Kadin2048 writes: "In a surprise announcement emailed to customers this evening, Clear — the private company that operated expedited 'verified identity' security lanes in major U.S. airports — announced that they are out of business. Their website was replaced with a single page containing the message: "At 11:00 p.m. PST on June 22, 2009, Clear will cease operations. Clear's parent company, Verified Identity Pass, Inc. has been unable to negotiate an agreement with its senior creditor to continue operations." Bad news for anyone who purchased a Clear card in the hopes of avoiding long lines at the ID checkpoint."
Kadin2048 writes: "According to an article on Wired's blog (via Schneier on Security), encrypted email provider Hushmail, of Vancouver, Canada, released 12 CDs of decrypted emails to authorities in response to a court order. The court order was a result of a U.S. investigation and a mutual assistance treaty between the U.S. and Canada. Although Hushmail uses OpenPGP and other strong cryptographic standards, they were able to turn over decrypted messages because one of their core products, a webmail system that does not require a Java applet on the client side, does its encryption on the server and requires a user to trust Hushmail with their decryption key's passphrase."
Kadin2048 writes: "Earlier today, a group of recording companies won the first file-sharing lawsuit to go before a jury. Jammie Thomas, of Brainerd, Michigan, was ordered to pay the companies $222,000 in damages for sharing 24 songs via the Kazaa network. The verdict creates an unfortunate precedent for future cases: the plaintiff did not have to prove that anyone ever downloaded the songs in question, only that they were 'made available' to the Internet generally. Also, they did not have to prove that Thomas ever had the Kazaa program installed on her computer — they only had to show that it was an IP address assigned to her that made the songs available. There is no word yet on whether she plans to appeal the decision."
Kadin2048 writes: "According to an Air Force Times article, the famed Lockheed Martin "Skunk Works" may be hard at work on a new supersonic spy plane (with 'artist concept') for the U.S. military, to replace the SR-71 "Blackbird" retired a decade ago. Dubbed by some the SR-72, the jet would be unmanned and travel at about 4,000 MPH at as much as 100,000 feet, with "transcontinental" range. Some have speculated that new high-speed spy planes could be a U.S. response to anti-satellite weapons deployed by China, in order to preserve reconnaissance capabilities in the event of a loss of satellite coverage. Neither the Air Force nor Lockheed Martin would comment on the program, or lack thereof."
Kadin2048 writes: "According to an article at Ars, posted yesterday, the proposed final draft of the GPL3 will contain an exemption for Novell's pact with Microsoft. The "Novell clause" would allow Novell to continue using GPL3 code, by exempting 'selective-license' agreements entered into before March 28, 2007. Eben Moglen, Chairman of the Software Freedom Law Center, justified the change, saying "[the license] can do more to protect the community by allowing Novell to use software under GPL version 3 than by forbidding it to do so." The apparent crux of the FSF's position is that by allowing Novell to distribute GPL3 software, the patent agreements between Microsoft and Novell and their direct customers (those who bought 'vouchers'), would percolate down to all Linux users. However, this tactic could backfire, since "the [GPL3 downstream patent-conveyance] provision is only applicable when a patent is licensed to some parties. The actual text of the agreement between Microsoft and Novell — which was largely disclosed in Novell's recent SEC filing — reveals that the patent aspect of the deal consists exclusively of a covenant not to sue and does not actually involve any patent licensing at all." So it would seem that the FSF is gambling: giving Novell/Microsoft to distribute GPL3 software with the special exemption, and hoping that they can use this to their advantage later."
Kadin2048 writes: "Despite reports last week in major news sources indicating that the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) project was in negotiations with Microsoft to bring Windows XP to the low-cost platform, Walter Bender, president of Software and Content at OLPC, said in an interview with Ars Technica, "We are a free and open-source shop. We have no one from OLPC working with Microsoft on developing a Windows platform for the XO.""
Kadin2048 writes: "As reported by Ars Technica, a new bill proposed simultaneously in both the House and Senate would streamline the U.S. patent process. The most welcome changes for the Slashdot crowd are probably a streamlining of the challenge process used to overturn bad patents. However, the other major change — which would award patents to the first person to file a patent on a technology, rather than the first person to invent it, as is currently the case — may be far less welcome. Although many other countries follow a "first to file" rule, the U.S. has traditionally been "first to invent," and many people have noted that a standard based on date-filed may give even more of an advantage to large corporations with resources to file patents faster, and basically wipe out any advantage to the small inventor that the streamlined challenge process would bring. An almost-identical bill was proposed last year, but failed."
Kadin2048 writes: "According to a story in the Financial Times, and reported at Ars, Quanta — the OEM responsible for manufacturing the OLPC laptops — is planning on selling low-cost portables, similar or identical to the OLPC XO, to consumers in developed countries. Although this is good news for many folks who have been hoping to get their hands on an OLPC for themselves, it seems like a missed opportunity for the OLPC project, since unlike the proposals rejected by Negroponte which would have used the profit from First World sales to finance Third World ones, this will only benefit Quanta, not OLPC. No word yet on what software Quanta's OLPC-for-everyone might run."
Kadin2048 writes: "As reported by the BBC and many other sources, one of the witnesses of Saddam Hussein's execution apparently recorded the event using a cell phone, and the recording was subsequently posted to Google Video and YouTube (registration required). The unofficial video caused an immediate furor, particularly as it was at odds with official descriptions of the execution, and has prompted an official inquiry from the Iraqi government."
Kadin2048 writes: "If you've gone to a big-box store and purchased a wireless card recently, you might have had some trouble getting it to work under Linux, or any non-Windows OS for that matter. One reason for this is that more and more manufacturers are producing hardware that are useless without proprietary firmware. While these new designs allow for lower parts counts and thus lower cost, it presents a serious problem for F/OSS software because it can sometimes guarantee no out-of-the-box compatibility. Jem Matzan has produced a detailed article, "The battle for wireless network drivers," on the subject, including interviews with manufacturers' representatives and OS developers, including Theo de Raadt. The bottom line? In general, Asian hardware manufacturers were far more responsive and liberal about firmware than U.S. manufacturers (Intel included). Look for more firmware issues in the future, as not only wireless hardware, but regular wired Ethernet cards, take the driver-loaded firmware approach."
Kadin2048 writes: "The U.S.-based anti-drunk-driving group Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) has announced its new campaign this week, which prominently features technological measures against drunk driving. In particular, MADD is planning a nationwide call for wider use of "ignition interlocks," devices which require a driver to blow into a Breathalyzer in order to start their car, for all convicted drunk drivers and not just repeat offenders. However, the group sees this as only the first stage in a wider plan, which would eventually make Breathalyzer-like devices standard equipment in all U.S. automobiles. According to the N.Y. Times article: "Ms. Ferguson said the most promising technologies would work automatically, like air bags." Automatic, mandatory alcohol sensing has received support from the Governors Highway Safety Association, whose chairman was quoted as saying "When 40 percent of all our crashes are alcohol-involved, I don't think it's going to be that difficult of a sell.""