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FSF's "Defective By Design" Targets Apple Genius Bars 838

mjasay writes "At OSCON this year, MySQL's Brian Aker made this bold statement: 'Microsoft is irrelevant ... We're more worried about Apple.' The Free Software Foundation appears to have caught the hint, and has turned its attention to all-things-Apple with a 'denial of service' attack on the Apple Genius Bars. The idea is to completely book all Genius Bars and then ask the 'geniuses,' over and over again, a few questions about Apple's proprietary ways (while, apparently, real customers with support issues are left to flounder). Lost in this anti-Apple fervor, however, is the Free Software Foundation's complete and conscious failure to protect the web. Richard Stallman has long felt that software that doesn't sit on his desktop doesn't affect his freedom, but isn't the opposite true? Why is the FSF focused on Apple when the bigger concern should be Google, Yahoo!, Amazon, and other web players, a point made by Tim O'Reilly recently at OSCON?" Defective by Design is just one of many FSF projects, remember; it hardly seems fair to say that the FSF has been ignoring the implications of software as a service.
The Courts

U. Maine Law Students Trying To Shut RIAA Down 229

NewYorkCountryLawyer writes "Remember those pesky student attorneys from the University of Maine School of Law's Cumberland Legal Aid Clinic, who inspired the Magistrate Judge to suggest monetary fines against the RIAA lawyers? Well they're in the RIAA's face once again, and this time they're trying to shut down the RIAA's whole 'discovery' machine: the lawsuits it files against 'John Does' in order to find out their names and addresses. They've gone and filed a Rule 11 motion for sanctions (PDF), seeking — among other things — an injunction against all such 'John Doe' cases, arguing that the cases seek to circumvent the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act which protects student privacy rights, are brought for improper purposes of obtaining discovery, getting publicity, and intimidation, and are in flagrant violation of the joinder rules and numerous court orders. If the injunction is granted, the RIAA will have to go back to the drawing board to find another way of finding out the identities of college students, and the ruling — depending on its reasoning — might even be applicable to the non-college cases involving commercial ISPs."

Open Source Patent Donations? 185

patspam writes "As a software engineer I come up with patentable ideas every now and then, ideas which I'm not interested in pursuing myself but which I'd like to keep out of the hands of private entities/patent trolls in my own personal effort to defeat software patents. Should I patent the ideas and donate them to some sort of open source foundation? Or just blog about the ideas so that the 'prior art' exists in the public domain? What's your strategy for fighting against restrictive software patents?"

Users Know Advertisers Watch Them, and Hate It 243

Chris Blanc tips an Ars writeup on a survey of consumer attitudes toward targeted advertising. The results of the survey, conducted for TRUSTe, confirm that advertisers are in a tough spot. "[The survey company] randomly selected 1,015 nationally representative adults... Although only 40 percent of the group was familiar with the term 'behavioral targeting,' most users were well aware of the practice. 57 percent reported that they weren't comfortable their activities [were being] tracked for advertising purposes, even if the information couldn't be tied to their names or real-life identities. Simultaneously, 72 percent of those surveyed said that they find online advertising annoying when the ads are not relevant to their needs..."

NXP RFID Cracked 111

kamlapati sends us to EETimes for news that the Chaos Computer Club in Germany and researchers from the University of Virginia have cracked the encryption scheme used in a common RFID chip, NXP's Mifare Classic. According to the article the device is used in many contactless smartcard applications including fare collection, loyalty cards, and access control cards. NXP downplays the significance of the hack, saying that that model of RFID card uses old technology and they do a much better job these days.

Long-Dead ORDB Begins Returning False Positives 265

Chapter80 writes "At noon today (Eastern Standard Time), the long dead ORDB spam identification system began returning false positives as a way to get sleeping users to remove the ORDB query from their spam filters. The net effect: all mail is blocked on servers still configured to use the ORDB service, which was taken out of commission in December of 2006. So if you're not getting any mail, check your spam filter configuration!"

India Votes Against OOXML 171

harsha_c sends in a local Indian perspective on the vote against Microsoft's OOXML ahead of the March 29 deadline. Of 19 companies participating, only 5 voted in favor of OOXML. "It was the ultimate battle for control over global IT standard for documents — between Microsoft-promoted OOXML and Sun and IBM-backed Open Document Format. It was played out between Indian IT giants, namely Infosys, Wipro, TCS supported by Nasscom on one side and the global IT biggies like IBM, Sun Microsystems, Red Hat backed by te IITs, IIMs and IISc on the other, on their respective positions on Microsoft's OOXML standard. Microsoft understandably expressed its disspointment. 'While we are disappointed with the decision of the BIS committee, we are encouraged by the support from NASSCOM.'

Microchip Powered by Body Heat 73

An anonymous reader writes "MIT and Texas Instruments researchers have designed a chip that they say could be up to 10 times more energy efficient than current technology. The chip's power consumption is so low that devices with the chip may even be able to be recharged using the owner's body heat." The intent is to use these in medical applications like pacemakers where one would expect to have the free power source.

Smartphones Patented — Just About Everyone Sued 1 Minute Later 407

This week the US Patent and Trademark Office issued a surprisingly (although I guess it shouldn't be) broad patent for a "mobile entertainment and communication device". Upon closer inspection you may notice that it pretty much outlines the ubiquitous smartphone concept. "It's a patent for a mobile phone with removable storage, an internet connection, a camera and the ability to download audio or video files. The patent holding firm who has the rights to this patent wasted no time at all. At 12:01am Tuesday morning, it filed three separate lawsuits against just about everyone you can think of, including Apple, Nokia, RIM, Sprint, ATT, HP, Motorola, Helio, HTC, Sony Ericsson, UTStarcomm, Samsung and a bunch of others. Amusingly, the company actually first filed the lawsuits on Monday, but realized it was jumping the gun and pulled them, only to refile just past the stroke of midnight. "

MySpace Private Pictures Leak 405

Martin writes "We all heard about the MySpace vulnerability that allowed everyone to access pictures that have been set to private at MySpace. That vulnerability got closed down pretty fast. Unfortunately though (for MySpace) someone did use an automated script to run over 44,000 profiles that downloaded all private pictures which resulted in a 17 Gigabyte zip file with more than 560,000 pictures. The zip file is now showing up on popular torrent sites across the net."

Math on iPhones Just Doesn't Add Up? 289

Tech Dirt is reporting that recently announced numbers by Apple and AT&T suggest that there is a large gap (1.7 million) between the number of iPhones being sold and those being activated. Taking into account factors like the iPhone launching outside the US and a 20% estimate of people buying the iPhone just for the purposes of unlocking, there are still 700,000 iPhones unaccounted for. "[...] suggesting that they're sitting on store shelves, piling up as unsold inventory. That number suggests at least some gap between perceived demand and actual demand -- while also raising questions about how much effort it will take to eat through that inventory."

Submission + - MTV's Kurt Loder Lambastes Moore's 'Sicko' (

An anonymous reader writes: Kurt's thoughtful review of 'Sicko' is an excellent example of a true moderate perspective on the healthcare problem. That he can temper idealism with the complexity of the real world so well, shows that he is getting way too old for MTV.

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