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Submission + - Desktop as a cellphone extension

spaceman375 writes: Like many slashdotters, I've given up on landlines and have only a cell account. The problem: when I am home I don't want to carry my phone on my person, AND I don't want to have to run (possibly up or down stairs) to answer a call. Landlines solved this with extensions. I could go buy an xlink or other bluetooth to POTS solution, but that takes money for equipment. My desktop has bluetooth, as do my laptop and cell. All I want is a program that can use my cell's bluetooth to make and receive calls from my linux PC. I can do this with asterisk or related programs, but that is like buying UPS when I just need a taxi ride. Yet all I can find are programs that either use "presence" to shift other-sourced calls to my cell, or ways to use a bluetooth headset when receiving a call on a pc. Has anyone found a way to use their desktop to make and receive calls through their cell via bluetooth?

Submission + - British think-tank relases Iran vote analysis 1

spacefiddle writes: "Chatham House has released a PDF that provides a statistical analysis of the 2009 vote, comparing it to previous elections. The Guardian's live blog of events in Iran (2.16pm entry) provides a link as well, and highlights some of the key points, including minor details such as more voter turnout than voters in two provinces.

Being a statistical analysis, the paper does not conclude whether the election was legitimate or not, but the numbers provided seem to indicate "not bloody likely.""

Submission + - Problems with 2g iPhone Hand-Offs (me.com)

An anonymous reader writes: Some user comments on Slashdot have indicated that the 2g iPhone is having some serious problems when doing hand-offs from one cell/tower to another. Here is a write-up that describes the scenario, with screenshots of Field Test mode that suggests that there may be something serious going wrong between AT&T, T-Mobile and the software on the iPhone that is causing it to select the wrong service cells.
The Courts

Submission + - How RIAA Case Should Have Played Out (blogspot.com)

NewYorkCountryLawyer writes: "If a regular 'country lawyer' like myself had taken a case like the RIAA's in Capitol Records v. Thomas-Rasset to court, he or she would have been laughed out of the courthouse. But when it's the RIAA suing, the plaintiffs are awarded a $1.92 million verdict for infringement of $23.76 worth of song files. That's because RIAA litigation proceeds in a parallel universe, which on its face looks like litigation, but isn't. On my blog I fantasize as to how the trial would have ended had it taken place not in the 'parallel universe', but in the real world of litigation. In that world, the case would have been dismissed. And if the Judge had submitted it to the jury instead of dismissing, and the jury had ruled in favor of the RIAA, the 'statutory damages' awarded would have been less than $18,000."

Submission + - SSN Required to Buy Palm Pre, Sprint Says

UltraOne writes: Sprint requires your Social Security Number in order to run a credit check before they will allow you to open an account, according to a Store Manager in Silver Spring, MD. Since Sprint is the exclusive carrier for the Palm Pre, if you are not willing to provide a SSN, you can't buy this product.

I was eager to purchase the Palm Pre to replace my aging Zire 72s, and also consolidate my PDA and mobile phone into a single device. Since reviews have generally positive, I headed to my local Sprint store (8501 Fenton Street, Silver Spring, MD). My current mobile carrier is Verizon, so I also needed to set up service with Sprint.

The store had the Pre in stock, and the sale proceeded smoothly until the Sales Associate asked me for my social security number. He had already verified my identity with a driver's license. When I asked why the SSN was needed, he said it was to run a credit check, I offered a credit card instead, but he said that the SSN was required.

I asked to speak to the manager, who was a pleasant young woman, but not able to resolve the problem. She confirmed that Sprint required the SSN to run a credit check (through a credit bureau) before opening an account. I told her that I understood Sprint had an interest in making sure that I could pay for the service (I was planning to get the $70/month Everything Data 450 plan), but that I was concerned about identity theft and privacy. I offered several other options, including a check on my credit card limit (which is an order of magnitude greater than the combined price of the phone and two-year contract), placing the maximum deposit that Sprint requires from people with poor credit ($500), or pre-paying the entire two-year plan on the spot. None of these were acceptable options, so Sprint lost the sale.

I believe a full credit check for this level of consumer purchase is a clear example of overkill. I have supplied a SSN when buying a house and renting an apartment, but never for any other consumer purchase. I have purchased my cars with cash so far, so I don't have first hand experience, but a car loan also seems to be an appropriate place to require a SSN for a credit check. At the very least, Sprint should have an alternative (such as the ones that I offered to the manager) for people who don't want to give out their SSN. I also found the entire experience a powerful argument against exclusive license agreements.

Submission + - Bozeman, MT Drops Password Info Requirement (montanasnewsstation.com) 1

mcmoodle writes: Bozeman, Montana has decided that they don't want applicant personal information after all, citing a worldwide backlash on the issue:

"Effective at noon today the city of Bozeman permanently ceased the practice of requesting that candidates selected for positions under a provisional job offer to provide their usernames or passwords for candidates internet sites," said Chris Kukulske, Bozeman City Manager."

The article continues:
"Kukulski says after a 90 minute staff meeting held earlier today, officials decided asking applicants to provide their passwords to sites such as Facebook or MySpace, 'exceeded that which is acceptable to our community.' Kukulski apologized for the negative impact the issue has generated from news organizations and blogs around the world."

I didn't have any doubt this would be immediately squashed. Now I'm just curious as to how many personal accounts they actually went through!


Submission + - Herschel telescope sees first light (esa.int)

siddesu writes: Herschel, the infra-red space telescope, opened its eyes on 14 June 2009, precisely one month after the launch. It carried out test observations labeled a 'sneak preview' making use of time initially allocated to 'thermal stabilization', following a request to attempt producing an early observational result. Here's the first pictures and more.

Submission + - Google's smart-grid technology plans for plug in h (examiner.com)

Johnathan Martinez writes: "Google is reportedly working on new software to deal with the future energy grid problems that plug in hybrids could cause. There is a fear that in the future when millions of plug in hybrids are being charged at peak times could cause a real drain on the grid. Google's "smart charging" software uses what they call "vehicle dispatch algorithms" to decide how to best charge the cars. The algorithms work better with wind and solar power, which will be an increasing source of energy in the future."

Submission + - Ray Bradbury Hates the Internet (nytimes.com) 1

untorqued writes: The New York Times recently ran an article about Ray Bradbury. A longtime fan of libraries, he's recently been raising money to help bridge the budget gap for a library in Ventura, California.. He's no fan of the Internet, though:

"The Internet is a big distraction," Mr. Bradbury barked from his perch in his house in Los Angeles, which is stuffed silly with enormous stuffed animals, videos, DVD's, wooden toys, photographs and books, with things like the National Medal of Arts sort of tossed on a table. "Yahoo called me eight weeks ago," he said, voice rising. "They wanted to put a book of mine on Yahoo! You know what I told them? 'To hell with you. To hell with you and to hell with the Internet.' " "It's distracting," he continued. "It's meaningless, it's not real. It's in the air somewhere." A Yahoo spokeswoman said it was impossible to verify Mr. Bradbury's account without more details.

At least he used the singular forms of Yahoo and Internet.

United States

Submission + - House Democrats Unveil Plan for Health Care (nytimes.com)

gollum123 writes: "House Democrats on Friday answered President Obama's call for a sweeping overhaul of the health care system by putting forward a 852-page draft bill that would require all Americans to obtain health insurance, force employers to provide benefits or help pay for them, and create a new public insurance program to compete with private insurers — a move that Republicans will bitterly oppose ( http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/06/19/house-democrats-unveil-plan-for-health-care-overhaul/?hp ). But the chairmen said they still did not know how much the plan would cost, even as they pledged to pay for it by cutting Medicare spending and imposing new, unspecified taxes. The three chairmen described their bill as a starting point in a weeks-long legislative endeavor that they said would dominate Congress for the summer and ultimately involve the full panorama of stakeholders in the health care industry, which accounts for about one-sixth of the nation's economy. House Republicans, who have had no involvement in the development of the health legislation so far, quickly denounced the Democrats' proposal as a thinly disguised plan for an eventual government takeover of the health care system. The House Democrats' plan is one of three distinct efforts underway on Capitol Hill to draft the health overhaul legislation. In the Senate, both the Finance Committee and the health committee have separate bills in the works, and in recent days those efforts seem to have stumbled."

Submission + - Microsoft 'offers' $10k to IE users (ostatic.com)

ruphus13 writes: In the latest attempt to battle the declining share of Internet Explorer, Microsoft is dipping into its huge cash reserves to provide 'incentives' to people to switch to IE. In a new move, Microsoft is offering $10,000 in prize money that is 'buried' somewhere on the Internet, but can only be retrieved by using IE. Of course, several people will use IE, and a few will hopefully continue to do so even after 'discovery'. From the post, "How desperate is Microsoft to woo users to its Internet Explorer version 8 browser? Mozilla Chair Mitchell Baker points out in a blog post that Microsoft is now offering $10,000 in prize money "buried somewhere on the Internet" which you can only find if you use Internet Explorer. Come on Microsoft, Internet Explorer needs a lot more than this marketing campaign to shore up its prospects...Until Microsoft fosters the kind of free, open extensibility for its browser that Firefox has, it remains doomed to watch Internet Explorer continue to lose market share."
The Media

Submission + - Hollywood's walking dead

ragerover writes: "Hollywood biz blogger Nikki Finke has posted a telling story http://www.deadlinehollywooddaily.com/new-report-says-hollywood-is-holding-back-its-best-content-from-the-web/ on how content providers can regain control of their product: The lede: "Technophiles who think that the Internet is going to topple Hollywood studios, TV networks, and cable companies have their heads up their asses. That's what the analysts at Bernstein Research say — in more polite language, of course — inside the 80-page transcript out today from their confab this past Monday called 'Web Video... Friend or Foe And To Whom?' The answer, it seems, is that Big Media can put the brakes on progress long enough to figure out how they'll get paid.""

Submission + - Obama taps IBM Open Source Advocate for USPTO (uspto.gov)

langelgjm writes: President Obama has announced his intent to nominate David Kappos, a VP and general counsel at IBM, to head the US Patent and Trademark Office. This move is particularly notable not only because of IBM's much friendlier attitudes towards open source compared with some of their rivals, but also because Kappos himself is open source-friendly: "We are now the biggest supporters of the open source development project," explains David. "Admittedly this policy is not easily reconcilable with our traditional IP strategy, but we are convinced that it is the way to go for the future."

Not just a lawyer, Kappos earned an engineering degree before working in the legal field. Kappos has been described as "critical of the American approach to patent policy." Given his background, could this mean a new era for US patent policy?

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