October 27, 2006
Hacking The Vote
Want to hack a voter machine? Find out how in this nifty article in Ars Technica. Actually, no one should do this. The main point here is how plausible compromising electronic voting can be.
Sony Directors Bought Grey Market PSPs Company Sued Vendor Over
Does anyone at Sony have any concept of corporate embarrassment? That question is based on the latest development in the company's battle against grey market imports in Europe of its Playstation Portable. It successfully litigated in Europe against the Lik-sang web site, popular with gamers, over illegal imports of Japanese equipment to European customers. What's also interesting is that the site closed and named Sony Directors (by name) as purchasers. Sony claims the directors bought the items to check quality control. Yeah, right.
October 26, 2006
Spamhaus to Appeal Default Judgment - Domain Name Safe
Naperville (IL) attorney David Fish writes in his Litigation Blog about the developments in the Spamhaus litigation going on in the Northern District in Illinois. As last we left the news, U.K. based Spamhaus answered the complaint of E360 Insight, who claimed that Spamhaus unfairly labeled them as spammers and caused their email to consumers to be blocked. Then Spamhaus abandoned the litigation against it assuming that the U.S. Court had no jurisdiction and no way to enforce its monetary judgment against them.
Judge Charles Kocoras, however, considered a draft order that would require ICANN to revoke the domain name of Spamhaus, and boy, did that get their attention. Insert appropriate Stephen Colbert spit take. ICANN has said in statements that the court should direct the order to the Canadian registrar, Tucows, who oversees the .org domain rather than looking to the California based corporation that oversees the technical aspects of the Internet.
The final order, however, rejected pulling the domain name as that would affect the legal activities performed by Spamhaus. So, that leaves the $11.7 million default judgment which Spamhaus will appeal.
Fish reports in his Litigation Blog that the powerhouse (or should that be powerhaus) law firm of Jenner and Block has signed on to represent Spamhaus on a pro bono basis. J & B, he notes, sees the case as a First Amendment issue in light of how people can define spam and issue that opinion globally. The "opinion" designation is important as a qualifier as it qualifies the circumstances for defamation to be legally proved in court. But as Fish rightly points out, this is a default judgment and the facts in the case are not based on a real trial record. Walking away from the case has made Spamhaus' position on appeal tenuous.
Other stories Mr. Fish writes about include suits against eBay based on the sale of items that infringe on third party intellectual property, and a suit against Motorola over hearing damage allegedly caused by the design of Bluetooth headsets.
Craigslist to go after Deceptive Renters in NYC
Craigslist is going after shady rental listings on the site's New York City page. Apartment brokers placing ads on the site do not always (read hardly ever) tell potential renters that the property comes with a "commission" that costs up to 15% of a year's rent. Well they do, but at the moment the lease is about to be signed.
The New York City Council investigated and has now asked the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs to investigate deceptive ads. Craigslist will (enthusiastically) cooperate with the investigation.
The story is in the San Francisco Chronicle. Craigslist was founded in SF.
October 25, 2006
Amazon tells Google "No" to Subpoena in Scan Trial
Amazon responded to the Google subpoena in the latter's defense against the copyright violation suit brought against it by various organizations and individuals. Google had requested information from Amazon, Yahoo, and Microsoft about similar scan projects. Amazon filed the standard "unduly burdensome" and "trade secret" objections. They directed Google to public web pages that give details on how the project works, as if Google should be satisfied with that. The judge will have the last say on it, though. Stay tuned.
More details are in CNET.
Florida Man Charged in Bot Attack on Akamai
A Florida man was charged with breaking into protected computers at two unnamed universities, and then using bot networks created via those hacks to initiate denial of service attacks against Akamai. 32 year old John Bombard (interesting name given the allegations) was charged in Boston with two counts of intentionally accessing protected computers without authorization. He faces up to two years in prison, another year of supervised release and $400,000 in fines. Akamai distributes web content for their customers, including the United States Supreme Court. The attack on Akamai took place on June 15, 2004.
Bush Uses Google
It was reported in Dan Froomkin's White House Briefing column in the Washington Post. This was in reference to an interview the President gave to Maria Bartiromo of CNBC that Froomkin noted via references in the Wall Street Journal. Here are the quotes:
"In a CNBC interview with Maria Bartiromo, Bush was asked a question on many of our minds: 'I'm curious, have you ever Googled anybody? Do you use Google?'
"According to CNBC's unofficial transcript, he replied: 'Occasionally. One of the things I've used on the Google is to pull up maps. It's very interesting to see that. I forgot the name of the program, but you get the satellite and you can -- like, I kind of like to look at the ranch on Google, reminds me of where I want to be sometimes. Yeah, I do it some.' He added: 'I tend not to email or -- not only tend not to email, I don't email, because of the different record requests that can happen to a president. I don't want to receive emails because, you know, there's no telling what somebody's email may -- it would show up as, you know, a part of some kind of a story, and I wouldn't be able to say, `Well, I didn't read the email.' `But I sent it to your address, how can you say you didn't?' So, in other words, I'm very cautious about emailing.'"
So, President Bush uses Google, not Yahoo, not MSN. Perhaps the President was afraid the latter two companies would turn his search history over to the government without a proper court issued subpoena.
The reference to Dan Froomkin's story is here. The point in question is noted on the 5th page of the story.
October 23, 2006
iPod Turns 5 Years Old
Happy birthday to the iPod. It turns 5 today. The handheld has transformed the music landscape as much as the original Sony Walkman did way back when the world was analog. The device helped Apple get back to the mainstream with 60,000,000 of them sold to consumers, and in combination with the iTunes store, jump started legal music download sales. This is a great accomplishment. I still don't own one, so I guess the market isn't saturated. Zune is coming as the latest challenger to iPod. As in the 60s, and 70s, many a competitor came to dethrone Johnny Carson as the reigning king of late night television. Will Zune be David Letterman or Alan Thicke?
Cambridge Puts Up Darwin Archive on the Web
Don't tell them in Topeka, but the University of Cambridge has placed the papers and collected writing of Charles Darwin online in a free digitized archive. Split windows show the text against an image of Darwin books, including the Origin of the Species and other texts. Here are some of the highlights from the site's description of the content:
- The first ever complete collection of all Darwin's publications. Many have never been reproduced and almost all appear online for the first time. See Publications.
- Each text is absolutely complete, nothing is omitted (as so often with online texts). The digitizations on Darwin Online begin with the cover and include every page without exception, including end pages and publishers' advertizements. It's as close to holding the book in one's hand as the internet can be.
- Never before published transcriptions of some of Darwin's handwritten manuscripts, such as the field notebook used on the Galapagos islands.
- Audio Darwin: Darwin's works available as free mp3 downloads for the blind, vision impaired and audio book readers.
There are more than 50,000 pages and 40,000 illustrations available. The site has been up since October 19th and has registered over 224,000 hits between then and now.
The site is available here.
Another Brick in the Paten Wall: IBM Sues Amazon
IBM sued Amazon today over patents that IBM says are a big part of Amazon's operation. Among the claims are the ability to order items from an electronic catalog and the technology used to make recommendations to customers. This describes technology used at virtually every e-commerce store, although IBM has been successful at licensing their patents with other vendors. IBM says they informed Amazon of the infringing behavior four years ago and that Amazon has shown no interest in addressing the issue. Amazon did not issue any comment about the suit. IBM should feel safe in assuming that a complaint in federal district court in Texas probably got Amazon's attention. Damages were not specified according to news reports.