

Microsoft To Offer Free Anti-Virus Software 448

Dynamoo writes "The good news is that Microsoft have announced free anti-virus software for consumers, dubbed Morro, available late next year. The bad news is ... well, exactly the same. Although Microsoft's anti-malware products are pretty good, this move could drive many competitors out of business and create a dangerous security monoculture; major rivals will be lawyering up already. On the other hand, many malware infections could be prevented even by basic software. So is this going to be a good or bad thing overall?"
Security

McColo Briefly Returns, Hands Off Botnet Control 242

A week ago we discussed the takedown of McColo (and the morality of that action). McColo was reportedly the source of anywhere from 50% to 75% of the world's spam. On Saturday the malware network briefly returned to life in order to hand over command and control channels to a Russian network. "The rogue network provider regained connectivity for about 12 hours on Saturday by making use of a backup arrangement it had with Swedish internet service provider TeliaSonera. During that time, McColo was observed pushing as much as 15MB of data per second to servers located in Russia, according to ... Trend Micro. The brief resurrection allowed miscreants who rely on McColo to update a portion of the massive botnets they use to push spam and malware. Researchers from FireEye saw PCs infected by the Rustock botnet being updated so they'd report to a new server located at abilena.podolsk-mo.ru for instructions. That means the sharp drop in spam levels reported immediately after McColo's demise isn't likely to last."
Windows

HP's Fury At Vista Capable Downgrade 499

More documents are coming out in court proceedings over the Vista Capable debacle. Internetnews.com has good coverage of HP's fury over Microsoft lowering the requirements for a Vista Capable sticker, at Intel's request. "Intel officials may have been pleased that Microsoft lowered standards for obtaining the company's Windows Vista Capable logo program sticker, but the same can't be said about HP's execs. 'I can't be more clear than to say you not only let us down by reneging on your commitment to stand behind the [device driver model] requirement, you have demonstrated a complete lack of commitment to HP as a strategic partner and cost us a lot of money in the process,' said one e-mail from Richard Walker, the senior vice president of HP's consumer business unit, to [Microsoft executives]." PCPro.co.uk follows the trail of accusatory emails inside Microsoft from there: "HP's email prompted then Microsoft co-President, Jim Allchin, to send a furious email of his own to company CEO Steve Ballmer. Allchin's email suggests the decision to lower the requirements was made in his absence by Ballmer, following 'a call between you and Paul [Otellini, Intel CEO].' 'I am beyond being upset here,' Allchin wrote to Ballmer. 'What a mess. Now we have an upset partner, Microsoft destroyed credibility [sic], as well as my own credibility shot.' Ballmer, in turn, blamed another Microsoft executive, Will Poole, in a rather erratically typed reply to Allchin."
Businesses

Circuit City Files For Bankruptcy 574

WillDraven is just one of many who writes to tell us that Circuit City, the United States' 2nd largest consumer electronics retailer, has filed for bankruptcy under chapter 11. This news comes as no surprise as the company has been in financial trouble, recently announcing that it will be closing over one fifth of its stores and laying off 17% of its US employees in the process. "Larger rival Best Buy, which is based in Minneapolis, has said it might take over stores that distressed rivals close. Yet a flood of discounted merchandise from liquidating Circuit City stores could hurt Best Buy during this holiday shopping season, said Jefferies & Co analyst Dan Binder."

Press Favored Obama Throughout Campaign 1601

narcberry writes "After complaints of one-sided reporting, the Washington Post checked their own articles and agreed. Obama was clearly favored, throughout his campaign, in terms of more favorable articles, less criticism, better page real-estate, more pictures, and total disregard for problems such as his drug use. 'Stories and photos about Obama in the news pages outnumbered those devoted to McCain. Reporters, photographers and editors found the candidacy of Obama, the first African American major-party nominee, more newsworthy and historic. Journalists love the new; McCain, 25 years older than Obama, was already well known and had more scars from his longer career in politics. The number of Obama stories since Nov. 11 was 946, compared with McCain's 786. Both had hard-fought primary campaigns, but Obama's battle with Hillary Rodham Clinton was longer, and the numbers reflect that. McCain clinched the GOP nomination on March 4, three months before Obama won his. From June 4 to Election Day, the tally was Obama, 626 stories, and McCain, 584. Obama was on the front page 176 times, McCain, 144 times; 41 stories featured both.'"
Power

Daylight Savings Time Increases Energy Use In Indiana 388

enbody writes "The Freakonomics Blog at NYTimes.com reports on a study of Indiana energy use for daylight savings time showing an increase in energy use of 1%. 'The dataset consists of more than 7 million observations on monthly billing data for the vast majority of households in southern Indiana for three years. Our main finding is that — contrary to the policy's intent — D.S.T. increases residential electricity demand.'" Maybe that's just from millions of coffee makers being pressed into extra duty.
The Courts

Two New Class-Action Suits Against EA Over DRM 336

In September, we discussed a class-action suit filed against Electronic Arts over the DRM in Spore. Now, two new class-action suits have been filed that target the SecuROM software included in a free trial of the Spore Creature Creator (PDF) and in The Sims 2: Bon Voyage (PDF). If this sort of legal reprisal continues to catch on, EA could be seeing quite a few class-action suits in the future. One of the suits accuses: "The inclusion of undisclosed, secretly installed DRM protection measures with a program that was freely distributed constitutes a major violation of computer owners' absolute right to control what does and what does not get loaded onto their computers, and how their computers shall be used ... [SecuROM] cannot be completely uninstalled. Once installed it becomes a permanent part of the consumer's software portfolio ... EA's EULA for Spore Creature Creator Free Trial Edition makes utterly no mention of any Technical Protection Measures, DRM technology, or SecuROM whatsoever."
Government

FTC Wants To Straighten Out IP Law 97

coondoggie writes with this excerpt from NetworkWorld: "What do you get when you mix the government, the court system, company lawyers and Joe Consumer? A serious mess that would send most people screaming into the night. But the Federal Trade Commission is no such entity. It wants to straighten Intellectual Property (IP) out and today said it will hold a series of hearings — the first in Washington, DC on Dec. 5 — it will use to examine IP law and the myriad issues surrounding it. Interested bigwigs from the tech industry, including Cisco, Yahoo and the Computer & Communications Industry Association are expected to testify along with professors, lawyers and other industry players. The patent system has experienced significant change and more changes are under consideration, the FTC said." The FTC held some different, but related hearings this week which addressed topics such as copyright law and DRM interoperability. Transcripts, podcasts, and summaries of the talks are available on the FTC-hosted "Protecting Consumers in the Next Tech-ade" site.
Power

Submission + - The lucky 7 rules for improving confidence with wo (blogmackin.com)

supermack07 writes: Whenever you do anything in life you need to make sure you have a solid base. Confidence and self esteem are your base for becoming a bachelor. You can say all the right things when you first meet a girl but in the long run if your confidence and self esteem are low your gonna lose all chances in hooking up with a cutie.
Biotech

Submission + - Chernobyl Mushrooms Feeding on Radiation

cowtamer writes: According to a National Geographic Article certain fungi can use ionizing radiation to perform "radiosynthesis" using the pigment melanin (the same one in our skin that protects us from UV radiation). It is speculated that this might be useful on long space voyages where energy from the Sun is not readily available.

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