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Posts from December, 2008

Fairpoint Pledges To Violate Net Neutrality

Dec 28

wytcld writes “Fairpoint Communications, which has taken over Verizon’s landline business in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont, has announced that on February 6 ‘AOL, Yahoo! and MSN subscribers will continue to have access to content but will no longer be able to access their e-mail through the third-party Web site. Instead, Yahoo! and other third-party e-mail will be accessed directly at the MyFairPoint.net portal. Since Verizon spun off its lines to Fairpoint in a maneuver that got debt off of Verizon’s balance sheets by saddling Fairpoint with it, there was concern by the public service boards of the three states about how Fairpoint would deal with that debt. Fairpoint’s profit plan: force all Webmail users through Fairpoint’s portal, by blocking all direct access to Webmail portals other than its own. Will Fairpoint’s own search engine portal be next? What can stop them?”

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RIAA Case May Be Televised On Internet

Dec 28

NewYorkCountryLawyer writes “In SONY BMG Music Entertainment v. Tenenbaum, the Boston case in which the defendant is represented by Prof. Charles Nesson and his CyberLaw class at Harvard Law School, the defendant has requested that audio-visual coverage of the court proceedings be made available to the public via the internet. Taking the RIAA at its word — that the reason for its litigation program is to ‘educate the public’ — the defendant’s motion (PDF) queries why the RIAA would oppose public access: ‘Net access to this litigation will allow an interested and growingly sophisticated public to understand the RIAA’s education campaign. Surely education is the purpose of the Digital Deterrence Act of 1999, the constitutionality of which we are challenging. How can RIAA object? Yet they do, fear of sunlight shone upon them.'”

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CastleCops Anti-Malware Site Closes Down

Dec 28

Fortran IV writes “Volunteer-powered anti-malware site CastleCops appears to have closed shop. As of Tuesday, December 23, the CastleCops home page notes: ‘You have arrived at the CastleCops website, which is currently offline. . . . Unfortunately, all things come to an end.’ It was reported back in June that Paul Laudanski, founder of CastleCops and its parent Computer Cops LLC, was taking a full-time job with Microsoft and was ‘looking for new management’ for CastleCops. The site has also long had problems with funding and with hostile action from spammers. The actual shutdown seems to have taken the security community by surprise; as late as Tuesday evening Brian Krebs was still recommending CastleCops on his Security Fix blog.”

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Apple OS X 10.5.6 Update Breaks Some MacBook Pros

Dec 28

Newscloud writes “As PC Mag reported last week, Apple OS X 10.5.6 can break some MacBook Pros leaving some users (like me) with a dead backlit black screen after the Apple logo appears. While I initially thought I had a hardware failure, it turns out that there is a fix as long as you have an external display, keyboard and mouse. The problem only appears on the second restart, so if you sleep your MacBook a lot as I do, you might not realize the problem is related to the OS update you did the week before. The problem was related to older, incompatible firmware that Software Update wasn’t flagging before the upgrade. This definitely gives weight to the argument for waiting a bit to run software upgrades.”

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UK Culture Secretary Wants Website Ratings, Censorship

Dec 28

kaufmanmoore writes “UK culture secretary Andy Burnham calls for a website rating system similar to the one used for movies in an interview with the Daily Telegraph. He also calls for censorship of the internet, saying, ‘There is content that should just not be available to be viewed.’ Other proposals he mentions in his wide-ranging calls for internet regulation are ‘family-friendly’ services from ISPs, and requiring takedown notices to be enforced within a specific time for sites that host content. Mr. Burnham wants to extend his proposals across the pond and seeks meetings with the Obama administration.”

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Comcast Facing Lawsuit Over Set-Top Box Rentals

Dec 28

Multichannel News reports that a woman from California has initiated a potential class-action lawsuit against Comcast for making customers rent a set-top box without giving them the option to buy it outright. Quoting: “The action, on behalf of Comcast Corp. customer Cheryl Corralejo, alleges that the set-top rental practice represents an ‘unlawful tying arrangement resulting in an impermissible restraint of trade.’ In addition to violating the Sherman Anti-Trust Act, the suit alleges the practice violates business and professions codes. … [It also notes] that premium video and the set-top descramblers are two distinct products, yet the cable providers require that the hardware be rented from cable companies, rather than permitting consumers to purchase the set-top hardware in the open market.

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Chandrayaan M3 Instrument Confirms Iron-Bearing Minerals On the Moon

Dec 28

William Robinson writes with news that the Moon Mineralogy Mapper (M3), an instrument developed by NASA and sent aboard India’s Chandrayaan-1, has confirmed the presence of iron-bearing minerals on the moon. This marks the beginning of an extensive examination of the composition of the lunar surface. “Isro officials said M3 would help in characterising and mapping lunar minerals to ultimately understand the moon’s early geological evolution. ‘The compositional map that will come out of M3 will have fantastic data on geological formation of the moon,’ the official said. Researchers said the relative abundance of magnesium and iron in lunar rocks could help confirm whether the moon was covered by a molten, magma ocean early on in its history. Iron and magnesium will also indicate melting of the moon, if it happened and how it formed later. This metallic element has been found in lunar meteorites, but scientists know little about its distribution in the lunar crust.”

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Managing Last.FM’s "Mountain of Data"

Dec 28

Rob Spengler writes “Last.FM co-founder Richard Jones says the biggest asset the company owns is ‘hundreds of terabytes of user data.’ Jones adds, ‘… playing with that data is one of the most fun things about working at the company.’ Last.FM, for those who have been living on Mars for the last two years, is the largest online radio outlet, with millions of listeners per day. The company surpassed Pandora and others largely due to its unique datamining features: ‘Audioscrobbler,’ the company’s song/artist naming algorithm, can correctly determine a track even with tens of thousands of false entries. Jones says sitting on that much data has even helped police: ‘thieves listening to music on an Audioscrobbler-powered media player have helped police in the US, UK, and other countries track down users’ stolen laptops.’ Does sitting on a mountain of data make Last.FM powerful enough to start making a stand against the record industry? CBS certainly thinks so — they bought the company for £140 (~$200) million last year.”

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Google, Apple, Microsoft Sued Over File Preview

Dec 28

ClaraBow writes with this excerpt from MacWorld: “A small Indiana company has sued tech heavyweights Microsoft, Apple, and Google, claiming that it holds the patent on a common file preview feature used by browsers and operating systems to show users small snapshots of the files before they are opened. … Cygnus’s owner and president Gregory Swartz developed the technology laid out in the patent while working on IT consulting projects, McAndrews said. The company is looking for ‘a reasonable royalty’ as well as a court injunction preventing further infringement, he said. … Cygnus applied for its patent (#7346850) in 2001. It covers a ‘System and method for iconic software environment management’ and was granted by the US Patent and Trademark Office in March of this year.”

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Can the Auto Industry Retool Itself To Build Rails?

Dec 28

knapper_tech writes “The scope of the auto industry troubles continues to increase in magnitude. The call to retool and develop new vehicles has been made several times already, but with all of the challenges from labor prices and foreign competition, how exactly can the industry retool itself to be more competitive? In light of superior competition facing losses, there doesn’t seem to be enough room in the industry moving forward. In the context of finding a new place in the auto industry, the future isn’t bright. Calls for no disorderly collapse of the cash-strapped big three and a reluctant congress can only point to an underlying lack of direction. However, consider two other standing economic challenges. The airlines have continued to struggle due to fuel prices and heightened security. Consumers backed off of SUV’s due to high fuel prices, and while those prices have eased in the face of global recession, the trend will pick up again with growth in China and India leading the fight for resources. In short, things are moving less, and the industries that support the movement are in need of developing new products while consumers are in need of a cheaper method of transportation.” Read on for the rest of knapper_tech’s thoughts.

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