h4rm0ny writes: "Yesterday, Microsoft, in co-operation with Federal agents, conducted what the Wall Street Journal described as "sweeping legal attacks" as they enterered facilities in Kansas City, Scranton, Pa, Denver, Dallas, Chicago, Seattle and and Columbus, Ohio to seize alleged "command and control" machines for the Rustock botnet — described as the largest source of Spam in the World.
The operation is intended to "decapitate" the botnet, preventing the sezied machines from sending orders to suborned PCs around the world."
h4rm0ny writes: "The BBC reports that the United Arab Emirates, that bastion of privacy and free speech, now wants to ban the Blackberry — very popular in that country — because it can't spy on the emails people send using them. The UAE's telecomm regulatory body (TRA) is threatening to make the Blackberry illegal unless RIM, the company that makes them, hands over encryption keys that would let it spy on Blackberry users. This follows the underhanded attempt by the TRA last year when it sent Blackberry users a text telling them to download an update that would improve performance, which in fact was surveillance software to allow the UAE government to send copies of received messages back to them. This was covered by Slashdot last year.
RIM has yet to comment on this but is unlikely to open up their devices to the UAE government. Not being spied upon is one of the selling points for the Blackberry in that country."
h4rm0ny writes: "In breaking news, Intel have just been fined a record 1.1bn by the EU for anti-competitive practices. This is the lawsuit filed by AMD previously covered here. The lawsuit where AMD accused Intel of "good old fashioned knee-capping". Intel has already been found guilty in equivalent lawsuits in Japan and South Korea. The new fine is more than double the previous EU record which was the fine of 497m against Microsoft.
It's this sort of imbalance in the market that is one of the reasons I've always preferred buying AMD chips."
h4rm0ny writes: "Very sad news for some of us today. The actor Patrick McGoohan who played the eponymous prisoner Number Six in the bizarre British TV series, The Prisoner, died last night. (Also covered by the BBC). The Prisoner was some of the most bizarre and original sci-fi ever broadcast on TV and ran for seventeen episodes and is the reason some people of a certain age bizarrely say "I am not a number. I am a free man" without warning and for no apparent reason. The Prisoner was THE counter-culture series for many of us and its themes of surveillance, media control and reduction of humanity to mere numbers, resonate even more today than they did back then. He'll be missed."
h4rm0ny writes: "Last Friday, staff at the European Patent Office went on strike. They protested outside for several hours and issued a statement claiming that "the organisation is decentralising and focusing on granting as many patents as possible to gain financially from fees generated." They also declared this as being disastrous for innovation and that their campaign was not for better wages, but for better quality patents.
Meanwhile, an article on it discusses the US's own approach to dealing with the increasing flood of patent applications: A community patent project to help identify prior art. It might sound like a grass roots scheme, and maybe it is, but those roots include such patent behemoths as IBM. So it looks like on both sides of the Atlantic, some signs of sanity might be emerging in the patent world from those people right in the thick of it. So hopefully flying cars soon...:)"
h4rm0ny writes: "The BBC is covering the story of how US hosting company Network Solutions has suspended the account of a Dutch politician who wished to distribute a short film he had produced on the subject of Islam saying the film may have contravened its guidelines on hate speech. The film is critical of Islam (though the maker says not of muslims themselves).The guidelines of Network Solutions forbid both "Hate Propaganda" and "Profane" material. This raises disturbing questions of what is considered 'propaganda' and that something being "profane" should be considered a legitimate reason to suppress material is very disturbing. As well as whether companies have the right to censor material. Note that I haven't seen the film as the site now contains only a short message from the hosting company. However, a brief search of the torrents reveals several hits for the movie (called "Fitna" from an arabic word for religious strife) so it looks like it's out there and available to any that want to see it whether people want to stop it or not."
h4rm0ny writes: "It may seem a facetious question but every good scientist knows that a theory requires supporting evidence. Hence at the Medical University of Vienna, scientists were required to dance their Phd.. Graduates, Post-docs and professors were asked to represent their theses without speech, but purely through dance, except for a sixty-second preface. Not only does John Bohannon give a gripping account of the evening (with excellent illustrations), but the videos show loin-clothed students and a truly beautiful representation of Single Photon Upconversion — with a sheet."
h4rm0ny writes: "The story is brief but wonderful. After previously limiting their iPlayer only to the Windows platform (as covered on Slashdot here and here, the BBC's content is now available to users of Linux and Macs. From their site:
From today we are pleased to announce that streaming is now available on BBC iPlayer. This means that Windows, Mac and Linux users can stream programmes on iPlayer as long as their computer has the latest version of Flash. Another change is that you do not have to register or sign in any more to download programmes, and Windows XP and Vista users will have an improved version of Download Manager (formerly the Library) available to them.
It seems that the BBC have listened to people who petitioned them for broader support and an open format. Well Flash isn't exactly open but its a lot more ubiquitous than Windows Media and Real Player formats. Sadly for the rest of the World, you're going to have to go through the usual proxy Hell to get at this, as it's for us in the UK only. Now this sort of response to demand is why we pay our licence fee!"