QuietLagoon writes: In a Baltimore Sun op-ed piece, Ralph E. Shaffer and R. William Robinson write, 'With overwhelming bipartisan support, Rep. Jane Harman's "Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act" passed the House 404-6 late last month and now rests in Sen. Joe Lieberman's Homeland Security Committee. Swift Senate passage appears certain.
'Not since the "Patriot Act" of 2001 has any bill so threatened our constitutionally guaranteed rights.
'The historian Henry Steele Commager, denouncing President John Adams' suppression of free speech in the 1790s, argued that the Bill of Rights was not written to protect government from dissenters but to provide a legal means for citizens to oppose a government they didn't trust. Thomas Jefferson's Declaration of Independence not only proclaimed the right to dissent but declared it a people's duty, under certain conditions, to alter or abolish their government....
'Ms. Harman's proposal includes an absurd attack on the Internet, criticizing it for providing Americans with "access to broad and constant streams of terrorist-related propaganda," and legalizes an insidious infiltration of targeted organizations. The misnamed "Center of Excellence," which would function after the commission is disbanded in 18 months, gives the semblance of intellectual research to what is otherwise the suppression of dissent.'
QuietLagoon writes: MSNBC is reporting the results of an Associated Press test that show Comcast blocks some Internet traffic. "Comcast Corp. actively interferes with attempts by some of its high-speed Internet subscribers to share files online, a move that runs counter to the tradition of treating all types of Net traffic equally.
"The interference, which The Associated Press confirmed through nationwide tests, is the most drastic example yet of data discrimination by a U.S. Internet service provider. It involves company computers masquerading as those of its users.
"If widely applied by other ISPs, the technology Comcast is using would be a crippling blow to the BitTorrent, eDonkey and Gnutella file-sharing networks. While these are mainly known as sources of copyright music, software and movies, BitTorrent in particular is emerging as a legitimate tool for quickly disseminating legal content.
"The principle of equal treatment of traffic, called "Net Neutrality" by proponents, is not enshrined in law but supported by some regulations. Most of the debate around the issue has centered on tentative plans, now postponed, by large Internet carriers to offer preferential treatment of traffic from certain content providers for a fee....
QuietLagoon writes: Zenith Electronics Corporation said today that Engineer Robert Adler, who co-invented the TV remote control with fellow Engineer Eugene Polley, has passed on to the big sofa in the sky. In his six-decade career with Zenith, Adler was a prolific inventor, earning more than 180 U.S. patents. He was best known for his 1956 Zenith Space Command remote control, which helped make TV a truly sedentary pastime. The National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences awarded Adler and co-inventor Polley, another Zenith engineer, an Emmy in 1997 for the landmark invention.
QuietLagoon writes: The email transcripts of Microsoft anti-trust trials always make for interesting reading, and the Iowa trial is continuing the tradition. An email from Jim Allchin asks the question of whether Microsoft has lost sight of what matters to its customers:
Exhibit 7264. Almost three years ago, on January 7, 2004, Jim Allchin, the senior executive at Microsoft, sent an E-mail to Microsoft's top two executives, Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer, and the subject was losing our way.
Mr. Allchin says, I'm not sure how the company lost sight of what matters to our customers, both business and home, the most, but in my view we lost our way. I think our teams lost sight of what bug-free means, what resilience means, what full scenarios mean, what security means, what performance means, how important current applications are, and really understanding what the most important problems our customers face are. I see lots of random features and some great vision, but that does not translate into great products. He goes on to say, I would buy a Mac today if I was not working at Microsoft.
QuietLagoon writes: The next version of Windows Media player that will be appearing in Windows Vista has upped the ante for DRM, removing a significant portion of the rights you have to the media content you own. So much so, that a Microsoft VP appears to be advocating the flaunting of DMCA in order to get the content into Zune, "Lots of DVD ripping software out there..."
What do you think about the loss of the rights to use the media you own?