September 19, 2008
No Privacy Interest in Fired Employee's Computers
A New Jersey Appeals court sided with the criminal trial courts ruling that a fired employee had no privacy interest in computers that he had sold to his employer and had protected with his own password.
The New Jersey court noted that "Guided by these federal cases, we conclude that defendant had no reasonable expectation of privacy in the personal information stored in his workplace computer. Braun owned the computers and kept them in CDP's office; Braun advised defendant at the inception of his employment that all CDP computers were company property; the tower was connected to CDP's network system, and the laptop contained business software; Braun had equal access to the computers, and a co-worker had access to the laptop; and defendant's private office was never closed or locked.
Even if defendant had a subjective expectation of privacy because he used a confidential password, that expectation was unreasonable under the facts of this case. As noted in Rakas:
Obviously, . . . a "legitimate" expectation of privacy by definition means more than a subjective expectation of not being discovered. A burglar plying his trade in a summer cabin during the off season may have a thoroughly justified subjective expectation of privacy, but it is not one which the law recognizes as "legitimate."
[Rakas, supra, 439 U.S. at 128, 143 n.12, 99 S. Ct. at 431 n.12, 58 L. Ed. 2d at 402, n.12.]
We conclude, therefore, that neither the law nor society recognize as legitimate defendant's subjective expectation of privacy in a workplace computer he used to commit a crime."
Read the opinion here: (New Jersey v. M.A., N.J. Super. Ct. App. Div., No. A-4922-06T4, 8/29/08). [MD]
September 17, 2008
Blu-Ray Prices Not Going Anywhere (or Down)
PC World is reporting that Blu-Ray discs will not drop in price anytime soon. The problem? Not enough market share for high definition discs despite the sales of high-definition televisions. So, let's work this one through. Blu-Ray players are still in the $300 plus range when upconverting players sell at Wal-Mart for around $40. Discs are $25 and above. Standard DVDs cost under $20 generally, and a thriving cut-out market exists with discs at $5 or less. Legally Blonde was in the Wal-Mart bins yesterday at $5. Somehow I'm getting the impression that most people don't care enough about high definition DVDs at these costs what with the economy the way it is. I agree that standard definition discs will be around for some time to come. [MG]
September 15, 2008
HP to Sell Mainstream Linux Machines?
An odd story showed up in CNET News. This one had a tease about HP creating its own operating system as a way of becoming less dependent on Microsoft. As it turns out, the company is really looking to see if it can customize a version of Linux for consumers. There are plenty of Linux converts out there (I'm not one of them) who can manage their installations and be productive within the constraints of available software. Consumers have largely ignored the OS because it normally isn't for sale on machines along side Macs and PCs in stores. Most consumers aren't unhappy with Windows (whatever flavor) or OSX. They may not know better to discern OS utility in a way that techie individuals might, but that doesn't mean they want to break away from something that works for them.
What Linux has lacked is consistent tech support from a major company at the mainstream consumer level. This would be someone to take responsibility for managing the OS they way Microsoft and Apple might manage their offerings. The fact that HP is looking at the viability of doing this certainly makes for an interesting development. Consumers might find the OS appealing if they had the comfort of not having to put much effort in making it work for them. I know I'm risking flak here from Linux users who claim its better than Windows, more or less free, and easy. That may be, but that doesn't translate into mainstream home adoption. The HP move might just be the catalyst, assuming it gets that far. And that would be interesting. [MG]