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United States

Submission + - Here come the thought police

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.'
Software

Submission + - Intuit can't get Quicken stock quotes to work

QuietLagoon writes: It seems that Intuit, the provider of financial for PCs amd Macs is unable to reliably provide stock quote data to its customers. While Intuit seems to pride itself on innovation, it seems to be unable to provide a basic service to its customers in a reliable manner.

Has Intuit peaked? Will Intuit be able to get back on the reliability track again?
Censorship

Submission + - Comcast blocks some Internet traffic

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....
Patents

Submission + - Apple in big legal trouble with burst.com

knutsdood writes: First Apple sued Burst.com then Burst.com countersued Apple. This is the same burst.com that sued Microsoft and settled for $60 Million. Judge Patel has laid down the Markman ruling and is tremendously in favor or burst.com. This case won't even go to trial. Apple, grab your checkbook. iPod owners, prepare for more expensive iTunes. http://messages.finance.yahoo.com/Stocks_(A_to_Z)/ Stocks_B/forumview?bn=24325 http://www.burst.com/new/newsevents/Apple_Burst_ma rkman_ruling.pdf
Television

Submission + - Inventor of the TV remote dies

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.
Science

Two Snowflakes May Be Alike After All 180

An anonymous reader writes "LiveScience is reporting that it may be possible for two snowflakes to be alike after all. For anyone who studies probability, this seems reasonable, given that the article mentions that 10^24 snowflakes fall in any given year. The article contains links to fascinating snowflake pictures. From the article: 'A typical snow crystal weighs roughly one millionth of a gram. This means a cubic foot of snow can contain roughly one billion crystals ... "It is probably safe to say that the possible number of snow crystal shapes exceeds the estimated number of atoms in the known universe," Nelson said. Still, while "no two snowflakes are alike" might hold true for larger snowflakes, Nelson figures it might ring false for smaller crystals that sometimes fall before they have a chance to fully develop. "How likely is it that two snowflakes are alike? Very likely if we define alike to mean that we would have trouble distinguishing them under a microscope and if we include the crystals that hardly develop beyond the prism stage--that is, the smallest snow crystals," Nelson said.'"
Programming

Submission + - The birth of a FOSS application

Joe Barr writes: "Brice Burges explains why and how he created a new free software application, as well as what he learned from the birthing process, in a story on Linux.com. The story provides first-hand insights into the frustrations and satisfactions of developers working on free/open source projects."
Privacy

Submission + - Tom from MySpace is Phishing 148,000,000 Friends!

SkyDude writes: "From Wired Blogs: If we spent our time reporting every scam, phishing attack and other security hack that hit MySpace we wouldn't have time for anything else, but this one is funny. Someone apparently hacked MySpace's "Tom" account (the default friend for all new members) to send out a link to a phishing scam. Not news really until you consider that the Tom account has roughly 148,059,490 friends. What we'd like to know is how much money a phishing attack against MySpace can really generate — do they ask the marks to steal their parent's credit cards or something? [via Digg]
http://blog.wired.com/monkeybites/2007/01/the_morn ing_reb_9.html"

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